Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The middle of the first week

Back to school night was last night. It was only for parents, so Adam and I had to divide and conquer the whole "meet the teacher and learn about the curriculum" thing. I sent Adam to kindergarten since we've done that one three times before and know the teacher well. I might have laughed a little (a lot) when he got lost on the way to the classroom. I headed to third grade and we met up again to brief Joseph's teacher on.... Joseph.

Joe had Camille's teacher in second grade, so much of the information on her style of teaching wasn't new. However, she is very into technology and said the kids will be learning how to be independent learners, monitor their own work, make web pages and the codes that you can scan with your smart phone. Girlfriend's gonna be fixing my computer issues for me soon! The teacher also said that she's been working the kids very, very hard and they could be tired this week. THAT explains why I have had a grumpy, sour-faced princess on my hands this week. Thankfully, she adores school and this teacher is a perfect fit for her.

Joe's teacher is super sweet. She sounds like a great fit for him, strict but loving and down to earth. I have high hopes for him this year!

Of course, the little boys are doing awesome. I thought for sure that George would pass out from exhaustion in the afternoon but 3.5 hours a day, five days a week isn't much different from three hours a week, four days a week. Cole, on the other hand, has revised his emo-goth attitude and is a grouch. I threatened to re-name him Oscar.

Summer has chosen to show up and it's going to 100 degrees this weekend. It is the first time this has happened this summer but still. Ugh. I hope I can steal the older two away so we can see The Giver in a nice, cold AC theater.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Quick Takes Friday: The First Day

The first day of school began like this:
Joseph- 5th grade and not amused by the photos. He ditched us shortly after
Camille- third. She has the same teacher Joe had in second grade and is super excited.
George- kindergarten
Cole- last year of preschool!
George tried to ditch me right away. I told him mommies stay for a few minutes the first day. He ended up kicking me out after ten minutes, which was fine because I had a preschool meeting to attend.

When I picked him up, we went to CFA for lunch and then ran an errand. He told me all about "Pete the Cat." Since he can't say "Pete" I had no clue what he was talking about aside from a stuffed cat who had shoes and they colored their own shoes. His teacher sent me a photo of them with Pete and then his SLP said, "Oh, those are cool books!" Whew! But, apparently, he loved the story since he could tell me all the details!
His teacher told me that when they introduced themselves he said, "Well, you may not be able to understand me but my name is George." It comes out "Forfe." He didn't seem too bothered by the fact that some people may not understand him, which is good.
I met Cole's new SLP at school but have not hunted down the K-5 SLP. I've met her but I need to make sure all the paperwork is in so she can talk to our private SLP. I may also need to ask her IEP questions but I probably shouldn't harass her too much the first few days! ;) Then again, we're going to be working together for the next five years, or more, so she might as well get used to me!
There's a new school nurse. The school year is just beginning so we haven't chatted much. Our paperwork should all be finished so I hope I don't have to talk to her about vaccines. Cole had an allergic reaction to vaccines so he's behind. I doubt I will get him the flu shot either, since that's one he had a reaction to. I don't mind explaining to people WHY he is behind but it gets old having to "justify" why we don't want to give something to our kid that he is allergic to!
After a good first day at school, there were epic meltdowns last night. No, I wasn't one of them. The middle two were overwhelmed and over-tired, which led to tears and a refusal to go to bed. We finally got them down and life seems much better today... they were ready to leave for school 45 minutes early!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Twas the night before school....

Five years ago exactly I walked my oldest into a kindergarten classroom. After wrangling three year old Camille and nine month old George, I walked back to our car in the muggy August afternoon. I saw another mom from the class walk down the street- she was hugely pregnant and carrying a little blond girl. I called out to her, wanting to make some friends who had children the same age as mine.

We've been friends for five years now. This year, for my birthday, she gave me Doctor Who themed dishcloths because she is awesome.

Five years ago, Cole was a bundle of cells, our house still had ugly wall paper and life was very different.

Now, George is five and going off to kindergarten. We've lived here almost his entire life and half of Joe's. This is Joe's last year at elementary school. On Meet the Teacher night, he and his friends were talking about JUNIOR HIGH. Whoa, buddy, let's finish fifth grade first!

