Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

Summer Closing 2018

Seems like this summer has flown by!  As an educator I am often asked this question nearly all summer long, “are you ready to go back?”  I really don’t like that question.  Even when I’m not at school, I’m working.  Even though I decided to take a summer job at a department store and tutor the grandson of a friend of mine, I have also been meeting and planning with my team so that we are prepared when school actually goes back into session.  For most educators, not working all summer long is not an option.  We squeeze in some fun time with the family and maybe a vacation but a lot of us are planning, in trainings and preparing for the upcoming year.

I didn’t get an actually vacation this year but I did have some fun with my family, enjoyed my son and grandson for two weeks, and I even got to sleep in some days.  The best part of my summer was having lunch or dinner with friends I don’t often get to catch up with during the school year.

In an effort to get some cleaning and organizing done around the house, I finally got a chance to start working on the garage.  I got about half done when I came across a box that my aunt sent me over a year ago.  She’d been holding on to it since my mother passed away a few years ago.  I attempted to go through it when I first got it but didn’t get very far.  Although it was still very hard, I’m glad I was able to do it now.  After my mother passed away, I wasn’t able to have anything that belonged to her and that made me really sad.  However, while going through her box, I came across an old driver license and her last pastport.  It was awesome!  It may not sound like much but for me, to be able to have just those two things of hers meant the world to me.  To go from growing up in a house that reflected our family history to having it all lost after my mother’s death was very devastating for me.  Not only did I lose her but I lost many things that meant a lot to me and my parents.

I didn’t get to finish the other half of the garage but with about six more days of summer break left, my goal is to rest, rest, rest!  Goodness knows I’m going to need it!  I am looking forward to another successful school year.  I will have a new team this year which will be absolutely no problem for me because I am a serious social butterfly!  Meeting and getting to know new people is one of my favorite things to do.  I’m looking forward to seeing my students, coworkers and getting back to my routine.  This is going to be a great school year!

 

Give, live and enjoy…🙂

 

 

Summer 2018

I had a plan this summer!  I was going to rest…a lot, summer clean the house, clean the garage and spend my evenings with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other.  I am one month in and I have been just as busy thus far as I normally am during the school year.  Not sure how it happened but I think it’s my mother’s fault.  That lady never knew how to sit still for more than a few minutes and I believe I inherited that gene!

Being that we purchased our first home last summer, I thought it would be a great idea to work “part time” this summer and use that extra cash to paint and decorate.  Yes, I know, now…that was a bad idea!  Although I only work about twenty hours a week, it is a bit more than I bargained for.  The work is easy and my co-workers are pleasant enough but couple that with trying to fit in appointments for me and the kids, squeezing in all the things I intended to do this summer and it makes for some very long days.

The week school ended, my fifteen year old daughter announced that she signed up for a summer course to prepare her for dual enrollment in the fall.  The course is eighteen days, three hours a day, four days a week!  To make matters worse, she goes to a magnet school for business, the school is forty-five minutes from our house and there are no busses running in the summer.  Needless to say, my plans to sleep in are a bust.  I can’t be mad at her though, she is at least looking toward her future.  Now, if she does not pass this course, she will be grounded the rest of the summer for making me get up early for nothing!

I am optimistic!  I am certain I will have time to do most if not all of the things I had planned this summer.  There is still plenty of time to sleep in, read, write and clean.

Here’s to a restful July…:)

Summer Learning Success

As part of my extended job as Title 1/Parent Involvement Coordinator at my school, I was asked to present our end of the year Parent Night.  Preventing summer learning loss was the topic given to me and the following is what I shared.  Thought it would make a great post.

7 Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

And just like that, summer is upon us once again. As you begin to plan for days without your child’s school schedule with free time, family vacations and outings remember that summer is also a great time to strengthen academic skills and close learning gaps. Research shows that, a nonacademic summer can cause students at every grade level to digress two to three months in their academic skills. A little time each day during the summer will go a long way in helping students be successful when they return to school in the fall. Here are a few tips to help set your student up for summer success.

