Monday, October 13, 2014

Dating After the Dirty D Word

Divorce.  What did you think I meant?  I swear, this is why we can't go to nice places.

On a serious note, my marriage became estranged three years ago, and as of Valentine's Day 2015 I will have been divorced for 3 years.  In the past few years, I've been on  more dates than I care to count.  Seriously.  It's been a lot.  Some good, some bad, some wonderful, but mostly just awkward.

I'm not sure how the math works, but also in the last three years I've been in two serious relationships. One lasting a year and a half and the other 10 miserable months.  Ok, not all miserable, but I do shudder at the memory of how that one ended.  Shaking off the memory... and... we're good.

So, lets take a trip down memory lane.  Starting with the decision to divorce.  That was a relatively easy decision, just as easy as the decision we made to get married in the first place.  Of course, it took more time planning the divorce because now we had two kids to consider.  I needed some time to clear my mind, and a friend of mine in Colorado wanted some company.  Friend may be too strong of a word.  He was my former Drill Sergeant and he was also going through a divorce.  I wanted to see the Garden of the Gods.  So, a couple weeks before Christmas, I took a long weekend to visit him.  It was a fun short trip.  Great hiking and bouldering went down. Then I went home and celebrated Christmas with my family.  That was pretty much the end of that.

New Years came, I was alone.  More weeks passed and I started seeing a former classmate. We bonded over mutual fondness of the Blazers and Sushi. I wanted more, he wanted less, that was pretty much the end of that.

Next, I found a personal trainer who worked in management at an up and coming gym that boasted 24 hour accessibility, MMA, Crossfit, and my least favorite, zumba.  He got me a job there as the front desk girl for the evening shift.  It was fun, I flirted and sold memberships.  Meanwhile I was taking classes online and serving in the Army Reserves.  Soon I moved in with the personal trainer into an apartment where our roommates were a Marine Reservist and a Blazers Dancer. She got me a job working weekends (because she didn't want to work them) at the same MMA gym she worked at (you've probably heard of it, a certain gangster from the mean streets of West Linn trained there.) We were a funky bunch.  The personal trainer proposed, and I stupidly said yes. Months passed and I was suddenly in a position where I needed a bigger place because the boys' dad could no longer have them living with him.  So the roommates disbanded and I got a house on the river in Oregon City.  Within a couple months, the engagement was off.

Within weeks, I was dating again. I dated a wonderful guy who I also knew from high school.  On our first date, we discussed our children's bathroom mishaps.  That's how I knew it was not merely a fling, it was a future relationship.  I left for a month for training and we talked every day, well... texted, it was 2013 after all. When the school year ended, I decided to pack up my house on the river and start saving to buy my own house (or farm) while I rented from my parents.  This allowed me to spend a lot more time with Mr. Wonderful.  If it wasn't a drill weekend, we were together every weekend.  I had a great job, but I had to commute during the week which took my work week from 40 hours to 50 hours a week, for a mom and student, it was pretty hard to manage.  So I left the Army Reserves in hopes of working full time for the National Guard.

That worked out wonderfully. Within one month of my transfer I had a one year active duty order, and just a week after that I got picked up on a 3 year active duty order.  Now I could put my whole BAH aside each month into savings for a house.  I found a house with Mr. Wonderful in between my frequent out of state trips for training.  By April of 2014 we moved in. I didn't get to live in it for the first month because I was in California training.  When I finally did get to come home, it was annual training season.  Mr. Wonderful and I grew apart, quickly.  We broke up, and he moved out in July.  Leaving me once again back in the shallow dating pool, only instead of living in the Portland area, where the waters are less polluted by my own gene pool, I was back in my hometown with considerably less options.

So who have I dated since becoming single in July? Who haven't I dated is a better question.  Just kidding.  But I have been on a lot of first dates and it's getting exhausting.  They say you'll find the right person when you stop looking.  I find that concept to be confusing.  If you don't date then how can you take a partner?


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You don't know how it feels, to be meeeee.....

Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers Concert in August (amaze balls)

I guess that is always the case, you never know what someone else's life is like.  Unless they decide to blog about it.

The last time I blogged, life was busy with work, working on my degree, and the kids and for some silly reason I thought maybe it would have slowed down by now (6 months later) but it really has not.  Even with taking several months off from AMU.  I don't think that's a bad thing either, I can't imagine having a slow paced life at this point.
During one of my travels this year, Airline lost my luggage so all I had was one change of clothes, my laptop, and what they gave me at the front desk.


So what's been going on since then... In April I bought a house and I absolutely love it!  A few days after moving in, I left to California for a school.
My Zen Garden

 I finished the school in May while I was there I got an answer I'd been waiting two years for.  They found the remains of my friend, SPC Kelli Bordeaux, and got a confession from the individual that murdered her.  So I was back in my home for a couple days before I headed to Fort Bragg for all of 24 hours to attend her services, at which my best friend Juli was one of the guest speakers.  It was very moving, but I'd be lying if I said I'm over what happened to her, I don't think that's something you ever get over you just have to learn to keep living and try to learn whatever you can from it.

The packed All American Chapel at Fort Bragg for Kelli's Service.

My best friend Juli spoke so beautifully and eloquently at Kelli's service, she never stops amazing me with her talents.

I was home for nearly 4 weeks before I packed up again for Annual Training in June.  AT was awesome.  The commander chose me to compete in our Best Warrior Competition as the Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, looking down at my chest I saw specialist rank.  No matter, a few days later on the last day of AT my kids pinned me with Sergeant rank. 

All of the time I spent away from my then boyfriend made me realize that we were truly so different.  I started to think about if I could see myself being happily married to him (we'd been dating for a year and a half) and honestly, he's such a great person that I probably could have been happy.  But the thing is, there's just so much more I want to do in this life and I'd be downright selfish to marry someone like him.  Joey and Jarren and the rest of my family are obviously my number one priority, but in order to continue to provide for them my career comes in second to them.  Once they are grown and it's no longer my duty to provide for them my career would have shifted into my number one priority, and that's not something most partners want to hear.  I felt terrible to say it, but I was totally honest, I know that I am being selfish by focusing on me right now but it is working and I want to keep doing it. 

After the break up, the rest of my summer flew by even faster.  I submerged myself into my work and studying/ training for Best Warrior.  Winning the Battalion level just meant more weekends sacrificed and more work to get ready for State level.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really stoked that I won, because I was the only female competitor and... well that's it, I was the only female and part of the competition was getting over the intimidation of being the only female in the running.  Part of me is completely ready for it to just be over with so I can get back to my degree plan and take the heavy burden of not letting my unit down the other part of me wants to surprise myself with what I am capable of doing.  Everyone says it, you're only competing against yourself.

Getting back into rucking.

I hate rapelling.
Super fun 13.1 mile obstacle course with friends!

9.11 mile run with my brothers and sisters on 9/11/2014

Aside from giving me a reason to work on myself as a soldier, one of the neat things about this competition is that it gives you opportunities for schools you may not normally get to go to, and I have my mind set on one that I'd really like to do.  But I'm keeping it to myself until I get into the school because it's one of those ones that people will just look at you and say, "why on earth would you WANT to do that?!"

Well, that about sums up the major changes in the last 6 months of my life.  I finally watched Black Hawk Down, it was amazing and I'm kind of pissed no one ever made me watch it before.  I've read more books in the past 6 months than I have in the 6 years prior to that.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was so good!  I can't wait to see the movie, starring Ben Affleck, it's coming out in just a few weeks!  I just finished No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer and I tell you, if I wasn't already in the military, I'd sign up after reading it!  Not only does it give a first hand account of the mission to kill Bin Laden, but he goes into details about his childhood, the training leading up to the SEALS, and several missions that turned out to be great learning experiences.  I'd really like to date an Operator at some point... so if you know anyone... :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Special Brownies


About four or five years ago, I got a cook book called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfield (Jerry's wife).  I bought the book because it was ridiculously difficult to get my kids to eat vegetables so I wanted some ideas of foods that I could sneak vegetables into.  Out of the whole cookbook, the vegetable brownies not only sounded the best, but have been the best received.

