Just like many other families we live on a tight budget. This year I have done my best to give a lot of things in our home a bit of a makeover while still staying in our budget. As we prepare for our annual end of the year BBQ I really needed to spruce up the backyard. Our budget didn’t allow for new lawn furniture but it did allow me to take a trip to our local hardware store and grab a few cans of spray paint and transform my 10yr old chairs into what now looks like new. As I have said before spray paint sure isn’t what it used to be.
Here is a picture from earlier in the year. It doesn’t show how bad these chairs really looked but you get the idea.
Now for just a few dollars it looks so much better
After I did the chairs I took a look at our trampoline. We have had it for about 6yrs and the kids really love it and use it every chance they get. It was looking pretty bad and I would often crop out the ugly worn out strip in all my pictures.
Since its nearly fall all the pool accessories are 1/2 price in many stores. So for just a few dollars I was able to do a makeover on the trampoline as well.
My kids were so happy with what I have done they have asked me to do an outdoor play set that we have had for 8yrs next.
My child is a special needs child he has been diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, OCD, ADD, ODD, Pervasive Disorder, and a Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Disorder. These disabilities change the game of life for us. Back to school is something that I am envious of other mothers looking forward to as I have never felt that excitement. I actually start my back to school planning before the previous year ends.
On March 5 2014 I started this falls preparation with a meeting among all that work closely with my child. At this meeting I received the heartbreaking news that we would be losing my son’s Principal when we started back in the fall. This was not her decision it was one made by The Board of Education. As the parent I was very sad to know that my child was losing someone who was a big part of his school life for the last few years. Since the first day she came into our lives she was 100% on my son’s ‘team’ She went out of her way daily to check on my son and he relied on her presence. During some times of trouble and struggle with things associated to his disabilities my son would seek her out and she welcomed this. In this meeting I immediately addressed concerns I had about him losing her and the effect it was going to have on him and our ability to implement his IEP (Individual Education Plan) and just in general on his everyday routine with school. Immediately I was reassured that everything was going to be fine. As it got closer to going back to school I really started to worry more and as a precaution I started reaching out two weeks before school started when staff is present in the school getting ready for the new year. I left several messages suggesting that we set a meeting whether it be in person or even a phone conference. To my surprise no one ever got back to me. I kept reminding myself that I was reassured and surely if they took this fantastic Principal and felt the need to replace her that the new one would have to be even more wonderful than the one we lost. Boy was I wrong. On our Back to School Meet and Greet Night we received even more terrifying news. My son’s one on one personal aide was no longer going to be working with him after two years and he was going to have a new one that I was unable to meet as she was not in attendance at this important event. Now my mind started to race and panic set in for my child. Not only was he starting a new year with a new teacher but he unexpectedly lost two people who were very important to him and his progress. As we visited classrooms and met the teachers, familiarizing our children with their new classrooms and encouraged them about starting off to what we expected to be a joyful time in their lives I caught a glimpse of a woman in the hallway that looked nervous and honestly a little lost. I approached her to find that this was our new Principal. I introduced myself and inquired about the many messages I had left about scheduling a meeting she informed me of how busy she was and that she just didn’t have the time to even return my call. Ding ding ding red lights and alarms went off and my mind started to race. After all shouldn’t students be a big priority to this Principal or was I just so used to our old one who put students above everything else on her priority list. I tried to place myself in her shoes and with many parents and students moving through the building and hallways I started ‘the conversation’ about my child and addressed a few of my concerns. I offered a few suggestions and the most important one being that my child has an IEP and that the #1 thing to do would be to actually read his IEP since she stated that she had not. Imagine my surprise when I also learned that the teacher he had been assigned to had not read it either. This IEP is the most important thing in my child’s school life as it is an individual Education Plan for him and contains all the things to make school successful for him. Its a plan that is not in place for every student as it contains things that apply only to him. Well after all of this it was still my job as his parent to fill my nervous child with excitement and get him off to a happy first day of school. No matter what I still am required to do my job. Sending him off on this first day was one of the scariest days I have had in a long time as his parent. I go to extremes to parent this child and keep him on the right track and I was now so uncomfortable as he boarded that bus because he was headed off to be in the hands of three people whom had just presented to me exactly how unprepared they were to deal with his needs and his disabilities. My gut instinct was right. On the first