Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Groundhog Day

So, just for something different, it rained all day today.  I did dishes and folded laundry and vacuumed, dashed out to grab a couple of caches (yes, in the rain--there is no explanation other than that I NEEDED to get out of the house), cooked dinner, then drove kids hither and yon from right after school until bedtime.  Oh, and I spent some time on the computer taking care of bureaucratic matters, too...Petunia's first grade class volunteer schedule and wrangling other volunteers for the upcoming PTA fundraiser.  The picture of domesticity, the typical stay-at-home mother.

Right now my life feels small and very repetitive.  I cook, I clean, I grocery shop, I do laundry; soon they all need doing again.  I pack lunches; they are eaten and more are needed.  The after school schedule is full, and the kids get where they need to go each day.  Nothing big or important, just the life of a primary caregiver.  (A life I actively chose, by the way, so I shouldn't be complaining.)  I have my caching and taekwondo, and I appreciate them because they are my outlets, but I sometimes wonder whether I should be back at work by now.  Especially when I am folding the fourth load of laundry and wondering why nobody in my family can EVER be bothered to turn their clothes right-side-out and/or un-ball them before tossing them in the hamper.

I know I do a lot around here...I just wish it would stay done for a while!  Sisyphus and his rock come to mind.  The picture below is not of me or my house, but this is what my house would look like if I was not constantly battling the forces of entropy.

And tomorrow, I will get up and do it all again!  But hopefully minus the rain, at least.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekend By The Numbers

Husband out of town from Friday to Sunday: 1

Number of children in my family: 3
Number of children in my family who play soccer: 3
Number of soccer teams they play on: 3
Weekend soccer practices: 1
Weekend soccer games: 5
Weekend soccer games more than 60 miles from home: 1
Weekend record in games: 2-3

Number of meals eaten while sitting on the tailgate of my SUV between games: 2

Number of loads of laundry done: 4

Number of times I heard the word "Mom?" over the weekend: 962
Number of times I seriously considered changing my name: 960
Number of times my patience was rightthere on the edge of being gone forever: 12
Number of children who nevertheless survived the weekend: 3

Very tired mothers in the house: 1

Good night...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"You Know You Live In the Sticks When..." Part I-Don't-Even-Know-What

I've mentioned before that I live in a very rural area.  Amusingly rural, for all those who knew me as a citified sort way back when and are having a hard time picturing me here (although I do love this town, honestly.)

I took the picture below this morning at the town park--with permission, lest you think that I am some kind of weird creep who takes sneaky pictures of other people's children--because I simply could not resist.  Please observe that this team is sponsored by a local taxidermist.

Only out here in the boonies does the same guy mount your trophy deer heads and sponsor your second-grade daughter's softball team.  :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Random Multicultural Morning Conversation

This morning, while I was sitting in the kitchen groggily downing my first cup of coffee, Thing One wandered in and asked me--out of a clear blue sky--to remind him how to say "rotten turtle egg" in Mandarin.

I still remember the class vividly.  Ding Laoshi (Teacher Ting), our Mandarin teacher, a survivor of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and a somewhat dumpy and formal elderly lady, walked into the classroom, put her books down on her desk and informed us flatly--to our great surprise--that she was going to teach us to swear properly in Mandarin that day.  I must have been a freshman or sophomore in high school at the time, and therefore would have been in my third or fourth year of studying the language.  I guess she figured that part of her job was teaching us more colloquial speech as well; either that or she wanted us to recognize expletives aimed in our direction for what they were, Chinese being a highly figurative sort of language.

Case in point: the example above.  The literal meaning notwithstanding, "wang ba dan" translates roughly to "son of a bitch."  Interestingly, there are several other ways to say the same thing, all of which involve the word for dog ("gou"), which at least makes more sense.  A lot of insults involve the word "gou," personal favorite is "gou pi," which translates as "bullshit" but literally means "dog fart."

Anyway, my first reaction this morning was to ask why he wanted this particular piece of information.  I'm not aware of anyone he might encounter around here who would understand him if he used that particular epithet (especially since Mandarin is a tonal language and his pronunciation is abominable) but's the principle of the thing.  Once he assured me that it was just annoying him that he couldn't remember and that he had no intention of calling people names at school, I felt a lot better about answering the question.  Even if it did make for a highly unusual start to the morning!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ears On, Mouth Off

I'm a take-charge, type-A sort of person.  I'm not proud of this, but sometimes it's a real challenge for me to shut up and let other people talk without chiming in myself.  Definitely something I need to work on.

