Saturday, December 24, 2011

This morning

I was awoken by a 5 year old telling me he needed to pee at 5:30am. Just as I got back to sleep, the baby woke up, fussing in his room. I stuck the paci back in his mouth and patted his butt for a few minutes. That didn't work. So, I threw him (not quite literally) in bed with hubby and I. Again, just as I was almost asleep, the 5yo came back, “uh, momma, I’m pretty sure it’s time to wake up now. Right?”. A quick look at the clock, confirmed that it was not even close to time to get up (hello 6am). I growled at him to get back in his room. Tried to get back to sleep -again. Awoken by baby smacking me in the face. But then he smiled, nuzzled his head under my chin, sighed with contentment, kissed my cheek and said, “wub ewe”. Then the 5 year old came barreling back into the room, hurdling himself onto the bed. Screaming, "good morning, Momma!!!!!!!!!!".

So I sighed and got up.

It’s was 645.

I wouldn't change it. Except maybe the time. A couple hours later would have been fabulous. But, still. I'll take it.

Happy Christmas Eve, friends!

Today's lesson: Kids don't care that parents have the opportunity to sleep in. They just don't. Deal.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh, there's that Christmas Spirit

So I've finally found a bit of Christmas spirit. And it's all thanks to two of my dearest friends.

JE actually likes wrapping presents. No, idk what the heck is wrong with her, but I'll take it. Because do you know what this wonderful woman did?? She wrapped nearly all of my Christmas presents. She spent 2 (that's right -2!) of her evenings at my home, wrapping presents in my cold basement. I mean, whaaaaat?! Who does that?! My awesome friend JE, that's who. And it's not like she had nothing else going on. She works 3 (yes, that's right 3) jobs and has this kind of awesome husband at home who adores her company. And yet she still found - made - time to take this huge task that I heartily abhor off my list of things to do.

And then, my BFF came over and helped me with this super cool fort hubby and I (and the BFF) have made for the kid for Christmas (pictures to come soon, hopefully). I'm pretty sure I'd still be down there measuring and cussing if she'd hadn't come to help me. And then - I know, how could there be more?? - she came and took the kid yesterday to give hubby a break and get the kid out of the house for awhile. She subjected herself to Bounce U (you know, one of those places where the kids run around screaming at the tops of their lungs, throwing themselves onto these enormous inflatable things. It's fun for them. Not so much for any adult unlucky enough to be accompanying them). So, after that, she took him to lunch, then to get ice cream. And THEN, she spent the afternoon with us, helping to decorate cookies (it was loud and crazy up in here, y'all). And, to top off her cake of awesomeness, she cleaned up my kitchen from dinner.

I mean, really, what else could a girl ask than to have such wonderful and giving friends?? I am blessed to have them. And I can only hope that I am half as loving and supportive as they have been, especially in the last year. So, today I began to feel some of that Christmas spirit I have so been lacking. And I have my wonderful friends to thank for that. Love you girls!

Today's lesson: Where would a girl be without her friends? I mean, really, who else would wrap your presents, or clean up your dinner dishes? Girlfriends are a must for any emotionally stable momma.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ICLW

I've done ICLW several times, though I guess I've never done a synopsis "this is who I am" kind of post. And, since that seems like something I can do relatively quick, here it is. Oh, yeah, and if you have no idea what ICLW is, click here for more info.

Hubby and I have been married for 11.5 years and experienced unexplained infertility for several years. We have 2 boys who joined our family through adoption. Both are open, domestic, transracial adoptions. I was present in the delivery rooms of both my sweet boys. We adore both of their birth families, though our relationships have not always been smooth or easy. My kid is 5 and a half and in Kindergarten. Baby E is nearly 15 months and still doesn't sleep for crap at night. We're exhausted. All. the. time.

I blog about parenting, the funny crap my kid says, things we try that don't get baby E to sleep at night, life in general, social work, breastfeeding (oh yeah, I induced lactation and have been breastfeeding baby E since he was born), milk sharing, random stuff, and I don't really know what else. Even though I'm now parenting the best kids ever (pretty sure I'm not biased about that), I continue to deal with the affects of infertility. It's still something that pops up at the most unexpected moments. So I guess that is something I also blog about. Something else I write about is that my MIL was killed in a freak accident a few months ago. So, any references to grief, mourning ,etc... are about her. It was such a shock. We're mostly still reeling from it. I write about her to try to process it all. Also, usually what I write is more interesting than this post. I think. I hope.

Today's lesson: Apparently sometimes a person just has a song in his soul and he has to sing it out. At bed time. Because that's when it's aching to get out. At least that's the story my kid told tonight. It seems possible that it's also a strategy to delay bedtime.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Period of Mourning

Back in the day, and still today in other cultures, there was/is this assumed, almost mandated period of mourning. There are physical indicators that the family is mourning the loss of a loved one. They may cover all the mirrors in the home. Or wear black. Or abstain from certain social situations. In some areas of the world, widows or widowers wear black for the rest of their lives. Some cultures have different customs depending on what part of mourning the family is in (black clothes at first, switching to grey half way through the mourning period). Grief is experienced on the biological, neurochemical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual levels. There are hundreds of other ways people around the world do/have mourned their loved ones. Often the time period is at least a year.

While perhaps to some it seems silly to need/want this "how-to" of grieving, this makes so much sense to me. It gives you some direction in how you should act, when heaven knows you're feeling a million things, but none of them are what you should do next. It gets you through all the holidays. All the birthdays. All the seasons. So many of life's events. It gives you a chance to truly grieve. It gives you permission to withdraw some and really deal with the loss. Without outside pressure to "move on".

And, yet, for some reason, this is a cultural practice that we for the most part no longer share in (at least here in the US). And so there is this enormous ambiguity to grief and loss. When should one be ready for this or that? When should we move on? How are we supposed to act? How do we know when we're ready? Or what the hell that even means.

