Thursday, September 29, 2016

Update on Morgan

Momma's Log September 22, 2016 (Kwrp)

So, we're almost 2 months into the new school year and I realized that I had never given you all an update about all the issues Morgan was having last year in school.  The post I wrote back then started as just a musing over the profound differences between my two boys, but ended up with me pouring my heart out to you about my frustrations over how much he struggled in school.  If you want to read about it you can check it out here:

To date, that blog post received the most communication and feedback from you all and I am SO grateful. I got so many private messages and comments and phone calls about either your own child's struggle with school or someone close to you. I was deeply touched by your willingness to share your trials with me and give me insights on some things to try and do.  I can't even begin to explain to you how your sharing and reaching out calmed me as I realized that-- not only was I not alone in all of this, but there were many options to explore that I had not even considered.

To take it back a bit--after nearly a year long struggle of his teacher and I racking our brains and trying different things; her listening to me crying out how much it hurt to see him struggle so much, me listening to her voice her frustrations over not finding much success with the things she WAS trying-- I finally called our pediatrician and begged for help.  He suggested a test -- really more of  a questionnaire that his teacher would fill out and Super Rock Star and I would fill out and give him a good view of Morgan's behavior at school vs. at home and be kind of like a preliminary ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) test.

I will never forget the meeting we had with him in going over the results.  He came in, sat down, looked us right in the eyes and said "So, we have all known Morgan since he was born, and none of the results of this test will be a surprise.  Does he have ADD? Maybe.....but then we ALL have ADD at some level or another.  What you guys want to know is what to do about it--so here are your options." He went on to list every option available (most were things many of you had suggested in your responses to me):

1. Home school him.  Morgan is probably a good candidate for homeschooling. Our Doctor looked directly at me and said " It means you, Jennifer, would be his teacher. Can you do it? Yes. Are you the best teacher for Morgan? Maybe. Maybe not."

***Keep in mind--he knows us.  He knows me.  Our visits haven't just been about him checking out our boys and keeping track of THEIR health.  He is always interested in how we are doing as parents too.  He has witnessed me in his examination room battling to keep Morgan quiet and occupied so that I can have a conversation.  And--just between you and me--home schooling has always been my "last frontier option".  I know many of you home school your kids and I admire you so much.  It is NOT an easy job.  At all.  My sister home schooled her 4 kids VERY successfully.   But, even with all of the wonderful encouragement you gave me about how easy it is and how wonderful it is--I think--deep inside--I know I'm not Morgan's best option. At least not right now.

***To give you a little deeper insight into my character and how it does not jive with being a good elementary school teacher--I often joke with their teachers that I could fix the whole "sit still and listen" battle with a roll of duct tape.  Most of them laugh.  Some give me that side ways look of a little alarm and  a nervous laugh ("is she SERIOUS?!") (ask my sister about one of the boys in her 3rd grade class.  The teacher duct taped his feet to the floor to get him to stop jumping up and distracting the class--nowadays that teacher would be put in prison) (It could work though--just sayin)

But, it does make me think that I'm not cut out for this teaching thing--even to my own kids. If it covers the basics--potty training, how to brush your teach, clean up and basic life skills--I got it covered.  But watching them puzzle out how to add, subtract, write, etc..that is WAY outside of my wheel house.
2.  Change schools.  This was something we agonized over for a LONG time.  I called school after school--asking about their curriculum, class sizes, expectations, etc.  Nearly all of them had the same curriculum as our current school. So, unless we were going to hold him back--I just couldn't see the benefit of uprooting he and his brother from what they knew on the hope that a change of scenery and environment would change the situation.  No, it seemed to me that the problem was not our school, teachers or environment--it was Morgan's BEHAVIOR which was the issue at hand.  That wasn't going to just go away.

3.  Hold him back a year. We rejected this option from the beginning --and thanks to my wonderful and magnificently talented professional educator cousin, Lori, I got the affirmation I needed.  She directed me to numerous articles and studies that basically prove that retention (holding back) at this grade level is more harmful than good.  In hind sight we probably should have held him back in kindergarten.  It would have been no big deal then. We knew that-- at this point-- it would hurt him emotionally and make him feel like even more of a failure.  The issue wasn't that Morgan couldn't learn what was being taught--it was that he couldn't seem to control his body for long enough periods of time to retain it.

***For the first couple years of his education I truly believed it was a maturity thing for him. "He's a boy with lot's of energy" I would tell myself.  "He'll grow out of it eventually and be just fine"  I VEHEMENTLY rejected the idea that he simply COULDN'T sit still and pay attention. I SO appreciate his teacher and teacher's assistant finally confronting me with the fact that they REALLY TRULY believed he couldn't help it.  They could see how smart he was, but they also could see that he just couldn't seem to control himself.  The tipping point for me came when his teacher told me that it wasn't just about him not sitting at his desk--she let a lot of her kids stand up to learn or sit where they were comfortable.  It was that he would act in very distracting ways too--diving under desks, rolling on the floor and just not focusing on any part of the teaching at all.  I had no idea it had gotten that bad.

4.  Medication. They have numerous choices now on medication for those that have ADD or ADHD. He could start on the lowest possible dose and then bump it up as needed.

***This is the option that terrified me the most.  I had spoken to so many folks who had been put on Ritalin as children and hated it.  They felt drowsy and it basically turned them into mindless drones.  When the Doctor mentioned all of the new options available (plus several of you had mentioned things I had never heard of and you had been seeing positive results)--it gave me hope that my sparky, laughter loving joy of a boy would not be changed into something else by trying out the medication.  What truly "sold" me on trying it was when our Doctor said these words to me:

"Jennifer, it's kind of like how you need your morning coffee when you wake up.  It helps clear away the cob webs and gets your brain ready to think clear thoughts so you can function for the day. That's what this medicine will do for Morgan.  It will help him focus so that he is not chasing after every thought and idea that pops into his brain, he will feel calm, and will be able to sit still."  To which I answered--"How many cases of this stuff can we order?" (I'm joking) (sort of).