"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening 
when you'd have preferred to talk."  --Gary Larson

I have Jen Singer's blog on my blogroll because every so often she hits me squarely between the eyes with a post.  The latest of these is entitled "The Three Words That Make Your Kids Tune Out."  Read this post.  I don't care whether you have kids or not: the concept carries over to communications with anyone. 

For those who didn't click over, the three words in question are "I know, but..." 

(The "but" often being followed by a dismissive remark of some sort.)  

The day before Easter, I took a long walk with my eldest: he has his own geocaching account and he's trying to get his number of cache finds up to 100.  In the course of a conversation we were having, I caught myself saying the dreaded three words, and it stopped me cold.  Along with the conversation for a few minutes, I might add.  *headdesk*

Last night, our school held a public forum--as a school board, we were looking for input as to what the community wants our school to look like and offer in the next three-to-five year timeframe, since our size and demographics are changing.  The guy who happened to sit next to me had very different opinions from mine, and I felt the dreaded three words bubbling up again.  Instead, based on my earlier experience with my son, I made a conscious decision to keep my mouth closed and encourage him to talk, since that was the purpose of the forum to begin with.  We still weren't seeing eye-to-eye when he was done, but his body language suggested that he was happy to have been respectfully heard out (a problem that our school has had in general in communications with parents) and nobody's died and made me the queen of the universe may well be that we'll end up going in his preferred direction, this being a democracy and all.  (Or, at the very least, a benign dictatorship comprising nine dictators, each of whom has a vote that carries equal weight.)

Two ears, one mouth: twice as much listening as talking!  Note to self for the day.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Yes, my sense of humor is more than a little twisted, but these made me laugh!

Quiet Easter here.  The kids followed the egg trails (each child has a treasure hunt of sorts to navigate each year) to their baskets and are now sugared up beyond all recognition.  We spent the rest of the day with my in-laws, sister-in-law and nephews, and I'm now gearing up for back-to-life, back-to-reality starting tomorrow morning after the week's holiday.  (And I will have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the evening, too!)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Radio, Talking and "The Talk"

The training facility where my kids do their soccer clinics offers programs on days that school is out.  The kids wanted to participate this week, so we signed them up for the morning session.  Their normal soccer facility is about ten minutes from home, but that facility wasn't offering class this week, so we were making a drive of about 35-40 minutes each way to the next closest facility.  Not a big deal--I've been dropping the kids off each day, geocaching for a couple of hours and then picking them up again; not exactly a sacrifice for me.  (Found 19 in 2.5 hours this AM, including the sneaky one below...a new daily record.)

Thing One likes listening to popular music in the car.  There's one station that is his particular favorite, and I try to humor him unless the song that is playing is inappropriate or the DJs are having a conversation that isn't kid-friendly, which unfortunately happens quite a bit on this station.  I'm not ordinarily in the car much between 8 and 9AM, but this week I had extended driving time during that period because of soccer and I was amazed at how much of that station's broadcast was pure DJ yammering; virtually no music at all.  It actually got to be funny after a over, still talking, click away again.  If I was a work commuter, it would make me nuts: just play some damned tunes and shut up already!

Thing One learned about the birds and the bees this year in school as part of the regular curriculum.  He seems to be dealing fine with it, all things considered, but his formal education has not included euphemisms and slang, much of which can be found on this particular radio station between the music and the aforementioned yammering.  I spend a lot of time turning it off and telling him that I will explain why later (mostly because I don't want my six year-old innocently singing or repeating something that she doesn't understand and then getting in trouble for it.)

