Friday, December 30, 2011

Everything Will Be Okay In The End...

... If it's not okay, it's not the end. (author unknown)

As 2011 comes to an end, I look to this quote to help me realize a brighter future.

2011 has been a tough year for us. Tougher than the usual tough. Hubby's subcontracting job was slow to produce jobs for him and his dad. I quit one job in order to gain more hours (more "mom friendly" hours, that is) elsewhere - but now those hours aren't producing themselves either. And Sweetie continues to struggle with the aftermath of her treatment for Lyme Disease this past summer.

And I am realizing that I've been living with adrenal fatigue. Shocker, huh? I'm not stressed at all! My life is beautiful and calm and perfect in every way. Ommmmm....

HA!

But...

A new year is upon us and, with that, a new outlook of greatness for all!

Hubby and his dad are currently busy again with their subcontracting job, as well as side projects. We have no current reason to suspect anything but continued regularity and new jobs by the brimful...

Hubby is also newly installed as one of the latest artisans at Mountainside Gallery and Gifts. He's selling his beautiful wine bottle stoppers and pens, all lovingly handcrafted out of exotic and beautiful woods. He's so talented! Some sales have already been made and we expect more great things to come from this!

Now that the holiday season is on its way out, I suspect that students and parents alike will get back to the grindstone and start enrolling for tutoring sessions again. Gotta ace those ACTS and SATS! Soon I will be up to my eyeballs in students in need, I just know it!

(And, I have to say, whereas the lack of income from not tutoring has been trying, I have otherwise enjoyed having my late afternoons and evenings even more free to spend time with my family.)

As we struggled with finances, I simultaneously feel so incredibly blessed to have the family and friends that we do. Friends who have bartered with us and donated to us. Family who has helped us out in all sorts of wonderful ways. Yes, we didn't have the financial income this year that we continue to hope for. But yet, in some ways, I still feel like one of the richest women in the world...

Sweetie is back to a strict probiotic regimen, accompanied by immune boosting supplements and a mindfulness about the amount of gluten and processed foods that enter her body. Her most recent bout of stomach upset she experienced just yesterday morning produced only one episode of vomiting, as opposed to a half a day or more of ickiness during her previous 2 episodes since the beginning of November. So, all things considered, I think things are improving for her as well. Still - keeping track/watching the pattern, considering future steps needed to help her along. Her attitude of optimism remains as unflappable as ever!

And I am taking better care of myself as well. Regular vitamins and adrenal support supplements. A better diet. More rest when I can get it. Hubby is my number one supporter, making sure I'm eating more fruits and veggies every day and cooking as many vitamin and mineral rich yummy dinners as ever to keep me on track to getting my system back into shape. I am thankful that my ears have been open enough to hear about adrenal fatigue from trusted, knowledgeable sources and that I was able to recognize the symptoms in myself when I did. I am open to the course of treatment I'm on being the right one for me or, if not, being able to likewise recognize this and move on to a different course of action or even the possibility of a different diagnosis.

I will be healthier in the coming year, and beyond...

Sweetie will be healthier in the coming year, and beyond...

We will have enough financial income to pay for the necessities of life as well as just a few fun additions...

We recognize that only we can make effective changes... changes don't just happen upon us...

Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

Monday, December 26, 2011

This Christmas

A week ago we took you to the mall. It was our annual pilgrimage, your yearly visit with Old St. Nick for your birthday. It was Monday evening - the day before your 9th birthday -and, even with it being only days away from Christmas, the mall really wasn't so badly crowded as it could have been.

We waited in line and I took out the comb and hair clip I'd slipped in my pocket before leaving home - something I'd forgotten in years past, making it necessary for Daddy to run off to the drug store to purchase emergency hair-taming apparatus. But this year I was prepared, reaching up - UP! - further than ever before, to tease the snarls out of your tresses and clip a thick strand away from your pretty face.

I wonder if we'll be visiting the Old Man next year or if, by 10 years old, you will find our tradition silly. I wonder, if we do go next December, will I be able to reach to style your hair at all.

And now, we've just had Christmas. It was a pretty great day, I must admit. Starting with Daddy and I being awakened before 6:30 a.m. by your singing to yourself in your room. You weren't supposed to wake us up until 7:00 a.m. - and that's precisely when you came in. You crawled into our bed, settled between us (as much as She-Who-Cannot-Stop-Moving-Ever can settle, that is) and that's how we all stayed for another good half hour or so, playing a rousing edition of Christmas cattails (pick a theme and say a word. Whatever that word ends in, the next person has to say a word that begins with that same letter.)

Eventually we made our way downstairs, starting with stockings, then breakfast of homemade cinnamon buns, and then finally the opening of presents, starting at close to 9:00 a.m. As much as I sometimes regret that you won't have siblings to grow up with, I do believe that Christmas morning with just the 3 of us is pretty much ideal. You aren't egged on by nor egging on a brother or sister, seeing who can be the most excited, the most hyped up, the most hysterically crazed about getting to and opening presents as soon as humanly possible. No. We three take our time, enjoy the morning, and appreciate the gifts (both material and not) before us. Love it!

This year I'd say you were the most laid back I'd seen you on Christmas morning. I thought there were at least a few gifts you'd go absolutely wild over, and I was excited for you to unwrap them. Instead, you were calmly, honestly, politely pleased and grateful. Not the big rush of pure joy I was expecting from you, but still pretty great in the end.

And now, you and I have some time off together. You had a fun day today, moving from new activity to new activity. I love the games we tend to get you/you tend to be given! Building and crafting toys and activities that can be done again and again and again, with you only being limited by your own imagination. An imagination, it seems to me, which is pretty darn limitless. This year seemed to be the year of the Choose Your Own Adventure Book. You've gotten 5 traditional versions of this style of book this birthday and Christmas combined, and one more super cool (if I do say so myself!) graphic comic book version called Meanwhile. You'd never seen CYOA books before, but have quickly developed a great love for them, and I am excited for you that you're happy to dive into these adventurous new worlds of your own making.

Yes, this Christmas may have been a financial challenge for us - as it usually is, actually - but we pulled it off pretty well, I'd say. I love how you appreciate the little gifts as much as the bigs one - sometimes more! I love that you can be given a gift handmade with love and be more thrilled with it than the more expensive and store-purchased popular game of the hour. This year's gift of the season for you? A hand-knit "dead fish hat," made by your Auntie. So awesome! You have learned well, I know, that it's the thought behind a gift that counts the most. And you are genuinely appreciative, always.

Merry Christmas, Sweetie. And Happy 9th birthday too! Your last single digit year. Next Christmas may be a whole different situation. You may be too big - literally and figuratively - to submit yourself to the true meaning of the season. But for now - this Christmas, and all the Christmases we've been honored enough to have you as a part of our lives - have been completely and utterly as magical, mystical and marvelous as any Christmas ought to be.

You like to say that Daddy is Awesome, I'm The Best, and you're always Great. I say you are all three wrapped up into one and that, without you, I can't even imagine how life would be at all.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Mom" Sense? Or Overly Sensitive?

She'd been sick for weeks. Maybe a month or more. Coldy. Stuffy. And then? A cough. Not too terrible during the day, but enough to keep her, and us, up at night. Finally I kept her home one day, just to see if some rest would help shake it. And it kind of did - the cough eased up a bit soon thereafter. But the congestion was still there. She blamed it on "fall allergies." I paid little attention to her position on the matter, though. Until finally Hubby and I informed her - "You know? People really rarely get fall allergies. This isn't allergies. You have a cold."

Fine. A simple cold. She's a trooper and never complains. She was well enough to continue going to school. Even seeming to get better! Until last Monday. Well, she seemed better. So much so that, to be honest, I wasn't even thinking of her as sick any longer. But then, just as school was wrapping up for the day I got the call. The school nurse, informing me that Sweetie had just vomited all over herself. She needed to be picked up and, beyond that, to stay out of school until she was vomit free for 24 hours.

That evening, she was not well. I hoped it was a fluke. Thought it may actually have been! She was holding down sips of flat soda for a good couple of hours until... yeah, not so much. The rest of the evening was much the same. No, this wasn't a fluke. Obviously, she really was sick. Not to mention the nurse said this was, in fact, "going around."

But the next day - her required day out of school - she was fine. Feeling hungry, cautiously eating and drinking bland foods. Success! Good spirits, feeling better, all was A-okay. Back to school the next day and okay ever since.

But... her eyes. She just looks, you know, sickly. Dark circles shadow eyes. She's... quiet. Not that she's really ever been a rowdy kid when we're here at home. She can and does often play inside quietly and contentedly on her own - crafting or drawing or pretending. But now she's just, I don't know... tired acting and looking. Getting as much sleep as she ever has. But... she's just not herself. And, yes, we did change back the clocks - was it last weekend? Heck! I've been overly tired this week too! But, I don't know. She's not had difficulty adjusting to time changes before. And the circles... it's not just been this week. I've noticed them before. Often, actually. This past late spring and summer, for instance. And then she was, in fact, ill. Contracting and then fighting Lyme Disease. She was treated. She responded well. She seemed almost instantly better! All is well in the end, where this is concerned.

...Or is it? Has the disease actually been kicked from her system? Can we even tell? I've read about and been told of the relatively common false negatives that occur from testing, especially from a person who's been recently treated for the disease. And I also know that, even when successfully treated, certain symptoms can crop up and stick with you for several months after finishing antibiotics. So maybe that's just it. She's good, but just still feeling the effects of this crazy disease... even though she has successfully rid it from her system.