day my child had an outburst as he was placed in a situation he shouldn’t have been in had anyone bothered to read his IEP. The outburst quickly got out of hand and he got violent and flipped over a table and threw a chair. I am not excusing his behavior but a child with these disabilities didn’t have the capability to handle what I can only imagine was the fear that I felt when he himself realized that no one knew what was expected from the plan that was in place for him. My child was disciplined and ended up in the Principals office. No note came home to explain to me what had happened I only had my child telling me after school that his day was awful and that some bad things had happened and he didn’t know why. I encouraged him to try again the next day and that things would get better. I promised. Things didn’t get better they got worse. On day 4 I received a call from his teacher informing me that my child could no longer bring food from home to eat for his breakfast. Right now he is in a testing process and waiting period that we started in May of 2014 to find out if he has an eating disorder, complications from medications, or a new health issue. Tests results from an EKG were abnormal and he had some abnormal blood work and currently weighs 12lbs less than his sister whom is a year and a half younger than him. I have big concerns over his weight and some of his physical abilities as of this summer my child uses a transport wheelchair for certain situations as his little frail body just cant keep up with strenuous activity and long walking periods. Had we had the meeting I would have been able to discuss this with the school. As I spoke on the phone with the teacher and learned that the teacher and Principal had a meeting amongst themselves to make a few rules that they were not educated on my child to even make. One of these rules being that he would no longer be able to bring in outside food from home to eat. Once again they still had not read his IEP because its clearly written into the IEP about mom providing food for him to eat at school. His sensory issues making eating very unpleasant experience for him at times and he needs a lot of choices as something he chooses for lunch in the morning may not work out so well by the time lunch rolls around. At this time I was informed that they couldn’t access his IEP and no valid reason was given and blame was shifted cause no one wants to take responsibility for this screw up. As I was still in phone conference I pulled out my copy because as his parent I always do my job and with his Father and brother being here to have seen him off to school that day I was able to instruct them to run it up to the school for them to make copies to pass amongst themselves and finally please just read it. At this point I felt as if I was begging them to just read it I even highlighted important parts of the plan. Like I said earlier the teacher and Principal found some time to have a meeting between themselves that had I been invited to attend would have taken me maybe three minutes to get to the school. They chose to exclude me from a meeting I had requested. I now called back to the school asked that it be documented that I was once again requesting a meeting and that at this point I am basically demanding and stated that in 48hrs I would arrive at the school and camp out in front of the Principals office until I got it. Within minutes she finally returned my call. She now began to lecture me about rules and procedures and even went as far as giving me her personal opinions I foods with sugars, red dyes, and a gluton free diet. Anyone that knows me already knows I personally am highly educated on all things related to my child’s disabilities. I am the mom that makes her own jellies, I use the art of canning, visits local farms for produce, farmers markets for cheeses, makes my own spaghetti sauce never uses store bought, and believes that homemade from scratch is always better than made from the box. I was insulted. How dare she assume anything about me or anything food related. Once again I used a soft voice and kind words and requested again that we have a meeting. She informed me that she couldn’t set up this meeting that I would need to go through someone else to do it. The person she instructed me to go through was someone who wouldn’t be available for me to schedule it for another two days. To my relief its someone I have worked with during the last few years and finally we have someone who actually knows me and my child and has read his IEP because she herself personally typed it out. Now after 2 1/2 hrs of phone conference that could have totally been avoided I was informed that I finally have permission to provide my child with the proper foods to meet his needs at school meals and I ran out to grocery shop for school. Now on Day 6 I finally get to phone conference with a member of my son’s team who I can say with certainty has his best interest at heart. No one told her of any of these events that had occurred and they certainly didn’t tell her that I had to provide the school with his IEP. Between speaking with her, explaining the situation, scheduling the meeting and speaking at great lengths with the acting Superintendent of our school city another 3hrs had been invested by me. These 6 days of school have been a tremendous nightmare for me and my children. I am honestly mentally and emotionally exhausted and have spent 3 of the 6 first days of school crying which has physically caused my blood sugar to bounce all over the place (type 1 Diabetes) I haven’t had one good night of sleep. I am playing catch up on things that I have been unable to get done because my focus has all been on school and getting my child on the right track. I lost out on a wonderful opportunity to be involved in a campaign with Crayola that would have been such a good opportunity for my children and I am just fed up.