It's all so damn complicated. And I think that sometimes we are compelled to rejoin life well before we're ready, simply because others tell us we should. Or because others force us into it because they have their own ideas of when we should be ready, or what we should be doing. And we, simply because we have no idea ourselves how to grieve,  no frame of reference in which to put our own experience, just go along with it. Even while our guts are screaming that it's wrong. That it's awful. That it's the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

But none of us really know what we should do. (And have I mentioned before how much I really hate the word "should", and yet it's sometimes the only appropriate word to use). Should we simply allow others to grieve and move on how they need to, regardless of how it is affecting us? But, what if their way of doing it is truly causing additional harm to us, or others we love, or hell, even themselves? What if we see them avoiding, not really grieving? Or is that simply a way of judging someone else, assuming we know what's best for them?

Grief is so complicated. And though I'm sure it always has been very personal and individual, it also seems like it used to be something that people knew how to do. This grief, it isn't something we know how to do. And that leaves us feeling lost. And even more sad. And, in some ways, even more alone in it all.

Today's lesson: Sometimes progress really isn't that at all. Sometimes the "old ways" of doing things are really the best.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mean Girls

So in addition to all the stuff with Mrs L, the kid has also been dealing with a bully in his class. Well, really, the one in particular and her little friend. They're a couple of mean girls(MGs). I can see into their future. Middle school. High school. They are going to make others' lives more miserable. Well, the potential is there. I hope with all I am that something or someone will turn that around for them.

But, it's so interesting to hear the kid talk about them. On the way to school Friday, I brought up to him the possibility of switching classrooms after break (this was before we'd had a decision from Mr P). I told him it would mean a new teacher and kids, but he could still see his friends from his current class at recess, etc... He said, "well except for MG1". I asked him what he meant. He said, "I think I'll avoid her. I mean I like her, but she's kind of a bully to me and some of my other friends". I asked him to explain to me what that means. He said (verbatim), "Momma, lets just say she's kind of complicated to get along with. MG1 is difficult to communicate with effectively quite often. I think it's in my best interest to just avoid her if at all possible". He'd also said earlier in the week that both of the MGs were beautiful on the outside, but not very pretty on the inside.

He went on to explain some of the behaviors MGs 1 and 2 are exhibiting. And I would agree wholeheartedly that they are indeed bullying the other kids. Of course later that afternoon the parent I had lunch with confirmed that she, too, had seen MGs 1 and 2 bully the other kids. She has brought it up to Mrs L. Who knows whether or not Mrs L addressed it in any way. I - and all the other parents whose kids will ever come into contact with these girls - can only hope she will handle it better than she's handled many other issues.

Pretty amazing that a 5 year old knows a bully when he sees one. And even more amazing (aka sad) that they exist already in Kindergarten. Also, take that, Mrs L. My 5 year old obviously has deficiencies in his vocabulary. (eye roll) And, I am now done talking about her.

Today's lesson: Apparently, Kindergarten is not too early to talk with your child about bullying.

Friday, December 16, 2011

In the principal's office twice in one week

Okay, so after I posted last night I simply couldn't sleep. My brain was running a mile a minute. For TWO hours. So I got up and decided to write an email. I didn't send it last night, just in case it actually sounded crazy. I did send it this morning. Anyway, here's what it said.
Mr. P-
After talking with my husband and processing some of our meeting Wednesday and phone call yesterday, I feel like there are a few things I neglected to explain effectively. One of those are the behaviors and symptoms we are seeing from the kid while at home. Understandably you were focused on school behaviors, but it is ultimately the changes in his behavior at home that are most concerning to us, and led us to try to talk with Mrs. L, then me to talk with the counselor, and finally with you.
First, the kid has always been an outgoing and relatively easygoing child. What we've seen from him in the last 3-4 months is a marked decrease in his frustration tolerance. He has never been a child to have tantrums, but we've started to see some and though they are minor (especially in comparison to those I see in some of my clients), they are absolutely not "normal" for the kid. Additionally, he has always been a confident child; that confidence is lessening and he is often heard to say "I can't do that", which is never something he's said before. We're also seeing his confidence in interacting with other people diminishing. It is only in the last few months that I have heard him say that someone doesn't like him. The kid has started to exhibit some signs of anxiety and increased worrying that we find very concerning as these, too, are completely abnormal for him.
All of these behaviors are what led to the Adjustment Disorder - not the talking out of turn in class. I realize these behaviors may not be ones you all at the school has noted. We have the advantage of having a "before and after" picture of the kid.
I would never presume to tell Mrs L, or any other teacher, how to manage or structure her/his classroom. I recognize that her highly structured classroom works well for some children (indeed, many of my clients greatly benefit from that type of environment). However, it does not for our son. He needs less structure, more freedom of movement, increased opportunities for socialization, and a nurturing authority figure. We are aware that public school is not Montessori school. However, these are the characteristics of his previous classrooms that allowed him to be successful, both academically, socially and emotionally.
In my and my husband's opinion, the kid and Mrs L are like a square peg and a round hole. And that isn't something that can be worked out. So, while I am more than willing to meet this afternoon, and certainly understand your desire to make it work as is, we don't feel like that is possible. We feel that it is in the kid's best interest to be moved to a different classroom.
Please let me know how you prefer to proceed. 
Thank you. We both so very much appreciate your willingness to listen and work with us. I know your priority is the same as ours - that kids (including the kid) be successful at school.
So, after all my own anxiety in how to word this and deal with it, the response I got from him was "okay, you know your child better than we do. No problem. We'll switch him". I was like, "whaaaaa....??? I mean, great!". He said he's talk to Mrs L and it would be taken care of when I got there for his classroom Christmas party this afternoon. Well, apparently he wasn't able to get around to it before then because she was all "I really want to meet with you all, but I simply can't do it today. But I really do want to talk. So, what other day in January will work?". I assured her not to worry and that I was going to check in with Mr P on the way out and he could get back with her on that. The middle of chaos, I mean the classroom, wasn't the time to do it. Also, not MY job to tell her. Thankfully.
So, we checked in with Mr P on the way out and he assured me again it wasn't a big deal. He said he'll make sure the kid's stuff magically appears in his new classroom Jan 2nd. He'll let us know early next week whose classroom that will be.
I am still a little worried about how the kid will handle this transition, but I'm feeling pretty confident he'll be okay. I'm grateful that it's "over" insofar as we at least have a decision and know what's happening and it's what we wanted to happen. I will pray with all that's in me that this will work for my sweet boy. I do love him so.
Today's lesson - sometimes it's a heck of a lot easier to advocate for someone else's child than it is to do so for your own. And certainly much less anxiety-ridden.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last time I was in the Principal's Office I threw up on her shoes.