I have tweaked the recipe over time and now have my own version of it.  I don't use any vegetable oil because the pureed vegetables make them perfectly moist without it.   Here it is:

Ingredients:
1 Box Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Water
3 Cups (8 oz) Frozen Spinach (I also like to use Carrots and sometimes I'll do a mix of spinach and carrots)
1 Bag M&Ms (optional)

Steam veggies fully.  While veggies are steaming, set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare cupcake pan with nonstick spray and unsweetened cocoa (to prevent brownies from sticking to pan).

Puree veggies completely with egg and water.  Empty brownie mix into mixing bowl and add vegetable mixture.  Mix thoroughly.

Spoon brownie batter into cupcake pan filling each cup 2/3 full.  Add M&Ms on top, if you like.  I don't personally care for the M&M's but the kids always ask for them to be on top of their brownies.

Bake for 20 minutes then check with toothpick.

A funny little story about these treats.  When I lived on base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I once made them for a BBQ I was hosting and told my friend that they were "special" brownies.  She was a little hesitant but grabbed one so I quickly explained that by special I meant that they had spinach in them.  She quickly set it back down, to which I tried to convince her that she'd never know that if I hadn't told her because they taste great.  Then she explained that, yes, she would have known because she is allergic to spinach!  It was a close call.  Ever since that incidence, I always fully disclose the ingredients.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Growing Up with a Speech Disorder: The Social Struggles Children with Speech Disorders Face



Growing Up with a Speech Disorder:

The Social Struggles Children with Speech Disorders Face

Rainie M. Wheeler

American Military University



Abstract

This paper focuses on the social impact caused by the unintelligible or difficult to understand speech produced by children with speech disorders.  A specific emphasis will be placed on children with speech sound disorders (SSD), or the speech that is unintelligible to people outside of the close family members due to problems producing proper articulatory phonetics.  Some attention will also be given to the impact of other common problems with speech such as stuttering. The multiple social issues speech disorders can cause range from behavioral troubles to poor self-esteem and may be correlated to the language barrier among children with speech disorders and their typically developing peers.  Research has indicated that children with language and speech difficulties are more likely to report problems with socio-emotional, attention, anxiety, and social relationships (Savage, 2005).  Intervention with a speech language pathologist (SLP) or a speech language therapist (SLT) have shown to be an effective means of overcoming speech disorders for children, thereby closing the language gap among peers.
The Social Struggles Children with Speech Disorders Face

