Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hear That?

Actually it should be "ear" that, as in KC has an inner ear infection.  Yesterday at breakfast he announced rather casually that his ear hurt.  K had just gently cleaned the outer part of his ear and she asked if it was somehow related to that.  Nope, he answered, still totally casual, it had been hurting since last night.  As my kids would say "Uh, what the?" 

The thing is, KC is my guy with a super sensitive nose and taste buds.  He loathes hates and despises the taste of every medication he has ever had in his life.  Until he made the acquaintance of the red tylenol meltaways he would rather have a fever or a blinding headache than take the med. and if they only have purple meltaways you are out of luck. He will lie there in agony instead of ingesting the stupid thing.  I have bribed.  I have pinned.  I have cajoled.  I have done the mean military momma (which I really rot at doing incidently). It only works when he decides it will work and it is.never.easy.  So it was no surprise that he was concealing the pain.  He would rather hope it goes away on its own.  And I suppose at some level, his avoidance of meds is reassuring to me.  His first mom did use substances (as did most of my kids first moms) and I worry that there will be a predisposition toward addictions. 

At any rate, we called our doctor, who was amazingly in.  Typically for  my family he is on vacation any time we need him.  LOL  He wanted to see KC as he feels it is not common to see ear infections in the summer.  I was fine with an office visit but I knew we were right as he had a cold a week or so ago and he also went swimming in a pool and likely got water in his ears then.  Sure enough, he has an ear infection and last night was the first dose of the 5 day liquid antibiotic.  1 down and 4 to go.  If you were at my house last night, you would know why I am counting!

I talk with the prospective piano teacher

Last night I called the fellow that KC's music teacher recommended as a piano teacher for Rob.  He sounds super nice and should be a good fit for my quiet guy.  He lives here in town and teaches out of his home which is not far from us.  I explained that the reason Rob wants to learn piano is that the lead singer on The Fray plays piano and Rob is all about hte Fray.  Joe said he actually uses The Fray's music with some of his students.  That is so extremely cool.  I said I knew Rob was not an aficionado of classical music so learning The Blue Danube Waltz or Fur Elise or something would probably send him screaming from the room.  Luckily, Joe seems to enjoy many types of music and he is willing to focus more on contemporary music with Rob.  He'll call back in a couple weeks with the class schedule.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More visit musings

First off, lest any blog reader think I am a total dunce, I am very aware that Fiona can't really "forget" her past.  However it was her word choice not mine and I think what she means is that she is working on not thinking about the past all the time, not glomming onto the sad things, and unpleasant things, and being more open to the present.  Anyway that is how I interpreted and how I  responded to her statement.

One thing that happened during the trip was weird and off putting.  Sometimes I forget how different our family looks to folks on the outside.  We were stuffed in the taxi driving to the school.  The cabbie was chatting with me and I am congenitally unable to not make small talk so I was definately participating in the exchange.  I told him we were going to the school to visit my daughter when he asked the purpose of our trip.  We talked about something else and then a few minutes later he asked if I was a teacher.  I figured there was a language barrier and explained that no, my daughter was a student at the Great School and we were going to go visit her.  To which he said "but what about these kids?" and gestured to my brood in the back seat with me.  I replied rather curtly that this was my family and these were my children to which he wisely replied how lovely they all were and asked everyone their name or something.  It kind of smoothed the jagged edge off it for me.  Kind of. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Robbie asks for something!

I am not sure if I have ever clearly articulated how trauma and loss has  impacted my middle son's fear of drawing attention to himself.  Clearly he needed to be removed from his first family for safety but some of the foster placements had issues that were significant and harmful.  I think he decided very early on that the safest way to exist was to become invisible.  He asked for little, he drew little attention to himself.  In this way he could not be disappointed if he asked and was told 'no' and he was probably in a number of instances safer because others who were unsafe, did not notice him.  Of course the down side to this is pretty obvious.  He has not been in a dangerous placement since he was 5.5 when he was placed in our home.  But by then, it was habit.  It was his life.

At first I thought that he didn't ask for things because he didn't know what to ask for.  And there was that component.  A lack of positive experiences and exposures make it hard for a kid to know what they want  to do.  I was happy to sort of guide him and let him sample things.  He tried karate, he tried basketball, he tried baseball.  He tried afterschool programs.  He tried a science camp, an ecology camp.He tried a course where you learned to draw cartoons.  But did he ASK for any of these things?  No.

And the downside of not having the courage to ask for things is that at some point, a kid DOES realize that they have wants and needs. And they try to take things into their own hands.  We have had significant issues of trust based behaviors--sneaking things of his own and others, dishonesty in a myriad of ways.  And always, my discussion with Rob has centered on how sad I feel that he doesn't trust me enough to give me a chance to say yes.

So you have to know I was over the moon with excitement when I saw he sent me an email to my FB account.  "Could I have piano lessons please? " Love Robbie  Well you sure can!  And I have been grinning like a goof all night because he asked.  I have totally no idea how I am going to afford piano lessons but it is going to happen.