Since there was only 8 weeks of school left, we determined it would be a great time to "test out" the medication route especially since Morgan's teacher had experienced so much difficulty. Since nothing else we had tried worked, it seemed like the perfect way to find out if this was going to be the best course of action for him.  We decided not to tell his teacher about it the first week-- I really wanted to KNOW if she saw a difference.  At the end of the week I just asked her how he had been.  Her answer--"You know, I was going to email you.  I don't know what happened, but he has been doing a much better job of sitting in his seat.  We haven't really had to remind him to do his work--he's just better at doing it."  When I told her that we had started him on some medication I could visibly see the relief in her face.  For me, it was proof that our "test" was taking us in the right direction.

Throughout the next few weeks I kept in good communication with most all of his teachers--they all had noticed a difference.  Morgan noticed a difference too.  All of a sudden he wasn't getting reprimanded every day and he was getting his work done--which helped him feel good about himself. An unexpected gift came in his social behavior.  I had not expected it to affect him in how he interacted with kids--but it did.  He had never been very good at making friends and all of a sudden he was getting along with kids he had been fighting with all year.  They were wanting to play with him and he wasn't feeling as angry and defensive as he had been.  I cannot even begin to TELL you how happy it made me feel to see him come home happy, head held up and babbling about what he did that day and who he played with.  It still makes my eyes well up with happy tears to see such a dramatic difference in how he improved so much--almost over night.

His teacher, Mrs. Ragsdale and her assistant Mrs. Gillmore deserve so much gratitude and praise.  They are two very strong, loving ladies who patiently worked with Morgan all year and helped this scared and confused Momma navigate the world of "when your child doesn't quite fit in".

Medication is a scary road to take no matter what it is for.  I know that the decision we made is not necessarily the right decision for everyone.  But, I am confident it is the right one for Morgan.  He doesn't have to be on the medication on the weekends, but we do-- just so there is some consistency to his life.  Plus, he's playing sports now and it has definitely had a positive impact on his ability to learn in that arena too.

The only side affect that we have noticed is that in the late afternoon he gets a little (sometimes a lot) emotional.  It's caused from his body coming down off the meds (kind of like I get pretty cranky when I need my afternoon cup of coffee).  It's usually pretty short lived and we try to remove the triggers that can antagonize him.

I really DID have to see it to believe it.  I am DEFINITELY a  believer now.  I'm sorry for those I disappointed in this decision--especially those that truly believed that home schooling was my best and only option.  I will tell you the truth.  After witnessing the positive changes in him this past few months, even if I do choose to home school him some day--he will still be on the medication.  I read with my boys and help them with homework every day.  Before Morgan was on medication he would move his books all around and couldn't keep still and worse he would scream in frustration because doing the work was so hard for him. Now, he sits perfectly still and gets it done.

Most days he is finishing his homework while he is at school.   Some day he will most likely outgrow his need to be on the medication, but even so--the doc said that many adults still choose to take some sort of ADD meds when they feel they need to.  I'm seriously thinking I may be a good candidate for some myself.  Ha!

Morgan is doing so great now.  Does he still hate school?  Not as much.  I don't think school will ever be his "thing"--and that's o.k. We, at least, have found a way for him to tolerate it and not feel like he's always swimming upstream. At the beginning of the year, I got a couple emails from his new teacher as she was learning about all the idiosyncrasies of her new students, but he has not had a single incident of bad behavior and last I checked he was getting awesome grades.

Thank you again for all of your encouraging words and insights.  Parenting is such a tough road.  My Dad has said it often "Kids don't come with instruction manuals".  That is SO true.  We're all just figuring this out as we go.  I'm grateful that you not only allowed me to share this particular struggle with you, but how you came to my side and walked it with me, prayed for Morgan and helped us navigate our way through.  God bless you for that!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trash turned to Treasure--or something like that

Momma's Log September 19, 2016 (Kwrp)

We've known each other for a little while now and I think I feel safe enough to tell you a big secret about myself.  An addiction--if you will--that I have.  Hi. My name is Jennifer (Hi Jennifer).... and I am a trash collector.

And by trash collector--I do not mean the respectable trade of driving in the really cool trucks up and down streets and collecting trash and hauling it to a dump site.  I tend to run the same circuit they do, but no--I am not there to dispose of the trash you so innocently put out by your curb.  I am there to go through it and collect any "treasures" I can find.  On any given trash day--I am the nosy neighbor peering out the window, the shady person driving up and down the streets and the pair of legs you see sticking out of the big construction size dumpsters.

I simply CANNOT help it.  I spot some item that someone else is throwing away and I see it as something that still has some life.  It's almost like it has a personality to me.  Do you remember in the movie Toy Story 3 when all of the gang ended up at the city dump nearly incinerated and they are all like crying and saying their goodbyes?

Clearly I know that was just a movie and not real life (the animation gave it away--otherwise I think I would be a little worried), but that's kind of the way I look at the stuff I collect.  In my mind I see something that was once a part of it's family's life now shunned and outcast sitting there all lonely--waiting to picked up by perfect strangers that will haul it to a strange place where it will by burned or buried.(Yes. I am aware that this "stuff" really isn't alive with feelings)(Please don't call the Psycho Ward on me.)   I look at it and I still see something useful lurking beneath the outdated appearance and the broken bits:  A kid's bike that is a little rusted from being left outside with a chain off and in need of new tires, a chair or sofa table that just needs a new cushion or a fresh coat of stain.

Some people collect pets, or purses or wine glasses.  I collect thrown out items.  Now, don't get me wrong--I am not one of those artsy people that looks for every hub cap, scrap of wire or metal and craftily welds and fashions it into some sort of art.

