Tag Archives: high school

Sophomore Year!

Unlike most of the country, my kids have already completed their first week of school!

Last Monday, Lan began his second year of high school. It was fortunately without incident. No wrong bus transfers, rescheduled classes, and no dread of “starting over” in strange and less than friendly surroundings.

This year Lan knows more people. His teachers are “on board” with our IEP and we are both much more comfortable, without the harried nerves surrounding last year.

His first homework assignment was a letter to his literature teacher introducing himself. The letter gave information about his interests and goals for this year. I was pleased to see that he thinks his family is “nice and protects him from mean people.”

If you ever doubt your children understand what you do for them or how you feel for their plight…don’t!

I was almost overwhelmed to see the words on the page. Detailed thoughts, expressed and understood, another “accomplishment” to be grateful for.

The paragraph about his goals was inspiring as well. Lan wants to boost his g.p.a.  which I am very glad to hear in addition to improving his trombone performance. He ultimately wants to gain the “first chair” position in his band class. Lan has embraced the idea (with a little prodding, of course) of being a “leader” as one of the few sophomores in his class.

I noticed how his goals have evolved and matured. It makes me think that mine should as well.

Sometimes we get so set in one mindset that we fail to progress and stretch our thinking. Old ideas are often just that. Old. Stale. “Stuck” in the past.

Our familiar ideas and concepts sometimes fail to hold up in the here and now we are currently immersed in.  I’ve found we can let the blessings we have prayed for go unrecognized because we are too stressed and uptight to see them. Our minds are often stalled in “then” even as God is directing us to the “when.”

I am surely guilty of this on more than one occasion. Sometimes we all get stressed to the point that we don’ remember how to relax.

Thankfully, Lan doesn’t have this problem. He is relaxing in the confidence that comes from a year of high school under his belt and he is looking forward not stuck in yesterday.

Lan is both excited and optimistic about his future. His enthusiasm reminds me that I should be as well.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 KJV

 

 

 

Lessons Learned!

“Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God,” Psalms 92:12

Tomorrow marks the last day of the school year. I began this blog in August upon Lan’s entry into high school. He was nervous. I was scared.

Ever thankful for God’s blessings along our way, I was still anxious and filled with trepidation about this new reality.

Well, we made it! One year down, three to go.

Lan’s last exam is today. He is doing well and should pass it without any problem. We are still waiting on test results from one EOCT (End of Course Test) for biology which is required to earn credit for the class. I am ever hopeful for a good result.

Since this blog practically began with his first day of school, I figured I’d share lessons I’ve learned this year.

Lesson number one, God really IS in control.

At the onset of the school year the huge crowds of kids were overwhelming. The para-pro assigned to assist Lan to his classes (the campus is large with several buildings) actually met my husband years ago.

I’m sure my husband had no idea of the role this gentleman would play in our lives. I am convinced the prior association worked to our advantage. The gentleman not only did his “job” but went above and beyond keeping us posted on how our guy was making out throughout the day. We deliberately sent Lan to this school because we knew the principal and counselor well. The para was an “extra” God through into the mix!

Lan didn’t require his help for long and after two weeks navigated on his own. Yet, I am forever grateful. It was one less thing I had to worry think about.

In addition, Lan had the same geography teacher who taught my oldest son last year. My husband established a great relationship with her then having no idea it would benefit us this year. God does order our steps!

Lesson number two, my kid is capable!

Lan’s teachers watched him come out of his nervous shell and become quite out-spoken! During the last IEP meeting, his math teacher played a video of him before the class explaining an algebraic problem and the steps to solve it.

My husband and I were floored. I’m convinced this kid has an alter-ego. His confidence increased under the care of supportive teachers. I suspect his charming demeanor didn’t hurt either.

Most significantly, Lan made new friends. Real friends. I often thought about him sitting alone at lunch. And for a while, he did.

But slowly, very slowly, he would mention who he ate with at lunch. One friend from middle school would join him on “odd” days when they shared the same schedule.

