Happy Birthday, Xandra Janelle!

It’s Xandra’s 11th Birthday today.

Xani 3

Wow! Does time ever fly by? It’s hard to believe that this little girl has grown up so fast.

She was my BABY. I wanted a baby and had Geli and all she wanted to do was to grow up so SO fast. So I got pregnant with Alexandra 6 months after Angelica was born and she was ALL BABY, ALL THE TIME!

In fact, Xandra was still a baby LOOOOONG after Jeremy was born.

She still wanted to be held and carried and packed around like a baby. She did for a long time.

Xani 1

I remember us talking about how she was in her own little word. I thought that was just her personality….turns out she just couldn’t see and all those hours spent talking to herself as she sat 2 inches away from the mirror were probably her way of connecting with actual people instead of moving and shifting blobs….

I remember the Dr talking to us about how poor her eye sight actually was. It’s amazing she is as well adjusted as she is and now, her eye sight is fairly well…..not perfect, but perfect with glasses and honestly, the Dr wasn’t even sure that we could pull that much off. So we are so thankful for how far she’s come.

The school was even talking to us about autism in Grade One…..got the girl some glasses and turns out that not only is she not autistic, but that she’s above average. Who woulda thunk it?

Xani 2

She is happy and bubbly and has the most amazing personality. She is soft and gentle followed with a quick wit and acid temper if she is crossed. She is the most amazing set of contradictions and I love her. She makes me laugh and cry and wonder how I was so blessed to have been a part of bringing her into this world.

She is growing up so fast. Faster than Geli is… in some ways…..it’s scarey. I’m not sure if it’s her friends this year or just her inquisitive personality, but she’s so interested in fashion and all things “girly” and even boys…..

One thing we have in our favor is that we can and do talk about so much. She has unending questions and while I might not always have the answers, we can at least go searching for those answers together and hand in hand we will find answers to all the questions she has.

Xani 4

She is growing up to be a gorgeous woman inside and out and while she still has some time yet…I often catch glimpses of the woman she will become and my heart swells with pride and love and joy…..but mostly love.

Happy 11th Birthday, my sweet bunny!

Nothing of Value……

I have absolutely nothing of value to say.

I tried 4 times and wrote 4 different posts actual, whole, REALLY SUCKY posts on that day that Jon guest posted and then I gave up and asked if he had anything.

Siah has slept through the night exactly ONCE in the last 2 weeks and that was Saturday night.

He has had 2 allergic reactions complete with bloody diarrhea, vomiting, screaming, and wicked WICKED, gut bloating, stomach rumbling gas. Throw into the middle of that a wicked virus, that I’m guessing attacked because his immune system was compromised, and you have my life over the last 2 weeks.

I’m so freaking exhausted that I can’t think straight.

I’m losing words…you know when you can see the word in your mind or a picture of the word or an idea of what your talking about and you can’t verbalize it…..ya I sound like a complete idiot right now as I struggle for words and they just aren’t coming.

I’m forgetting things….important things.

I don’t do this. I’m an “on top of it” kind of person. I remember everything. I don’t goof up (much).

I figure that conservatively we have been getting about a total of 3-4 hours of sleep a night and that’s been broken up into hour stretches.

I’m an 8hr of sleep a night person and this feels like it’s slowly destroying me.

On top of that, he is miserable and tired and because of that tiredness and cranky-ness, Siah is an absolute MONSTER during the day. After the good sleep on Saturday night, he was his normal happy self on Sunday morning, but after a too short of an afternoon sleep – he once again crossed over into “grouchy bear” territory.

I think about my bed. I fantasize about sleep. I dream about running away from my children and my home and all the packing and moving and sleeping for 2 weeks. I just want a few consecutive days of sleep straight through in a row. It’s so sad.

I really just want my baby to sleep.

And so, I have no idea when I’ll have something exciting to say or even interesting as I’m certain that this is not interesting reading material. Something amazing might happen today and I might scrape together the effort to share it……….or not!

I LOVE to come here and share, but when I’m this tired I’m aware of what that “something to share” sounds (or reads) like. BORING! And so I’ll be back when I can find my brain or my funny or even if I just get a good bit of sleep…..

