Farewell 2012, its been swell

I did a mental recap of my 2012 and I’ve concluded that my good definitely outweighed my bad. That probably sounds so cliché, but it’s my truth.
I’d actually made myself say a verbal thank you (aloud) for every recollected instance or situation that I’d placed in my “good” column. Close to three hours had passed before I started nearing the end of my good list.
By that time, tears were streaming down my face.  I realized then that I didn’t even have close to enough thank you’s in me to match all of the good that I’d (along with my children) experienced over the course of 2012.
Of course, some unfavorable and not-so-good things happened during the course of the year, but they were so far few and in-between. In no way did they account for much, when I matched them up against everything that I’ve been blessed with.
But instead of focusing on those unfavorable things, I chose (and am continuing to choose) to reflect and energize all of the good positive things. That’s what I want more of!
My life is really good.  I didn’t have a clue of how good it actually was until I challenged myself, the other day, to recollect as much of my good as I could.
Each of our lives are good.
I challenge you to reflect on all of the good that has happened on your behalf and say a few thank you’s. Just watch how innumerable they are! Bet you’ll be amazed, too!

2012 Closing

To all of my loyal, returning, new and 1st-time readers: Thanks for all of your support. I appreciate each of you more than you’ll ever know! I look forward to sharing more of my family’s stories and life happenings with you in the upcoming year. My intentions are to be more consistent as a writer, storyteller and as a reader. So, here’s to us! May our 2013 be filled with abundance, lots of great stories, happiness, meeting of goals, success and PEACE!
Oh 2012! Here is where I bid thee a sweet farewell…..it’s been swell!

From my family

the littlest gal

The Littlest Gal!
(One half of the Little’s)

Day in the Park 020

The Littlest Boy
(Remaining half of the Little’s)

photo (4)

The Biggest Gal
(One half of the Big’s)

boy with an earring 2

The Biggest Boy
(Remaining half of the Big’s)

mepic.jpg

It’s Me!
The Momma!

 

to yours!

Have an extremely

Happy New Year!

See you all in 2013

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Mama help me, don’t hinder me

mp.jph

No parent wants to believe or be told that there’s something “wrong” with one of their children. Every parent wants each of their children to be as “normal” as possible. Whatever normal is, that’s what we’re always aiming for.
In my culture and race it’s sort of deemed as “taboo” if your child “needs” medicine just to function and carry out day-to-day activities. If your child is unable to control themselves then you (as the parent) are looked at, as if it’s all your fault.

“You had to do something wrong!”
“Oh! You ain’t raised ’em right!”
“What she/he needs is a good ol’ fashion ass kickin’!”

Growing up I heard over and over again, that “black women” can handle their kids. They don’t need to put them on medicine.
Putting your children on medicine is something that white people did because they don’t know how to raise their kids. They’d rather their kids function like zombies, than to deal with them.
That’s exactly what I grew up believing.
We DON’T put our kids on medicine, period!
From what I could see, it was true.
None of my friends, cousins or any one that I knew needed medicine to behave or function. We all were “normal”.  I didn’t have a clue what a kid needing medication even looked like.
This all held true for me, until I became a mother for the second time.
My oldest daughter was born seven weeks before her due date. In spite of being born early, I still expected her to progress normally, just as her older brother did.
Niave me never considered that she’d be delayed in any way. I was shocked when she didn’t sit-up on her own until she was five months. I was really shocked when she started crawling and walking late.
It wasn’t until she started first grade when I knew for certain, there was definitely an issue (of some sorts) going on with her.
In first grade she wasn’t able to catch on and memorize addition or subtraction facts. She would become overwhelmed then anxiety would be the victor. She’d get frustrated, cry, then eventually she’d shut down.
My solution?
I withdrew her and my son from their Catholic school and opted to home schooled them. I figured, she could learn at her own pace and at the same time, I was hoping that my son’s ability to learn effortlessly would rub off on her. We successfully did the homeschool thing. I was happy with the results.
When I re-enrolled them back into the traditional school setting (a year later), to my surprise the same problems still existed with my daughter. She was still learning at a much slower pace than her peers. She was having great difficulty retaining information,  likely because she preferred to daydream and her attention span was extremely short.
Luckily for me, she was now in a school where each student had their own individual plan for success.
Not only was my daughter given a slower paced plan, but the educators were so patient and extremely supportive of her. We stayed with that school district for five years and for five years my daughter was academically successful.
During those years, I’d managed to successfully smother the “issues” that plagued her.

