Book Fair: The Continuing Saga

We’ve strategized, bribed, worried, and prayed. Today we celebrated victory! The school book fair has been open for business for 48 hours and Ryan hasn’t lifted a thing! Whoot whoot 🙂

I received an e-mail last week from Ryan’s teacher, Mrs. M. She is a fantastic lady who is really in tune with Ryan and his unique needs. Mrs. M. sought me out to ask if I had any suggestions about how we could work together to save Ryan from himself. Since we know that his impulsiveness is a direct link to his autism, along with a hard core obsession over books, we had to find a way in which to thwart his sticky fingers without demoralizing his spirit. Ryan has achieved an abundance of success this year, both academically and personally. We are in a situation that, with the wrong solution, could undermine the great progress he’s made.

I offered to volunteer at the school every day the book fair is in progress, solely to monitor Ryan’s whereabouts. Mrs. M. and I quickly dismissed this suggestion as that would be like reinforcing to Ryan that he can’t be trusted. Instead, Mrs. M suggested that she send a “buddy” to accompany Ryan on his trips to the resource room. I thought this was reasonable intervention and wouldn’t offend Ryan. 

After dropping the kids off at school this morning, I was stopped by a very anxious Mrs. M just outside Ryan’s classroom. She was ready to burst, yet her eyes were glistening. She wanted to let me know that our plan was working. She recounted the previous day when Ryan was on his way back from the resource room with his “buddy.” She said as he was walking by the hall where all of the merchandise was displayed, his arms were flapping and he seemed a little intense. In his defense, uncontrolled impulsiveness is almost impossible to ignore. Anyway, she exclaimed, “He did it!!! He walked right past the hallway and didn’t even look at the books!” Well, my heart clenched, my eyes glistened, and I was one proud mama! He really did it.

The book fair will continue until Thursday. I’m not sure that we are out of the woods quite yet, but he had TWO successful days! He resisted temptation and acted responsibly. With every victory, my hope for his future takes ginormous leaps. Today my heart is smiling. Oh, he was also the winner of a $5 book fair gift certificate in today’s 4th grade drawing. Way to go Ryan!

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Life Upside-Down Cake

I feel very dumb. Life experience has taught me to never make plans and think things will go ‘as planned.’ I wonder how many days like yesterday it will take to teach me this very critical lesson?

I woke up at 7 a.m. expecting to get myself and the kids ready to start another day. While they were safely tucked away at school, I was to make a plasma donation and attend my Literary Analysis class. In the evening, hubby and kids were to accompany me to an Honors Awards ceremony where I was to be presented with an award. It was supposed to go like clockwork. The logistics were layed out, clothing was prepared, and no scheduling conflicts to get in the way. Life seemed in check.

I had just gotten Mary dressed, fed, and packed. It was time to wake Ryan and do the same. He’d had a difficult time sleeping, so I gave him a few extra minutes to sleep. I walked to his bed and shook his shoulders: “Ryan, time to get up buddy.” He turned his head towards me. Something was different about his face. “Sit up,” I said. Ryan sat up and I gasped. His face was swollen- actually, swollen doesn’t begin to cover it. Ryan’s face was inflated on the right side. It looked like someone had pumped air into him from his chin to his forehead. I told hubby to get Mary to school so I could rush Ryan to the emergency room.

We didn’t wait long before the doctor on duty came in to examine Ryan. His opinion was that Ryan needed a tooth removed and possibly had an infection. I told him we haven’t found a new dentist since we’ve moved to town. He said he’d call his friend who happens to be a dentist. I thought luck was on our side!! Well, that was short lived, as Ryan needed emergency oral surgery and had to be put under general anesthesia. I barely had time to talk to him about what was going happen. He was very brave, but of course, this added drama to the day and interrupted my carefully laid plans. I did not make it to my plasma appt. or my lit class. I was holding out hope to make it to the awards ceremony.

After getting Ryan home and tucking him in to bed, I picked up Mary from school. I thought hubby could stay home with Ryan and my daughter would enjoy seeing her mommy shine. Boy, I couldn’t have gotten that more wrong!! Mary complained during the whole ceremony. I was distraught to say the least. After working my ass off for two years, I deserved my Honors Award! Mary made sure I knew that I was nothing special. I got the message loud and clear. There were a few good moments, but overall, I was disappointed. It seemed that all the award winners had their entire clan in tow, had cheerleaders as their names were called, and had great photo ops with their award. Me, nada.

