Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm gooood.

I'm not going into specifics here.This has always been a place to focus on the fun, the happy, the silly, the stupid/weird. You know, ME! Instead, just know that this entire divorce process is one that can reveal your mindset and character flaws pretty quickly.

Most of the time I get it right. Occasionally I goof it up pretty good.

There is no handbook for this. There is no limit to the amount of advice you can get, either. I tried hard to sort through the best of the advice and ignore the stuff that I just couldn't buy into.

Stand firm and fight.

Be flexible and claim the middle ground.

Don't let anyone screw you over.

Give up whatever else to keep what is important.

Never say anything negative.

Say it. Just don't let the kids hear it.

There were lots of contradictory messages to take in in a short time frame. Good luck finding clarity in all of that noise.

Sometimes my route has been perfectly clear. Other times, I could not even catch a glimpse. In the end, I have used each bit of this advice at some point.

The best of these, the piece of advice that seemed to ring most true in the beginning and at the end was simple. Paraphrased, it was simply 'At the end of this, you gotta be good with the kids and with yourself'.

Now that I am three-weeks divorced, it's not yet over. Won't ever be, really.

What I know now is simple. I'm good with the kids and I'm good with the guy looking back at me from the mirror.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An Open Letter to My Kids

Hey guys,

It's true and it sucks. Your mom and I are getting a divorce.

In a couple of weeks we won't all be living together in our little rock house. We won't be waking up and staggering through our mornings together. We won't be sitting down to dinner together like we do almost every night. And hopefully I remember to feed the pets. Every. Dang. Day.

You guys are about to be asked to split your time and your space. Sometimes you will be with me. Sometimes with mom. Rarely will it be with both of us. You are about to spend half of your time at Mom's new house. That's going to be weird/awesome.

You'll figure out how to live at Mom's house. A new room. Different furniture. It'll be weird. I've known your mom for a long time, so I promise you will still have chores. Some things will never change. Your mom will be there to help you out every step of the way. That will also never change.

You guys will find all sorts of new and exciting stuff in your new neighborhood. At 13 and 11 years old, I bet you will make loads of friends at the new place. It'll be awesome. And weird.

When you are here, you'll be home. But that will be weird too because pretty soon you are going to feel at home at the new house too. And that part is weird/awesome. I won't share that part of your experience. That will just be. After a while it won't even seem weird. Always, I'll be here every day to help you out or just to listen. Any time. Any problem.

Any dumb joke that must be immediately shared with the universe. After all, you know I'm a sucker for a ripping fart joke.

I will never be more than a text or a phone call and a short drive away. We all know that sometimes the really good, the really bad and the insanely silly stuff just. Must. Not. Wait.

The next few years are not going to be Mom's weeks or Dad's weeks. Each week will be YOUR week. When you need anything at all, at any time, you will always have two parents who will help in every way possible. It will never matter whose house you slept in last night.

Like when you left for kindergarten after we stayed home together for so many years, I'll learn about the great stuff and the tough stuff from you. I'll hear about the awesome and the weird, the sucky and the amazing when you are here, with me. And I'll love every minute of it. Just like when you were six.

Guys, after 11 and 13 years, I am certain you know this. You are loved. I love you. Your mom loves you. You will always be loved. We will always make time for you guys. And we will chew you out when you do stupid crap in high school. Because we love you.

We will also laugh about it behind your back. Because you will deserve at least that.

Please alway remember that when you need one of us, we will be right there. When you need both of us, we will make it work and it will be awesome.

Someday, before you date or marry or shack up (DO NOT tell grandma I said that...) we will share with you our whole story. I want you guys to know that Mom and I worked hard at staying married for a long time. Also, I want you to know where we screwed up so that you can avoid those same mistakes.

Now is not the time for those talks. Now it is time for you guys to double down on weird/awesome. Your Mom's new place is in serious need of your craziness. And my house can handle a lot more years of amazing noise and excitement so I'll be counting the days until you get back.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's a life thing. And I can make you understand. Or at least tolerate the truth...

I never have talked a lot about work on this blog. I had a "teacher blog" for a while but it was incredibly impersonal and boring. So like most things, I got bored and deleted it. Don't want to read about a Special Education teacher's view of public education, then you might want to move along. Quickly.

This school year has been a great one, even with lots of changes for our family and especially at my school. The Boss Lady started a new job this year, moving out of district administration and back on to a campus. She is working at a middle school now. Lucky for me, her, and 1900 school kids, we are not on the same campus. In fact, our schools are as far across the school district as they could possible be. (The two schools are in totally different economic environments, too, but that is boring teacher talk). 

