I’m adventuring into the world of vlogging! Please share your thoughts.
I’m adventuring into the world of vlogging! Please share your thoughts.
Hi all. Now that it’s fall, and the kids are back in school, and everyone is back from whatever fabulous summer adventure they went on, I get asked a lot, “What’s new?” My answer is long and rambly, because there’s a lot of little random new things with me. Thought I’d share it with my bloggy friends too.
1. I got a nose ring. Not really big news. But, new. A modest tiny shiny stone of some sort. Most people don’t even notice it, even people I’ve known for years. When I point it out they say it “just fits your personality.” Which I don’t know how to take, I guess. But, it’s fun, and it’s one of those things I always wanted to do. Actually, when I got my eyebrow pierced 15 years ago (I’ve since taken that one out) I had regrets that I didn’t do the nose instead. So, another one checked off the bucket list. And I love it.
2. I am in school! I’m in an online program with Penn Foster for a vet tech degree. It’s like a nurse but for animals. I’m so excited, and can’t wait to be done and get a fun job. I have always had a love for animals, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how intensely I love them and I want to work with them. I think it’s a combo of losing my 19 year old kitty recently, and through the magic of the Internet, seeing that there are so many animals that need help. Pets get surrendered at shelters and rescue organizations for the dumbest things, like “he pooped too much.” And all the abused and neglected animals, it just breaks my heart. With my degree I’d like to work with the SPCA or a shelter or rescue organization. It will feel so wonderful to get to work with animals every day, and make a difference in their lives.
3. Speaking of animals, we recently got two pet rats. Their names are Laverne and Shirley, after the show, which was a childhood favorite of mine. (The vet called to confirm “Shirley and Laverne’s check up” and I was like wut. Somebody doesn’t know their 80s TV shows.) They are sweet and gentle and wonderful. I was worried that our cat would torment them and stalk their cage. She has a history. But, she seems like she couldn’t care less. They, of course, are terrified of her, but that’s easily solved. They really are a great pet for kids. Better than a hamster or gerbil because they can be easily handled, and smaller than a bunny or guinea pig for keeping in your house. And I have not been bitten once, not even a nip, they’re very gentle. Two more members of the family.
4. Ferris turned three! I really should be dedicating an entire post to that, but who has the time? H’s really forming his little personality, and it’s so fun. He asks for water all the time now. It’s only so he can fake belch, but whatever, he’s drinking water. Favorite phrases: “No.” “I hate it.” “I love it.” “Two minutes.” (As in, I’ll do it in two minutes, a phrase picked up from mommy and daddy.) He absolutely loves miniature people and furniture and animals, so we got him a dollhouse for his birthday. Big hit. And he’s hit the picky eating stage. He used to be my great eater, I bragged about it all the time. No more. In case you were wondering if a kid could survive and grow on milk and white bread, I’m here to tell you yes, it’s possible.
5. Bowie started second grade. His teacher this year is amazing. We are over the moon for her. She was immediately so much more supportive of his classroom needs and tolerant of his issues. I couldn’t be happier. There’s only been one major incident with another child, and even that was mild. This time last year, we’d already had two classroom meetings and a meeting with the principal, and he was back in OT. He’s now not currently in OT and we’ve not had a single call from school. I’m so happy. For me, but so much more for him. He’s figuring it out. I am so glad to see him growing and maturing in this way.
So, there you have it. Lots going on. But life is good. What’s the haps with you?
I have a second grader, you guys. A SECOND GRADER. Parenthood is the wildest of wild rides, and the absurdly fast rate at which your children grow is part of that wildness. It’s SERIOUSLY like you give birth, and then you blink your eyes and they are feeding themselves, totally potty trained, reading books, losing teeth, riding bikes, and all the other surprises that lie ahead.
Yesterday was the first day of second grade, and it started off with a bang. Well, a shake. There was a pretty sizable earthquake across the bay, and we felt a little rumble out here at the beach. I was sitting on the couch, trying to enjoy my cup of tea, and I felt the room rumble. I got prepared to yell at my kids to get back to eating their breakfast, and looked at them to find them eating their Fruit Loops like perfect angels.
