Monday, August 31, 2009

Homeschooling thoughts

From time to time I reflect on our decision to homeschool. The journey started many years ago when Chet was in 6th grade. Things were going so badly that the school while recognizing that they could not meet his needs, offered to provide us with curriculum including teachers editions when we tentatively broached the concept of homeschooling.

I come from a family of public school educators and sort of grew up thinking homeschooling was something done by fundamentalists of various religious groups. A concept that was further substantiated when we first started homeschooling. I tried to join a homeschool group that a coworker told me his sister ran in a nearby town. When I called her and it was revealed that we were a lesbian couple and most definately not Christian we were politely informed we would "not feel comfortable in their group." LOL

With Chet we sort of muddled along, feeling our way, offering him as much academic stimulation as his thirsty scientifically driven mind could handle, while simultaneously trying to practice the social situations where he was years and years behind peers. We hooked up with a wildlife sanctuary and they allowed him to chart bird populations and nesting habits and he presented his data at a gathering where everyone else was an adult. It all went surprisingly well but homeschooling was sort of a one shot deal to me. In my mind, Chet had unique issues which the existing school system could not address. I was tired of beating my head against the wall at myriad school meetings. IEPS galore were not getting him an education and I truly think there were not enough years left in his educational experiences for us to get the matter addressed.

Then along came Rob. He was all ready in public school and DSS wasn't really interested in homeschooling. When we asked about it in the most general of senses (thinking it would give more bonding time with him) they informed us that DSS "discouraged" homeschooling as it blurred the lines of parent and teacher and could make relationships more difficult to develop. We could see the rationale to that. Kindergarten in our city is only 1/2 day anyway so we went the public school route. He did all right for kindergarten and first grade but by grade 2 his PTSD in social settings was more noticable. Primarily I think this was because expectations rachet up very quickly once past the very earliest of grades. By grade 3 his teacher asked me at a parent meeting if we had ever "thought" of homeschooling him. I think she suggested this in part because we developed a week long study unit for Rob when we were in IL adopting KC. We didn't want him to have tons of make up work when we returned home so we created a unit that encompassed all his core subjects but focussed on the Chicago area and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

His teacher said that Rob was so quiet that he flew under the radar and she felt there were educational deficits which would be essentially overlooked in the increasingly crowded classrooms. The expectations for testing would increase and this had the potential for increasing his anxieties. So we began homeschooling Rob and found that indeed, some educational deficits all ready existed. He knew parts of things, just enough to answer a question partially and receive credit for participation, but didn't know things at a deeper level. For instance, if asked about an experiment "What happened to the water in our experiment?" He might volunteer something like "Some of the water disappeared." A teacher might typically then say to the class "and why did that happen?" not realizing that Rob hadn't a clue but knew that by offering that partial answer there would be an assumption made that he had more knowledge than he did. Rob didn't really mind leaving public school. The only areas he enjoyed were gym and recess!

Having been to the well of public education twice I am unlikely to return with our two youngest children. KC is all ready an avid learner. He loves math science art and reading. His thirst for knowledge is literally constant. Yesterday he amused himself on the dry erase board by figuring out that 6 and 7 equals 13. Really.

A Sunday paper in a large city not far from us ran an article on the accelerated demands on kindergarteners. They are now expected to do much more worksheet type work, to sit for longer periods and to have more testing readiness. There is some concern that these expectations, brought about by the No Child Left Behind initiative may be counter productive for a significant number of children. Since 5 year olds learn by play and manipulatives that seems like an understatement. An elementary school principal in a city where my father in law lives was quoted as having concerns for his own 5 year old entering kindergarten this year. What that says about the state of our educational system is even more telling than my own experiences.

I fall somewhere between unschooling and school at home. For instance my eldest literally needed the structure to mimic public school. Routines are his touch stone and to float with the whim of the day was terrifying and counterproductive.

With Rob, some structure and routine is needed because truthfully learning isn't his primary interest in life. While he doesn't really hate it, he also would not go out of his way to do anything educational either. He would read voraciously but fail to share with us when he didn't understand something so having a system for checking in and sharing is as important as the library visits that are a weekly event for us.

With KC I can see that I don't need even that level of structure. He just does it. The tools are there and he can't wait to get his hands and mind on them. He has music class weekly and will have dance classes and his church school class so he has lots of time with peers. Till the weather becomes truly horrid, we are always at the park every night. He has become a truly friendly child who has no qualms about going up and introducing himself to anyone he wants to play with.

Lissa is too young to know what her homeschool journey will be like. At 2 1/2 she is just becoming interested in a variety of art mediums and showing an increasing ability for more imaginative play. I suspect that she will become enthused by her brother and that though her learning style may be different, her enjoyment of learning will be as strong as KC's.

I suspect that if someone judged homeschooling if they only met Chet they would decide that only mal adjusted folks who didn't know manners and social cues were the end result. I suspect that if they judged the experience by Robbie they might conclude that clearly enough opportunities for socialization had not been available for the child. Both would be inaccurate as personalities are more complex than that. Disabilities are more complex than that. And if they met KC after they met either of his big brothers, it would totally debunk their theories. But it reinforces mine. We are all the sum of many parts, many experiences and we all have differing strengths and abilities.

Friday, August 28, 2009

KC enrolls in dance lessons

My art loving youngest son has officially begun a new journey. Dance classes. He dances at our house all the time. If he is not drawing or singing, he is dancing.

Understand that I come from a family of dancers. I danced from the time I was 5 myself. I had no choice. I was pretty good but not passionate about it like my mom and my aunt. They had visions for a future for me with dance as the focus. I didn't. I am forever grateful to the dance experience. I just didn't envison dance as my life. It gave me great physical flexibility and the ability to walk on my ankles without injury, when I trip. All those years of dancing did NOT make me less of a klutz!

My mom noticed that KC all ready has figured out the tap step shuffle ball change and does it correctly. I didn't teach him. Truthfully no one did. I didn't teach him the hip hop gyrations and early B boy spins he does in the kitchen either. It is just how KC is.

So I figured it was time to enroll in dance classes. Get some basics down, see where he wants to go with this and how far. I saw an ad for a school not far from our house and we went over to the open house after I got out of work. The actual dance space is lovely. Nice wood floor, great barre area, beautiful full length mirrors. (which all 3 of my children made monkey faces in while I talked with the dance teacher!) Then KC amused himself dancing all around the room.