So, I realize I left you hanging. I promised to let you know what happened with yesterday's school meeting. But I fell asleep last night on the floor of baby E's room with my arm in his crib and only woke up an hour and a half later. My arm was still asleep and I just went to bed. So, here it is.

Settle in, this is gonna be a long one. Although, since we've had stuff happen today, and will again tomorrow (to be further explained at the end), this may be lacking in some details.

Alright, so basically this is how yesterday's meeting with the counselor and principal went. P (principal): So, tell me what's been going on. Me: (blah, blah, blah - all that stuff y'all already know about). P: So, is he kicking, or hitting, or biting, or throwing desks? Me: Good, lord, no!!!!! P: So, I don't think he has this disorder. Let's call a spade a spade. Basically, what you're saying is that you don't like the way this teacher treats your child and that's why you wanted a 504 plan. Me: Um, well, he does meet the diagnostic criteria for an Adjustment disorder. P: (cuts me off) But all he's doing is just talking in class? So, obviously there's not big behavior problems. Me: Right, hitting and biting, etc... are not the diagnostic and behavioral features of this disorder. That might be oppositional defiant disorder or ADHD, or something else. This is Adjustment Disorder, and again, he does meet the diagnostic criteria. But, no, I don't like how she's treating my child. And yes, the 504 plan was a way to get my child's needs met, with trying to preserve our relationship with the teacher as best possible. P: Yeah, so, basically what you want is for her not to take away your kid's recess, not make him write sentences as a punishment, her to communicate regularly and for her to like him? Me: Yeah. P: That's reasonable and I expect that, too. Me (enormous sigh of relief, thankyoubabyjesus) Yeah, I thought so, too.

Then he said he'd like to talk to Mrs L before deciding what to do. He said he'd do that Friday afternoon because "I know all you parents think that if I talk to a teacher she'll treat your kids different". Me "I don't think it matters a bit what you say to her. She's not going to treat my child any differently. And I'd prefer that if we're going to switch him, it be decided by tomorrow, so we can discuss it with him and he can have Friday to process this change and say goodbyes to his classmates and teacher (and the assistant). "Oh. okay."

The plan was then that he'd talk with her today and call me and let me know what his decision was. According to him - and I don't know whether this is per policy or what - he has the final say so regarding whether or not we can get the kid's classroom changed. Overall, though I'd felt a little defensive and that he was pretty ticked off, I came away feeling like it was Mrs L he was irritated with (not me) and fairly satisfied with the whole thing.

So then I waited all day to hear from him. By 330 (school was out at 230 and the office closes at 3), I called to leave a message. He actually answered and said he hadn't had a chance to talk with her until the end of the day. He said she was "quite surprised and taken aback" by much of what I'd said. She didn't remember the emails we'd sent (other than one) or either of the notes I put in his folder for her. She confirmed that the reasons the kid gets in trouble is for talking when he isn't supposed to be. She was so confused because she assumed that "no news is good news", I guess as far as her not getting communication from us (though that's not accurate, as we made several attempts) and as far as her not contacting us.

P said he's not ruling out changing classrooms, but would like us to sit down with her tomorrow to talk. I want to do this even less than I want to get a shot. And the dear lord knows how much I hate me a shot. At this point, I don't care what she has to say. I want him in a different classroom. Nothing P says, nothing I say, is going to make Mrs L nurturing. Or like the kid. I like conflict as much as the next girl. So if this is going to get us nowhere other than in an extremely uncomfortable spot, what's the point?

Oh, yes, and the (very important!!!) thing I forgot to mention, is that I did meet with that other parent. She confirmed nearly everything the kid's been telling us. (And I really liked her, too! And not just because she said what I wanted to hear either, lol.) The short of it is that Mrs L has little group of her favorites, and her little group of not favorites. And she treats the two groups very differently.

So, if an independent set of eyes is getting this same thing - the exact same thing my 5 year old is telling me - seems like there's about a 99.9% chance that it's true. Not that I can/should say that to her. But I'm pretty sure it's all I'll be thinking about.

Okay, so here's what I've come to after an hour of talking all this over with my mom and hubby. I will be going in and flat out saying that I'm not interested in making things work for the kid in Mrs L's room. her environment is not in which my child is being successful, or happy. I am going to ask and if necessary demand that he be moved to another room/teacher. I can only hope that it will be that easy. I know it won't. It's going to suck. Mostly I know that I don't want to cry.

Today's lesson: Sometimes you really don't know how much you'll miss something til it's gone. For us, that means the kid's Montessori school. Dear lord how I miss that place and the wonderful people in it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finally, a school meeting is scheduled

Okay, so here's the latest in the school drama department. Friday we finally got a response from the school counselor regarding getting the 504 meeting set up. 2 weeks later than she said she'd get back with me. (insert picture of my head exploding here) And here's what she had to say - um, I think we should do the meeting in January when we're all fresh and ready to start using it. (insert picture of my head - not exploded - dropping onto my desk and smacking it hard)

Yeah, that's just not going to work for me. I mean, the whole point of the 504 was to try these modifications now, and then transition to a new classroom in January, if needed (i.e. if the modifications didn't help). Well, at this point, that's obviously not going to happen. Which of course isn't completely the school's fault. I mean, if we'd contacted them sooner, we'd be further in the process. But, it's still frustrating.

