Sunday, October 20, 2013

Of Pumpkins & Magic

And, no, I'm not talking the Cinderella story here...

"Daddy, look here. See? That's you carving a pumpkin. Photographic evidence that proves you've been lying to me."

And thus began a tough Sunday morning - a few weeks back - of anger, denial, acceptance and hope revolving around the true existence - or not - of Sweetie's annual Halloween visitor, the Magic Pumpkin.

I don't even know what the end result of the conversation was. Did we claim possession by the Magic Pumpkin such that Daddy didn't even know he was commanded to carve? Yup. Did we ultimately admit to working behind the scenes? Sadly, yes. Did we discuss the difference between lying to vs. creating wonder, joy and magic? Of course! Was Sweetie angry, sad, and mad at us? You bet she was. Did Sweetie then suggest the only way to see if there really are Magic Pumpkins is to try again this year and see what happens when Daddy doesn't do the carving himself? Yes. Yes she did. Did any of our morning discussion dissuade Sweetie from still firmly holding on to her belief that Santa, the Easter Bunny and all other mysteriously magical beings do absolutely exist? Not in the least. Houston, we (still) have a believer.

Ultimately, I think Sweetie was mostly upset with us about lying to her, and made it her goal to just forget this conversation ever took place at all - choosing instead to wait and see what will happen this year with her pumpkin when he (she? it?) works without any help from Daddy.

But, yeah. We feel like we lost a little bit of Sweetie that morning. A little more innocence - however forced upon us - chipped away from Sweetie's core. Fact - Daddy has been her Magic Pumpkin all along. Poor Sweetie.

But ya gotta love how, in Sweetie's mind, there's still a chance of real magic if we just give it a chance. Amen, Sista! You got that right!

I do absolutely love this about Sweetie. Her undying belief in all things magical, fantastical and good. But I wonder, at the same time, how much her peers still believe. Certainly those with older siblings are that much more likely to know the truth of it all. That much more likely to understand that their parents have been playing the role of Santa, Easter Bunny and the rest all this time. And, as we approach the holiday season, won't they all be talking about what really goes on in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve?

Probably. And Sweetie will have to sort it all out for herself. I imagine she'll be one of the very last hold outs, vehemently standing her "magic does exist!" ground.

Especially since we found a way to reinforce mysterious happenings once again. Hah!

Here's how it went down...

Brought our pumpkin home yesterday, Sweetie left it with a note at bedtime last night. Alas, the pumpkin was still un-carved as of this morning, with a little note back to her saying it needed more time to think of what it wanted to be. We three left for breakfast out with friends this morning and when we came home around lunchtime - OMG! - the pumpkin was carved!!

" (Gasp) Now I KNOW it's magic! None of us were home and it carved itself! I knew it!"

Not 10 minutes later her friend from school came over, so Sweetie was able to excitedly share the magic with her.

"Whoa. That's weird."

Yup. Undeniable magic. It's alive and well here in Casa de Sweetie & Me. May it be alive with you as well.

(There are many other things I could write about. Probably should write about. But not today. Today, we'll stick with the miracle of magic pumpkins and leave it at that. Happy Halloween!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dr. Seuss - Helping Us Through the Tween Years

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

This is my favorite quote. I even wear it around my wrist on a leather band on most days. 

And yet, I have to remember...

The sentiment goes for everyone. Whether you're shy or loud-mouthed, bossy or meek, completely sane or a little bit wacky. Yes, it's important for everyone to be who they are and say what they feel.  

Which, you know, is fine. Great! Free speech and all that. But sometimes it's just real hard to remember to be who you are and say what you feel - to be yourself - when the bossier, louder and/or wackier among us have every right to be and feel and do as they please as well, thus very possibly influencing how you feel about yourself.

Especially when your'e an impressionable tweenaged girl. 

(Or even if your'e a still-impressionable, ahem, not so much a girl anymore. At all.) 

Welcome to the 5th Grade. 

Apparently this is the year to overly stress the importance of being who you are and loving yourself, while at the same time acknowledging and accepting the fact that not all people are going to like you. And for no good reason, either. 

Oh, man.

It breaks my heart to hear Sweetie tell of how she keeps trying, everyday, to play with a couple of girls from her class. Girls she's always been friends with before. And to hear that, everyday, one of them (always the same one) has some excuse or another for why Sweetie cannot, in fact, hang out with them. 

She wonders aloud, "Why not?!" 

She exasperates, "Come on!"

She reminds them, "You said yesterday that today I could!"

Gosh darn it, she keeps trying.

And they keep saying no. Coming up with excuses. Ignoring her. Shunning her. 

And for no good reason. At all. 

"Well, Sweetie. Some people just aren't going to like you, and that's okay." Tough words to say when, until now apparently, she's always been such a well-liked kid.

I'm proud of Sweetie for continuing to try with these girls. But at the same time, I feel that she isn't recognizing when to give it up. For some reason or another she hasn't developed that filter to know when enough's enough. When to call the battle fought and the defeat accepted. To move on to other, new friends who do accept her and really want to spend time with her. 

After Sweetie first offered up to me an example of the mean girl passive/aggressive behavior, I couldn't help myself but to ask her everyday after that how recess went. But I should have stopped. Sweetie soon got noticeably irritated with me for making her have to talk about it all. Not allowing her to sweep the uncomfortableness of the day away. 

After some discussion with Hubby and my own parents, I finally told her that I'll try not to ask her about recess anymore, but she should know she can come to me or Daddy if she ever wants to talk about anything. And, in fact, she should come to us if she has any problems. To which she agreed and said she already knew.

And then, in the same breath where Sweetie is quietly lamenting her old friends acting in this new, mean way - Sweetie proudly wonders aloud that she must be one of the more popular kids in her school, because younger kids know her by name and sometimes want to play with her, but Sweetie doesn't usually know their names at all. And yet, she's happy to play with whomever just the same.

No filter for knowing when to stop trying with friends who have always been there for her before. Happy to play with whomever does want to play with her. Able to make the most of her playtime when plans don't happen as she first intends. Even though this new school year is still very new, what I'm hearing about Sweetie's 5th Grade experience so far constantly reminds me of what Sweetie's 3rd Grade teacher said about her - that Sweetie is the most comfortable-in-her-own-skin person she has ever met.

I so don't want that comfortableness to be squashed. On the outside, Sweetie seems to be managing the new social structures with aplomb. But I'm constantly worried about how she's really feeling about it on the inside. How hurt is she? Does she worry, feel sad, angry or like an outcast? All of those things and more? Is it just this one girl who's being mean, or are other kids picking on Sweetie as well? What about the other girl, now "mean" only by association, not sticking up for herself or Sweetie by saying, "You know what? I like (Sweetie) and actually do want her to hang out with me!" Is/has this old friend turned mean herself? Is she in danger of becoming a mean girl? Or is she just too conflicted and shy for now to speak up and may, over time, come around again to the good? What about the teacher?! Is he noticing any of this at all? Or is this just what 5th Grade is and I've just got to let Sweetie go and get through it, just like we all did? Certainly she's not being outright bullied. This too shall pass.

It's just, you know, it's Sweetie. Have Hubby and I somehow done her a mis-service by not exposing her to more cantankerous kids? Kids who are obviously less than savory - allowing her to learn how not to be treated by someone? Learning how to know when to walk away and find friends who treat you well? Teaching her earlier on in life that not all your peers are always going to be your friend, and that's okay?

For all that is so very, very right with Sweetie - so understanding and mature in her acceptance of all people - have we done wrong by her at all?

In the end, I know - no. We haven't. God love her, Sweetie is as great as ever! Would I or Hubby have ever kept trying back in school, day after day, to get in with an old friend who was now treating us less-than-satisfactorily? Heck no! We'd get the message straight away, back off, and - at least speaking for myself - probably into a corner by myself for the rest of the year. Sweetie, though - she's a fighter. She knows how things used to be and can't understand when things change "just like that" for no good reason. It makes no sense. She keeps on trying. And when that doesn't work, again today, she heads off to some new friends or to play by herself. Or happily agrees to play when a request is made by anyone else. She's a happy kid and she doesn't let minor upsets ruin the whole day.

Maybe we should all be more like Sweetie. We would certainly all do well by learning that lesson. Keep on fighting, everyday, for what you know to be good and true. When that doesn't work out though, don't let others get you down. Make a new plan and carry on with your most excellent life.

In the meantime, I do believe Sweetie's found a couple of new friends who do appreciate her - have even told Sweetie that they like her because she "doesn't bring the drama." I suggested to Sweetie that maybe she should back off, for now, on trying to play with those other girls and concentrate on fostering a friendship with these new girls. I'm thrilled to hear those stories of her day. How these new friends appreciate her opinion and think she's really fun and good at certain things.

Because she is. Sweetie is excellent at many things - not least of which, being herself and saying what she feels.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two Quiets and an ENP

How's your summer going? Ours has been good. Mine has been great! I've been on a major reading bender, which is pretty unlike me. I've always liked to read, mind you. And I've belonged to a small book club for years. But I've always been a slow reader. So for me to have been through - oh, I don't know - 6 or more books just since the end of May, it's a HUGE accomplishment for me.

I've also had the opportunity to meet some friends one-on-one for a few coffee dates over the last few weeks. Sweetie just finished up a three week Theater Camp at the Boys and Girls Club, during which I was afforded the opportunity to have some free "Mommy time." One day I had coffee with a friend I haven't seen since High School, another time with a good friend I try to have coffee with approximately once a month (but we were overdue this time around), and still another time with a friend from Junior High who I get to see at Book Club meetings, but rarely do we get to see each other when it's just her and me. Fun times all around, and great to catch up with everyone!

Chatting with each friend was great, in its own right. But talking with my Book Club friend, for the purposes of this post, was especially interesting and, ultimately, enlightening. Partly because, of course, we talked about the books we're currently reading. We happen to be on a summer break from Book Club, during which we are free to read what we want from an extended suggestion list each member helped to create. So she and I had some similarities in what we've been reading, as well as some interesting differences. Plus, she's a very prolific reader, so has squeezed in several non-Book-Club related reads as well. Several of which were related to homeschooling, as she and her husband have made the decision to take their 4th grade daughter out of public school and to teach her at home this year. And another - possibly homeschool related, or maybe just something she was interested in reading anyway - called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. 