I’m on drugs… Really!

guest post by Jon

Quite some time ago, some helpful person told us that our son was NOT normal. Actually it was a pre-school teacher that pointed out that our son, over there in the corner constructing the Great Wall of China out of foam blocks, was not behaving in the same range of “normal” as those other kids, all sitting quietly around the table coloring neatly inside the lines. They informed us that he was exhibiting traits that are found on the autistic spectrum and was either under-focusing or over-focusing.

In an ill-formed attempt to send him down the right path, we put him into a nice, strict, traditional school with uniforms and everything. At the end of that year the wonderful teacher burst into tears to tell us that traditional education was not going to work for him – something about neat rows and following directions. This of course was somewhat disturbing because we thought (read we were “skeered”) that the local school’s “regular” curriculum would wreck him, but the neat rows would wreck him faster.

In the regular, disorderly, not-neat row, not uniformed, elementary school, we found a lot more support. We heard terms “AD/HD” and “Autistic Spectrum” again, and we were encouraged to have a look into that, in a friendly way. Rather than going to those nasty, drug pushing, dope-your-kids-into-a-coma, pediatricians, we went to a naturopath.

The naturopath did a bunch of tests and found that there were some major food allergies and some heavy metal toxicity. We changed our diet and did see some big improvements and by the end of grade 1, things were looking a bit better. Then we did a “cleanse” for the heavy metals and things went right back to where they were in the beginning. Although it shows that were were onto something, the naturopath never brought things back down.

In grade 2 we were faced with a choice of going to a pediatrician, getting an actual diagnosis, and taking meds… or… working really hard at diet, vitamins, special teas, etc. the Pros for the pediatrician/meds option is that things would be instantly better, his behavior would be more tolerable, and most of all, he might actually sit still and learn. On the negative side, it would be easier for us… not kidding… that was our thinking. See, if it is easier for us, then maybe we should just try harder, help in the class more, buy more expensive, more organic, more exotic food. So we made the grade 2 teacher deal with the full level of his behavior for the full year while we debated this.

For me, it came down to education. I couldn’t give mind-altering, behavior changing meds to my son that would just make things easier for me unless I really understood what was happening. [I’m debating getting all technical here and referring to books that I read, but if you really want the info, then you can e-mail me at jon@jculley.com and I’ll send you more info]

Synopsis:
AD/HD is a disorder where the body is not creating enough dopamine (we’ll call that “brain food”). The prefrontal cortex is the front-top part of the brain and is responsible for “executive function” – or in plain English, it makes your brain organized and prioritized. The prefrontal cortex eats the food (dopamine) in order to do its job. If there is not enough food, then it slows down and starts working poorly. If that happens, then the rest of the brain is left to figure out its own priorities. In the case of a 6 year old, that means that they will choose as the highest priority whatever creates the most excitement. In the case of a creative 6 year old, there are some REALLY exciting thoughts available to choose from. This 6 year old will “seem” hyper because they are bouncing from one exiting thought to another. In the case of a 34 year old male, who is running their own business, it might mean being overly focused on the first e-mail he reads that day and loosing track of other priorities that were more important, like paying the phone bill before it gets cut off today.

Suffice it to say, that when reading about how and why my sons brain works the way it does, I saw why my brain works the way that it does. I saw why I keep having customers that have to wait too long for things that I should have been able to deal with faster, while focusing on the most exciting project that day.

So we made an appointment for our son to see the pediatrician and we made an appointment for me to see a shrink. We both got diagnosed with AD/HD a week apart (feeling all proud of myself for walking through this with him). We put him on Ritalin and it was like a light switch… He remained creative and boyish, and artistic, but instantly started making better choices that meant less consequences, and less destruction to clean up after. He became more articulate, started playing with friends, tidied his room by himself, and other things that made us cry.

I, on my shrinks direction, started drinking fish oil (turns out that fish oil is really good for AD/HD) and taking Ginko Biloba, but organization did not pick up for me all that much. I went back to see the shrink, and he has now started me on two meds… 1) Welbutrin – which is technically an anti-depressant (and sometimes called the “happy” drug) but has an effect of creating a fair bit of dopamine, and helps you to see through the anxiety of the large task list of things that you have been forgetting to do, and 2) Dexadrine – a mild stimulant.

