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.