A new friend from the magnet school starting eating with him also. An upperclassman we know joined in “to watch out for him.” More kids from band class were eventually mentioned. Just last week, Lan told me he skipped eating lunch to sit with his friends and talk instead. How about that?

We have had a few “blips” along the way. However, Lan learned from them and wasn’t defeated. He is no longer upset I didn’t allow him to attend the school he is zoned for. He’s found friends at his school. I asked him recently how he felt about this first year of high school. I finally got the reaction I’d hoped for, “I like it.”

 Lesson number three, Iet go a little.

I am a micro-manage mom. I’m ever working on that, trying to allow both kids room to succeed and fail.  DSC_6962 (2)

Some lessons you only learn the hard way. Lan’s improving grades boosted his confidence. When he fails to study or prepare, he now feels the pain.

His social skills improved because I’m allowing more freedom to learn what works and what doesn’t. At the awards ceremony he didn’t sit with me or my husband. He founds his friends. At the band banquet my husband laughed that Lan quickly left him in a cloud of dust and had a ball.

Without me hovering, he can relax and figure it out. Lan will get the chance to relax for an entire week of summer camp at Clemson University. Last year when he asked about going away like his brother, I was like “not happening” in my brain. Well, a year later he’ll be off on his own adventure.

Sometimes I want to intervene but God says no, let Lan figure it out. And let Him guide my child.

I can’t always be there for Lan. But God can. I trust Him Who can do more for my child than I am able to provide.

Lesson number four, sometimes I just need to get out-of-the-way and let God be God. DSC_6420

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Beauty in the Muck

There have been times in life that I was so busy anticipating potential dangers, that I failed to see the beauty right around me. Last week while working in my garden I was keeping such a keen eye out for snakes (I loathe snakes) that I almost missed the beautiful butterfly in my midst. Sometimes when we are so focused on one negative, it blinds us to the greater number of positives right in front of us.

As the parent of a kid on the spectrum, I have on occasion caught myself anticipating what “could happen” all the while oblivious to what is happening.

Lan will complete his first year of high school in just a few weeks. We are now in the midst of “test anxiety” though trying hard to keep it at a minimum. Failure to pass these exams will mean a summer of trying to restore these credits. “Credit restoration” would play havoc with summer travel plans let alone the struggle of shuttling him back and forth to school.

Lan’s teachers are proud of his work in class. He does better than many of the neuro-typicals in his classes. Yet, Lan has never excelled at standardized testing. Challenging for most, to a kid with attention deficits these exams are a very steep uphill battle.

As an ever recovering control freak, I fight my fears realizing his exams and other things lie well beyond my control. Instead of focusing on the pessimistic what ifs, I am ever searching and sometimes struggling to count my blessings now.

I am grateful this first year of high school has been a success. We had no traumatic events as I’d feared the beginning of the year. Lan’s teachers have been receptive and accommodating. Many students are quite kind to him and often act on his behalf. Lan has made a few friends. He has thrived under the direction of his band teacher. Lan is no longer nervous about the huge crowds and even learned to maneuver them well. As of last week, he no longer meets the requirements for speech therapy services.

In the muck of IEPs, core curriculum and teenage angst, I can appreciate how far we’ve come when I take time to look for the beauty.

I was once so accustomed to looking for potential snakes (bullies, indifferent teachers, additional diagnoses) that I failed to see let alone appreciate the beauty that God poured before me. Now, I am ever grateful and continually search out the beauty in life.

If you feel mired down in your muck, I challenge you to look up from where comes my help. We don’t have to walk this journey alone. We don’t even have to orchestrate every step along the way.

God is willing, available and more than able.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 NKJV

 

Time and Transition

transition: “a change from one state or condition to another”   “movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another” Merriam Webster

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end,” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

I birthed this blog the first of August when my youngest entered high school. Now with less than a month before school is out, first year jitters have been replaced with a spirit of perseverance, faith and gratitude.  transitions 1

Lan has evolved from nervous freshman to actively seeking out his friends. He has moved away from the kid sitting alone at lunch to having a steady rotation of friends to eat with and interact. Surprisingly, most of these kids aren’t even in his classes.