When I got home, Ryan said he was feeling a lot better, which made my heart smile. Mary apologized for her behavior at the ceremony. That was a positive step. I decided to drown my sorrows in Facebook and e-mail, consequently tuning out hubby and the kids. Sometimes I need to escape. As if someone peeked into my soul and saw my tears, I got the BEST news. My poem, “Feeling It,” won an Honorable Mention nod in a literary competition. Also, my essay, “Three Boxes,” won second place in the same competition.  Not a bad finish! As if that wasn’t enough, my Facebook page was loaded with well wishes for Ryan,real heart-felt thoughts and concerns for his condition. I was humbled. I was also reminded that in the general scheme of things, it isn’t always about me. Time to put on my big girl pants and deal.

“You’re not my real mother, are you?”

Another mood swing infested day at my house, aren’t you jealous?  It is just moments after Mary informs me that she doesn’t believe that I am her real mother, Hubby is not her real father, and she belongs to another family. Huh. Where did my stretch marks come from?

Of course this little tidbit comes on the heels of another Ryan episode. Because communication and instinct are his deficits, he yells if something isn’t quite right or to his liking.  This means that when his little sister walks towards the television, he assumes she is going to change the channel, or alter status quo. Naturally, he screams, “Mary, don’t!!!!” in a hostile manner. She responds by wishing him off to another family where she will finally be able to live in peace. Sometimes, I don’t blame her. It is tough being the sibling of a special needs child.

How we jumped from t.v. drama to our current debate is beyond me. After all, parents are always the last to know! In the past twenty minutes, Mary has spun a web of possibilities about her true parentage that made even me stop and consider that maybe she’s telling the truth. According to my (possible) daughter, her real mother died in childbirth and her real father died right after. Mary claims that she was given to me to raise. I spent nine months growing and loving her, and find her existence miraculous every day. Even if she wasn’t truly mine, I would’ve wished for her.

Awards and Screenplays

Today I received official word that I am the recipient of the 2009 English Division Graduate Award from Delta College! Actually, I found out by accident two days ago, but still, having the award letter in my hand is an amazing feeling! I was told that competition was fierce and that I completely earned the award through talent, perseverance, and hard work. I am humbled. This is the college I dream of teaching at, so winning this award can only help!!

Two years ago, at 32, I walked into Delta without a passion or a dream. Really, just BEING in college was my dream. Who knew it would turn into my life’s driving force? I now have a writing career, am a multiple award winner, and a very promising college teaching career. Whew, life is so unexpectedly beautiful!!

More good news…I met up with a friend of mine who directs adult and children’s productions for our local theater. With my new project in the works, and the excitement of it, I spilled the beans! I gave my friend a very thorough synopsis of “Diary of a Kitchen Table” and he loved it! Actually, as I was talking, I could see the wheels in his head turn. Eventually, he stopped me and said, “Tina, this is a screenplay.” Never having considered writing one, I replied, “What do you mean?” From there he whittled down each scene, as he saw it, which included the dialogue of my characters, the lighting, etc. It was a moment. A very creative and electrical moment. So, needless to say, my options are open. Like I said, I’m keeping it mostly under wraps until I’m ready to share. In the mean time, I’ve got a lot of writing to do!

I love this journey! 🙂

The Untitled Post…because I just can’t think of one

I can’t think of a title because my brain is obsessed with my new manuscript! It is writing itself word for word, which I’m thankful for, yet unprepared for. I hadn’t made plans to begin a new project until after the current semester was over, but my imagination has other plans. Seriously, it’s not as if I don’t have enough to do! However, like the artist that I am, I will write.

“Diary of a Kitchen Table” is the name, and it revolves around this theme, from the table’s perspective: “If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then I am it’s pusle, my family it’s blood.” Really, it makes sense. The heart is the major organ, which needs a “pulse” to function. And of course, the important element these two have in common is blood. I’m hardly known for using metaphor in my work, but this has been swirling in my head like an agitated F-1. I’ve discussed the piece with two people and have gotten a lot of emotion in their response. I will keep the details to myself for now, until it all comes to be.  One person did tell me that the table sounds posessed, but I can assure you, if done correctly, my readers will gladly accept the kitchen table as part of the family. Stay tuned….

On a different note, I am still waiting to hear about several awards. One has been decided, although I’m not yet privy to the results. The other three are a guessing game. However it works out for me, the announcements will be made shortly. I only have to suffer a little while longer.