I admire those folks and WISH I was that creative.  No, think of me as more of a rescue and restore operator.  I realize we all throw out stuff for different reasons--it's broken and either we don't possess the skills to fix it or the cost of having it fixed is way more than the item is worth, it's dirty and used and we just don't have the space or need for it anymore, or we got a shinier newer version and just don't need the old one anymore.  Some of you set out your item in the hopes someone like me will come along and "rescue" it--others simply want it out of their homes as quickly as possible.  Most of us are continually beating back the clutter monster.(Don't even LOOK at my kid's toys. Just. Don't.  It's embarrassing and definitely episode worthy of "Hoarders")

I don't really have a hoarding problem with my collecting. (I....well... I don't think I do)  I use, sell or donate everything I collect and I have found some REALLY cool items over the years. I am just wired in weird ways and am fearless about jumping into any dumpster if I see a promising piece sticking out.  I know I inherited this trait. My Mom recently confessed that she too was a "collector" when she was a child.  She told of finding a perfectly good pair of boots in a neighbors trash, but then was all bummed when her Mom made her share them with her twin sister.

The way I see it I am practicing a valuable trade.  I have made a lot of good walking around money with my "finds" and I have collected a lot of useful items for our home.  So today, I thought I would share some of my highlights with you:

Check out this child's roll top desk I found sitting next to a construction site dumpster?

All it needed was a little cleaning and paint to freshen it up and now it is a prized piece in my library.  It even holds a family heirloom typewriter that my great-grandfather (Grandpa Tyler) used.  Also we found all kinds of cool treasures in it--a few fountain pens and some old scribbled notes from the child who had used it. 

Here's a pic of a dining room table and chairs that a neighbor no longer wanted.

There were a lot of broken pieces and some missing parts.  I glued the pieces back together and gave it a little paint and recovered the cushions and voila!-- a pretty decent dining set.  I ended up giving this one away to a couple who needed it for guests coming for thanksgiving.

This is a cute locker cabinet I found outside another neighbor's house.

It is perfect for my boy's room to store all their little treasures in.  It was on castors and missing one.  So I just took them all off and cleaned it up.

My latest finds are still works in progress.  This sofa table is going to get a good sanding and a fresh coat of stain and some new inserts on top (probably wood with glass tops).  It will sit nicely in our rec room and be useful for adding some much needed shelves for all of the toys I mentioned before.

This chair will also get a fresh coat of stain and be a nice for rocking the day away outside.

I have found countless items that I have just simply cleaned up and either sold online or at our annual garage sale.  So many baby walkers, and little work tables and such that just needed to be cleaned and minimally repaired.  The bit I wrote earlier about the bicycles with the rusty chains? I collected 3 of them from my neighborhood.  I didn't even have to bother to repair them. I just set them out for our garage sale and a lovely couple purchased them.  They just happen to go around town collecting inexpensive bicycles in need of a little attention.  After repairing them, they drive them down to Mexico and give them to away to kids.  Isn't that cool?

For me it's not really about making money off my finds--although a nearly 100% profit ain't bad.  Super Rock Star and I watch the show "American Picker's" a lot and one of the guys on the show often says "It's all about finding the right home for these pieces we rescue from the dirt".  I find that to be so true.  Unlike them--I'm not going to go knocking on folk's doors and asking to search through their barns and out buildings (at least not yet), but I am always keeping my eyes open for that peek of a promising something sticking up out of a trash can or leaning against the curb.  My neighbors used to think I was a little nutty (probably still do), but now they have started coming to me first when they have something to get rid of.  "Do you want this__________?" Always with quizzical brow lifted and a look of "really?"  The answer is nearly always "Yes. Yes I do."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Sound of Silence

Momma's Log August 17, 2016 (Kwrp)

Do you hear that sound?

"I think that's one of them silent alarms!" (Saving Silverman)

No, no, no...Do you? Do you hear the sound I hear?  ME NEITHER!!!! That's because there IS no sound! None. Nadda.  Nothing but SWEET silence.  HaHA!  I did it!  I made it through ten--that's TEN weeks of summer break!  10 solid weeks of playing "Julie the Cruise Director from Love Boat" to my two boys who looked at me like this every morning... wanting to know what the day's entertainment schedule was.

The break started off with SUCH high hopes on my part.  We made a bucket list of all the little things their hearts and minds could think of that meant "summer" to them, I put together learning pages and a reading schedule that would make any teacher proud, and I was committed to keeping us steered on course to enjoy the Best.Summer.Ever. AND keep up with their learning so they could be ahead when school started in the fall (or in our case LATE summer) (But don't get me started on THAT one) .

I planned for us to visit museums and do science experiments at home with ideas found on pinterest (of course).  We could have adventures in the morning and then quiet reading in the afternoon. My PLAN was to tick off every item on that list my precious little angels created, have wonderful fun filled days where we would all sleep til we woke up, giggle and play all day, and have water gun and water balloon fights and fall asleep under the stars with nothing but the warm embrace of each other to keep us warm.


But, alas--this is me.  And anyone who knows me realizes that everything I just planned-- stayed just that.  A plan.  The cold harsh reality is that I am NOT a cheerful "Julie the cruise director of the Love Boat" kind of mom with ideas galore and endless energy to keep my people motivated and happy.

Unfortunately I think I am more of a Miss Hannigan from Annie type.

For some insane reason I had this idea that I needed to sign my boys up for lots of activities to keep them busy and me not having to exert too much effort. These two boys of mine have been blessed (cursed) with an introverted overtired under motivated Momma who is all ideas and ZERO desire to pull off those ideas.  I liken my ideas to kind of like when you're watching a sit com TV show or romance movie.  It's all perfect--everyone says the right thing, does the right things and even in the mishaps everyone just laughs it off and there is never anybody feeling perpetually grumpy, tired and in desperate need of time to oneself.  Just like we all know that real life is never like what we see on TV (you do know that, right?)(Sorry if I spoiled it for you).  That's pretty much how my ideas play out too.  The reality NEVER turns out like I imagined and hoped it would.  And for some reason--I never change.  I always HOPE I'll be different.  Nope, sorry--still the same ole me.

So, I signed up for all these things and  my hope was that in keeping them busy with activities that I merely needed to drive them to --I could sit on the sidelines and just watch and enjoy.  That way THEY would have fun and I would enjoy myself too.  Forced participation is always the bane of my existence. I even pictured myself relaxing on the sidelines with front row seats to them having the time of their lives as I sipped a Starbucks and read a book.