In terms of what my friend is reading and studying in preparation for homeschooling, she told me how she has also been talking with her daughter's previous teachers, and just turning a keener eye toward how her daughter learns and takes in information. In order to get an even better understanding of her daughter's learning style, she took this child-modified version of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. The kid's test is really design for a parent, or teacher, to take the test for the child. My friend confirmed this when, after trying to ask her daughter for her own responses, she found that her daughter tended to provide answers for how her ideal self would behave - which obviously doesn't result in an accurate evaluation. So my friend answered the test questions herself, based on her own intimate understanding of her daughter and the information she's gleaned from the teachers. 

My friend had also taken the "regular" version of the Myers-Briggs test for herself and already knew her own results. I don't remember if she shared with me or not, but I do know enough to say that she is an "I" (Introvert) rather than an "E" (Extrovert.) She went on to say that her daughter's results mirrored her own exactly. 

This may make things easier - or, possibly, that much more difficult - for homeschooling. Two personalities that are so much alike. A harmonious relationship, or not? They both soon will see.

At any rate, the whole talk of the Myers-Briggs test intrigued me, as I took several Psychology courses both in High School and College, and remember taking the test myself more than once. Not that I remembered my results at all. I mean, I knew I too am an "I" (Introvert). But beyond that - what kind of personality would this test show I had? I was curious to answer the series of questions leading to my personalized results. And a test for kids?! Very cool. I was also very interested in seeing what kind of results Sweetie would pull in.

Shortly thereafter not only Sweetie and I were taking the test, but Hubby as well. The results? I am an ISFJ, Hubby is an INFP, and Sweetie is an ENP (kids under 12 don't get that last of the 4 letters, as they are not mature enough to have solidly developed a preference.)

Huh. Sweetie and I have no part in common, and she has everything but Extroversion in common with Hubby. Interesting.

Reading the descriptions of these types, I mostly agree with everything. The test, for the most part, pretty much pegged us for how our personalities play out in the real world. It's interesting to read not only our own results, but each other's as well. Interesting to see what each other's strong points are, and how to interact effectively with each other - knowing how each of us takes in and processes information. The only trait of the test that is easily self-discernible ahead of time - Introversion vs. Extroversion - was demonstrated through the test results as well. Hubby and I already knew we were Introverts, while Sweetie is definitely an Extrovert.

So, that was cool...

Then I started reading Quiet. And... it's definitely interesting. It definitely, as my friend pointed out for herself, has me saying "Yeah! That's me!" at almost every turn of the page. At dinner time every day, I'm constantly updating Hubby (and, by virtue of her being at the table, Sweetie) on the new info I'm reading in the book everyday. In a lot of ways, it really is a fascinating read. But...


It sure does paint a less-than-rosy picture of Extroverts. The author is forever pointing out that Extroverts, as a group, are much quicker to speak before they think, less able to hold out for postponed gratification, more likely to charge ahead come what may, less likely to control their urges, to divorce, gamble, smoke, engage in risky behavior, and less likely to feel guilty or embarrassed about any poor behavior that they do participate in. Yes, she does go on to say - quietly - that there are no studies that show either Introverts or Extroverts are more intelligent than the other. But she sure goes out of her way - it seems to me - to showcase just how thoughtful, well-mannered, cautious, and honestly talented and smart (as in, careful enough to think through a situation and end up with the right answer, as opposed to the Extroverts' way of quickly getting to an answer, right or wrong) we Introverts are. Introverts, studies show, are also more likely to feel embarrassed and guilty - in other words, feel worse if we behave badly, and have more empathy if we knowingly behave badly towards another - than Extroverts, she says.

The list goes on and on. Basically, give us Introverts a chance to think through our answers, and be quiet enough to actually listen to what we have to say, and we'll blow Extroverts out of the water every time.

Of course, she does point out the benefits to society, and evolution, that both Introverts and Extroverts offer. But, duh... this book is for Introverts. To point out to us all the great things we've got going for us. Of course the author's going to bag on Extroverts with all the studies and experiments that have been done comparing the two personality traits. Introverts are powerful in a world that talks to much. She's just showing what the book intends to show.

It's all interesting. But. As an Introvert, married to an Introvert, raising an ENP (i.e., Extrovert), I'm more than a little put off by the bum rap all the Talkers are getting in this book.

Sweetie took that kid's Myer's-Briggs test (she, with Hubby and my help, was able to answer the questions quite honestly as I asked them of her one by one). She knows her results. She also knows Hubby and my results. She knows she's an E while we are Quiets. And, yes, I am speaking up each night at dinner to tell of that day's information I'm reading in Quiet. So, yeah, she knows how negatively the Extroverts are coming off there. And she's taking offense. Rightly so. I'm right there with her, and stating as much as we discuss together.

She's not dumb! She knows how wrong it is to smoke and gamble and behave badly! She's a great problem solver! So many less-than-favorable things that the book points out about Extroverts, Sweetie is quick to disagree with. Quick to say how she's way better than that. How dare these studies and this book lump all Extroverts together into one, ugly group. It's not fair.

No it's not. And, of course, these are just studies. With majority and minority results. Of course, everyone is an individual and may or may not fit nicely into their presupposed boxes. I know this, and we're teaching Sweetie to understand this as well. But still.

That's just it, ya know? The three of us - we teach each other and learn from each other every day. As two Quiet parents - careful thinking, kind, compassionate, intelligent souls that we are - it's our duty to help our ENP to thrive as best she can in any given situation she finds herself. To take her time and think through problems, to care about others and herself, to study hard and do well in school. And she, as an Extrovert - and an only child, at that - has us all to herself to teach us a thing or two as well. How to be a bit more uninhibited, a bit less timid about standing up for what we know to be right, how to laugh at ourselves, and less afraid of speaking up and showing who we are to the big, talkative world.

Quiets and E's. No matter who you are and where you fall on this particular personality trait scale, we all can get along. We all can learn a lot from each other. We all benefit society in lots of great ways.  We all have power. We all are powerful. We are.

It's just in the way you show it. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our Changing Bodies (and Minds)

I didn't write about it, but about a month ago I had "the talk" with Sweetie.

I'd been thinking about it - in an abstract sort of way - figuring I should probably get around to doing that soon, but, eh. Not yet. And then a note came home from school saying that the 4th grade was going to be watching "the video" about growing up and hygiene and puberty. 

Well, then. I guess I better talk to her. Thanks so much, Sweetie's elementary school, for forcing the subject.

At any rate, I didn't write about this primarily as a means to keep some privacy on this for Sweetie. (aannnnddd... there goes that privacy.) Suffice it to say the talk went waaaayyyy better than I imagined it could/would have, I had a fantastic book to share with her on the subject, she learned beyond the point that she "needed" to for the school video, Sweetie showed some genuine interest in the miracle and science of everything, and she was not/has not been embarrassed to talk about or ask questions of both Hubby and I ever since. 


In the meantime, the only "changing bodies" I've noticed going on around here is my own. Good, bad, and indifferent. 

I went to McDonalds a few weeks back twice within a relatively short span of time. And immediately after both trips? I felt awful. So blah and bloated and just plain gross. I'd been to McDonalds plenty of times before! Never had I felt like this. But these two trips proved it loud and clear - crappy food makes me feel crappy, even if it never did before. No more McDonalds, or the like, for me.

I have also always started my day with a cup of tea. I'm not a coffee drinker (unless you consider mochas true coffee.) Tea is my thing. I can't go on with my day without it. Yet, a couple months back I realized that, day after day after day, after having my morning tea, I was feeling buzzed. I don't like feeling caffeine buzzed. Makes me feel sick. But, there it was. Every day, all of a sudden, after having tea every morning for years, I was feeling the ill-effects of the caffeine. I couldn't even finish the cup, I felt so yucky. Luckily, after telling this to Hubby, he reminded me how to "decaffeinate" my regular tea (I hate the taste of decaffeinated teas and herbal teas) by letting it steep for 20 - 30 seconds, pouring out that tea, then pouring my actual cup of tea from there. Brilliant! This works, and so I can now, again, drink my morning tea without feeling sick.

Another change that I've notice of late is that I'm no longer experiencing night sweats, as I have for the last couple years or so every night. Sure, I still have them every once in awhile. But nowhere near as regularly as before. Yay for this lovely change!

All these bodily changes for me I can attest, I think, to the CoQ10 I've been taking since shortly after my physical earlier this year. I have also been wearing, for the last month or so, an amber necklace. Mostly, if you know about amber necklaces at all, you probably have heard of them for babies and the healing properties they afford them while teething. But, I wanted to try it for myself to see if it could offer me any relief from my bodily aches and/or the night sweats issue, and/or in any other way. Of course, because I started the CoQ10 and wearing the necklace within roughly the same time period, I can't know which is working for me in what way. And, I guess I don't really care. In the end, I am seeing some changes, all of which are forcing me to live a more healthy lifestyle. And this is a good thing!

As for Sweetie... you know what I've noticed since having "the talk" with her? Sweetie has been both much more imaginative (regressing?) and more her own person (progressing.) Neither of which has anything, really, to do with "the talk" or "the book," of course. But, now that she knows some of these secrets of growing up, now that she has this milestone information under her belt, it is fascinating to watch how she's growing, processing, and behaving as she edges closer and closer to actually experiencing this new phase in life that, at this point, she only has book knowledge of. 

She's pretending a lot more. Or maybe I'm just noticing it more? And in her pretend play, it's so interesting to me to see how she adapts real situations to her imaginative worlds. 

She goes to work with me and my boss comes in, putting her purse down on the empty chair at her desk. My boss leaves the room, Sweetie comes back in and sees the purse there. Sweetie is offended that the purse has now crushed her friend! (A minute later) "Well, she didn't get crushed. She got up just before the purse was put down. (Another minute later) "And she couldn't be crushed anyway! She's not tiny... she's as big as I am!" (Eye roll like "Of course she is!")