Or... maybe it's still with her. Maybe it will always be with her. Maybe she will feel worse and worser still. Lyme Disease affects so many people in almost just as many different ways. One person suffers from headaches. Another has terrible mood swings. Yet another deals with great fatigue and body aches and pains. Who knows - if this is what it is - what her specific issues may be long term.

Or... maybe she's just struggling with this ongoing congestion bug. I do, after all, know of other kids who have had this apparent cold for many, many weeks straight through. It very well could be a particularly nasty cold strain that just won't let go.

Still... I'm keeping my eye on her. Tonight she complained of feeling "hungry" as I put her to bed, even though she reasoned out that she couldn't possibly be hungry since she'd just had a good dinner. I gave her a drink of water and told her to cuddle up with her "Love Bug" bear - a stuffed animal she only cuddles with when not feeling well. Love Bug has worked wonders in the past to make her feel much better. Here's hoping tonight is no different.

I'm paying attention. I'm watching. If she continues to be sick, if she actually falls obviously ill again, I will be calling the doctor. She will be tested again. We will get to the bottom of what's going on.

She has never been a "sick kid". She's had one ear infection ever. She's a trooper. She doesn't complain. And when she is sick, she gets over it fast.

This time? It's just not fast enough for my liking...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Teaching That Which We Cannot Do

You know that saying that goes, in part and paraphrased, "Those who can't do, teach."? Well, Hubby and I seem to be living examples of this.

We went to Sweetie's parent/teacher conference the other day. I had previously met her teacher at the parents open house the first week of school and I knew right then and there that I loved this woman. A long-time educator. Very dedicated! Very passionate! So enthusiastic! Years and years of exploring and adding to and adjusting her teaching philosophy. Just a really great teacher.

And now? She has increased my love for her by demonstrating how well she has watched, thought about, and now teaches and manages our Sweetie.

She has also pegged Sweetie probably better than anyone has ever been able to verbalize it before by stating:

"I don't think I have ever met anyone as comfortable in their own skin" as Sweetie is.

Wow. Yes. Exactly.

Sweetie is happy to play with the girls or the boys or by herself. She gets along with all her classmates and they all seem to like her. But the truth is, she'd prefer to spend recesses and free time playing on her own, making up plays or songs in her head and then acting them out.

If someone does think Sweetie's doing something a bit weird... eh. Sweetie doesn't care. Probably doesn't even recognize that someone else thinks her actions are odd. Sweetie knows she's having fun and that's all that matters to her.

We were at the Big Orange Box store this weekend, collecting parts and pieces for Sweetie's Halloween costume this year (a robot). One of the things we picked up was a small, plastic, blue pail that we'll spray paint silver. This will become her robot helmet. Well, Sweetie was wearing this blue pail on her head all throughout the store. Kids stared. Grownups smiled. One little girl asked her why she had a bucket on her head, to which Sweetie replied that it's going to be part of her robot costume (duh!). The girl looked at me and, with a smile, said, "She's silly." Did any of this embarrass Sweetie one little bit? Heck no! She was having fun! On her own! Not because others were paying attention to her. Hardly! No, she was plain old having fun, practicing her robot voice and Halloween look.

And speaking of Halloween costumes... who else but Sweetie would ever chose to be, and then revel in the act of being a stick of butter? Wouldn't kids think that was weird? How did she ever think of being something so odd? We may never know the answers to these questions, but I can tell you that little Miss Sweetie was nothing but pleased with herself - and her Daddy for making the costume - that particular year.

But. There is a downside to Sweetie's very internal, self confident nature. And that is that Sweetie lives on Sweetie time. Which is to say, since day one of Kindergarten, Sweetie has been a very competently skilled child - yes, but a very slow to action child. She'll get things done, for sure. She'll just get things done on her own time, thank you very much.

This has always been Sweetie's issue and continues to be her issue. But, at least for now, her teacher - after much thought - has decided that she won't make this be a real problem for Sweetie academically. Her teacher said she's thought about this a lot - whether or not she should truly get on Sweetie's case more to pick up the pace in her school work. But in the end, at least for now, she told us, "(Sweetie) isn't bothered by it (her own slow work speed), so I've decided I'm not going to be bothered by it."


She assured us that Sweetie is not "goofing off", day dreaming, or otherwise being distracted or trying to get out of doing school work. She's happily doing the work she's given. She's just a very careful, very slow "doer". And Lord help us if there is any creative aspect to the work that needs to be done! Any drawing or coloring of pictures, for instance. Such a project as that is doomed to take Sweetie twice again as long to complete. 


Hubby has always tried to impress upon Sweetie - knowing her typical slower pace - that we don't care how long it takes her to do something, as long as she's getting things right.

Well. We are having to change our tune a bit now.

Yes, it does matter how long it takes to get something done. I've explained to Sweetie, for instance, that she could write the most beautiful, detailed, creative story ever - a story that deserves the top grade! - but if that story's not ready to hand in until the day after the teacher says it's due... well, then. Your teacher has every right to give you the worst grade possible for your work.

Timing counts. Deadlines mean something. Now means now.

Getting back to Sweetie's comfortableness within her own skin... this means, too, that Sweetie is not affected by outside motivation. Her teacher has a coupon-based classroom in which students can earn and lose coupons based on things such as behavior and turning assignments in on time. But, see... Sweetie seems not all that interested in the coupons and what they can do for her (earn her prizes such as homework passes and snacks, among other things.) Such treats are nice, sure, but not nice enough to light a fire under her to get things done quicker.

Hubby and I see this as each year's birthday for her and Christmas rolls around. Sweetie rarely ever wants anything specific. She's not a very materialistic kid. I've had to gently guide her toward asking for whatever it is I know already she's going to be getting for Christmas. Last year, for instance, I felt she needed a sticker book because she has so many loose stickers around the house that she's collected from doctor's appointments and such and I thought it would be great for her to have a place to keep them all. And so, "a sticker book" became the thing she told people she really wanted from Santa last year.

(BTW - she got this sticker book and has not ONCE even opened it. Ever.)

Still. Comfortable within her own skin. Not shy. A careful worker. An interested student. A top student with her skills. A well-liked kid. Self motivated. Non-materialistic.

None - absolutely none of that - sounds bad to me at all.

And still, I wonder, how on Earth did we get a kid like this!

Hubby and I are both shy, quiet people - always have been, and still are. I am certainly not as self confident or comfortable with myself as I should or could be, and neither, I think, is he. He was a distracted, day dreaming student. I was a decent student who did enough to get by, but never interested enough to surpass. And we are both, sadly, way more materialistic than we should be. My materialistic nature, though, has settled down within the last several years, I admit. I'd be much happier with a gift of a fun experience than a physical gift these days, for instance. But Hubby, I think, still tends toward the material gifts. He surely knows the wonder and awesomeness that can exist in gifts of experience, but he also needs/wants new boots, new tools, new clothes, etc., etc., etc...

So how is it that he and I have so successfully taught the importance of confidence, hard work, and true gifts to our growing little girl?

And here I repeat my opening thoughts... Those who can't do, teach.

Our actual lessons remain a mystery to me still. But I see this above statement as absolutely the truth.

We were not/are not this way, my child. Therefore you will be.

I am motivated everyday to continue raising Sweetie just the way we have been, whether with purposeful lessons or happy "accidental" lessons "taught" on a daily basis, simply by seeing her flourish and grow and mature into the amazing little girl she continues to be.

We cannot do, but we are teaching well. Obviously.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adventures in Things I Cannot Do



And this weekend? I think we (okay, they) are trying their hand at roller skating.

Skiing, though. I've done that! Neither of them has ever hit the slopes before.

I take pretty good pictures, though. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Abled" Parent

If you haven't already figured it out by now, I am a thinker. So much so, at times, that it is to my detriment. I worry. I consider all the possibilities. I wonder how or what others think of the same situation from their viewpoint. I think. Therefore, I am.

And so, with that - you guessed it - I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. A lot of soul searching. No, it doesn't exactly help much that one of the places I work is an interfaith spiritual theology school where I have recently been doing a fair amount of reading and editing of coursework text. Learning, as I read, how to be truer to myself. How to be authentic. How to live my purpose. Be bold. Be brave.

And I keep coming back to the same thing. Over and over again. It haunts me.

I have to write.

The specific thing that continues to run through my mind is the remembrance of a visit I once had, back nearly half my lifetime ago, to a fortune teller. A friend and I went - my friend writing down all the predictions this seer saw for my future.  And there, among them, was that I would be published. Twice over, in fact. One would be a sort an autobiography of sorts (uhhh, hello! Can anyone say "blog"?) And the other would be more of a fiction, she thought.

Now, I don't care what you're particular views on fortune tellers are. You may or may not take any stock in them whatsoever. That's fine. Heck, I don't even know exactly what my opinion of them are. But, I suppose, if tested, I'd have to say, "Why not? Why can't there be those among us who can see more deeply than others? Can see more clearly what laid before us and what's in store ahead? We all have our special talents."

And anyway, there were some other things she said that day that absolutely did make specific sense from my past or, as I lived and saw, came true in that day's near future.

For one thing - my meeting Hubby was predicted. And I did. At the time she said I would. He looked as she said he would. She had him pegged.