The day seemed to go pretty well. He was also in an after school program for the first time ever, which has him in school until 6pm, which I worried would be too long of a day for him. But, all things considered, he held up pretty well.
I spoke today with his teacher about his SPD and all of his quirks, and she seemed really positive, and eager to help. So, I’m feeling really optimistic about this year. As you might recall, last year was a total drag and he had a really hard time. We’re hoping things are much smoother in second grade.
SECOND GRADE. You guys.
When I look back at myself at 24, I see a naive, doe-eyed, Disney Princess of a child. So sure she had all the answers. So sure adulthood was going to be a breeze. So sure that there were no wrong life choices to be made. And somebody let me get married!
He was just as wide-eyed and princess-like as I was. And in the first few years of our marriage, it was more us clinging to each other for dear life than really embracing each other in holy matrimony. Adulthood came at us fast. And never quit.
Adulthood has changed us so deeply and in so many different ways. And in the past 5 years, our relationship has endured tests that many other couples don’t survive even one of. I don’t even know how we made it through the past year. Except that I do know.
Over the years, the clinging for dear life has turned to you support me now, I’ll support you later. With my husband doing so much of the supporting in recent years, but refusing to keep score. I look back at his patience, kindness and determination to see me happy, healthy and successful, and that’s how I know he really loves me.
Rather than turn and run when things got sad or hard or felt impossible, he stayed. I stayed. We faced it head on. Together. Twelve years doesn’t seem like enough years to house the lifetime we’ve lived together. I love you so much, Brien. Happy anniversary.
I recently got a job.
It’s a simple job, cashiering part-time at an adorable local produce market. Here’s me posing in front of my new workplace.
We could use the money, I have child-free hours in my days now, and it keeps my anxious mind occupied. And psst…it’s a little bit fun. My boss is one of the dads from preschool, I love the market and have been a faithful shopper for years, my coworkers all rock, and I cashiered for 10 years in high school and college, so it came back to me like riding a bike.
I haven’t worked outside the home since I became a mom, seven years ago this month. So, I’ve never had to balance a job with kids. Right now, we’re using minimal childcare so as to maximize what my actual take-home pay is.
Before when I would get the “your kid is sick, come get him” call, which by the way has only happened to me twice before, ever, I could just, you know, go get him.
On Monday morning, I was working a simple 9-12 shift, my second week working there, and of course I get THE CALL at about 10:30. Ferris was at preschool, running a fever and refusing to eat.
Now, LUCKILY, the manager totally understood, the shift was half over, there was another cashier there, it was slow. So, I was able to leave and go get him. But, I started thinking, damn. What if this starts happening all the time? What if it happens with the other kid during my next shift?
But mostly, how do working moms do this????!!!! What do you do if you have a much less understanding manager and boss? Do most companies give parents enough time off in a year to deal with this kind of stuff?
I have a few people I can call upon in such times, but they were all busy. I guess I need a few more people. And maybe I just need to break down and find me another good, cheap babysitter. (All the good ones move away. Boo.)
So, I guess I’m just saying, tip o’ the hat to you, “real” working moms. I don’t know how you balance everything. It’s amazing. I hope I can get it all figured out.
Yesterday I crossed over into my “Late Thirties.” So far, I feel mostly the same. Except that a few nights ago, as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I realized that people born in 1990 are turning 25 this year. And then I felt ANCIENT.
I spent my birthday taking care of my fevery 2 year old, making a trip to Costco with my husband, visiting the Japanese Tea Garden with the 6 year old, talking on the phone with a few extended family members. Quiet, a teeny bit middle-aged-mundane, but I went to bed last night feeling content. Which is all that really matters, right?
At some point along the way, I stopped really caring about my birthday. That’s not the same as not caring about my age. I completely fulfill the stereotype of a woman who cares about her age. Even though nobody else really cares. Even though aging can’t be stopped. I still care. But, I stopped caring about birthdays.