          Picture yourself visiting a foreign country, whose primary language is one you may understand well, but you cannot seem to get the dialect down for the local nationals to understand you when you speak.  For the sake of this scenario, you do not have access to technology to assist you with finding a place to eat or directions to your destination for the day.  At first it may be exciting to communicate with the locals and be submerged in their language.  However, after a few days you may start to grow tired of repeating every question, every sentence, and trying to find different ways of posing your questions or phrasing your responses in order to get through basic communication with others.  Now imagine that this is how every single day of your life is for the indefinite future and it is not only the country that you are in, it is the entire population of the world that has extreme difficulty in understanding you.  Communication with others now has become a chore that you dread. This struggle is a reality for millions of children who suffer from various speech disorders.
          The 2008 edition of “Incidence and Prevalence of Communication Disorders and Hearing Loss in Children” reports that 24.1% of children attending public schools in the United States receive speech or language disorder services (Castrogiovanni).  This estimate includes only children whose primary condition is their speech disorder, not those who have an underlying condition that their difficulty with speech is a result of such as hearing loss or autism.
Etiology
          There is no one attributed cause of speech disorders, also commonly referred to as speech impediments; rather, there is a range of environmental, anatomical and even genetic origins of speech disorders.  An example of an environmental cause for a child to have delays in speech development is order of birth. Parents, typically, continuously communicate with their first-born; whereas, their second child may not get as many opportunities to communicate with their caregiver, because their needs are being predicted as the needs of the older sibling are being met (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, 2009).  Another environmental cause that contributes to children with fluency speech disorders is anxiety; an intricate relation between increased anxiety and stuttering occurs in both children and adults (Blood, Blood, Tramontana, Sylvia, Boyle, & Motzko, 2011). 
          Anatomical characteristics that often cause articulation difficulties making speech unintelligible are craniofacial irregularities, tongue-tie, cleft lip, and/or soft palate (Bowen, 2012). 
         Lastly, speech disorders seem to cluster within families, indicating a strong genetic cause.  For example, in a family where a child has been identified as having a speech sound disorder there is a 28-60% chance that at least one other sibling, the mother, or the father had or has a speech sound disorder as well (Castrogiovanni, 2008).  Stuttering seems to have an even stronger familial link, with 20-74% of stutterers having a family history of the disorder.
Discussion
It is not uncommon for children at the beginning their primary education to have behavioral issues.  This is due the fact that it takes adjustment time for a child to learn the rules of the classroom, such as raising their hand to get the attention of the teacher rather than blurting out a question or statement, or taking issue with having to take turns or share.  Because of this, some behavioral issues can be expected from any child at certain times, triggered by various individual events.  However, a child with a speech disorder is unique, in that while they, too, have to learn to wait their turn and follow the rules of the classroom, they deal with the additional task of having to put forth a far greater effort in order to communicate in the classroom. The exhausting task of communicating with the class causes them to experience frustration more frequently in the classroom than his or her peers. Naturally, they have increased frequency in problems with anxiety, devoting attention, and forming social relationships (Savage, 2005), which can translate to less effective contribution to the classroom from these children. 
The increased anxiety that a child experiences because of their speech problem may make them more hesitant to raise their hand to answer a question for fear of being teased for their speech difficulties.  In addition, they may feel that the rest of the class does not want them to contribute their ideas because it will take them longer to get their point made than it would for one of the typically developed children.  If the child is not engaged in the classroom activity or discussion, they are more likely not to pay attention to what the lesson is and they may not be getting any benefit from the lesson at all for this reason.  Thus explains the issues with attention that children with speech disorders display.
Bullying is the repetitive, intentional, aggressive behavior that involves an abuser and a victim (Blood et al., 2011). It is, no doubt, a serious problem in the United States today.  Anything that makes a person an individual can also make them the target of bullying.  The list of negative impacts that result from bullying is a long one; a victim may experience mental distress, adjustment difficulties, negative changes in academic performance, poor self-esteem, depression, social isolation, exclusion, lonesomeness, and physical symptoms (Blood et al., 2011).  These negative impacts from being a victim of bullying are catastrophic for the sufferer; they cause wounds that no one can see.