Also, I'm really feeling like no matter what we put on that 504, we're still going to need to end up switching to a new teacher/classroom. I mean, nothing on a piece of paper is going to make this woman nurturing. And that is what my baby needs. After Christmas break is just a natural time to make that transition. So, I responded to the counselor telling her that things seems to have gotten even worse and we were leaning heavily towards switching so I'd like to meet to talk sometime this week so we can (all) make that determination. She didn't seem thrilled. but agreed.

The other part of this is that I've had a wonderfully lovely offer from another parent whose kid is in Mrs L's class, who spends a lot of time in the classroom, to sit down and talk. I'm hoping she can offer me a more accurate picture (than my 5yo can) about what is actually going on. She may tell me that my kid's a hellion in the classroom (and if that's the case, I really hope she will tell me!), but I'm open to hear whatever insights she can offer.

So, I'm going to talk with this other parent tomorrow. And then to talk with the counselor, and principal (!) right afterwards. I wish hubby could come, but has to teach. So, it'll just be me. Send me supportive vibes tomorrow about 1:30, okay?

Today's lesson: Getting called into the Principal's office is just a scary for the "good kid" at 33 as it was a 9. Gulp...

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Little Help in the Christmas Spirit Department

A quick post to share a sweet story.

I was sitting with baby E tonight, reading him his requisite two books (they're part of our new bedtime routine, which I hesitate to "put out there", but appears to be going well). One of the books was a Christmas story. At the end is a big picture of the baby Jesus, up close of his face and his little hand. It's pretty much the same size as baby E. He sat through the whole book, which let me just tell ya, is a bit of an accomplishment. Even if he was babbling and trying to get me to turn the page before I'd finished reading it. To be fair, the text isn't all that great, though the art is quite beautiful.

Anywho, at the end when we got to the head and hand of the infant Jesus, baby E carefully stroked his face. Then leaned in and planted a big wet kiss on right on the baby's mouth. I think there was tongue. Then he repeatedly high fived baby Jesus. And then repeated the whole thing all over again. I do think the kissing was sweet as could be. But, the high fiving was my absolute favorite. While it was all a bit sacrilegious, I'm pretty sure the Savior would approve. You know, he did say to bring the children to him. Not sure he thought there would be tongue involved, but, well you know, I'm sure the high fives at least were more than welcome.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Today's lesson: Sometimes the Christmas Spirit comes from the most unexpected sources. Or at least in the most irreverent ways.

Friday, December 9, 2011

His First Tooth

My baby lost his first tooth. It was the first tooth he got as a 3 and a 1/2 month old. It is the first tooth for him to lose, at 5 and 3/4ths years. That tooth was a surprise. We were camping and I looked down in that little mouth finding, much to my surprise, a pearly white sliver in his little mouth. I was shocked. I mean, he'd had no signs of teething and he was so young. Yet there it was. My tiny baby, was growing up. Getting teeth. Shortly thereafter he got another, and soon 2 more. He looked so different. The gummy grin was gone. It changed his looks so much. It changed the way I thought about him. He went from newborn baby, to baby-baby. The first of many changes.

This tooth, it's been wiggling for a couple of weeks. He's said it felt funny. Then, tonight, once I showed him the tooth fairy pillow his Gram got him several years ago - it has Superman on it - he went straight to the bathroom and started working on it. He managed to finagle it out of his mouth almost all on his own with only a little assistance from his Poppa.  I walked into the bathroom and he was grinning, with red-tinged spit trailing down his chin, holding that tooth in his hand. Immensely proud of himself.

I never imagined that my baby losing a tooth would be such a big milestone. That it would be such an emotional milestone for his momma. He looks different already. So very different. And I think he is different. Even more so than Kindergarten, losing teeth is apparently such a passageway from little to big kid-ness. At least for this momma.

As I kissed him good night, he asked, "Momma, are you sad?". I told him I was, but it was happy-sad. He smiled and kissed my cheek. He whispered, "I know. Love you, Momma" and laid down. I warned him not to touch that pillow or the tooth fairy wouldn't come. He laid so still, hardly breathing. Still, I'm pretty sure I'll go in there to exchange tooth for money and the tooth will be missing due to him having played with it. Because even if he's growing up, he's still my little boy. And even something a momentous as losing his first tooth, won't change the essence of who he is.

He will always be my little boy. Even without those original, tiny teeth.

Today's lesson: Sometimes the important moments are small and unexpected. They sneak up on you in a wonderful way. They change not the way things are, but the way you see them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Spirit

I'm finding it really hard to get "into" Christmas this year. I know it's still a couple of weeks away, but I'm just not feelin' it. Maybe it's because the weather's been nothing Christmas-like at all. Or the pure exhaustion from cumulative lack of sleep the whole live-long year. Or the stress related to the kid's school crap. Or the daily (big) changes at work. Or the anxiety of starting a new job (this will be the 3rd year I've gone into the new year about to start a new job - oh, I hadn't told you about that? Another day, promise). Or just that it's been a challenging and sometimes painful year all 'round. I don't know. But whatever the cause, I haven't yet found my bag 'o Christmas Cheer.

I've tried. I've made and decorated homemade ornaments with my kiddo. I've put on the Christmas music. I've sung Christmas songs to the boys when I'm putting them to bed. I've done some shopping (though heaven knows I still have tons to do, which isn't typical for me). I've made some homemade gifts. I've watched (uh, several) Hallmark Christmas movies. I made for and watched with the kid a Santa video from Portable North Pole (which was priceless). But mostly, it all seems forced. Except the Hallmark movies. Those I kind of love. Don't judge. (I can't be the only one, otherwise there wouldn't be a whole channel. So fess on up, people.)

