Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time management techniques anyone?

This is just one of those days when I have too many things to do, to figure out where to start.  And how did I spend my 30 minutes before class started when I got to work? Shopping online for shampoo.  Those are the times when I think, if I could have just used that time more effectively, I wouldn’t feel so frazzled.  But then I try and make myself feel better and instead think, maybe I deserve a break every once in a while. Nobody is productive all the time.  Right? Or maybe that’s just me rationalizing…

My husband is an amazing help in all aspects of my life.  All I have to do is ask him.  The problem is, I don’t even know what to ask half the time! It really doesn’t seem fair to have him shop for his own Christmas presents, and though I could ask him to research the differences between my current $1.50 shampoo and my seemingly new found interest in better shampoo, it doesn’t seem like the best use of his time (or mine either as a matter of fact, but I’m stuck on it).  And having him write this blog, also seems somewhat silly.  Now I can tell you, as he reads this, he will think, ok, just don’t waste your time on things that aren’t important or crucial.  And of course he’s right, though I’ll try and avoid telling him that in person, but it’s one of the things I’ve struggled with all my life. 

Christmas gifts, the current task, are a perfect example.  I could probably take 10 minutes, look at everyone’s Amazon lists, order something from it, and be done until it arrives and needs to be wrapped.  But instead, I actually do like to spend time choosing something with meaning (though usually still from an Amazon list) and weighing the options between the different items on said lists.  This of course takes more time, but Christmas is supposed to be about more than just a randomly chosen gift and so I try to make it more meaningful. How does this fit in with my current schedule? Not well, but I’m not going to give up.  I will still enjoy my Christmas shopping, and I will still finish Tera’s stocking (but it may be closer to next Christmas), and I will still fit in visits with friends and family, and I will still make it to doctor appointments and therapy sessions, and at some point in there I will workout and sleep.  I don’t know how, but I will!
This is the way to live.  Just enjoying the simple things, like a bear that plays peek a boo with you...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Overemotional? Yep that's me...

This weekend was a little more emotional for me than I expected.  Every time we have go through a new experience or milestone or holiday I experience a feeling of excitement and anticipation and then a let down afterwards when it’s over and I realize that she’s getting so big so fast.  This weekend was her first Thanksgiving and her first tree cutting and soon it will be her first Christmas and first New Year and then, do I even mention it, her first birthday. 

I think I’m still overly emotional much of the time and I wish I could make it stop because sometimes while it should be something I should be enjoying, I spend it thinking and feeling too much.  I wish I knew how much of this was just normal first time mom stuff and how much is related to the fact that I’m still adjusting to what Down Syndrome now means to me.  I have talked and heard from many other moms that tell me everything I’m going through is normal mom stuff, but I know that’s not all of it.  So many of our decisions and plans and choices revolve around that aspect of our lives right now and I’m not a person who’s gone through life with a “let’s just wait and see what happens” kind of mentality.  I like to have a plan; I may not even necessarily stick to that plan, but there is a plan in place nonetheless. 

The other emotion that keeps getting to me is nostalgia.  I think typically nostalgia is something that comes years after a time period has ended, but I think it still pretty accurately describes the feelings I’m experiencing.  We have a digital frame in our living room and as you can probably imagine, it’s mostly full of pictures of Tera.  Every time a picture of us in the hospital with her or even of our first few weeks home, I get this pang of “nostalgia” and wanting to go back to that time.  I don’t even know why because even though she’s been an easy baby since day one, it was a harder time because I was adjusting to SO much at one time.  But I think it’s a longing for a time when it was just the beginning of our little family and it was my time with her and work wasn’t an issue.  And I can’t help but wonder, will it get better? It sounds so crazy to say that I enjoyed my time in the hospital because at the time all I wanted to do was be home, but because we were experiencing so much Tom and I and our family and friends were bonding (it sounds so after school special but it’s true) even though it was over a traumatic event.  I guess I”ll have to see how this all plays out and find a way to deal with my clinging to the beginning of all of this and maybe time will improve it…