1. Make Time for Learning

Set aside time for your child to read and practice math skills each day during the summer break — 15 to 30 minutes per day is all it takes! Summer is the time to encourage reading for enjoyment. It is also a great opportunity to preserve and strengthen their reading and math skills. Keep track of summer academics by using a calendar. Give your child a stamp or a sticker each day for working on summer academics as they work their way toward earning a reward at the end of the summer.

2. Learn and Practice Affixes

To help kids of all grade levels improve their reading and spelling skills include some learning activities that include affixes. Most multi-syllable words have prefixes and suffixes added to a base word. You can find a list of affixes and their meanings in a dictionary or in many online sources. To make this practice appealing, turn it into a game! Students can create flashcards of prefixes and suffixes using index cards or sturdy construction paper cut into squares. For each affix, they can write the meaning on the back. As they practice the affix they can try to guess what they think the affix means. Create the same activity to help students learn new vocabulary words.

3. Develop Math Skills

Getting your child to read during the summer may be an easy task to accomplish. However, most children will want to steer clear of math practice over the summer so keeping it simple and making it fun will be the key! Working on just three to four math problems per day during the summer can prevent students’ math skills from getting rusty. For help with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, students can create their own flashcards to use for a quick review while riding around in the car.

4. Improve Reading Comprehension

Consider reading with your child and asking questions about the story along the way. This is a great way for students to hear and see new or unfamiliar words. Reading together is also an opportunity for you to help your child understand the meaning of words they may not be familiar with. Be sure to keep a dictionary handy while you read to help students build problem solving skills by looking up words they don’t know.

5. Encourage Creative Writing

Give your child a journal. Encourage them to write all about what they see and do over the summer. A short paragraph or two once a week is all it takes! You can join in on the writing fun by helping them choose a topic to write about. Remind them of all the fun and exciting things they are doing.

6. Send Them Outside

Keep children active and healthy by sending them outside. This is a great way for kids to meet up with friends for impromptu games, making up rules and learning to play fair to keep everyone involved.

7. Buy a Bird Feeder

While kids are exploring outside, a bird feeder will activate their scientific discovery. This will give students something else to write about as they observe nature around them!

School’s out for summer! 🙂

Granting Grace

After nearly thirteen years together sometimes he just works my last nerve!  Last night I was frustrated to no end with my Love so I decided to leave the house to get some air.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway but then I figured since Chick-fil-a was right next to Wal-Mart I deserved a cookies & cream milkshake…heaven on earth!

At the light while waiting to pull out of my subdivision, still fuming, I was going over the events of the past few minutes.  Even though I was in the car by myself and no one would have known, I was silently praying to God to help control my anger as to not start cursing that man out verbally or in the quiet corners of my mind.  

Sitting my anger at that light I clearly heard God say, “grant him grace.”  Ugh!!! God has been doing that a lot lately.  Just jumping into my thoughts, reminding me that in order to complete my circle not only do I have speak my faith, I also have to act my faith.

Grace is one of those words we hear so often that we tend to brush it aside when we are frustrated or angry.  In general, we all know what grace means but in all things Christ-like we have a choice in whether or not we use it.

Like I said, I know generally what grace means but I decided to look it up anyway so that I could make sure it was really grace God wanted me to extend in this current situation with my Love. (Won’t we try to find a way not to do what God tells us to do?  The flesh is weak!)

By definition, grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

In reading the definition, it was the word unmerited that stood out the most so, I looked it up too.

Unmerited – not adequately earned or deserved.

I meditated over that word for quite sometime before I started this post.  No one and I mean no one, not even I, deserve grace.  If I were totally honest I know without a doubt that I sometimes say, do, think and act in ways that anger or frustrate God yet, even though I did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it, I EXPECT God to grant me grace.  To forgive me, bless me and love me no matter what.  So who am I to not give to others what God so lovingly and freely gives to me each and every moment of my life?