She and I are in the car together and she tells me who all is in the car with us. Three other girls and two boys and four cats. Some of them are in the back seat, some of them are in the trunk. The cats are on the girls laps. She has names for everyone. One of her friends is Matilda - the Matilda! - so she's not actually in the car, but flying along outside the car, because she's magical like that. And the boys are riding motorcycles in front of us, and not in the trunk. Sweetie doesn't know why they have motorcycles - they just do. (Eye roll like, "Boys! Who knows why they do what they do!)

I could offer up so many more examples, but you get the point. Sweetie has a whole world going on in her imagination (I'm totally not surprised by this) and turns things over in her mind so much and so well in order to make them all fit real situations as best they can (still not surprising me - just impressing me with her ability to do this and her apparent need to not only do it, but share her world and the adjustments with me. Like it's important that I know things are all working out alright with her "friends" when at first they appeared to be in some tricky situations.) 

Good for you, Sweetie. You may not know it, but you're actually showing me that you'd know how to handle some pretty tricky situations too, if even you found yourself in some. You're always thinking, and that's a great thing!

So... more imaginary friends than I've ever been aware of before = regressing? Eh - maybe not. Maybe not at all. I think you're just working out some potentially real life situations in your elaborate pretend world before you get around to experiencing comparative situations in your own life. Not that being crushed by a purse or deciding between riding in the back seat, in the trunk, or on a motorcycle are anything you'll ever have to worry about yourself. But, you know. You're thinking, adjusting, fixing, and dealing with the situation at hand within your playing, which will help you in real life with so many things. Good for you! 

Sweetie is also, like I said, establishing herself more and more as her own person these days. Not in any huge display or anything. But simple little things.

I'm excited to hear on the radio, then find a video, of a song I heard for the first time at Sweetie's end-of-year talent show. A song I thought was just a simple playground song and game with cups. But now I know it's really a thing. I love the song and think the trick with the cups is cool, so I bring some cups home and work with Sweetie for a bit to learn. I mention on Facebook that Sweetie and I are going to learn this. I keep going back to it when we have some time. Aaannnddd... Sweetie finally tells me she's really not as interested in learning this as I am. 

Sweetie wants to play a game with me. We usually have some difficulty deciding on a game we both enjoy. Then I remember one that we've played before. Let's play that! Aaannnddd... she doesn't like that game as much as I think she does.

I want to watch TV. It's easier for Sweetie and I to watch TV together when Daddy's not around. We can watch the silly reality competition shows that he doesn't like. Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice... whatever. So I pull up (on Hulu) one of my favorites - So You Think You Can Dance - because I know she and I both love this! Aaannnddd... no. Sweetie, in fact, does not like that show as much as I think she does. Not really at all, in fact. 

What?! Who are you? What have you done with my Sweetie! My Sweetie loves all these things, just like I do! What's going on here?!

Huh. What's going on here, is Sweetie learning to assert herself more, and make her own decisions more on what is good and fun, cool and enjoyable to her, regardless of what I and Hubby like. Sweetie is growing up.

I should have been a psychologist. 

Changes, they are a-happenin' all around. For me and her. With more changes to come! Fun, fun. But, it's all good. We are both strong females ready for whatever this world has to offer us. Ready for the next stage of life. 

We can do it.

Bring it on!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tell Me What to Do

I'm sitting here drinking my third glass of water today.

Because I was told to.

By a video game.

That's right.

My Hubby and I are big fans of Ted Talks. Recently, were were watching talks from the Life Hacks collection and came across this one. And when it was over? We both said, "We've got to play this game!"

And now, we've been exploring the world of SuperBetter - with its Power Ups, Bad Guys, Quests and Activities. And one of the daily Quests we each need to conquer is the Drink a Glass of Water Every Two Hours challenge - better known as "Leave the Shriveling to the Raisins."

And so... I'm drinking my third glass of water today. More glasses to come.

There's something about being told - everyday - what to do and how well to treat yourself, all while earning points in the accomplishments, that makes you not want to fail. No, I didn't say "makes you want to do it." But "not want to fail." And how I do the game is, I look in the morning at the choices amongst all the Power Ups, Defeating the Bad Guys, and Quests, decide what I'll do that day, and click that "I Did This!" Then, for the rest of my day, I know what I have to do. What I already said I did. To not do them would be to go against what I promised myself I'd get done.

I know myself. I am a procrastinator. I have low personal motivation. I compartmentalize. I put off for later what I know darn well I have the means to accomplish right now. I won't do things when it's solely up to me to make the decision to do it.

So this game - with my Hubby as my Ally and I as his - is, I think, really great. It forces us to look after our own and each other's heath and wellbeing every single day. Forces us to check in with ourselves and each other to make sure our physical and mental health is good. Or at least improving. Forces us to adopt a different attitude about daily struggles and stresses. It states, in black and white and in colorful video form, what we can do to ensure a happy, healthy, regret-free lifestyle.

It's pretty cool.

So, I will drink my glasses of water everyday now. Even though I've "known" all along how healthy and important it is to drink water. Now I'm being "watched." By me. And Hubby. Now I have to do what I set out to do each day. I must do healthy activities for my mind and body.

And, I can create my own Quests as well. Hmmm... I know a few things I've been ignoring lately that I can add to my daily mix.

Looks like my days may be getting busier.

Because I said so.

I'm such a taskmaster.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Experience the Gifts

I'm sure I must have written about this philosophy before, but I'll say it again: I contend that the best gifts out there are ones of experience, not materialism.

I'm sick of us gifting Sweetie with what we think are "the best/coolest gifts ever!" just for her to toss them aside after not even a week of play time.

In fact, I came up with what I think is absolutely a brilliant idea: We'll start gifting the other kids in our family, and those of our friends, with these "really cool gifts" we find. Alternatively, we'll give Sweetie (mostly) gifts of experience. That way, whenever we visit said friends and family with the cool stuff, Sweetie will be more than eager to play with and enjoy them. And yet, they won't be played with, broken and/or used up, and strewn about our house when she's quickly lost interest in them. 

Win/win! Other kids we love will get cool stuff, and Sweetie will not only have limited access to these things, but the memory of "experience gifts" to last her a lifetime. 


Last weekend Hubby and I and Sweetie headed into Boston for the day to celebrate my birthday. 

We rode the Swan Boats, 

saw the ducklings, 

walked a portion of The Freedom Trail

(with specific focus on all the Historical UU landmarks along our path - including the home of Louisa May Alcott. Yay!),

 did some geocaching, met up with friends we haven't seen in awhile, had lunch at Faneuil Hall,

and stopped off for sushi at our favorite restaurant on our way back home. And can I just tell you? It was the Best Day Ever!!! 


One evening a couple weeks ago, when we were finally all home, Sweetie asked if there was anything good on T.V. that night. (We have Hulu, so we pretty much watch as we want, and have access to most shows the day after they air, which is usually when we watch our favorite shows.) We said, "No. Not really." And that was the answer Sweetie was after! "Good!" she said. "I was hoping you'd say that. Because I was really wanting to have a Family Night with you tonight. You know, play some games, read, that sort of thing!" We were totally onboard with that. Ended up playing a few rounds of Apples to Apples, with our 4th player being one of our cats. So much silly fun! And such a nice change, as Sweetie said, from our usual just sitting down in front of the T.V. all night. You got that right!


Sweetie recently did a short essay on something she read about in a kids newspaper her classroom gets - the new Matilda: The Musical showing currently in NYC. As Sweetie understood it, she thought the show had come and gone (as plays usually do, in these parts) after just a short stretch of performances. She wrote that she was sad about this, as Matilda is both her favorite movie and book, and she would have loved to have seen it. 

I pointed out to her that this was a NYC musical and that those usually run for a long, long time. Still - it's NYC, and pricey, and still not likely that we'd get to go see it. Maybe it would come to Boston one day?

Then I started fantasizing about making this wish of Sweetie's come true. I did all the math of the ticket cost and travel expenses, staying overnight, etc., etc. And it actually seems like we can do it! I'd been wanting to go to Disney World forever. Still do. But this trip to NYC would be way less expensive than that, and just as - if not more - thrilling for Sweetie. 

Some talking with Hubby later, and - we're doing it! Christmas 2013 is going to be lots different for us than previous Christmases. Far fewer material gifts, much more puzzling and magical figuring out, and a huge gift for our little family of these tickets and weekend trip to look forward to next Spring. 

I'm so excited! Sweetie's going to be so excited! And she's old enough to have this be a memory she'll treasure for the rest of her life. 

Experience gifts - so much better than material gifts that get quickly tossed aside. Toys are often banged up, broken, out-grown, and/or forgotten in no time at all. 

Gifts of experience stay with you forever. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

I'm Not the Only One

Sweetie, then. You'd like an update?


In a word, Sweetie is doing "great!" Wouldn't expect anything less of her, right? Heck, no!

(Although, little by little, I have noticed her very occasionally choosing other words, besides "great," to describe herself. We may be nearing the end of an era here, folks. For all my wishing she would use other words, well... it's kinda sad, actually.)

But, yes. Great! She's doing well in school, enjoying school, broadening her friendship circle, and generally lovin' life.

And I know - gosh, do I know - how often I come on here and write about my "amazing" little girl. Of course, Hubby and I think she is absolutely amazing, just as any good parent should feel about their own kid(s.) It's perfectly natural, and expected, that I would think this of my child...

...But it sure is nice when you hear that others also think your kid is pretty darn special.

Case in point: that stinkin' talent show. Do you know that rehearsals are 3 days a week for the whole month of May?! What crazy nonsense is this? In my day, a talent show was something you signed up for and got up onstage, unrehearsed, to show off your skillz. There was no practicing! You just did it! Hmmpphh. Not these days, I guess. The talent show is now a well crafted machine - well organized, well timed, diversified (talented) acts, the whole shebang.