Terms I have had to explain to Thing One in the last couple of weeks (age-appropriately of course):

"get with/get together"
"talk dirty"
"spend the night"
"gold digger"
"knocked up"

Yes, I do understand that the easy way out would be to just not allow him to listen to that station.  However, I am not naive enough to believe that he isn't hearing these things in other places as well (his friends' houses, soccer, the school bus, etc) and I'm choosing to use it as a teaching tool and starting point for important conversations.  I want him to be able to feel comfortable talking to me and asking me questions if he has any, and I don't see any value whatsoever in having either my head or his in the sand!  Hope this does not come back to bite me later, but it seems like the right thing to do right now.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not A Problem We Have At Our House

This made me laugh out loud.

Between drop-offs and pickups for a soccer camp and two playdates, I estimate that I will be driving between 150 and 200 miles tomorrow alone!  Unfortunately, too much down time at my house leads to fighting, so we need to keep the kids occupied during school breaks...this translates to a very 'occupied' mother as well.   I'll be happy to see that school bus on Monday morning!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Learned Something Today

Huh.  I always thought that worms crawled out of the dirt and onto hard surfaces like driveways during rain to avoid drowning when the air spaces between the dirt particles fill with water, but I guess I was wrong.  I just read that worms breathe through their skins and actually require water in the soil to do so; what's more, evidently they can survive being fully submerged in water for several days.  I gather that the current theory, or at least one current theory, is that earthworms surface during rainstorms for migration purposes, because they can move longer distances across the surface without drying out during rain.  It had occurred to me to wonder why there were worms in the middle of my driveway today--surely just getting up on the edge would have been sufficient to keep them from drowning?--and I guess now I know the answer to my question.  I also know that I am a raging dork, had there been any doubt.  Who else spends any time whatsoever voluntarily contemplating the motivations of earthworms???

And of course, the fact that there are worms on my driveway at all means that it is once AGAIN precipitating at my house.  We're getting rain this spring like we got snow this past winter, which is to say by the bucketload.  Somewhere, not too far from here, Noah is building another ark.

Speaking of flood stories, I find it absolutely fascinating that so many world cultures have them.  Who could read these stories (some listed here and here) and not see their striking similarity to the later Biblical versions??  The Sumerian story has been dated to about 1600BC...proof that there is truly nothing new under the sun.

Yours from the land of pouring skies and pruny fingers...

Mama D

Monday, April 14, 2014

Snapshot Of The Past

My maternal grandmother received a cookbook as a wedding present in the 1930s and used it until she passed away in 1995.  By then it was worn and shabby: pages were frayed; she'd taped recipes cut out of newspapers onto some pages; the scribbles of grandchildren occupied others.  If you look closely enough, you can find the wobbly traces of both my hand and my younger brother's from when we were kids, a permanent record in pencil of our small size back then.

When my grandmother passed away, her oldest daughter (my beloved godmother) inherited the cookbook.  My mother made copies for family members, though, one of which is a prized possession of mine.  Grandma's distinctive handwriting covers many of the blank pages, including her recipes for spaghetti sauce, pizza, cheese croutons (for wedding soup--so good I used to eat these small squares straight from the bag she kept in the freezer!), pickles, sausage, cookies, cavatelle, and more.

For some reason I was looking through this cookbook the other day and was reminded anew that it is a relic of a bygone era.  This period was the heyday of the woman's club, domestic advances having given middle-class women more time for intellectual and social pursuits.  Grandma's cookbook was published by her city's Federation of Women's Clubs, and the contributor of each recipe was identified by both her name and the name of the specific club to which she belonged, of which there were dozens.  These clubs have names like "Mother's Progress" and "Monday Conversational Club" and "Women's Literary" and "Garden Guild" and "Drama Guild" and "Reading Circle" and "Monday Musical."  This grandmother worked, and so did not have the free time to belong to one of these clubs, but my other grandmother lived nearby and did belong to a club--which one seems lost to time, though.  My dad remembers his mother's club friends coming over for luncheons and cards.

I wish I could tell you what year this cookbook was published, but I can't figure it out.  The date doesn't appear anywhere on my copy, and my aunt was kind enough to go through the original (just in case Grandma taped a recipe over the copyright page) and she couldn't find it either.  Even a Google search came up with a blank.  My best guess is that it dates from sometime between World War I and World War II.  The ads are illuminating: for one thing, the telephone numbers in them are still five digits (e.g. 2-6685) and one is for a coal delivery company!