Last year it all came to a head.
Our move from Michigan, forced me to finally admit that my daughter had some attention/comprehension issues….and they’re much bigger than me!
She was in eighth grade and the new school she was attending was pretty rigorous in their academics. It wasn’t long before she was failing every class.
I tried to devise a learning plan and studying methods for her, but none of them worked. I meet with the counselor and all of her teachers hoping that they’d have a solution, but to no avail. They weren’t the most helpful and they didn’t have any real resources.
I was now backed up against a wall and I didn’t know what to do next.
I called a cousin and sobbed about the entire situation from beginning to end: I couldn’t have a child who wasn’t “normal”. I didn’t want to be the mother who did something “wrong”. I couldn’t be the first in the family to fail at being a mother. I’d come from a long line of strong women, and I didn’t want to be the first weak one.

Calling my cousin was just what I needed. It was just what my daughter needed!
My cousin had just gone through something very similar with one of her daughters. Her daughter is the same age as my daughter. Not only that, they look and act JUST alike.
She, too, was failing all of her tests, quizzes, state exams, etc. She was easily distracted and was always all over the place– unfocused. Her daughter’s confidence had waned, as well. Long story short, she’d gotten her daughter an IEP. Immediately there was a complete turnaround in her academics. She’d become academically successful and her confidence soared through the clouds.
Music to my ears!

No sooner than I’d heard this story, it was like a five ton fourteen year old weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I actually exhaled the deepest of breaths ever.
Everything that I’d ever learned about needing special accommodations for your children had gone out the window. I was no longer being held hostage by any stigmas or stereotypes.

For the first time (nine months ago) I was finally able to verbalize that my child is unable to be academically successful and socially accepted without the assistance of medication. On her own, she’s unable to focus and concentrate. She’s easily distracted and will completely lose control of herself.

Whew! There! I said it again.

After thirteen years, I’d finally come all the way clean about my daughter’s shortcomings. It took the doctor and psychiatrist several more months to properly diagnose and order a treatment plan for her.
Needless to say, a big change has taken place in all of our lives since treatment began.
First and foremost, “the girl” received an 87 percent and a 92 percent on two major tests. She’d only been undergoing treatment for about a week when she received her first passing test grades. I was so AMAZED! I couldn’t believe that it was working so quickly!

Not only has treatment had a positive affect on her academics, but it’s also been positively affecting her social relationships. She’s much calmer. She’s less stressed and more in control of herself. She’s able to ignore her little brother when he’s being a pest. She’s no longer socially awkward around her peers. She exudes confidence now. This is everything that  I’ve being wanting for her, all of her life!

TheBiggest Gal and I at one of many appointments

The Biggest Gal and I at one of many appointments

I feel so badly for cheating my daughter out of her current way of life for so long. If ever I could get a do-over, this would be it. It’s pretty much my only life regret. When I think,  she could’ve been in this  happy space ten years ago, I’m overcome with guilt.
I’ve been told, “Stop blaming yourself! You only did what you were raised up to do.”
I’ve even heard, “Be glad that you realized the error of your ways and corrected it, before it got too late.”
I am grateful for all of that, still it will be quite some time before I no longer feel ‘as’ guilty as I do today.

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Too Late Now

No kidding. When I first saw him I knew that he was going to change my life. I had no idea how, but I knew he would, that was February 2001.
December 2003 I gave birth to our son.
That was the day that he officially fell in love with me, and for the first time in thirty years, he was happy. Can you believe that? He’d never known happiness in three decades of “living”.
Witnessing the intensity of labor,
nearly losing consciousness as the epidural was being given,
watching the debut of our son,
cutting the umbilical cord and learning that our baby will indeed be his namesake,
collectively, that allowed him to finally know what it felt like to be happy. If only momentarily and in spurts over the next eight years, he’d finally have his own personal stories of happiness to reflect upon.