Friday, when my husband picked both boys up from the high school, Cam made a telling remark. He said once people saw him with Lan they kept asking, “are you Lan’s brother?” Apparently, Lan’s social vine extends farther than any of us realized.

It was quite the eye opener. For years, Lan has always been the other brother, often falling under the shadow of big brother Cam. Now, in high school, the tables are turning a bit and the light is now shining on Lan.

Lan surprised me today with news that he will receive an award at Thursday’s end of the year awards ceremony. We have no idea what he is receiving an award for. He has worked extremely hard on his school work but an A student he is not. However, Lan’s tenacity to put in the extra time and effort has endeared him to most of his teachers.

A school year fraught with uncertainties looks to be ending on a good note. We have traded Georgia CRCTs (criterion referenced competency tests) for EOCs (end of course exams) so test anxiety ever looms. Yet receiving this award, whatever it may be is progress. It is one more step in the right direction, one step forward in personal accountability, one acknowledgement of doing the best you can, no matter what that best might be.  transitions title

It’s has been quite a year of change. Insecurities vanquished. Challenges met head on. Bullies thwarted. Faith in people… restored.

There has been much personal growth and maturity from fragile bud to longer lasting leaf. Lan made out just fine.

I’m referring to me.

Out of focus!

My mother gave me a very lovely camera for Christmas. As it arrived shortly after Thanksgiving, I didn’t hesitate to begin shooting with it. I have in a short time learned a bit about photography. There is far much more to it than simply “point and shoot.”

Different lenses when used for the same “shot” yet yield different results. Some differences may be subtle while others are quite pronounced. One image may be crystal clear whereas taken with another lens it will be little more than a blur. Fooling around with cameras and lenses over the Christmas break highlighted for me that I need a better view of what’s really going on. I need to focus!

Lan “survived” his first semester of high school. It was a bit touch and go a few times, the highlight of which was “bad kids” attempting to steal his backpack the last few days of school. He squeaked by on finals, with us learning after the fact that much of the information he needed to study wasn’t in the book! But we made it.

He made it.

Now if only we can refine our “focus” so that he can thrive and not just survive.

My new camera provides an auto-focus mode. This means I have to think less about the image I want to capture and just let the camera do its thing. The auto mode will capture the image. It just may not take the best picture possible.

I think I may have been on “auto” with Lan this previous semester thinking what once worked before would continue to do so. Not so much! I’m learning at this juncture “auto” isn’t going to cut it. I’m going to have to handle the details myself.

I learned that professional photographers rarely rely on the “auto” mode. Instead, they purposely arrange the details such as lighting, aperture, setting and a bunch of other stuff I don’t yet understand. This yields a far superior result than the “auto” mode. In fact, professional photographers rarely trust leaving the details to others. That is another lesson in itself!

In the last few days of the semester, I learned Lan’s medication wasn’t working. Of course, he didn’t bother to mention this!  I only asked  when a few things just weren’t adding up. So he saw the doctor over the break.

Come to find out that his dose of medication was incorrect because the physician’s office in September documented him weighing far less than he actually does! At this recent appointment the physician thought the child had gained forty pounds!  My boys eat a lot but neither one of them eats enough to gain forty pounds in three months even if my grocery bill says otherwise. Alas, one problem belatedly solved.

Secondly, my husband spoke with his school counselor who informed us Lan should have been receiving handouts of all the information covered in class that was not in the book from his teachers.

I didn’t know this. I had no idea a large part of the information covered in some of his classes was not in the book. More than one teacher, unaware of the details of his IEP, failed to provide this information for him.  It now makes sense why those hours he spent trying to find the answers in the biology book for those study questions were less than productive.

In this year, I am going to take a more detailed approach toward what is going on in regards to school. I’m going to ask more questions, and not take for granted that every instructor is doing what he or she is supposed to.

