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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Day In The Life Of....

Today is Wednesday.  It is possibly the most difficult day of the week for me.  Wednesday is a LONG day.  My largest group of students come to class on Wednesday.  Our special education staff weekly team meeting is after class, so I remain late at work.  Luke and Grace get home early because of early release, then therapy, then the nightly routine (homework, dinner, bath, bed time).  Mark works on Wednesdays so I am solo.

My class begins at 8:30am, but my day began much earlier than that.  The clock read 5:47am when I heard the cries of an almost three year old.  I can barely manage to write that she is almost three years old.  I am living in denial!  Except for a slight creak in the floor boards, the house is silent as I tip toe into the the girls soft pink and blue room.  My almost three year old baby is standing up in her crib, hair tousled about, her fluffy pink blanket in hand, sucking on her pink binky (yep she still has her binky, cause I am a good mom like that). 

"I need you," she whines to me in the dark.  "I need you too", I whisper back.  I plop her into bed with Mark and I, situating her right in the middle, hoping I can rest my eyes for another 30 minutes.  She instantly rolls over resting her head next to mine and patting me on the arm.  Her little cartoon character voice exclaims, "I need apple juice, now!"  My groggy voice corrects her, "I need apple juice PLEASE," I say with an emphasis on the PLEASE.  Mark is snoring unaware of my early wake-up call.  I try and rest as I watch the minutes tick by on our digital clock all the while being kicked and pushed by an alert toddler.  I am up by 6:15am getting ready for another day at work.  By 6:30am, Luke has made his way out of bed and attempts to startle me like he does every morning while I am putting on my make-up.  7:00am rolls around, and I wake-up Mark and our sleeping princess Grace, who mumbles something and rolls over with the covers over her head.  I hand out clothes, pack Luke's snack and quickly fix the girls hair and say my goodbyes.

By 7:30am, I am in the van driving to work.  I commute 30 minutes each way to work.  I don't mind the drive though.  It is quiet.  The road is mostly freeway and there is NEVER any traffic. 

I enjoy the hour solitude 4 days per week, and I have recently discovered books on CD at the library.  I remember as a young elementary school girl enjoying when the teachers would read aloud from a chapter book in class.  I would always feel a twinge of disappointment when they would put the book down.  The books on CD are much the same way.  I think I could listen until the entire story was complete, but the day must go on.  Right now I am listening to The Help.  It is 15 CD's long.
When I arrive in my classroom at 8:00am, I know the half hour prep I have will be over quickly.  I begin by taking down the chairs, setting out entrance activities, turning on classical music.  I head to the office, which is a walk through the buildings (my classroom is in a portable) to check my box and say good morning to the office staff.  There is the usual chatter from teachers in the staff lounge and smell of warm coffee.  As always I check the counter area that is designated for free things teachers are giving away.  Nothing of interest today.  I have acquired a few posters and couple of books.  The principal is in the office this morning and I say a quick hello.  When I return to the classroom, I open the sensory table, scan the classroom to make sure I am satisfied and conclude by putting the baby gate up at my desk.  Ahhh!  The world of special needs preschoolers.  They have curious minds and most of them want to play on my computer.  The gate does a great job of keeping little hands from reprogramming. 

Our day is filled with the same schedule we repeat over and over.  I always feel blessed when we are able to go outside.  Even though it was cold today, I promptly had their coats on for our 10:00 date with the playground.  I enjoy watching them run, swing and play.
Later that morning the students work at the table.  Today our skill practice was cutting and gluing.  I was feeling particularly brave today allowing them to use the white glue and not the glue sticks (less mess).  I have learned that sometimes the mess is good.  The learning is really in the process and not the product.   There were many puddles of glue in our process today. 

There is ALWAYS a mess of toys EVERYDAY in the classroom!  This picture shows the mess 9 kiddos can make.  Gina, my instructional assistant and I pick up this mess Tuesday through Thursday.  We should earn an award!  We laugh a lot.  You have to, or you wouldn't make it through the day.  Gina says, "We need a new piece of tape for the light switch." To that statement I reply, "OK, I will get a fresh piece."  We both laugh at that exchange of conversation.  Who says things like that in their job?  Well I guess we do!

I can't conclude my day at work without mentioning how tough the work is, but how rewarding it is also.  Just looking at this little one reminds me how far we have come, and how much farther we have to go.  

After class is over, we hurry to pick everything up.  Gina blazes through clean up, while I am a bit slower.  My mind now turns to our team meeting we are about to have.  Usually it is held in the conference room, but not today.  It is being held in my classroom.  The team begins to arrive (school psychologist, occupational therapist, other special education teachers) and I once again apologize for the smallness of the chairs (preschool).  The meeting ends at 1:15 and I quickly email a parent.  It is 1:25 and I am finally headed home.    

Luke and Grace are already home by the time I walk through the door.  Wednesday is their school's early release day.  I quickly switch gears from teacher back to mom.  I survey the house, kids and Mark.  I make mental notes.  Grace still has that nasty cough. I don't think she is going to school tomorrow.  Bella needs a bath, dishes need to be done.  Thoughts run through my head: there isn't enough time in the day, why can't I be more on top of things. I am tired and I still have half the day to go.  At 3:30pm we head out to the van.  I drive to downtown Vancouver and escort Luke to therapy.  Family Solutions is the name of the counseling center.  I park the van happy that I remembered to bring parking money for the meter.  Luke and Grace fight about who gets to feed the meter.  They each get a coin.  We walk to the building and take the elevator to floor 2.  Mr. M greets us and I explain that with Grace's cough we are going to wait in the van and not the waiting area.  

  There is a cute organic tea shop next door and the girls and I pop in for something warm to drink.  Grace chooses a hot chocolate.  I scan over all the tea choices wishing I had the luxury to really read about them all.  I quickly pick "orange blossom" because I don't want Bella to get into everything.  Bella finds a juice and they each pick out a cookie.  I order a cookie for Luke too because he would insist "it wasn't fair" if he didn't get one.   

At five to five we pick up Luke and walk back to the van.  I buckle up Bella in her car seat, walk around to the driver's seat, turn the car on and blast the heat.  I take a different way home to go past the library.  I have a couple of books to return.  We finally pull into the driveway at 5:30pm.  I walk into the kitchen and begin preparing dinner.  The kids start their homework. It is loud in the kitchen.  Kids are arguing over something, Bella is whining for juice or fruit snacks or a banana.  She will just keep asking till I give her something.   
   Dinner is over and the homework is done.  The kids put there pj's on after the sixth time I ask them.  I pour two medicine cups of children's cough and cold medicine.  Bella throws herself on the floor because she didn't get any.  Luke gets out his eye drops and they both pick a snack.  They are finally in their beds.  Prayers are said, hugs and kisses given and their eye lids are heavy.  So are mine.  In just a few short hours this crazy will all start all over again.  And you know what? I am exhausted.

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