I stopped caring about the fanfare, the attention, the gifts. Which is different from not being grateful for all of it, of course I was and still am. But these days, when the day comes around, there’s always that first person that says, “happy birthday!” (usually it’s my husband) and my response is, “Oh yeah. That. Thanks!”
March is historically a hard month for me, even though it hosts my birthday. It’s a month when, for some reason, the big stuff happens. This year was absolutely no different. Right up there with the “best” years. Generally, I’m pretty glad to see March go. It’s tough to be simultaneously so fed up with life, and also excited that it’s your birthday. Again.
I think that in general, my life is mostly in a good place. Right now, in this moment, I am in the best place I’ve been in probably 4 years. They were a rough 4 years. But I am finally through to the other side. Or I can at least see very clearly the light at the end of the tunnel. For 4 years now, I have a birthday, and I look back at the past year and think, “How the hell did I survive that?”
I am REALLY hoping that next year the thought is, “Wow, that was a great year. Let’s do that again.”
1. I’m still alive. I realize I haven’t blogged in nearly 4 months. My bad.
2. I’m back now, bigger, better, stronger. I will try not to break the Internet.
3. The sharing article I wrote for PopSugar (YEARS ago) is still making the ’rounds on the webz. While I enjoy a good, open dialogue, and am happy to discuss and answer questions, just know that profanity, insults, and otherwise general harassment will get y’all blocked and banned. Keep it civil, ok? Thank you. *hugs*
4. It’s that time of year again: Season of Scarfing Girl Scout Cookies. Hard. What are your favorite flavors? I’m partial to Samoas. But I do like the Thin Mints too, of course. Who doesn’t? Huz likes the peanut butter chocolate ones, Tagalongs, which are also awesome. What say you?
5. I just got invited to join Ello, and I’m not entirely sure I understand it. Is it for pictures? Is it like other social media sites?
6. Ferris will be officially 2 1/2 mid-March, and I can’t believe how fast he’s picking up on words and phrases right now. His newest gem is, “No more talking anymore!” The Terrible Twos are HERE, folks. HERE. But, somehow, this age is still so fun.
7. Bowie has 3 months left in 1st grade. This is not a year I will miss. (See here.) He’s had a lot of trouble with his sensory issues, and emotional issues, and he’s got a less-than-supportive teacher. But, he’s doing great academically, and I’m focusing on that. Looking forward to some quality time with him this summer, and letting him have some fun in summer camps.
8. Is there a tea you just LUUUURVE and can’t get enough of? Looking to expand my already sagging shelf of teas. I’m familiar with Harney & Sons and Kusmi, let me know your favorite flavors. My every-morning go-to is Stash’s Double Bergamot Earl Grey, what other great Earl Greys are out there?
9. We just joined a gym for the first time, and I always feel incredibly disorganized and awkward as I stand in front of my locker and scramble for stuff. Do you have any tips or handy items that help you stay organized at the gym? Also, what are your favorite machines or activities that your gym offers?
Many thanks for sticking with me through this quiet time. Have a great week!
I know that a while back, at the beginning of the school year, I was all sunshine and rainbows about first grade and how well I thought it would go.
That’s not exactly the case anymore.
Things haven’t been going well. Bowie didn’t react well at first to the teacher and her methods (and truthfully neither did we). He has a hard time completing his in-class work in a timely manner (compared to the other kids), and it’s been a real hot button issue, apparently.
A meeting was requested with the student-teacher coordinator and a school counselor. They have a record of all the SPD stuff from last year, so we just discussed where he was at, how things were going. And they asked us to have him re-evaluated by his OT, to see where he was at with his sensory issues.
I felt kind of ridiculous when they asked how long it had been since he saw an OT and since we had concentrated on his therapy, and I was like, oh, um, gee, well I suppose it’s been a few years. Parenting ball: dropped.
It was unexpectedly really nice to go back to see the OT, even though it meant my kid still has issues. It felt comfortably familiar. I feel safe at the OT. She understands him, she understands us. All his little tics and habits and antics seem normal to her, like no one else in his life. And she’s got answers!