And finally, as I’ve written before, I can’t believe how much more difficult it is to go back to work after more time than usual with Tom and Tera.  I feel like so much of our time during the week is spent on therapy and appointments that when we have a stretch of time without all of that, it’s so blissful.  Sunday we didn’t even leave the house and none of us changed out of our lounging clothes.  In fact, Tera was the only one who actually got clean at any point and it was amazing.  But then my old friend anxiety decided to pay a visit last night and I couldn’t even enjoy the last few hours of our weekend without worrying about the fact that it was ending.  But as Tom and I discussed, we have a few too many expenses for either of us not to back to work every Monday and so I muddle through it trying to get just one more kiss and smile from her and waiting until the next weekend.  If anybody has the cure for this, I’m open to suggestions…

Friday, November 25, 2011

My corny Thanksgiving "thankfuls" Part 3

Our friends: I just recently read a post in my Baby Center forum that asked how many people’s friendships have changed for better and worse since the addition of DS into their lives, and sadly a lot of people commented how their friends have just slowly faded away.  I can’t believe how different this is from our situation.  Our friends have been nothing less than amazing (both before and since Tera’s birth).  Even their families have followed Tera’s story and many of them follow her FB page and share their support.  Words can’t express how much more than just friends they are; they are all truly a part of our family. 

My coworkers: These ladies definitely fall under the friends category also, but they are a unique group of friends because we spend so much of our time together.  I was one of the last ones of my coworkers (my age anyway) to get pregnant and they were all so excited when they found out.  In fact, three of us were pregnant at the same (almost 4 depending on when you start counting).   When Tera was born I shared the news with one of my best friends/coworker and she shared it with the girls at work.  I had a whole department of coworkers, a boss, and an advisory group of students that were all anxious to find out about my new daughter.  I asked two of them to share the news with my department and my kids.  This was really hard for me because I knew my seniors would be worried and they took care of everything.  They sent us food, checked on me, and oooohed and aaaahed over my beautiful little girl and they all said all the right things.  Since I’ve been back at work, they have continued to be as supportive and have made the balance of work and home more bearable.  They have made me say no and helped me to realize my limitations, my strengths, and priorities and I love them to death. 

Tera: I think this goes without saying.  I’m going to make it short and sweet though.  She has made me appreciate life in a way I never thought I could.  She has made me slow down (which is ironic considering how high maintenance she is…) and let go of unimportant things.  She has defined perfection and made me realize plans change, but love doesn’t.

Ok, I think I’ve thanked almost everyone except the mailman.  If you’re reading this and you don’t think you fall under any of these categories, just know that by reading this, you definitely fit into a category of supporters I am so thankful for and maybe before I’m done posting thanks during this week, you too will be included.   

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My corny Thanksgiving "thankfuls" Part 2

And continued from yesterday...

My mom: There can exist a relationship between a mother and daughter unlike any other.  This does  not automatically happen, but is something that has to be developed and nurtured.  My mom is my role model.  She is an amazingly strong woman who I have more respect for than I could ever express.  She has loved being a mom and I have never once questioned her love and devotion to us and she is one of the reasons I wanted to be a mom myself.  Since the day we announced my pregnancy to her, she has been over the moon excited for her first grandchild (which she’s been not so subtly hinting at since the day I said “I do”).  On the day Tera was born, she was almost the happiest I’ve ever seen her and she was the first person we shared Tera’s diagnosis with.  When we told her, she didn’t break down, but instead told us that she would be “ours” no matter what and would never lack for love and she surely has not let her down.  I have called her so many times since Tera has been born with questions, with joys, and in tears because I didn’t know how I could handle it and every time she was there to talk me through it.  She has always said it is a truly unique experience to have a daughter because once that daughter becomes a mother herself, you will always have something to bond over.  She is truly the best mom I could ever hope for and the best Nani in the world for Tera. 

My whole family:  They are just the best.  They are so incredibly supportive and loving and funny and caring that I can’t imagine my life without them.  My Dad gave me my love of hockey and is just so enamored with his granddaughter.  I don’t think he could be a prouder Grandpa and made it possible for Tera to sit in the Stanley Cup.  He never wavered when we told him about Tera and while I wish I could have been there to see her sit in the Cup, I know it he just turned to mush when he was there for it and then could take her around and show her off.  My in laws who are just so incredible.  Not many people can say they legitimately like their in laws, but I am just so lucky to have them in my life.  They are always there for us and have helped us out so many times and never once had to think twice.  I married into a phenomenal family and just couldn’t be happier for Tera to have them in her life.  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law without whom it would have been very hard to get through those first few days after Tera was born.  They were with us at the hospital whenever we needed them, helped us out at home while we had stay with her, and I don’t know that they could love Tera anymore.  They have been our friends, our family, our support, and two of her biggest fans. 