Prevalence of being a victim of bullying among children with speech disorders is remarkably higher than it is for the population of typically developed children.  Blood et al. conducted a study of 108 students between the ages of 13-18, half of the students had a stutter and half of the students did not.  They used a self-report survey to get an estimate of the prevalence of victims of bullying among children who stutter versus the prevalence of victims of bullying among children who did not have a speech disorder.  In doing this, they found that out of 108 students, 44% of the children with a stutter fell into the classification of victim of bullying, while 9% of the children who did not have a stutter fell into the classification of victim of bullying (Blood et al., 2011).  This finding is significant because the 54 non-stuttering children were chosen specifically as matches to the children who did stutter, based upon grade, gender, ethnicity, and age, so it can be deduced that the stuttering played a significant role in their being the target of bullying.
A child who produces unintelligible speech is likely to be viewed as below average intelligence, despite actually being a bright child.  Some children, who are bright, will even describe themselves as not smart because they have internalized the social bias that they have experienced.  These kids are not making up this social prejudice; there is evidence that individuals who are ignorant to the reason behind the unintelligible speech describe children who produce speech that is unintelligible as having lower intelligence. 
Rice, Hadley, and Alexander conducted a study at the University of Kansas, in 1993.  In this study, children late in their pre-kindergarten school year from three different categories were selected: children who produced speech considered to be at the normal range for their age, children with speech sound disorders, and children with speech and language impairment.  The children were individually recorded for three minutes, as a sample of their speech, and then their sample was cut down to one and a half minutes.  These samples of speech were played for 283 adult raters comprised of four groups: speech language pathologists (SLPs), kindergarten teachers, non-educators matched to the teachers for gender and education levels, and undergraduate college students.  The adult raters rated the children in nine different areas: ability to get the message across, intelligence in comparison with peers, likelihood of ability to be a class leader, likability among peers, parental education level, social status of parents, social maturity, and ability to achieve academic success.
As expected, over all the raters rated the children without a speech disorder as better able to get the message across.  However, social bias was evident in the rest of the categories rated.  Results showed that over all, children without speech disorders were estimated to have been smarter, to have stronger leadership abilities, to be more likeable, to have parents with higher education, to have parents of higher social status, to be more socially mature, and to have the ability to achieve greater academic success than their peers that have speech disorders (Rice et al., 1993).   These results accurately portray the social biases children with speech difficulties face from adults they encounter in their daily lives. 
Findings such as these are paramount because it affects the daily lives of these children.  When a child is estimated to be less capable of achieving academic success due to lower intelligence, not only will they lose out on effort from their teacher, who will focus more on the children who clearly are capable of more academic success, but the other adults in the child’s life may have the same perception and spend less time encouraging the young student to push his or herself. 
Since children learn bias from their adult role models, an additional repercussion of adults holding the false belief that children with speech deficiencies are less intelligent than their typically developed peers is that the other students may hold these false beliefs as well. Unquestionably, this can lead to severe consequences for the kids with speech disorders on both an academic level and on a social development level.  For example, in a classroom setting where initially all of the children view themselves as equals, an educator who treats one child differently because of the difficulty he or she has in receiving the message the child is trying to convey may inadvertently be teaching the rest of the class, also, to treat that child differently. This can cause the child’s self-esteem to suffer. 
Self-esteem is detrimentally affected in a child who does not believe he or she is capable of academic achievement, or who has been the victim of bullying. Confidence in one’s abilities is necessary for one to attempt new things and to set forth goals for the future, without this children are not active participants in life but rather passive occupants questioning what their role in the world is. 
Adding to the individualized treatment of children with speech disorders, most children identified as having any kind of speech impairment attend regular speech therapy sessions during the traditional school day.  In order to attend the sessions, the children must be pulled from the classroom to receive personalized therapy in an attempt to gradually develop normal speech.  While these sessions are indisputably appropriate for the children, the act of segregating the children further identifies them as different from their typically developed peers.