And of course I know that Christmas is about the baby Jesus and all that jazz. And I'm trying to connect with that, too, but it just ain't happenin'.

So it all makes me wonder, why do we have such high expectations for the holidays? That they're supposed to be this joyous, magical time of year? And maybe that's what I feel like the expectation is supposed to be, and it's just my issue. But I seem to see/hear a lot of people talk about everything the holidays are supposed to be. And do I want my kid to have that magical experience? Well, of course. But it just seems unrealistic. And pretty impossible. Or at least I have no idea how to do it. It feels like another parenting "FAIL". Which I feel like I've had a lot of lately. And that defeatist attitude probably isn't helping me any either.

Today's lesson: magical-shmagical. Sometimes the best you can do it simply get through something. And the holidays may just be one of those things for you, too. And that is okay. Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself until I find that elusive holiday spirit. Or the holidays are over. One of the two...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

And then, we still weren't sleeping

So, maybe it  feels like I'm beating a dead horse with this topic, because really what else could I have to say, and yet here it is... We're not sleeping here at my house. Yeah, still. It's been more than a year and this crazy baby is still up every 2-3 hours. Thought lately it seems like it's been more like every 1.5-2 hours. It's the epitome of awesomeness. Or the antithesis. One of those. Although one night recently he did sleep 9 hours straight. I'm betting it won't happen again for another month. 'Cause that's how things roll at my house.

And I'm just tired. I'm beyond tired. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. I have moments where I am on the brink of a breakdown. The moments seem to come more often of late. They're moments when I just can't deal with whatever it is that's going on, which is usually related to my sweet kid. He is getting the brunt of it. I sort of hate myself for that at times because I know it's not his fault. I know he's innocent and already struggling himself because of all the ridiculous school stuff. (Sigh) But, it is what it is right now.

So, I'm feeling desperate. Like almost to the point of going the CIO (cry it out) route with baby E, because, seriously, I just don't know what else to do. I've been sleeping on the floor of his room with my arm in his crib for much of this week. Because, sadly, I still seem to get more sleep that way than if he's in there alone, or even in our bed. It hurts, as in I can hardly move today because my back hurts so much. However, I'm at a loss of what else to do.

Everything we did with the kid and all the suggestions I've given to other parents, none of them have worked. Sometimes he'll sleep 7-9 hours (though those are rare, like once every couple of weeks), but most of the time he's up several times a night. And those times he's up, he lately is crying, not screaming, but crying, just until we either pick him up or pat on him. He'll eventually for back to sleep, but it's short-lived. Up until a couple of months ago, he was just grunting and it was only minutes til he was back asleep. Now, though, it's more like 10-15 minutes. Long enough that I'm fully awake and it takes awhile to get back to sleep.

And I can't pick out any kind of a pattern as to when he does sleep. I mean, it's usually when he's had 2 good uninterrupted naps in the day, but getting those naps is by no means a guarantee that he will sleep all night. On the nights he does sleep, he's usually taken 8+oz while nursing just before bed, but, again, just because he does have that much doesn't mean he'll sleep. But those two things are about the only factors I've identified. Beyond that, I got nothin'.  Other than frustration and exhaustion. Those I've got a-plenty.

Today's lesson - the baby knows when you're complaining about him and will inevitably wake up and fuss. Just to prove to you that he knows you're talking about him and doesn't appreciate it. And that you'd better get in there and pat his butt before he screams, and wakes up his brother. Because that's even less of a fun party.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Family Pictures

I thought it might be nice for you for me to share some pictures, ya know, since I've been so wordy and whiny lately. My fabulously talented friend Misty at Something Borrowed Photography took these pics for us about a month ago. If you're local and in the market for some pics, you should check her out!!

So, here's my boys and my momma. Love this one! It may be my favorite out of the whole group.

Oh, be still my heart! I mean, look at that handsome face! How could someone be so mean to that beautiful little boy???

And this one, such a dear, funny little creature. Now, if only he'd start to sleep in more than 3 hour chunks...

Me and my kiddo.

Me and my babe.

The fam. Not too terrible, if I do say so myself!

Today's lesson - it's interesting how pictures can teach us things about ourselves. It's interesting how we can fool ourselves by looking in mirrors. Fool ourselves into only seeing what we're comfortable with. It's interesting how pictures, somehow, seem to make it harder to continue to live ostrich-like. It's interesting how those 2 dimensional representations of us, can sometimes be more realistic than our 3 dimensional selves that we live in every day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little signs

Sometimes the right thing shows up at the right time. For me, feeling worried about the kid as I droppped him off at school earlier this week and starting to doubt (again) that I'm overreacting about how things are going for him there, THIS article/post showed up on my google reader. And while it talks about what a 4 year old really needs to know, I think it still rings very true for my sweet 5 year old. As one of the commenters says so eloquently, "It's a wonderful reminder that my child is not on a racetrack, but rather a slow winding road". Ahhh, I love that imagery.

I still have the form the counselor gave me to have the pediatrician fill out. Mostly this is because I simply haven't had the time to fill it out and drop it off to the ped to have her sign it. But, the incident earlier this week has been the impetus I needed to get that sucker filled out and back to the school. So, it's all filled out and waiting for hubby to take it in the morning. I'm sending good vibes with the form, that good things and changes are on their way. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Today's lesson - little lessons are all around us. We need only be open to them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And then, she said THIS

And I have yet again been shocked by the things this teacher will say and/or do. Are you ready for this????  (And I completely am willing to admit the possibility that I am overreacting about this. But my blog, my space to overreact.)
I'm putting the kid to bed this night and he has been a mess (a MESS, I tell you!!) this evening. So, I'm trying to process with him what's going on and how he can turn it around tomorrow. He had mentioned earlier in the evening that Mrs L had threatened to call hubby today when he wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing. (For the record, he said he was just sitting there, not doing his work, but not disrupting anyone - who knows.) Then, all of the sudden, he got all teary-eyed and was like "Mrs L is gonna send Santa a list and only the kids on the good list are gonna get presents". I - staying very calm - asked him if he thought he was going to be on the list of the kids who didn't get presents. He couldn't even speak. He simply sniffled and nodded his head yes. Then I couldn't respond. And then he, because he's a funny kid, said "uh, Momma, can you actually see in the dark 'cause I responded to you, but you didn't respond to me". I assured him that I did indeed see his head nod. And then I spent the next 5 minutes reminding him of his awesomeness. And assuring him that though he sometimes makes bad choices he is indeed a "good kid" and will absolutely be receiving gifts from Santa.