I could spend all day explaining how every member of our families has been so great, but I want them all to know how incredibly special they all are to us.

More to follow tomorrow..
My mom with her little girl
My mom with my little girl
Tera and Grandpa and the Stanley Cup

Tera with her Yia Yia and Papou

Tera with her Auntie Cathy and Uncle Mike (aka Admiral Awesome)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My corny Thanksgiving "thankfuls" Part 1

I’m going to be totally unique this week and share what I’m thankful for.  I know, it seems to be a theme around this time of year…

Here goes (and these are not in order of importance):

My husband.  I really can’t explain how lucky I feel to have him in my life.  He is truly my best friend and has seen me at my very worst and still claims to love me.  We have known each other since 7th grade and started dating in high school so we’ve kind of already spent a lot of time together and in that time we’ve learned so much from each other.  I think what I’ve learned most from him, is to just enjoy things and how to be myself.  I was not exactly what you would call a rebellious kid, but as my mom will tell you, I became a little more unique when we started dating and when we got married( we had a black wedding cake and a gong among other things).  I finally found someone who I shared interests with and they weren’t necessarily the things that other people expected from me.  I like heavy music, hockey, I have multiple ear piercings, 2 two tattoos, and I love skulls and zombies.  We have been through some very hard things together including Tera’s diagnosis at birth.  I cannot imagine a better dad for our little girl.  He helps me out when I’m stressed, is a great cook, buys me flowers when I’m down, and always reminds me he is sweet and adorable.  He is one of the two best parts of my life and I wouldn’t be me without him.
My sisters.  I have 3 and you would think there would be a lot of drama with that many girls, but we are definitely not that way.  I am the oldest and take my role very seriously.  They all know that if they need anything, I will be there for them (as will Tom which is another reason he is so amazing).  However, they also make sure to remind me that I don’t always have to be the strong one and I depend on them for so many things.  They are my lifeline so much of the time and I know that I can call or email them and they will always respond quickly with encouragement and support.  I have cried and laughed with them on so many occasions and we have dealt with pain, grief, happiness, sadness, support, disappointment, and of course joy.  Two of them were the first ones to know when I was pregnant (the third one had to wait until we could tell my mom) and they were of the first ones called when Tera was born.  The hardest part has been that one lives pretty far (Charlotte) and one lives closer but not here (Springfield) and the other one is only 15 (16 in two days!) and lives with my mom.  But despite the distance we have remained close and they absolutely adore Tera in a way that just makes me melt.  My baby sister (not so much a baby as she will have her license soon) has also been quite the doting aunt and I love the fact that it doesn’t seem like so long ago that she was the baby of the family and my other sister and I spoiled her rotten.  I also love that she does get to spend a lot of time with Tera; I really feel like they will have a special relationship because they’ll be closer in age than many aunts/nieces are.  I love these girls more than they will ever know and am thankful every single day for all three of them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here we go again...

I’m a little overwhelmed.  Again.  At least it’s becoming a familiar feeling.  I’m very familiar with stressed.  But somehow overwhelmed seems like a more fitting description right now.  We have a sick baby on our hands.  Again.  I suppose I knew this could happen when she started at daycare, and I’m not even saying that’s the reason she’s sick because they take excellent care of her there.  But she really didn’t even have so much as a sniffle for the first 6 months.  Maybe she’s a baby super genius and this is her way of trying to get more time with us…
We just went through about a month of congestion which turned into a sinus infection.  Towards the end of her course of antibiotics and for the 2 weeks following, we were congestion free! I almost didn’t know what to do with those extra minutes in the morning not spent suctioning her little nose so she could breathe.  Then, just as we started to relax again, the boogers hit again.  So this time we were on guard for the signs of a sinus infection and pretty much figured in the past few days that it is indeed back.  This time, we have the pleasure of her coughing also. And for as noisy as she is, her little voice is now hoarse (which I have to admit I think she’s enjoying a little because she can  make new sounds now).  And then we got the confirmation (of which we were already assuming) that she has some kind of blockage or fluid in her ears and had a flat tympanogram again. 