What happened instead is that we got half way through June and only one or two things had been ticked off the bucket list, I was running the boys around to and fro like an insane person, our home had not been cleaned in weeks and I was in full panic mode because it was SUMMER!  And dang it! My boys are supposed to be building magical dreams and having the time of their lives and living some sort of Tom Sawyer life with the perfect balance of just lolly gagging around and getting to do every activity they can envision. And I am SUPPOSED to be relaxing and enjoying myself. But, instead they have me barking at them every few hours "Get dressed! It's time to go to__________!!" Hurry hurry hurry!! Even though the activities I signed them up for were fun--swim lessons, karate, and baseball.  I think no one had much fun.  I stole the fun right out of it.  Because for me--when I fill my schedule too full--EVERYTHING becomes a dreaded task to be accomplished.  Even fun things.  It sounds crazy (and I probably am), but it's just how my brain is wired.  I have never been so miserable in my life.

I tried to alleviate my misery by taking an evening once a week to go by myself on a hike.  This was a precious gift Super Rock Star gave me when I think he could see I was about to crack into pieces from all of the stress I was shouldering.  It helped, but I was still a walking misery of anger and outrage as I --for some reason--believed that being ANGRY about my lack of choices and freedom in how we spent our time (even though I was the one who did all of this) would solve it.   Being the calm diplomatic one between the two of us-- he sat down with me (bless his heart) and listened to me lament over how this summer was a complete failure, how I was in a panic about how we were going to fit it all in and what was I supposed to do?

It was the most freeing thing to put into words the sense of failure I felt-- the anxiety over wanting to be a fun Mom and feeling like I'm not, my honest misery over how my boys drive me more crazy than I care to admit when I'm with them 24/7 and how him getting to "escape" to work every day just didn't seem fair.  Do you know what was really awesome?  He didn't once personalize anything I said.  He could have called the "men in white coats" (and probably should have) to come and hall me away.  He could have been resentful that I didn't seem to appreciate how all of his hard work was how we afforded to do all of these wonderful activities and such and lecture me on how I needed to stop complaining and be more grateful.   Instead, he did what good men do.  He helped me solve it.

We got out our calendar, we looked at our schedule and all of the things we already had planned (his gigs and work stuff) and the availability of days he could take off work so we could go and enjoy these bucket list items together as a family.  That's what he does.  He's SO good at it.  Whereas I looked at this list and screamed inside "How is it even possible for ME to do all this?!!" He looked at it and said--"This will work if we all do this together here, and let's make it an adventure and group these things together here."  And before I knew it, we had a great outline for how our month of July would look.  It planned for everything and with the chaos of all the activities I had put us through in June behind us--there were spaces.  Spaces and chunks of time where we DID just stay home.  He managed to create time for me--where he and I would just lay in the pool together and relax while our boys stayed inside and played a video game or we would watch a movie or show upstairs while our boys watched one downstairs.  He recognized that they are at a golden age where they can do things by themselves with us nearby and we don't have to make everything about spending every second with them.  I LOVE that he is not only and idea person, but also a planning person and an implementing that plan person.  Without him, I would still be stuck back in June with my bloodshot eyes bugging out, my hair standing on end and a nervous twitch from the insanity going on in my head.

Our summer ended up being great.  Yes, we did a lot.  Yes, it was probably more than we needed to do and no, I did not do a great job of keeping up with the summer learning that would make my boys teachers proud.  I managed to fling math worksheets at them most every morning and had them mumble through a few pages of reading.  BUT, we had fun.  Sometimes all of us together ,sometimes my boys just having some good brother time, sometimes my husband and I having some good couple time and sometimes just me by myself---getting my beloved alone time on my Thursday evening hikes.

This summer taught me A LOT about what NOT to do.  I don't know WHY I felt that I had to do and plan so much this year.  I think it's because my boys are growing up so fast and time seems so short.  It seems like a big clock is ticking down to when I won't get to do all of these things with them. To build memories.  To do the things young boys are supposed to be doing.  To be care free.   But, what good is it to try to cram a lifetime of activities into a few weeks just so I can brag about it on social media or to try to rid myself of the ever fatal "Mom Comparison" mindset.   It made me miserable and therefore my family miserable too.

Next summer  I don't want to have such a big plan.  I will be content if we do one family vacation and call it good. (I think Super Rock Star would wholeheartedly endorse this plan too)  To tell you the truth-- my boys are THRILLED just not going to school.  I don't HAVE to plan anything for them.  They are boys.  They are kids.  They just know how to make their own fun.  They are perfectly content having a sleepover with each other in a tent set up in our spare room.  The best fun I had this summer was on those precious free days where I just listened to my boys lose themselves in their imaginary worlds--pretending for hours on end while I would be getting some house work done (yes, I finally did find some spaces for cleaning too).  I would sneak a video or picture during those times that I will get to share with them some day. My hope is that those are the things that make them smile when they grow older and have kids of their own.  "Remember when we played Avengers/Ninja Turtles  and I was Hawk Eye and you were Mikey from TMNT?"

Those are certainly the things I will lock in my mind and look back on and smile. I hope I can just learn from my mistakes and not make everything a project, a to do, and a chore.  But, to just relax and enjoy this time in life.  And, no-- I probably won't be any stricter about keeping up with summer learning.  Sorry Teachers!  I love you, but we ALL need a break and that's what summer should be.  For now, I am SO VERY grateful that summer break is behind us and that I am privileged to get to sit in my home. by myself.  with the sweet sound of silence.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Becoming a Momma Miracle

Momma's Log May 7, 2016 (Kwrp)

It was July 17, 2006.  A lot of stuff was going through my mind that day, but most importantly was that the next day was Super Rock Star's birthday.  It was a milestone birthday and just a few days earlier I had surprised him with a party at our home with so many of our good friends.  For those of you that don't know Super Rock Star, I'll let you in on a little secret--birthdays are NOT his favorite.  Oh sure, he likes the presents and cake and such--but growing another year older? Especially, a milestone year?  Forget about it!  He was NOT looking forward to the next day.  I tease him all the time that he probably started having his first mid-life crisis at the age of 10.  "Ten-- I'm in the double digits now.  It's too late for me." I do give him a hard time, but I also understand so well now--getting older ain't that fun.