I was actually pleased with a number of things about the school. It didn't combine gymnastics and dance classes. In my mind they have the ability to complement one another but they are separate disciplines and should not comingle in classes. No offense, but I don't think gymnastic teachers are great dance teachers and vice versa. What can I say, I am old school. And obviously a lot more steeped in dance culture still than I realized. LOL I liked the floor and practice space. And I liked the fact that 5 year old students can ONLY study ballet and tap. No jazz, no hip hop. Many schools in an effort to draw young students don't do that. Ballet (and this was NOT my favorite form of dance to study) is fundamental to good all around dancing.) But more schools seem to turn out little kids who look like future music video dancers (which in some cases is almost like saying porn stars) so the fact that KC could only study this combo is something unusual in our area. The teacher recommends only Capezio shoes. I always danced in Capezios. They used to be the best; don't know if they still are, but it was that old familiar feeling. However, I was brought up short by the fact that the dance teacher has got to be a 3X. No offense to the large beautiful women of the world but it is hard to picture this woman teaching dance! Yup, still steeped in dance culture. There is HUGE body image stuff associated with the dance world. Clearly I got a larger dose of it than I realized. But she seems to know her stuff and if she is large, well hey, my kid is 5 we are not talking about an affiliation with the Big City Ballet! Or a scholarship to Alvin Ailey or something.

KC was cool with tap. But when he heard ballet he literally stopped short. I explained it is a combo class-- 1/2 ballet time 1/2 tap time. He said that didn't sound very good. I asked why. He said he was NOT going to wear a tutu! LOL I said I didn't think he had to worry about that but that he could ask the teacher himself if he didn't believe me. He marched right up and asked her and was very happy to learn that no tutus were in his future. The teacher commented on how self assured he is. I said we we were also homeschoolers and she said we were sure taking care of the great socialization issue! That was twice this week I got kudos on my kids. Gotta remember that for the next time things spiral into a pit!

Anyway, once KC was sure he wasn't wearing the dreaded tutu he couldn't wait to sign up. So at the end of September a new star will be born in our New England city. KC will hit the stage!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Homeschooling year begins

We were going to officially start grade 8 for Rob last week. But finally getting hot humid summer weather for a bit made us put that off till this week. After our unusually wet and chilly summer the sudden onslaught of heat left us all sort of brain dead.

We started this Monday though. I teach math and english. I thought I would make our first English unit "easy." This year there is a heavy focus on (cue scary music) creative writing. To say that creative writing does not come naturally to my son is the greatest understatement in the history of my blog.

However he recently read a book given to him by his mentor at church. It is called My most excellent Year. It has some really good "coming of age" themes running through it but it is also a good launching pad for creative writing. The main characters write very entertaining diary entries as the chapters unfold. It also has a strong baseball connection. Rob lives and breathes baseball. In my happy little world I figured since he had read the book all ready, that i would read it too. (I had all ready started it) I would create some unit questions and some talking points for us to consider and essentially this would be a walk in the park. So here is our first English class.

Me: Rob, this first unit I thought we would use "My most excellent Year." It will give us some great examples of different writing styles and I know that it is a book you enjoyed..

Rob: (staring at me like I have 3 heads) But I all ready read it.

Me: I know that, and that is why I thought it would be fun to launch English with this. Now, can you tell me x y and z about the characters?"

Rob: (staring at me again remains silent for so long that I go pour myself a cup of tea.)

Me: Rob, did you hear the question?

Rob: Yup.

Me: Well do you have any thoughts on that?

Rob: I dunno

Me. Why is that?

Rob: Well I read it weeks ago!

ROFLMAO Oh my inspired little English student. So I had him re-read the first 50 pages and then answer my questions. On the plus side, I like the book too. Wait till we have to do Lord of the Flies or something icky though! Sigh.

KC will not officially start his Kindergarten homeschooling till after Labor Day. K and i thought it would be easiest to phase them in at different times. This way Rob gets used to his schedule and will in my happy educational utopia become the self motivated eighth grade student I envision him to be. In reality, KC typically schools some every day regardless. He is a strong emerging reader and loves to read, write and do math. But still, adding a formal class time for himself took a little thinking and preparing on our part. Wait till a few years from now when Lissa is in there too! LOL

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Screaming Sunday!

Well not the whole day, but significant portions thus far. And just for the record, it is KC screaming, not me! I am not a screamer by nature. Come from a family of non screamers, so it just isn't in me to scream. I am stern yes, and down right mean sometimes (at least that is what the kids say, but scream? Nope)

Normally KC's my easy going guy, but of late, he has been going through a bit of a rough patch. Suddenly if he is angry he is *very* angry. Not just yelling and screaming but pitching things about. Sigh. Two days ago he lost his art table for the night because when I asked him to do something he didn't want to do (shower!) he pitched it end over end across the living room.

This morning he has screamed and wailed off and on most of the time he has been awake. Not constantly. He was fine when we all went grocery shopping. But in between times, any time life didn't go exactly his way, he screamed. Or pitched something. And lunch was a cheese quesadilla which ,according to KC ,is the equivilent of eating poison from the dark side. Much screaming. Much histrionics. Finally he did eat a quarter of it. Or else hid it really really well as I can't find it anywhere! LOL

One of the things I find different about parenting children who are mine through adoption is that I am always second guessing myself about what is "normal" and what might need intervention or assistance. Both of my two youngest were very slow to talk and I jumped right on the early intervention bandwagon. I don't in retrospect think that they spoke any quicker or more clearly as a result of EI. They talked when they were ready. In KC's case, he was just happy to observe the world. In Lissa's, music class unlocked speech for her in a way EI never did.

It is like that with emotional stuff too. Rob is quiet and entering the teen years. I spend time wondering if he is quiet and moody because he is a teen or because he has some festering issue that I should be ferretting out.

Chet's aspergers makes for the need to explain everything and to try and reduce emotions to something quantifiable that he can wrap his mind around.

Lissa is very high energy and impulsive, very prone to physical responses. Most times I think it is that she is 2. Well 2 and has 3 brothers! Sometimes I wonder if it is behavior that is in some way tied to the regular substance use by her birth mom.

And with KC I have the same worries and wonders. Most likely, he has just been challenging himself in so many areas to be "a big boy" that periodically he melts down over inconsequentials. But he too, has a history in his bio family that could impact abilities and behaviors. So I worry occasionally, and wonder. But for now, I am going to go make bread. Very therapeutic for the parent!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home Repair Day

Our back door has a narrow walkway so it is pretty tough to find an angle that shows our new storm door to its best advantage. Last winter during the big ice storm, our old door nearly got ripped off the hinges. Never wanting to rush into anything, we replaced it today. LOL Actually it is more about getting the perfect convergance of money, time and good weather which luckily happened today. The new door is really nice. It closes. And latches without all the unusual drama that happened after the old one was damaged. You can even lock it with a key from the outside, though why anyone would consider a storm door lock secure I don't know. For security, I want my deadbolt locking system thank you!