Our son would be his first and only (biological) child.
He and I would be the reasons why love and happiness were able to exist in such a damage, hurt and overly guarded space.
For that, we’re eternally grateful.

Many conversations were exchanged between he and I about love and happiness, from the time our son was born up until four days before he perished.
It’s obvious to everyone who knows us, that I loved him from early on and he loved me and our child up until the very end.
A rather unique situation for me. One that I’m sure I’ll never have again.

Last words to me: I’ll always love you for what you’ve given me…
Last words to our son: Always remember your daddy loves you. Alright? Love ya’ boy!

I’ve had  six months to assess, reassess and asses all over again, the relationship that he and I had. It’s completely clear how he changed my life.
I’m able to confirm that I’ve never had any love for anyone (outside of my children, of course!) other than him.
That was the first and only time that I’ve loved someone.

But what good are my words and acknowledging these truths, when he’s not here to hear them?
It’s too late now.

 

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Numbers Trumps Feelings Part II

So after being rejected for entrance into third grade for the 2011-2012 school year, I withdrew my son and decided to utilize Connections Academy curriculum to home school him.
Well, after a few weeks, I decided that Connections Academy was too structured and fast-paced for my liking. We withdrew from the program and opted to use our own curriculum, based on Texas educational standards. Our main focus were going to be  on reading, math, penmanship and the Texas State Start Test.
Monday through Friday,  the Littlest Boy and I worked diligently and hard to succeed in our quest to prove all of those teachers and administrators wrong. We were so motivated. All school year we worked extraordinarily hard.
Over the summer, we continued to study and read daily. By the time enrollment came around, for the 2012-2013 school year, we’d successfully completed all of the third grade curriculum and had even gone so far as to begin working on a fourth grade curriculum.
I proudly went back to the school and enrolled the Littlest Boy in fourth grade on a Monday. I was so eager to show him off, all of his work and what he’d accomplished. I could hardly contain my excitement as I filled out the enrollment forms.
I successfully enrolled him for fourth grade and we were scheduled to meet the fourth grade teacher on Wednesday, during “Meet the Teacher” night.
Well, Tuesday I received a phone call from the school’s principal. She called to tell me that she wanted to place my son in third grade, for the upcoming school year, instead of fourth grade.
Her words: “I know he’s age appropriate for fourth grade, but I think third grade is where he’ll be most successful. And, his being successful is my first priority.”
There is where I cut her off, explained some things to her and said that a face-to-face meeting was necessary.
We didn’t get to meet the teacher on Wednesday because they didn’t assign my son a teacher, plus my meeting wasn’t scheduled until Thursday. Do I have to say that the boy was pretty bummed?
At the meeting I was met only by the principal and the assistant principal this time. They tried to bombard me with statements such as: We want him to be successful. His success is our top priority. It’s in his best interest. We can observe him for a week and if he’s exceeding in every ares of the third grade classroom, then we’ll move him to the fourth grade class, yada yada yada!
My question was: Is this the protocol for all homeschooled students who are returning to the traditional school setting?
Their corroborated answer: Well, we’re basing our recommendation on the same recommendation that we reached last year, before you withdrew him.
Me: Well, why aren’t recommending that he goes back to second grade, since that was your last recommendation?
Them: No answer. (Literally, they had no response. Neither of them.)
Me: So it doesn’t matter that I used a State of Texas third and fourth grade curriculum to home school him?
Principal: Unless you kept grades in a grade book, then we’d consider that. Or if you have report cards.
Me: Well, what about  all of this school work that I have here, that he did! Can you test him?
Principal: He’ll have to score 90% or better in every test area, to be placed in his correct grade. It’s pretty rigorous.
Me: Sounds like it’s next to impossible for him or any child to pass.
In the end, I walked out of that school without having accomplished anything.  If ever I felt prejudged in my life, it was in this situation. From the moment I handed those administrators my son’s records from “Detroit, MI” until I walked out the front door for the absolute last time.
They didn’t even give my child a chance. They judged him (misjudged him, if I may add) no sooner than they learned that we were from Detroit. I felt bad for my son. He’d worked so hard and they would never know how awesome he is and how much he’d accomplished educationwise because they’d already had their small minds made up about him.