I was fine all summer. George starting kindergarten? No problem! Love his teacher, love the school, love the whole staff. This summer, he has been on fire and is so, so ready to rock kindergarten.

I might suddenly be a *small* mess.

Five years and nine months ago, my baby couldn't breath on his own. He didn't talk until he was three and a half. He cried the first four months of preschool.The whole mainstream kindergarten thing with no para? I didn't dare dream. It was moment to moment, sound to sound kinda of living.

Adam reminded George that if his new friends can't understand him, to ask the teacher and she will help. I didn't cry.

I didn't cry as we got out his new "kindergarten is cool" shirt. I didn't cry on meet the teacher night.

But when I got him out of the tub and rubbed lotion on his skin and over his funky belly button- funky because of the lines that went into it to save his life- I started to get all teary. I remembered the first time I gave him a gentle massage with hospital lotion. I remember his nurse watching me, his face scrunching as I gently rubbed him.

It's mild stones like this that remind how fragile his beginning (all of ours, really) was. It reminds me how damn lucky we are. He was- is- a late term preemie with significant speech problems. He needed three years of special education preschool. He still faces an uncertain speech/language/writing future. I don't know what it holds.

I do know this: He is damn lucky. WE are damn lucky. We live in a major metro area with a school that harkens back to the small town schools... but with all the bells and whistles of any high tech school. The staff is small, with 2-3 classes per grade. They know my kids. I know them. And every single person will go to bat for my children. I know this because they already have done so. His teacher already loves him and his preschool teacher is right down the corner.

George is strong and proud and determined. He's got a great team in his corner. He will rock this school.

When I get all teary, yeah, part of it is the "where did my BABY go?" emotions. Part of it is not believing he is this big. But the biggest part? Joy. Joy that he can go to a mainstream classroom. Joy that he is ready for this. Joy that he has so many people who love him.

So, yeah, I'm probably going to cry all over my friends tomorrow... but they will be happy tears.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Who am I and what have I done with me?

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a risk taker. I prefer my feet on the ground. I like things safe and predictable. I'm lazy and I don't do "hard." I don't put myself out there and I don't trust people easily. Oh, and you want to get together and talk about feelings and get all lovey-dovey? I don't do feelings... unless you are my therapist. Then, I do feelings but only because I'm paying you.

I'm not sure what the heck has happened to me but this has been the summer of risk taking. I finished my first novel, the first one I have finished in fifteen years, and sent it out to beta readers and an editor. Okay, yeah, she's a friend but she's a real, live editor and I am paying her real, live dead presidents to give me feedback. People. I do not do feedback for fear of rejection and people laughing at what I have written! I had enough of that growing up and I don't like it... but I've done it. (Granted, we're all adults and they won't laugh... but it's hard to remember that sometimes.)

I "networked" (the formal term- it's more likely that I made myself a pain in someone's behind) at church and with a local swim team. I went up to people and sold my skills, both as a catechist and as a swim teacher. The latter was a "cold e-mail" where I called a team about my daughter and ended up e-mailing them later that night, asking them to keep me in mind if a position was to open up. A position did and I interviewed for it on Friday before we left town. The result? I was offered a job coaching part of a (really, really big and well known) swim team. It's just a few hours now but the potential to move up is there. To work with this team, to perhaps coach some of their swimmers and learn under the coaches who send kids to the nationals and Olympic trials? I'd be stupid not to try!

We juuuuust got back from the Annual Trek Up North and took the kids to a kiddie amusement park. This year, three of the four are old enough to ride most of the rides and I encouraged them to try ones they may not like. George went down a water slide at the hotel. Joe went down the two story water slide at the park. Cami and I did the giant spinning swings. (My thoughts during the ride? "Trying new stuff is OVERRATED!" I don't like heights!)

So, big changes around here, both within the family and myself. Part of me doesn't know what is going on with me but part of me realizes that trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Plus, I've already experienced lots of hard things in the past five years, so sending out my book or "cold networking" with people is no-thing compared to, like, the NICU or all of 2013. As my therapist said, "If you're going to go down, you might as well go down epically!"