It only took about 4 hours to get the old door off and the new door on. When we put on the first storm door many years ago we didn't have power tools yet and it was an all day job. Power tools rock! I was even allowed to use the drill twice. Kirsty kind of micromanages me with power tools. I have what might be called "Tim Allen Syndrome." (all things can be solved with MORE POWER. I am showing my age here with the dated TV reference) Also I don't read instructions when I build things. Ever. I would rather figure it out as i go along. Yes, I will agree this sometimes means that i build it over. And over. Till it is right. But I don't sit around for 15 minutes staring at specs and saying "I just don't get it" and flipping the Z bar around in the air so much that i look like I am twirling a baton. LOL

In reality her way is undeniably better. The end result is awesome.

Thunderstorms and a clarification

OK, first a clarification. When I started the yesterdays post with the term "crazy liar" I wrote poorly. Sometimes my need for speed writing overwhelms using the english language more accurately and correctly. The sentence makes it sound like my son is crazy when I re-read it today. (as you may have surmised I didn't have time for proof reading last night and since I can't figure out how to edit a draft I don't use that feature and I just hit the publish button.) At any rate, to be clear, my son is not crazy. He exhibits what is commonly referred to as "crazy lying."

Last night we also had a bunch of thunderstorms. I am not surprised. The air quality has been poor lately. Heavy and hard to breathe. This is especially bad for K who has some asthma issues and I worry also for the younger kids who have histories of asthma in their bio families.
The storms didn't really clear the air but they did knock the temps down a bit.

Lissa doesn't like thunder. She was very cute though in her crib. She was crying and I ran up to comfort her. She said "Ooma me no like booms, me sleep with you." This is the most words she had strung together ever, so while I was wanting to comfort her I was also thrilled at the level of communication and articulation. I cuddled her and the storms rumbled off. It was too early for me to go to bed (7 pm.) so I told her that if she was still feeling like she wanted to sleep with us when I went up to bed that I would bring her in. She nodded and went happily back into her crib. And was also sound asleelp when I went up to bed at 10. Yahoo. There is room for her in the bed and she does sometimes join me, but in general she likes her own space when she sleeps.

While I have had lots of energy with the onset of the heat, I clearly must not have been hydrating myself adequately. I woke up in the night with a huge leg cramp. I used to get them all the time when I danced. I couldn't massage it out so I jumped out of bed thinking I could hobble around and loosen it. Bad plan. The right leg hurt so much that I hadn't noticed that I also had a big knot in the left leg and a cramp there as well. I literally dropped like a stone on the floor. In a bizarre way this was very amusing to me as the coolness of the floor felt good on the leg cramps and none of my kids or my wife stirred during this. Once I got them worked out, I fell back into bed (not literally folks!) and went right back to sleep.

I googled leg cramps this a.m. and the primary cause is dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. The latter doesn't happen to me often and I totally loathe drinks like gatorade so I am going to go on the assumption I need to drink more water. I have a hard time with water. My one unhealthy love is diet coke. Actually it is the bite of diet soda and the carbonation that I adore. This is not to say I do not drink water. I drink 3 to 4 glasses daily. But I don't love our city water. When I used to live in the country and have a well, now THAT was water! I can't really justify bottled water, especially since two big companies use regular city water in their bottles anyway, it doesn't taste any better to me. And I drink tea too, so I figured I was good. But it has been very hot and my bedroom is on the second floor and had no a/c or fan (I could have a fan but the noise of it makes it hard for me to sleep). So my plan for today is to install a new back storm door. . . oh yeah, and drink lots more water! :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Earning Trust

My crazy liar is at it again. Last night I let him stay up late to watch the football game. We are all about football in our house, even the very littles! LOL But Rob most especially so. Staying up late is a pretty big gift in our house also because he has a hard time functioning with less sleep. He just as my grandmother used to say, "can't think his way out of a paper bag with both ends open and a pair of scissors" when he is tired. So I always plan for the next day to be super low key if he is up late.

I was alternately watching Project Runway and the football game. (I know, weird, but it is still preseason guys!!) I realized I could hear this weird unidentifiable noise. I went to our hall and peeked into the living room. There I watched Rob slowly tip his head back to the ceiling, then haul off and spit onto the living room floor. Actually make that living room rug. Can we all have a unison "ewwwwww" here! LOL OK I am not sure if I was really just mesmerized by the grossness or if I was being diligent in making sure my eyes were not deceiving me, but I watched him do this 3 more times. At which point I went into the living room and told him he could go to bed now and why. That would be when he told me he wasn't spitting, he was blowing on a fly. Uh, huh. Swamp land in Lousiana for sale!!! I don't know what all he could have come up with to explain the tell tale wet spot on the rug, but I didn't give him time to create.

This morning I asked him to write 10 pairs of adjectives for the word "spit." That was really just his English brush up for the day. We have been struggling with getting him to use sufficient meaningful adjectives. I figured use what he was apparently interested in. I must say the pairings were well thought out and effective in their descriptive abilities. Ugh. (laughing though)

Then I asked him to write me three paragraphs about honesty and responsibilty. He wrote this while I was at work and I read it after supper tonight. It was telling. It is clear that he feels the need to be honest to his siblings and that he feels responsibility to them. But there is nothing there that would indicate those feelings translate to Kirsty or I.

This is undeniably sad. It is also what I expected he felt. My guess is that he is perpetually waiting for us to show him that we can not be trusted. That we will fail him somehow in some way that I don't even know about. Because the first five years of his life, that is what the adults in his life did. Over and over. And at some deep level all adults are the same to him.

What he doesn't know is that I will keep working every day to show him that I may not always be the parent he wants. But I am the parent he can trust. Always. That I follow through on my promises. That I love him unconditionally. Even when I have to steam clean my rug.

Botox and Migraine relief?

I have pretty consistant migraines. Not as many as some people but between 2 and 3 monthly. They can last anwhere from 1 to 3 days. I have had them since I was 19. However I have never really done anything about them. I don't discuss it on the rare occasions when I visit my family Dr. I have zero interest in taking things like Imitrix. The drug and others like it have some pretty strong warnings about heart stuff. This was enough to make me "just say no" because heart disease runs on both sides of my family. I am not going to have a heart attack just so my head stops feeling like I should chop it off.

