Yes, it is!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Budding Artist

Ben has been showing an interest in art lately.  And much like Jackie, he has quite the imagination, too.  

Here are a couple of Ben's latest creations: 

According to Ben, these are flowers and they represent, in order, myself, Ben, and Jackie.  So sweet. 
And take a guess what this is:
A dinosaur! So cute.  I love my little boy so much.  Yes, he can be quite a challenge to parent but he gives the best kisses and hugs.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Friendships, Children, Jobs, Etc.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on friendship.  I wrote about a friend and what I wrote was honestly written.  However, I know it hurt her feelings as she read it.  I was pleasantly surprised that she was keeping up with me through my blog, though.  I tried to put myself in her shoes in regard to how I wrote about her.  I can understand the hurt feelings.  I don't appreciate, however, being called a liar.  I am not a liar nor did I appreciate past events being thrown up to me, events that she had previously defended me.  Despite that, I still care very much about this person.  As I said, I wrote honestly about my feelings after several attempts at trying to contact her personally.  But because I want to keep peace about the situation and because of the fear that there are some local people who may know who she is, I decided to go back and edit out the portion that I wrote about her.  I'm sorry it took me this long to do so but life has a way of getting in the way of writing, sometimes.  

Onward to my children.  Yesterday morning left me slightly saddened for my daughter.  When Jackie was a toddler, I signed her up for gymnastics, mostly to help her build strength, balance, and confidence.  This activity worked wonders with her.  Even Jackie's coach remarked after a few short months how much Jackie had blossomed.  We continued until Jackie's 2nd foot surgery right after her 5th birthday.  It was another year before she resumed gymnastics.  Jackie always seemed to enjoy this activity but lately, she started to dread going.  I knew it wasn't about the coach. In fact, the most recent coach was probably the best for Jackie, so far, as she really challenged Jackie.  She did not let Jackie use her disability to get out of trying something new.  I loved how this coach really seemed genuinely interested in seeing Jackie succeed.  Come to find out, this coach has a young cousin who has cerebral palsy.  The problem lately seems to be that some of the girls were starting to become mean to Jackie.  They would cut in line, tell her lies and call her names, etc.  The coach actually talked to one of the perpetrators.  Things seemed to improve but Jackie still dreaded going to gymnastics these last few weeks.  I think the pressure to be the best from the other girls (even at their very young ages) got to be too much for Jackie.  She realizes that she will struggle more than the other girls to advance to the next level.  In a way, I wanted so badly for Jackie to fight back and not give up.  But then, I didn't want my little girl to suffer at the hands of bullies.  I know all too well the pain of being bullied.  So, I told Jackie that she can take a break and if she wanted to resume gymnastics later on, then we'll revisit the idea.  So, yesterday was her last session.  
Ben did very well in gymnastics these last several months.  He loved it.  He was also the only boy in his class.  Ben didn't seem to mind, though.  In fact, most of his playmates outside of school are girls.  I really need to find him some boy pals.  Ben starts karate class this week.  I'm excited to see how much Ben will gain from this.  I've read how karate helps kids to learn how to obey and follow instructions.  I've even read that some studios even strongly encourage chores at home.  I wanted to sign Ben up a long time ago but his dad didn't think karate was a good idea for Ben.  I was in total disagreement about this and he was finally convinced recently to let Ben give it  a try.  I think the cheap price at the YMCA helped with that decision.  Maybe, just maybe, Ben will meet some boy pals there.  

Jackie finally realized something today. For the past couple of months, I've been fighting with my children to get them to fold and put away their own laundry.  They would rather do other chores, like washing windows or vacuuming than keep up with their own bedrooms and clean laundry.  What's up with that?  Actually, Jackie loves to fold... towels.  However, she wants to fold them on her timetable when I want them folded NOW.  So today, Jackie gladly helped me fold the towels.  Then when I told her that I was going to get another load of laundry out of the dryer for us to fold, she exclaimed "Yay!"  I asked her why she was so excited about that.  She answered that it means that she gets more clothes to wear.  Heheheh, Jackie doesn't like slim pickings.  