Application

          Educators and parents certainly want to do whatever they can to help their children improve and should be optimistic that the children will overcome their speech disorder.  The first step in doing so is to identify that the child has a problem with their speech.  This is accomplished by contacting a speech language pathologist who, in their first session with the child, will conduct a test that will determine if the child is in need of therapy.  Once the need for treatment is determined, the child’s teacher, parents, and the SLP will meet to discuss the child’s individualized education plan (IEP).  In this meeting, both the frequency of the speech therapy sessions and the time of day in which the sessions will take place will be decided. This is usually a time that is agreed upon mostly between the teacher and the SLP, with the goal being for the child to miss the least necessary portion of the regular grade level lesson plan as possible. More than likely, the child will not be the only on from his or her class that is attending the lesson plan, due to the earlier discussed fact that speech difficulties are an issue that an estimated 24% of children receive speech or language services.
          Because it is likely that the child having to be pulled out of class on a frequent basis is unavoidable, parents can look for other kinds of opportunities for their child to participate in groups or activities with children.  For example, enrolling the child in an afterschool program such as the Boys and Girls Club may give the child more opportunities to socialize with other children.  Another option could be signing the child up for whatever sport they are interested in participating in.  Not only is being a member of a team an opportunity for more social inclusion, it also gives them the chance to show other children that, while they may have a speech difficulty, they may be talented in other areas, such as athletics.
As children are given multiple avenues of participation and more opportunities to figure out what interests them, they are more likely to build on their sense of who they are and their self-esteem and confidence will increase.
          It is inevitable for the child who speaks differently to be identified as different and to be treated different.  As long as intervention is necessary, they will have time spent away from their peers.  However, as a preventative measure, rather than a reactive measure, children can be taught methods of fighting back against being bullied as a part of their therapy sessions.  The “fogging” intervention is a perfect example of anti-bullying efforts. In this method, a child who is being bullied would respond to being insulted with rehearsed phrases that give the bully the impression that the victim is confident and their abuse has no effect.  This includes sayings such as “you might think so” or “I can see why you would think that way” (Savage, 2005).  SLP’s can be trained on the “fogging” method and incorporate this into their time with the children at the end of their sessions practicing these scenarios.  Even for the children who are not being teased for their speech disorder they may find that having this valuable tool presents a way of reaching out to other classmates who are being teased and find an opening to make a new friend.
          Parents and other family members of children with speech difficulties can help the child by remembering to exercise patience at all times when the child is trying to communicate.  The child is already experiencing frustrating circumstances trying to get the message across; the receiver of the message getting frustrated as well can only make matters worse.  Caregivers need to advocate for their child and stay informed with their academic progress as well as with their progress in speech therapy.  There is no reason for a parent not to have optimism when it comes to the improvement of their child’s speech.
          It is evident, due to the wide variety of causes for abnormal speech conditions, that there is no preventative measure that can be taken to thwart speech disorders from occurring.  The best course of action for parents and teachers to take is to educate themselves on the different speech disorders so that they can find the best route of treatment for the child.  Keeping a positive attitude is important for the success of the children who have these speech difficulties.



References

Blood, G. W., Blood, I. M., Tramontana, G., Sylvia, A. J., Boyle, M. P., & Motsko, G. R. (2011). Self-reported experience of bullying of students who stutter: relations with life satisfaction, life orientation, and self-esteem. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 113(2), 353-364.

Bowen, C. (2012). Questions from families about children’s speech sound disorders. Speech-language-therapy dot com. Retrieved March 17, 2014 from http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16:ssd&catid=11:admin&Itemid=120

Castrogiovanni, A. (2008). Communication facts: incidence and prevalence of communication disorders and hearing loss in children.  American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved March 17, 2014 from http://www.asha.org/research/reports/children.htm
Crandell, T. L., Crandall, C. H. & Vander Zanden, J. W. (2009). Human development (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rice, Mabel L., Hadley, P. A., & Alexander, A. L. (1993). Social biases toward children with speech and language impairments: a correlative causal model of language limitations. Applied Psycholinguistics, 14, 445-471.

Savage, R. (2005). Friendship and bullying patterns in children attending a language base in a mainstream school. Educational Psychology In Practice, 21(1), 23-36.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jarren's Struggle

So, I'm in this child development class.  This week's assignment was to write an 8-12 page paper about an issue. analyze the issue, and finally, offer suggestions.  I enlisted the help of my social network on Facebook to get some idea juices flowing.  I got some really great suggestions from my friends on things that I could write about.

That night I was hit by an idea fairy.  I started thinking about how when Jarren was in kindergarten and I would ask him how his day was, nine times out of ten he would answer with either a) horrible b) terrible or c) not good.  So I would press him, "what was so bad about it, Jarren?"  He'd tell me the kids just aren't nice to him, they are mean to him, or they don't like him. He didn't have to tell me why he thought the kids weren't nice to him, I knew the reason they didn't really want to talk to him is because, like most people, they had a hard time understanding what he was saying.

Let's rewind a couple years.  I used to tell people one of my hobbies was being Jarren's translator.  He was just hard to understand, but I didn't think anything abnormal was going on.  I just figured he would take a little longer to speak intelligibly than Joey did, but eventually he'd catch up.