So for the most part, I have learned to live with this. I wear really dark sunglasses a lot. And I think the kids can tell when I sort of move more gingerly. I am a sort of high speed person so I think that there is a cautiousness in how I move when my head hurts that they pick up on. KC in particular seems able to tell without even asking me which is sort of wild.

I have done the non medical things that are supposed to help with mixed results. Getting rid of caffiene for a few years did nothing. Getting rid of dairy helped slightly but not enough to make me permanently sever my love affair with a dish of ice cream. Niacin didn't help at all. I am apparently unable to learn how to meditate (laughing). I have tried. I either fall asleep or start making "to do " lists in my mind.

But yesterday a resident where I work came in and was talking about the fantastic results she had for her migraines with botox injections. I have since been researching this on the net and it looks intriguing, though it of course doesn't work for everyone. And it is i think probably expensive. And the idea of botox creeps me out a bit. Hmmmm.. . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The wheel turns

I have railed against the changing of the seasons this year. I feel cheated because we didn't get real summer weather till about a week ago. 2 weeks ago it was only 50 degrees in the morning when I got up at 5:45. Now I'll grant you that's not frigid, but it isn't hot either. And I LOVE hot! I get energized in hot. Weird but true.

But this week has been making me feel like it was really summer after all. We have played with water balloons in the yard, done "fishing" in our "pond." Washed the car so we could squirt each other with the hoses. Played with water shooters. It has been fun. Saturday and/or Sunday weather permitting I will take them all to the beach. But there is a hurricane coming up the coast and it may rain this weekend so all of that is subject to weather.

I am glad to have at least had this bit of summer. The wheel of the year is turning, try though I might to pretend otherwise. It is a lot darker at 5:30 or 5:45 when I get up in the morning these days, and night is enfolding us more quickly. Twice I have heard geese honking as the premigratory flocks begin to gather on the pond down the street from us. The sumac is red. The flowers that grace our kitchen altar are different now too. We pick wildflowers at the park almost every time we go. The bouquets mark the progress of the seasons. Violets and mallow in the early spring, queen anne's lace and asters for high summer. Then suddenly the bouquets become studded with the bright yellow of goldenrod and I have yet another indication that summer is passing and fall is around the corner.

It is hard to be ready. But I am trying to embrace it. I really think it is important to find beauty in all the seasons, because the earth we live on is such a gift.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Will wii or won't wii?

OK here is another factoid about me that many folks probably don't know. I don't really like video games. Maybe that is because um pong was popular when i was in high school. and Atari when i was in my late teens, early 20's. I actually get motion sick from some of the modern video games. They move so fast and the horizon line changes so quickly I get queasy.

But my personal dislikes aside, video games have a propensity for turning my Rob into a zombie. The only time it doesn't is if he is playing with his younger brother. Then i think the forced breaks and discussions (arguments??) over whose turn is next and such prevent him from totally zoning out. But the zone out thing scares me. He literally will sorta glaze over and be very uncommunicative if playing them on his own for more than 10 or 15 minutes. I read something somewhere that some people's brains are impacted by the video games more than others and i wonder if that is the case for him. So there is that concern.

There is also the fact that deep down I think these games stifle creativity and spontaneous play that I associate way more with childhood. Building forts, making artistic messes or science experiments in the kitchen, outdoor explorations. That kind of thing. I find the presence of video games can erode all children's interest in those other things.

OK so there are all the cons. On the plus side, the wii system does allow for more exercise than one's thumb. And it would be something to do to burn energy maybe in the deep dark days of winter when they can only play outside for 40 minutes or so a day. I do have a problem with that as my kids are all high energy. 3 of the 4 seasons we typically have 60 to 90 minutes of outdoor play after supper nightly. In winter we can't and my house rings with the cacophony that results.

And so I ponder. Do I shock em at Yule with a wii system? And if I do, how do I find a game that will interest both a 5 1/2 year old and my 13 year old? And how many of the stupid different kind of controllers will I need? Sigh. I like buying bendaroos and blendy pens. I know how those work! This is confusing. And I really really don't know if it will be a good thing or something that I will grow to regret.

On a slightly related note, with the exception of deciding whether to put one of these technological marvels on layaway, I have 90 per cent of the actual Yule gifts bought for the kids and K. I am about 1/2 done for Fiona and have not done stocking stuffers for anyone yet. But I am way ahead of where I have been the last 2 years!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Skunks and Drumming

OK, now that i have shed the bad mojo of the weekend I have to share two really cool things that happened. The first was early Saturday morning. I was out with the kids running errands before mom arrived. We went to the post office so I could mail a gift to Fiona for her new room at the RTC she has moved to. Our post office has these weird deep window wells on the side of the building that faces the parking lot. They are seriously deep, a whole floor level down I would think and are fenced off with wrought iron grilles. For some reason, my children always have to run over and look down into them. Don't know why. They always run over and check the wells while I unbuckle Elisabeth. This Saturday, as I have my head in the van undoing her straps, I hear KC's voice " Ooma, come look at the SKUNK!" OMG I have never unbuckled that child so quickly! I called for them to take a step back quietly and then we all approached slowly and quietly. Said skunk was a baby. Somehow it must have fallen in and it couldn't get out. Oh gosh was it ever cute. We were pretty dang cautious though! Went in the post office to do our mailing and the boys couldn't wait to tell the postal clerk what was outside. They were still fighting over who was going to get "skunk releasing" duty.

Today our church had a drumming circle. It was a kid friendly event. I was in charge of making percussion instruments with any kids who came early. That meant my 3 and 3 other kids made drums out of pails and oatmeal containers and shakers out of plastic easter eggs. It was a blast.

The drummer brought LOTS of drums though and the funny thing was that KC was able to snag a "real" drum for us. He was cool with making one but real instruments call to that kid like chocolate calls to my wife! He chose an African drum, tall with this skinny base and wide head. The fellow who led the drumming circle explained the first drumming and led off. The group followed. So kid KC, in perfect synchronicity. It was so amazing to watch.

Then it was Lissa's turn to rock my world. The third drumming sequence was based on a rhythm used in the middle east for women to dance to. They dance cathartic dances when faced with crisis in their lives and dance until they find release. OK so the drumming starts. KC by now is lying quietly just listening to the beat. He invested so much of himself in the first one he was exhausted I think. It was also amazingly hot and we aren't used to heat much this summer. But part way through that drumming sequence, Lissa got up and just started twirling to it in place. Very carefully, very intentionally. Not just the wild, 2 year old fling your body around that is so much more typical of her. It was amazing to me.