After speaking to several teachers in Katy ISD they concurred what I’d suspected the previous school year: Eff your feelings! Our test scores mean way more than you and your child’s feelings. Eff that you two worked hard all school year. Eff that you tested him and he tested above grade level. Eff all that! We take the Star test in November and we’re not about to chance effing up our scores, all because you decided to drag your little Detroit half-educated child down here to our magnificent school!

They weren’t interested in none of his school work that I’d bought to the meeting. They didn’t care to hear him read, witness his ability to comprehend what he’d read, they didn’t want to see him write, or care that he knew his multiplication facts, fractions, how to tell time, count money, place values or read a number line.
None of that mattered.
State and district test scores are all that matter!

Three months into the school year and I’m ecstatic with the progress that my little homeschooler is making. He was disappointed that he wasn’t going to attend school with his peers, but he’s since gotten over it. He’d rather stay home and do school than to do third grade work again.
I considered going to the PTA and the district Superintendent about this matter, but after speaking to several teachers and parents I knew my efforts would be in vain. I wouldn’t be exposing any dirty little secrets. I wouldn’t be blowing the whistle on anything that the district wasn’t already aware of.
So what would be my next course of action? How about exposing them to the very passionate and extremely opinionated world of blogging moms, dads, cousins, uncles, aunties, grandparents, etc.?
I’m eager to see their reaction to being bombarded!

The Littlest Boy reading. Reading slightly above grade level! Take that, West Memorial Elementary!

 

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Numbers Trumps Feelings Part I

When I first started considering the idea of relocating my family, the one thing that concerned me most was, taking my children from a lackluster educational environment to a phenomenal one. I knew (without truly knowing) that the Texas school curriculum was going to be more advanced and rigorous, than what we’d grown accustomed to in Michigan.
Out of my three school-aged children, I was only concerned for the younger two.
Two of my children have the tendency to start the school year off on the weak side. They struggle in mainly in the area of reading (on and above their grade level). But with my usual and constant help, along with a willing, supportive and patient teacher, I was certain that both of them would be able to kick it in high gear and get on the same page as their peers.
Last school year, we arrived nearly a month after the start of Texas schools. This concerned me because it wasn’t advantageous for two of my three.  But, I stayed positive and got them enrolled in their respective schools and grades.  My oldest was a high school freshman, the second child was an eighth grader and bringing up the rear was my youngest son, a new third grader!

As expected, my oldest blended right in. He picked up on the curriculum, as if he’d been doing it all his life. Easy Peasy! Much to my surprise, the second child also jumped right in and blended effortlessly. Whew! That was such a shocker because she’d never done that before. Admittedly, it was such a relief! I had one less child to worry about!
Sadly though, it wasn’t seventy-two hours post-enrollment of my third grader that I got the anticipated call from a school administrator– She needed to meet with me concerning some observations that his teachers made.

To make a long story short, I expected there to be an issue with his reading, like I stated earlier. I was going into this meeting expecting that we’d put our heads together to devise a plan to help him be successful with his reading. Imagine my surprise, when I got everything  but that!
At the meeting I was bombarded by the assistant principal, two teachers, the reading specialist and some other administrator lady. I was told, “that after close observation we are worried with our findings”. (Remember: He was a student for less than seventy-two hours). He’s reading below grade level. He doesn’t know place values. He’s not able to add or subtract……”

They went on and on, with a list of things that they claim my third grader couldn’t do, before telling me that he needs to be placed back in second grade.

I was completely shocked and caught off guard! One, I was shocked by the long list of things that he “couldn’t” do. It was all untrue, with the exception of his reading below grade level (I tested him on everything that they pointed out, and he passed every area. This they would have known if they’d tested him or spent  some more time with him!).
Two, I was shocked that this was their first and only recommendation, and that they’d resorted to intimidation tactics to get me to go along with what they were saying.
Three, I  was shocked that no other factors were even taken into consideration.