How dare that woman tell my kid that he is on Santa's bad list and isn't going to get presents?! Now, I doubt she singled him out, but am I the only one who thinks it completely inappropriate that she would even bring this up in the classroom?!

Or, honestly, the other whole problem here is that she's threatening to call the kid's parents to get him to behave. I mean, talk about giving up your own power! Is it any wonder my kid, and (at least some of) the others don't listen to her well? Duh. When you threaten to call the parents, you in effect tell the kids that you don't actually have any authority over them. So why would they listen?!

I kinda hate this woman.

Today's lesson - the saying should have been: "hell hath no fury like a momma whose baby has been scorned".

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A clean house

Last weekend I cleaned house. And I mean I cleaned house. I did 10 loads of laundry. I dusted all the cabinet doors and the insides of those couple of cabinets that never get used (i.e. the "good" china and stemware). I organized at least 5 rooms. I tossed out broken toys, setting aside those the boys have grown too old for to donate. I sorted through those clothes that I'm probably never going to fit into again, or the ones that made me think "what was I thinking when I bought that?!". I also went to see Breaking Dawn, which was total awesomeness (and I'm gonna go see it again next weekend 'cause I'm that much of a dork - don't judge), and it was also a good break from the cleaning. But when I got home, I cleaned some more. Sinks, and floors, and counter tops. Matching little bitty socks. Clearing out the clothes the kid has grown out of in the last two weeks (seriously, the size 6's only lasted him about 4-5 months!). Cleaning.

Now, I do not love to clean. I often get overwhelmed by the sheer chaos that seems to find certain areas in my house. And it just immobilizes me. I walk into the kitchen when hubby has been cooking - not cleaning at all as he goes - and I simply can't deal with it. It's not like an excuse to just not have to clean. It's more like the inability to deal with the overwhelming chaos of the space. I get that way, too, about my bedroom (when laundry has sat around for a week or two and somehow migrated all over the flippin' place) or the kid's room, when he's shredded some piece of paper all over the place to go with the dirty clothes that seem to refuse to live in the closet as they're supposed to. All of these things just stop me in my tracks, and I have to walk away before I get drawn into the chaos and can never find my way out. Or at least that's what it feels like could happen. (This leaves hubby to deal with these huge messes, though, to be fair to myself, often he's the one who's made them.)

But, sometimes, when the mood hits me, I just gotta clean. I get motivated and it just makes sense to take advantage of it. These are the times when I dust. Or clean windows and mirrors. Or scrub the bathroom floors. Or clean under the beds. Or organize the closets. Most of the time these tasks don't even dawn on me, or I simply shrug the thought off as a task for some mysterious "other day". But on these magical, only come once in a blue mood kind of days, it makes perfect sense to tackle them.

There's a benefit to my cleaning sprees, other than just a significantly cleaner house. As I clean in one of these rare moods, I can feel the stress leaving my body. I don't feel overwhelmed by the chaos around me. I can just move from one thing to another, cleaning without stopping. I am singularly focused, not feeling guilty about the time I should be spending with my children, or the thousands of other things I could be doing. I just clean. And when I'm done...wow. I feel calmer, more composed, and I have a clean house to boot.

My MIL was a bit OCD about the cleaning. Her house was spotless all the time. She spent a lot of time cleaning and cleaning. And most of the time all that time and energy seem to me to have been a waste. But, on days like the one I had this weekend, I understand her a little better. I, too, feel the release of pressure after that ____________ (whatever) has finally been cleaned. I, too, feel the sense of relief and lowered stress. Now, I wish I had these spurts of cleaning more often sometimes, but then I remember how much time she truly did focus on the cleaning and I'm relieved to have them hit only every so often.

Today's lesson - sometimes insight into another person hits at the oddest moment. But what a gift it is to understand someone else a bit better.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Glass of Wine, or 3

I grew up with an alcoholic father. I mean, as far as I know, he's still an alcoholic father. I haven't seen him in several years. No contact either. As far as I know, he could be reading this right now. But where he is right now or what he's doing is neither here nor there.  Growing up my mother drank (still does), but I can think of only a few times when I saw her affected by alcohol (and those were mostly when I was an adult myself). Sadly, I can think of only a few experiences with my father that didn't involve alcohol, or more specifically him abusing it.

Growing with a father who I knew, even as a little kid, had a problem with alcohol has colored my view and experience with alcohol. I first drank when I was 16 and went on a "class trip" to Mexico (a story - and a good one - for another day). And by "drank" alcohol, I mean I had - literally - a sip. I didn't drink again until I went to college. I think, really, til I was 20. I've been inebriated several times, but I'm pretty sure I could count those times on 2 hands. I found that I have not just a high, but a really high tolerance to substances. Alcohol, laughing gas (wisdom teeth extraction), even ibuprofen, I have to consume a lot to get the same affects as other people.

Not that I often want to get that same affect (inebriation, I mean). That out of control feeling isn't one I seek frequently; it isn't one I like. I much prefer to be in control of myself. More than that, I need to be in control of myself. Not being in control is scary. Any mental health professional would probably tell you this is a common trait in a child of an alcoholic, this need to be in control. It maybe one of the reasons why many of us are successful and accomplished professionally - we're type A, good at getting things done, and getting them done well. It's probably also the reason a good number of us struggle in relationships, because we want to be in control all the time.