 ETA: My mother told me after reading this post that my great-aunt's family (this grandmother's sister) actually owned a coal company that made those home deliveries!  Who knew.  She also said that in her own house growing up, there was a coal chute through which the delivery people would pour coal for the furnace, and that her mother would get up early in the morning to shovel coal so that the house would be warm when she and her sisters woke up.


The recipes themselves speak of the general era as well.  One page is titled "If War Should Come, Bread, Buns and Rolls" and gives recipes for breads made with barley or rye flour substituted for some of the white flour.  An article taped onto another page describes ways to use honey instead of sugar because of sugar rationing, perhaps from WWII days.  A third page contains a recipe for a coffee substitute made from bran and black molasses toasted to a golden brown in the oven.

Most of the recipes in the book are relatively simple fare, but not all that different from things we might cook today: the glaring exception is the appetizers and salads, which in a few cases feature some, er... unusual combinations of ingredients.  At least to the modern eye.

Trying to envision combining marshmallows, peanut butter and mayonnaise.

Or lime jello, pimiento, onion, mayonnaise and whipped cream.

This one I just can't wrap my head around at all!

I will say, however, that there were FOUR recipes in a row requiring soy sauce (all variations on chow mein and chop suey), which absolutely blew my mind.  In a cookbook dating from this time period featuring recipes collected from women living in a small city in the Midwest??  Nice.  The other thing that surprised me was how spare the directions are: generally only a few lines per recipe.  Apparently back then people didn't need things spelled out...for instance, two jam recipes list the ingredients to be combined and then the entire preserving process is summed up in one word of instructions!  "Can."

I think I'm going to have to make something from this cookbook soon.  Miss you, Grandma...




Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where Children Sleep

Fascinating images.  And in some cases, depressing and/or frightening.  Talk about a reality check!

This link contains some additional images from the series as well.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Can Somebody Please Explain This To Me??

Walked past this product on a Walmart rack, caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and had to backtrack to make sure I read the package correctly.

Apparently it is catfish bait.  I actually looked for an ingredient list, but there wasn't one.  In retrospect, not sure I want to know!

Friday, April 11, 2014

On A Roll Here

Over the past two weeks, I've located four (count 'em, FOUR!) caches that had eluded me on previous searches.  Sometimes multiple previous searches.  In cacher parlance, a cache that you can't find is referred to as a DNF (for "did not find") and my OCD self does not like having DNFs.  :)

One was straightforward enough...I couldn't find it on my first two tries because it wasn't actually there.  I was at the correct spot, but the cache container had been muggled (aka stolen.)  The owner checked on it, confirmed that it was gone, put a new one in its spot, and Bob's your uncle...a very quick find for me on my third visit.

A second cache owned by the same guy proved a little trickier.  I did eventually find the necessary clue at stage 1 (did YOU notice the three-digit numbers etched into the bolt heads on the left?  You may need to click on the picture to see them.)

The bolts in question were about waist-height on a post, helping to hold up a gate.

I then tried to get to the final stage back in the fall but was defeated by wicked, marauding thorn bushes.  I swore that I would return in winter with a machete.  Well, it may have been the beginning of spring, but there was significantly less underbrush, and I was armed: I made the hike to the final site with GPS receiver in one hand and handheld garden shears in the other!  One more down.

Number three: no explanation other than that I must have been blind the first time around.  Solved the puzzle at stage 1 with no problem, got to stage 2, couldn't find a darned thing.  The second time, I all but tripped over the container...go figure.  It was exactly where it should have been and I just missed it.  (But isn't the view from that cache site something??)

Number four was a raging beast.  There's a guy in my area who gets his jollies out of hiding caches so well that people have a terrible time finding them...I've run into a few of his before.  This particular one had a terrain rating of 2 out of 5, meaning not sidewalk but not terrible terrain either, but a difficulty rating of 4 out of 5.  I actually think the latter was underrated, in retrospect.  After a thoroughly frustrating stomp around in the woods looking for it the first time, a friend gave me a small hint and I went back today.  Even knowing the general sort of hide I was looking for, it took me an hour to find the damned thing!

And this is why.

This is where I was looking for it.  Forested area, tons of dead leaves and downed branches.