This back to school nightmare doesn’t end here. My daughter who was placed with a delightful teacher has informed me that her teacher is gone and wont be coming back and that she now has no permanent teacher. I received nothing from the school and now my child that was actually excited and happy about school has become very sad and confused and I don’t know what to say or how to instruct her because only my 6yr old child has been informed of these changes.
Every Labor Day we host an end of summer swimming/BBQ. We celebrate the end of summer, our anniversary, and our son’s birthday. Its always a fun filled event that I look forward to. This year I am giving a special gift to the Grandfather of my children. In all the years (13-14) he has been in my life I have never met anyone on his side of the family. That is until I met a member of his family on facebook. Its his niece. I have invited her to our event and she has accepted. I am looking forward to giving him this priceless gift.
Well the excitement got me thinking about my own family situation. I have built the best little family I could ever imagine in my household but on my road to sobriety I ended up removing toxic blood relatives from my own life leaving me with very little extended family.
I never had a father. I had 5 Stepfathers and the many random men my birth mother put into my life but never a real father. I had my fathers family for holidays and summer vacations and as a child I was torn by being stuck in an awful childhood and then having these visits with people I loved, admired, and knew I just belonged with.
I treasure memories of my Grandmothers kitchen filled with family and everyone laughing, enjoying each other, and canning pickles. The scent of my Grandfathers cigars that still to this day the smell of a cigar stops me in my tracks and a sadness fills my soul because I miss him and wish I had more time in life with him. My Aunts whom I looked up to and wanted to be like when I myself grew up. My Uncles whom I would look at and often wonder was my dad like them? My cousins who I adored and always wished I had a ‘real family’ like they had. As a young child the one true memory of a family came from their home and to this day that ‘real family’ is what I have worked so hard to build for my own children.
When I was 11 and drugs were introduced to my life these visits changed. I felt a sense of shame when I was around any of them as I knew even then that my drug use was something I never wanted them to know about. That secret changed everything. As I grew into a teen and a young adult these visits dwindled and when my Aunt and my Grandmother passed away I made the decision to not be in contact with them as I was nothing to be proud of. I didn’t feel worthy of this family that I had.
Its taken a lot of hard work and determination to reach the point I am at in my sobriety and for the first time since I was 11yrs old I thought now I am someone they could be proud of. Sadly its to late. My Aunt has passed away, my uncle has passed away and my grandparents have passed away. There are a few family members left and I had no way of even reaching any of them. Then I thought to look them up on facebook the same way I found family for my children’s Grandfather. I found my Uncle’s wife my Aunt. When I looked at her Facebook friends list hoping to find my cousins to my surprise I found my father. I looked at his pictures wondering what his life had been like, had he thought of me over these years? I was told later in life by the birth mother that he always got pictures and that he had seen me on several occasions without my knowledge. I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. I wondered would he be interested in knowing me today? I thought he should finally get the opportunity to know that even though I was led down the complete wrong path in life by the birth mother I overcame all of it and came out a strong woman with a positive attitude who longs for that sense of family so much that I dedicated my sober life to giving my small children all the best memories, happiness, and the life I never had. I thought he deserves to know me. I am someone whom he may be proud to call his daughter.
Sadly this morning as I had my morning coffee I received the news that my father had passed away without ever having this opportunity. I have spent the greater portion of my day mourning the loss of a man I never knew and have no memories of at all to treasure. I cant help but be angry that this is one more thing in life that my addiction has stolen from me.