Monday, March 30, 2015

Gourment Leprecauns!

This weekend was the great Lucky Leprecaun Art Gallery showing!  The kids had a blast. The grandparents came to view and to stay for a pasta luncheon.  KC was an admirably well prepared docent, explaining the concepts and medias used on each piece he had created.  I loved that my mom especially had thoughtful questions that she asked the artists about their work.  It is important for kids to feel that their work is respected and valued and she so did that in spades.  Fiona was home and she had work shown in the gallery as well.  I am glad we were able to keep the tradition going as my pneumonia had kind of slowed down the gallery creation there for a few weeks!

Saturday night our church was holding a gourmet dinner. This is a fancy schmantzy fundraiser that happens annually.  I went once and the food is stellar.  However I hate driving at night because it is a migraine trigger so I have not gone since.  The chef asked if Rob would help with plating and Rob agreed.  His godparents were going so we brought him to church and they brought him home after it was all over (sometime after 1 a.m.) I was dozing, just waiting for him to come home.  I can't sleep deeply when someone is out and supposed to come home. Rob stopped in my room to tell me it went well and he had fun.  Sunday at church a bunch of folks came up and told me what a hard worker he was and how busy he was in the kitchen.  Proud?  Heck yes.  I am both proud and grateful that he is such a caring young man, and gives of his time and talents without reservation.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Maple Sugar Funday

Today we set off bright and early to drive to Maine for Maple Sugar Sunday.  My mom said to dress warmly as it was supposed to be windy.  Well windy it was and cold to boot.  Really cold.  Arctic cold.  The kind of cold that just gets in your bones when you are getting over pneumonia and walking half a mile from where you could park the car to the sugar shack festivities.  Yup, I really plan things well, don't I?

Yet the thing I absolutely love about my kids is that they have fun.  Pretty much no matter what.  As KC said, "cold weather just can't stop our fun."  And it didn't.  We watched a black smith demonstration.We listened to fiddlers.  We warmed up while we watched sap boiling in the old time method in big kettles over open fires.  We petted oxen.  Lissa ate copious quantities of maple cotton candy.  We bought syrup for us and to bring back for KC's friend.  Then the shivering became nigh onto hypothermic and we headed back to the car. By the time we walked the 1/2 mile back to where we parked I could no longer feel my feet or my fingers.  I was wearing wool sox and gloves but clearly that wasn't doing the job for me.

We blasted the heat all the way to the pizza shop.  (Amatos is our Maine favorite!) and picked up lunch to bring with us to my mom's house.  We ate and chatted and visited.  I am lucky to have her live only a few hours away and to be so active in my kids life.  I am pleased that my kids love to go visit and never complain or ask what we will do there.  They chat and draw, play cards or dominos, in so many ways they are easy to please kids. The temperature may have been cold but the memories of today are very warm indeed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Maple Sugar Sunday prep

Tomorrow we head to Maine to celebrate Maple Sugar Sunday.  It is a fun event and there is a sugar shack in the town my mom lives in so we combine this with a visit to Nana.  Nana is having a hard time right now as her beloved kitty is very ill and they are not sure what is wrong. So a visit from the kiddos and I is a great thing right now and will help lift her spirits.

I am glad we are going but I am still feeling tired.  I know it is the residual of the pneumonia. This always happens to me when I get pneumonia. I can't really find a way to do the "rest and quiet" thing you are supposed to do so I have this lethargy that lasts and lasts.

On the plus side, the littles had a play date today so I got a lot of housecleaning done. (see aforementioned reference to causes of tiredness. LOL) But while I was at my sickest I think we were mostly just treading water here.  Rob needed extra care from the dental extractions, and my wife was feeling overwhelmed.

So I took advantage of the 2 hours of kid free time today and cleaned to a fair thee well.  I'll get to bed early tonight and tomorrow we will sally forth.   My wife is not coming with us as she has an evening job and it might be tight to be back in time for her to get there. So we will have to take lots of pictures and do lots of texting to keep her in the loop!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fiona struggles

Mental illness is the pits.  There is no easy solution, and it tends to rear its ugly intractable head when one is least expecting it.  Or perhaps least prepared for it.

Fiona has been in a bit of a downward spiral these past weeks.  I think that a big factor is the wisdom teeth extractions. They have been doing them one by one.  So one tooth out, a week to 10 days of healing and bam, another appointment for an extraction.  Pain and doctor visits are hard on anyone.  On someone with mental health issues and cognitive issues, it is worse.