And THIS was the freaking cache container!!  A small chunk of old-looking wood with a hole drilled into the bottom for the tube that held the actual paper log.  (The container is only the round bit of wood; I had it sitting on a downed tree trunk so I could take the picture.)

A better picture of the wooden container with the tube inserted into the hole.  Again, bear in mind that this piece of wood was placed upside-down on a forest floor littered with leaves and sticks and random pieces of wood.  The fact that I managed to turn over the right piece of wood was little less than wonder it took me so long to find the blasted thing.  Talk about a needle in a haystack!

But I did find it, and that's what matters...another one bites the dust.  There's nothing special about the actual containers when you find them most of the time: the fun for me is the hunt (and the puzzle-solving as well, for the puzzle caches.)  To each his own form of entertainment!



Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Picture Of Happiness

Because I love my dog dearly, in the mornings, when it is not too cold outside, I open the front door and drag her beloved bed to the spot immediately in front of the storm door, where she can recline in the sun-warmth and monitor all passing activity outside.  Dog nirvana.

After the germ-ridden beginning to our week, all is much better (and believe me, I rap the desk with my knuckles as I type this!)  Thing Two still has a bit of a cough but is back in school, thankfully.  In other good news:

1) I managed not to be eaten alive by the fifth graders when I went in to give a nutrition-related presentation to them yesterday--this is in connection with a state health grant for which they needed parent volunteers, and these kids really are on the upper end of the age range for the material we were supposed to present.  I ended up raiding Petunia's toy kitchen for every plastic fruit, vegetable and grain she owns and bringing them in for a competitive game to get them engaged.

2) Thing Two cheerfully cooperated for the purchasing of a First Communion suit...he is now the proud owner of a beautiful black suit and new matching dress shoes!  About a month and counting now to his big day, and believe me, I am not taking any part of this for recently as last year, I wondered if he would be able to understand enough of what was going on to be able to participate, and this has not been an issue at all.  He's got this stuff down cold.

3) I've had some good luck over the past week with finding caches that had previously eluded me, including one yesterday.  Going to try for another one again on my way to taekwondo this morning in hopes of continuing the streak...wish me luck!

4) And, most amazingly...I FOUND A PRESENT FOR MY DAD!!  I wasn't even looking, either.  The man is the single most impossible person in the universe for whom to buy gifts, since he doesn't need much and whatever he does need, he buys for himself.  (Growl.)  Duly ordered and will be put away for Christmas!!!

So, I guess I'm doing okay in the happiness department myself this week too, kid sickness notwithstanding, even if I can't quite compete with my dog.  Happy Thursday!    

Monday, April 7, 2014


Despite my misgivings, Thing Two slept through the night without waking for ibuprofen and actually seemed a bit better this morning.  I still took him to the pediatrician, where his rapid strep test was negative, thereby becoming exhibit #1 for why people without medical training can't prescribe medicine and why antibiotics are not available over the counter in this country.  My educated guess appears to have been incorrect* and I freely admit it...the professional verdict was that he simply has a viral bug of some sort.

The twist is that I would have actually PREFERRED it to be strep, all things considered and a doctor more readily available, of course.  Those antibiotics work like a magic wand and kids go from droopy to all-systems-normal within hours of the first dose.  A viral bug, on the other hand, takes much longer to clear the system, so we are now looking at two to three days in which I am going to go batshit-freaking-crazy stuck in the house with this kid!

Oh well.  Such are the joys of motherhood.  Glad the kid is feeling a little better today, anyway.  At least he's eating now...when this particular kid refuses to eat, you KNOW there is something major going on!  He's the living embodiment of his great-grandfather in that respect: Grandpa always used to say that you could call him anything you wanted as long as you didn't call him late for dinner.  :)

*At least for now--I reserve the right to change my tune on this in three days, when the slow strep test results come in.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eff You, Group B Strep

And eff what you do to small children, too.  There's one miserable little boy in my house tonight thanks to you.