I remember I was driving home from work and I was talking out loud to God--which is pretty common for me--but that day it was for a very specific purpose.  I was "late".  And I don't mean late for an appointment.  It was not the first time I had been late--I had taken many pregnancy tests before and all had turned out negative.  I knew I had one leftover test at home and I was trying to muster the courage to face yet another let down.

But, let me take you back a few years.  When Super Rock Star and I first got married, we both longed for children, but we really didn't start "trying" until about 4 years into our marriage.  We started off the way so many young couples do--just having the expectation that it would just happen.  When a couple of years passed and still no positive pregnancy test, we started to feel a little more desperate--reading pamphlets and talking to friends and family.  "Just relax", they said, "stress always gets in the way."  But, how can you NOT stress?  Two years had passed since we started trying--something must be wrong.  We visited our doctors, we took tests.  The words "healthy" and "normal" buzzed through our heads.  That should have given us some sort of encouragement, but instead it just brought further frustration.  "If we're so healthy and normal, why are we not getting pregnant?" After a few more years of trying--I think we had both sort of given up on hoping for it.  We stopped talking about it, I stopped telling him when I was late, I even hid the many pregnancy tests I took that all came out negative.  We both retreated into our separate worlds of feeling unhappy, unfulfilled and isolated from the joy we knew so many others got to experience.  It was a really dark and heavy time for us.

I know, full well, the deep agony of wanting a child so much and yet month after month, year after year--anxiously hoping and yet heartbroken over and over and over.  Empty dreams, empty womb, empty home.  I don't think--for those that long for children--there is any worse feeling of failure, shame and despair.

Of course I prayed about it.  A lot.  Well-meaning friends would often try to encourage me that I could be a "mother" type figure to all kids I came into contact with.  It's a lovely idea and, for some, it may bring them great comfort, but for me--I just quite honestly wanted to scream--"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!!! THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!! IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!!" I know.  I know.  Not very Christian of me.  But, like I said, these were dark times.  I often would ask God to either fulfill my desire or take away my desire, but to not leave me tormented with a longing that would forever go unfulfilled.  It was about this time that I started running across the Bible story about Abraham and Sarah (you know the couple in the Bible that had to wait until they were in their NINETIES to have their first and only son). It came up seemingly everywhere I went--at church, at Bible study, in conversations with friends.  I swear I saw it posted on a billboard at one point (o.k. that might be a SLIGHT exaggeration, but it was starting to feel that way).  After about the 20th time of coming across this story in a six month time span, I rolled my eyes up to heaven said it right out loud: "That's NOT funny, Lord!"

Back to my drive home.  My conversation with God went something like this (and when I say "conversation"--I was talking out loud to God and hearing His voice in my head):

Me: It's o.k. I know if I'm not, but I'm going to take the test just to put it out of my mind.

God: But, what if you are?

Me: Stop joking.  It's o.k. Really. I mean...I get it.  I'm a big mess.  I can barely take care of our dog and cat.  Having a baby is probably more than I can handle.  You know me best.  That's probably why we haven't been able to get pregnant.  I just wasn't ready to face the facts.  It's all because of me.  Poor Tim.  He deserves to be a daddy.  I hate to think he won't get to be one because of me.  I just want it so badly for him.  For us.

God: Yes, I DO know you best.  And I believe you ARE ready.

Me:  Stop.  Please.  I can't take any more disappointment.  I don't want to believe that I'm really having this conversation with You only to realize it's just my own mind telling me what I want to hear--letting my hopes be raised again only to have them dashed.  Please know--I'll be okay either way.  I know I will still love You, I will try my best to serve You and be and become whatever it is You want me to be--even if that does not include being a mother.

God:  I know you are ready because I know now that you WILL seek me.  When you don't know what you're doing--which will be often--I know you will ask me.  And I will help you.

In that moment, folks...I stepped on the gas.  I wanted to get home as fast as I could.  I wanted to know--right then and there--if the conversation I had just had was real or if it was just me making up something in my head.  Somewhere deep inside my soul I KNEW that I had just had a real live chat with the Creator of the Universe and He was giving me some VERY good news!  I raced into our home, flew to the bathroom, flung out all the junk from in the cabinet under the sink, desperately clawing to find the hidden last test I had.  With shaky hands I ripped it open.  I didn't need to read the instructions--I had done more than my fair share of these before.  After taking the test I willed myself not to look at it.  I squeezed my eyes shut as I placed it on the counter.  I was determined to wait the full three minutes and only look after I knew it was complete.  But.... I couldn't help it.  One eye popped open.  I had to sneak a peek and as the liquid crawled across the display screen.  I saw it.  A plus sign.  I did a double take.  I wildly searched for the instructions inside the box.  I just had to be sure.  Yes---a plus sign means positive.  Positive means pregnant.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!

I whooped! I hollered!.....And then I had a moment of doubt.  That test had been buried in the back of that cabinet for a while.  Maybe it wasn't accurate.  So, I jumped back into my car, dashed to the drug store and bought a pack with two tests in it (hey, we're looking for undeniable proof. right?) I came back home.  Positive.  Positive.

I was GIDDY.  I couldn't think straight or form an articulate thought or word other than "Thank You! Thank You! Thank You Lord Jesus!!" I must have picked the phone up and put it down a dozen times (kids, this is back before we all had cell phones stuffed in our back pockets--we had phones attached to walls.  I know. Crazy.).  I wanted to tell Super Rock Star IMMEDIATELY. But, I also wanted to make it a good surprise gift for him.  If I had any doubts about the birthday gifts I was giving him that year (which I always do)--I knew I had a good one for this year!! He, as I mentioned before, was feeling a little down about his birthday.  Add that to the dashed hopes about parenthood and some other heavy stuff going on in our lives--well, let's just say I knew his birthday was not expected to be celebrated much.