My response: Woo! Really? This is the plan that you all came up with after knowing a student for barely two days? As an educator, putting a child back an entire grade would NOT be my first recommendation to a parent, especially after having a child come into the classroom nearly a month later than everyone else. I definitely would spend more than two days observing and getting to know him and his personality.
There are many factors that I would take into consideration before making such a drastic conclusion. The first being, he has relocated from across country. Second, he’s brand new to the school, to the classroom, to the teacher, to the students etc. Third, he’s a rather shy and quiet child. He doesn’t like to be put on the spot or embarrassed. Instead of answering a question and getting it incorrect, he’ll simply say, “I don’t know.” Lastly, I would invest more time in observing him, minimally two weeks. Then after all of that, I would tell the parents about my areas of concern and together we can work on those areas, to fight effortlessly to get him on the same path as everyone else. If after several weeks (before the oh-so important state testing) then if there’s no improvement, we can discuss options and devise another plan.
Holding a child back, is the last option, not the first option.
Even after all those well made points, they still wanted to put my son back an entire grade. They already had their minds made-up and they didn’t take anything that I said into consideration.
In my opinion, it would be easier for them to put him back. Putting him back meant no need to put in any extra effort towards ensuring his success. And, their numbers and test scores meant more than all of my points and his self-esteem combined. When I realized that this group of people didn’t have the best interest of my child front and center, I removed him from Katy ISD. I decided that I was going to home school him instead of leaving him at that school, with those people over him.

What I’ve learned since moving to this state and to this school district: Eff your feelings! Our numbers trump you and your kid’s feelings!

Up next: Numbers Trump Feelings Part II: What happened upon fourth grade enrollment?

 

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Banned: My Beef With Microsoft and XBOX

2 of the 4 systems that I’ve purchased!

Last year I fell completely out of love with Microsoft because of the unfair and unexplained banning of my family’s Xbox 360. After our long haul to Texas and after hours of vigorously unpacking, my children were looking forward to jumping on their XBox Live accounts to talk to and play with their friends back home.

Imagine the surprise when they tried to log on to the LIVE accounts, only to find out that they couldn’t.  Reason why?  The system had been BANNED, and it’d been banned for life!

What? Huh?

Banned? What do you mean banned? Banned by who, for what and when?

I would soon learn, although  I have a million questions, not one of them will get answered  because they (meaning Microsoft and the terrible folks over at XBox) don’t have to. (SHOCKED FACE)

Moving forward with the story.

So after my Biggest Boy explains that the system has been banned (per the horrific people at XBox) I decided to call for myself. I figured that a  mistake occurred (on their part) and it would only take a few moments for an adult to get it corrected.

Upon speaking with a rep, I was told the same thing as my son. The system, which I’d recently spent over $400 bucks to purchase, had indeed been banned. When I asked why and when did this banning occur, I was informed that they’re not at liberty to give me ANY information. The rep claimed that the banning is done by another department and banning only occurs after a thorough investigation has been completed. I was assured that my system hadn’t been banned mistakenly.

Needless to say, I wasn’t satisfied with that answer and asked to speak with a supervisor. Well, the supervisor got on the line and basically said the same thing, so I requested to speak with his superior.

After days of being transferred  back and forth, and speaking with a number of useless people, I was no closer to getting the system “unbanned” or finding out why a banned occurred in the first place.

I stated my case to every single person that I’d spoken with. I, nor my children, had altered our system in any type of way. None of us (nor had any of our guests who bought their profiles over) violated any of the XBox LIVE rules (especially seeing that the system had been packed away for several weeks for our relocating) and the ban was unjustified. No one attempted to sympathize with at all, they all firmly maintained their positions and the position of XBox.

