One of my kids has learning disabilities. A bunch of them. I prefer to think of them as "differences" rather than "disabilities." A difference just means that this child learns in a different manner, much like driving to a locale by taking an alternate route. You still get there. You just go another way -- maybe it's a more scenic way. Maybe your travel path meanders and, along the way, you see a cool stream and you stop and put your feet in and catch some fish for lunch and then you take a nap and you eventually get to where you were going, but a bit later.
And now you can probably see how my kids all learn in a different manner. They come by it honestly. SQUIRREL!
All kidding aside, when your kid learns differently than other people, it can be a super real challenge. You might have a fantastic teacher, one who thinks outside the box and explores alternate ways to learn and it might be the best school year ever. But the next year, your child might be assigned to a teacher who yells and is rigid about a quiet classroom, with all students in their seats and quiet and every piece of learning is done by the book.
One thing that I've found that really works for my ADD kid -- who has the inattentive type of ADD, and trust me when I say that I struggled with that diagnosis for, I'm not kidding -- five years -- is determining ways to make success within reach. I have to find ways to help this child succeed. Instead of trying to solve the problem, I look at what I want the result to be -- and work backwards. Which sounds like the exact same thought, but it's not.
Child has homework to do but cannot remember to bring home books. Instead of reminding child to bring home books, I think about the end result: I want the child to be able to do the work at home. Getting the books home is the issue, so I sign out a second set of books from the school. This way, we can still get the work done, and if the book doesn't make it home, well, it's not the end of the world.
Child also has a pack up buddy. And I've insisted that this child be allowed an extra two or three minutes to pack up at the end of the day, in order to verify that all of the books and notebooks are taken.
The best piece of equipment, though, is a little piece of paper that my father created. My father was a high school teacher and he saw many kids who struggled. He created a sheet of paper for my son - it looks like this:
He put the Lego guys on the top because this kid loves Legos, but you could put anything you wanted on your own version. The side says "subject" and I fill that in weekly. The child is responsible for writing down the homework and what books, notebooks, copybooks, etc are required. At the end of the day, I have requested in the accommodations form that the teachers take a minute to look over this sheet and sign off. Which, yes, does make work for the teachers, but at the end of the day, if it helps the child succeed -- well, isn't that what we are all working towards?
There are other accommodations, tricks, tips and secrets that we use for this child. That's not to say that everything has been amazing, though. I wish I could say that I've "solved the puzzle!" and we know EXACTLY how to make this work, but we don't and it's an ever-evolving mix of "Let's try this!"
And in dealing with learning disabilities, for us -- that seems to be the way to go.
One week down, nine more to go.
No, really - so far, it's not been bad. It helps that the shorties are the only ones out - tomorrow is the first day with the high schoolers home - but we all know that they won't get up before noon, and that's half of the day right there.
We've not been swimming yet, mostly because every day has featured rain and thunderstorms - but I'm holding high hopes for the next couple of days. Not so much because I have a burning desire to appear in public in my bathing suit - oh no, not that - but because it wears my kids slam out.
And I am ALL about that.
One area that my kids often struggle with is snacking. When they are home all day - and let's face it, when I'm home all day - the kitchen beckons and before you know it, they are all in the pantry and the cabinets, raiding the fridge and begging for food.
So this weekend I created the snack bin.
With breakfast whenever you get up - and one kid gets up at 6 STILL, but that's ok, because I'm wide awake for the day at 5:30, sigh - you have breakfast. They know the drill: choose frozen whole grain waffles, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, and muffins with either fruit or yogurt. Breakfast is strictly on your own. Sometimes, one wants a hot pocket - yes, I do try to feed them pretty nutritiously, and I think we do a good job and I know hot pockets aren't great, but whatevs - everyone loves them and it's a non issue here. My two youngest are big smoothie fans.
Lunch is between 12 and 1, and that is again serve yourself. I will provide guidance - give choices of sandwiches/leftovers/help make quesidillas/enforce the fruit and veg rule. In other words - we've got the meals down pat.