So Sweetie went to the first of what was to be many rehearsals. After which, I received an email from one of the teachers in charge, stating that Sweetie was "fantastic" at practice and that she was "well ahead of the others." Also, because of this, and she knew Sweetie would practice on her own at home, Sweetie was offered the opportunity to only attend 1 rehearsal a week, instead of all 3. This teacher also said she offered this reduced schedule to only one other kid besides Sweetie. Was this okay with us?

Huh. lemme think... of course it's okay with us! Much easier on our logistics planning. Deal!

But what a nice thing to be told! Sweetie is one talented kid (singing) and she's not in need of hours and hours of prep work to put on a good show. Good going, Swee!

Also concerning this talent show... Sweetie will be singing "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry. Now, I think Sweetie has an amazing singing voice. I think she is really good. But, as I said, as her mom, I'm kind of supposed to think my kid is super talented. I'm totally biased.

And yet, Sweetie came home from her audition for the show, saying that she was told she didn't have to sing her whole song (remember? She was sick?), instead being complemented after just a few bars with "Wow! If you sing that well when you're sick, we can't wait to hear how good you sound when you're healthy!" Then being rewarded immediately with a place in the show. Cut to practice just the other day - one of the girls in Sweetie's class who's also in the talent show was asking Sweetie what she was doing in the show. When Sweetie told her she'd be singing "When I Die Young," the other girl (who is not particularly a friend of Sweetie's) responded with, "Cool! I love that song!" and she began to sing it. Sweetie says she then chimed in herself, at which this other girl stopped and said to Sweetie, "Wow! You have a really amazing singing voice!" and then brought her other friends over to listen.

Yep. I wasn't lyin'. She's got a darn good voice. And I can't wait to go see the show! (Now if only I could help her work with her nerves - the less nervous she is, the more apt she'll be to really belt out the song.)

Another thing Sweetie told us this past week is that she's been nominated to be 1 of 2 girls in her grade to manage taking down the American flag every day at school next year (2 5th grade boys put it up everyday, and 2 5th grade girls take it down.) I have watched this practice over the years and have always wondered how these kids get chosen to do what they do. And, well, I guess I still don't know for sure - because I'm not clear if Sweetie's classmates or teachers picked the kids they picked. My money is on the teachers doing the choosing. Based on level of responsibility? I suppose. Who knows. Heck, maybe it's all part of her teachers' plan (at my urging) to encourage more female-based friendships for Sweetie, as the 2 "flag girls" are bound to form a bond over the year. All I know is that Sweetie is the only kid from her classroom to have been chosen, while the other girl and 2 boys come from the other 4th grade classroom. And that she's pretty excited, and Hubby and I are pretty proud. This is an honor! Good going, Sweetie! Congratulations!

Beyond these recent examples, I can also point out what good grades Sweetie (usually) brings home. Yes, she had some minor blips on her last report card, but her recent progress report states things are looking way, way up! And not only does Sweetie have the smarts to produce great grades, but she honestly loves school. Not a terribly common feeling, especially as the years go on.

And my Sweetie - for the most part - is polite. Yes - oh, yes - I have definitely witnessed some decidedly not polite behavior from her. Sometimes far to often, for my taste. She's still pretty stubborn, and if she doesn't understand something she's being told or asked, she will get upset, maybe cry, and generally angry that she "doesn't understand." She can, therefore, come off as anything but polite. (Example: one of her Auntie's was trying to apologize to Sweetie the other day for "teasing" her about whether or not Sweetie's seen any movies lately. To which Sweetie clammed up, teared up, and would neither look at nor respond to her Auntie with anything more than a scowl. But when I asked Sweetie about this, I guessed Sweetie's problem. Sweetie asked me "What is she talking about?!" I asked her to remember 2 nights before when her Auntie was asking her about movies. "But you didn't feel like you were being teased, did you?" "No!" Yep. Auntie was apologizing for something she didn't have to apologize for, which sent Sweetie into her own little confused, angry-not-to-understand, shut-down mode. Ugh!)

All that said - yes - Sweetie is quite capable of being a very polite, considerate, well-mannered young lady. Hubby and I hear quite often about Sweetie's good behavior. It's just not us thinking she's a pretty great kid. She really is! Others have told us so, and we wholeheartedly agree. In fact, back last fall when she was in the local production of "Oliver!" she was recognized by her Boys & Girls Club (where the show was being produced) as a "shining example of Respect" - one of their core values. So proud!

Hubby and I actually talk about all this every now and then, pointing out to each other - when we hear tales of other parents' horror stories - that we've actually got it pretty good. Sweetie's biggest issue, as far as we're concerned, is her inability to listen sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. But that's just about it. She doesn't lie. She doesn't fight about her chores or homework. She offers to help out. She doesn't talk back. She plays well with others. All in all, she's a pretty great kid - and talented and smart to boot!

We think so, anyway.

It's nice to hear that others do as well.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Hopeless to Hopeful - I Hope

So, it's about time I check in with a Sweetie story, isn't it. Blah, blah, blah, Amy. Blah, blah, blah, me. A Sweetie story would be a nice switch, wouldn't you say?

Yah. It would.

Alas, not today. Maybe next time.

Until then... speaking of blah.... I'm feeling rather blah these days. Very much at a standstill. Pretty much done with trying, to no avail.


Tired of checking in with my cannot-communicate-effectively physiatrist. Sick of giving him a large copay every month or so, for what? To tell him how things are going with my physical therapy? I can talk to my physical therapist about that! No need to involve him.

He did suggest, a couple months ago, that I try a cortisone shot in my hip to see if that would ease some of my pain. Just one hip though, to see how it goes. It seemed to go great! Seemed to help a lot. Awesome! So much so that, at my next appointment with him, he did a cortisone shot on my other hip. And.... No. Not good. Not good at all. Worse! Much worse. Really bad.

(I also went for a full body massage the afternoon I got that second shot, and I told him I was doing this. He didn't say a word - no warning at all that this may not be a good idea. So I had no idea. Was it the massage that made it worse? Did I just react differently to the shot in the other hip? Who knows. After a week 1/2 or so, it was all back to fine. Well, my normal pain, anyway. I think. Some days are still pretty bad, actually. Yay for consistency - not!)

So, now I... I just don't know if I see the point in going back to him. He can, and probably will continue to tell me all sorts of crazy weird options I have to get rid of the pain (something about frying the nerves??? Killing the nerves - non-surgically - so that they don't feel anything anymore??? No thanks.) But I don't want to do crazy weird. I don't want to do heavy narcotic drugs. If those are my only options, well... I guess I turn to acceptance, then, and move on. At least I had the MRI and have found out that it's arthritis and bursitis causing me grief and nothing else any worse than that, which is a relief. He even told me, right off the bat, that nothing is going to relieve my pain completely and/or permanently. I pretty much just have to suck it up and adapt.

Why keep going back?

And then there's PT, which I've been doing since - what? - March? It's... going. Eh. It's not that I feel I've hit a plateau. It's that I feel I'm the exact same as I was at the beginning! Save for those few weeks when the first cortisone shot helped me to feel better, I don't feel that the PT has done a gosh darn thing.

This whole time I've been doing aqua therapy. Which means I'm in the pool and my therapist is out, instructing me from the side. She's not in there with me, making sure I'm doing the exercises exactly as she wants me to do them. So I feel like, A) I'm either not doing the exercises right, and therefore am not progressing as I should, or, B) I am doing the exercises correctly, but they're just not the right exercises for me and aren't doing anything for my pain.

I feel like, because my body - namely, my legs and feet - work differently than the average, able-bodied person's, I can't physically do what she wants me to do. Or, okay, I can at least attempt to do the exercises as instructed and, okay, maybe, possibly this is all helping to build up new muscles for me. But, at the end of the day, I still have the same body mechanics I've always had, the same abilities and disabilities I've lived with my whole life, and so will walk out of the sessions and into my life going back to the same ways I've always used to get myself around as I need to do. I've adapted this walking style to suit me best/keep me doing what I need to do the only way I know how. 45 minutes of exercising twice a week is not going to change the grand scheme of how I get around. It's just not.

And so... I feel like I just want to be done with all of this too. Or at least, you know, maybe move out of the pool. Switch to doing exercises right with her, so she can coach me much more accurately. Tell me what I can do on land anywhere so that I can do exercises not only with her, but on my own as well. Have her position my body as she needs me to be in order to be correct. Do something new.

She also asks me all the time where my average pain level is at. I hate that question! I hate that "rate it from 0 - 10 with 0 being absolutely no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can possibly imagine" scale. From the get-go, I always put my pain at least at a 5, figuring why would anyone even ever seek out relief from pain if it wasn't at least at a 5? And so, if in my head my lowest tolerable pain is a 5, but I'm experiencing worse than tolerable pain, then I must at least be at a 7, right? And on my worst days ever? Well! That's an 8+ right there - easy!

But... A) there is a fair amount of time when my pain is really very low, if not completely not there. My worst pain basically comes when I change position - from sitting to standing, most often. So I have the bad pain, but after walking it off for 15 seconds or so, I'm more or less good. Or at least at the very low pain end of the range. And B) turns out I've been waaaayyy off with where to place my pain using this 0 - 10 system. Now, at least, instead of my therapist asking me for a number, she and I will work it through with some discussion (Does the pain make you cry? No. Is the pain just annoying, or does it make you really want to stop doing whatever's causing the pain? Makes me want to stop) and she'll tell me what number I'd be on the chart (some recent bad pain I had she rated at a 3 or 4 - which she thought was rather considerable pain. A 3 or 4 to me has always seemed a rather low number. Live and learn!)


Another day. PT day. I haven't wanted to go. I haven't felt like it's been doing any good. I've felt like, maybe, even, it's been hurting me more!

I didn't want to go.

But then I thought, if I don't go, what would I be doing instead? Nothing. Nothing towards helping my body, that is. And that's definitely no good.

Then I talked with Hubby. "You should go. You need to go."
     - "But..."
     - "You need to go."
     - "But..."
     - "Go."