Anyway, we have a Christian book store close by and so I went there on a whim hoping to find some sort of memento to mark this oh so special occasion. They miraculously still had quite a few Father's Day gifts leftover from the previous month.  I found this really cool pocket watch that said "World's Best Dad" on it.  I also found some cute little baby socks--a pink pair and a blue pair.  I came home, found a small gold box and placed one of the positive pregnancy tests on the bottom and the pocket watch and one of each color sock on top.  I set the box on the table and waited for him to come home.

A short while later he came through the door.  I could tell right away that he was in a bad mood--shoulder's slumped, grim face, and just a complete downcast look on his face.  He noticed the small box on our table and reluctantly asked "What's this?" "It's for you", I said.  "Jen, my birthday isn't until tomorrow--can't I just wait and open my gift then?" "I think you'll want to open this one now", I say.  Heavy sigh from him.  He reluctantly grabs the box and takes the lid off.  And, he looks VERY confused.  I'm not kidding.  It took a full minute for him to register the contents of what was in the box and what they meant.  But, as he realized it--he looked at me with a big smile and asked "Are you serious?" As I nodded vigorously--we both started crying and hugging and jumping up and down.  And then.  The EXACT same doubt that had hit me after taking the first test--hit him.  "Are you sure? How many tests did you take?" Even when I told him I had taken 3 tests, we went to the store and bought another double pack.  Positive.  Positive.  Yes, folks, we were that floored by this whole thing.  I love it though.  And I love that God did not seem even a little bothered by the fact that we wanted so much confirmation for such a long-awaited blessing.  In fact, He seemed to be celebrating with us.  The heavy cloud of despair that had been hanging over us for so long was lifted instantaneously.

On March 21, 2007--just a little over 8 months after that day--at 2:07 in the afternoon, I got to hear the most precious sound ever as Morgan Douglas Glenn made his squalling entrance into this world. Making me a Momma for the first time.

In  2 Kings 20:5 it says "I have heard your prayers, I have seen your tears, surely I will heal you".  In Psalm 34:18 it says that "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit". In Psalm 30:11 it says "You turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness".   My Great God chose that day nearly 10 years ago to give me the best gift I have EVER received.  He gave me a new job description, a new title, a new role in this life and it is DEFINITELY the one I am the most proud of.  God has given me a precious assignment and it is one I hope I will NEVER take for granted.

I longed for so many years to hear the pitter patter of little feet.  These days it has turned into a thunderous roar as my two boys are getting bigger and bigger every year.  As with all things we long for--we never really understand all the aspects of it--we imagine things in only the best way.  A baby cooing in our arms rather than the colicky one that keeps us up all night with their screams.  Holding our toddler by his tiny hand as we stroll through the zoo marveling at all of the wonderful creations rather than the head strong tantrum-throwing two-year-old that you find yourself locked in a battle of wills with.  The elementary school years full of creative craft-adorned classrooms, hard working and learning well rather than the belligerent tear-infested mess of mean kids, school desks stuffed full of chaos, lost homework and weary looking teachers.  I believe I was a much better parent before I actually became one.

Super Rock Star and I often marvel at our two little wonders.  We try to remember what our lives were like before we became parents and for the life of us we can't figure it out.  I honestly don't know what we did for entertainment.  I have never laughed more and smiled so big as I have these past ten years.  For every difficult moment there is an equal if not greater successful moment.  For every tantrum and cross word spoken there are enumerable hugs and kisses and loves.  For every teary-eyed sad moment there is the sound of the sweetest giggles I have every heard.  I never get tired of seeing the look of pride in my husband's eyes when I catch him just enjoying them.  We often lock eyes in those moments.  It's like our remembrance of just how blessed we are.  To say they are our pride and joy is a VAST understatement.  We fully grasp the great gifts we have been given and neither of us ever wants to squander the enormous responsibility that we have been given to raise these beautiful boys into the men God created them to be.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there that have been privileged and blessed to be a part of this wonderful thing called Motherhood--the "seasoned" mothers, the "new" mothers, and the "soon-to-be" mothers. We are so lucky to get to have such an honor.  And for my precious "longing-to-be" mother's--you have my deepest care-- as I know your ache so well.  But, more importantly, God knows your ache.  He sees your tears.  He cares so much about your longing.  I will pray for you the same prayer that I prayed for myself all those years ago --that God would fulfill your longing or remove your longing.  I pray He will give you your hearts desire very soon.

God bless you all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

3 Things I can't do but feel like I should be able to

Momma's Log April 11, 2016 (Kwrp)

I am a woman of many gifts and talents.  I can talk on the phone and do house chores at the same time.  I am able to day dream while driving to a destination and then have absolutely NO recollection of how I arrived safely at said destination.  I can drink 3 cups of coffee in one day without feeling too jittery. AND I carry on a conversation with my husband, my older son and my younger the same time.(This one might be up for some debate.  Super Rock Star seems to be able to tell when I'm not fully listening to him, my older son usually is talking about something that requires an intelligent response that "uh huh" doesn't always cover, and my younger son as I've mentioned before requires active listening in all of his mile long narratives)

But there are 3 things that I feel like I SHOULD be able to do, but I. just. can't

1.  Turn left into a parking space: I have major TLIAPS  anxiety--ESPECIALLY when both spaces on either side are occupied. I have NO idea why--it may date back to a few years ago I drove one of those hugely obnoxious SUV's.  You know, the ones that really should have a truckers blow horn to signal that you're coming down the road. I dinged more car doors in the brief year and a half that I owned that monster than I ever have in my lifetime. (I always left a note for the poor owner that made the unfortunate mistake of parking in my area.  So humiliating!).  In those days I got quite used  to parking in the outer reaches of the lot so I could avoid the tornado like damage I typically caused in my behemoth on wheels.  I had previously never been aware of my inability to park to the left, but when you're driving a car the size of a 747-- one quickly becomes rather aware of ones limitations.