The two extractions done thus far threw monkey wrenches into visits as she was not well enough to come home for obvious reasons.  Then last Friday Rob had his extractions and though Fiona was okay, he needed quiet, rest and attention.  Also I had just been diagnosed with  pneumonia which while not a primary issue definately figured into the decision not to have her come home.

I have tried to be in extra phone contact. To send little cards or itunes gift cards for her.  But I know that for Fi visits home are a key part to stability.  I could see her beginning to show signs of disregulation at her ISP meeting this month.  By this Monday she was hysterical on the phone with me.  She had a fabricated story of leaving the home via her bedroom window and walking down the road with no one noticing.  According to Fiona she then turned around and went back in her bedroom window.  For a variety of reasons, this was a fabrication, but she did later try to act this out via a bathroom window in the home.  The windows are all alarmed and she was stopped.  However she did not calm or settle till after 1 a.m. and the next morning she also refused to attend the dentist appointment for the next extraction.

I sure can't blame her, though I am worried as the tooth does bother her. However her mental health is more important than the tooth at this point and I have asked the staff to try and postpone this for a month or so to give her time to stabalize.

Meanwhile Fiona is blaming her decompensating the presence of another house mate. She and the other young lady have a love/hate relationship and right now it is more hate than love.  Fiona is also angry with me because I told her that I always love her and I am here for her but I won't help her blame other people for choices she is making for herself.  Her housemate did not push her out the window, she chose to do that. Fi was not amused! She definately believes that if I don't agree with her I am against her.  So I have to just keep ignoring that and I keep calling and checking in, keeping things light.

But I worry. I don't know if she will be able to get things back into some semblance of control or if she will wind up with an emergency hospitalization. Now, I am off to get some pineapple, which I have found works as well for me as most cough syrups!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Teeth, coughs and pneumonia oh my!

Rob seems to have come through the wisdom teeth extraction well.  He was hard to wake after the surgery, but I explained to the nurse that this is a boy who can't hear an alarm clock when he is asleep.   He has always been the heaviest sleeper I have ever known.  I think in part it was a learned PTSD response, but part of it is just how he is as well.  Anyway, thankfully she could see that I have virtually no voice and for sure wasn't going to be shouting in his ear to waken him.  So she got some oxygen and put that on him and it helped bring him round.  He was a little unsteady and a whole lot loopy but he is a great patient.  I've brought him soft eggs and oatmeal, italian ices and favorite bevorages. I am up and down with the ice packs.  I don't really want him going up and down the stairs till tomorrow as he was just off his game enough for me to worry that he might get dizzy and fall down the stairs instead of walk down them.

Got home from that and KC had a drs appointment in the early afternoon as he has my cold.  Or what I thought was my cold.  Which is um, (hanging head sheepishly) my pneumonia.  Egad.  How does one really have that slip by you??? KC thankfully only has bronchitis.  We both have antibiotics now so I expect the corner will be turned quickly.

It was kind of funny though as Dr. B asked if I had been tired lately.  I said well maybe a little, there was the time change and so I had laid it to that.  I have needed the alarm clock to wake me where usually I wake up before it. . .  He just shook his head.

So now it is time to rastle the wee folks into bed and then I am going to shower and get going on our piece work for the night.  My poor wife is doing her cleaning contracts alone tonight as Rob who usually helps is not available this week.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

No Time!

I am sick and I  My body apparently doesn't get that!  The 3 day migraine of the end of last week left, leaving in its wake a weird throat and cough that I thought were allergies. Wrong.  It has since grown still more unpleasant and in addition to feeling like death, I am annoyed!  I would be happy to schedule a small sickness break in about 51 weeks!  What is wrong with that?

No it is happening when Rob has his wisdom teeth out tomorrow. When today I do the dance run shuttle service for my kids and those of friends.  When my job is doing performance reviews and I have work up the wazoo.

OK whine over.  It isn't going to change anything.  On a positive side we have had some significant melting and ice and snow coming off rooves (ours and others) .  The upper part of our driveway long vanished under the unusual amount of snow, is starting to resurface.  It is daylight longer and the kids play out after math class more in the evenings.

