Advent Craze

Life feels hectic and crazy. I realized at the beginning of December that I was in over my head. My first clue was when my kids’ therapist started asking me more questions about myself and talking about self care.

My second clue was when I stopped going to the gym.

My third clue was when I found myself with a heaping bowl of carb laden pasta.

This was survival mode.

I dug in my heels and came to a screeching halt. All non-essentials moved to the bottom of my list. I decided to accept the carbs and the naps temporarily. I begged out of activities that weren’t necessary.

I took advantage of a cold and decided it was the perfect excuse to not attend the kids’ class parties and to not volunteer at the schools.

I stayed in bed more. I plowed through work and focused on getting my children’s academic requirements completed. We had a mountain of papers that hadn’t been turned in for one kid. His teacher said we should do the extra credit, too.

I told his teacher we are limping along until Christmas break and the extra credit won’t be completed. I’m not sorry. I’m desperate.

Gifts were purchased on amazon. I actually wrapped them all. Our elf moved to a new location in the home most nights.

This was a stressful season for me and I’m so glad the hectic Advent holiday festivities are over.

Why do all of my children’s clubs, classes and friends insist on December celebrations? Christmas is a beautiful, holy season. Advent, on the other hand…

Why not do a January winterfest? A March umbrella party? A June beach bash? We had 8 different activities scheduled by clubs and classes for December, most of which are nonreligious associations. It was overkill.

Now we are in the Christmas season. Santa and his elf have come and gone. It is time for family, games around the table, leftovers, and peace. My two younger kids even played together without fighting (and I have pictures to prove it!)

Its not all peace–it is boredom and discomfort in the quiet, too.

The one thing I insisted on was putting up outside lights. I did a simple line of icicle lights and threw our multicolor netting over the front garden. The symbolism of the lights shining, even in the darkest nights, remind me that God is still here, even when I feel like I’m smothering under a heavy blanket. I’m not alone, and there is always Hope just around the corner.

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He should go somewhere else.

Someone repeated this statement to me in tears, notifying me a school employee had made this comment.

He needs too many services. Too much help.

He shouldn’t be here.

Where should he go then? He is legally entitled to a free and appropriate education.

Treating my child as a distraction to your teaching is beneath you.

How you treat the least of these speaks more to your character than how you treat the gifted elite.

You’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed and overloaded. So is he.

You’re unhappy he is in your class or school. So is he.

You notice he doesn’t work well in groups with other kids. So does he.

You think he’s unworthy.

So does he.

Your behavior models for the other students how to treat a child with special needs. Your attitude impacts your relationship with my son–and any other student who is wondering if you are a safe person.

To any teacher, administrator or staff member: if you feel a child can not learn without additional supports in place…then advocate for the child. Speak up at IEP meetings. Help determine what supports the child needs and would benefit from. Give encouragement and be willing to dig in to figure out how to reach him.

Join our team.

Please don’t work against us. It’s the child who loses.

School Lunch

My 8 year old usually brings a lunch to school instead of purchasing one from the cafeteria.

I enjoy helping her pack well balanced, fun and tasty food. It’s one way I know she is cared for at school.

Sometimes I add in a little prize or notecard or game to brighten her day. It’s a little touchpoint for me to communicate that I love her and am thinking of her even when I am not with her.

She loves lunchables and I don’t. I think they are not great quality, not nutritious, and overpriced.

But our pantry was low on normal staples so I decided to pack a “Build Your Own Pizza”, Inspired by grocery store lunchables.

I split an English muffin and placed it in a bento lunch box with separate compartments. I love Amazon, by the way. They have everything.

I added a little container of pizza sauce (also known as leftover marinara), with a cocktail spoon to spread the sauce.

I took cupcake paper/foil covers and used them as containers. I added a Monterey Jack/Parmesan blend into one cupcake paper (I had those cheeses from other recipes) and put pepperoni slices in the other.

To make it extra fun (and entice her to try the English muffins which I knew she wouldn’t be super thrilled about) I added a note with the steps to make the pizza and some fun encouragement on it and stickers to fancy it up.

The notecard was the key to her enjoyment of her meal.

I also added some “would you rather” questions.

She came home delighted. She told me she didn’t think she would like the English muffins but it turns out she does!! And she loved showing her friends the notes I packed.

Mom win!

And I still haven’t made it to Publix so she gets it again tomorrow! (But never 3 days in a row, don’t worry…)