After my 3rd glass of wine (when I finally started feeling the least bit of an affect), I start to understand why my father drinks. It's that feeling he craves. The feeling of no longer needing to be in control. The feeling of starting to let go of all that responsibility piled on your shoulders. The feeling of relaxation. It's a feeling that, because he is an alcoholic and has been for probably 40 years, he finds at the bottom of a 24pack (or more) of beer. It's a feeling that fortunately I can get to after just a couple of glasses of wine. And, as wonderful as it is, it's still scary. Because it's still a loss of control.

I feel incredibly blessed and lucky that I didn't inherit that alcoholic, dependent gene from him. It was a total luck of the draw, but I have never felt that dependence on any substance. I am beyond grateful for that. But, as I look at my boys, I wonder whether those are genes they have. Whether or not they'd been adopted, I know this I something I would have thought and worried about. And I - in my head - know it's not something over which I have control, but still I worry.

After I drank my (rare) 3 glasses of wine at dinner tonight, I wonder what I am teaching my children about alcohol. I wondered without my mother's "lessons" of drinking without becoming drunk (or crazy), what my attitude about alcohol would have been. I wonder if by drinking in front of my boys, I am helping them to develop a healthy attitude about alcohol - that it is something that can be consumed and enjoyed, without being abused. I hope that I am. But still I worry. I wonder if people who didn't grow up with an alcoholic parent worry about such things. Or perhaps they never even consider the possibility that their children could become addicts.

My father's alcoholism has affected me in a plethora of ways. Because of it, of him, I am who I am. And I've long since made peace with that, with the way his alcoholism affected my childhood and my current self. But one of those ways is that I, probably more so than the average parent, worry about my children's attitude and future as it relates to substances. I worry, and I try to control. Which is, I'm sure, not the best way to handle the issue. But it's the best I can do for now.

Today's lesson - sometimes 3 glasses of wine are just 3 glasses of wine. Sometimes they help you to relax. Sometimes, however, they make you think way too too much. And those are times when you should just go to bed. Good night, friends.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness

Sometimes it's hard to remember to be thankful. Some years are harder than others. This one has been challenging in many ways. It has at times been hard to remember to be thankful. I have been reminded that I have much to be thankful for. So I decided to share a list of some of the things, because it's a good reminder for me. Here it is, in no particular order:
  • the kid's very FIRST loose tooth!!!! Oh, my boy is getting so grown up (also, who knows how much the tooth fairy is doling out these days??)
  • Starbucks. I've only really begun to appreciate it in the last year. It's now a dear friend.
  • My lovely fleece blanket that I snuggle with nightly. I adore it's cuddliness.
  • My sweet boys. They are dear and hilarious and I am incapable of describing how thankful I am for them.
  • My momma. Our loss of MIL has made me cherish her even more.
  • Books. Yeah, like all of them. I just love to read.
  • The more than 12 donors who have fed baby E in the way I only dreamed of doing. You women are my hero's.
  • Lady Gaga. Yeah, I kinda love her music. And so do my boys. I love how they groove and sing along whenever she comes on.
  • My dear hubby who cleans and cooks and loves me in spite of and because of all my flaws, and even though I've gotten fat and haven't even shaved my legs in more than a month. (And, wow, did I just admit that to the entire world...?).
  • The kid's reading teacher who IS nurturing and motivates him to want to read and write.
  • The gymnastics classes we've found for the kid. To see him grin from ear to ear for a solid hour every week, to watch him excel and learn, it is just a gift.
  • My co-workers, past and present. I have been blessed with wonderful co-workers who have accepted me and made me feel welcome. I so appreciate them!
  • Our fabulous sitter. Without her, I don't know how I would go to work every day. Because I of her, I can support other people's children, without worrying about my own. I know baby E is loved when he is with her.
  • My dear friends who truly know me, feed my soul, brain, and indulge my need to see Breaking Dawn more than once.
  • Domperidone, the medicine that made it possible for me to provide baby E with at least some milk from my own body.
  • My clients who invite me into their lives and teach me so much about myself, both professionally and personally.
  • Cloth diapers - they keep my baby's sweet little bum healthy, and are great for the environment to boot. Um, and they're adorable too, way cuter than disposables.
  • As always, I am beyond thankful for the people who made me a mother - L and D, and R and D. This year, I am so very thankful that L and D found their way back into our lives as it is such a gift for the kid! They have arrived at just the perfect time, when the kid seems to need them.
Today's lesson - giving ourselves over to thankfulness, if even for a moment, is a gift we give to ourselves. What a wonderful way to start the Christmas season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Counselor Conference

So here is, as promised, the synopsis (and my commentary and processing) of my meeting with the counselor at the kid's school this morning.

I was running late, and I hate running late, so I was a bit flustered going in. But, Ms C was overall quite lovely. I shared with her our concerns and that his pediatrician had diagnosed him with an Adjustment Disorder. I did decide not to tell her that I was actually the one who made the diagnosis, and the pediatrician just agreed with it, without even looking at the DSM (aka the bible of mental health). I explained that our top concerns are the lack of communication from Mrs L, despite our varied attempts to do so, and how unhappy the kid appears to be (i.e. he can't come up with anything positive to say about school and often quickly changes the topic when Mrs L is brought up).

I was a bit nervous going in, particularly that Ms C would be resistant to the 504 plan. I met with a counselor at a different school yesterday (regarding one of my clients) and that counselor made the 504 sound like this big huge deal. Well, the kid's counselor stated that she feels if a kiddo needs support, then that's what they're going to do, and she has no problem handing out 504 plans. She gave me a few papers that need to be filled out. Once I get those back to her (hopefully next week - once I can get the pediatrician to sign off on them), we'll get a meeting scheduled within a week or so. Which is fantastic.