Rob said he enjoyed being there and enjoyed listening but didn't want to drum. That was the only thing I felt badly about. Not that he didn't want to do it. I am pretty sure he did. But he often holds himself back because he is so afraid of failing or not doing well enough. But at least he wanted to be there and at the end of the circle when we all held hands and closed, his strong young man's hand was holding his little brothers hand and one of his sisters hands. I love that.

Weary Weekend

My mom came for a visit this weekend, thus the heading for this entry. She is undecided about where she wants to live. I get that, and I totally support her living wherever she WANTS to live. I am not sure she gets that. Sometimes I think I am speaking some foreign language to her.

What I don't get is her negativity. It just totally exhausts me. I know I don't have house beautiful. But I do have 4 children and a wife whom I adore. I have kids who play imaginatively for vast periods of time with very low cost props. We have fun together. We make memories together. And all my mother sees is the fact that the room where we package piece work is a mess. Duh? It is filled with something like 68 boxes of combs. If any of you buy Scunci comb packs or Conair comb packs in your local big box store, we may have packed them for you! LOL It isn't neat work, it isn't even high paying work. But it pays enough to help us pay our bills and allow us a very flexible schedule, playing with our kids as we wish. It is a trade off I am willing to take and grateful to have.

So Mom didn't notice that KC breezed through the first 37 pages of the Hooked on Phonics kit we borrowed from the library. (I am thinking I am really glad i didn't invest in buying this!!!) She barely noticed all 3 younger kids spend 30 minutes "fishing" in our driveway with a kiddie pool and 3 pretend fishing poles and a bunch of plastic fish.

She didn't notice the joy my kids showed at her arrival or the spic and span and very welcoming bedroom awaiting her.

She noticed my side yard which she deemed in need of mowing. (we are not mowing because there is poison ivy there and we are hand weeding and planting gardens). And she noticed our work room and deemed it "a shame." A shame????

I had a migraine this afternoon and I think it was all the stress I was holding in. But she has returned home to her state. Breathe in. Breathe out. Smile.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Moment of Honesty

Blog readers will know that Rob has some issues surrounding honesty. He exhibits what is often called "crazy lying". Lying in the face of all evidence (and even eye witness accounts) prove otherwise. So I truly, honestly and completely treasure each time he tells the truth. Because it tells me that at that moment in time, he feels safe. Because I think the lack of "safe" feeling is at the root of crazy lying for him. And much of the time, although he is happy and feeling a part of the family, he is waiting for us to prove to him that we are just like all the other bad adult experiences in his life. We have been a family for 7 years, and only recently, every once in a while do I see him show the courage and trust to tell the truth.

Last night he asked to ride his bike around the block. Sure, no problem. He got his helmet and bike and set off. And time went by. He should not have been gone all that long, but the minutes ticked by. I wondered mentally if he saw a friend and got yakking, forgetting the time. I began to envision darker things. Falling and seriously hurting himself, and worse. I can be, in moments like that, what we call an "extreme thinker" conjuring up all manner of possible problems. And I think I do that a lot with Rob because he also tends to freeze in emergency situations and I worry that he would not seek out help should he need it.

But just as I was ready to take the 2 youngest and start scouting, he came home. And immediately, came to find me and told me that his bike chain had broken and that was what took extra time. This was so huge. He sought me out on his own to tell me. There have been times when something similar happened and he just put the bike in the shed, pretending nothing was wrong with it. Then he would sit down at the table and pretend that he had been home for a while all ready and had been reading.

And he told me what appears to be the truth. (understand that I am fully cognizant that there may be a whole lotta info on how the chain broke that wasn't shared--I simply do not care!) So this morning we'll drop the bike off to get the chain fixed and even though it will cost some dollars, i am still so very happy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kids Styles

I was reading a blog where a mom was asked by her daughter if she could get her nose pierced. Daughter is 14 and has behavior issues. Mom is clearly grossed out at the request. I tried to write something supportive and thoughtful in response to her post. But it got me thinking as the day went on.

One of my clearest memories of feeling angry and betrayed as a kid happened when I was much younger than 14. I was about 11. I was a child back in the day when you went to a shoe store and someone actually measured your feet, studied them and decided what would be best for the health of your feet. Sadly for me, this led to a long affair with oxford tie shoes. I had blood red ones. I had brown ones. I had black ones. I had black and white ones and black and tan ones. But they were essentially the same shoe. Assured by the salesman that these would cure some alleged problem with a foot turning in, my mother dutifully bought these infernally ugly shoes for me year after year.

And the problem is, I was born with a love of shoes that rivals that of the (in)famous Imelda Marcos. I adore shoes. Not the ugly things I had to wear. REAL shoes. Shoes with heels. Shoes with straps. Loafers with tassles were the first love. Everyone had them. I begged for them. Money was very tight when I was young. My dad was a teacher. He actually made more in the summer as an electrician sometimes than he did during the school year. Mom explained that my feet needed oxfords to be "healthy" and that they could not afford to also buy a pair of "dressy" shoes.

I thought it over and offered to save all my birthday money and all my Christmas money for a pair of the beloved loafers. Would she then let me buy them? She said yes. I did exactly what I said. And a year later with money in my sweaty hand we went to the shoe store. And the shoe salesman told my mother he could not in good conscience sell her a pair of shoes for me that would damage my feet. (these were feet that were all ready jammed into pointe shoes folks!!) I cried. I begged my mom to let me buy the shoes. I promised I would only wear them 3 days a week, twice to school and once to church on Sunday. Mom was swayed by the salesman. We left empty handed. When I was an adult his shoe store went out of business. I cheered! (well not exactly, but I was pretty happy about it)

Anyway what happened was that since my honest effort and proposition came to naught, I smuggled an old pair of my mothers loafers which were 1/2 a size too small into my school locker and wore them every single day at school. My feet incidently were fine. I have no foot problem. But I think the experience taught me a lot as a parent.

First of all, if I negotiate something with my kids, I follow through. Even if I don't like it, I try to allow them opportunities to express themselves the way they want to. With my eldest this has resulted in a man who occasionally has worn nail polish on fingers and/or toes, earrings and cartilige piercings, unusual clothing such as guitar straps turned into belts and carabiners strung together into the same, unusual hair colors and henna tattoos. Oh and a red sequinned baseball cap one year was a fashion statement too!

I confess to some steering in some areas. I have said that cartilige piercings could only happen in the summer when he was less likely to be exposed to infection. Hygiene is an issue for him. I didn't outright say no to a tattoo but postponed until he eventually just moved onto something else. I have nothing against ink, but know that with his autism he is unlikely to be able to handle the sensation caused by getting the tattoo.