And thanks to the fact that there are no doctors available after the morning hours on a Sunday around here other than those who work in the ER (sadly, I do understand the definition of the word "emergency" and this ain't one) it will be tomorrow before he is officially diagnosed and treated.  This is one of those times I really, truly wish that I had the ability to prescribe medication.  Until then, only hugs, juice, ibuprofen and sleep for the little guy....please think good thoughts for him.  :(

Saturday, April 5, 2014

New Look

My hair is fine in texture, but there is a lot of it and it grows out of my head curly as hell--think ringlets.  For the past couple of years, I've worn it shoulder length, long enough to pull back in a knot on the back of my head, which I did virtually every day.  Convenient, especially for taekwondo; easy, but not a particularly attractive look on me because of my square jaw.

Tuesday morning I'd had enough (ENOUGH!) of feeling frumpy.  I texted the girlfriend who cuts my hair and she was able to fit me in that day: by the end of the appointment, I'd gone from shaggy to this.  (Of course this is not me, but it is the haircut!  Image from here.)

Model Look

Cute and looks much better on me than a ponytail or knot.  The downside?  It actually requires some work in the mornings...mousse, curling iron, hairspray, all that fun stuff.  (Curly-hair bedhead is not for the faint of heart.)  But it looks better, and I feel better for looking better, so the time spent is worth it!


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Other Side Of The Coin

As posts like yesterday's would suggest, Thing Two's social and language deficiencies are definitely improving.  One very good thing about the fact that he has had the same case manager/social worker, speech therapists and neurodevelopmental pediatrician since he was four is that everyone involved has been with him long enough to remember what he was like back in the 'bad old days,' so all can take joy in his progress since then.  He's really doing remarkably well overall, except in one glaring area: his behavior toward me.  He can be the most stubborn, argumentative, contrary little pain in the ass in the universe when he feels like it, but he rarely directs this charming behavior toward anyone other than good ol' Mom.  Even my husband is largely exempt, which really pisses me off although I do understand it: I'm the primary caregiver, therefore I am the target.

He can clearly control the behavior: the school folks don't see it.  I know that it means that he's comfortable in the fact that I love him no matter what.  I know that he hates the fact that he needs help, and I know that he really is a my-way-or-the-highway kind of kid by nature and hates being told what to do (or made to do things that he really doesn't want to do) just on general principles.  I know that after holding it all together during the day, at home is where he's going to vent.  I KNOW all this.  But sometimes the knowing doesn't make it better, and I just get so frustrated.

Dammit, I was the one who started asking doctors if there was something wrong with him starting at his 18-month well visit.  I was the one who took him for his first formal evaluation at three and sobbed through the explanation of the results.  I was (and AM) the one who has taken him to every therapist's appointment he's ever had.  I was the one who worked with him at home for hours on end, every day of the week, while he was in preschool, with worksheets and special-ed video games and special-ed toys and anything his therapists thought might help him progress.  I'm the one who works on his homework with him, helps him study, and the one the teachers and therapists call with suggestions for things to be done at home (which I then do.)  I know that there are no medals that come with parenting--I am just doing my job the best I can and I'm not looking for any back-pats from anybody, believe me.  But to have spent the last six-plus years of my life focused so entirely on getting him out of the massive hole that the genepool dug for him and to then be the one that he turns hurts a lot.  I won't lie.  It would be entirely irrational of me to expect him to be grateful, but the fact that I seem to be the villain in this show is getting really old.

His favorite words for me right now are "I don't want to."  Getting him to do anything requires an argument, no matter how politely I ask or how many times I warn him that a transition is coming.  When he's upset with me, he'll deliberately avoid giving me a kiss goodbye at the bus stop in the morning, just because he knows that it makes me sad.  If I were guessing, he's just trying to have some control in a universe that frustrates him mightily and in which he feels powerless, but I'm hoping that one of these days he will figure out that I am actually on his team and not the enemy!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Counting Our Blessings

We had Thing Two's IEP meeting this morning.

For those among you fortunate enough not to know that acronym, it stands for Individualized Education Program.  As defined by federal regulations, these programs are tailored for each individual child with disabilities and describe in detail what all teachers and service providers will be doing over the course of the year for that child to help them to learn more effectively.

Often IEP meetings become battlegrounds, since special ed costs money and a lot of it.  Budget-sensitive schools are under pressure to keep costs down, while parents and guardians push for additional costly services for their kids.  I've read horror stories from both sides of the table and they generally end up involving lawyers and getting really, really ugly.  Thankfully, Thing Two's IEP meetings are not like that at all.