Not long before Jarren's fourth birthday, I left home for initial entry training.  It was, by far, the hardest thing I have every done in my life, to kiss my sleeping boys goodbye knowing that I wouldn't see them for ten weeks, for my graduation from Basic Combat Training.  While I was away, Jarren started pre-school.  My cousin, Amber, was his and Joey's nanny and she brought up Jarren possibly needing speech therapy.  So, the speech therapist that was already coming to the preschool weekly for sessions with another kid, ran Jarren through the assessment and determined he needed speech therapy.  By November of his preschool year, I was back home and was able to meet with his speech therapist.  Not a lot of progress was made during his pre-school year of speech therapy, but at least he was familiarized with the routine of speech therapy and I was able to sit in for a lot of the sessions and see how it all went.

In his kindergarten year things got a lot better.  He still showed extreme delays as far as phonetics and articulation go, but he developed a lot of patience.  He stopped getting so frustrated with the task of communicating, it was like he started accepting that he was going to have to repeat himself and rephrase what he was saying, and that was just normal for him.  But listening to him explain to me that kids didn't like him was pretty heartbreaking for me.  How could someone not like him?  He's a little comedian and, for the most part, is really well behaved.

Jarren is a bright kid.  He started reading a little later than Joey did, but a couple months into his kindergarten year he started reading like a mad man.  Now, he is in first grade and they send him into the second grade class when it's time for reading groups :)  But when it comes to his speech, he is still struggling.  His assessments still indicate that he has a pretty severe impediment.  He has also developed a stutter this year, it's not a really bad one (I've heard worse ones), but it's definitely there at times.  However, as far as things go socially, he is doing so much better!  He has friends!  I don't know if it's because he is at a new school or what exactly might be the cause for it, but there has definitely been a huge improvement.

I don't talk about Jarren's speech problems a lot because I don't want him focusing on it too much.  Of course I want him to put a strong effort into overcoming it, but I don't want him to attach his impediment to his identity because I'm hopeful that one day it's not going to be an issue.  Also, I don't want other people focusing on it either.  He is so talented in so many aspects, I just want people to see what I see in him.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The First Blog

Well, this is my first blog posting so I suppose that I should give a little background information on just who I am.  I'll start from the beginning?  

*Authors note: I'm currently working on a pretty long paper in my child development class.  This post along with probably most of the posts you'll see from me that aren't about a project or a recipe will be examples of my free writing.  A tool I use to help me combat writer's block when I'm having to work on assignments.

I was born on August 13, 1986 in the little town of Altus, Oklahoma.  If you've never been to Altus, I would not recommend it as a vacation destination.  It does not boast a whole lot to do, but there is a what I guess they consider a mountain range nearby that has some pretty good hiking on it.  They also have a small lake that I have had fun swimming in when we would go back there for family reunions, but from what I understand there are snakes in that water as well as fish... Just go to their city pool on second thought.

Anyhow, I did not live there very long, my parents made their last move back to Oregon when I was only an infant.  Albany, Oregon is the location of most of my childhood memories.  I have a sister who is seven years my senior.  She was the product of my dad's first of his two marriages.  Where most adolescent girls these days model themselves after what they see in the media (mostly the Disney Channel I'd guess?) I had my sister to look up to.  Her name is Heather, and of course she had the coolest friends and she wore the coolest clothes. The next sibling in our line was my only brother, Charlie, the first born to my parents.  He is 2.5 years my senior.  We have a bit in common, we were the athletes out of the kids.  He was a pretty good athlete, I was merely mediocre at best.  But I did really enjoy participating as he seemed to as well.  Charlie was also a pretty good student. He was not quite as concerned as I was about academic achievement, but it all just seemed to pretty much come naturally to him. Lastly, there's my sister Britni.  She is one year older than I, and for the most part my roommate throughout adolescence.  For being so close in age, we were strikingly different in interests and personality as children.  She still likes to remind me about an argument we had as kids that led to my ripping an earring out of her freshly pierced ear.  If I recall correctly, the fight was over the classic 1970's toy called the Sit N' Spin.  In any case, it was an opportunity that allowed me to assert some sort of dominance even though I was the baby of the family and it must have worked if she still remembers it so well :)

Throughout our adolescence, we watched our parents work hard to support us.  They went through multiple low paying jobs and attended school at LBCC to earn Associate's Degrees that would allow them to get better paying jobs.  I can't say how thankful I am that my parents went through the struggle of working, getting an education, and raising a family all at the same time because it created a model that I would need to follow later on.  Watching them made me know for certain that it is possible and it taught me the importance of building a reliable support system.