On top of all this I’m trying to cope with the fact that I have a higher percentage of students failing (a lot of this has to do with circumstances beyond my control) than I’m comfortable with and a group of freshman advisees that seems to keep getting themselves in trouble.  See this is the part of teaching that a lot of people don’t understand.  Yes we get summers and holidays off, but we also have to deal with the emotional attachment and disappointment that goes along with instructing 180 students a day.  I don’t feel good that students are failing, getting in fights, and to be honest, acting like idiots some of the time.  I know they are still teenagers and that comes with the territory, but honestly, at 16 and 17 years old, it’s time to come to the realization that emptying someone’s bag and turning it inside out and then putting all their stuff back in it (this is called nuggeting for all you non-educators) is just plain immature and a complete waste of time and effort. 
I don’t like the fact that I’m burned out by November and that there’s a lot of disrespect for teachers all over the media and society.  Teachers do not teach because they cannot “do”.  They do it because they love kids and want to see them succeed and have an impact on them in a positive way and hopefully help them to realize their potential as successful members of society.  They do it because they love to learn and want to share that love of learning with young people.  They don’t do it for the money (and yes some of us do make a decent living but we earn it), or the accolades, or the time off.  I have spent many nights awake worrying about how to reach my students and make sure they don’t regret their decisions.  I have spent hours at night and on the weekends and during the summer grading and planning  (and just to clarify, there’s no overtime pay).

Ok, I’m done.  Like us or not, respect us or not.  But the next time you want to criticize a teacher or hear someone else doing it, ask them to try doing it for a day and then see what they think. I don't claim to be better at other people's jobs than they are and I just ask for that same courtesy. 
I’m off to grade some tests and take my kid to the doctor…

Update: I wrote this earlier and just didn't post it.  She does have a sinus infection, is on a new round of antibiotics, and has large amounts of fluid in her ears but no ear infection.  Hooray for the small victories...
Being sick doesn't make her crabby, but it does make her tired.  Good thing she has some comfy new pj's that actually fit...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guess what?

Guess what? My daughter has Down Syndrome.  Yes, I realize this may be fairly obvious by now and some of you may be thinking, “That’s it.  She’s cracked. She’s finally lost her mind.  Did she not hear the news 8.5 months ago?” No, I was there.  I very vividly recall the conversation between the pediatrician and Tom and I.  But there are some days when I forget the reason behind the therapies and the appointments.  It’s become such a routine part of our lives that I sometimes forget why it is we’re going through all of this.  I still don’t really think of it most of the time when I look at her.  But this morning I went to pick her up from her crib before leaving for work, and it hit me again.  She has Down Syndrome. 

Here are some of the things it does mean.  It means we have a life full of therapists and specialists. While it’s nice to know we have a whole dream team of people looking out for her, it can be very overwhelming much of the time. It means we have playgroups so we can network with other parents and try to figure out which doctors we should be seeing and how we adequately plan for an uncertain future (uncertain in terms of how she’ll develop and how independent she’ll be).  It means we have become part of a community we never thought we would be and have met some truly extraordinary people who have been a lifeline for us through this journey.

Here are some of the things it does not mean.  It does not mean our lives have to completely change.  It does not mean our whole world has to revolve around her extra chromosome.  It does not mean I introduce her as Tera who has Down Syndrome.  It does not mean she won’t live a fulfilling and rewarding life full of love and laughter.  It does not mean other people have to walk on eggshells when talking about her.  And despite all the positives, it does mean that everyday I don’t wish she didn’t have it. 