I went. I talked. I literally hung around in the pool. No exercising today, just letting my body benefit from the weightlessness of the water.

As Hubby had reminded me, my therapist really does understand my pains better than I can verbally express them. She understands the mechanics of my body and why I hurt in the ways that I do. And she also sees, with me, that the pool is just not working. Maybe it was that second cortisone shot that spun me around and screwed everything up. Maybe not. But I'm just not progressing. I'm, in fact, worse. She heard me and understands.

No more pool.

Next time we meet we'll be on land. And in the meantime, thanks to my "hanging out" and just talking to her today, she now knows how I've been sitting at work and at home, and wants me to STOP DOING THAT! I need better seating both places.

If I can work on just that, by the time we meet again in 2 weeks, I may have some progress to report. Simple changes, big results.

Let's hope.

I will not give up. I will keep at it. Because, as I said, if I don't go to PT, what will I do? At least with the PT I'm trying to get better, even if it takes a long time. Even if it seems like it will never come. I'm trying. Without the PT, there's no chance for changes.

Now the physiatrist? Hmmmm.... I'm still not sure about him. Worth it to go back, or not?

I don't know.

But, for now, I'll do what I can. I'll keep trying. I'll keep the faith that, someday, I'll see some progress.

Keep on keepin' on.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Holding It All Together...

...with a few used pieces of Scotch tape I found on the floor, most of which are covered in kitty fluff.

Am I right? Moms out there? Ever feel this way? You know you have. I know you have. Still. When it's me, and I feel my little piece of the world I at least partially manage, with the help of others, is not as together and orderly as it should be, well... Who's fault could it be but my own? All my fault.

For me, it's paperwork. Namely, school paperwork that Sweetie brings home.

I actually pride myself on not being one of those moms who feels they have to hold on to every school project, test and paper my child brings home. I used to. But last year's move from one house to another helped me weed out all the unnecessaries. As the time came that we knew we'd be moving, then packing, I realized I really didn't want or need to pack up and move all these papers around. Be gone, math worksheets! You're out of here, random art squiggles and doodles. It's been nice knowing you, social studies studies. We just don't need y'all around here anymore. I'll keep tests and report cards. Really nice art and fun and/or well written essays and stories. The rest of it? Not so much. Not so needed.

So. That was last year. Now, we've been in our new home almost a year and I've done really well with keeping this practice going. I'll look through Sweetie's folder and, for the most part, throw most if not all graded items in the trash. She doesn't mind - encourages it, actually. I only keep the best of the best. Our clutter piles thank me for this - they're cluttered enough as it is.

Beyond the graded papers, Sweetie occasionally brings home school fliers and other informational notes and such from her teacher or the school in general. I'll read them right away, decide if they're something we'll need to refer to later, then toss or not accordingly. Sometimes, though, I get it wrong as to whether or not the flyer or note contains truly pertinent info. Pertinent to who? If not me (toss) maybe Swee (don't toss.)

This recently happened with a notice that came home regarding the school's end of the year talent show. I know I read this. I remember the general idea of the thing. It listed when auditions would be, when practices would be, and the do's and don't's for those auditioning. Interesting... but, after reading through it, I threw it away. Not needed.

Wrong! Wouldn't you know, Sweetie wanted to audition. Really wanted to audition! She wanted to do a skit with one or two other kids. But upon asking everyone she thought who may be interested, she found they were already auditioning for something else in the show, or just plain didn't want to do it. Oh well, I told her. At least you can enjoy watching the show. Or she could do something on her own. She's a good singer, why doesn't she do that?

Okay. She resigned herself to a solo act. She went through a couple different ideas of what that would be, until finally settling on the singing. She picked out a song and practiced at home. We encouraged her to do her best and we were happy for her to be trying out.

Then, about 8:45 the night before auditions, she happens to mention that these auditions were after school the next day.

What?! They are? Sorry, but you can't do that. Daddy and I work, unable to pick you up. It's way too late notice to ask Nana to pick you up there. You don't even know the details! What time after school? You certainly can't go back to the school to audition and be picked up after that. We need you to go to the Boys & Girls Club, as you're expected to do every day. Too late. Too little information known. No. You can't do it. Sorry.

Had I only kept that info sheet around, I would have known all this. Had I only dug the info sheet out of the recycling once Sweetie expressed her interest to audition, we wouldn't have had a poor, desperately sad Sweetie on our hands that night. Why didn't I think to retrieve that paper?

Long story a wee bit shorter, Sweetie talked to the powers that be at school the next day and arranged for herself to get another, during school, audition time a couple days later.

The night before this new audition time, I see in her folder a handwritten note from one of the teachers in charge of the show. It was addressed to Sweetie, but, along with confirmation of her audition time the next day, it mentioned to "please tell your parents that if you get in the show, practices will be after school."

I felt like I was being scolded. Like I was a child myself that needed a talking to about responsibility as well as a reminder of rules that should have already been known. I know I shouldn't have felt that way, and I'm 98% sure that's not the tone it was written in. But that's what I felt.

So! Sweetie auditioned, she got into the show, and she will do the after school practices. It's all fine, we told her, as long as we know ahead of time and can make arrangements. It's just not fine to have to scramble for arrangements at the 11th hour.

Regarding other holding-it-together/not-really parenting issues:

- One of Sweetie's report card grades, for Music, was Unsatisfactory. Other subcategories in Music were all Excellent and Satisfactory+. But this one, regarding her practicing of her recorder, was a U. Along with the grade came a note from her teacher saying that Sweetie hadn't been turning in her weekly sheets that show how much she's been practicing, even though the teacher reminded her 3 different times to do this. We knew that Sweetie had been doing the practicing - it was just turning in these slips of proof that was the issue. I felt bad because I had seen a couple of these slips in Sweetie's room a couple times, but I'd thrown them away, since they were for weeks gone by. Why would she need these anymore? Anyway, she practices through an on-line service and records her practicing there. These slips aren't even needed.

Little did I know that that on-line service hadn't worked for weeks and that, yes, these slips were the only way to show your work.

So there I was, writing to Sweetie's music teacher, explaining the situation. How I threw out the forms. How Sweetie really had done the work. How, obviously, this was completely up to her if this new info would change Sweetie's grade or not. How we recognize it was unexcusable for Sweetie to have been reminded 3 times about something and she still never produced the required forms - or asked us for help with the problem. But, there you go. That is what happened.

And yes, it's "only" Music, in elementary school. One small aspect of Music, actually. But I felt at least partly at fault for this. I should have asked Sweetie if she needed these forms before throwing them out. I should have known that the on-line way of noting your practice wasn't working and that the forms were the only way. I should have been more diligent about making sure Sweetie was actually practicing. My evening job makes me unaware of much of Sweetie's homework. It (should be) all done well before I get home. Still, I should be more aware. I used to be.

- Sweetie's science grade dropped significantly this last report card too. Still a good grade, but a grade and a half lower than 1st term. We questioned Sweetie on it, but didn't get very far for why/how she thought this happened. So I took it upon myself to email her teacher for answers as well as ways we can help Sweetie bring this grade back up. Tricky, when she rarely, if ever, has science homework.

However, upon looking in her assignment notebook, I did see that, some weeks prior, she'd had the science assignment to bring a snack food in (I think to discuss/find out the nutritional value of???) Having seen that, I remembered how Sweetie had casually told me how she'd forgotten to bring in her food, but a classmate gave her some of her own to work with. But even at the time, Sweetie so non-chalantly talked about this - with no remorse for not having done something she was supposed to - that I hardly considered it as anything more than another school story of hers. But, having seen the dropped grade on the report card, followed by the written instruction - in her own hand, in her own book - to bring something specific in to class... well, it reminded me of how bad I've become at checking through her assignment book. I used to all the time. I was always pretty on top of what her homework was and other important school information. But here was a homework assignment I'd never seen - along with so many others - and Sweetie'd not done it. Had I known about it, I could have reminded her of it, no problem.

This lone incident, of course, was not the downfall of her final grade. Turns out she'd been goofing around with a friend a lot during science labs, instead of working. But the teacher moved Sweetie's seat away from this friend and, after I emailed her, talked with Sweetie about her not paying attention and why she was moved, working with Sweetie on an understanding and agreement that she'd now concentrate harder.

This is a great end result to the whole situation, and I'm glad to know I can easily work with the teacher and she's willing to work with me and Sweetie to help Sweetie out. But, one the one hand, I feel partly at fault because of my not looking after Sweetie's assignment book. On the other hand, I feel too working-behind-the-scenes/helicopter-parent-ish for contacting her teacher about the lower grade when it's an issue, honestly, that isn't my fault - but Sweetie's own lack of concentration and inability to take care of her own assignments.

Holding it all together - either too tightly, or not enough? So hard to find the balance.

Another example of that:

- About a week or so before the above email exchange, I also emailed with Sweetie's teacher and guidance counselor about my (and Hubby's) desire for Sweetie to form some new female friendships. The 2 boys she is friends with are great kids. But one is older and therefore going to the middle school next year, and the other is moving away next year. So we are concerned that she will end up lost and lonely. If there was anything her teacher could do to encourage female friendships for Sweetie, we'd be appreciative.

Her teacher wrote back, stating that she too had the same concerns for Sweetie. She had separated Sweetie and her one boy friend in the class (see above), in part hoping to get her involved with some girls instead. She and the guidance counselor told me they'd also think of some other ways to encourage new connections.

Did I go too far? I'd already talked to Sweetie about making new friendships with girls. Did I have to/should I have gone behind Sweetie's back to make sure everyone who could help with this was on board and working toward a similar goal? Or was that too much? Should I have just left it in Sweetie's hands and walked away? She's in 4th Grade, for goodness sake! High time she be responsible for her own actions, not needing mom and dad so much to make sure all is running smoothly.

But - she's only in 4th Grade, for goodness sake. Still a little girl in need of as much support as she can get from her loving parents.

Again, the fine balance of too much/too little plays out in my parenting life in so many ways.