Sue Blaney posts some cool parenting tips that I get weekly  They primarily deal with teens and I have always found them helpful.  She once advocated texting with teens because this is their preferred communiction style and they are more likely to open up, be less defensive and confrontational.  My guy isn't the latter two anyway and my phone is a minutes phone that doesn't even DO texting so I kind of wrote that idea off.  But email.  That works.  And works in much the same manner.  I can do email!

Sunday Service

Not being like "regular" church going folks, my church officially closes for the summer. (I am a UU pagan).  However we have a large and thriving community and summer services, all lay led ,continue all summer long.  I usually take in a couple of these and today was one such.  I am still sort of tired from yesterday's trip to the Big City and my migraine ,but my friend Raven who is a shaman was leading the service.  He has an amazing choir from his own church that he brings.  And Raven and I have been friends since Chet was in 6th grade and we began homeschooling.  Back in the dinosaur days of the internet when all I used was the computer to chat with other homeschooling families (there being not a single, non secular homeschool group in our region), I "met" Raven.  In one of those odd twists of fate he and his family lived not far from us and we used to buy eggs from he and his wife on our way to and from an Audubon sanctuary where we spend a lot of time.

Raven's daughter is long grown and Chet's homeschool years have passed,but the friendship remains.  It fascinates me how the warp and weft of our life threads evolve. But this is a long way of saying i went to church to see my friend!  And as usual, came away with so much more.  It was special to me also because my middle son has declared he is an athiest--which I remember doing around that age so I am not overly concerned--BUT what excited me was that he chose to come to service with me.  The little kids had all ready chosen to remain home so it would have been no big deal, but both Rob and Chet chose to come .On the way home we stopped at our community garden plot and harvested another 30 or so pounds of tomatos so we are now getting ready to can up some salsa.  I do love having food put by!  And it was so unexpectedly appropriate since our service focussed on Lammas and harvest time.  I have a rich and bountiful life in so many ways and I am so very grateful.

Visit Picture

Our visit yesterday was amazing.  Here is one of my favortie pictures from the day, taken by the amazing Jane.   It was a really really good visit.  Fiona was able to actually tell me face to face how hard she is working of "forgetting" the past and how she has always wanted to come home to us and is working on coming to grips with the fact that she can't.  We talked about how most 18 year olds would be working toward some other kind of living arrangements but how she is and always will be family and we are here for her. Some of this she has done via phone but it was a spontaneous conversation she initiated in the art room with me and I think it is pretty huge. I think it is harder to say things to someone that are so charged when you are face to face and she did so well.  She gave lots of hugs to me too which is very different. Usually I get one or two hugs but the majority of touch contact is for the kids. 

I am so glad the kids are seasoned travelers as I had a rotten migraine but didn't have to drive so it worked out. I am so glad that the mac and cheese she asked me to bring travelled well and lived up to her expectations.  (laughing)   I will write more later as it was an amazing day but today I have much to do and precious little time to spend on the computer!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Easing into Homeschooling

We have been doing what I call "homeschool lite" this week.  Rather than do what our public school does which is have a whacky schedule of starting full tilt on a Thursday and then having a 3 day weekend, we have a system whereby we gradually add in the subjects over a period of weeks.  Thus far, success.  This is the first year we have homeschooled both Rob and KC.  Technically KC did some schooling last year but I didn't feel locked into anything as he was not officially on the homeschool intent letter.  It is funny how that intent letter makes it all really official to me.  Kindergarten is not mandatory so I just free wheeled through his kindergarten year.

KC decided on using a little computer desk in our living room for his homeschool space and last week we got that all set up.  He has his own little light there which he adores, and just the right amount of space for a wee fellow.  He doesn't really like wide open spaces, he is a nook and cranny kind of guy, so the fact that this is tucked into a corner of the living room is perfect.  Also it will be warm and toasty in the winter which is important in our drafty old home.

Rob works at the island in the kitchen and while there is ample space for two people to work there, I suspect they would entertain each other and little work would actually happen.  Also I think at some level Rob perceives this is "his" space as he has schooled there for 5 years now.

For some reason recorder practice and lessons happen in the dining room.  I think it works easier for the two kids and K to spread out music on our gigantic dining room table.  That just sort of evolved, it wasn't really planned, but it works well.

So thus far, KC has been doing recorder, art, english and math.  Truthfully he did math most of the summer.  I have found that he is consequently signficantly beyond the bounds of grade 1 Oak meadow so we are just continuing on with the Kunan system we have been doing for the past year. Then I am going to add in some basic currency, some basic time telling etc because he is out ahead of the curve. This morning, KC gave himself science (laugh) because he wanted to make rainbows and we played with prisms and talked about how rainbows are made in nature and with the prism.