For now, I will keep plugging along with my classes, continue putting the madness on paper, and most importantly, find the beauty in life and contemplate my place within it.

Plasma for Food

You know you’ve hit financial rock bottom when you stoop to selling your plasma. Ugh! I never thought I’d be selling my stuff so my kids could eat. What is wrong with this picture?!

I need money to continue with school. I need money to pay the bills. I need money for gas. I need money for food. Forget about entertainment, that isn’t in the cards. And because I’m the selfish wife and mother who decided to pursue her dream of higher education and a new career, I’m the one who deserves to sell her plasma. By doing this, I will be contributing to our monthly income and possibly saving a life. Not a bad way to spend a few hours a week!

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly feel any lower, I received some news that lifted me up, lit my fire, and helped me see that even though times are tough, I need to keep on track and never give up. I’m here in this place for a reason, it isn’t coincidence, it’s my destiny.

Today I’m going to tackle my Shakespeare assignment with new gusto, spend more quality time with my grammar book, and be the ‘close reader’ that my Lit professor expects.

Life is funny, cruel, and delightful. 🙂

Maturity For One, Perfection For The Other

After the past few days, I’ve been in a somewhat reflective mood. Reading old posts, along with recent developments, has made me pause for thought. I suppose it is another of those times in life where I need to record it, just so I won’t forget. Or maybe the process of writing and reviewing will allow me insight that only an outsider could provide. So here goes…

Ryan has stumped me again. It’s kinda good, kinda bad. A month ago we were having tumultuous mornings filled with arguments, push-pull moments, and in the end, ultimate emotional defeat (that would be me being defeated). Our evening weren’t much better as Ryan would become quite agitated and combative during homework sessions. I was at the point of giving up, giving in, and looking the other way. Then, without any anticipation or encouragement on my part, he changed! He completely pulled all the pieces together to create a harmonious world. Really?!

It began when Ryan decided our angry and stressful mornings weren’t the best way for either of us to start the day, everyday. One of our biggest obstacles was “getting up,” which would begin with soft motherly sweetness, but end with angry verbal commands from me and steadfast stubbornness from Ryan. Instead, he made the effort to set his own alarm clock, actually get up, and proceed to go through his morning routine without any prodding from me. AMEN!!! I will tell you, if there was ever Heaven on Earth, that was it! Our mornings are back to civility and pleasantness and “Have a beautiful day!” as he heads out the door.

Ryan, around the same time, decided that homework isn’t the devil incarnate. I’m still unclear about what changed his mind, but he now comes home from school, grabs a snack, then begins his homework immediately! Yes, I did worry that there was a possession in my midst, but at this point, I was willing to accept my “new kid,” no matter what. His grades are better, which I’m happy about, and he is discovering that the success that comes on the heels of a deliberate effort is pretty sweet.  Yay!!

Unfortunately, as things are falling into place for her brother, Mary is falling apart. She will be seven this spring, which, in my opinion, is far from horomones and puberty, but apparantly, she didn’t get the memo! I’m plagued with tears at all hours of the day and night, along with soul deep conversations during tuck-in time. This kid worries about everything! I call her an emotional sponge because half of her worries are for other people. Tonight she was crying over the punishment one of her friends received for breaking a globe…over a year ago! She said she’s angry with the girl’s parents for spanking her and talking in a mean voice. Mary doesn’t feel this type of “lesson teaching” is beneficial to children. Yes, she actually said that! She also made it clear that nobody is perfect, and adults need to remember that. Really?! After feeling thoroughly reprimanded, I sent her off to bed. Good Night!

So here I am, eating a hot fudge sundae and feeling reflective. Huh. Sometimes, I wonder how I got here.  🙂

Fruit Smiles and The Worry Box

So I have two kids in therapy, does that make me a bad mother?  Mary dealt with her issues today, and I had the pleasure of sitting in for about 15 minutes. Her anxiety level is fierce, which is rearing it’s ugly head. Girls in general are a pretty insecure bunch and certainly don’t need help from “clinical anxiety” to feel like failures. Am I right? I’m hoping her time with her therapist will help her build coping skills for emotional and high pressure situations. With this goal in mind, H, Mary’s therapist, came up with a brilliant plan: We’ve created a worry box!! During the day, Mary is to write down all of the worrisome thoughts she has so we can go through them at the end of the day. This provides two things: Mother daughter bonding time and the opportunity for Mary to discuss whatever is bothering her. Genius!!!