Do I love the way he looks? Often not. There are also times where I have said that certain dress codes apply. When we went to a recent memorial service there were no carabiners around his waist. LOL But to church on Sunday, he can dress how he feels expresses himself provided that he will not injure himself or others. This means I can draw a line if I suspect a danger. For instance, a necklace made of heavy chains that might knock out someones teeth would be a no go!

I don't know how the others will express themselves as they get older. My next eldest is so into sports that it is more about having enough team jerseys to wear than a lot of alternative fashion at this point. I suspect KC will be into the unusual and funky. don't know why, just a feeling.
And Lissa? Truly I don't know. The diva princess is my only daughter and I don't have a lot of experience outside of my own fashion ideas with girls.

I guess my only other caveats that I have not budged on and will not is that my boys can't look "gangsta". I won't let them walk down the street looking to others like they are thugs because they aren't, first of all, and secondly I don't want misconceptions to threaten my children's safety. So we have had conversations about those perceptions and how they can impact our lives.

And I won't let my diva princess dress in a sexually provocative manner because she will, like my boys, be taught to respect her body and to expect this from others. Will I always like what she wears? Probably not. But with those caveats, style is up to her. She all ready has some pretty definate ideas of what constitutes 'pretty' so I know she will weigh in! But by and large I don't think it is really important that my kids dress for me. They need to dress for themselves so that they like the self that they share with the rest of the world. My job is to nurture their spirits so that they have the confidence to do that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tale of a tooth

KC had a loose tooth. It was his second loose tooth and he had been wiggling it industriously over the past several weeks. By yesterday it was very loose and when he bit into his toasted bagel it sort of tilted precariously over to the side. I suggested pulling it out. Nope I couldn't pull it out. Nope, he couldn't pull it out. I said OK but by Sunday night, if it was still there one of us would have to pull it out. It looked loose enough that it might not really be safe to sleep with it in his mouth one more night. I asked him if that was a good bargain. Mouth tightly clamped shut he nodded his head. I asked him to shake my hand because that is after all the official seal to a bargain. Mouth still tightly clamped shut, he industriously shook my hand . . . and then took his hand and carefully spit his loose tooth into it! "Ta da! I sucked it out!" he announced triumphantly. The tooth fairy was very relieved!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday Shopping

I hate shopping at the best of times. Today we tried yet again to purchase a pellet stove. This time, we were successful. I am alternately glad and unhappy about this! Glad because our living room doesn't get over 55 degrees without a pellet stove on a really cold winter cold snap. It isn't really uncommon in our area to have cold snaps where it is in the zero or below zero area for a week or so several times in a year. 55 degrees inside is really cold. Particularly when 2 family members are children under 6 and one family member has Reynauds. (me) I tend to look like someone out of Les Mis most of the winter anyway. Even with a pellet stove, our home's temp is about 65 or so. I am comfy a good many degrees above that. So I wear thermals, wool sox, fingerless gloves and usually walk around wrapped up in a polar fleece cloak that I used to snug around me in this weird way that helped also carry the kids when they were smaller. Sort of like an Artic version of a rebozo. They are past rebozos now. I am not sure I am ever going to be warm enough in winter to be past the cloak. Unless of course, we move to AZ.

Last Sunday we went to the pellet stove store. They were supposed to be open but weren't. We called this Saturday before we went over. Seems the owners wife was very ill last week and he took her to the ER. Poor soul. I have taken people I love to ER. I feel for him. But we went today and because we can only use a Thelin stove in our living room. (we have 6 windows in the room and there are all kinds of regs about how near or far from a window your piping can be) and because we have a very weird small footprint to put the stove on, the only model which works is made the by the Thelin company. This is actually a pellet stove that looks like an old fashioned parlour stove. That also sort of works for our house which is a quasi victorian. We used to have the model called the "gnome" and it did us well for 7 years. But last year it backburned and fried out the insides (thankfully not us, though) and needed to be replaced. We were able to buy last years Thelin but a model that is larger than the gnome (basically taller, so it can hold a whole bag of pellets). And for less than if we ordered this years "gnome" version. Plus this floor model even had the pretty trim which our old one didn't as that costs extra and I am cheap.

Except that the need for so many folks to use alternative energies made this still an expensive purchase. Significantly more than we shelled out before when we bought the first stove. So that is the "unhappy" part of alternately happy and unhappy over this. But we will be as warm as it is possible to be in this house this winter and that is good. Now I have to order 2 ton of pellets. Sigh.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blake gets a hair cut!

This is Blake after he went to the groomers yesterday. He had never been to the groomers in all his 2 1/2 yrs of life. He is a Brittany Spaniel and got by with the occasional bath in our tub, and a curry brush and occasional a brief encounter with the stripper thingy.

This is Blake BEFORE he went to the groomers. He do be a hippie dog. He wants to grow a Mohawk. Or maybe Robbie wants him to grow a mohawk. He also had a ton of burrs so Hippie Dog had to give up the natural life and go to the groomers.

This is Blake eager to say hi to his best friend Maui. "I've been gone all day buddy, wanna play?" Maui says "Who the H are YOU? What did you do with my best friend Blake?"

"Duh" I'm Blake you bone head!" "Nah, Blake has a mohawk going on and i love to hang on his feathers and bite his belly. You have NO MOHAWK and NO FEATHERS!" Hissssss!

"Get outta here! Wait till Blake comes home, he'll help me get you outta here!"
And Maui still will not play with Blake! Blake is mourning the fact that his friend is so upset with him. And he misses his mohawk. Now he sorta looks like a tallish fat beagle!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Silly stuff

The kids usually have popsicles when we get home from the park at night. They like the kind that have jokes or riddles on the popsicle stick. KC is at the age where jokes are huge with him right now and in fact Robbie is saving up a list of some of the "best" jokes to make KC his own joke book for Yule.

However tonight Lissa showed she wanted to get into the act. As I was doing the dishes, she held the stick exactly as if she was reading the joke off it and said: "ooma why frog chase cat?" I obliged with "I don't know!" (really who DOES know the answer to that question????" LOL Apparently Lissa does as she read "to cross street!" ROFL

Fiona moved yesterday

From the info that the sw gave me last week, Fiona should have been moved yesterday to her new residential facility. I mailed a letter to her at that address yesterday afternoon so she should get it this week. I want to make sure she gets mail from us right away so that she knows her connection to us continues uninterupted. I am going to try and call the sw next wk and see if she has a name of a therapist or clinician that I will have as a contact there. In the past I have always had someone that I could call if I want to say mail a gift card for Fiona, or to ask if it okay to get certain things for her for gifts. So I am hoping for that info in the near future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The saga of spilled spaghetti

Well dining al fresco gave a bit of excitement tonight and not too much in the way of dining. We usually eat on our deck on nice nights. We all love it and it is fun to look at the flowers and our overgrown back yard, listen for birds and chat with passing neighbors. (although the deck is in the back of our house, one neighbors driveway is so close to us that we could practically reach out and touch em!"