We have not done the reading component yet for his class, but he reads often and well with me so I have not really got any worries there.  I have looked at the literature component and he will do well there. But because he has so much down all ready, I confess that when he needs a day off I feel okay with that.  The past two days he  had a nasty cold and I really just let him veg on the couch and draw. 

Rob has begun his geography, started his first English Lit book which is The Wizard of Earthsea     
and done recorder.  Rob has to ease in a bit more slowly as he gets overwhelmed easily and doing this gradually allows time for him to remember some of the routines and structures of schooling.  Next week I add in algebra for him and K will add in his Environmental Science component in September after we come back from camping.

Lissa ,to my everlasting joy, has been begging for school so she does either coloring or cutting (which she has become very facile with) when I am teaching math.  I am mulling around in my head a crafty thing for reinforcing the alphabet.  I think I may give Rob and KC some old magazines and have them cut out pictures that begin with specific letters and then Lissa can glue them on a piece of paper with a big letter in the middle of it.  She would get to use glue for that which would rock her world. LOL I consider that our story time at night covers her language component and she has lots of opportunities for a myriad of craft things during the day.

I will not lie.  I don't unschool and the level of homeschooling we do is often tiring to me.  As you can tell by the pitiful short list of adult reads on my blog page, I spend a lot of time planning classes, reading kid lit and am thrilled when I get the odd half hour for a magazine  or a bit of a novel I am interested in.  But on the plus side, I really get to participate in my kids education and I honestly love that.  I love  that most of the time that thirst for learning is present--in my experience and I realize this is a statement only to the experience of myself and my children--public school has so much to do that fostering a love of learning truly isn't on their short list, so to speak. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The visit is planned!

Fiona called last night.  She was very excited, both about the pending visit and because she had been off campus for something today.  I think truthfully it might have been a doctors appt but it culminated in a burrito and a sprite so it was fun!  She has decided that our visit will have the painting Lissa has been longing for, but also a tea party.  Her advocate is from across the pond and Fiona and another student have decided to give her a tea party.  There will be chocolate and tea sandwiches and  tea and small cookies that I have been charged with making. (in addition to the mac and cheese for lunch! LOL)  I don't mind, we make up batches of sugar cookie dough and freeze them for just such eventualities.  And I have  very tiny cookie cutters that I can use so they will be easy to pack and look festive on a plate.

When she told KC about the tea party KC predicatably said "Tea party?  I LOVE tea parties!"  So he and Lissa are totally on board.  Rob thinks it is kind of funny. Rob tends to avoid tea parties at our house with the proverbial ten foot pole.  But I reminded him about the chocolate and he is all about chocoate!  Plus I tried to get across how good it is for his sister to a) be working with a peer to accomplish a goal and b) for her to share that with us.

KC and Lissa both have colds.  KC was up a few times in the night coughing and congested.  I always worry when he is sick; he always seems to be just that bit sicker than the other kids.  Lissa and I actually got the cold first and Lissa is really nearly over it.  I never really came down with it totally thanks to my cherry zinc lozenges that I eat when I first feel symptomatic.  They blew it right out of my symptom.  I know zinc is controversial but it works for me. (in some people it has been linked with loss of the sense of smell.  I have not had a sense of smell since I was 9 so I figure I have not much to worry about!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Visiting Fiona soon!

We are going to visit Fiona this Saturday.  I am looking forward to it.  It is a busy week to plan for the trip as my boss is on vacation, but we will make it work.  I need to get to a beauty supply store and get her a long clip on pony tail to try and assuage her extension desires, and the night before I will need to make mac and cheese.  Or maybe early early Saturday morning.  Haven't quite worked that one out yet.  There is a fair amount of planning and packing for the days jaunt into the big city but I am so looking forward to seeing my daughter. The kids have been talking about the visit eagerly.  Lissa is very proud that she is seeing her big sister and KC can't wait to do some art with her and tell her about how a bee stung him not once but twice!

 Rob is always quiet about the visits and I suspect that part of him always worries that something in Fiona's behavior will de-rail a visit.  That was a frequent occurance in the past and although I once had a social worker say blithely to me "the children just need to write new stories together" it is really not that simple. As an adult, I have a perspective that is far different from my son's.  And his feelings are complicated by  a layer of feeling disloyal for feeling frustrated and guarded etc.  It seems to help that his younger siblings embrace Fiona and feel as connected to her as if she was able to live with us.  She is clearly family to all of us, but I see him hold a bit of himself back and know that this is a legacy of the past.  I'd love for Rob to be able to just "write a new story" but life is not a series of short stories, it is a long complicated epic and I think we are in one of those long parts of a story that bridge to another exciting section.  But bridges can be long, and patience is definately required in negotiating them safely.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Morning Glorious

I have always loved morning glories. When I was little, my mom who is not really a plant person, grew two small pots of them and hung them on our clothesline. It was one of those clotheslines that twirl around and they had one side to use to send their vines out on.  We had a couple clotheslines so I guess that was why she dontated that side to the plants.  It was my job to water them.  They were just so beautiful and my morning glory love was born.