A better picture requires more effort. I will work on the “composition, subject and setting” for Landon more so than I did last year. But that’s okay. I’m more than willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that this next semester is as close to “picture perfect” as possible.

Setting. Lighting. The correct equipment. These are necessary to get the desired result.  I can’t expect to capture a “landscape” image using a lens best suited for a microscope! I can’t rely on my “auto” mode to get the job done.

Lesson learned.

I thought the camera from my mother would introduce me to a new hobby. God used that gift to open my eyes to so much more!

“Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law,” Psalms 119:8 NKJV

 

Do My Shoes Match?

As Lan is making it along in his first year of high school he is becoming ever so aware of other people’s perceptions. Somewhere along the line he has matured away from the kid who wanted to wear a sweater in the summer and shorts in the winter into someone with a true desire to be “handsome.” His word, not mine!

I find this kind of comical. Teenagers are often very self-aware and insecure about their looks, dress and a number of other things. Lan has for the most part been oblivious to all of this…until now.

He wants his shoes to match his clothes. He has even taken to swiping some of his older brother’s “cooler” clothes. No big deal for most but I am proud of him for his increased awareness of the people and things around him and his at urge to at some extent blend into the “normalcy” that surrounds him.

I have at times often wondered through the years when some major “turning point” would occur. I’ve prayed about certain things and then forgot that I prayed about them having prayed so much for one thing or another.

Progress begins in steps. Lan continues to make gains, some large and some small.  God faithfully answers my prayers, even those long forgotten.

Simple things like dressing himself appropriately and other social cues that were once so foreign to him are steadily creeping into his consciousness.

I still have a long list of things I’d like to see Lan progress in. I will admit dressing appropriately isn’t even in the top twenty. However, I am grateful for this accomplishment even though I almost “missed it,” not realizing he hadn’t asked me or his father for clothes in months! We always picked his clothes out for him but somewhere along the line he began doing it for himself and doing a very good job at that!

Sometimes our minds are so fixated on the “major tasks” we are trying to carry out that we miss those minor milestones along the way. I am grateful for my blessings, truly celebrating all the gains and successes we have had this year. My every prayer has not been answered, but I have hope and faith that God is not done with us yet!

We are blessed beyond measure even as the ASD hovers in the background. I won’t allow “autism” to rob us of our peace or joy. It only serves as a point of reference for where we were to where we are now.

We are blessed in spite of diagnoses, IEPs, and a few social hiccups.

I’m grateful for gains socially, mentally, and even physically this year. Lan is building up both mind and body going with his dad to “la fitness” as he calls it.  This child who was once weak and so uncoordinated is now hanging tough with his dad on the treadmill, elliptical and bench press. I never could have imagined this years ago!

Lan has friends at school who are nice to him. His new school is no longer a source of anxiety. High school has at least been embarked upon even if not fully conquered.

So much to be grateful for!  Too many blessings to count. God is faithful even when I fail. He lifts us up when we are weak. He has provided us with angels here on earth.

Celebrate this season giving thanks for blessings large and small. I am grateful even for those small things that don’t really matter in life.

I’m grateful his shoes actually match!

Improvisation

This weekend Lan had to do a school project on two musicians. Part of the project required listening to their music. The particular musicians he chose to study were jazz musicians.

Lan enjoyed the music far longer than was necessary to complete his project. I watched him nod along to the changes in tempo and flow all the more aware of how much we have learned to improvise along our journey.

God, through this experience, has taught me to work with what I have. I’ve learned to be flexible. I admit that for much of my life I could be rather unbending. I would not tolerate a lot of gray areas. Things were either black or white, right or wrong, my way or no way.

Jazz musicians can take one song and play it a dozen different ways, with all of them sounding great. Lan and I have learned to be just as  inventive, spontaneous and a flexible with our own “song of life.”

God has taught me  I don’t have to play my notes exactly as they are written on the page. I can speed up the rhythm when necessary or slow it down when the mood dictates. I can add other instruments or enjoy going solo. I am now content to watch and wait confident that God will provide whatever we need. He has continually done so far better than my own orchestrations.