Snack time is our nemesis. Everyone wants to snack as soon as the meal is over, and they all want crap food. So we created the snack bucket. It has all of the approved snacks - granola bars, fruit cups, almond and peanut butter packs, applesauce pouches, nutrigrain bars, and fig newtons. (Those are mostly for me. I love me some Newtons.)The cards in the back offer the cold items - yogurt cups (we do Stonyfield and Oikos), string cheese, half of a peanut butter or soy butter sandwich, fruit smoothie, fruit, carrots. The deal is that you can have one of those choices at 3-3:30.
Not gonna say it's genius - but over the past week, it's become standard. I'm hungry! Well, is it 3? Nope, gotta wait. It's so far, so good - and that's the best I can do for 10 weeks of summer break.
Saturday is usually my favorite day. It's a long one that stretches for hours and hours in both directions - I'm typically awake and vertical by 7, which seems decadent and slovenly after a week of 5:30. Or earlier.
I am able to eat breakfast and drink coffee in peace, unlike Sunday, when I'm trying to get everyone ready for church, or for school during the week. It's a day that I try to do some extra baking for the week ahead - muffins, cookies, breads - get the wash caught up, the house organized, and spend a bit of time being good to myself.
Today I started with a parent meeting for Golf club, and then came the event I was really interested in attending - the Coffee Cupping at Whole Foods.
Sampling coffees, with chocolate chasers, was a great way to start the day. Even if I AM totally palate clueless.
Seriously. I taste nothing woodsy, nothing citrus or cranberry or anything - I have the most clueless and unschooled palate that exists. But it was super nice to spend time sampling different coffees and espressos and learning about them - and the dark chocolate didn't hurt.
Then I came home to see that my son's girlfriend, home on Spring Break, had brought me an Oreo cupcake - I am a cupcakeaholic, but they have to be GOOD ones and these are - she'd given me one once before and I loved it. Yum!
Then the mail came, and I got my Celtic bracelet - just in time for the best.holiday.second.only.to.Thanksgiving - please excuse the fact that I have the wrists of a two year old.
I bought a new book and read. I downloaded new music - more on that this week - and pulled out the hand me downs for my younger girls, who are growing like nuts and suddenly needed new pants and shirt and school jumpers. When all was said and done, I filled the back of my Jeep with bags and bags of too small clothing, an additional pile of clothes for a friend with smaller girls and another for a friend with smaller sons.
I worked and worked and loved my sense of accomplishment - What a great day! - the feeling that I was!getting!stuffs!done!, I was so rockin', I was the MASTER of my DOMAIN, watch me now! -
when the screaming started.
Knowing that I'm quite possibly the parent of the most dramatic child ever, I delayed, even though she was screaming, Someone come help me, please, please and Ow, ow, Mommy, please!!!!!
Really, those cries usually mean someone has stepped on a rock and fallen to the ground, convinced that they shall NEVER WALK AGAIN -
But this time, those cries meant that someone short and small had gotten her arm pinched in the hinge part of the door, gotten it well and truly wedged in there (ow!) and no matter how she pulled (double ow!) it wouldn't come out and no matter how much she beat on the door it was closing (ow!) more and more (owowowoowowwwwwww)
and, well, the feeling of being good and productive and getting a lot done and what a GREAT SATURDAY it was -
well, they were gone. For both of us. Liberal applications of arnica and ice and motrin, and this is the best it looked all day - since I took this pic, it's gotten purple and black. We've done lots of cuddling, but wow.
Well, tomorrow is another day, right?
Last night, my husband had a work function. Yes, it was a school night, and I don't like to go out on a school night. But I weighed that against free drinks + free food + adult conversation, and the balance tipped a bit away from sleep and more toward party.
Shoot me. I enjoy a good party every now and again.
I think it's telling that I also said to myself, You need to post something on your blog. But you really have nothing to post. There's no stories, nothing is really going on.