*** that’s right, for AD/HD you get a stimulant! In fact coffee helps people with AD/HD. Don’t ever listen to that un-educated person that says you shouldn’t give a hyper kid coffee. The caffeine creates dopamine and helps them make better choices and they seem to slow down, because their brains are working faster. ***

I have to say that I have had my own light switch moment. Whilst taking the stimulant, I wake up with a better sense of my day’s priorities. I can see, AND REMEMBER, my task list throughout the day. I can adjust to new tasks that get added in throughout the day. I can say “No” to distractions a LOT easier. I am getting things done. I feel like I am in control of the important things in my life, rather than running behind them.

But I am still me. I can still articulate my thoughts. I feel and have to deal with the same range of emotions. I can still solve complicated programming issues with the same diagnostic mind, but I don’t get lost in that programming issue to the expense of the rest of the world.

AND, I am not on drugs forever. I am working on developing new planning and organizational habits that will help even when I am off the meds, but it is WAY easier to keep at those skills until they become habits while on them.

In Conclusion, the local schools have been GREAT (for all our kids). The naturopath was on the right track, but didn’t get us far enough for long enough. The pediatrician was not a pill pusher. Ritalin does not make your kids comatose. The grade 2 teacher endured a lot (and we are really sorry). The shrink was not a pill pusher either. AND… It is a real benefit for an adult to deal with their AD/HD; It is not just a kid thing.

I Value…..

Father’s Day came and went and I didn’t even say a word about it. I was too caught up in the drama and misery of my own life….and just to keep it real for ya’ll – the baby had a wicked case of the runs and it had me worried….virus or allergic reaction or both? I was so messed up over it all. It was not cool!

Anyway, I have some thoughts…. Who woulda thunk it, eh?

At my sister’s wedding on Saturday, my father got up and gave a toast or a blessing or basically he choked back a few words about my sister and her hubby and her daughters. It’s always fun to get my dad to talk about his kids in public because he gets all emotional and if you know my dad at all, you know that he holds himself pretty tightly together, but get him to start talking about how much he loves his kids and about how proud he is of them and….. he pretty much looses it!

While he’s losing it, he tries desperately hard to keep it all together and ends up doing that weird throat clearing thing to keep his cool. It’s adorable and we all love it and it makes everyone cry.

Anyway, I sat at the table in the reception and felt an unfamiliar pang of jealousy shoot right through me. As I processed, I realized it was because I wanted to hear my daddy say amazing, wonderful things about me. I wanted to hear how proud he was of me and how much he loved me. I wanted to hear him speak those life-giving words of affirmation over me.

I know that if I asked him to, he would. He loves me. He loves all of us kids fiercely and while he is not one to throw his words around lightly….I believe that his love for us is so deep and strong that if he fully “unleashed it”, that he is not prepared for the depth and strength of emotion that would overwhelm him and so he speaks of his love carefully…. but his love and heart shine through in so many of his actions. He would do anything for us……and he has.

He is an amazing man and yet sometimes, a misunderstood man. I love my father so much!

But this whole situation………. has really got me thinking.

I want to be one who speaks life giving words to others. I want to tell my kids and my husband and my family and my friends and even my acquaintances how much I love/like/appreciate them. I want to be extravagant with my praise. I don’t want to just throw the words around so carelessly that they hold no meaning, but I do not want to hold those affirming words captive within myself, either.

I want to be one who speaks of my love for my family and friends. I want to let others know how much I appreciate them and how thankful I am for who they are and what they mean to me. I want to tell my kids how proud I am of them and how much I value WHO they are even more so than what they DO. I don’t want people wondering what they mean to me or assuming that I think highly of them. I want them to know that I value them.

I want to be one who breathes life through my words and actions.

The Gentleness in His Soul Shines Through

The Gentleness in His Soul Shines Through

We called the new school today to talk with the principal about classroom placement.

We are not asking for a specific class or teacher, as we don’t know the teachers at this school. What we are wanting is the best for our child and the only way to have a possibility of getting that for him is to speak up.