The psychological damage was done.  These days I will circle around a parking lot, park WAY out in the boonies, or just procrastinate my store trip all in effort to avoid to a TLIAPS situation.  The only exception is when Super Rock Star is with me.  I haven't had the courage to tell him about this rather embarrassing shortcoming and-- as I will share with you some day--all things driving are all things important to Super Rock Star.  So in an effort to impress him and-- as I mentioned-- to hide my shame I will usually try to attempt it. But, alas it usually ends up like that scene in Austin Powers when he is trying to turn the car around in the hall way. (Side note:  I also have UELFAPS anxiety --Unable to Exit Left From A Parking Space)

 2.  Stay within my weekly grocery budget:  I have a pretty good rhythm for our grocery buying needs--I make menu lists and so on-- and to be quite honest I feel I allow myself PLENTY to spend.  So, why week after week do I always go over? I know what you're thinking--I should increase my budget.  Yeah, I've tried that, but it doesn't seem to matter.  If I budget $75, I spend $100.  If I budget $100 I spend $125 and on and on it goes.  I know what else you're thinking--"Jen, they have these handy dandy radical new inventions called calculators.  As you go through the store you could--you know--keep track."  I've tried that too--but, I swear, it's like the food prices on the items I've put in my basket increase as I go through the store (kind of like how I gain 10 lbs if I even LOOK at chocolate cake. only different). Every step I take toward the check out the food in my basket has a little meeting and change their bar code thingy's and everything becomes more than I calculated (It's just a theory.  I haven't actually witnessed these food meetings. Yet.) (On a side note--there really is NOTHING creepier to me than talking food)

A few years ago I got into the whole couponing craze that was sweeping the nation.  I would watch that reality show--Extreme Couponing (you know the one where they by like a gagillion items and only spend $4.92), read blogs about which stores had what deals (sometimes leaving at 10:00 at night so I could go nab that freebie) (it's a total sickness) and each week I printed out my trusty list of sweet deals, clipped my coupons and off I went to the 45 stores so I could take advantage of doubling down on each and every product that I did not need.  Oh, sure, I got 122 tubes of free toothpaste, 65 boxes of didn't have to pay for them instant potatoes, and I felt PRETTY smug when I would go through the check out and see my before total and watch as each coupon drove the price down to well below our starting point.  It was such an emotional high and VERY addictive.  Except I realized that I rarely ever came home with things we actually like to eat or WAY too many of products we didn't need.  If I did happen to stumble across something my family liked I had to tell them to not get used to it--it was bought with a deal and coupon. Code for: we will never be able to afford buying this again.  I ended up donating most of my haul (fancy word they use in the biz for all of the free crap I got) And to make it worse--I usually ended up overspending my budget on those trips too.  But, hey, who doesn't need a cart load of cheap soap?

Even on the RARE occasions that I do end up staying within my limit, I will usually get home and realize that I forgot to purchase several things on my list. UGH!! It's so aggravating!

3.  Start a new Toilet Paper roll without creating a carnage of paper pieces:  I'm not sure what kind of glue they use to hold the end piece on a roll of toilet paper in place--but I'm pretty certain it came from NASA or some other high tech smarty pants place.  I'm SURE that there is a neat and tidy way that the manufacturer INTENDS for me to peel back the first layer, but I'm telling you, it is WAY over my head.  I can't do it.  Last night I was changing out a toilet paper roll (again) (I'm apparently the ONLY one in the house that knows how to operate the highly complicated spring loaded contraption that holds the roll in place--but I digress) and I attempted to try to get the thing rolling (so to speak) and-- I'm not even kidding--the end would NOT come loose.  I tried doing the delicate brushing thing with the pads of my fingers, I tried using my finger nails to pry it loose--nuttin.  I had a colossal mess of tiny pieces of paper as I pecked and pinched at the stupid thing trying to get some sort of starting point going.  By the time I finally got it--half of the toilet paper from the roll lay in chunks all over the floor.

Anyone else struggle with these?  Please tell me I'm not alone in this....Anyone?

I wish I could say these were the only things that seem simple to do but are not for me.  Unfortunately, this is just my top 3.(I could probably star in a reality show on this topic--"People Who are Complete Dorks and the Society That Endures Them") (It's just a working title) Someday I hope to be cured of my TLIAPS anxiety, stay within my grocery budget and unroll toilet paper neatly.  Until then I will hobble along in this life recognizing my shortcomings and reaching out to those of you who share my pain.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A tale of two boys part 2

Momma's Log March 30, 2016 (Kwrp)

I just wanted to thank everyone who read and responded to my last post written about my older son, Morgan. I am deeply touched and blown away by all of the encouragement and especially the stories many of you shared about your own past or present struggle with the issues I addressed.  I can't begin to tell you how God is using that in helping us determine a plan of action for our son.  Thank you, thank you thank you!

Meet Grayson.

AKA Johnny Drama (you have to watch the show Entourage to get this one) (don't you DARE let him see that eensy weensy tiny scratch on his arm. the dramatic tears and wails this kid can come up with), Sneaky Pete (he is a dirty rotten little scalawag), and cuddle monster (BEST cuddler in the family). Grayson is my second born son and my baby. As you can probably tell by his picture he is a happy, ornery little stinker.  Super Rock Star gives me such a hard time because before we had children I would often pray that God would give us an ornery little boy.  He gave us a double dose.  I plead insanity in that I had no idea what I was asking for. Grayson also has the most tender loving heart, he collects stuffed animals by the bajillion and each one has a name and no sir, you may not put any of them away.  They must all stay in his bed at all times.(it's becoming quite a struggle to find him at night when we check on him) He loves to play with his big brother, play games on computer and card games(thank you Uncle Todd and cousin Taylor for teaching him "war"--we all get to enjoy a daily dose of playing it with him), wrestle with his daddy, cuddle with his Momma, be read to and he has THE BEST giggle I have ever heard in my whole life. 

I learned from day one that even though both my boys grew inside my womb and share a last name--that's about the end of their similarities.