I have been told on a few occasions lately that Tom and I seem to be very laid back first time parents.  And I think to myself, I don’t know how much more I could handle if I worried about everything all the time.  I don’t know that I had a vision in mind of what I would be like as a parent, but I guess I’ve surprised even myself with how laid back I’ve been and I know a part of it has been having to deal with all the issues associated with her DS.  At some point, I developed a calmness about some things as a method of coping with the situation and I think it’s been advantageous to all three of us.  Tera has been a totally relaxed, easy going kid and I’m not going to claim it’s all because of us, but I think part of it has to be that we’re not going nuts every time she sneezes or licks the floor (kind of gross yes, but what can you do?) And Tom and I have been able to maintain a sanity between us because we know that if she’s sick, we’ll deal with it and we have each other to be the support and stability she needs more than anything.  So I guess what I’m saying is apparently yes I’m a laid back first time parent to a kid with DS, but I don’t really have anything to compare it to so this is what we do.  I kind of look at it as, we haven’t hit her head on a doorway yet, she hasn’t rolled off the bed yet, she hasn’t broken any limbs yet, and she still has all her parts so according to what I’ve heard from lots of other parents, we’re doing ok. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the road to simplifying...

I actually have about 5 ideas to write about right now, and I've been meaning to do this for the past few days, but the weekend has been characteristically busy and unpredictable.  Tom and I have been counting down the days to this weekend because we both had Friday off and we've desperately needed it.  We were able to go to Gigi's (finally) and brought my sister Gaby with us. When we got home Tom was able to get some yard work done and Gaby, Tera, and I watched Nightmare Before Christmas (Tera's first time).  We had a lovely sushi dinner with some wonderful people, and went to bed.  Tom had to get up early to help our friend Tim move and I woke up very nauseous.  And then proceeded to throw up.  6 times.  My best guess is that my beloved sushi didn't sit well with me and so I spent a beautiful Saturday feeling like crap.  On the plus side, I have an amazing mother who had dearly missed her beautiful granddaughter and came over to help me take care of her until I was feeling a little better.  So instead of having a whole day to get stuff done, I got nothing done. 

I did still get to spend the whole day with my amazingly cooperative and well-behaved little girl and I've come to realize that the more time I spend with her on a weekend, the harder it is to go back to work.  You'd think that if I was able to spend a good deal of time with her I'd feel all filled up with Tera, but no.  It has made it harder.  How can I win?

So tonight I'm feeling that all too familiar anxiety and wish for the weekend to be longer.  Just a little more time to get some stuff done, a little more time with my family, a little more time to relax (maybe that should be some time to relax, more would imply there was some in the first place). 

One of the things we were able to accomplish was some cleaning of the house.  Not the dusting, washing, and straightening kind of cleaning, but the eliminating of "stuff" cleaning.  Tom announced to me that he wanted to change the look of our living room, dining room, and kitchen area by getting rid of some things.  The things of course were things that I had wanted, but I'm always a little antsy to change the look of our house so I somewhat reluctantly agreed to put away some decorative things that would simplify our look.  But then when I got going, there was no stopping me.  I'm pretty sure he didn't anticipate us doing this today, but seeing as how it was his idea, he wasn't exactly arguing.  So in the span of an hour, we put into the crawlspace an end table, several decorations, a large vase, 6 teapots, a little cabinet storage thing, some large fake flowers, and 2 smaller vases.  We also removed the wood trim from around the top of the cabinets and decided to change our curtains.  I've been a little restless lately so apparently I was ready for some change and my adorable husband was all too happy to oblige.

One of the topics we discuss frequently is our current and future housing situation.  Our house currently is pretty adequate for our needs.  However, if there is a sequel (that's how we refer to any future child) our space could become a little tighter.  We love our house, but our bedroom is small, we have no master bathroom, and our closet storage sucks.  We've toyed with the idea of an addition to our house in lieu of moving to alleviate some of our issues, but it really depends on how our family situation looks in a few years.  The other very key factor we have to keep in mind now is the possibility of Tera always living at home and how that would work.  And so the debate rages on.  But in the meantime, we have pared down our "stuff" and I can feel like we ended our weekend on a productive note. 

Time to sit back with my wine and do some Christmas shopping planning.

And tonight I'm including a video of Tera's new favorite face to make, because I cannot stop laughing when she does it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The result of too much thinking...