But, yeah... she predicted I'd be a published author. And here I sit, edging in closer and closer to 40 years on this earth, without having done a thing about making this happen.

But then again, I always have really felt that this was sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. See, I was told I was going to be a published author, so obviously it's going to happen. Somehow or another. And to actually get a move on to making this legitimately happen is to just put into motion what I was told by someone I'd do anyway. That's cheating. It's just supposed to happen "organically," isn't it?

At any rate, my current step has been to look around and see what kinds of books are out there for disabled women raising healthy children. Ask me to search for these books 9 or 10 years ago and I'd come up empty-handed for sure. But today? I'm pleased to say that there are a fair - not great, but fair - number of books and other published resources for disabled parents to turn to. That is progress, and I'm happy to see these few sources out there for parents, or potential parents, to turn to for answers and advice (not to mention, happy to be among the sources they turn to with any questions and concerns regarding pregnancy and raising children.)

However... I'm still unclear what my particular bent would be in writing my own book on the topic of parenting when you're a disabled parent.

I'm not a fiction writer. Let me tell the truth, please. Let me tell you my story. I can do that and I can do that well. But to fabricate a story, with characters and an interesting plot and storyline? Uh uh. Can't do it. Don't make me.

And... you know? This whole "being a disabled woman raising a happy and healthy child" thing? It's going okay. And not, honestly, very affected by my disability. Not that I can see on a daily basis, anyway. In fact, as far as being a disabled parent goes, I sometimes feel rather like an imposter of sorts.

I mean... yes, I wear leg braces and walk with the aid of a walking stick. But that's me anyway. My braces and walking stick have no effect on how I am raising my daughter.

And other than my braces and stick - which I need in my life, child or not - I don't require any other "aids" to help me properly care for my child on a daily basis. In fact, the only parenting "aid" I can think of ever having was one of those kiddie "leashes" (Ugh. Hate that term!) for when Sweetie was a toddler and I didn't want her to wander or run off from me when we were out in public. And, of course - primarily when she was quite a bit younger - I needed more help physically from nearby family and friends. People who could lift her up and/or carry her when I couldn't. But now? I'm good. She's good. We're all good. And not terribly "disabled" from doing what we want to get done, physically speaking.

So, with that... my current story with Sweetie is, I feel, pretty much just like any other mom's story of raising a child. Sure, I have my thoughts on what having a disabled mom is doing for Sweetie's personal strength, character, and self-confidence. Because Sweetie does put up with a lot because of who I am (aaannnnddd... here we go with a complete 360 from the paragraph above...). She understands that I cannot walk far distances - at least not without my back brace on. She helps me get chores done around the house that perhaps other girls her age don't do because particular things are difficult for me to accomplish easily (i.e. deliver clothes piles and other things to our upstairs, carry large loads of laundry to be folded, etc.) And I think she knows that I endure chronic back pain and occasional leg weakness - not that I ever really outwardly complain about these things (what's the point? I'm still gonna hurt.) She pulls me up when I fall down, she slows down when I remind her I'm slower than she is, and she helps me without complaint when I ask for assistance through trickier (walking related) situations.

Just a couple weekends ago we were visiting friends at their beautiful new summer cottage, complete with a fabulous lake view and small dock to rest on. But to get back up to their cottage from the dock meant trekking up a somewhat steep (for me), tree-root-littered hill. Two or three times during our stay I asked Sweetie if she would please help me up this hill... which meant her stopping her fun playtime with new friends swimming in the lake so she could steady/pull her old, sore, heavy (for her, at least) mother up the incline. And she did it, no complaints (well, a tiny bit of complaint, but hardly mentionable.) And then, at the end of the evening when the car was all packed up and Hubby realized we were all set to go, except for Mom still needing help to get up the hill and to the car, I'm told Sweetie happily jumped at the chance to assist. "I'll go get her!" she said. And she did. She's a big help.

I realize that all of my "things" that I do live with, and that make me who I am, have got to have an effect on Sweetie, for better or for worse. And, in a lot of ways, I dare say my being who I am - as tough as it can sometimes be for me, for her, for our family - has played/is playing a large part in (if I do say so myself) the strong, creative, fair, kind, GREAT person Sweetie is today and continues to grow into existence.

So, yes. I have a story to tell. I've been telling it hear for about 5 years now. But in so many ways, it is nothing remarkable at all. Just like countless numbers of other parenting stories out there. I'm a mom. My husband and I are raising our daughter. We think - no, we know - she is amazing. We have our ups and downs but life, in general, is pretty good. End of story.

But... I have a book inside me. I know I do. It haunts me. To write it would be to display my authentic self. What I'm supposed to do - to help myself and to help others. If only just by way of entertainment. It only needs just to get out and on it's way.

Let's get a move on...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Best of Times...

Yes, I know I have that classic Dicken's intro backwards, but I tell ya... this summer, for us, has in a lot of ways seemed like the "worst of times."

In fact, an alternate title for this post could have easily been "Broken Summer."

Broken car.

Broken new car (windshield)

Broken computer.

"Broken" kid 

And now, as of late last night and right before Hurricane Irene began to enter into our neck of the woods, Broken house... as in, a bit of the interior portion of our basement foundation crumbled away onto the floor. Fun fun. "At least" we only rent this place. Not our headache to fix - only to live with in the meantime... and hope it doesn't get worse.

There have been other, more minor problems with this summer as well. For instance, the ice maker on our fridge (also property of our landlords') decided to stop working for a few days. Hubby was able to get that one fixed with some monkeying around, though.

I was miserably sick about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Out for a week of work. High fever for days on end, fatigue and whole body aches. Because of what Sweetie went through, though, I went right away to get tested for Lyme as well as 2 other tick-bourne diseases. All came back negative and I am feeling much better now. Still. I haven't been that sick in about 6 years. And I'd be happy not to be that sick again in at least that many years again.

Hubby and his dad haven't had really great, really consistent work since I'd say about April. Many more 4-week remodel jobs than are good for our financial well-being (jobs usually take about 2 weeks. And they don't get paid until after a remodel is complete.) Stressful times, indeed.

And, yes, I'm sure there are even more woeful news items I could report from our home front. But, you get the point. This summer? Not the best.

BUT... if you are a Sweetie and you look back on this summer - just a couple days away from heading back to school later this week - I am actually pretty certain that you would have thought this summer was, well, pretty sweet.

Hey! We got a cool new (to us) Prius! With air conditioning! And an awesome "way back"/"trunk" area which little girls can crawl into and settle down in during the second movie at the drive-in. Which...

She went to the drive-in for the first time ever this summer! Saw Cars 2. Pretty darn awesome.

We also got a pretty awesome new iMac computer. Totally sweet! And the fact that it comes with a feature that lets you take pictures of yourself as you sit at the key board, then edit those photos to look like they're comic book pages or the like? Way, way cooler still. Especially for a certain little 8 year old who can't seem to get enough of looking at herself in the mirror. This computer purchase may have actually been the highlight of her summer.

More - we traveled on adventures all over New Hampshire, participating in the New Hampshire's Great Park Pursuit. For 4 Saturdays within June and July, we gathered with other state park enthusiast families for fun times, scavenger hunts, and great learning about this really quite fascinating state of ours. They're even talking about starting up a winter version this year. Can't wait to see if that comes to fruition!

Sweetie also got to see 7 of the 8 Harry Potter films this summer. We opted not to take her to Part 2 of The Deathly Hallows until Hubby and I had seen it first. Then, once we did, we did give her the chance to see it, but we went with another plan for that day instead. Now we're almost done reading the first Harry Potter book together as a family. Love this new evening family routine for us!

She went to day camp for 2 weeks in a row - the first week being a Creativity Camp, the second week Theater Camp - at the Boys & Girls Club she goes to after school during the school year. With this, she got to see lots of friends she hadn't seen in awhile, she got to go swimming every day, and she got to act on stage in several short skits (in which she did a fantastic job!). Beyond these 2 weeks, she's spent August spending 2 days per week at the Boys & Girls Club for non-themed "camp" days. More swimming, more friends, more awesome fun! She loves Club so much - this was really great for her.

We as a family had a week off together for a "stay-cation" at the end of July. We haven't had a week-long vacation of any sort in years! So this was really a treat not just for Sweetie but for all of us. During our days we did much traveling to within our state and to other New England states, mainly on geo-caching hunts. One of those days, on a trip up to Quechee, VT, we found - I think - about 13 caches all told!. Pretty impressive. Sweetie loves geo-caching almost as much as Hubby does. Me? Eh - not so much. But I loved seeing them both have such a great time searching for their treasures. I even found my very first cache all on my own! Yeah, have to admit, it was pretty fun.

Towards the end of that stay-cation, we actually did travel down to Providence, RI and stayed overnight 1 night so that we could go to Waterfire. We all thought Waterfire itself was spectacularly beautiful and amazing to see, but I dare say Sweetie's favorite part of that whole weekend was the hotel. Yes, I'm sure those of you with kids can back me up on this one - they do love to stay away from home in hotels! Sweetie was amazed with, it seemed, every light switch, the way the door lock worked, the TV channels available, the bathroom - everything. Yep, had herself a good ol' time.