Here's to being EPIC!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Rain in Spain Falls No More (Quick Takes Friday)

1. Please note the completely random Doctor Who reference in the title. "Gallifrey Falls No More!"

2. In other words, Adam's home! I was awake reading last night when he came in around 11 pm. He unpacked to show me what he brought the children: fun coffee mugs and chocolate! I asked him to bring home candy they are familiar with but from Spain so they could taste the differences in candies made for different countries. They had chocolate for breakfast and milk in their new mugs and are completely happy to have Daddy home.

3. He didn't find anything with my last name on it, nor did he get to play tourist. They pulled 13+ hours days in Spain and he only got to go to the beach at his beach front hotel once. I honestly feel bad for him!

4. He also said that they put butter on all the seafood. Like, big giant pats of butter. Cole would be in butter-hog heaven.

5. I think Adam single-handily discouraged people from coming to America, although it wasn't intentional. Apparently, he was chatting with his Spanish co-workers and they were talking about where they go on holiday (vacation). They asked him what Americans do on their month-long holiday and were down-right shocked when he told them we don't get month long paid holidays.
"How many paid days do you get off?" they asked and he counted on his fingers, "about six."

"The government only gives you six paid days off?" they asked in shock.

"Well, it varies. Some employees of the government get a few more but most of us get back six major days off- New Years, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor Day- holidays like that."

And, of course, our family doesn't vacation or holiday in any sense of the word and, yes, I will be bitter about that. ;)

6. I've flown international or very long distances lots of time but never business class. Adam brought home all sorts of stuff from business class: travel bags filled with toothbrushes and tooth paste, face creams, and even a little bag of samples of French lotion. He always brings home the soaps and things from the hotel (my favorite hand cream is actually from a hotel chain and he hoards it for me when he stays in that chain) and we use them in "I ran out of soap!" emergencies or for guests.

7. You know who else is happy to have Adam home? THE DOG. I am happy Adam is home to take care of Sir EscapesAlot. Higgins has been full of something this week and he needs a nice, long, long, LONG walk!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Rain in Spain: Stuff I Get Done

When the husband is away, the wife... well, I'm not playing, I'm working! I apparently have some bee in my bonnet and I suddenly must do ALL THE THINGS that we've been putting off. Since Adam has been gone, I have:

trimmed and weeded the front bushes

swept the garage

trimmed back the mint plants that were going to over take the deck

cleaned off said deck

painted the playset with outdoor paint

helped the kids wash out the trash and recycling cans. Memo to self: make sure all the dust from the vacuum is in a bag, double sealed, because ew.

watered the garden

moved the compost bin. And when I say "we" I mean "my mom, the original hippie." I helped. Joseph manned the hose.

mopped the kitchen

deep cleaned Camille's room

bought school supplies

had yummy lunches with my mom

had yummy ice cream and wine, but not at the same time, with my mom

got the dog a new collar since he shrunk out of his old one

got the kids some winter/school clothes

And there's still more to do! I need to find George some size six shorts because he refuses to stop growing. Camille says she is "not that into Disney Princesses" anymore and would like some new sheets. I can respect that, so sheet-shopping we will go. If I can, I may borrow a power washer from a friend and really get at the cob webs that are everywhere in the house. Oh, and I need to sell off some 31 stuff.... anyone need a bag?

I'm going to be exhausted when Adam gets home!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Rain in Spain: Day Five

The first two days of Adam's business trip were okay. My in-laws took the older two for the weekend and the little boys and I were just hanging out, having fun. My mom arrived on day three (Monday) and, oh holy heck, thank goodness for Grams!

Mom arrived in time for dinner Monday night and we watched The Lightening Thief. She liked it but agreed that it is nothing like the book and is reason number three why Chris Columbus should not be near a children's book to movie adaption. (Reasons one and two? The Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.) It was another late night for all of us.

On Tuesday, George was a grouch. This kid would have reduced Oscar the Grouch to tears. He would not cooperate at speech. He fought with kids at the pool because, "He splashed [friend]."

"[Friend] hasn't been to the pool in weeks!"


"George, how long do you plan to hold a grudge?" asked Grams.

"I hold grudge for twenty years!"

Okay then.