So. After all that, after the literally hours it's taken me to write this (working between family outings and helping Sweetie with a school project - helping too much? not enough?) I almost feel like I don't want to post it. It sound/feels to whiny to me. Way too much blaming myself when, clearly, the blame is not on me.

Sweetie should have known the details - and divulged them to us - way before she did, if the talent show was that important to her. Sweetie should have been turning in her music sheets. Especially - my goodness! - after being reminded 3 separate times! It's my right as a responsible, loving parent to want the best for my child and to question dropped grades and to be concerned with who she makes friends with. Sweetie should be in control of her homework and completely able to remember to do things she's meant to do.

None of this is my fault at all, really. I see that now. I guess I've seen it all along. It's not my fault.

So, I will post this. Because, like it or not, right or wrong, this is how I have felt, at times, recently. Like it's my job to hold at least certain aspects of our family life together, and I'm failing in bits and pieces. I know other moms out there feel/have felt the exact same way I have. It's important, I think, for me to share these feelings. To not only write them out for myself, but to show to others that they are not alone in how they sometimes feel.

But failing? No. I see now that I'm not. I see now how much I'm actually succeeding. Many parents don't take the time to even go over their kids report cards, let alone contact a teacher when something seems amiss. Many parents don't even know who their kids' friends are, let alone wish to see them succeed socially, having fun with a variety of kids. Other parents would have told their kid that they couldn't try out for something that would end up making scheduling their own lives difficult. We, though, are happy to have Sweetie involved, even if it means rearranging our schedules and working with others to make sure Sweetie can be where she needs to be in order to participate.

Failing? No. Succeeding to the best of my abilities. Yes.

Hey, look what I just found! A brand new role of duct tape and some Super Glue.

I've got this. No problem.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Beyond Imagination

So. DI season is over.

That was fun.

No, really. It was better than fun. Despite all my rantings and ravings - with the kids, and afterwards to my Hubby - and all the wine I necessarily consumed post-meetings - I really, truly, honestly enjoyed this time as a Team Manager for Sweetie's team.

I thought it would be a few months of supervising kids as they planned out and created their solution to a Team Challenge on which they agreed upon focusing their time. Throw in some Instant Challenges I'd have to come up with, somehow, for them to solve on the spot, and that was pretty much all I'd have to do. This collecting of Instant Challenges, in fact, I figured would be the toughest part of my responsibilities. Where the heck do you find Instant Challenges, anyway? (I quickly found out, and it wasn't really an issue after all.) At any rate, DI is all about the kids working out solutions. Parents, managers and any other adults are expressly warned that they are to be completely hands off. Cool. Like I said, I'd sit and supervise. No prob.

How quickly did I learn that I'd be doing oh so much more than "just supervising"? Oh, I'd say within the first 30 seconds of our first meeting. No. Earlier than that. Preparing for that first meeting. But in actual time with the kids? Pretty much immediately.

And not just me doing more (Mediator. Guidance Counselor. Teacher. Nurse. Organizer. Etc., etc., etc....) than I thought I would. But me learning more than I ever thought I would. Who would have thought that this small team of 3 could ever show me so much about myself and the world around me, while working on a project that's designed to show them how much they really know for themselves?

Things I learned - or at least were reminded of - from Destination Imagination:

- 3 kids is not an easily manageable number. One always feels left out. It will change, as to who feels like he or she is being left out. But one always does. Decision-making can be nearly impossible.

- I can keep my nose out of things fairly well. I was concerned, going into this, that I'd want to be too controlling - too in-control. But, all in all, I feel I was pretty darn successful at letting the kids plan out their solution on their own (as I was supposed to do.) I saw as they went along where things, I knew, would eventually fall apart for them. But allowing them to buy/gather/produce/try whatever they wanted in order for them to get to that place where they saw for themselves that things weren't going to go as they envisioned came easier to me than I expected it would.

- Sometimes - heck, a lot of times - they really surprised me by going through with their plans that I "knew" would fail and ending up with some totally awesome and completely successful workable solutions. Wow! I would have never thought in a million years that would work out the way it did.

- Making assumptions really can hold you back.

- Failing is not only okay, but encouraged. You didn't do it right this time? Okay. Do it again. Do it better. What did you learn? Maybe something else you never even thought of is now on the table to explore further. Fail spectacularly and try again. Go!

- Take a breath before speaking. See if others have ideas. Collaborate. Work together on a communal solution, not together on 1 member's idea. The more involved every member feels, the better they'll all feel about the final solution, or why the answer they tried to achieve didn't really work in the end.

- Celebrate "weirdness." Some pretty cool things come out of some pretty weird ideas.

- Coming together as a group is key. Absolutely. When one member is just "done" with the whole experience, the whole group is done. But not lost! Find a way to reconnect, refocus, and get back on track. You can do it!

- Sometimes a person just doesn't want to hear it. Doesn't want to be helped. Won't allow you to be "let in." Not in the moment, anyway. People need time to process mistakes. Even if those mistakes are only self-perceived. They just need some time...

- ... But they'll come around. Sooner or later, they always do.

- "Only children" vs. "the youngest in a family." Oh what a difference, maturity-level wise.

- My kid is a confident, mean power driller. Who knew?!

- The bestest of friends can bicker the most. Of course they do! They feel comfortable enough with each other to know that they can express their frustrations and displeasures, but still be great friends when it's done.

- Sending a simple email to check in on a kid who you can tell had a long, rough day of stress and injury can do a world of good for that kid - and yourself. They will know that you have their back, are concerned for them, and think they are pretty great stuff. Because they are.

- Making a kid do something they absolutely, unequivocally do NOT want to do can, in the end, show them that they not only can do it, but can do it really well and will actually have fun while doing it!

- I can grab ahold of a situation, stop the chaos, and calm things down. I can command attention. I can ease tension. I can make others see when things are not that big of a deal or, conversely, when things are much more important than they think they are. I can keep people on track. I can do a lot more than I think I can, while allowing others to see that they can too.

- It stabs a little to know you most likely "lost" a kid. No more DI for them. At least, that's how they feel now. We'll see. (Heck, I don't even know if I want to do it again!)

- It's worth it all to know that the kid who passionately stated they would absolutely, positively never do DI again and could not wait until it was all over, actually ended up enjoying Regionals and would consider another go at it next year. Even if they don't - wow. What a turn around!

- It doesn't matter whether you win or lose. It's whether or not you showed up and did your best. One team member who I thought "got this" saw one of their competitors after their own performance and felt sadly defeated. "We didn't win. They were better than us!" As opposed to the team member who is painfully shy and afraid to fail seeing the same performance and declaring, simply and honestly, "Wow! They were really good!" Kids. You never can tell. They will surprise you every time.

- Everything will be okay in the end. Every time. Not to worry. It's not your problem.

- Kids are amazing, creative, smart and just plain awesome.  They can do oh so much more than we think they can. Allow them to think and do and try and try again. What an amazing gift to give to our children.

And perhaps the biggest lesson I learned? Being a DI Team Manager is like giving birth to a child. In the heat of it, it hurts. A lot! You can't imagine why you got yourself into this mess in the first place. You'll never do this again! You just want it all to be over. But when it is? Eh. That wasn't so bad. And look at what you have to show for it? Something really beautiful. I want some more of this in my life...

Friday, March 08, 2013

Boys vs. Girls

I've presented Sweetie with a task.

Starting next week, she must attempt to talk to/play with/befriend a girl or girls in her class.

Not to say that her best friend (a boy) and her best classroom friend (another boy) aren't great kids. They really are! But to know that, half way through the 4th grade, she's still either playing with these particular boys or off playing (happily, I presume) by herself... well, I really think she needs to mix it up a bit. Stretch her limits of comfort and what she's used to as "the way" for her.

I remember, for myself, as early as Kindergarten I had one very best girl friend. We were inseparable! We were always together at recesses, we played on weekends, we had sleepovers and we talked forever on the phone. And this was all before I was 10, as it was that summer that we moved from Ohio to New Hampshire and our friendship was abruptly altered forever.

Now, as far as the dramatics and difficulties of befriending the female of the species as one of the crowd yourself... man, I get it. Moving to NH for the start of the 5th grade, being the new kid who was so "different' and walked funny and all that... it either enhanced my shyness or created it - I don't remember which - and I had difficulty making friends. But I ultimately did. In 5th and 6th grade I was part of a small band of friends - definitely not the popular crowd - that consisted of 3 other girls and a boy. We had fun together, if not oodles of other kids clamoring to join in on our (mild-mannered) shenanigans.

In junior high, we disbanded, with me going off to one area school and they going to the other (much, much larger) school downtown. I made friends with a new group of girls. Enough so that we went to each other's homes for sleepovers and invited each other to our birthday parties. But we didn't really hang out together outside of school. With one girl I did, I think, just a bit. But it definitely wasn't a chatting on the phone/hanging out together every weekend sort of friendship. I was decidedly much more a part of a small (still not popular) "group" and not terribly chummy with any individual member of said group just one on one. Maybe the others were with each other? I don't know. I suppose I was happy enough to have a table of friends to sit with at lunch and to lead the rest of my life in relative peace.

By the time I went off to high school, I was leaving our junior high a year earlier than all the others to attend a small, all girls, Catholic school in town. Another girl from my group of friends was coming with me and, yes, we did remain friends right through graduation. But my very best friend in high school showed up in a girl who was 110% the exact opposite from me. Whereas I was a quiet, polite, girly girl who enjoyed school and my classes well enough and basically just wanted to keep to my hidden, unassuming ways, my friend was a trash talking tomboy-to-end-all-tomboys who liked hard rock, didn't like school, and reveled in being different. Or at least that's what she presented to others. Now I recognize that she was probably just as self conscious as anyone - maybe more so - but was doing her utmost to make it look like she didn't have a care in the world. I suppose being with her excited me, to show me a bit of the wild side. I can't speak for her to say what it was about me that kept her around as my friend through the years. But come post-graduation, when I realized that it was always me calling her during our freshman years of college in different states - and she never sounding all that focused or interested when I did call - I made the decision to just not call her again. To see if she would call me if that was her only option for staying in touch. She didn't call. Or write. To this day, I have no idea where she is or what she's doing.