We have had morning glories almost every year at our house since K and i started gardening many years ago.  Some years we have opted for sweet peas instead but usually my morning glory obscession prevails.  This is a shot of some of this years crop and they are really lovely.  One of the things I love about them is that KC calls them "morning glorious" never "morning glories."  And he is right.

Ahoy Matey!

Yesterday we went to a Pirate birthday party.  The little 4 y/o boy was another sibling of  one of KC's dance buddies.  Zack and Lissa played a lot together during those dance lessons.  She being very much a tomboy dressed as a princess had great fun playing dinosaurs and monster trucks with "Zaky" as she calls him.

The other kids and i had fun at the party too.  I like chatting with just about anyone so it doesn't faze me as a rule if I only know one person (or even none) when I go some where.  I will usually find someone to chat with and this was no exception.  Also, Zack's mom Desiree (who I had also become friends with) was amazingly accommodating to our vegetarianism and had LOTS of options for us there.  This is way cool as not everyone is like that.  I still get a lot of "well there's green salad" or even "bring your own food and keep it away from ours" in other settings. (usually extended family!) LOL

Anyway, becoming friends with the adults involved in the dance class scene was something that I really found I had to work hard at.  They were not a chatty bunch, all seeming to prefer to text on their phones or read emails on their phones or. . . whatever on their phones.  But either because I can't NOT chat or because my phone does none of those things, I was that annoying mosquito that would not go away and became friends with Desiree and another couple of moms as well, likely by sheer dint of persistance.  

The reason I recount this is that yesterday Desiree let slip that the reason she had been reluctant to chat with me was that she didn't remember my name!  So I think she spent weeks avoiding talking just because of that.  Then she heard me tell another mom about how I got my nickname of Lee (which obviously relieved angst for her as when she recounted the story it was so verbatim from the conversation I had with someone about my nickname!)  Anyway, it just cracked me up.  I am glad that serendipity stepped in and allowed her to learn my name again in a way that made her feel comfortable so that our friendship could blossom.  And speaking of blossoms, that reminds me that when the rain stops, I need a picture of our morning glories!  They are stunning!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A tale of two recorders

Several years ago on Rob's homeschool journey we introduced him to the recorder.  He hated it.  Passionately.  Deeply.  Would forget to practice.  Would refuse to practice.  All in all, it was not a "joy of music" experience."  LOL  We decided that art has to be joyful, has to be a way to express yourself and that this was just becoming something to have a power struggle about.  Since one can certainly have a healthy life without playing recorder, we terminated our recorder lessons.

Fast forward a few years and KC begins studying recorder.  He loves it. He practices voluntarily.  He progresses.  Last night Rob decided to once more hide books and such in his bed.  One of the "and such" that he hid was his recorder.

So today, K told him that he would "have" to practice with KC after breakfast. Rob turned away, ostensibly to get his recorder but not before we caught the flash of smile on his face.  He practiced with KC and apparently, this is his odd way of 'saying' he would like to try recorder again.  Go figure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We interupt this vacation to bring you. . . work!

I am supposed to be off today but work calls.  Our site has been for sale for at least the last six years. It could be longer. I have KNOWN about it for 6 years but I think that the sites don't necessarily know right off.  Lots of wheeling and dealing at the upper levels before us lowly front line folk find out our futures might be impacted.

Today the company that has been trying to buy us has another site visit and while my boss would have honored my vacation time he looked extraordinarily relieved when I volunteered to come in.  So I will leave in a bit and do work stuff today and with luck, my vacation resumes tomorrow.

As I write this I am listening to KC learn recorder with K.  I am in awe of people who read music. I speak multiple languages but can't do that.  He has all ready got 3 notes down and they have only been working on this for a few weeks.  Course he is also teaching himself how to rap and beat box in his spare time. LOL  Last night walking home from the park he was telling Lissa to "just sing whatever you want" and then he was fitting all these rhythms and sounds that he made all around what she did.  It was fascinating to watch the two of them, especially since I am a person who if I sing always has to sing the dominant melody line.  (and don't ever ask me to sing a round!)