Having a child that requires some extra support has taught us so much about the need for parental advocates.

Whether your child needs extra help in school or specific medical care or specific emotional or mental care…..if your child has needs (what child doesn’t) and it doesn’t seems like they are getting the help that they need – then I believe that it is our job as parents to speak up for them in the situations where their voices either aren’t heard or they don’t have the strength, knowledge or weight for their voices to carry loud enough to be heard.

We have learned that it is SO IMPORTANT to advocate for your child….because if you don’t – it is highly unlikely that anyone else will.

You know your child. You know what is best. And if there is something that you think will help your child, then voice your desires and your concerns and don’t let up until you get a result that is acceptable to you. We have found that once the teacher/principal/doctor or whoever else we are talking with realizes that we are serious….typically they then take the situation a little more serious and give it some extra attention and effort.

Too often the people on the “other side” are just over worked and trying to make the best of a difficult situation. We have found that most everybody really wants to help. We have found that if we can clearly state a)what we are wanting, b)what we see as problematic and c)what we think could be an answer that often times it is so easy to come up with a solution that suits all of us involved. Especially when we bring it all back to the success or health of our child, “personally”. This is where that investment in relationship comes in especially handy.

And today…we took the initial steps toward building that relationship with the principal of the kids new school.

As much as I hate to say it, the two girls weren’t even mentioned.

I hate that we have to mention Jeremy, but I’m more than willing to do it.

And as it turns out, it was a very good move and even better timing….they ARE working on the classes for the fall and there are two grade 4 classes. One is very structured and rigid and the other is slanted a bit more to the creative side of things. He even mentioned that there is more parental involvement and communication needed and required in the second one. We hope this is a good thing and we’ll see. Jon is going to meet with him next week to talk some more.

It’s hard to try and explain your son to someone in just a few short moments. You throw that ADHD label out there like a gauntlet and because there is so much misinformation and lack of understanding on top of such a BROAD scale of definitions, and you never know what someone’s perception is going to be.

We were asked if Jeremy is violent or aggressive and those questions just take my breath away. This boy is so soft and gentle and so funny and kind and so passionate and creative and so energetic and inventive, but he is not violent or aggressive. We are blessed.

The areas that Jeremy struggles the most with are impulsivity and executive function.

And on medication, he is basically a normal boy. He is an energetic 8 year old boy, who also happens to be the youngest in his class (typically) and has had a few rough(er) years. I also believe that he is brilliant (not just a mother talking – the teachers and principal, psychologist, and pediatrician and learning assistant teachers have all mentioned it) and on the meds, his actual intelligence helps him to “fit within the normal range” for his age and grade and actually mask some of the actual learning disorder that I believe he might have.

I’d like to get him assessed so that if there is in fact, a learning disability that he would be able to benefit from the options available to him in High School and college or university.

I just wish that I could show everyone the heart and soul of this little boy….this young man. Everyone that has actually gotten to know him has fallen in love with him. I just wish that none of this were necessary in the first place.

But for now it is, and for now we advocate for him the best that we can.

We want him to succeed and will do just about anything to enable him to do so.

…..and regardless of the challenges that he faces, I believe he will succeed.

For Better, For Worse, For Ever

My sister got married this weekend…..for the second time.

I had so many mixed emotions this weekend and if you add a baby who was sick, and then seemed to be better and then was definitely sick again….by last night I was completely spent and this morning, I just wanted to crawl back in bed.

As it is, I sit here in my jammies with brutal hair and my oldest, frumpiest, comfy-est hoody on and I’m drinking green tea with brown rice (my comfort tea, second only to Earl Grey with lots of sugar and milk – but seeing as I don’t drink milk anymore, that kinda kills that drink, no?) It really doesn’t help that it’s raining outside and the grey blah-ness of it all makes me want to go and burrow deep into my bed and forget about everything for a moment.

I didn’t have any issues with my sister or with her ex-husband. I loved them both. I had accepted them both as family. Their differences were not my differences and so the split was a difficult one for me……

I handled it badly. I’ll just say that….. Just put it out there. At a time when I should have been supportive and loving – I was preachy and judgmental. And when it all came down to it…..my actions and reactions wedged a space in our relationship.