As it turns out, Bowie has developed a bad grip on his pencil. And it’s causing motor-coordination issues. Something that I didn’t even know to look for, I’m not an OT or a teaching professional, so I would never have known it was an issue. I’m a bit surprised it wasn’t brought up before, and I’m actually thankful that the school made us visit her, because that’s the only way we’d ever have known!
Intelligence-wise, he’s right where he needs to be. Even excelling a bit. So, no worries there. As his OT puts it, with his current grip, he’s just getting too tired when he writes, and he needs to stop and rest and take breaks. Something not entirely conducive to keeping up with his peers. So then he gets reprimanded. And his peers see that, and use it as ammo later. And he acts out.
There’s still a major sensory component. And we’ve added small things here and there in the classroom to help him out with that. The good news is that it’s all fixable. The bad news is it’s to the tune of $500 a month for the therapy, which we just don’t have right now. And insurance won’t cover it until we meet our deductible, but the OT only wants to do sessions until winter break, at which time we will have met the deductible, but therapy will be over.
The best news is that he likes what he’s learning. He likes to read, he likes math, he likes science. And he’s really smart. I know every mom says that, but really, he is. I mean, I’m not talking ‘gifted and talented’ or anything, but he’s got critical thinking skills, and he can extrapolate on ideas, and I’m just really proud. That’s all.
I hesitate to call him “special needs”. Or to treat him that way. Because there are so many kids out there with much more serious special needs than him. But, when you get the “you’re a terrible parent” stare down from a bystander as he throws a sensory fit in the middle of the farmer’s market, then I feel “He’s special needs.” right on the tip of my tongue.
We do our best to support him daily, hourly, by the minute. But we are also human beings. And the name-calling, the fit-throwing, the hitting, the pushing his brother around, it gets to us sometimes. Being back at the OT means being back in the care of someone who knows how to make this right again. Knows what he needs to bring him back to center.
He didn’t turn the corner sensory-wise until after he’d turned 2. Before that, he was a “normal” baby, no issues to report. He was rarely sick, he was developmentally right on, he was happy and social and outgoing.
So, the change was so abrupt for us. But, we took it in stride. This is what he needs right now, we will do this for him.
And then he had another really great year. Kindergarten was a complete dream for us. Finally he’s acting “normal”, he’s having a “normal” school year, everything is “normal” again. To have first grade not only go so poorly, but to have it going so poorly almost immediately, is a big parenting blow to the gut.
As much as I hate the label, he is special needs. He needs special things from us every day. And from all of the other adults and children he interacts with. For his world to feel right, he needs special things. And as much as I hate to admit it, he’s different than other kids. Even so much different from his brother. The way you need to approach Bowie to ask him something or tell him something is different than it is with other kids. It can be pretty exhausting to deal with that every second of every day, but we are here and we are doing it. I can only hope when he’s grown that he can see that we did our very best. And I hope that by then he’s not so “special” anymore.
Two years ago, after a quick but intense labor, and a lightning-speed delivery, they placed you, my little Fer-Bear, in my arms for the first time.
And then I blinked and you are turning two years old. Darn that blinking!
Likes: milk, pretzels, Caillou, trucks, cars, airplanes, trains, crayons, play dough, baths, the beach, the park (especially the slide), hangin’ with the Big Kids.
Dislikes: grocery shopping, napping, showers, having your diaper changed, taking clothes off, putting clothes on, being FORCED to stop moving at the end of the day and get this thing they call “rest”.
Two is fun. Two is tripping over your own feet all day long. Two is climbing the play structure and going down the slide all by yourself. Two is learning new words every single day. Two is finding out that there are some foods you don’t like, and mommy starts calling you “picky”.
Two is preschool! Two is friends. Two is learning, growing, changing. So quickly.
Two is a little bit of independence, and a little bit of being able to communicate what you want.
I always feel like I should be so profound with these posts, but it never comes. The night of your second birthday, Daddy and I went out to see one of our favorite bands, Cloud Cult, and they had me in tears with the VERY FIRST SONG, because I was thinking of you, and couldn’t believe we were at the two year mark already. Here’s a little snapshot of that song:
The stars may fall and the rains may pour,
But I will love you evermore.