Rob felt compelled to smuggle a lot of books and music into his room last night and obviously had himself a late night party as he was still asleep when I went in at 6:30.  Sigh.  I wish he would ASK instead of feeling that he had to sneak.  I almost always say yes if he asks, hoping that seeing that this can happen that it will make him brave enough to ask more.  I try offering things, hoping he will see that willingness on our part.  For instance, he has stayed up late to watch 3 movies with me this summer and I had thought he would be up watching football tonight. But the game starts late and I fear he has used up his late night mojo for now.  He is walking around with glazed eyes and zombie movements.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lazy Wednesday

Well weird weather precluded a trip to the lake today as it didn't get sunny and warm till about 40 minutes ago! (that would be 2ish and since it is a 40 minute drive to the lake in question, that is not in the cards)  I was a bit bummed as I like to pack days off with fun stuff. But I settled for packing it with "stuff" that needed to get done.  So today I accomplished

1.  The requisite 3 loads of wash and accompanying ironing.
2.  Dropping 2 coats off at the dry cleaners
3.  Visiting a consignment store to get myself 2 sweaters for fall.
4.  Buying and planting 6 little mums by our back door.
5.  Visiting the craft store and getting more scrap book pages for the kids books.
6.  Played a game with each kid.
7.  Played outside with 2 kids.
8.  Made lunch and cleaned up the kitchen.
9.  Did my bill paying and filing.
10.Helped the kids do a painting craft.
11. Resolved where KC's homeschool area will be and got it all set up.

So it has been a bit of a snooze today! LOL  Probably the weather will be gorgeous tomorrow because I have to go to work!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aquarium pictures

 Chet scopes out how to helpl the oceans be healthier!

 KC reads all about clean oceans.
 Another one of K's cool jelly fish shots.

 Ready to take the Aquarium by storm!  Do I think I need two pair of glasses to keep track of all the kids?  Clearly not my most fashionable shot but I love that Chet looks relaxed here.
 Underneath all of us is a lovely bronze statue of dolphins--really!  I promise!
 Another cool fish pic by my artsy wife.
 Lissa leaping from block to block on the Greenway.  This picture totally captures the essence of my daughter who leaps full throttle at and into life's experiences.

. . . and tomorrow?  Hopefully we head to the lake for a day of swimming.  It will just be the kids and I though as K hates sand and sun after about 10 minutes. LOL

Aquarium Fun

I suspect this won't go to the blog all that well but, K got some amazing pics at the aquarium today.  Watching jellyfish is pretty mesmerizing too, BTW.  We had a really good time.  I was so glad that Chet came with us.  Such excursions are hard for him, and definately take a high level of supervision but I feel badly every time he opts out of a chance to do something.  I can't tell if he chooses to stay home because he feels disinterested, if he feels that he will crash and burn, or if he senses that K gets frustrated and embarrassed by his behavior.  I am way past worrying over much about that.  And in the Big City, there are a lot of people acting really differently so I actually worry a bit less.  As long as his wild gesticulations will not clock some senior citizen, or mow down a small child, I am really not worried.

The younger kids are amazingly well trained to Big City visits, thanks in large part to our regular visits in to see Fiona.  K did drive us in for this trip, which is something I know I could never do. It would have been train all the way if I was doing this.  I am calm about some facets of visiting a big city but NOT about maneouvering through traffic. 

The aquarium itself was amazing.  We spent lots of time watching seals, and a gigantic multi story tank that is large enough to house sharks and sea turtles and oh, so much more.  It was mesmerizing,even for Chet who tends to see things at warp speed.  We bought a years membership as we did the math and a membership for a family our size was only $40 more than the cost of all of us for a one day pass.  This is such a great place that K would be willing to take the 3 younger kids in on her own sometime when they go to a glaucoma appointment for Rob.  His doctor is roughly 1/2 way between our house and the Big City so it would be a fun thing to do afterwards. 

For lunch we walked a bit away from the aquarium and ate at Panera Bread.  My brood is just a wee bit too rambunctious for the slightly tony cafe in the establishment, but Panera was just the ticket.  Something for everyone and we could sit at a long counter and people watch while we ate.  After that we played a bit on the greenway and cooled ourselves in the very cool misty machines there before returning to the museum for the last bit of our visit.  It was magical and wonderful and while i wish I was camping, I am so glad we had the day to do this!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

It was  a fun weekend here in central MA.  Saturday's spanish american festival was nice but clearly I wasn't thinking all that clearly when I decided to do this.  I knew the organizers, I knew it was free, I knew there was a bounce house.  Pretty much those were the deciding factors in us going.  LOL  The funny thing is, I just assumed our community in the larger sense would come.  My city has a high latino population but surely the rest of the community would be interested and supportive.  Can we say Heck NO everyone?  It was pretty well attended but I can assure you that I was the only "norte americana" (which is what all my residents call me here!) at the festival.  Likewise most everything was said in spanish which was cool with me, but I neglected to factor in that my children are not as fluent.  KC knows some, but Lissa and Rob none.  The littles I don't think really minded.  Bounce houses have a language all their own. (smile) So does face painting and the few games that they had there. But Rob is at that teen age where he feels I think a bit awkward in his own skin anyway.  He has gotten really tall really quickly, has the voice changing thing going on and now I plop him down in the middle of Little San Juan or something.  I translated stuff for him but he was way out of his comfort zone.  Not that I think that is bad.  Everyone needs to stretch and grow but it wasn't what I had thought of when I planned the day.  I sat with friends and we chatted during the meal.  (also free!)  I love Spanish music and I love that within the culture dancing is spontaneous and so expressive.  There were grandmothers dancing with daughters and granddaughters, an older man dancing surrounded by five women, women dancing with women. I  would have danced too but I think that would have just totally capped the experience for Rob--he has not quite yet recovered from me dancing at the concert we went to last December. LOL