I feel like Microsoft/XBox has a hidden agenda for cleverly banning thousands and thousands of systems (I soon found out that we were not an isolated case). When your system is banned, its banned for life. Which means, any and every warranty that you have on it is voided. They will NOT service it any longer. Oh! But wait for it! You can still purchase expansions packs, Microsoft points, download games. They’ll still send advertisements to your e-mail account to make purchases. Oh yeah! And, they’ll still charge your credit card for XBox LIVE memberships. Basically, they back out of their end of the deal (unjustly) while continuing to take your money because that?  That they won’t ban!

I did ask for a refund for the XBox LIVE family memberships that I’d paid for (and still had 6 more months on). Of course, I was told, “Nope! We don’t issue refunds. Hey! But, you can use your LIVE membership on someone elses XBox system!”

Oh really? That’s all I got to do, huh? Take my four paid-in-full profiles over to a buddy’s of mines house and use them on their system?

Remind you! They haven’t told me “why” my system is banned. It could be because they’re claiming that we did something online which violates the XBox LIVE rules. YET! They advise me to utilize someone elses system. Why is that XBox LIVE people? Is it because you’d like nothing more than to unjustly ban another persons system?

To make this long story short.  I explained to every hearing ear, that I’ve been a long time and loyal customer of XBox and its products. In fact, I’ve purchased four systems, countless games, headsets, extra and special controllers, Microsoft points, expansion packs, steering wheels, carrying cases, downloads and tons of other gadgets that my children just had to have. But, no more! All of that has now come to an abrupt end. My children also have the competing system and I will now give my hard-earned dollars to them!

I’m aware that taking my dollars from Microsoft and their XBox company will not send them spiraling into bankruptcy, but word of mouth is a very powerful tool! I believe it’s the next best thing to giving my money to the direct competition! I explained this to the clever reps at XBox LIVE. I told them that I am a blogger and an avid social media engager. I will create a blog post about this entire situation, as well as Tweet and make Facebook status updates regarding it. Word of mouth can have a devastating, lasting and forever lingering impact. It has a tendency to do way more damage than a couple thousand dollars.

Since the folks at Microsoft’s XBox LIVE feel like customer satisfaction is no big deal, I don’t feel like it’s a big deal to tell how horrific my experience with them has been. I am hoping to get them to change their wicked customer service/satisfaction poilcy and also change the way that they handle wrongly banning their customers XBox systems!

Deep down I’m hoping that Microsoft’s XBox can make me fall back in love, again!

Have you had an encounter with Microsoft XBox? Has your system been unjustly banned? What’s your beef? I’d love to hear all about it.

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One Year Ago….

….the four little’s, Dooney the dog,  and I arrived, for the very first time, to our new home and the state of Texas!

 

It’s hard to believe that an entire three hundred and sixty-five days have already passed since we transitioned our lives from Michigan and away from everyone that we knew. It was and remains one of the hardest (and necessary) decisions of my life…..our lives.

Admittedly, relocating wasn’t as easy as it may come across. I had to deal with the school district wanting to place my littlest son back a grade level, my oldest boy experienced extreme culture and identity shock, while being in the midst of adolescence. My biggest gal was jockeying for her position in our family unit (which has been a huge headache), all this I endured daily, while chasing a 1-year-old toddler around from sun up to sun back down. Those are just the issues that I had to deal with concerning my children. I won’t even get into my own “grown-up adult” struggles. But, whatever the case, we made it! Happily and with a smile adorning my face, I can declare that we have, indeed, made it!

We have accomplished another one of the many goals that we’ve set for ourselves as a family, and it feels so good! Initially, we struggled to find our “Texas” footing, but we have managed to get on track. Everyone is happy and we have set lots of new goals for ourselves.

I definitely wanted to express how proud I am of us and thank everyone who has traveled this journey alongside us. My family back home, thanks for supporting my decision and us, as we transitioned. Thanks to everyone who rooted, pulled and prayed for us. Most importantly, thank you for tuning in to read, support, give advice and express your opinions on my blog posts.

I look forward to moving ahead with everyone continuing alongside us! Lots more adventures to come!

Us making our way to the Great State of TEXAS!

Us again! Really just getting started out on the road!

 

 

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