We lived in several different rental homes in West Albany until I was 11 years old when they bought their first house in South Albany.  Charlie was allowed to continue on in the west Albany schools, Britni was happy have to opportunity to make different friends in the south Albany school zone, and I, being very reserved in personality decided to try out the new school zone, but ultimately wanted to go back to my comfort zone.

Another big event for me at age 11 was the birth of my eldest nephew.  I instantly fell in love with John.  Over the next several years Heather had two more children, Gabe and Alaina, and each time it gave me so much joy. The early teen years were rough for me and I knew that I couldn't always count on my friends, a few situations occurred that caused me to feel betrayed.  It always seemed like there was some kind of drama going on at school, but when I was with my nephews and my niece I didn't think about that stuff at all.  They gave me peace, comfort, and love.  All they asked in return was for me to give up some tv time so they could watch Spongebob Squarepants, and that seemed like a very small price to pay.

Right before I turned 17 I got my first non-babysitting job.  I worked 32 hours a week as a beauty advisor for the new Walgreens in town.  I was such a grown up.  I finished high school a semester early and decided that since I could afford it, I should move out of my parent's house.  So I plead my case to my parents and they allowed their baby bird to leave the nest.  It was pretty sweet, I had freedom and privacy and I loved that.  But, it got lonely at times.  

In the weeks before graduation ceremony, I still wanted to walk the stage with my class, I had chosen to try things again with an ex-boyfriend.  An incident occurred that required me to make an early morning appointment after the incident occurred (are you following along?) and me, the girl who can't sleep in, accidentally slept in through my appointment.  I decided it was probably okay, the appointment was just a precaution anyhow and we should be fine.  I waited for confirmation that things were normal.  Then I waited some more. We had graduation rehearsal and everyone was super stoked to be done with the prison that is high school, they were feeling similar to how I felt in January and it rekindled the excitement about it for me as well.  Graduation was days away, I was supposed to be planning some sort of celebration with my friends, but all I could think about is why haven't I started my period?!?  I bought a test and picked up the boyfriend and we drove to Waverly Pond... I don't know why we chose that place.  It was a pretty day and I guess it was just a nice place to sit while we waited.  I took the test in the restroom and put the cap back on and walked out to wait with him.  We chatted a little, I can't remember what about, and after about 4 minutes we looked at it.  Negative.  Whew.  We talked a little more and decided to leave the pond.  Just before we threw it away, he said something like, "I think theres a faint second line there."  I didn't know what that meant, but assumed it could mean the test was positive so I called planned parenthood and got an appointment for the morning of my graduation ceremony. Their test confirmed that I was, in fact, pregnant.  She let us know all the options and sent us on our way.  We agreed that we didn't have to make any decisions immediately.

I wanted so badly to tell someone, but I couldn't.  I already knew in my heart what decision I would make, but I wanted to give it a little time so he could think about it and hopefully come to the same conclusion.  I remember walking with my sister, Britni, after the ceremony was over. I had decided to attend the all night party and I think she was walking me to the bus while my parents drove the car around to the front of the school.  I wanted to tell her, but I knew something this big might be hard for her to keep inside and I didn't think it would be fair to tell her but restrict her from being able to talk to anyone else about it.  At about midnight during the all night party, I told him my decision.  I think he was a little upset that I was making it clear that no further negotiations would be heard much more so than he was upset at what the decision was.  I was going to be a mother whether or not he was going to be a father was up to him.