I have taught Special Education for 5 years. But every job I have had since Jr. College was centered around working for individuals who are living with developmental, emotional, or physical challenges. The classroom seemed to be the next logical evolution (WAIT! My goodness, this is Texas. A teacher writing about evolution? And logic? Heresy!) of my career.

After a year in the classroom (and a lay-off, and getting rehired a few months later) I realized that I was actually pretty good at this teaching thing. Another year went by, my skills further developed, and at one point I had to really stand up to several administrators. I dropped a now campus-famous couple lines of truth on them. "I know you've never seen me do my job. I've never really seen you do yours either. But let me tell you something. I am REALLY good at what I do. So good luck replacing me on this project."

And in a move fraught with absolutely NO surprise, they never replaced me on that project. And the crew from the administration office have generally left me alone since then. Well, unless they had a big problem on my campus. Then they seem to remember my phone number pretty quickly.

Back then, several of my fellow Special Education teachers and I jokingly coined the term SPEDLIFE. This was a quick, but gritty reminder that everything we do impacts our students for their lifetime. Yeah, it really is that important. But it's also an easy reminder to have some fun while we are solving the problems of our part of the educational universe.

My SPEDLIFE knuckle tats make an occasional appearance 
at staff meetings and going away parties.

This school year I started off working with our most complex students. Several of them have lots of needs related to Autism or Sensory issues. Others have multiple physical and/or developmental disabilities. All are dealing with issues that impact every aspect of learning and home life. This is my crew. I love working with this class but it is tough.

This is the type of class you don't see on the news. Teachers and Instructional Assistants working hands-on with students all day long. Usually with no lunch break or planning time and exactly the same pay as the teachers down the hall who get two planning periods and a lunch away from students (134 minutes total) in an 8 class day. There is supposed to be solace in the smaller class sizes (I shared 10 students with another teacher), but I usually shared a cold hamburger and soda with her hours after lunchtime, too.

Standing up for my own teaching skills and fighting for my students on an empty stomach and full bladder got the best of me. I jumped ship 8 weeks into the school year.

I still rep the SPEDLIFE but my new job is much different. I now work with students who have Autism or some other Sensory Processing challenges. These are kids who rarely stop by to see me. A few of them come in once a day, but for the most part I chase them around campus, meeting them in their grade-level classes, working on appropriate class-taking skills, organization, conversation (my specialty. right Mom?), and all of the things a middle school student needs to succeed. A fact that would be of interest to my own middle school teachers, I help them keep assignments turned in. ON TIME. And... don't faint... keep their lockers (or backpacks) organized. Pretty sure that my old middle school assistant principal, who used to make me clean my locker one a week, by force, just died a second death.

This transition came with a couple of huge caveats. I said 'bye' to 5 and took on 25 students. Biggest of all though, because of a perfectly timed maternity leave (not mine!), I filled in for another team member and took on a large part of her job as the liaison between our team, the campus administration and the district level administrators who I had only told off a few years ago.

Turns out that lots of these people have taken some interest in my ability to juggle lots of different tasks at the same time. And they seem to share my opinion of my teacher-self. Pretty soon some of them may be living the SPEDLIFE, too. I just hope they leave me in my crazy, exciting classroom for a long time.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

This thing still on?

Back in October of 2013, I limped away from this blog with a post Summer Blackout Recap. Not a word since then.

You lucky bastards.

Unfortunately for you all I still remember my password and still have access to this blog.

A quick recap. The Talker is almost a teenager (less than 2 weeks to go as a 12 year old). The Princess is about to finish elementary school, and The Boss Lady survived a nasty bout with a viral brain infection last year. I did finish my 3000 mile bike ride challenge last spring, topping it off with a 1 day, 75 miler through the Texas Hill Country.

The last year and a half have included several job changes, one for me, one for The Boss Lady. After a four year detour, she is back in a job that she loves and is having a blast. I gave up a job teaching and working with some of the most physically and developmentally delayed students in our school system. I now teach classes for students who are either Autistic or have other sensory issues.

The Backyard Farm currently consists of one Big White Dog, the black/brown/red/grey short-legged, long-haired, loud-barking Different Dog, The Other Kitty (now 19 years old), 6 chickens and 1 Betta Fish.

There you go. I stayed away of 15 months and you are caught up in 7 minutes. See you in a year or so.