And besides from starting her summer vaca with a weekend of sickness, followed by the mysterious headaches that ultimately lead to her Lyme diagnosis - she has actually felt really well since the day after she started her antibiotics. Even 6 weeks of medicine, accompanied by a special diet to help her gut handle the extended course of antibiotics, never swayed her mood from being anything but (mostly) cheerful and accommodating to eating the best way possible for her right now. Good thing she's generally such a good eater anyway, not typically scared off by healthy and diverse foods. I have to say, she has been a real trooper through her summer of treatment. And now, we are ever so slightly aiming her diet back into her "regular" ways. And - knock on wood - she has remained feeling good throughout and seems to be staying that way. Yay!

So, yeah - even though we adults have had a pretty lousy summer over all, I'm so happy to say that whatever troubles Hubby and I have seen have not really effected Sweetie negatively in the least. She has had a great summer, by all counts, with lots of activity and many opportunities for memories to be made.

And, I have to say, even Hubby and my trials have at least had the decency to present themselves at the best times possible for sucky things to happen.

Our car died literally 2 days after I received my portion of inheritance from my grandparents. An inheritance just large enough to help us make a decent downpayment on our new car. Thank you!

Our computer died just a couple days before my credit card became reactivated after a year of forced inactivity (my decision, in order to pay down some debt, but activated through the credit card company - so, yeah, truly inactivated.) So - yay! Lets put $1000 back on my card as soon as possible! But at least it was available to help us...

And, like I said, Sweetie has been as helpful and accommodating as we would have ever hoped her to be while dealing with her Lyme treatment. And, concerning that, we were also fortunate enough to catch her Lyme early on.

This summer. It was the worst of times, indeed, in a lot of way. But we are a family who knows how to not only make lemonade out of lemons, but can also serve that sweet lemonade to our Sweetie without her ever really realizing how lemony sour we had it in the first place.

Or maybe that's just her. A girl who generally only knows how to look on the bright side. Sounds good to me. I guess we've taught her well.

Happy Back to School, everyone! May your days ahead be the best you could wish for!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

O Solo Mio

So, keeping with the Lyme theme for just a sec, we placed a visit to the Big Red Bullseye store the other day. Of course we did! It seemed the thing to do...

At any rate, we were going there to shop for whatever it was we needed/wanted (decidedly un health related, I'm sure.) And as we parked and got out of the car, I noticed a mom, around my age I'd say, and her son - probably about Sweetie's age, maybe a bit younger - just passing us by on the way to their car. No big deal, of course. But out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse at the mom's legs. Short legged plastic braces! Just like mine! Wow!

And the son? Well, he was looking at me. Not, I imagined, like almost every other kid and many adults (it seems) looks at me when I'm out and about - as if I'm some odd and curious anomaly very rarely spotted. But more like, "Wow. That lady's just like my mom!"

The mom saw nothing of this - not me, not her son's noticing of me - and just kept on going, pushing her cart toward her car.

Hmmm.... Now, I really have no idea if this woman has spina bifida, as I do. Furthermore, I make no claims whatsoever that I know what it means to have any other physical challenges requiring someone to wear short-legged braces. All I know is that I only recall having ever seen someone wearing braces like mine if that someone also had spina bifida.  Ergo, I concluded that she, too, must have spina bifida.

Huh.

This not-even-2-second encounter all of a sudden had me realizing something.

Yes, I have certainly seen others in my community with various and diverse physical disabilities. But, you know what? I have never, to my recollection, seen anyone in the area that I was able to tag right away as having spina bifida.

Until now.

Well, wait. I do take that back a bit. See, I am a not-very-active member of the Spina Bifida Association of Massachusetts. I don't live in MA, but because my adjacent state does not have it's own Association, I am granted membership to this one. As such, I have attended a few summer picnics and holiday parties over the last several years. So, of course, at these various gatherings I have definitely met plenty of people with spina bifida. Mostly kids, though, and a few adults. And no one - I think - who actually lives in my state.

But, duh... there has got to be more people in my state - more than just me! - who has spina bifida! I remember when I was a teen that my orthodontist and his wife just had a baby with spina bifida. So, presuming they haven't moved out of the area, there's her at least. But seriously! There's got to be more! And adults! Where are you all?!

Wait a minute, wait a minute... now I'm remembering something else. I do recall going on a date or 2, back when I was a teen, with a guy who had spina bifida. Not sure whatever became of him either. Okay, so that makes three of us.

And now the Target Parking Lot Lady. Who is she? Where is she from? Does she, in fact, have spina bifida? She looked friendly enough - as much as I could tell from a 2 second sideways glance, that is. An adult! Woman! With spina bifida! And at least the one child! My twin! I want to know her!

At any rate, the whole thing made me feel rather alone in the world. Not that I have ever, ever felt the twinges of anything like this before! I'm not lonely. I don't feel different from everyone else. I don't mope around, friendless and bored and as if I'm the only person like me in the whole wide world. I'm just me, and - yeah - people look at me when I walk around, but so what. I've got 30 some years of "practice" getting used to that phenomena. Whatever.

And then, THEN.... we three were on vacation/staycation last week, taking day trips here and there, near and far, to explore as much of New England as we could muster. With that, we found ourselves at Waterfire last Saturday night.  And you know who I spotted in the crowd? No, not the Parking Lot Lady, but another young woman who, it appeared to me and Hubby, also has spina bifida! She was wearing long jeans, so I couldn't see her braces, but I could tell she wore them from her shoes, stance and considerably seemingly underdeveloped legs as compared to the rest of her. That may all seem very presumptuous of me to jump to the spina bifida conclusion. But, I'm just sayin'. I may not see people "like me" often, but when I do, I can easily spot and tag them as such.

This lady was with her (able bodied) boyfriend. They appeared to be in their early 20s or so. Even though they stood for awhile not too far from where we sat, I didn't go talk to her. But I do believe that, after some time, she took notice of me as well.

Wow! Two adult females with spina bifida spotted in one week, both living (more or less/kinda sorta) in my area! Very cool! What a unique sight! And what a realization to consider just how unique this was!

If only I could meet more women in my area with spina bifida. The Parking Lot Lady really has me curious. How cool would that be to see her again and get a chance to introduce myself?! To hear her story of becoming a parent, managing through a pregnancy (if, in fact, she did), handled the day-to-day needs of an infant and growing, active toddler. Yup, it would be really interesting to talk to her and compare notes. Maybe some day...

In the meantime, I'll go on living my solitary life. What a sad, lonely existence. Pitiful, really...

Well, except for that it's not that way at all! Life, for the most part, is good.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's The Not Knowing That's So Hard...

No, I didn't think much of the one tick we found on Sweetie toward the end of May. Hubby and I reasoned that it couldn't have been on her that long (much less than 24 hours, we figured) so, really, this was nothing to think twice about.

No, I cannot honestly tell you that she was never bitten by another tick within the last few months. With her taking care of her own dressing and undressing, plus just not considering "possible tick bite, possible tick bite, possible tick bite..." every single day - no. I just haven't been consistently checking for the little buggers.

No, I didn't consider that Sweetie's initial weekend of feeling yucky was anything more than a mild passing virus. Kids get them all the time! This too shall pass...

No, I wasn't overly concerned, at first, with her occasional mention of having headaches. They weren't everyday. They certainly weren't disabling. She had no ongoing fever or malaise from the initial "sick" weekend. Nothing more than the random, light headaches, off and on. If anything, I was worried that maybe her eyesight wasn't so great and she would be needing glasses.

And what's more...

I definitely didn't consider that these headaches - or the initial supposed "virus" - could in any way be a symptom of Lyme Disease. Because, no, I did not know there were tell-tale Lyme Disease symptoms other than the usually-seen bull's eye rash - which she never had. No, I also don't know the symptoms to watch for for many, if not most other illnesses in the world. Do you?

No, I didn't realize how little is actually known about Lyme Disease and that it could be said that typical doctors only treat patients based on industry standards... and yet, time and again, there are patients presenting themselves as now having chronic Lyme Disease even though they were treated - as the standards prescribe - shortly after being bitten.

So, no, I didn't understand that I should fight for Sweetie to be on her antibiotics for longer than the doctor initially prescribed.

And now that I successfully fought that battle and she's on her meds for twice as long as originally intended... no, I don't know that this is completely necessary, or that the initial 3 week treatment wouldn't have been enough to take care of the infection, as the prescribing doctor insists it would have been.

And, no, I don't know for sure that 6 weeks total of the antibiotics will even truly be enough!

I don't even know if a blood test taken once the antibiotics are complete will accurately give us the proof that, in fact, the infection is gone. For all I know, we could get a false negative from that blood draw.

With this extended course of antibiotics... no, I didn't consider right away what that much regular antibiotics could do to one's system.

No, I didn't think about how adding probiotics to her diet like those found in yogurt, kefir and even straight up probiotics would be a great thing to do for helping her deal with so much antibiotics.

No, I never heard of the GAPS Diet before, nor - obviously - realize that it really would be the best diet for her to adopt throughout this process.

No, I am not necessarily convinced that she needs to be on the GAPS Diet per se, but do strongly feel that we/she should at least be restricted to a more macrobiotic diet at this time.

No, I'm also not terribly concerned if she sneaks some against-GAPS foods into her day. One piece of pizza isn't going to kill her. One small chocolate treat is just fine. Maybe we'll even go out for ice cream during our vacation. It's fine.

And anyway - so far, so good for how she's feeling! Yes, it's only been 2 weeks at this point, but Sweetie has not yet shown any signs of feeling bad in the belly in conjunction with the antibiotics. What's more, she is well aware of why we're altering her diet as we are and that she needs to tell us how she's feeling as time goes on. We can and will alter more drastically if she indicates that it's needed.