I have learned it is okay to deviate from the professional song book and flow with God instead of the experts. No longer obsessed with playing “my song” perfectly, I have relaxed a little and allowed room for variation and creativity as well.

My life hasn’t exactly turned out the way I envisioned, but thanks to Lan I now see my vision was rather limited. Out of necessity Lan and I work around a few things, and if necessary go under instead of over. This child’s overwhelming optimism and “why not?” attitude have spilled over to the rest of the family, granting us a vision I don’t think we would have otherwise.

Webster’s defines improvise as “to make or create (something) by using whatever is available. We are learning through God’s insight (and sense of humor) to make the most of our blessings where we are and with what we have.

The hubby and I are constantly working with Lan on his maturity and social skills but I am no longer allowing the negatives to overshadow his positives. Lan is humorous, artistic and very creative. We fuel his passions with the same determination once reserved for trying to force squares into round openings.  Instead, we are now learning to soften the sharp edges of our squares with a file. Or better yet, we now stack our blocks instead of pushing them through holes as dictated by other people!

Jesus was great at improvisation. He used a small boy’s lunch, the only food available, to feed thousands. Christ took the small meal, held it up before the Father in thanks and did the miraculous.

give thanks for this child I have, look up to our Father and also expect the miraculous.

God never fails. He is ever faithful even when “my song” sounds a bit off key to me.  I am then forced to remember that my part is only one part of God’s complete melody.

Is God prodding you to do something different with a situation you have?

A change to your routine or situation might not hurt. You may just find a suggestion or a brilliant idea that actually works!

Anticipation

Fear is defined by Webster’s as “to expect or worry about” especially something bad or unpleasant. In contrast, faith is defined as a strong belief or trust in someone or something. Both definitions rely on the anticipation of a particular outcome.

The plant pictured above appears prickly and spiked, yet it is actually soft to the touch.  I had a prickly looking situation just like that plant.  On the surface things looked hard and intimidating.  I believe God was once again asking me, when will I completely release my fears and trust God when He has shown Himself so faithful time and time again?”  I can’t control everything and God keeps demonstrating that I don’t have to.

Lan received his progress report from school last week. He anticipated it for days but because of a computer glitch, notices were issued late.  Lan is well aware he can always work good grades to his advantage.

Unlike middle school, high school thus far does not return lots of graded papers to students. At least I haven’t seen them.  I had no inclination outside of Lan’s confidence that this progress report would be a good one. We have been down this road before anticipating one thing only for the result to be something else. So, for days I also waited, not with hope, but an anxious dread for the outcome.

It appears Lan is settling into high school okay but I am well aware that appearances can be deceiving. He appears less anxious about attending a new school and making new friends. However, I realize this can be daunting for any teenager. Daily, I ask Lan about his classes only to be rewarded with “good,” or “fine,” and no other details. He is not a child of many words.

Well, the day of issue finally arrived and Lan hopped into the car.  I’m waiting for him to hand me his report. He’s waiting for me to get the car moving. I reluctantly asked him for his progress report and he pulls a crumbled piece of paper from his book bag. I glance over the grades…and smile.

It was the best progress report he’s ever received at the beginning of a school year that I can remember! I’m raving on and on about what a great job he did and Lan’s waiting for me to move the car so he can get home to the X-BOX! I promised I would reinstate the privilege if he brought home good grades. He was more than ready to hold me to it!

God answered my prayer. I am well aware this was accomplished through awesome school staff that enabled my child to be successful. The good report was a great boost to his confidence and an incentive for him to work that much harder. Especially so, since for once, his report was better than his brother’s!

Don’t get me wrong. I have faith in God’s ability to get us along this path just fine. I have seen His miracles both grand and subtle throughout my life. I do believe I am able to receive the things I pray for. It’s just that God’s timing ahead of my expectations simply amazes me!