It was difficult to get him classified initially, because his disability is severe in one area but he is otherwise at or well above grade level.  We pushed because we knew he needed help, and eventually prevailed.  The second day he was at the school, the teacher called and said that her evaluations suggested that we should add a third weekly session of speech therapy and also OT to his IEP, which we took as a good sign that they were actually going to go above and beyond in trying to help this child out from behind the eight ball, not just do the bare minimum required by law.  In the five years since then, the team has consistently showed that they care about him and want him to succeed.  And they have continued to add to his IEP where they think it would be useful: with his language skills radically improved, last year they started him on a small-group social program without us even having to ask for it.

For next year, he is getting absolutely everything we could have hoped for.  Partial aide support for core subjects (meaning that the aide supports multiple kids--he doesn't need 1:1 help) just to help keep him focused and redirect and answer questions when needed.  Speech and the small social group are continuing.  And he has now outgrown the OT!  No more of that necessary except where needed for consults regarding any personal space issues.  Slowly but surely, he is progressing toward whatever 'normal' might be, although we have a ways to go yet (and might not ever get there completely; who knows.)  According to his teacher, his grades in all subjects are excellent and his classroom behavior is generally appropriate and not distracting...hallelujah!!  Reading comprehension continues to be an issue, not surprisingly, but we're working on it.  At any rate, those meetings are always very stressful for us even though they are collegial (who wants to be faced with a group of people telling you all the things your kid is having trouble with??) but today's was very positive and encouraging and I am SO relieved I cannot even begin to tell you.  Whew.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

And More Power To Her

A friend of mine announced her pregnancy the other day.   She already has three kids ranging in age from ten or eleven down to five, one of whom has fairly significant special needs.

If I were guessing, she's my age (40) or a year or two older, and she works at least part-time.  I sure as heck don't have the energy at this stage of the game to go back to being up all night with a newborn and hauling around the diaper bag/food/stroller etc etc etc...I sure hope that she does!  I am very ashamed to admit that "Are you nuts??" was dueling with "Congratulations!" in my head when she made her announcement, although I did behave myself externally.  ;)

And no, I have no idea if this was deliberate or accidental and I ain't asking.   Either way, there's a little one coming and it doesn't matter...may this child be happy and healthy and may my friend find the strength to keep up with it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

The grass is finally ris, and the birdies is singing their little hearts out, both on and off the wing.

The dog and I have been walking together more lately now that the weather is not so frigid.  When she sees me put my hiking boots on, she comes running, eager to be included in the outing.  One of our favorite routes takes us by an old churchyard, a favored burying place for some of the founding families of the area.  Most of the inscriptions on these stones are so old that they are very hard to read.

Today's walk took us down by the creek, which actually has rapids at the moment courtesy of the weekend's rains!  We'd looked for a geocache off a nearby hiking trail, me doggedly climbing a very steep slope, peering amidst the rocks and tree roots as I went, and her joyously bounding ahead of me.  Find successfully made, we rewarded ourselves with a stroll along flat pavement, admiring the water views as we went.  

This is a birdhouse!!  Love the construction.  It sits on top of a tall tree stump across the road from the creek.  

Has there ever been a better name for a farm??  The sky was flat and dull this afternoon, making it difficult for me to get good pictures, but this homemade sign says "Achy Acres."

After all the snow, it makes me smile to see the flowers coming back in my own garden, the hyacinths (still in bud) and the very first of the daffodils below!

For whatever reason, the critters don't bother either hyacinths or daffodils, but most other spring flowers get munched right up.  Crocuses and tulips in particular must be some sort of delicacy: so many times over the years I've come out of a morning to find those bitten off at ground level.  I put in tulip bulbs by the dozens in the front yard when we first moved in: having learned my lesson, now I only bother to plant them inside the walled garden (five feet of wire fencing with an extra two feet or so of chicken wire surrounding the bottom of the fencing to keep the baby rabbits out, sneaky little so-and-sos that they are.)

So here, there is finally hope for warmth and sunshine and greenness!!  Hoping your yards and neighborhoods are shaking the winter barrenness as well.   


I had a lengthy conversation with a man from Zambia this evening.  From his accent when we exchanged greetings, I could tell that he was Afr...