We had our very first worry box session this evening and it went perfectly! Mary discussed her anxiety over a tense moment in the house, along with being afraid of the dark. I’m sure tomorrow will bring a flood of  worry notes, but I think this is a great addition to our life.

I’m now sitting in the kitchen, munching on Fruit Smiles and watching my little darling create a birthday card for her friend’s birthday party tomorrow. She is very excited and told me that her “Happy” squashes her “Scared.” Amazing.

Coffee and the Roller Queen

Even though it’s been a while since my last post, don’t mistake that for a lull in action! Seriously, there is never down time in my world. There is so much ground to cover and hopefully I won’t write in a jumbled, fragmented mess.

Tonight I took Mary to a roller rink!! Whoot whoot! I haven’t been on skates in over 2o years and thought I was tempting the Gods on that one. I was like a newborn deer at first, trying to find my legs. Then, the first notes of Thrillerbegan to play and suddenly, I was my old roller queen self again! Ever thoughtful of embarrassing my dear daughter, I searched the floor to find her and hope she didn’t see the sway of my hips and the feline creeping of my shoulders. I was relieved to find her in the center of the rink, wiggling her own hips and doing the sassy neck thing! Whew, I was safe. There’s nothing like a good pair of roller skates to take a girl back to the “good ‘ole days.”

Another highlight of my week was a coffee date with Mike and Dan. Seriously, Mike and I never have enough time to finish a conversation! Both of us are always on the go, and when we do get a minute to chat, our mutual ADD takes over. Anyway, our coffee date was smartly anchored by Dan, who is the opposite 0f us. I swear he gave me a look that said, “Oh God, there’s two of them!” Mike and I are good like that 🙂 We laugh, touch, and fling topics back and forth and then back again. He’s my conversational soul mate!

Other than those two exciting events, my week has been kind of drab. Since I’m out of work for the semester, our budget won’t allow for satellite TV. I’ve missed American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. Life sucks. But, thank God for the “intertube” as I am now calling it! I can find every performance thanks to You Tube, which I’ve never utilized before. I love that site! I found myself addicted to vintage American Idol. WTF?! I cried like a baby while watching the Carrie Underwood finale from a few years ago. I swear, it’s like it was happening all over again! I’m a twit, I get that.

Now, getting to the heart of the matter, I’ve been spending the majority of my spring break avoiding the catch up work I need to do for school, along with putting the manuscripts that are writing themselves in my head on paper. I think I’ve lost my MoJo. Bummer. I really hate the university and have to find some way to embrace the un-embraceable (is that even a word?). Whatever, the bottom line is that I have to find my “Tinaness” so I can get to where I’m going.

If I don’t pull myself together, I always have my skating career to fall back on 🙂

**Peace out**

“Strange things are afoot at the Circle K”

I’m not sure what’s happening, but it’s coming over me, taking my drive and focus to a far away land. Here I am, on the brink of achieving all that I’ve worked so hard for and I’m heading into an abyss of self-sabotage. What gives?

I suppose at the root of my current funk is the disillusionment of University education. I expected to be challenged, to expand on my community college education. What I have is boredom, laziness, and the knowledge that I’m almost over prepared for where I’m at. Is it going to be this way the entire time? Am I going to look back and question the monetary investment? I’m hoping that grad school will feed me, as I will most definitely be starving by then.

The high point of my week found me back at Delta. I was asked to guest speak to a class of honors students about my writing, creative process, and so the students could “meet the author.” One of my essays is featured in their Composition II course pack. Included with my essay is a commentary about the development and revision of that piece. I’m proud of my work and feel honored to be included in the teaching process. The students were full of questions and one even e-mailed an essay for my “expert” critique.

While I was conversing with a faculty member, my former Honors Speech professor asked me to speak to her students as well. This group wasn’t as serious and I would even go so far as to call them an unruly bunch. The boys were flirty and kept questioning my age: “Are you seriously 33? I just don’t see it!” As flattering as that is, he took it a bit too far. I handled it well, but hated being in that position. I did get a chance to talk to the students about autism awareness, which is always a good thing!

I stopped by to see a few other friends on the faculty and was met with smiles and hugs. I can’t wait to be done with my education and get into the classroom! I feel so blessed to know so many future colleagues.  🙂

 I’ve got to pull out of this mood and push forward, persevere, kick down a few doors! Where is that overachiever that dwells within me? I’m afraid she’s going to tell the world to fuck off. She’s done this before. If you see her, tell her to shut up!

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