Yesterday we went to a local agricultural fair.  KC has been eyeballing the poster for weeks when we went to the bank. Carefully taped at exactly kid height, he pointed it out every single Friday.  It intrigued me too, frankly. I grew up going to the Big E in the western part of the state and the Hampten county fairs.  I loved watching the animal exhibits, eating usually forbidden foods, riding rides and looking at the produce displays.  So we went to the fair.  It was so much fun.  It was the last day of the fair so I am glad we squeezed it in. 

I really have to post pictures because some of them are so funny.  And others are really good.  Rob was in charge of most of the photography and he has the patience and the eye to get good shots.  I don't.  Well perhaps I do but since one of my eyes is always on the kids they tend to come out in a blur that has meaning only to me. 

We saw a raptor exhibit and were so close to the birds who sat calmly on their perches, jesses hanging loosely while we listened to a bit of info on the birds.  We watched a dog do amazing frisbee retrieval. I can't catch a frisbee as well as that border collie could!  (this is not a joke. I speak truth!)  We looked at the animal exhibits, a weaving exhibit and watched a blacksmith at his forge.

Then it was off to the midway as KC had decided he wanted to go on the rides.  Yeah, right, I thought. This is the boy who rides a merry go round sitting on one of those benches that does not move and looks petrified.  Sure.   Except that some amazing bit of six year old bravery had plopped into his little body some time in the past few weeks.  And he did ride the rides.  I was stunned.  I am STILL stunned!  I think it helped that Lissa could ride with him.  I didn't mention she was three and she met every single height requirement.  They sat next to each other and rode the helicopters, the little cars, the crazy bus ride that is sort of like a ferris wheel and the merry go round.  They did the bounce house twice and two slide jungle gym type things as well.

From there we wandered off to watch an amazing trampoline act.  Who knew someone could jump on a tramp wearing a snow board?  Made me glad we didn't have a tramp anymore as I don't have to worry about any back yard reinactments! LOL  Then we watched a really good magic show.  I am a magic show afficionado, having grown up very enarmored of Harry Houdini and his magical legacy.  This was a show that did a lot more than interlock a few rings and make hankerchiefs turn into flowers.  He actually did one of Harry Houdini's more famous illusions.  I doubt the kids were as excited as I was but we did all enjoy it!

The rides cost money but so much  other stuff was free.  The kids did sack races, rubber chicken races and made little cars to race out of vegetables (!) all for free.  And got ribbons for participating which was almost as exciting to them as doing it.  The shows and the music events were all free.  The exhibits as well.  It was pretty darn amazing.

The food would have cost a fortune though. (4.00 for one slice of sad looking pizza!) So we headed out about 1:30 and had a late lunch at Uno's which is a restaurant the kids adore.  KC and Lissa essentially share a meal so it is not expensive.  I had the most amazing side salad (I had a migraine and was not really hungry)  It had watermelon chunks, blueberries, baby spinach leaves and red onion slices with a vinagrette dressing. Oh my goddess was it ever delish!  It had feta cheese too but I didn't really eat that as cheese when I have a migraine is so not a good mix.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Changing plans

Today there is a hint of the fall yet to come in our fresh New England air!  The kids and i have done our morning errands. We have shopped for the week, done the banking and wonder of wonders, Rob even put money in his account voluntarily. He also voluntarily changed his account from a regular passbook to the new kind the bank offers kids which enters them in a weekly drawing to win a Wii system.  He asked what I would do if we won a wii as we all ready have one.  I said I had no idea. Actually I have several but none of them would likely entice him to continue putting money in his savings account so I will save that conversation for the day we actually win it.  Since I am pretty legendary in my inability to win much I figure I am not stressing. LOL

We are leaving in a little while to go to the local Spanish American Center summer celebration. These folks put on a summer youth camp for kids at the place where i work and i know them all well.  There will be a bounce house which is the big draw for Lissa and a clown, which KC is excited about.  Tomorrow we are going to a local agricultural fair to tour the exhibits and do whatever is there to experience.  I love those type of fairs!

I was supposed to have next Tuesday through Thursday off so we could camp but plans have changed.  K is not fully healthy yet and the forecast for those days has a good bit of rain in it. She is concerned that sleeping in the damp might not be the best for her and I tend to agree.  Then it turned out that the company that is trying to buy the site I work at wants to tour us again on Thursday. (this has been going on for like 6 yrs) I need to be there for that anyway.  So instead I will take Tuesday, Wednesday and part of Friday off.  One of those days we will go into the big City and visit an aquarium.  I have some discount coupons and a triple A membership to help defray that a bit.  One of the days I will also take the kids to a local diner they adore for breakfast.  It will still be fun, just different.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Recipe Shoutouts!