For the past few weeks, I've been tutoring a young man who attends the same church as me.  He has autism and is taking some courses to obtain his GED.  He was in need of help and I offered to tutor him in English and math.  He has very little support from his family and apparently, many others have tried to help him in the past and gave up too quickly.  I know this must have crushed A's spirit.  I am not about to give up so quickly on this young man as I see so much potential in him. If only people would give him a chance...  I really feel blessed to be able to help A and I know he is very appreciative of my willingness to help him for free.  I tutored on the side when I still lived in Florida but I have not done so since living here.  I am glad for this opportunity to help A.  He is so eager to learn, as difficult as it is for him sometimes.  His eagerness to learn is what makes me want to continue to help A.

In case you haven't heard about the possible sequester, Tim will be affected.  His pay will be decreased by at least 20%.  That may not seem like a lot to many people.  But when you consider that we're living in one of the LEAST affordable states to live in (think corrupt Illinois) on top of paying more taxes since the beginning of the, and the co-pays and other medical expenses for my children average over $200 out of pocket per month, that amounts to a huge chunk in our budget.  We are a single income family.  At this time, I do not work full-time as I need to be available to take my children to all of their various appointments throughout the week.  I do work as a substitute teacher occasionally on days that my children don't have appointments.  The daily salary for a substitute teacher is very low, though. It is giving me the experience, though, that I will need if I do decide to go for another Bachelor or even a Master's degree in education.  I am thankful that we have been wise over the years with our incomes and savings but I do NOT wish to depend on those accounts, especially considering that a high number of our lawmakers continue to give themselves raises and free meals.  If this sequester takes place, it will not only impact us financially, but it will impact businesses around us as spending is decreased by those who will be furloughed, including us.  This will be tough all the way around.   I hope and pray that those who have this possible furlough looming above them are prepared for the possibility but even more so, I hope and pray that the furlough will NOT occur and that we can continue to save for our future and provide for our family just as we already are. 

I am so anxious to move out of this state and go elsewhere.  At this point, I don't even care if we don't make it back to Florida.  I just want out of this corrupt state.  Even Kentucky or Tennessee will be fine by me.  At least, those states are slightly closer to home.  Any place but Illinois.  I'm so ready for a move.  So if this sequester happens, then perhaps this will be a sign that Tim should start looking elsewhere for a new career.  I would love to settle permanently somewhere other than here and achieve my dream of opening an assisted living or a nursing home where I will make sure our seniors are not neglected or abused, a family friendly place where employees will be able to bring their children to an affordable childcare facility located on site.  There is a sad story behind that one.  I'll save that for another post.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Newest Member of our Family

Introducing Daisy!

She is a pug and blue heeler (cattle dog) mix, if you can imagine.  She is 4-years old and very laid back so far.  She has already garnered a couple of nicknames; sloth (because the way she points out her front paws remind us of this animal), Kitty (for kitty cat).  She was rescued from an animal control facility in Missouri.  I've recently begun to foster for a local rescue organization, the same one that rescued Daisy.  After fostering a puppy recently, I took Daisy home to foster because she was so stressed and traumatized by being in the kennel.  

Jackie became very attached to Daisy right away.  Jackie has always wanted a cat but Daddy says no.  Well, it seems we've got the best of both worlds now because Daisy has the personality of a cat.  She is an interesting little girl to say the least.  

As of today, Daisy belongs to us.  Papers signed, fee paid.  She's ours now.  And hopefully, we will have many more years of enjoyment from her.  

On the subject of Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day has never been very important to me.  Even now that I'm married, it really is no big deal to me.  Perhaps that has to do with the fact that my birthday, Valentine's Day, and my wedding anniversary all fall within a span of 6 days.  