We didn't leave the house until almost 10 PM. It felt a bit naughty, as I'm usually crawling into bed at 10 PM. We got to the restaurant, ordered a drink, and sat down with a plate of munchies. Literally, I had eaten two bites of a quesadilla corner, when my phone rang. I saw that it was the house, handed the phone to my husband, and continued my conversation with a girlfriend. With one ear, I listened to the conversation, and caught the words water, ceiling, and turn off the valve.
He hung up the phone, looked at me and said, "apparently there's a water leak."I think it's telling that both of us looked at each other, nodded, and continued to eat our food. After all, we left two almost grown up kids in charge, told them what to do - it should be fine, right?
I took a sip of my drink, and my phone rang, and his phone rang at the same time.
No. You definitely need to come now, there's water pouring out of the light fixture in the kitchen. There's water coming through the walls in the bedroom upstairs.
Come. Home. Now.
I haven't downed a drink that fast since I was 19. Hey - it was $12 - I didn't pay it, but still - I'm not leaving Grey Goose on the table.
On the way home, we talked about what it might have been. We both came to the conclusion that it must be the hot water heater. After all, the brilliant genius who built this house put the water heater in the attic. After all, that's exactly where I would put a water heater, if I were house builder.
Which, hello, I am not. Thank God.
On my phone, I priced a new water heater, turned to my husband and said, "I hope you like hot water for Christmas, because that seems to be what you're going to get." He chuckled and wished me the same thing.
And we walked in the house, and saw this:
Apparently, when they said the water was coming through the recessed lights in the kitchen, they were not kidding.
My husband turned off the hot water heater and still the water came out. It filled the buckets, the towels were drenched, replaced, replaced again. And still the water continued. It covered the counters. It filled the sink. It went on the floor, it went –
Yeah, I know I needed to deep clean my kitchen. I just didn't think I needed to do it at 11:30 PM.
I finally went to bed, and my husband decided to stay downstairs to keep an eye on things. When I woke up early this morning, he told me that the buckets had continue to fill, and at 1:30 in the morning, he went up in the attic to see if he could figure out what happened. After all, he had turned off the water to the hot water here, so where was this water coming from?
It turned out that a pipe had burst. And being covered by insulation, it was hidden, and virtually unnoticeable.
So, today when I woke up, I deep cleaned my kitchen. We called the plumber. We got new pipes. We've pulled out drywall.
Next time, I think I'm skipping the party.
I read this post somewhere this week. It talked about being "in the moment" all the time, consciously choosing to enjoy each and every moment of your life."You'll never get another moment just like this!" crowed the author.
The cynic in me, the overwhelming part of my personality, cries out, "But what if I don't WANT to have another moment like this one?"
If you are washing dishes, for example, one is encouraged to enjoy the feeling of the water and the soap on your hands. Live in the moment, feel the peace and the joy invading your soul. Become a living, breathing, thinking part of everything. Fully embrace all situations in your life and live them out to the fullness of your ability.
Or some other such fluff.
I was scheduled to be a server for Mass today. I woke up early to get a project completed for work, worked like a demon on super hyper focus pills, took an exceptionally fast shower, and flat out RAN out of my house with my shoes untied and my makeup in my hands. I fretted over being tardy all the way there. I got to church at the edge of the allowable check in time, dropped one kid where she needed to be, grabbed my husband's choir stuff so I could pass it off when he arrived, and as I sat down in the pew -
I released the breath I hadn't known I was holding. And forced myself to drop my shoulders and just - sit.
One of my kids likes to hold hands. Actually, that's a lie - three of them do, and because I've not yet figured out how to generate another hand, sometimes someone's gonna get their feelings hurt. Every time I stand up, get out of the car, walk with my kids - there's people holding my hand. Grabbing for my hand, jostling others out of the way, crying if it's not their turn, hurt feeling flying through the air like donuts off a conveyor belt.