And last week they went to a pottery place and the littles made themselves travel mugs. They picked them up yesterday and they are really cute.  It turned out that my wife made a beautiful mug for me too.  It is a spring scene. So now, no matter what the weather, I can always see spring!  I love that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Women's Sunday

Sunday was International Women's Sunday and our church asked everyone to stand and speak the name of one woman who significantly impacted their life.  ONE!  I thought to myself in panic!  There is my own mother of course.  My grandmother with her amazing inner strength and love of nature.  There was my 9th grade English teacher Mrs. B who helped me see literature in new and amazing ways. The VP of the first company I worked for was actually the person who interviewed me for a very low on the totem pole position when I started there in days of yore.  Connie was bright and successful and it was the first time I had seen a female executive of a major company.  I was in awe of the fact that she would take the time to interview me.  There I was, a green 19 year old trying my darndest to convince her I had what it took to work in an industry I had never considered before as a career path. If I had not succeeded in convincing her to give me a chance, if she had not been able to listen with her heart as well as her head, my life would have likely been very different.

But at the end of the day, the name I chose to speak was my mother in law Barbara Johnson.  She left this earth far too young, passing years ago on the first day of spring.  There were many gifts she gave me but one of the things I remember the most was how utterly unconditionally she loved my Chet.  Chet is hard for people to understand and not always comfortable to be around. His social skills may never match his desire for sociability and when he was young his frustrations with his lack of understanding were punctuated with horrific tantrums that went on for hours.  Mom didn't mind.  She could see through all that to the little boy shining within.  She never asked us to get a sitter when we visited, never asked us to leave when things were bad, never let me apologize when I was tearful over the meltdowns.  "It will all work out, it is not a problem for me." she would say over and over.

When she died, it was very hard for Chet. The rest of my in laws love him, but their inability to understand him made their relationship awkward.  My side of the family was no less exempt.  My niece did not want me to bring him to a party she was having for her daughter.  The road that people with autism walk can be a lonely one.  I have been lucky to have since find many people to share that road with us and with Chet and brighten his life in a myriad of ways.  But that first bright light, his grandmother, will always shine in my heart.

Friday, March 6, 2015

My not so free range chickens, er kids

It has been interesting reading about the issue of the kids who were walking home on a busy street alone and the parents got into problems over it.  I think that is wrong and that it is the right of those parents to decide if those kids are savvy enough to be safe doing that walk.  By all accounts, the parents seem to have done a good job; starting out with smaller solo walks and building up to that one.  That said, I'm not that much of a free range person for myself--I just don't want the government stepping in and telling me when and how to parent.

I read on social media about people who say they roamed their neighborhoods freely as children--leaving the house at daybreak and returning when the street lights came on.  By the time I was a child in this same city, that was not really the parenting style.  I did not have helicopter parents, but they knew where I was and there were designated times to check in.  The times between check ins got longer as I grew into teen years, but I still had to check in. And it was a given that if my family expected me in one place and I didn't inform them of a change in plans and wasn't there if they needed me--all bets were off on future freedoms.

My friends all thought I had a way more laid back family set up than they did. They had rigid curfews, and really strict guidelines on where they could go and when.  And all this was before there was an app to tell me how many pedofiles live in my neighborhood.  Before the apartment building next door became a sad home of a number of substance abusers (somewhat sarcastically called the Heroin house amongst us)  It was way before I saw people do a drug deal at the corner store where we buy our milk.  There were fewer cars and they drove slower.Stores were not open on Sundays so we could and did mess around in the parking lots with skateboards or home made instruments of death defying fun.

So here in our city--which is not a bad city--just sadly, a fairly typical one, I am not so free range.  We go on family bike rides and I'll let the kids be far enough ahead that i have to watch them, but I could speed up and get to them should the need arise.  I don't let either KC and/or Lissa walk to and from the park alone.  Part of it is that I know that Lissa would not listen to KC who is by far the most likely to be responsible. She is very strong willed,fiercely competitive and frankly can run faster than he can. If she takes off, he's not catching her.