You were born to make this right.
You were born to chase the light.
I love you so much, bug.
We have a first grader in our house now. A FIRST GRADER. We have now completed week one back at school, in the new first grade routine. A rocky start, but not as rocky as the start of the school year last year. And last year’s start was better than the year before. Progress.
I recently acquired a ton of new readers, so I will take a brief moment to explain our kiddo’s situation a bit. When he was in preschool, we were having major issues with his behavior. He was being very aggressive toward the other kids, and also toward us, for no apparent reason. After some meetings with the preschool director, lots of reading and research, and some visits to an occupational therapist, he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (a good place to read up on this is here).
When asked why he was pushing or hitting other children, he’d respond with, “I thought they were going to bump into me.” Or, “I was afraid they would step on me.” He was so sensitive about his body-in-space issues and his personal space bubble that he was trying to avoid being hurt or touched by taking matters into his own hands, the only way a 3 year old could figure out how to fix his environment to suit him.
So, we saw some therapists, tried some intensive therapies, changed some things at home, and he’s made amazing strides. He regressed a bit when his younger brother was born, but we’ve made progress since then too. He’s still very sensitive to his environment, and has trouble regulating his emotions.
Calling names, swearing and screaming have replaced the hitting and pushing. The verbal has replaced the physical. For example, now if someone comes “too close” at school or on the sidewalk, he says, “They’re dumb.” Or something to that effect. Even though he doesn’t know them, and they haven’t done anything.
At first, I was just glad he wasn’t hurting other kids. But now, I’m not sure it’s any better. With the physical stuff, at least we could point out that not a lot of other people go around hitting and pushing everyone around them. But with the language? People call each other names all the time, even just as a joke. I’ve had to make him stop watching even certain G-rated movies because characters are going around calling each other idiots and morons. And swearing? I can curb my language to the absolute best of my ability, but how do I keep him from hearing it in public? People walking by our house on the street are yelling swear words. So, the language is proving much more difficult to correct.
I think he’s doing remarkably well in first grade, considering what an adjustment I’m sure that it was for him. We always said we were going to make him do workbooks and reading exercises all summer, and we were going to spend the last few weeks of summer vacation getting him back on his school year schedule, with an earlier bedtime and earlier rise time, etc.
Between the move taking over our entire month of July, and his complete and ugly unwillingness to do any of the above, we didn’t do much of that. But August 18 eventually showed up at our doorstep anyway. And he had to wake up at 6 am, and he had to eat breakfast instead of zoning out in front of the TV. And he had to get dressed and then walk to school, instead of, you know, zoning out in front of the TV. He doesn’t respond well to transitions. Which is a total understatement. I mean, the kid basically shuts down when we ask him to change into his pajamas at night. And this was a pretty big change. So, I feared the worst.
The first day went well, though he was a bit grumpy and exhausted afterward. The second day was ROUGH. He said “shit” a few times and ended up in a time out (which I’m not wild about, but it’s her classroom, so *shrug*). I took away some privileges for the afternoon because of the swearing, so it was a fitful, screaming, name-calling evening. The third day was better, but he told me later that his shoes kept coming untied and he had lost his lunch box so it was “such a horrible day!” Day four was good. Normal. Got his work done, didn’t get in trouble. Day five was better but still rough, I think he was just tuckered out. We went for ice cream after school to celebrate the end of the first week. He got called a name by another kid as we walked to get ice cream, and was incredibly emotional about it. I sympathized, but also reminded him that he does that to other people. Which he didn’t really respond well to. But, he was very well-behaved that afternoon. Perhaps because of the promise of the weekend ahead of him.
I hope this week and the weeks to follow go just as smoothly. I hope he doesn’t get too comfortable and start acting up. But as far as I can tell, the wrinkles in his personality caused by the SPD are starting to smooth themselves out. And he’s maturing into a great student. His teacher and I just take things one day at a time.
Now, his behavior at home…that’s another story for another time. But hey, one step at a time.