Anyway, Rob was helping bring out the food as he usually does. However he had forgotten Lissa's tray and since I was strapping her in, I asked him to grab the tray for me. K didn't know about the tray and also suggested on his way out the door that he get one of the two remaining plates of pasta.

One of Rob's issues is a reluctance to do a lot of verbal speaking. I think his early years taught him that speaking up meant negative consequences and it is going to take more years than I have put in so far (and sometimes I fear more years than we may HAVE) to teach him that speaking up is GOOD. Applauded. Desired. He also freezes when frightened. It is his PTSD response.

So I strapped Lissa in to her high chair and turned away to do some other pre-dining prep. LIssa was howling as she wanted to ride her rocking horse and didn't like the idea of waiting till after supper. So I didn't think anything amiss till suddenly I noticed the shrieks were not her usual "angry diva princess" screams. I turned and saw my daughter covered in pasta all over one side of her body. The sauce had just come from the stove to the plate. We are talking serious heat. Rob was just standing there staring, holding the tray and the empty pasta plate. I grabbed a water glass and dumped it on Lissa and took off her sundress. Thankfully she didn't have lots of layers of clothes.

I got one strap off and the other was confounding me. I grabbed the second glass of water and dumped that as well. By now, Kirsty was out on the deck hearing the commotion. She is a wonderful person and a caring mom. But she doesn't do well in medical emergencies. She stands there yelling. That is her fear response, just like Rob's is standing still.

I finally got the poor child out of her high chair and ran to our side yard and plopped her in the kiddie pool that thankfully had just been put to use earlier today. Started checking her all over and looking for signs of reddening (hard to find on dark skin which is always a worry to me) and blistering.

By now one set of neighbors had come over to see what was wrong. I explained while checking Lissa. They are new folk and i am so grateful that they hopped the fence to see. Bodes well for the relationship between us!

I am even more grateful that Lissa seems fine. There is no blistering, only very slight reddening in one area and that. is. it. I have reassured Rob, we have all spent an hour playing in the sand box and the kiddie pool and with water soakers. She is okay.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taking Care of the Nana

My mom has always "Promised" that when her husband passed away she would be "moving home." Moving home was code for moving in with Kirsty and I. I am lucky enough to live in a home that has been in our family 4 generations. I have always told her she could live with us. K is understanding of that, bless her heart. I love my mom but she is not an easy woman.

You know the glass half full people? Mom is not one of them! LOL If it is a sunny day, it is too bright. If someone does something helpful, there is an ulterior motive. Somehow, despite this abundant lack of cheer, she has managed to cultivate a cadre of friends in the state she presently lives in. They are good people. Really really good. They showed up at Ken's memorial service. They routinely invite her out for coffee or to events with them etc. I think they should all be canonized because it has made the fact that mom lives 2 1/2 hours away, work. We go often ( every 4 to 6 wks) to visit her. Once it is the whole family, the next time just K. She and K have a ball together.

However the rub comes now that she is truly alone. Her apartment building is up for sale. Though the existing landlord has written leases trying to ensure his favorite tenants (of which Mom is one) get to maintain their amazingly low rent, it is unlikely a new owner will be able to accommodate those rents. And truthfully a new landlord is under no legal obligation to continue those leases. The buildings need updating and that will be their justification and it will be valid. But it might also price mom right out of her apartment. Said apartment is also on the second floor and the stairs to her unit are not the best, particularly for a woman who broke her ankle 3 years ago.

Mom has a cat. When we agreed she could live with us (some 20 yrs ago) Mom did not have a cat. Ken did not like pets and they were not part of their life. However when he went into the nursing home, my sisters cat became my mothers and a loving (though slightly crazed) bond was formed between mom and cat. The thing is, Kirsty is really allergic to cats. We have one cat who isn't the cuddly kind. He is the "keep the old house free of mice" kind of cat. A working cat, as we put it. Mom babies her cat to the point of absurdity. She frets any time my children walk near it. Having the cat in a house with our dog would never work. Our dog and our cat wrestle. Mom would have a heart attack if the dog tried to wrestle her cat. Or her cat would. And Kirsty who has to take allergy meds to visit my mom, would have to take them daily to live in her own home.

So I looked into senior housing in our town. I expected a long wait list. I have been told that due to a weird convergance of events the wait list is amazingly short at the moment. We are talking zero to six months. Mom is alternately thrilled and horrified. The units available are exactly where she would love to live. But she had hoped for more time so that she could enjoy the state she presently lives in without the burden of worrying about getting to the nursing home daily. I get that. However the other reality is that if she does not apply now, the waiting list will suddenly mushroom up again in to a long wait. And she doesn't want that. So she has decided she will at least put in the application and get the letter from her doctor that will state that she has no family nearby to help with medical needs. The housing authority will then waive the requirement that she reside in our city at this very moment

I feel badly that she will not get the time she hoped for in the state she lives in now. But I also feel sad that she can't see a glass half full. This gives her an opportunity to keep her beloved cat, to be near her grandchildren, both my kids and my sisters. When my eldest heard she was thinking of returning to our city, he said he would walk down to see her once a week. Not to be outdone, my Rob promptly wanted to schedule his visit. I know that it will be hard to reestablish herself here. 20 years is a long time away and life has changed greatly here. She isn't sure she wants to attend the same church she attended before. Friends from years past have by and large moved on. This doesn't mean new friendships can not be forged. I offered for instance to bring her to our church if she was interested. (It is the same faith that she practices). She could volunteer locally and make new friends. She could take trips via a very active senior citizens center. She can come to our house for holidays with ease and Sunday dinners or Saturday night suppers if she chooses.

When she lived here before her marriage to Ken, we were definately young women living in her home. Now this is our home, our responsibility and our life is very different with an active family of four children. Trust me there are not a lot of candlelit dinners at our house at this point. I remember that in those days, my mom had lit candles on the table every evening. She needs to be able to have her own place as long as she can, so she can enjoy time with us but also have time for candles and quiet moments. I can't make those moments happen for her here!