I was mad at her. This was the first time that I’d come face to face with a relationship break up that affected me (selfish, much?) and for all the pain that I was feeling over it all for her, for him, for their girls….I couldn’t get past the pain that I was feeling and my self-righteous, judgmental attitude. I can’t even fathom the pain that she must have been feeling to make the decision in the first place. I’m not saying that it was right or wrong or making any calls on it. I wasn’t there in between their 4 walls, witness to all that went on. When it all comes down to it, that’s not my place nor is it a responsibility that I want…one of making judgment calls of right or wrong for someone else. When I look back now, I just can’t even imagine what she was feeling and then to know that I just added to the pain…..it just about kills me, now.

I look back and wish that I could have done differently….that I could have acted differently. I wish then that I knew what I know now. It’s not my place to judge. My place is to love. Unconditionally loving….that’s how I want to be, to live, to act. I want to be able to love unconditionally.

I can do that. At the very least, I can try to do that.

So on Saturday, seeing her look so beautiful and seeing her so happy and seeing embracing a new start…..it was….I don’t know what to say it was. It was so many things. It was lovely. It was beautiful. It was the end and a beginning. It was happy and sad. It was so many mixed emotions (for me).

I am so happy for her. She is marrying a good guy. He loves her. He loves the girls. Those little girls have walked a journey that I don’t envy and yet here they are with a mother who loves them, and a father who loves them and a step-father who loves them and lots of family on all three sides who love them. It’s not an easy path they are walking and not one that they chose and yet……in it all – they are extravagantly loved…..which has to count for something, right?

It’s really not about me. Except that “this” is me. These “are” my feelings. I’m a bit mixed up about it all. I’ll be fine. We have love on our side and we’ll get through this as a family.

It’s just something new….and I often don’t do well with “new” stuff.

I just want to make sure that I show more love and support than I have in the past. I didn’t like that side of me that was so judgmental and hurtful and selfish. I want to be more loving and compassionate and thoughtful and to be thinking outside my self. I want to show my family (and friends and those I come in contact with) that I will love them in the good times and in the bad times; in the happy times and in the hurt times….for better, for worse, FOREVER!

…to make the weekend a little bit more fun-ner!

And we woke up this morning to Siah barfing.

I seriously cannot believe it. Well, I guess I can as it’s actually true, but good grief.

And, if the barfing weren’t bad enough he’s got a fever of 102*F.

So, I have no idea what this means for my plans for this weekend, but today – I’ll be staying at home today praying that my little boy feels better.

He has fallen back to sleep right now and I’m hoping that he will sleep peacefully for a while. After the initial barf-fest at 5am, he did come to bed and we snuggled and slept and then he woke at at 6:45am and barfed some more. Fun, Fun!

So, I’ll be spending a greater portion of today snuggling my baby. Which except for the sick part, is not a bad way to spend a day.

All Boxed Up

The kids and I declared today that Daddy was terribly nerdly as he requires that ALL our boxes are the same size so that we can pack them and stack them in perfectly neat rows and stacks.

And I thought I was the one with the OCD tenancies inherited from my father and grandmother.

Whew! I am brutal tired right now.

I packed and packed and packed and packed some more.

And I have thrown out half our house – it feels like – and it’s awful the amount of junk that we have collected over the past 8+ years of living here. It’s amazing to me that there is so much crap that I’m not even willing to garage sale, and yet it was too valuable to throw out.

Are you kidding me? WOW!

The worst part of today was when Jon loaded up the van with bags and bags of garbage to take to the dump and a few big garbage bags of clothes to drop off at the thrift store and then he drove off only to call me about 15 minutes later with the news that the dump had new hours and closed at 5pm on weekdays….it was 5:07pm. So that meant that he had to come home and unload all the crap back into our garage. UGH! I can sense the mountain of garbage down there. I was so looking forward to one less thing cluttering up my mind and now it sits there….so SO annoying.

It feels a little weird to have boxed up so much and to have so many bags of garbage and to feel like I’ve not really done anything.