Saturday we hosted my sister's family and my mom at a giant "unbirthday" BBQ.  We all have a hard time getting together so it was special to have a whole afternoon to (re)connect.  I wanted to have a variety of foods because I am not really sure what they all like.  Also I get bored easily and like to try new recipes.  It is a failing of mine.  I collect recipes. I often make them only a few times, even if we like them (unless some one of the kids reminds me of its existance) because I am off chasing that new taste sensation for us.

Anyway, for this BBQ we had the standards.  Meat for the carnivores (which they brought themselves; I draw the line at buying meat!) veggie burgers for the 6 of us.  K's potato salad which is killer.  I think it is a Swedish thing.  In her family (which is 100 per cent Swede) they have potato salad at every single buffet and BBQ.  Even if it is the Yule buffet, there is potato salad.  I speak truth.  We had a giant green salad with all the fresh produce I could tuck in there because fresh green salad is a treasure.  In a couple of months I'll be reduced to getting greens from Guatamala or something and bemoaning my increased carbon footprint so I am enjoying local produce these days!  A variety of chips, our home made super hot salsa had the table area crammed as well.  But I wanted another salady type thing.  Lucky for me, Cindy has an amazing daughter Sarah who has a cooking blog.  Sarah posted a green bean salad that was oh so very yummy.  I should have put in the whole onion she said it needed, but I did a bit less wondering if others loved onions as much as I do.  Next time it is one full onion all the way!  LOL  For beverages, we had a cooler filled with two kinds of soda (a rare occurance at our house so it had my kids hovering there in eager anticipation), iced tea and home made lemonade.  Yum!  As this was an "unbirthday" BBQ we were having a big birthday cake which I made the day before.  I do scratch cakes but have not mastered scratch frosting and K had been feeling ill so I used storebought.  I had watermelon because I thought some folks might want only fruit not sweets.  (what was I thinking, no one but me wanted watermelon!!) Then I thought that I needed another dessert.  Something sweet but not as sweet as cake, cool and refreshing.  And over at The Pioneer Woman Ree came to my rescue with a quick and easy recipe for a chilled raspberry pie.  I had to change the crust to shortbread because she used chocolate and I am allergic (and of course wanted a sliver too!)  Then I got to the store and found no raspberries so I used blackberries instead.  And I can tell you it mattered not one whit.  It was delish with a capital D.  And it is such a quick and easy recipe I may  make it again for other similar functions.  Unless I feel compelled to go recipe surfing again!  LOL

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The oddness of autism

So I think I mentioned in an earlier post that Fiona wanted to talk with Chet and I had promised this would happen at thenext phone call.  Which was tonight, and I duly made sure Chet was available.  I primed him ahead of time.  I suggested he talk about his new favorite movie "The Tooth Fairy" as I was reasonably sure Fiona would have seen and enjoyed the movie.  And if she hadn't there wasn't anything really inappropriate that he could say.

I am relieved and proud (in equal measure) to say it worked!  Chet left to his own devices would probably not have been able to carry the conversation.  He is baffled by Fiona and unable to understand the depth of her cognitive delays.  His strength is his intellect, his weakness, an inability to understand emotions and therefore her extreme sensitivities in that regard make for a very touchy situation.  But they giggled companionably about the movies scenes, dished about the star, etc.  It was amazing.  I had Chet talk right after me so that at the appropriate time I could give him the high sign and he could end things with "KC really wants to talk to you now." 

So hours later, when I was getting ready for my shower, the bathroom door flew open and crashed into me.  One would have to see how small our bathroom is to understand how this could happen, but as I prised the door knob out of my naked back Chet stuck his head in.  "Oh there you are." he said.  I said I always took my shower at this time.  "Well I didn't know that" he said. "And I wanted to know where you were.  You weren't in any of the other rooms so I looked here."  You'd have to live with Chet to understand the logic to that.  Any of the other kids would just say "Hey where's Ooma?"  Chet will always burst into a room looking for me, usually   asking his question before fully entering the room. Tonight he didn't have anything to ask, he just decided he needed to know where I was.  It is indeed part of the oddness of autism.  He has no real grasp that just walking into a room where the door is closed is considered less than cool in our society.  Luckily I am usually the one he has burning questions for and I am not all that modest (and pretty quick at grabbing a towel or stepping behind a curtain..It is the same impulsivity that kept him from safely stopping and checking for traffic before crossing the street until he was well into his teens. I figure we'll master this social skill by his 30's.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A picture of our fish Hush

Todd asked what a beta fish was.  Actually his confusion was likely caused by my typo as they are spelled betta.  But there is a picture of a fish that is a virtual twin of our fish Hush!

The most amazing beta fish in the world

Things have been a little weird lately.  Stuff I can not blog about is happening and I hadn't realized how much of a release writing had become till I had to self filter, so to speak.  I hope things will be okay, but in the mean time I thought I would share a funny story.