In college - there I was, off again to another all female institution. I had no choice but to befriend, of course, other girls (women!). I liked my roommate well enough. She, like me, was shy, quirky, and involved in her studies. She had friends from her hometown at school with us as well, so I had a casual acquaintanceship with them as well. But beyond these 3, I really didn't make any great, deep, long-lasting friendships. Friendly with many, close to few. In fact, by the end of my sophomore year, I was feeling as out of place as ever amongst this collection of women who were, as a whole, largely science and math focused - always off to labs and math clubs and studying - while I, the lonely English major, "just" stayed in my dorm room reading and writing all day.

I got the heck out of there and transferred to somewhere - co-ed - closer to home. And, being closer to home, I lived at home with my parents and only went to school for my classes, rarely having much between-class time to hang out much and form any friendships. Except for one. A guy. He, again, was shy and quirky, just like me. We did hang out together at the on-campus pub when waiting for our next classes to start. And we had lunch together in the cafeteria when we could. But, again, it was a purely on-campus friendship. Not the kind of relationship where we'd call each other up to just chat or hang out on the weekends together. He's another one I immediately lost contact with after graduation. Oh well.

But, how nice it was to be friends with a guy! Girls were so dramatic and gossipy. Guys didn't care. This guy accepted me, as is. Girls, in general, were too.... much. I was girled out!

So, as you can see, I've never been one for deep, meaningful relationships with other females. To this day - yes, of course I have a few good female friends. But they are the types of friendships where we meet for coffee once a month, or go to each other's houses - with our husbands or significant others - for dinner and drinks, or meet at book club to discuss our latest reads. Not to say they are not true friends. Of course they are! I value my friends and the times we're together very much. They are a great bunch of ladies! But, even though they may very well be - most definitely are, in fact - women who talk on the phone with and shop with and generally hang out with their other girl friends, my friendships with these ladies are much more compartmentalized, subdued and relaxed. Which is just the way I like it. I'm not looking for or needing silly girl talk and shopping trips and girls weekends, etc. I am accustomed to my quiet, one-on-one ways of coffee chats, wine evenings, and book reviews. Keep it quiet. It is my way.

I noticed this last time I took Sweetie to a roller skating night at her school. Other moms were huddled in groups of 2 or 3, chatting and laughing and having a great time together, with their young daughters, likewise, all laughing, skating and having fun together. And I sat by myself, enjoying watching the kids go round and round - especially Sweetie as she made her way around and around the gym floor, having a grand ol' time all by herself. I recognized many of these women as the moms of kids whom Sweetie's been classmates with for 5 years. But I have never had the opportunity to be around any of these women enough over the years to form any real friendships with them. And that was fine. Is fine. I didn't necessarily feel lonely that night, nor did Sweetie appear to be anything but truly happy with the way her evening was going. But I did begin to notice where Sweetie gets her anti-female ideas from, even if they are subconscious. I don't have overtly obvious female friendships (that can be noticed or are talked about on a daily basis) and am doing just fine, so why should she?

So, yeah. I get it! Sweetie has fallen in with the boys from the get-go and that's where she feels most comfortable. Which is great! And cool! So far. She has always been the super hero loving/Lego playing/imaginative girl. She's a quirky kid, and not ashamed of it. She's just discovered much earlier in life what it took many years of friendships with others for me to realize - that it's much easier to be "one of the guys" than to model yourself as something you're not just to gain a female friend or two in your corner.

BUT, after all that...there's also something to be said - especially as Sweetie and her classmates enter into upper elementary and junior high school - about fitting in, in the name of getting through these pending difficult years with as little drama as possible. There's some worth to be had in establishing a few meaningful female friendships as they all begin to change and develop and grow. I'm wondering if it may not be so easy to maintain true friendships with her current male friends as these next few years pass us by. Wouldn't it be good and nice for her to have some girls she can turn to when the boys, inevitably, let her down? Or, for that matter, when they come beating down her door! Having a few good girl friends to giggle and gossip and hang with, at this time in her life, may be a very, very good thing for her to invest in.

So, take it from me, kid. At least try to give this a shot. Girls aren't so bad. You may find this hard to believe now, but you just may want to giggle and joke and tell secrets with someone other than me in the not too far off future.

Trust me. I'm your mother.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Truth Hurts...

... But it will also set you free.

So, I've been going to all these doctor appointments lately, and the professionals all want to know... when did the back pain start?

Oh, sure, they want to know about the beginnings of my other thises and thats going on. For those, I can only give a very rough estimate. I don't know... awhile. Too long.

But for my back pain... I can recall almost to the day, I feel, that I started to hurt. And, in turn, it pains me to associate the two - but I'll tell you the truth: I did not start having back pain until Sweetie was about 6 months old.

It made complete sense to me, actually. Sure, I wasn't able to carry her around. But I was definitely lifting her up and twisting in my chair with her an awful lot. And some very short distant carrying as well. Standing and rocking/swaying/bouncing with her too. All movements - repetitive movements - that were new to me. Movements, furthermore, with an ever-increasing weight. Of course my back hurt! I was "exercising" my body in ways that I'd never done before! So, okay then, back pain. I can deal.

At first, I figured that once I got more used to these repetitive new movements, my body would get stronger and the pain would start to lessen or - better yet - go away completely. Alas, no. Over time I came to realize it wasn't going anywhere. As long as I had a Sweetie to lift and twist with, my back would continue to hurt.

Fine. What, is that like 2 or 3 years, at the absolute most? By the time she's that old, she can most definitely crawl up on my lap herself. By that time, if she ever wants "up!" I'll definitely not be able to handle her weight and she'll be going to Daddy with those requests. 2 or 3 years - I can take it. After that, my back can slowly begin its return to feeling better.

Ha! Cut to my mom saying, just the other day, "So, now that your daughter's 10 years old, you decided maybe your back wasn't going to get better on its own and you should go see someone about it!"

Well, you know... I wanted to be sure.

Small potatoes... at least I'm seeing someone now! At least I'm looking for answers and relief, no matter how long it took me to get here. I'm finally taking care of me.

And it's interesting. Learning from the physiatrist and physical therapist, that of course my back hurts! For one, my body doesn't have access to all the right muscles in all the right places, so I have to compensate. That compensation, over time, wears down my joints and vertebrae. Things aren't as cushioned as they once were. Plus, yeah, taking care of an infant Sweetie did start the process for me, as I was moving in ways I hadn't before - wearing down these joints and vertebrae and cushioned areas with all the physicalness associated with being a new mom.

Huh - yes, of course. Yet I had never given much thought to how my body moves, what it can and can't do. I just move how I do - how I have to to get around and do what needs to be done everyday.

How crappy that, no matter what I do or have done, I'd have ended up, eventually, in the same situation, pretty much. Time frame not withstanding. Since, had I not had Sweetie, I would not be in the same poor physical state I am today. Yes - eventually, to be sure. But the fact remains that the mere act of becoming a parent pushed up my body deterioration inevitability by many several years.

(What's more, had I not had Sweetie, I wouldn't have had to have a hysterectomy 6 years ago, as it was my pregnancy that caused my uterus to prolapse - which is, as it turns out, a pretty common occurrence for women with spina bifida who've gone through a pregnancy, as we tend to have weaker pelvic floor muscles than the average woman. Huh - who knew?)

Talk about a blog post of mine I'd really rather Sweetie not read ever.

But, there it is. The truth. And the truth hurts - quite literally, in my case.

But like I said at the beginning as well - the truth will also set you free.

I feel free to report what I've gone through - am going through - with my bodily aches and pains. Why I have them, where they originated, and how bad they can be at times.

But I am also here to happily report that I am finally being truthful with myself about how bad the pain can really be at times, no matter how the heck it started! I have set myself free from worrying about and taking care of others so much while ignoring my own demands... finally seeing that it is a demand my body is delivering to me... finally seeing that what I'm personally experiencing should not be ignored. I am worth it - so very worth it - and need to take care of myself in order that I may be around, functioning at my best capacity, to be with and take care of others for many, many years to come.

Doing something that will, at the very least, ease my symptoms and possibly slow any further deterioration, if not fully take the pain away.

So, yes, it was my pregnancy and early parenting days that served as the catalyst for the current state of my physical condition. But - I was going there anyway. And if it wasn't a pregnancy that did it? Maybe it would have been all that globe trekking and hiking hither and yon that Hubby and I would have surely done as the international, childless vacationers we would have become that did me in at an early age. Or even a more stationary life I could have adopted, had I had no other cares in the world - move it or lose it, as they say.

And, lastly, let me more specifically clear something up. It was the pregnancy - not Sweetie herself - that wasn't so great for me. It was my ways that I moved my body. My decision to not make an earlier attempt to finally look into treating my pain. Sweetie herself has no blame in any of that what. so. ever.

And, yes, I've certainly realized the connection between her arrival and the start of my pain before, obviously. But, no, I have never, not for one millisecond of a millisecond, ever thought to myself how better off I'd be without her.

Because that is the biggest, most ugly lie to be told in all the world.

For all my aches and pains, stresses both physical and mental, I am such a better person for having Sweetie in my life. For having the honor of being this amazing little girl's mom.

And that, my friends, is the absolute, pain-free, TRUTH!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Getting Old (with a disability) Sucks

So, I have this little blog. It's called Sweetie & Me and it's all about, well, Sweetie & me. I started it, jeez, almost 8 years ago, mostly as a place to discuss my being a disabled mom raising my healthy and active daughter. You see, there are very few - I mean really very few - resources out there for women with spina bifida wanting to have a normal pregnancy and child raising experience. At least that was the case back then. Unfortunately, that still seems to be pretty much true. I just wanted to be that one voice in the crowd that people could quietly hear and listen to, question and feel connected to, if they wished. So I started the blog and began to write.

And I did hear from people! I still do, in fact. And, through my blog, I've gained many opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise. Freelance writing opportunities, for instance, for various niche online and in-print publications, where I got to further tell my tales of being a special needs mom to my just plain special little girl.