I'm beginning to miss my maternity leave time.  I was doing ok for a while, but now I'm missing it.  Not just the time off, but all my time with Tera.  I'm not a person who's delusional enough to believe I could ever really completely stay at home.  I've tried thinking that if I could only have a job that didn't take so much out of me, didn't require that I take work home, didn't require such an emotional commitment, I could be better off.  But then as soon as that happens (ie summer or summer school) I find myself incredibly bored and looking for a challenge.  Now I do have to admit, staying at home was not easy; babies are a lot of work and you can't really procrastinate with them.  You really do have to feed them when they're hungry, not when you get around to it (they're just so needy).  I didn't get more sleep, I didn't really get more done.  And after a while, I kind of needed a break from thinking about Down Syndrome all the time.  Also, as engaging as I'd like to think I am, I really did want Tera socializing with other kids and just as I am trained and experienced in my line of work with the big kids, her teachers are more experienced and trained in working with babies.  She can get things from school that I can't provide her as well as they can, and they absolutely love her to death there. 

But in the past few weeks as the weather has turned colder and my stress seems to have grown, I find myself longing for those days when I could wake up to her sounds and my first job was to feed her and play with her.  I think back on those first few weeks with her when it was still cold out and how we could snuggle in bed and she was so little and being in pajamas all day was pretty normal for both of us.  I had a chance this past Sunday to spend almost the whole day with Tera and I thought it would make going back to work on Monday easier because I got in a lot of time with her, but it made it harder!

I do love my job, but there's a lot going on that's made me reconsider what I really want to do with my life.  I still want to be involved with the students, but is the classroom the best use of my skills? And then I wonder if now is really the time in my life to change things up? And then, if not now, when? And I can honestly say I don't have answers to any of these questions.  And yes, I will also admit, a fear of the unknown is a pretty big factor. 

Basically what I'm getting at is I'm at a very unfamiliar place in my life of not knowing what to do.  And at the same time I'm missing my time with Tera and the higher quality time we were able to spend as a family because other things could be done because I wasn't working.  We're finally going to Gigi's this weekend for the first time in months because we haven't had time.  I'm so excited for the holidays and more "firsts" for Tera, but I'm already not wanting them to come too quickly because I don't want it all to be over. 

Ok, I've rambled a bit.  See what happens when I don't do this daily? Stuff builds up...I need to spend some time this weekend reflecting, but now I'm going to get ready for bed because all this thinking nonsense has me exhausted. 

This is the result of her mad rolling skills which landed her under the dining room table.  But she seemed content so we took pictures instead of moving her.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My little puck baby

I was pretty much born a hockey fan.  My dad played from the time he was a kid and still played somewhat regularly as I was growing up.  He taught me how to skate and I was hooked.  I did figure skating for 7 years and loved it, but while I did ok, I wasn't going to make it a career.  By the time I got the competitive level, it was either 100% dedication, or get out and I got out. 

When I was younger, hockey for girls wasn't even really acknowledged.  But I'm fairly confident that if it had been, I really might have done that instead of skating.  I wasn't really a ground breaker and so I just stuck with skating and then watched hockey with my dad.  I've always been a pretty tough person and so it wasn't surprising that my favorite player, Bob Probert, was one of the toughest, highest penalty minute earners in the league.  My dad took us to games when we could and I watched them, when I could (at that time Wirtz senior decided fans would come to more games if the games weren't televised).  Then I started dating Tom.  He was that tall guy that either wore hockey jerseys or black and we talked hockey.  Mind you I had already known him for several years and knew he was a fan, it just worked in my advantage I could pretty much hold my own in a conversation about our favorite sport.  When he played in high school I went to as many games as I could.  When he played intramural floor hockey in college, I sat through the games at the rec center.  When he joined a Friday night league that played every other Friday from September to May, I spent many a Friday night the only wife in the stands.  And I believe other than, what turned out to be the night before Tera was born, I only asked him to miss 2 or 3 games in about 7 years. So yeah, it's a part of my life.

When the Hawks won the Stanley Cup, we were watching it with some of our closest friends and it was a truly great experience.

Last year we finally had the opportunity to see, and touch, the Stanley Cup after years of the tournament it was at, being held on the same night as my parent conferences.  I stood next to the greatest symbol in hockey with my pregnant belly and swore somehow or another, my future baby would be in the Stanley Cup at some point. 

Well, that finally happened last night.  Without me.  Because yes, once again, conferences had to be scheduled on the same night.  But my gracious in laws were wonderful enough to pick Tera up from school and drive her down to the tournament where my dad had all the right strings pulled to get them in and get her in.  Into the Stanley Cup that is..

So without further ado...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My other life...