(I do know Sweetie to be a generally pretty healthy kid, fast-healer, and a healthy eater who likes a wide variety of good foods, only occasionally wishing for less-healthy treats. I have faith that I know my child well enough in this way to trust she'll be just fine with minimal changes to her ongoing life.)

With that said... going beyond the timeframe of her antibiotics treatment? No, I'm not thinking we will keep up with this altered diet much longer than that. Maybe a week or two. A month longer, tops. But as advised by the GAPS Diet itself, I'm thinking their prescribed up to 2 years or so of eating this way to truly restore the gut flora is just not necessary.

But then again, if she is showing signs that eating her "regular" way is just not working for her when we switch back then, of course! We will do everything we can to keep her as comfortable and healthy as possible.

And last but not least... no, I do not like the term "Lyme Disease." A disease, to me, sounds like an awful, long term if not permanent condition. Something that you cannot be rid of. And, yes, I know. For some people, that's exactly what it is. Chronic Lyme Disease affects their life every day in all sorts of ways and will for the rest of their lives.

But... I do have every intention and great faith that my typically healthy Sweet girl will battle this blip in her road with all she's got and that she will be 100% Lyme free before the summer's done.

We are doing what we believe is right and good for her to set her on this very path. No more, no less. Not at this point, anyway. And we will adjust as she indicates she needs us to do, if she needs us to.

Yes, in every way and at every moment I feel what I know to be an irrational "Mommy guilt" about what Sweetie's living with right now. Medicine everyday. Changed diet. Friends and family asking her how she's feeling, sharing their own experiences with tick bites and Lyme. It's, of course, left in my culpable hands that I didn't find the culprit tick on her. It's my fault that I didn't recognize signs and get her to the doctor any sooner than I did. I feel constantly, incontrollably on the defensive about how I've "allowed" - am allowing - this to all play out. And God forbid she's ever bitten again! Our family is outside all the time hiking and playing. I feel compelled to check her for ticks at every moment... then guilty as hell if I realize after she's gone to bed that, no, I didn't actually look her over today! What kind of mother am I?!

But... she is feeling much better. She really seems back to her regular self. I do have her on a course of medicine I have to believe will be more than enough to fight this Disease. I'm changing her diet as she needs to best get her through these several weeks of antibiotics and I'm more than willing to change it even more drastically if she shows signs of needing it. I intend for her diet to return to normal shortly thereafter, but am certainly most looking out for her day-to-day comfort and health, again willing to keep her on a restricted diet for as long as she indicates it's needed.

I may not have been able to stop her from getting Lyme Disease. And I may not be able to stop a tick from ever biting her again. But I can rest easy enough, knowing Hubby and I are both on the same waive-length, doing everything we can to make sure this remains for her an acute case only.

And that's the best I can do, I know.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Too Much Excitement!

Hello! And welcome to July! While most kids in this area have literally just gotten out of school for the summer about a week ago, Sweetie is about to embark on her 4th week of blissful summertime fun.

Hah! Blissful?! I can't possibly be serious. In fact, a complete redo seems perfectly in order.

Starting with the final death of our 11 year old Saturn Station Wagon the Tuesday after Father's Day, this summer vacation, so far, has been pretty dang.... mmmm.... exciting! Yeah, that's the word!

But not in a good way.

After the car died, we spent that Friday shopping for a new (used) car. And, yeah, I have to admit that is pretty exciting. Got ourselves a sweet, red hybrid only a few years old. Air conditioning! GREAT mileage! Cute! We are very pleased with our purchase (and our ability, finally, to financially make the purchase and manage the monthly car payments.)

Oh! Wait! Did I say the "excitement" started with the car's death? That's not entirely true. It actually started just 2 days after Sweetie's last day of school when I arrived at my parents' house after work ready to pick up and take Sweetie home. But...

She was sleeping. Hmmmm. That's odd. And when she woke up, she was burning hot. Uh oh. And so began a weekend of fevers, tiredness and headaches. We still participated in our 1st of 4 Great Park Pursuits adventures, since she perked right up to her typical self with a dose of Tylenol in her. And then, by Monday, she was pretty much back to her usual self. A short lived, minor virus. S'all good.

Except.... every once in awhile she'd still complain of a headache. This, from a girl who never complains. A girl who can be 3 days into a pretty significant cold before she finally admits to me, "Mom, I think I'm sick." Yes. Yes, you are.

These headaches weren't everyday. And they weren't even that bad. Sometimes, if we were away from home, we'd just let her sip on some Coke - telling her the caffeine might help relieve the pain. Sometimes we could let time pass without doing anything and she managed well enough without further complaint. But then the headaches seemed to increase in frequency. And intensity. I'd give her Advil, because I didn't happen to have anything but children's cold medicine in the house. She learned how to swallow a pill, and noted the tasty sweet coating on the Advil.

With time, Hubby and I even started to consider that these headaches may be "convenience headaches," so that she could get to have a bit of soda or that sweet tasting Advil.

And like I said, they weren't yet all that bad seeming.

But they were frequent. Several times a week.

Finally, this past Tuesday, when she complained of yet another headache, I decided to call the doctor. After I left my message for the nurse to call me back, then... then Sweetie began to sob. So much terrible pain! The worst headache yet, by far. Yep, this had all the signs of a migraine.

And then, she vomited. Twice.

Long story short, the nurse called back and scheduled us to come in. Just a few hours later we found ourselves in the doctor's office and then waiting in the lab for blood work and X-Rays.

An X-Ray to check her sinuses, blood work to test for Lyme Disease.

Oh! Did I forget to mention? We found a tick on her about a month ago. It detached from her pretty easily, though, so we assumed it hadn't been on her all that long and, therefore, that no harm had time to be done.

Well, you know what they say about assuming...

Yep. Yesterday morning I finally got the call with the blood work results. Results I already knew on my own, given all the Lyme Disease research I've done over the last few days.

Early stages Lyme Disease. Looks a lot like the flu virus, with headaches, fever and malaise. Huh. Well how about that. Hindsight really is 20/20.

So. Three weeks of antibiotics. She'll be fine. Thank goodness we caught this early! And thank goodness my "mommy instincts" kicked into gear and I called the doctor. I didn't consult my retired pediatric nurse of a mom first. I didn't talk to Hubby about my decision. I just called. And I'm so thankful and proud of myself that I did.

For now, though, she's still suffering. Seemingly worse and worse everyday. More intense headaches. More likely to be "shaky sick" and/or have vomiting. Harder to cut through the pain with whatever meds I have to give her (children's Tylenol or Advil.) Longer lasting bouts of ill-feeling. And the pain always hits her pretty fast. One minute = happy, funny, "regular" Sweetie, the next = wincing, pained Sweetie. Today in particular has been pretty bad. A day that started out well enough, after a day yesterday of feeling good (after a couple morning hours of yuck.) But today's headache hit around 9 a.m. and she's still lounging on the sofa and visually in pain at 4 p.m. From the grimace on her face whenever she decides to get up, to the shadowed eyes that have become a pretty regular look for our Sweet girl, I can see how much she's just not herself.

I'm really, really hoping the antibiotics kick in very soon to help her feel better!

So, yeah. That's been our summer so far. And I didn't even tell you about the small windshield crack (that grew exponentially by the day until it was finally fixed) in our newly-purchased car, nor how I lost my debit card (albeit for only an hour or so - I had it all along!), nor how our other even-older-than-the-Saturn car we still have has tires of very, very questionable condition (and other parts too, of course.) Suffice it to say we've been forced to rely heavily on my parents to cart me around in their car while our cars have been MIA and/or been fixed.

But! The Great Park Pursuits have been fun so far! I hiked The Flume Gorge - a whole 2 mile loop! - with Hubby and Sweetie last weekend! Very Great indeed!

So at least there's that.

Anyway - we here at Chez Sweetie & Me are thanking our lucky stars that we finally have an answer to Sweetie's mystery illness of the last few weeks. And so very, very grateful that the infection was caught early and she'll be on the mend soon.

Here's to the end of all this excitement, and a hope for a nice, peaceful rest of our summer vacation. May your summer be fun and as eventful - in a good way - as you wish it to be!

Oh. And Sweetie, I'm sure, would love for me to tell you that - if you asked how she was, she'd still tell you "I'm great." :)

Well, of course she is.

Friday, June 17, 2011

8 going on... 8 1/2

I was talking on the phone the other night to a new friend and we were discussing our girls. I mentioned that Sweetie was just about 8 1/2.

"Oh, wow" I said out loud as I scanned the calender. "She really is almost 8 1/2."

Monday will be that "big day."

The person I was talking with noted that her daughter is just about Sweetie's same age, as she will turn 9 in early November.

But the way my new friend qualified her statement, saying her daughter was "8 going on 18," what with eye rolls and concern about popularity and general attitude ... well, it just made me consider Sweetie.

Sweetie, for all her drama and smarts and confidence is, for all intents and purposes, still just my little 8 1/2 year old girl.

She still wants to cuddle with me or her Daddy on the couch each day as we settle into or out of our days watching TV in the living room.

She still wants to be read to every night at bedtime. Or, if bedtime is running later than usual, she claims she can't fall asleep without at least hearing a poem (Daddy and I each have a particular poem we recite to her when bedtime comes around quickly.)