Since my children have started school, I have noticed (and am pleased with) that each teacher sends a letter including the name of each child in the classroom.  This is so that the children who pass out Valentines will include every fellow student.  Nobody gets left out.  Friend and non-friends alike.  Everyone is included.  

I like this idea very much.  I remember when I was in school and students passed out Valentines to whomever they wanted to.  I remember often, not receiving but maybe 1 or even 2 Valentines while may others in my class got boxes full of Valentines.  I remember the pain that left.  I knew I was not important to most people.  I was severely bullied by a lot of people and this was just another way of those people to let me know how much they despised me.  

I know many people say that you must forget the past.  Well, I cannot forget the past.  The pain of being severely bullied will always be there.  It has helped to form who I am today.  I don't dwell on that, however, there have been situations where I have been given opportunity to share the pain that bullying causes, including be left out of class events such as receiving Valentines. 

Thankfully, teachers of today have wised up to this and now all students are required to include every fellow student in their class during Valentine card exchange.  So, thank you teachers!  Thank you that I don't have to deal with a hurting child much as I was.  Thank you that my daughter will not have to be subject to the cruelty of rejection.  So, I guess in a way, Valentine's Day has become more meaningful to me.  Even if I have a romantically challenged husband. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Should I Be Worried?

My son has been in top form.  Again.  He does often cause us to keel over in laughter at some of his antics. At other times, though, I just don't know whether to laugh, or cry and be worried about his future.  

I will share one funny from last week.  One morning, just as I was pulling up my jeans after changing out of my pajamas, Ben walked in my room and caught a glimpse of my underwear.  He exclaimed "Nice underwear, Mommy!"  The boy does crack me up with some of his statements.  He is quite the complimentary little guy.  He oftentimes  tells me that I look nice, my shirt is nice, my shoes are nice, my hair looks pretty, etc.  Even after he tells me he hates me.  He hates me a lot, too. I hear it a least 10 times a day.  

This evening, while I we were all sitting and eating dinner, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  However, after I finished, I got up to go get Ben's gymnastics clothes ready and I noticed that my little foster dog, Daisy, wasn't laying in her usual spot.  I looked around the family room and Daisy was nowhere to be seen.  I called out to her with no response.  Finally, I looked over at Ben, still sitting and eating at the table, and asked him if he knew where Daisy was.  He got this sinister look on his face, shrugged his shoulders, and said "I don't know."  Hmm, oh yeah, that was a dead giveaway.  He knew exactly where Daisy was.  I went in Ben's room and looked around but didn't see her.  Finally, I opened up the armoire in Ben's room and there was Daisy, sitting on the bottom shelf, crouched in the back and trembling.  She was so scare that I couldn't even coax her out of there.  I had to do an extraction.  Initially, I was horrified that Ben would do that.  Then I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. 

This actually reminded me of a story that Tim recently told me.  One day recently, I was so exasperated with the way Ben was being so rough with another puppy that I recently fostered.  Now, I should back up and share how Tim's mom always comments on how Tim was the best baby, her best little boy, the teenager who never caused her any trouble.  Haha.  If she only knew...  Tim shared that when he was a little boy, probably preschool age, he had a cat that followed him around everywhere.  Tim said he loved that cat and the cat loved him back.  Well, as much as he loved that cat, he would take it outside, put it inside one of those rabbit cages (or something like it), lock the latch, and then turn on the sprinklers right next to the cages.  The poor cat must have had the brains of a dog because that cat would continue to love Tim unconditionally despite the torture that Tim put that cat through.  I couldn't help but shake my head in disbelief and as much as I tried to stifle my laughter at the mental picture of my husband as a toddler, pulling off such an antic, I just couldn't hold back the laughter.  I think there is a lot more that Tim's mom hasn't told me.  If I only knew...
So, should I be worried?  And pray?  My perfect, little baby boy (yes, he was a perfectly content, easy to console baby) has turned into quite the monster!