For those of you that have more than one child, you know that the struggle is REAL to keep the illusion of equality in your home.  Everything must be divided exactly in half (or thirds or quarters, etc), if big brother got to have a treat, so does little brother, if you give one a compliment--you must immediately give the other a compliment of equal value, it goes on and on.  Equality is ESPECIALLY important for the younger siblings(I know cause I am one)--they come into this world second and spend a lot of time making sure Momma and Daddy let them do everything their older sibling does in the same time and in the same order.  I even stressed out a little about writing this blog post.  Not that my boys will ever read these, but my Momma brain has been trained to try to do for little brother just as much as I do for big brother.  I'm going to be up all night counting words and making sure I upload the exact same amount of pictures (just kidding. please don't double check me on this.) But, it got me thinking about the whole difference between my boys.

Grayson LOVES school.

Before he ever went to school, he liked to pretend going to school at home.  Now, some of that was little brother wanting to be like big brother--but now that real school has started for him, he is thriving. Doing the worksheets and class work has always been excruciating pain for Morgan, but Grayson LOVES it.  He takes great joy in filling out every blank, drawing every picture and doing EXACTLY as the instructions say.

Grayson loves to communicate.

From the time he wakes up (at 0 dark thirty) to the time he FINALLY closes his precious little eyes he does NOT stop talking.  When he was home with me full time, I would often have to leave the room while I put on a TV show for him and hide just so I could get a little quiet moment (I know. I'm awful. right?).  Morgan will be fully engaged and sit in wide-eyed silence throughout any show or movie, but Grayson feels the need to narrate the entire thing and make sure you are FULLY watching it with him so he can discuss each character and situation.(it's actually pretty fun to take him to a movie--it's a full interactive experience.... for everyone)

He loves to be part of a team.  He will work and play with anyone anywhere.

I've witnessed him be both leader and follower and he is just content as long as he can be around others.  It is a rare moment that he ever wants to be alone, but for Morgan the only time he truly craves company is when he's feeling afraid.

So why do I feel like I NEED to make everything the same? They are not the same person.  They are not the same age. And they DEFINATELY have two distinct personalities.  Our first born child naturally is the one we take the most photos of, have all the original "firsts" with and who blazes the trail for us in our new role as Momma and Daddy. My Dad often jokes that God doesn't give us one to practice on.  Nope--we have to jump feet first into this whole parenthood arena. (did anyone else secretly wish they would send one of the nurses home from the hospital with you?)  Why do we feel so much guilt when that second, third or more comes along and we have let the photo taking slide, our enthusiasm over all the "first's" wanes, and we are often  much more lax in the hygiene department. I'm sure you all have either experienced or read about how with the first child you wash and sanitize every item that could possibly come in contact with your precious bundle, but by the second one--it's a little less of a panic--maybe you rinse or brush it off, and I've heard by the third you have become completely unaware of when anything does drop to the ground (or gets slobbered on by the dog) let alone worry about cleaning it off.  "Germs build the immune system".

It's a HUGE challenge for me to treat my two boys as the wonderful individuals that they are.  I've read that newborns are not completely aware that they are a separate person from their Momma's for many months into their new lives.  With Grayson I'm worried that he is not aware that he is his own individual person apart from his big brother.  He ADORES him, wants to do EVERYTHING with him, and can't stand being APART from him. His most common question as he wonders through our home is "Where's Morgan?"  It's all very sweet except I've noticed that he really tries to please Morgan in his decisions. If I ask "Grayson, what do you want for breakfast?", he will answer "What is Morgan going to have?" or "Grayson, it's your turn to choose a movie. What do you want to watch?"-- he'll ask Morgan's opinion.  Sometimes he will  make his own decision but then turn to his brother to make sure that he accepts it and is pleased with it.  If Morgan expresses displeasure, Grayson will often change his mind.

I'm sure all of this is normal, but I really want to help Grayson learn to make his own decisions, be his own individual self and not worry if his brother thinks it's cool or not.

I really want to teach my boys to appreciate their differences and encourage each other to be better.  I can't tell you how many times I've witnessed Grayson go to our basement playroom with Morgan so he won't feel afraid or how Morgan will often patiently help Grayson learn to build something by himself with Legos. And I LOVE that!  I don't want them to ever feel threatened that we praise one for his individual strengths or feel like they need to be more like the other.  It's SUCH a hard balance.  As a parent we want our kids to grow up feeling confident in who they are and with the gifts and talents that they have been given.  I don't want my boys to ever hear out of my mouth "If you were only more like your brother."

But, the reality is that in some ways--we have to treat them similarly and make things the same.  It would be unjust for me to give chores to Morgan and not to Grayson.  I would be unfair if I expected Grayson to do all of his homework but not require that of Morgan.  In some ways it's just part of life.  As Super Rock Star and I navigate the best course of action for Morgan's educational needs, Grayson is very much a part of the equation. Whether  we change schools, home school or stay put--both boys will be together.  And that decision is every bit for them as it is for us.  They just really love and need to be with each other--even if it's in the same school building.  And it's in this specific instance that my boys differences are actually a huge benefit.  I have full confidence that whatever we choose to do for Morgan, Grayson will roll with it easily.  He's just that way.

It's hard either way.  I want him to know we would do that for him too.  We are a family.  We are in this together. But I'm finding that that the strengths in Morgan (being more creative and daring) become strengths for Grayson.  And in areas where Grayson excels (school work, being generous and kind), Morgan tries a little harder because or his brother.  When Grayson has a baseball game or soccer game--Morgan comes with us.  When Morgan has Tai Kwon Doh or reading tutoring--Grayson is there too.  Both boys have realized that there is a huge benefit to liking and being involved in different things since I let the one watching play games on their I Pads while we wait (This cuts WAY down on whining. Some days it really is all about survival. sigh...) Some day I have hope that they will cheer each other on and truly appreciate and encourage one another in their individual interests and talents.

At the end of the day--it's not necessarily about making it all equal.  And I know that.  It's about making sure everyone in my family knows they are loved and feels they are valued.  To be honest--that's all I really want the most. (that and no having to break up fights over the tiny scrap of paper that they were pretending was a spy laser gun) (and not having to clean up the bathroom because their "aim" was off).  I just pray the dear Lord would help me convey that to my two totally awesome, completely ornery, beautiful boys.  And hopefully someday they will see that even though I got it wrong most days--I tried my darnedest to get it right.