She still loves to give us "hugs, kisses, noses & poses" as we send her off to sleep.

Sweetie still cannot imagine a day when - like teens and preteens she sees on T.V. - she thinks she will feel any differently about Daddy and I than she does now. Thinking your parents are weird or uncool? Pshaw! She just doesn't get that... yet.

She still doesn't allow her life to revolve around friends and status and popularity. She's just as happy to play on her own as she is to have friends around to imagine and roam with.

Boys - as anything more than potential friends, plain and simple - are nowhere near being on her radar yet. Hmmmm... well, perhaps they're approaching the radar, but still far off. She has shyly/cutely told me before when a particular boy in her class told her he loved her. And - when I've picked on her about her new "boy" friend from the Boys and Girls Club - she too adamantly told me that they were JUST FRIENDS! (and, to me, the more adamant you get about something, the more it hides the real situation. I'm just sayin'...)

She still wears her princess helmet every time she heads outside to ride her bike on our not-really-that-busy-or-dangerous cul-de-sac road. We don't need to remind her. She never forgets. Not one consideration that she may not look terribly "cool" in the helmet. Not connecting any thoughts of seeing other kids in the neighborhood riding their bikes sans helmets. She just knows the rules of safe riding and obeys.

She also doesn't fight us on where she can ride her bike. For now, we just want her to stay on our rode. And, for now, that's fine enough for her.

We limit her T.V. watching to not include any silly pre-teen/teenage Disney shows like Hannah Montana or Wizards of Waverly Place (is Hannah Montana even still airing? Whatever...) She used to watch them. But when Hubby and I finally called an end to those days, she did not fight it. She's too young to be watching shows specifically aimed at kids who are dating and driving and getting into all sorts of messes.

At 8 1/2 years old, she is not yet taking care of her own baths or showers. This, I wish I could change. I tried to get her used to taking showers. It lasted 2 or 3 instances, until the novelty wore off. But something has to change. I'm getting too old and sore to bend down and wash her hair in the tub. (She does wash herself - except for hair - in the tub. So there's that...)

She doesn't care a hoot about clothing and fashion in general. She begrudgingly gets herself dressed on the weekend, picking out her own clothes. But most of the time I automatically set out her clothes for her, lest I hear her grumble and whine that she doesn't know what to wear. That, I think, is actually a pretty easily changeable situation. It's summertime now. You're 8 1/2 now. Get yourself dressed already or stay naked.

At any rate. What I'm saying... I'm pretty happy with the rate at which Sweetie is growing up. For the most part, not any faster than she's naturally aging each year. And that's just the way I like it.

Too many kids are growing up way too fast these days. And of course Sweetie is/has been exposed to some pretty mature concepts via the media or friends or whatnot. But, at least for now, she is happy and comfortable enough with these ideas to realize that "that's grownup stuff" and to leave it all alone.

Happy (almost) 8 1/2 year old birthday, Sweetie. I can't wait to enjoy the summer with you, spending some time with my little girl!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Rock That Boat

My thoughts. They are nothing if not a study in contradictions. Yet another reason, I think, that I've been so quiet here lately.

I realize something about Sweetie's behavior and/or attitude and I want to write about it... But then I recall how I just wrote recently about my take on how she's been concerning this matter, but in an opposite way from my current outlook. Hmmm... how can I go back on my word now?

Or my own hang ups and ideals. You've heard a lot of them before, and some I've written about quite recently. So how can I now go ahead now and write a post that completely contradicts my own point of view?

I guess, in a way, I'm still working out how exactly it is I feel about some things - especially in raising a child and wanting to teach her how to be her best. So when I see, for instance, Sweetie repeatedly behaving one way, I think it's intolerable and maddening. But then, when I finally start to see the preferred behavior and/or attitude coming forth, I'm no longer so absolutely sure that that really is the ideal way to conduct oneself.

Duh, Mom! Life is not so black and white! Different situations call for different reactions, and all that. Yeah, yeah. I hear you. Thanks for the reminder.

What I'm currently trying to process is Sweetie's continuing shift from "girl-who-was-so-rigidly-stubborn-about-the-way-things-had-to-be" - a girl who created, it seemed, "rules" for herself and everyone else for different regular situations in her life (and woe be to he who wavered from the rules) - to a more mellow girl who more easily goes with the flow and adapts better to all that's going on around her.

I'm sure you're all thinking, right along with me, "Great! This is a wonderful thing!" Especially those among you who have seen me/us through these trying years of rigid, dramatic Sweetie. Who wouldn't want a kid who has - if not naturally been so - finally learned to deal with changes in a more socially acceptable manner and no longer freaks the heck out when things don't always go her way. Yay for us for getting the point - finally! - across!

Well, yeah. This really is a wonderful thing. Really! The drama has certainly lessened in our house and life seems to be moving along swimmingly, with nice, quiet play times and easy-going, spur-of-the-moment changes to our usual state of being. Hazzah, hazzah!

However... I do wonder if there isn't just a bit of a lean toward apathy happening here - something beyond the mere easy-going attitude.

Case in point #1 - School. Now, Sweetie used to love school. After the last day of kindergarten, she was very upset to learn she'd have to wait an entire summer before starting up in 1st grade. What?! she said. You mean I don't get to go to 1st grade on Monday?! Nope. Sorry, Sweetie. You have to enjoy several weeks off of vacation before you can move on. It's just the way it is.

And, yeah. I know. A kid gets older and the "fun" of school is slowly replaced with the "work" of school. What kid wants to do all that work when school used to be all about play time, rest time, snack time and show & tell? But still. It's a bit sad to see the excitement reduce.

Not that I'm saying she flat out doesn't like school anymore. She certainly does! But she just as equally enjoys her weekends and random days off as she does heading off to school each day. - But it's those random days off that are really worth getting excited about, if you ask me.

The girl was absolutely no fun at all during this past winter, what with our New England weather and the many terrible storms we had. I can't recall exactly, but I'd say there were at least 8 or so snow days this past winter season. In fact, after Christmas vacation, there was a good month and a half where there was not 1 full week of school due to either planned days off or - more typically - surprise snow days.

But Sweetie? Eh. She was completely and totally content to go to school, or to be told she had the day off because of snow. Even when I would warn her the night before that I was pretty sure there'd be no school tomorrow, because a storm was coming... but then it didn't hit quite so hard after all and school was, indeed, on. Okay. Cool. Whatever. School or no school. She was/is happy either way.

Heck! I was way more excited about her snow days than she was!

Still. Get a little excited, Sweetie! About something! Be super stoked for school, or be pumped that summer vacation is only days away. It doesn't matter. But React! Show some enthusiasm! Choose a side already!

Ahem...

Case in point #2 - Dan.* Dan is a boy Sweetie has regularly been playing with everyday after school at the Boys & Girls Club. He's one grade older than her at their school, and together they've been playing at Legos, and Transformers, and comic book creating, and whatever other fantastically fun activities they can find that binds them together in harmonious play. It's been at least 2 months now of consistent, everyday play together. Sometimes other kids come and go to the group. But, always, it's Sweetie and Dan playing together.

Now, I don't know Dan. I saw the back of his head once, that's it. But Sweetie talks about him quite a lot and so I've come to form an opinion of him that is favorable. He seems like a good kid and a great match for Sweetie. Who cares that he's a boy. Who cares that he's a year older. They seem to get along well and have fun. That's alright by me.

Every once in awhile, I'll ask Sweetie questions. Like, does Dan seem to like playing with you as much as you like playing with him? Is he ever mean to you? What's his last name? Does he mind that you're a girl in 2nd grade, and he's a boy in 3rd? Does he ever want to play with anyone else and not you?  - Things like that. I'm trying to get a sense of this kid and if he truly considers Sweetie a friend - or at least a great playmate! - or is he just appeasing her interest in hanging around with him.

All info from Sweetie says that, from what she can tell, they equally enjoy each other's company. Well, then. Would you like to see if we can arrange some play dates with him over the summer? Sure, she says (again, not a super excited response, but a positive one nonetheless.)

Then, I admit, I did some sleuthing and found contact info for his parents. I told Sweetie I would call his mom and see about the possibility of summer play together. But first, I said, why don't you ask Dan if he'd like to play with you once school is out.

That night, well after Sweetie was home, at dinner time, I again brought up the idea of summer playtime with Dan. I asked Sweetie if she had mentioned the idea to him at Club.

Yes, she had.

And?

He said no.

What?! Well, how exactly did you ask? How did he say no? Were there other kids around that maybe he didn't want to hear him saying yes to you? You used the words "play date." Maybe, as a 3rd grader, he didn't like that because it sounds babyish. Maybe his parents work full time and he knows he'll always be coming to the Club still and won't have an opportunity to play with you. Maybe he knows he's going away all summer and won't be around to come over. Did he still play with you after you asked him? Did he sound mean when he said no? Were you upset?

Uh - I think Hubby and I were a wee bit more concerned about this turn of events than Sweetie was. That said, Sweetie didn't seem to have any real feelings about the situation at all. Maybe just a tiny bit quiet/questioning about it. But not upset. They kept playing together at Club after she asked. He didn't say no in a mean way. He just said no. End of story.

Hmph. Oh, if only I could have been a fly on the wall for that exchange. As it is, I'll never really understand how the conversation went down and why he said no.

But Sweetie - she's so... ambivalent about it all. He's become your friend! You have fun together! You both like Legos and making up stories and games! Don't you want to play with him as much as you can?! Aren't you upset that he told you he doesn't want to play with you?! Show some feelings already!!!