We thought George and Cole would crash and burn early that night. When we got home, Mom took the younger two up for a bath and the older two cleaned out the trash cans for me. I got dinner made. I swear, that was the fastest and easiest evening chores had EVER gotten done!

Mom took the older two kids to TKD and I tried to get the younger boys to bed. The word here is tried. For a four and five year old who had been up until ten for three nights, they sure didn't act tired. They flopped around. They whined. They complained. They used the potty three times in 45 minutes. Cole finally fell asleep at 8:30... and George began screaming.

When he was toddler, he was the worst child in the world to get to sleep*. We had to walk him in the stroller (screaming), drive him in the car (screaming)... you get the idea. Now, we can cuddle him in our bed and he sleeps until the morning. (We move him to his own bed.) But last night? Oh no. If you had walked by our house you would have thought we were beating him with a cattle prod, pulling out his teeth AND beheading his beloved stuffed peguin. We were doing nothing like that, of course; we were simply trying to get him to sleep. But no! He needed to pee, he needed a snack, he hated me, he hated Grams... and then he locked himself in the bathroom.

About that time, Mom took over and I went downstairs to eat the ice cream she brought home. It was either that or pull out my toenails with a butter knife. That would have been more pleasurable! Joseph and Camille weren't asleep either, due to the screaming, so I banished them to their rooms because whining, "He's too loud and I can't sleep!" were so, so helpful. Or not.

Around ten thirty (yes, 10:30 pm... and all this fun had been going on since 7:30!) everything was quiet. I went up to his room... and found Mom sitting on the floor, reading on her tablet and George at the foot of his bed, glaring at his door. Mom gave me a thumbs down and George grouched at me. By now, he was in love with me again and wanted to cuddle with me in my bed. I wanted to go to sleep (or drink) so I said yes.

He was asleep within fifteen minutes.

Mom and I weren't sure what got into this kid. His head was practically spinning and I was ready to break out the Holy Water. I vowed to get to Whole Foods and get some melatonin for him for the next night, come hell or high water or screaming five year olds.

Yet today he was oddly... pleasant. He behaved at Joe's appointment, ate a decent lunch at Panera, put up with a trip to Pottery Barn Kids and went to the splash pad... where he swam, by himself, without a life jacket or noodle!

Let's say this again: My kid, with anxiety and a motor planning disorder who would only enter the pool last year with a noodle and life jacket, SWAM BY HIMSELF!!!!! I MUST ABUSE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!

I've been working with him on and off this summer. He had just begun swimming a little on his own, without a flotation device. He would got a few feet and then panic and put his feet down. I told Adam that if he would stop freaking out and would put his chin down, he would be able to swim the short way of our pool.

At the splash pad, Cole was "alligator swimming" around the shallow end, lifting his arms to paddle a few feet before stopping. He was also jumping in alone! Not to be outdone, George took off his life jacket and tried to "alligator swim." Mom helped him kick properly and get his bottom up in the air. And he took off!

I mean, OFF!!!! We were there two hours and by the end of the afternoon, he had mastered the lilly pads (you walk across floating "pads" holding onto ropes above your head) and was swimming all over the pool. He would push off the bottom of the pool and paddle around. He had the biggest smile on his face and was so confident and happy!

Mom and I wondered if he needed to have a snit fit last night to have the huge developmental leap today. Being able to swim independently is a huge motor mild stone and one he has been working at all summer.It makes sense; babies often have trouble sleeping before a developmental leap. That said, we could have done without the three hours of screaming, thanks.

To celebrate (and because we wanted too!) we made s'more tonight. We scarfed half a bag of marshmallows and two bars of chocolate. Hey, there are six of us!

Thanks to that huge developmental leap, a big dinner, two hours swimming and four late nights (and, yeah, melatonin), George was asleep by eight-thirty. The older two went to bed at nine and Cole was out by eight. It's not even ten pm now and Mom and I are both in bed, reading or writing, and exhausted! Tomorrow brings another busy day and, hopefully, peace and quiet!

*Thank you, CAS. Everything I've read said that kids with CAS are hard to get to sleep and, basically, the tips to help them sleep amount to "good luck with that."