I’m sitting here during parent conferences (obviously there’s a lull) and I’ve had a few parents ask about Tera and how she’s doing and I really feel good about my decision to tell my students about her and her extra chromosome.  I even had one parent tell me that her friend’s daughter has DS and goes to the Gigi’s in Hoffman Estates.  It was exactly the effect I was hoping for when I decided to share the information with the students.  I wanted them to be able to share it with their families (if they so chose) and start making connections with people. 
I don’t want to sound high and mighty, but I have always believed that part of my job as an educator is to not only teach math, but to teach about life.  Sometimes that seems so much harder than math, which is hard to believe when most of my students find it their least desirable class.  I’ve often wondered if I could just find a job as an advisor, instead of just a teacher with an advisory, because that’s where I feel I could make the most difference.  I have put a lot of effort into working with my freshmen advisory this year because I know all too well the trap that freshmen fall into when they have a less than successful first year and then spend the next three trying to catch up. 
I wondered if I would have the same relationship with this advisory that I’ve had with my last two because I was incredibly close with them and it always seems like the new one can’t be the same as the last one.  I also wondered how much I’d be able to devote to them with all the things that go on with Tera.  But I think I’ve realized that I want Tera’s teachers to put as much time and effort into her as I do into my students.  I want them take an interest in what she does and set high expectations, but understand when she may fall short for some reason.  I want them to genuinely care for her and about her and her future.  And for these reasons, I’ve really tried to do that with this advisory.  I will admit, no, right now, they’re not the same as my other advisories.  And they may not be. I developed some truly amazing relationships with those kids that have continued through several years and they know that I will always be there for them.  I hope that even if I don’t end up feeling the same way for this group that they at least get out of me what my last two groups did.  And I hope that when the time comes (sooner than I think it will I’m sure) that Tera is in school, that she is able to develop that relationship with her teachers. 
Sorry no picture tonight, I'm writing this from school...But while I do not expect a meaningful post tomorrow night, if I can stay awake long enough, I have a feeling I'll be able to make up for it then (wink, wink)...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeling nostalgic

I am a person who associates smells with things very easily.  This sounds odd, I know.  One of the most familiar and comforting smells to me is the smell of burning leaves.  This is one of the reasons that fall is my favorite season.  The only problem is, every time I smell them, I'm overwhelmed by memories, hopes, and feelings.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing I suppose, but it can be a bit much to handle at times. 

When I was little, both of my grandparents had fireplaces and that smell was always something that comforted me and made me feel at home.  It usually happened around the holidays and so even in the fall when I smell the leaves, I am reminded of Christmas. 

This brings back very happy memories of amazing Christmases with my family when I was younger and reminds of a time when more of my family was still here.  This would be the hard part because for as many happy and comforting memories it brings back, it's also a reminder of people that were important in my life that are no longer here.  And the very hardest part for me lately, is that they'll never meet Tera. 

But I'm not going to dwell on sad things; it doesn't change anything and why make myself more emotional than I already am all the time lately?

Mostly, as I was driving home today and smelling that wonderful, beautiful smell, I was thinking about how excited I am for Tera's first holiday season.  I'm excited for a few reasons.  One, the obvious, I want to see her rip into the presents and not care at all about what's under the paper, but go completely nuts over the wrapping paper itself.  Two, I'm so excited to see our families go nuts over giving her presents.  Mind you, we've tried to prep them since I was pregnant to try and keep it to a reasonable limit, but I'm not holding out much hope.  Mostly I just want them to be able to spend the time with her and for the first time in a while, all of us will experience the joy of Christmas through the pure innocence and delight of a baby.  One who doesn't care what she gets, or how many presents she opens, or about any of the material nonsense that goes along with this time of year.  But one whose face will light up when she sees her grandparents and aunts and uncles, and who will get to meet some people in her family that she's never even met before (and therefore hasn't even charmed in person!) It also of course means a new chapter in what has become an epic series of Christmas cards...

I am excited for all of this, but in the meantime, I will just keep rolling down my windows when I see smoke in the air and breathe in one of the most powerful smells I've experienced.  And if anybody happens to know of a way to bottle this up (or even a company that has captured the smell in candle form) please let me know. 
About 2.5 months Pre-Tera last year...