I think I'll still end up calling Dan's mom after all. I'll let these last few days of school pass by, allowing them to continue their "relationship" - whatever it is - undeterred by parental involvement. But once they're away from each other for a bit, then I'll talk to his mom and see what she thinks about Dan's interest in continuing their friendship through June, July and August.

But Sweetie. Sweet, kind, creative and - apathetic? - daughter o' mine. Ambivalence and apathy just are not words that I ever thought I'd attribute to you. Yes, it's been so great to be able to switch up our plans and change things that you are otherwise "used to" without big, dramatic fall outs like we've known you to display before. For this change in your behavior alone, I am grateful. But don't lose your passion, Sweetie. Don't lose your ability to form an opinion. Don't let - as I truly believe you have - your typical "Great!" response to how are you feeling slip from "Great!" to "great." Let your greatness mean something! Be great when you feel it, and feel it as often as possible. But allow yourself to feel "sad" and "angry" and "scared" and "mad" and "excited" and "thrilled" and just plain "fine" whenever you experience those natural changes of mood. No, it's not alright to dramatically lash out to a comparatively small annoyance or negative change. But it is completely alright to feel what you feel - whatever you feel - and express your thoughts appropriately and without fear of being wrong or bad.

This is your life, Sweetie. Live it to the fullest and show the world all the great levels of passion inside of you. Always be true to yourself, respectful of others, and - yes - even rock the boat every once in awhile when needed. We and the world won't mind. And you just may cause the needed ripple that starts the great movement of amazing change.

---------------------------------

*not his real name.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Distracted

Hmmmm... Look at that. A whole month went by with not one post. Sorry 'bout that. Guess I've been.... distracted.

Speaking of being distracted (duh!), I've actually been really proud of and impressed by myself of late, as I notice myself working at my various part time jobs. That is, when at each one of my jobs, I am completely able to be fully present. I am not thinking about what I have to do at the other office, or otherwise worrying about anything other than the matter at hand. That, I think, is a skill and a talent. Go, me!

However... in my home life I seem to be nothing but distracted. Yep, I think Sweetie's #1 annoying quality has warn off on me ("You've been up here for 5 minutes and you're just brushing your teeth now? What have you been doing all this time? - "I was distracted!")

We went to the grocery store the other day and I mentioned to Hubby, "Oh! We need juice boxes? Where are they?" - "Right down this aisle on the left at eye level." And then? A half second later? I totally spaced the juice boxes as we pass 'em right on by.

I also happened to not even consider my need for my own breakfast bars - something I regularly buy at every grocery trip. Hmmph.

The other day I was picking up the house, in anticipation of some friends coming over for dinner. One of the things I did (well, intended to do) was take the gift certificate I recently got for my birthday from the stairs to my purse. Well, I picked it up and.... well... When I went to look for it the next day, it wasn't in my purse. After careful and long consideration, hours later, I figured I may have thrown it in the trash instead.

Yep. I found it. In the trash. Thank goodness!

And then. And then! I made rum and Coke drinks for Hubby and I at dinner last night. Eh. They didn't taste quite right. We figured it was just because it was hot out and the ice was melting faster than usual, thus making them taste watery - or something. But, nope. As I took my last sip I realized, "Hey! I never put the rum in these!"

What a complete waste of Coke.

And it's not even like I started making them, walked away for a second, and came back to finish. I just... didn't think about the rum. Bah.

Actually, I'm really too distracted to even write this post. And as I think about it, I do recall on at least a few occasions writing here about how my mind is always one step ahead. When I'm doing one thing, I always think I should be doing that other thing. It's a constant curse with me.

But now it seems to be getting worse. At home.

At work? I'm golden. Totally on task.

I think. Or....

Maybe distracted with all the things to do at work and which to focus on currently....

But all, at least, job related.

That's a good thing, right?

Oh, never mind. Maybe I should have let even more time go by before writing again. That would have been better for all of us, I think.

If you'll excuse me now, I'm sure I've got something else to do now. I just can't think of what that could be...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Doer, Thinker, Dreamer, Creator

I know I'm entirely biased, but I've never met someone - especially a kid - quite like you, Sweetie.

You cannot be lumped into one of The Four Categories: Doer, Thinker, Dreamer, Creator. No, you actually are The Four Categories:

You would much rather do something than merely watch it happen around you. Did you have any interest whatsoever in watching the Royal Wedding festivities on T.V. yesterday? Heck no! Instead, hosted and directed the "wedding" of a couple of your stuffed animals here. Very elaborate stuff, too, with veils and rings and guests and at least a couple days worth of planning. The whole nine yards. And how was it again that you learned to ride your two-wheel bike last fall? Oh yeah, that's right. While dad and I stood on the street trying to figure out how best to teach you, you just got on and did it! Way to go, Sweetie!

And going back to the Royal Wedding, your curious mind came up with some pretty good questions about the royal lineage and such. What if the king or queen has twin sons as their oldest kids? Who gets to be the king next then? Good thinking, Sweetie! Your mind is always working, and it's amazing. I also witnessed that mind of yours hard at work when learning 2-digit subtraction a couple months ago. You'd missed that whole week of school due to illness, so you were left to learn more or less on your own/with Daddy and my assistance. After not too long, you were going through the process with no problem, getting each answer right on your worksheets brought home to complete. But that was not good enough for you. You didn't understand why you were doing what you were doing! Why did you have to not only carry, but also change the other numbers along the way too? It didn't make sense to you at all. But I was struck, as I watched you struggle. Most other kids, I bargained, would be happy enough to just get through the process correctly - who cares about real understanding!? Well - you do. And it bugged you for weeks, until, finally, it all because clear.

And, boy!, are you a dreamer! Quite literally, too, as you seem to have some of the most elaborate dreams I've ever heard. Almost every morning when I wake you up for school, you are either relieved that you just finished your dream before I got you up, or you're miffed because you were just getting to the good part. "But that's okay," you'll finally conclude. "I'll just finish it tonight when I go to bed." And then you're off to school, finally returning home in the evening where you'll often times set right to work, drawing out your dream from the night before. "It's too hard to tell you about my dream. I'll draw it for you instead." Okay, Sweetie. Can't wait to see it!

Whenever I ask you, Sweetie, who you play with at recess, you most often tell me that you usually just play on your own. "Why!" I ask, knowing full well you're not shy, so asking another kid or two to play really shouldn't be a problem for you. Your answer? Well, you love to act out your dreams on the playground, and the other kids don't know what your dreams looked like - only you do! So you play on your own. Well, alrighty, then.

As for a creator - well, of course you are! Give you a pile of Legos, some crayons and some paper, add in a plethora of tape and a pair of scissors, and you are golden! You will be all set for the day, creating not only the most amazing Lego creatures and automobiles as well as some amazing drawings and paper crafts, but the highly detailed stories to go along with them all.

You know, I've most consistently pegged you as a creator, given your mad skillz for story creation, from-scratch crafts, and Lego universes. But... your building ability - with Legos, paper clips, blocks, what have you - is actually very scientific and shows a great engineer's mind. You know how to play chess quite competently, and your great ability to visualize accurately with your mind's eye is a big assist to you when playing both this and other games that require you to first envision steps 4, 5 & 6 in order to make the best moves # 1, 2 & 3.

In short, Sweetie, you amaze me. I'm really impressed (cough*jealous*cough) of how you swiftly think through problems, create vast worlds, and dream up big plans. Where others either Do, Think, Dream or Create, you do all four - often at the same time! I love how your mind works, how full your heart is with love and compassion, and how deep your soul runs with spirit and energy. You are one of a kind, Sweetie. I'm so proud of you and know that, above all else, you will not only reach for the stars in all you do, but also continue to succeed, return, and reach higher toward every further goal you seek to fulfill.

(song below composed by Sweetie, sung each time she swings at the playground...)

The wind in my ears feels so great,


Yes, the wind in my ears feels so good!


Cuz I've, I've never been this high since this very second,


I've never been this high befo-o-ore!


I've never been this high since this very second,


And I'll probably be this high way more!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Selfish With My Time, Hopeful With My Lessons

Yes, it's true. I do have 5 different part time jobs to juggle. You could say I'm busy. You could marvel at what it must take for me to get through each week, let alone each day. You may wonder how I keep everything straight.

And I'd letcha.  Cuz it can be tricky.

But all in all, I only work each week about 40 hours - the typical number of hours anyone with a full time job works. So, no. I don't feel overly busy. And most of my workdays start a little late. Yes - that means they end a bit later too. But I have my free time. That's my point. I'm not working myself into the ground. I like the changes of venue. Each of my jobs offers me the chance to engage with people, and myself, in different but interesting ways to me. I am not bored and I pretty much like every different job that I do. I am happy.

Still, when it comes to my free time, my down time... I really prefer it to be just that. Time for me. Time for my family. Committing myself to other responsibilities just isn't what I'm interested in doing. Not any responsibilities outside of the home, anyway. Give me some time for myself to do things for myself, like write or take care of weekend chores. Or give me some time to spend with Sweetie and Hubby. I'm sorry, but that's all I'm really interested in.

