The School Conference That Made Me Cry

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I recently attended a conference at my 3rd grader’s school and it totally made me cry. This time, however, it was a GOOD cry (although also a borderline “ugly cry” too). All because my youngest son has incredible teachers, and he has some amazing, supportive classmates. But let me rewind…

Parents of children with special needs are used to crying in conferences and IEP meetings. We walk into the room bracing ourselves because we feel raw, vulnerable and are afraid of what we might hear. (We brace ourselves every time the phone rings during the school day, too!) In some school settings our children do not always get the support and services that they need. Resources are limited, teachers are exhausted, and classmates can be cruel. I feel blessed to say that has NOT been our experience at my son’s school. From the beginning Team Ninja has been full of exceptional, patient, caring teachers who have found creative ways to help my son THRIVE.  Continue reading

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Best. Costumes. EVER!

This morning was the annual Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in my hometown, and a good time was had by all. My kids participated again in the 1-mile Kids Fun Run and crushed it. I was so proud of them, especially because it was so cold. Here’s a post I wrote last year about why their running in the race was such a BIG deal. At the time they were more Lego and Minecraft kind of guys (okay, they still are), and had some anxiety related to team sports. We were struggling to find physical activities for them to participate in, and running was a good fit. Since then they have also started taking martial arts and have worked their way up to green belt. Super proud of them!

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“Stuck? STUUUUCK!”

As we were walking away from the Kids Run I heard a deranged Easter Bunny and a flag pole shouting my name. It took me a moment to realize that it was an incognito version of my friends Phil & Sandy Lawson.

Then I realized that the costumey goodness didn’t stop there. I saw that they were accompanied by two friends. BEST. Team costumes. EVER. I wonder how it feels to run in fishnets?

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“Fra-geee-lay”… must be Italian!

When you got them all together it was GOLD. Totally NOT BORING, and I knew I had to post pictures so that you could view them and agree.

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“You’ll shoot your eye out!”
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“I triple-dog dare you!”

LOVE the detail in their costumes, right down to the Red Ryder BB gun and tuft of blonde hair sticking out of the bunny costume. They did the WHOLE 10k like that. I hope they drank their Ovaltine.

Here is a link to see more of this year’s costumes. There was even a Lego Batman!  One year there was a TARDIS. Aw YEAH.

Soooo… they are entered in a costume contest and could use YOUR help to win a Major Award! (See what I did there?) Click here to place your vote… just make sure it is for “The Christmas Story.”

Great job, guys! And good luck. Hope you get your Major Award. 🙂

Relay For Life: Join Virginia Tech in their fight against cancer

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I am proud to share a very important guest post from Emily McCloud, Senior at Virginia Tech and Director of this year’s Relay for Life. The event supports the American Cancer Society, and for the past SIX years it has been the largest Collegiate Relay For Life event in the world. It is inspiring to see the younger generation invest their time and energy in a cause that they believe in, and I am proud of the Hokie community for their involvement. I am even more proud of Emily for her philanthropy and leadership. She has served on the Executive Committee for three of the four years she has participated in the Relay, including this past year as Director. I am also blessed to be able to call this “Not Boring” young lady my cousin. (Well, technically she is my stepmother’s niece, but ain’t nobody got time for all that “step” mess. So we just say “Cousin Emily”, because family is family.) Keep reading to find out more about Relay, as well as Emily’s story and how a devastating personal loss compelled her to be involved with such a worthy cause.

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A message from Emily:

Relay For Life is not a race. Even though there is a track at Relay For Life, you are not required to race, run, or even walk on the track.

But, Relay is a race in another way: a race to find a cure for cancer.

My name is Emily McCloud and I’m the Director of Virginia Tech’s Relay For Life. As Hokies, we are proud of everything we do, but especially our Relay. We have had the largest Collegiate Relay For Life event in the world for 6 years, raising over $500,000 and recruiting over 5,000 student participants each of those years. Even better, we’ve raised over $4.5 million for cancer research since we started at Tech in 2000-2001. To date, we’ve raised over $166,000 this year, which has funded nearly 2 research grants or 1,660 nights for cancer patients and loved ones to stay in a Hope Lodge for free while the patient undergoes treatment.

We’ve done so much, but there still isn’t a cure.

I’m passionate about Relay because 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately, I’ve known too many people who represent these numbers. This disease takes too many lives and shakes families and friends forever. This terrible disease shook my own family by taking my father from us when I was just 12 years old. Just before my father passed, breast cancer took my Aunt. Then just about three years ago cancer took my Grandfather as well. Cancer has changed my life and upset my loved ones for as long as I can remember.

However, I am determined to make it stop.

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My Story:

Being a Daddy’s girl, it was life altering losing him. Not only did it affect how my family functioned, but I didn’t feel like his little girl anymore. Continue reading

So Close Your Eyes on Hushabye Mountain…


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Ever have one of those parenting moments that hit you right in the soul? And then you get all emotional, and even though you’re fully aware of the fact you’re being totally ridiculous there’s nothing you can do stop it? That happened to me tonight while I was tucking my 10-year-old son into bed, and it left me gasping for breath. I shouldn’t have been so surprised after what had happened earlier in the evening. My husband left the room while I was flipping channels, and when he returned a mere three minutes later I was watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and weeping. Mamma’s got a lot of emotion tonight, and apparently seeing a very young Dick Van Dyke sing the haunting lullaby “Hushabye Mountain” was more than I could handle. It brought a flood of emotions and memories from growing up, as well as an unexpected wave of longing for the fast-waning childhood of my own two boys. I generally try not to be a clingy parent, but am also increasingly and painfully aware that my moments with them are slipping by far too quickly. Sometimes I see them growing up right before my eyes and I just can’t stand it. I had also spent a large part of the day today trying not to dwell on some regrets about things I wish I had done differently in their younger years. Regret is a funny thing- it makes us forget all the good while we focus on the bad. Regret is also a place in which I try not to dwell, but for some reason tonight it was harder to fight.

I managed to pull myself together and went to tuck my eldest son into bed. I lay down beside him in the dark and held him as I began to sing a lullaby. I didn’t get many words out before the tears started streaming down my cheeks. I stopped singing and held him as tightly as I could, already mourning the time when he would no longer want Mommy to tuck him in at night. He is right at the cusp of turning into a tween, but I can still picture him as an infant like it was yesterday. As proud as I am of the amazing young man he is becoming, sometimes I miss that chubby-cheeked little baby so much that it hurts. What I wouldn’t give to feel that tiny little body resting against mine just one more time.

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So tonight I held fast to my big boy, wishing that I could somehow freeze time and remember forever how it feels: to be Mommy, to be needed, and to be loved unconditionally (before all that teen angst and aloofness sets in).

My son noticed that I had stopped singing and instead had begun shaking a little bit. He asked, “Um, what are you doing?”

“Just crying,” I replied.

“Why?’

“I was just thinking how proud I am of you, how much I love you, and how you’re growing up so fast *sob*. I am just feeling a lot of feelings and am a little bit overwhelmed.”

(Teasingly)~ “You’re weird.”

Then we laughed, and I kissed my son goodnight and closed the door. Knowing that in the morning he will be one day older, one day closer to sailing far away from me. I just hope that our moments together and the lessons I have tried to teach him will be enough. Enough to help him be brave and strong out there in the world. And enough to always help him find his way back home.

*So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain
Wave goodbye, to cares of the day
And watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain
Sail far away from Lullaby Bay

(*Lyrics from “Hushabye Mountain” in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The image at the top of this post is from one of my favorite Fairy Tale books. A book that I regret never reading to my children, but plan on changing that regret tomorrow…)

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