Back when KC was barely two, he had an abcessed tooth.  Because he was so young, it took a while for this to be discovered.  It didn't show in a regular x-ray at first and nothing seemed amiss during a visual dental exam.. It wasn't really clear if he was just getting other teeth gradually.  The pain would  come and go but never bothered him really dramatically till the abcess became full blown.  At that time the dentist decided extraction would be best. KC who was very sick of going to the dentist so often was deternined that this was.not.going.to.happen.  We wound up having to take him to a special dental surgeon who could anesthesize him for the procedure.  In the way of parents everywhere, we bribed the boy.  Let us do this and we will get you a treat.  Well, it wasn't exactly like that but close.  What he wanted was a beta fish.  And so, Hush the beta came to live with us.

And lives with us still.  KC is 6 1/2 and the fish still swims, albeit a bit sluggishly.  I check him every once in a while marvelling at the longevity of  his life!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fiona Calls even when Jane is on vaca!

I was pretty sure last night's call would not happen. Jane is on vacation and the other staff have in the past been far less reliable in getting the phone call in. but I am happy to report that I was wrong and she called and it was great!  In fact this is the first time I have seen Rob look and sound more relaxed when he was speaking with her on the phone.Usually he pretty frenetically strokes the dog while he makes the call.  Much less of that this week.  Progress is so slow, it is a good thing I don't care as long as it is progress!  KC is super relaxed talking to her.  He adores chatting on the phone anyway and just curls up and yaks so much with her that I have to literally remind him that others need a turn to talk too! LOL  My latest dilemma is that Fiona would like to chat with Chet at the next phone call.  I said OK but now I have to work on prepping Chet.  He and Fiona have never been a good fit as due to their respective disabilities they wind up annoying the heck out of each other.  Fiona is very sensitive and Chet is very blunt. Fiona  has cognitive delays that Chet doesn't, however his autism means he does not he have a capacity for empathy with hers. Sigh.  I am taking a page out of the amazing Jane's book and going to work a "phone plan" with him.  This is something Jane does each week with Fiona.  Maybe it will help keep Chet from saying anything that could be hurtful.  I don't want our forward progress derailed!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Feelin' Proud

My gremlins have been really doing well lately.  Probably I have jinxed myself just thinking that!  From smallest to tallest (which makes me sound like I am writing a la Dr. Seuss!) they are growing and expanding their abilities and it totally excites me.

Lissa--decided this morning to get herself dressed.  While I had a heart failure moment as this meant she was opening heavy dresser drawers herself and I worry about little fingers getting smushed, we have decided together that she will pick out her clothes the night before, and I'll leave them on top of her dresser.  I have to tell you that at 3 this was NEVER on KC's radar!  LOL  She also is shining so much at gymnastics that this fall they are moving her to a more advanced group. Since she only stared about 3 months ago, that is pretty huge.

KC--reading up a storm.  Does math in his head and adores "school work."  My resident artist who doesn't leave for a hike without tucking a sketchbook and pencil in his back pack so that he can "remember" all he sees.  I love watching the quick vignettes he chooses to put to paper in those situations.  It is nothing short of magical to me.

Rob--has been really trying to be helpful and more communicative.  Communicating is soooooo hard for him.  I am always wondering what happened in those first 5 years that made him decide it was so much better and safer not to speak.  I try to find lots of ways we can spend time together and feel close without him feeling the burden and anxiety of carrying a conversation.  This past weekend we watched a lot of X Games in the evening. (OK it is weird that I like to watch motorcycles shoot 35 feet into the air, but I do!) and last night we watched a ball game together.  He does well with the kind of desultory conversation that these type of situations engender.

Chet--has also been quite helpful lately.  And done for the most part, a better job of communicating.  (if we discount the fact that he recited a 7-11 commercial as part of his dinner conversation last night).  He has had one of the best  camping trips we have had with him this summer and I am hoping that the upcoming trip is just as successful.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Stupendous Sunday!

Today the kids and I hiked at a local Audubon sanctuary that we adore.  In the large field, filled with milkweed, Rob took this wonderful pic of a monarch butterfly.
We hung out at a pond there too and Rob, nature photographer extraordinatire snapped several pictures of the frogs who were totally willing to pose for him.  This one is one of my favorites but there were others which were equally good.
Lissa posed by the sign showing how high we climbed.  In the grand scheme of things, a small hike BUT the first one where I have not carried any of them in oh, about 6 years! LOL
All three at the summit of the hill.  It was a glorious day.  Didn't really feel like summer, more like early fall but way too nice to hang at home.  So all afternoon we poked around at the sanctuary and it was a blast.  Below that shot is Lissa and I at a glacial boulder on the way down the hill.  But oh the golden rod is in bloom and the swamp maples are starting to color, the acorns are fat and the wheel of the year is turning, turning!