I had the most enlightening drive to Wal-Mart! I also enjoyed my milkshake but then went home with a better attitude, helped my son with an online exam, hugged my Love and peacefully went to sleep.

Learning how to listen so that I can listen to learn.

 

Spring Break

About two years ago my son moved to North Carolina and of course he took my grandson with him.  I was sad to see them go but my son is a young man now and has to make decisions that he thinks is best for him.  For now, North Carolina it is.  However, this praying mother will continue to ask God to find a way to bring him home or at the very least within a couple hours drive.

On the bright side of this decision, I get to travel to North Carolina to visit.  They live in this really cute, quiet little town that reminds me of one of those towns everybody ends up in on those Hallmark movies.  Unlike Florida, in North Carolina I got to actually see Spring.  Cool air, beautiful trees, gorgeous sunsets and at night, the most amazing star show I have ever witnessed.

My time spent in North Carolina was amazing.  My grandson is growing so fast and talking about everything in sight.  It was such a pleasure to simply sit and watch him play with his cars, color pictures or run around in the front yard.  I think we went to every kid museum, activity center and zoo within an hours drive.  To be the best Yaya possible, I must spoil him rotten!  My son is still the air I breathe.  Watching him with his son were some of the happiest moments of my time there.  My son has always been a loving kid and it definitely shows when he is with my grandson.  To say that I am a proud mom and Yaya is an understatement!

I would have loved for my parents to have met their great-grand.  My mother would have found a way to keep them here and my dad would have been the best babysitter ever.  I think of my parents every day.  My life has become about continuing to make them proud, living life in the manner in which they tried to raise me and leaving a legacy for my son.

Family is the village…:)

 

 

Who Moved My Cheese?

When I was in my early twenties my best friend convinced me to move from Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. She had moved to Atlanta a few years before to attend college and after graduation decided to stay. She thought Atlanta would be great for me. Best friends since childhood, we were young, had our whole lives ahead of us and as young adults, Atlanta would be just the place to begin our new adventures.

The birth of my son at nineteen had slowed down my education just a bit but I wasn’t going to give up my dream of becoming a college graduate. When I made the decision to move to Atlanta, I applied and was accepted to Georgia State University. In Atlanta, just as I’d done in Florida, I worked and went to school. Finishing my education and taking care of my son was the goal. My best friend and I had some great time but after competing one semester I had to forgo my next semester in order to find a full time job so that I could better take care of my son.

It was during that time that I found a customer service job with Time Warner. The job was good. The money did just what I needed to which meant my son and I would be okay. The managers at Time Warner purchased this book called, Who Moved My Cheese?. They gave one copy to each department head. Each person in the department was to read it and then pass it on the next person on the list. The book is not very long and I was able to get through it in a few days. After reading it, even at that young age, I understood why the company wanted us to read it.

Things in business as well as in life change and sometimes they change often. However, if we don’t have the strength of mind to change with the world around us we risk becoming stuck just like one character in the story. This book came to my mind today as I thought about my current relationship.

My love and I have always been quite different. It is one of those things we learned early on about each other. I am the one who enjoys trying new things, going to new places and reading various genres in order to expand my thinking. He is more of a “close to the vest” type guy. He is very comfortable with what he’s familiar with and doesn’t do change well.

Over the years we worked through his fear of change by slowly bringing new things into his life. When we went on trips, we’d go after he got off work (he doesn’t do well with taking time off work) and stay over just one night. Slowly we’d try different restaurants of his choice. I’m still working on that reading thing. Yet while that has worked for us for many years, it’s the one thing that is taking its toll on us today.

I never quite understood the fear of change as I’ve known it to make me stronger and better. I don’t always like change, I don’t think anyone does but I don’t run from it. It’s hard to see anyone you love be crippled by a fear of anything because you know it is hindering their progress in some area of their lives. However, what I’m learning in this season of my life is that God truly has a plan for each and everyone of us.

While we hope that life will bend our way, ultimately it’s God’s will should strive to know and do, so that we can live that abundant life he promises us in Ephesians 3:20.

My cheese is moving once again…🙂