I expected a final good outcome that I prayed for but not without some major bumps and hurdles along the road. God has made Lan’s entry into high school far better than I ever imagined. I could not have hoped for such a great outcome so soon.

I think I finally get it. God is willing to do even more than I have faith for. He has shown me that He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” as stated in Ephesians 3:20 NKJV. God teaches me once again not to depend on expert opinion but to rely on His power instead.

I have learned to anticipate the best. I can be faith filled and not fearful! God has shown me I can let my guard down and breathe. I should hand my cares over completely to Him.

Sometimes I think holding tightly to my “cares” has been an excuse that kept me from being obedient in other things. I suspect I’m not the only one who has done this. God is handling my “cares and burdens” as I have finally given them over while accepting my own limitations. I can now get working on other things. Other things I have prayed for….

I will have increased faith for my future and anticipate even better things for my child.

One lesson learned, so many more to go…

Mind Control

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:2 NKJV

As I sat during last night’s football game, I had to continually reprogram my thinking. Yesterday was the first football game of the season. Unlike last year, my youngest son Lan had no interest at all in sitting by me. About ten minutes after our arrival the first words out of his mouth were, “Can I go sit by my friends?”

His request was not unexpected. He is growing up and now in high school. However, I have to constantly battle within my mind that he is not in elementary school or middle school. I have to constantly remember that he has shown increased maturity and responsibility.

He will never learn how to correctly behave in social situations if I am constantly whispering in his ear what he should and should not do.

So, I have absolutely no idea what happened in the first half of the game.

Aside from a few glances over at my older son who was in the stands with the band, my attention was keenly focused two sections over. Lan was talking with one of his school mates and hugging and speaking with his former teachers.

I watched him walk up and down the stairs, waving hesitantly to various people he knew. He was always in eyesight. My husband sat down beside me and sighed. “He’s fine,” he moaned. Lan may have been fine. I was not.

Last night was definitely an exercise but for me more so than Lan. I had to exercise faith that he would be all right, not just last night but in these next four years of high school. I had to exercise patience because watching him socialize while not under my direct supervision was nerve-wracking. I was surprised at my level of anxiety. I was also proud at Lan’s willingness to mingle.

I’ve prayed that Lan would find good friends. He has a few but none of them go to his school. He will have to make new friends. I will have to allow him the opportunity to do so.

I know it is God’s intention to answer my prayer. I just have to get out-of-the-way and allow Him to do so.  I have to trust God for this to happen. I prayed while sitting in the stands.

High school is often a time of angst under the best of circumstances. We all want to protect our kids when it pains us to see them branch out. But there is no way any of us can learn without failure. Lan will never reach his full potential if I don’t allow him to try and fail.

I have to remember he isn’t the same child who would wander in pre-k. He isn’t the same child who was terrified of crowds. He has grown and I must too, if I’m not to lose my mind.

Sometimes we can have our minds so programmed to one thought that we are reluctant to change. Always realistic, I must look at what he can become not how I’ve viewed him in the past. I must change my thinking if I am to “hand him over,” so God can do even more.

I wrote recently about letting go. Last night showed me I’ve still got a ways to go. Letting go means relinquishing more and more of my parental control and gaining more and more control over my thoughts.

This change is uncomfortable, nauseating and even painful. But it is necessary for all of our sakes. If Lan is to grow up, I can’t hold him in.

My husband saw one of his teachers last night who said Lan was doing just great in his class. I breathed a sigh of relief. I have to change my thinking so I am not surprised by the very things I pray for!

God has gotten us thus far and I’m confident He will see us through high school and beyond. I just have to remind myself of miracles past every time I get that gnawing knot in my stomach.

Lan came back to my seat at the end of the game just as my husband instructed, even before the timer was done. He maneuvered the crowd just fine. There was no major fiasco. No catastrophe. We survived.

It is indeed an effort not to view the teenager towering over me as the little kid I’ve sheltered for so long. Lan and I have moved on to a new season in life and ready or not it is here.

For once it is not Lan who needs to be mature and adapt. This time it’s me.