I mean, my house was a bit messy when I started this morning and now it’s pretty clean. Not amazing, but definately WAY BETTER than this morning AND just today, I managed to throw out a bin liner of crap and also to pack away about 15 boxes.

I’m guessing that I do a pretty good job of keeping everything tucked away in behind cupboards and in closets and drawers….I’m liking the fact that my house is looking a little emptier…not as much as you’d think it would look with the number of boxes down in the office/storage area. I’d like to try and keep it that way.

But for now I’m tired……so So SO tired.

And so, I shall go to bed.

I’m off to work tomorrow and then back home and then to my sister’s wedding rehearsal (an hour away) and then home again and them back to my sisters wedding and then to church and then to the evening service, as we are responsible for that this week as well………and so tomorrow starts the crazy busy weekend that I’ve been dreading all week. Not that I’m dreading my sister’s wedding, just the craziness of the whole weekend.

But I am looking forward to moving into my very own house…..and it’s coming soon. Oh So Soon! YIPEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Too Fast, Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

I can hardly believe that SIah is almost two years old.

I know that I just did an update post about him, but it’s really hitting hard that my baby is moving on from becoming a baby and that he’s becoming a little boy.

I have nursed him to sleep forever. Yes, I nurse him to sleep and you know what……I do it gladly…well, mostly gladly. And I’m not even really that much upset that it means that I’ve had absolutely NO LIFE for the past almost two years.

I chose to do this. I didn’t have to. I wanted to.

All the “things” that they tell you to do with your kids…I have tried it all. I nursed them. I bottle fed them. I formula fed them. I swaddled them to sleep. I put them to sleep on their backs and on their sides and on their tummy’s and I let them cry it out and I bounced them and rocked them and sang to them…pretty much if its out there….I’ve done it.

I wasn’t trying to create little schizophrenic little babies and so I didn’t do this to one kid all at the same time. It just seemed that for each kid the “experts” recommended something different. I guess that’s what happens when you have kids over a 10 – 12 year span.

But with Siah, I wanted to slow life down and to take the time to really enjoy him. I wanted to cherish every last minute that I could.

Before I just couldn’t slow my life down. I “fit” the babies into my life and now I regret it. I couldn’t wait for them to grow up. I was always pushing and encouraging them to reach the next milestone beacause it meant that I was one step closer to freedom. I was one step closer to getting “my life” back. I was so selfish and immature back then. I wish I could go back in time and have a chat with myself and tell myself that this time with them was so short, that once it was gone – I could never get it back; and that I would regret not just enjoying them where they were at.

Now I know how fast they grow up. I did not know to take advantage of the fact that one child is so easy and that you could “try” to nap or at least rest when they slept because if/when you had a second one…..ya, that possibility is not even anywhere close to being a reality. Now I know that the crazy first year of life is one to hold onto and enjoy…even the cruddy lack of sleep times and the crying times and the all the horrible times……it’s such a short amount of time and when they are 7 or 10 or older – you realize that the time has flown by and you wonder how it happened that you got from there to here.

I don’t believe that this means that you can’t whine about how tough it is….it is tough. MOTHERHOOD IS TOUGH….but try to enjoy every minute that you can, recognizing that it goes all too fast. Now I realize that all those things that I thought were so important – were not; and the times that I resented my tiny little one for getting in the way of “my life”…….well, I can never get back that time, but those opportunities that pop up….well typically a better one comes up later down the road and now I know that “this time” is the most important thing to me.

I chose to take extra time with Siah and now I’m finding that our time and our routines and our schedules are evolving to accommodate a little boy instead of a little baby. We still nurse but even that is changing. He used to fall asleep when he nursed and now, more often than not, he is still awake when he’s done. And Jon’s been putting him to sleep….which is another step of him growing up and moving on. He’s not needing me for everything. I’m getting to adjust to not being his “everything”. It’s another adjustment and yet like all the rest of “this growing up” and transitioning from one phase to another…..I am determined to enjoy it.

I want to be able to enjoy all of the different phases of all of my kid lives. Sometimes it is easier to enjoy the different phases than at other times, but one thing I’m learning is that “this time (the present)” is so fleeting and that once it passes I can never get it back.