I'll admit, sometimes I'm not super happy to hold hands. My hands sweat. My kids lace their fingers, pull my fingers, twist their wrists and squeeze every last bit of air from between our clasped palms. They spread their fingers apart, pinch them close together, swing their arms wildly, cross their fingers over mine and generally, do what they can to blast all the pleasantness from a hand holding experience.
Sometimes, I try to avoid holding hands.
This weekend two of my big kids were gone, and one of my big kids was sick and had been for a long time. I had a stack load of stuff to accomplish and tried, as best I could, to power through what seemed to be a quagmire of responsibility in literally every single aspect of my life. I worked and worked up until the very minute I sat down in that church pew, and as I did so -
my daughter grabbed my hand. And there we sat, holding hands and sitting still. It wasn't a long time, only a minute or two, but it was long enough for me to realize that I only have a couple more years of people wanting to hold my hands. A few more years of juggling responsibilities and needs, wants and desires of a multitude of people.
Sooner than I think, these little hand holding people will be spending entire weekends away with friends and girlfriends, and moving out and creating lives that will be full and cumbersome without me. I hope that they won't forget me, won't forget that they once fought over holding my hands
and hope that I won't fight to let them go.
Let's see if I can manage to write this without pissing anyone off.
From the time I was a kid until a couple of years after I moved out of my parents house, I participated in a particular activity. I was pretty good - not the best, not the worst - at this particular activity. I took classes every day in this particular focus, but I was never part of the "in" crowd.
I know this because the person who led the "in" crowd - someone who was a good ten years, maybe more, older than me - always made it a point of her dealings with everyone else to let me know that I was left out. I was left out of activities, conversations stopped when I came in the room, plans for the entire group were not given to me.
I wanted to have a party when the Michael Jackson video Thriller came out - remember when the debut of music videos was a HUGE DEAL? My dad bought the video and I planned this party - and she didn't come and almost no one else did either - because she was someone important and I wasn't.
And for years, it has bugged me. What did I ever do to her? Was I so terrible at this particular activity that she was embarrassed to be associated with me? Not hardly. Was I ugly? Not especially, I wasn't winning any awards in high school - but I wasn't wearing a paper bag over my head. I tried to be kind to her, but it didn't seem to make much difference, and I really had few friends during this particular activity.
It's quite possible that there was a reason for me to be unliked. I still haven't figured it out.
I've tried, for several years after becoming an adult - to befriend this woman. When my girls - all four of them - wanted to participate in this particular activity - I took them where I had trained - and she was the new owner. And I paid my money and left my kids there, and they received good training. I've referred people there, and any time someone asks me where I would recommend - I mention this place.
But, recently, two of my kids have asked to go back, and I've said no. Not because of the money, but because of how she made me feel for the vast majority of my life. Why am I giving money, money that is hard to come by - to someone who spent several years trying to make me feel like dog crap planted on the bottom of a shoe?
And tonight, when I saw her, I didn't rush over and make friendly. I walked away. It makes me petty, I know, and makes me childish. Above all, it makes me human. I'm not angry - I just don't care any more.
I am a worthy human being. I am smart, I am kind, I am capable and I am good. I do good things. I am friendly and outgoing, helpful and work hard to do good. If you need something, I'll be there if I can do so to help in any way possible.
If you can't see that, I'll be damned if I pretend otherwise. And I'm certainly not going to make nice and above all, spend my hard earned money continuing to allow someone to lord over me.
I'm worth more than that.
All my ducks in a row.
It's an odd feeling, and one which is almost completely foreign to me.
I was driving home from the store today - I had gone to a store that's not typical for me and is a good bit away from me - and as I rolled down the interstate, windows open, music blasting, it occurred to me -
I am content.
We've both worked really, really hard for the past couple of months on multiple things. For a long while, they didn't line up, and I despaired. When you are plugging away for a long time and you can't see any results - it can be uber frustrating to all of the people involved. And when those people are super frustrated, it can make them less than an amazeballs amount of fun to be around.