But somewhere along the way - and not altogether that long after starting the blog, even - I just started writing about, you know, "stuff." Mom stuff, kid stuff, funny, poignant, infuriating, normal stuff. Which, of course, is all "normal" when it comes to being a parent. So, in essence, my blog pretty much became a parenting blog, - or, really, a Sweetie blog - more so than a disabled mom/healthy kid blog. Because, in my world - in my family's world - it's all normal. It's our normal. Things weren't happening or not because of my disability. Life was happening, all the time, no matter what my body could or could not easily do. It's just - life.

And so, these nearly 8 years later, I'm still checking in - though, granted, not as regularly as I'd like - to write about life. My life, Sweetie's life, our life - and how it goes on. I'm still loving the writing and happy to have a place to share. But, no, I can't really claim that it continues to fit my original purpose for creating the blog in the first place.

Hubby pointed this out a few months ago, wondering if it was still even worth it to have the blog at all anymore. Seeing as I don't really talk about spina bifida that often, or raising a healthy kid while I myself have some physical limitations. It doesn't fit its original purpose. It's "just a blog." What's the point?

No worries there. The blog continues on and will for the foreseeable future. Silly Hubby! Stop the blog? No way, no how.

Now, cut to Jan. 1st, 2013. A date I decided was going to be the start of "my year." I have been taking care of Sweetie and Hubby all these years, while quietly dealing with, downplaying and/or outright denying any physical issues I'd been experiencing over the years. Yeah, I hurt. Sure, I'm tired a lot. No, that's not the end of my "issues" list, if you want to know the truth. But it's nothing. No complaints here. Keep calm and carry on.

So - 2013. My year! This meaning lots of doctors appointments on my schedule. I've seen my GP, my neurologist, a dermatologist, the eye doctor and a physiatrist. I've had tests done, and have more on the schedule. I am getting all checked out! Time to admit I'm not feeling my absolute greatest and figure out what's going on and how to make it all better. Time to admit life isn't as "normal" as it once was for me. Things are harder to do. Things do hurt. Things just don't feel right.

Time to look at this blog and see how little I've written about how I'm actually feeling and moving - topics that would fit oh so well into the original purpose of the blog - compared to how much I continue to write about Sweetie and all her "normal" shenanigans. Sweetie's funny and smart and great and interesting! Who cares about the comparatively minor inconveniences of my sore and tired slowing down body? No one! Not relevant!

Well, yes. Relevant. Completely. Duh.

So. Some lab results came in. My GP and I presumed that these results would show either some thyroid and/or estrogen issues for me. And when I saw the initial results myself, I thought for sure they indeed did confirm a slow functioning thyroid. This, I thought, was great news! See?! Something IS wrong with me! But. BUT! It can now be FIXED! Yee haw! So exciting.

(Funny how much more yucky you start to feel when test results -presumably- come in to back up your claims.)

But. BUT!... Well, no. The results do not show that, actually, my doctor pointed out. You're fine. Go on and live your life as you've been. Thank you, and goodbye.

Hey, now. Not so fast, mister! I wrote back to him, saying, well, that's all great and stuff. But still. These issues! These symptoms! What do I do now?!

In the end, my doctor consulted with an endocrinologist on my lab results, confirming what my doc said about them in the first place. But he does suggest I try some CoQ10 to, for starters, see if my fatigue symptoms can be helped.

Well, now. That's something! At least we're being proactive here. CoQ10 will be bought and tried. Yeah!

And then there's the physiatrist appointment I just had. A physiatrist! I had never in my whole entire life heard of such a doctor, but now wonder why I have not had a physiatrist my whole entire life. A doctor who treats disability and pain resulting from injury or disease, especially related to spinal cord issues?! Dude! Where has this been all my life?!

The doctor himself I thought was, um, strange. Spastic, nervous, mild mannered. Odd. But also completely intelligent and intuitive - the guy knows his stuff, even if he's not very good at expressing it.

So what has he determined are my issues, causing my constant low back pain and a left thigh that goes numb after standing or walking on it for 5 minutes or so? Well, that would be bursitis in my hips, and arthritis in my back - more specifically, spinal stenosis.


And I've hardly ever mentioned any of these issues on this blog. In passing, maybe, sure. But nothing that anyone would remember, I bet.

Not so good for a blog that's supposed to discuss my challenges as a disabled mom!

So now, I'll be having an MRI, just to confirm these diagnoses and deny anything else. I'll start some aqua therapy, get a prescription back brace, and some prescription pain relief options, just to have on hand if I want to try that route. Which, you know, I'd rather not, as taking drugs is not really my style. I'm not opposed to drugs. You can certainly tell me about that option and I may just want to give it a try. But I'll probably go a non or less drug route in the end, if I can help it.

And this doctor got that from me, right away. He could tell I'm a minimalist when it comes to taking things. He noted to me that I wasn't "on" very many things, and I said I thought I was on a lot! Thinking about it, though, most of the things I take are supplements of some sort, and not actual drugs.

He could also tell, right away, that I'm not a complainer. How true, how true. I found myself telling him about the rest of my family, including how my daughter doesn't complain at all. I also had to admitted to hating this - it's not always a good thing to have a kid who doesn't complain, you know.

"She gets it from you," he said.

"Bu..." But she has something to really complain about!, I just about nearly said out loud.

Sweetie has Lyme, I wanted to say. She totally could complain. But she doesn't. But that's, probably, you know, because by all rights, she actually feels pretty good on most days. Huh. I guess she's okay.

Just think of that! I was all ready to say how much my daughter has every right in the world to complain a lot - a child who, yes, has Lyme, but really seems to have it pretty much under control for the most part. As opposed to me, who I feel comparatively has no right to complain... yet I have real aches and pains and fatigue and other assorted issues every single day.

I didn't tell him any of this. But, obviously, I've been thinking on this craziness ever since.

The reality of my falling a lot also came up with the physiatrist, as well. I, as always, tried to brush it off, laughing that I fall so much, I'm a professional. I fall so much, I know how to do it as safely as possible. "Yeah, but falling's not good!" he pointed out. Along with falls in general just not being good for me, he pointed out that I'm getting older too, so age, factored in to what I've already got going on, really makes the effects of falls challenging for me. I admitted, well, yes, I have found that it's harder for me to recover from falls these days. I can feel the soreness, for instance, the next day after a good fall, when before I could just get up, brush myself off, and forget all about it.

Could it be that simple acts like merely walking around are major accomplishments - or challenges - for me? Am I way worse off then I've ever believed myself to be? Sure, getting real answers to my aches and pains is, in one way, helpful, because now I can work on fixing them. But at the same time, I kind of now feel like I should have been doing things differently my whole life so that I wouldn't have wound up like this by now. I'm having a real conflict with the idea I've grown up with of, "well, nobody ever said I couldn't, so I'm at least going to try - I can do anything I set my mind to," and what I feel I need to consider now, being "you've really got some things going on with yourself, so maybe you need to think and take care more to live a more protected life."

It's confusing. Yes, I still have the same pains as always. The same pains I've just dealt with ever since Sweetie was about 6 months old. Pain that I've never considered to be all that major, but annoying is all. But now, my pain has a name. Two names - not only arthritis, but bursitis as well. Problems that I know cause much pain and limitations in the bodies of others. Obviously, these things I've been "just dealing with" are big! So now, what? Am I supposed to feel just awful? Am I supposed to now be purposefully limited in what I can and can't do? But that's not what I'm used to! Not many people have ever told me before to chill out and slow down. Doctors, family, friends - everyone! - have always treated me as one of the gang, able to do whatever I feel I can do. And I've always felt I can do it all!

To feel like myself and go on as always without complaint, being the regular "can do" mom I've always been? Or to feel a kind of justification and vindication that, see!, I do have some major things going on with me, I can and should take care of myself, and if I think I hurt a little, to listen to my body because that amount of pain may be - probably is - enough to cripple anyone else into bed for a good many days, if not longer. Listen to my body and realize, hey, I must have a pretty high pain threshold to allow me to do all I do.

I guess that's just it. I don't want to complain. There's no point in it, it doesn't change anything, and it just annoys anyone listening to it. Complaining isn't my style. But there is something to what I said about feeling vindicated. Being able to say, "See? I am in pain and there is a reason why." Like what I felt initially with my self diagnosed thyroid issue - I felt excited, happy!, that something diagnosable was going on - diagnosable, and therefore, treatable! Soon, I would be feeling better. And when it came to pass that my thyroid was fine, per my doctor, I was at least happy again when he gave me something concrete to do. Take this supplement - it should help you feel better.

But there's also something about now being made to feel like I'm "sick" or diagnostically limited in ways I wasn't just a mere few days ago. Before, I carried on through my pain. Now, I know what's causing the pain - what's physically happening in my body to create the pain - and I instinctively feel the need to take better care of myself. Which, you know, isn't such a bad thing. It's just - being more aware of my body and why it's feeling the way it is, and trying to take care that I don't do anything to make it too much worse too soon.

Vindicated. Validated. Listened to. That's how I feel now, in the end. Which feels pretty good. As for how I live my life? I think I'll, for the most part, chalk it all up to age. Anyone can get arthritis and bursitis as they age. And, yeah, it sucks for anyone! No real need to voice that - not for me, anyway. But I will start to do what I can to help me feel as best as I can in the body I have. I really am looking forward to feeling looser and less achy. Bring on the aqua therapy!

But will I continue to be the same me as always? The same wife and mom as always? Taking care of those I love who need taking care of, pushing my needs - just a bit - to the side in order to make sure my family is feeling its best? Yes. Living our regular, normal lives. Doing (physically) what I want, when I want, and not worrying too much about it being too much for me. That's just the way I am, just the way I always will be.

And, yeah, just maybe, I'll check in more regularly here at Sweetie & Me with some updates on how life really is for a (aging) mom with a physical disability, those challenges, and how they may or may not effect the raising of one of the greatest little girls around.