I try and parent with an air of just matter of factness when we gather to cross one of our busy streets.  Right now we hold hands because the ginormous snowbanks make visibility a challenge. There has been a fatality of someone walking home and being hit by a plow.  It was no one's fault, but extra caution is warranted.  There is also a ton of ice underfoot.  So I just say we are being careful due to winter weather and that this way I know everyone is coming across at the same time.  I don't say "hold on tight to my hand or you're gonna dieeeeeeeeeee!"  LOL

Where I can be more free range is when we go camping and I suspect that is a facet of camping that my kids love more than all the back to nature stuff that I adore.  They typically have a little posse of kids and they roam the campground together from dawn to dusk, checking in much as I did when I was a kid.  There are times when we are doing something as a family and we all break off but when we return, the little gang of fun loving kids magically reappears. They need that.  They need to do those crazy things that I did (like trying to walk on rolling cable spools)  They need to catch fireflies and chatter with kids out of adult earshot.  Camping gives us that. There is a leash, I suppose.  I have the kind of check in system that my folks did but it seems to offer enough freedom for them to explore and stretch, at least for now.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Comical transport

The hard winter we have endured in the Northeast has made life more challenging for all.  I have a roof over my head, a relatively warm house (we won't talk about the morning the dogs water dish had a skim of ice in the kitchen) and food to eat.  Many don't and for them, this winter has been something I can't even wrap my head fully around.

This does not mean I don't feel like whining sometimes.  Everything is just harder when there are snowbanks over 6 feet high and ice dams and roofs to shovel.  The winter has impacted our aging commuter rail badly as well and Rob's trips in and out of school have been far longer than usual.  I used to pick him up at 6:15 and now with the train on "recovery" schedule he is usually not home till 7:30.  Hard on him, hard on the little kids who have to stay up longer so we can drive to the station to get him.

The other night though we had a bit of comic relief.  It was snowing--what a surprise! And visibility was poor.  I could not park inside the train station to wait for him so I parked across the street and texted him my location for when the train came in.  Then the kids and I just chilled in the car as we are really used to this drill.  I checked work messages, they read books or doodled etc.  Suddenly the back door opened.

I turned around to say "Hi Honey" only to see a young fellow I have never seen before.  We stared at each other for a minute and then he said "Uber?"  I look at him blankly.  He repeats it.  I said, "I'm sorry, I'm here to pick up my son from the train. We are not the Ubers."  Fellow apologizes, closes the door and walks to the next car.

It wasn't till I got home and told my wife that she told me about Uber car service that is trying to break into our area apparently.  Yeah.  "We're not the Ubers."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Costume time!

It was costume week at the dance school this week!  This is Lissa as a flower.  She is also a tiger, which is equally cute and her hip hop number is the evil witch's guards.  All of them are cute as can be.

KC is a farmer, one of the evil witch's guard, his ballet number is "glinda's magic" which is an cream colored top with poet sleeves and long black pants, and jazz finds him an "emerald city kid."  The dance studio always does a production that is part theater and part dance, so it is more entertaining than the average recital. As you probably guessed, this year is the Wizard of Oz.  KC has also signed up to be in the final production dance so he is going to be busy with rehearsals for sure.

Lissa has all ready decided that she will drop all but hip hop next year.  She is really a dancer for the sociability of it and would rather spend Saturday mornings in a bit more leisurely fashion and perhaps sign up for swim classes.  KC is horrified that she wants to give up the ballet/tap and jazz combo class.  He quite rightly knows that ballet is a real core to a successful dancer. What he can't wrap his head around is that Lissa doesn't care about being a great dancer. She is there to have fun. He is there because it is a driving passion in him.

My boss was asking me last week if KC's dance love was a "nurture" or "nature" thing in my opinion.  She knows that my mom and my aunt had dance schools and that I danced all the way through school.  The thing is though, that I never suggested dance to KC. KC is the one who drove that train right out of the station.  He started dancing once he finally decided to walk and just never stopped.  Whether it was making up tap dances from his own mind or flitting around with scarves to classical music, it was really all him.  Somewhere in his biological family someone has a love of dance and a passion and ability for it.  Frankly I suspect that both of those things in him far surpass my abilities. I was a good dancer, but never great.  I didn't care enough.  I wasn't hungry for it.  He is genuinely committed to the core. He also has a sense of color and costume style and is not shy about voicing his opinions. I am blessed that the dance school values that input and allows some of the modifications he feels are important on his costuming.

But I have had several long conversations with him about how Lissa has to be allowed to find her own passions. Hers could be swimming, or basketball or any number of things and she can and will be allowed to explore and find her own passion.  I think he gets it now--at least gets that she has the right to do something else besides dance.  He just can't figure out why she wants to!