Ahem. I'm mostly referencing myself.
But slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y - those pieces are begining to fall into place. I'm understanding the nuances of my new job and I love it The time requirement means that I must both become even more organized - and I already thought that I was - and rely on the help of others a bit more - an area with which I struggle.
I'm sure it's not going to last - I'm kinda, sorta one of those "glass is half full of acid" kind of people -but it's a really nice, albeit slightly foreign, feeling. I'm not where I want to be in terms of lots of things - but the fog is lifting, for just a peek, off the road in front of me.
And, for right now, it's good enough.
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I am fragile. I get my feelings hurt far too easily.
This is something I'm actively working on.
Sometimes, when people are crude or rude or in other ways socially unacceptable - it's not all about you. It's about them. The reactions to their actions, the way they feel about themselves and the experiences they may be currently undergoing.
It's a mantra I repeat to myself very, very frequently - with limited, although expanding success.
At the same time, I feel as if I am developing a core of steel, forged by incredible heat and situtations over the past few years that I have experienced. I no longer temper myself in certain situations. I've been known to be filterless, to call people on their shenanigans and nonsense and I no longer have patience with situations that are just beyond ridiculous.
The result of this means that I am more true to myself and more comfortable in my own skin. More at home with who I am, who I will be and what I want in my lfe. I believe in myself enough to allow myself to live the life I was meant to live, the life that makes me happy - not the actions and the reactions that would make someone else's life happy.
The other side of fear - is courage.
I have frizzy hair. Incredibly frizzy hair. Think Roseanna Roseanna Danna and you wouldn't be far off.
For many, many years, I kept my hair very short, in order to avoid the beauty of the above. About 4 years ago, I decided to grow my hair out. I really do love long hair on myself.
I had conveniently forgotten the propensity of my hair to frizz up and out. In fact, I thought to myself today - I don't think that my hair is going to get any longer. It's just going to get more full and fluffy. As the weather heats up, it just gets more and more ridiculous. In August, I'm almost all clipped up because I just can't take it any more.
About two years ago, my hair stylist turned me on to the wonder that is Moroccan Hair Oil. It is truly beautiful stuff. A pump or two in your hair and the frizzies are gone - you are just left with smooth, gorgeous hair. I try, very hard, to never be out of it. I save my pennies, use my Amazon certificates and basically just do what I need to keep it on hand.
But about a week ago I ran out, and I was unable to replace it.
It won't be any different. I told myself. It's probably not the hair oil that's making your hair look so smooth - that's probably just voodoo science. You'll be fine without it.
And, at one of the funerals last week, an older woman who is known for her straight up talk stopped me in the hall. She ran her hand over the side of my hair - You are a mess. Did you mean for it to look this way?
So, clearly, I need the dumb stuff. Lucky for me, a gift certificate appeared in my inbox, and I ordered some. It's much cheaper to buy it on amazon, and because I had a gift certificate, it was even cheaper to me.
It should be here Wednesday. Which doesn't help right now.
So, this morning, when I was getting ready for church, I glanced through the enormous selection of hair and body products that line my bathroom, wondering if I had something there that could tame the frizz.
I saw some Mononi Miracle Oil that I'd been sent by a client, and grabbed it. On the bottle it says, Fabulous in hair. So, I poured a little into my hand and rubbed it in. It smelled great, my hair styled nicely, and I was off to church. Congratulating myself on my ingenuity and brilliance at solving the frizzy hair crisis.
Which, by the end of Mass, had evolved into the GREASY HAIR CRISIS. Because, apparently, this is
CONDITIONING OIL. WHICH MEANS PUT SOME ON AND WASH IT OUT. NOT LEAVE IT IN YOUR HAIR ALL DAY, YOU IDIOT.
Yeah. I'm sporting a "Special" kind of hair style right about now.
Tell me you've done something similar. Please.