I want to live my life so that I have no regrets or at least as little regrets as possible. This requires that I take time to figure out what’s really important to me and what things just aren’t as important. It also requires that I spend time talking to and gleaning information from those who are further down this road of life and who have been where I am at. I can learn from their experiences, from their mistakes and from their successes. Then I can make the best choices for me and for my family. Years from now I will look at my family and see the investment of my time and love and effort and I will never regret that.

Guilty Pleasure

It was Xandra and Jeremy’s Sports Day today.

Xandra & Poojah

In the past we have been “those involved parents”. You know…..the ones helping out in the classroom, helping the teachers with photocopying or with crafts or field trips or at the concession stands at sports days or family fun nights.

You need someone to help out. WE ARE HERE TO SERVE.

This has always been our “way” of doing things. And then……

Then I lost Nathaniel and yet I still plowed on. Then we had the other 3 losses and I still plowed on. Then I got pregnant with Siah and still plowed on. Then my brother just about died in a crash with a semi-truck and I took a tiny break but still I plowed on. Are you sensing a theme here??? Then I had Siah and planned on plowing on, but I realized that I needed to take “sometime” to focus on just us…..and I did still end up heading back into the school to help out but during that time off something shifted.

Running HardI realized that my kids were important, and that I wanted to help out and be involved with them and their school, but WHY???

That became the BIG QUESTION for me.

See, I do think that if it’s possible, that it’s a good, and even a GREAT, idea to be somewhat involved in the school that your kids go to.

1. If you are involved then the teachers actually get to “know” you.
2. The “knowing” leads to relationship and SO MUCH BENEFIT comes from relationship.
3. If there are any problems with your child, it is so much easier to navigate those murkey waters from a position of relationship.
4. If your child needs extra help academically, the “relationship” that you have with the teachers means that you will get better treatment than those who are fringe parents….is this a “fair” thing, nope, but it is what it is…

Relationship is everything. So much in the “real world” is in “who you know”….it can make or break you.

BUT….I have found that finding the balance is SO important.

Am I there? No, in fact this past year has been a wicked brutal year for us and I have probably swung way to far to the other end of the spectrum and and am desperately hanging off the threads of the past few years of relationship to carry me through this year.

Jon and I got hired in town (Vancouver) in January of this year and we live out in the Fraser Valley and that means that typically 3-4 days a week we make the hour’s commute in and then again at the end of the day and we have just been basically trying to survive. All of this with one pre-teen (that right there is enough for a crisis all on it’s own) who is also in her first year of late French Immersion. One other pre-teen who’s moods can flail from one end of the spectrum to the other within the space of 5 minutes. A son with ADD/ADHD who is struggling with all that entails, and a baby. It’s been a bit of a wild ride the past 6 months. Add selling off a part of our company and still maintaining the other part of it….and yah, it’s rocked!!!!

Outta Control

One thing that has TOTALLY fallen off the radar is school volunteering.

We walked onto the school yard today and hearing the comments of “it’s been so long since we’ve seen you around here?” and “You’ve been so busy, eh?” and all the other little comments just nailed home to me how brutal it is to live under all that pressure.

It’s amazing how guilt sits like a cloud around the school.

Siah

We attended the Sports Day today. That’s it. We could have offered to help. We could have squeezed some blood out of that stone and given some more of our time and our selves and yet we chose not to.

We chose to focus only on our kids. We went. We cheered them on. We took pics. We bought them junk food from the concession stand to celebrate the day and then we left before it all finished.

It felt HORRIBLE and yet AMAZING.

Siah & Jon

I felt like we were letting the other parents down by not “doing our part”. I realize that if there are no volunteers then a lot of fun things won’t happen, but sometimes you just have to enjoy your kids without the pressure and responsibility of making it all happen for everyone else. And today…..was that day for us. And I determined that I was going to enjoy every minute that I was there. It was so nice to just “be there” for our kids.

I’m already feeling the pressure of having to start all over again and building relationship with the teachers and principals at the kids new school in September. But I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do it for good reasons and within boundaries that work for me and don’t lead me to feel like I’m giving everything that I have or being taken advantage of.