Don't get me wrong. I do love and feel connected to various people, groups and issues in the world and my community. But would I rather join a committee to help save the whales, committing myself to multiple meetings, various obligations, and event dates on my calendar? Or would I rather take day trips with my husband and little girl - stopping for geocaches along the way and finding a little hole-in-the-wall eatery with amazing food to try? Sorry, but my family and our time together wins out every time.

It's an internal struggle, of course. Because there really are issues and groups and principles in this world that I believe in and support. By not joining a cause and fighting the good fight - or whatever the case may be - am I sending Sweetie a message of apathy? A message of "This is important, but don't worry. Plenty of others will take care of it. Let's go get ice cream!" I don't know.

I worry - what is it, really, that we're telling our child?

I don't honestly feel like a bad, disinterested person. Not usually, anyway. I feel like I have a good deal of things on my plate so that when free time comes around I have a right to decide how I want to spend it and who I want to spend it with. And that is almost always with Sweetie and Hubby. That's a good thing, right?! I'm putting my family first and valuing the time we have together by making the most of it... even to the detriment of time spent with others we love and world issues needing attention.

Sweetie is a good kid. She cares for others and recognizes, at least basically, some of the big concerns of others around her. She sees all around her - at church, on TV, at school - that there are plenty of ways to help all sorts of people, animals and groups to make a better way for themselves. I think she knows that mom and dad are caring people, as well, who feel for those who are less fortunate in their lives. I think she also recognizes that we ourselves struggle on a daily basis with getting by as best we can with the money we have.

But what do we do about it? Isn't there a way we can help? Isn't it our responsibility to do our part - as tiny as that may be - to help those beings in need of assistance, love and support?

Apparently not. The problems of the world  - or even our immediate community - must not be that compelling. We can care and feel compassion. Others can actually do something about it.

That, I'm afraid, is the message we're sending.


And it may not even be that big. You know? Maybe we're invited to a casual party with acquaintances. The whole family can come! Great, but yah. No. I value my family time too much to put one more thing on the calendar than is completely necessary right now. Because even parties can start to feel like "have to's" instead of "want to's" when the rest of your weekends are full too and you're not in the mood. Not that we always decline an invitation, of course. We actually very much look forward to many gatherings! But there are times when we'd really prefer to just lay low instead.

"We like to leave our Sunday afternoons free. It's never fun to be out late on a 'school night'."

"This week has been so insanely busy that we just want to take Saturday as a 'Do Nothing' Day."

"These people never serve any food that we like. We don't want to go there, so far away, just to starve."

"Sorry, but we already made plans to go to this Fair that day. Hopefully we'll find some time to get together another time soon."

We may plan to do something that we put on the calendar, but then at the last minute Hubby and I may change our minds. Maybe it's even something that really sounded like fun to Sweetie and us too. But we now say no. "We don't want to go anymore." "We changed our mind." "Wouldn't you rather stay home and play a game together or watch a movie with us or ride your bike instead?!"


That's right, kid. It's okay to reneg on your plans for the sake of your own wants and needs. Don't worry about backing out on what you said you'd do. It's okay. No one will really care in the end.

Bad, bad parents.

Then again...

We are raising - somehow, miraculously - a pretty GREAT Sweetie. She really is a caring, (mostly) polite little girl who feels for others and wants to do good for those she loves as well as anyone she sees who is sad. A girl who loves to make little "secret" postcards of hope and love that she hides in various places during our travels for random people to find. She's bright, self-confident, creative, funny and interested in so many different kinds of things. And we're teaching her, I think, above all else, that the love of your family is the love that can make all the difference in the world.

When the world is getting you down, you can rely on your family to help you through.

When you feel like you have nowhere else to go, no one else who cares, your family will always be there no matter what.

Your family can make you absolutely crazy mad and want to scream and run away.... but will also be there 15 minutes later for a hug and a kiss and a Band-aid when you trip and fall and skin your knee.

Likewise, your family can be beyond mad at something you've done or said. They can punish you and express their disappointment in the bad decisions you've made or the poor way you've conducted yourself. But, that night, will always tuck you into bed with a "hug, kiss, nose & pose" and tell you how very much they will always love YOU (if not always the choices you make.)

And, perhaps, that the value of a loving family is so incredibly important and can, in many different ways big and small, impact those around them to do better, be better, love better themselves.

And the more people who can live a loving life in community with family, the better our world will be in the long run...

(...Until the tween & teenaged years. You'll have to check back with me then to see just how important Sweetie finds a loving family to be...


Talk about apathy and selfishness. I don't even want to think about it...)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Give and Take (or, Love is Blind)

She runs toward me off the playground, full charge ahead. I plant my weight into the ground, steady myself with my stick. Ready to receive the full brunt of her love as she embraces me with her strong arms and beautiful words.

I just sit down with my cup of tea after long minutes cleaning dishes, switching laundry. My back aches with stiffness. I release my energy to the sofa cushions and pillows. Giving myself up to some time of "do-nothingness." Then she calls me to the computer. She's stuck and needs help. She calls me to her craft table to see a new creation. She calls me upstairs, needing help with one thing or another. Again and again. She needs - or wants - my assistance. My attention. She knows I just sat down, but this does not phase her. I am needed and I must go.

We read together during weekend days, as a family. No more bedtime stories. At least not for now. No longer is it completely trackable who put her to bed last night. Did you read, or did I? No longer a bench mark for accuracy. But she knows. She knows it is my turn to tuck her in, all comfy and warm. I argue that it doesn't really matter. Daddy can do it again. I'll take you tomorrow. No - it's you're turn, she says. No matter that the stairs are not my greatest friend. No matter that - yet again, and always - my back is tight with pain. No matter. My night for bedtime duties. She knows the pattern too well.

She wants to play a game. She sets it up on our large living room ottoman, so that she sits on the floor and I can sit on the couch. She knows sitting on the floor can almost literally break me apart with pain. She's considering my needs in relation to her own. She's making me as comfortable as she can. She's taking care of me.

I fold the laundry into tall piles. I've done my job. With only a few gentle reminders, she then does hers. Delivering each pile to its rightful upstairs location. She's doing for me what I cannot easily do on my own.

Daddy and she go out for a trek in the woods. Most likely with a little geocaching included. She reminds him that Mommy used to geocache with them as well. Why doesn't she come anymore? Daddy reminds her that it's sometimes too difficult for Mommy to go on long hikes over difficult land. This makes it not so much fun for Mommy to want to come along. Oh. Yeah. Just the same, she misses me on their outings.

She sees a child in the large room, holding a bouquet of beautiful balloons. She turns to me with fear in her eyes. There are balloons here, Mommy! You're allergic! If I don't get a chance to stop her, she will inform said child of my allergy to the brightly colored orbs. Don't worry about it, Sweetie. I'll be okay. I won't get hurt, I promise. Thank you for your concern, but I'll be okay.

We wake up early on a cold, icy school morn. Snow is falling and ice has encased my car. As she watches her morning cartoon friends, I inform her that I'll be outside clearing off the car. Okay, she says. I struggle to the car. I slip and possibly fall on a small patch of ice. I trod through the snow. But I get the job done. It's not pretty, but it's done. Sweetie warm inside, knowing that Mom's just taking care of another "Mom" thing. No big deal at all.

I call to say I'm on my way home early from work. His phone rings a few too many times, then.... background noise. Hello?, I say. Hi, Mom! Sweetie! You figured out how to answer Daddy's phone all by yourself? Daddy showed me how. Good job! I'm coming home. I'll see you soon. Okay. Bye bye. Bye. Love you. Then she's gone. I love you too, Sweetie.

I need her help, and she gives without complaint. She asks for mine, and I return in kind. She understands my limitations, but they may or may not matter at any given moment. I'm her mom. I exist in her eyes to help her, teach her, raise her, show her love and attention. She's my daughter. Helping me with activities I cannot easily accomplish on my own, expecting me to love her and shower her with affection and attention, no matter my physical state.

There are things your kids can help you with and there are things they just expect you to do. Sweetie is no different from any other child. I am no different from any other mom. This fact is proven to me, blessedly, over and over again every single day in every single way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

OneWord Weekend #4

Word: Shape

(1 minute)
This weekend shaped up to be quite a weekend. With Sweetie’s team showing up me and my preconceived notions of what her D.I. team could do.


(10 more minutes)
Really. I admit. Going into Regionals yesterday - and knowing what I've observed from a couple Instant Challenge practices - I meekly tell you that I did not have all that much hope that the team would walk away from yesterday's competition with much more than a fun, long day had, and a great lesson learned in "It's not about winning or losing. It's how you played the game."


And then Hubby and I got to see all 4 of the teams in Sweetie's team's particular challenge. And then he and I really thought, "Oh yeah. They'll get 3rd place. Definitely."


And then - surprise! They ended up with a 2nd place win! Wow! How exciting and, yes, surprising! A Huge, happy, excited surprising result.


We are so, so proud of Sweetie and her team for coming together, working hard on both their challenge and their teamwork skills, and securing themselves a place at the State Level competition in just a couple more weeks.


D.I. has been - and, I dare say, will continue to be - such a great force in Sweetie's life. I know I've written about her experiences in this team environment many times before. You may be sick of hearing about it, in fact. But, I'm sorry. I just have to express again how influential D.I. seems to be in helping shape our Sweetie into a more relaxed, adaptable person who can think more readily on the fly, and both express and produce some truly amazing thoughts, creations and actions. 


So looking forward to seeing this team, and Sweetie in particular, grow, learn and create together some more. 


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This post brought to you by www.oneword.com.