All of this is compounded by the problem of the way in which my mother has always viewed me. I am the solution person; her go to person when she wants an answer. Not giving an answer is not an option. She gets angry and hurt and down right nasty. And this has been the dynamic since the year I was 9 and her mother died. So she wants me to provide a housing solution for her. But that doesn't mean that she will embrace the situation even if she agrees to it. And she is only 76. If she lives as long as Ken that gives her at least 20 years to tell me daily how miserable she is!!! LOL

Slower Sunday

We needed a day to recharge after the drive and the service of Saturday. So I didn't really plan anything for Sunday. I vaguely hoped for a beach jaunt but the sun went in after 15 minutes never to be seen again, so that was out.

We drove to a town a few towns over to try to price pellet stoves. I had called their store and they opened at 10. Except that at 10 they were not open and there were no signs of life. At 10:15 there were still no more signs of life. Unless you count the wild life in my car--3 kids totally done with sitting doing nothing for 15 minutes! LOL We left.

On the way home we stopped at the farmers market where we used to pick up our CSA boxes in years past. We couldn't afford to do a CSA this year and I have felt terrible about it. I am as much of a locavore as i can be. I don't want to eat lettuce shipped in from Guatamala or something. But I didn't have the upfront money this year and while Curt's prices for CSA are very fair, I just couldn't do it.

On the plus side, he was glad to see us. The kids went and looked at the pig in the barn and K shopped for kale and fresh beans and beets and chatted. He said it has been such a bad growing seasons some farmers have had to let their CSA members know that there will be NO tomatos in their boxes this season. Can you imagine a summer without local vine ripened tomatos? This is a tragedy to me of Shakespearean levels. We bought tomatos from Curt, thankfully his CSA has fewer but still delicious ones. K cooked them down into a most scrumptious bruschetta for lunch. There is nothing like bruschetta in the summer on warm italian bread. Mmmmmm

I worked on scrapbooks in the afternoon and in the evening. Worked till I ran out of glue sticks and pages in KC's book. K will have to add some new ones for me. The way to attach them baffles me and takes me way longer than it does her. Last year I was so good and kept the scrapbooks up all year long. It is easier that way as I do one for each kid. But my last entries were from New Years so there was a lot of ground to cover. Rob's book is totally done up to date now and KC is done through April so he is nearly done. Then I have to do Miss Lissa's. When they are all up to date, then I have to do a couple special memorial pages about their grampa to start off the month of August and then I can sit back and pat myself on the back.

The kids look at these books so much. I find Rob paging through his at odd moments. I am not sure that he doesn't have some short term memory issues, though there is no formal dx. But looking back seems to spark remembrance and help to center him. He is actually on scrapbook number 3 now, the other 2 having gotten too fat to add more pages to without breaking the bindings.

In there somewhere too was supper, another delicious feast of kale lightly sauteed and eggs with corn bread on the side. I swear I was a southern tenant farmer in a past life or something. I adore greens. Turnip greens, collards, and kale are my favorite but I don't sneer at chard or spinach either. And fresh kale is rarely bitter, especially the oak leaf variety K bought yesterday.

Then we found a spider in her web on our back porch. It was so cloudy you could not see the web and she looked suspended in mid air. I got a spray bottle of water and gently misted the web area so the kids could see the anchor lines and all the delicate pathways of web that the spider had created. It was fun watching their faces as the web became revealed to them.

Went for a short walk up a few streets with KC and Lissa to see the lady who has two ducks for pets. When I don't know what to do, walking up to see Geezy and Cami almost always gets a green light from the littles. And it is just far enough that they will settle well for bed after the jaunt.

Now it is back to the work day week and shifting gears to accomodate the challenges that go with that.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Memorial Service Done

Thankfully we have all survived the memorial service. It was hard on the kids. A long drive (2.5 hours) then a short time at my moms which allowed limited moving around, a chance to eat, and changing into church duds. Then another drive to the church so that they could sit through an hours service. This meant I had a 2 year old who had not napped and had been awake since 5:30 that morning. A 5 year old whose emotions were very ragged, a 13 year old who was fine, and a 23 year old who was stressing and causing stress. He was hot, he was in others space, he was not comfortable in his own space. His lack of connection to emotions made for constant attention to him. Family were supposed to sit in the front rows. We sat in the row that appeared open behind family. Then my mother came and moved my sister and her family to sit up in the very front row with her. Nice. So now there was this big empty row dividing us from all the other family. In the interest of practicality this did ensure that I could worry less about what my kids might do. In reality I felt positively alienated.

That continued basically through the whole experience. My sister had been invited to participate in the service. I was not. I was told that only one person from our side of the family could speak and my mother had decided it would be younger sister. Yup. fine. Part of me shrugs mentally and says "whatever". Part of me childishly is angry. We have consistantly been there for my mom and her husband. Our kids really know and love them. Sis visited like 3 times in 10 years and 2 of those times my mom paid for her to come. Her kids have come probably twice counting the memorial service. So it seems unfair. Life is unfair. I need to shut up and move on.

During the service I was busy enough containing Chet and helping KC and watching Lissa--why did I want to add speaking to those responsibilities? KC broke down twice and needed extra cuddling. Lissa was just fractious from being massively overtired (she doesn't sleep well or long in a car). After the service there was a lovely luncheon and a chance to mingle and talk. The kids really needed to burn off steam though and there was a playground outside. They were pulling me toward the door so I went outside with them. It was blazingly hot and I spent a great deal of time inadvertantly aerating the lawn of the playground as I trotted around in my 3 1/2 inch heels playing with the kids. I had play clothes to change into but no time or way to do that; their need to run and move was so profound. I kept thinking that K would come out and switch off with me so that I could go chat with people I have not seen in ages. (they are mostly only relatives by marriage; Ken's family is very large but there are several that I am very friendly with)

K didn't show up. The funny part of this--and it TRULY is funny--is that K hates social chatting. She is very much the introvert and I am not. So while I am stuck on the playground she is stuck inside and it never occured to her to go switch places. So it was just as hard for her as it was for me. By the time the kids were ready to go back inside we really had to get going as the long homeward drive awaited and it wouldn't get any easier for delaying. So I got to wave quickly at everyone I wanted to see and we headed out.

On the trip home, KC slept nearly the whole way--which meant it was hard to get him to bed last night. But he was emotionally worn to a nubbin so I was glad that he could rest. Lissa napped briefly but not enough to really require changing up her schedule. She and i took a walk after supper, admiring mosses growing between the cracks of the sidewalk and the first changing leaves ( what's up with that!!!) Picked wild queen anne's lace for our kitchen vase and walked home. KC was still too emotionally beat to want to come, a true rarity for him.

Today will be a quieter day so that everyone can start the week more centered, more at peace.