The modifications we're requesting are: daily communication from Mrs L indicating the kid's behavior throughout the day; more positive rewards and discipline (i.e. no writing sentences, no taking away recess); movement breaks; even socialization breaks throughout the day; an occupational therapy evaluation (or at least observation) to determine if there are any additional strategies that can be used to further support him with his fine motor skills.  If anyone else has any suggesions about other modications, I'd LOVE to hear them!!

Ms C seemed to understand our concerns about the teacher, and even agree with them (without directly saying so, you know, school politics and all). She plans to talk with the principal and thought that he will probably want to be present at the 504 meeting.  Apparently it's pretty uncommon for the principal to attend 504 meetings, but, because of the issues with the teacher, she thought he probably would want to. I made sure to explain that we have no interest in getting Mrs L in trouble, we just want our kid to be in a nurturing environment where he can be academically and emotionally successful. She assured me that the school wants that for all kids as well (though, really, what else could she have said in response to that) and she also thanked me for being calm and rational. I'm sure she gets some pretty ticked off parents in her office. I don't envy her her job.

So the one thing that kind of, okay seriously, ticked me off (because, it's me, so you know there had to be something), was this. As soon as I mentioned the Adjustment Disorder, the following conversation ensued ... "Okay, the kid is adopted right?". "Well, yes, he was adopted." "Right, well, you know lots of kids who are adopted have that attachment thing. You know, oh what's it called...Reactive Attachment Disorder." "Um, no, he doesn't have that. He's been with us since he was born and --." "Well you know, lots of adopted kids still have that and have issues, you know." I - trying hard to control my mouth - reiterated that the presentation of the kid's issues coincided with his beginning at that school. And that he absolutely, by no means, has any kind of attachment issues. Period. I mean, if you're going to start throwing out diagnoses, you should probably know what they are, and what the hell you're talking about. Just sayin'.

So, the synopsis, Ms C was great today, with the exception of her stupidity regarding adoption and DSM criteria. We're headed towards the kid's 504 plan, and hopefully some positive changes in the way the teacher deals with him and us.

Today's lesson: As a commenter - and friend from way back in my elementary school days (Hi, LCR!) - said, what a difference it would make for (at least some of) our kids if public schools functioned more like montessori programs. If classrooms were smaller, and there wasn't quite so much focus on the ever important TEST...sigh...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Out of shape

Hey, remember when I was all like, "yeah, I've gotten all fat and out of shape and now I'm gonna change and let you know how that's going?" I've done a fabulous job of that. I know I've been inspirational and all that jazz. You're welcome.

Or, I said all that and then didn't do a damn thing differently. And thus, I have not only not become more healthy and not lost weight, to the contrary, I have become even more of a blob and gained even more weight. We had some family pictures done a few weeks ago.  While they are beautiful and my friend did a phenomenal job, I barely recognize myself. I look at what is apparently my face and I wonder who that is. My eyes are now squinty, hidden under bigger cheeks. My neck is hidden under a 2nd chin. I wonder where I am in all of that.

I think about all the reasons why I've continued to gain weight and be so unhealthy, and they're the same as they were all those months ago. It boils down to lack of physical activity and a lack of motivation to engage in physical activity. And that boils down to me being t-i-r-e-d. All. The. Time. The reasons are easy to identify. It's fair to blame exhaustion. It's a valid excuse.

But I keep coming back to those pictures. And wondering where I am in all of that. And where I have gone...

Today's lesson - change doesn't just happen. It necessitates work and commitment and then more work. Change is hard. Even when the results are something we really want. Change is hard.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Duggars

For me, the Duggar family is one part car wreck one can't help to stare at, and the other part inspirational book on parenting. They're a combination of the freakish and the awe-inspiring. In case you have no idea who/what I'm talking about, The Duggars have 19 children, and the wife is now expecting their 20th child. She's is 45 and has given birth to all of them.

I think for many infertiles, the Duggars are a smack in the face. An enormous, multiplying and grotesque reminder of what we can't have. It's almost like there are only so many pregnancies to go around, and she's claiming way more than her fair share. There are feelings of doubt about the parents' ability to parent and parent well so many children.

But here's the thing...The Duggars, well, they are some of the most calm, loving, and consistent parents I've ever observed. Of course they're on television and have control over the editing of their show. But look at some of the other reality shows (i.e. that crazy Kate plus 8 chic). The truth about who they are and how they parent seems to become obvious.

But all we consistently see on the Duggars (yeah, I do watch it whenever I just happen to catch it - again, it's that whole car accident that you can't look away from kind of thing) is calmness, and consistency, and gentle redirection. There's no raising of voices. There's no spanking. Or even time outs. They make a point of spending one-on-one time with each child regularly.

And here's what it boils down to...they are consciously making a choice to be open to what God has in store for them. They are financially responsible for the entirety of their family, relying on no more "assistance" than I do. They spend a ton of family time together. All the children appear confident, healthy, developmentally on par, and happy. The older ones are becoming contributing members of society, holding jobs and expressing a responsibility for and desire to help others. I don't know that there is anything else I could want for my own children.

So why do we judge the Duggars so harshly? They are parenting well. Really well. In truth, one of my wishes is that when I "grow up" I will be half as calm, gentle, loving, patient, and trusting in my children's ability to be self-sufficient as the Duggars are. Do I wish that I could get pregnant and have a couple babies the "easy" way? Hell yes, I do. But the Duggars living that reality doesn't make my dream any less likely (I mean, really, it's already unlikely). Their pregnancies and children does not affect my ability to have children or parent. Can I feel jealousy at her ease in conceiving? Yes I can. I can also really relate to her desire for  and absolute love of children.

So, I think we should lay off the Duggars. Yeah, her uterus may be old, dusty and about to fall out (as hubby asserts), but it's her uterus and she gets to chose what to do with it. And as long as the Duggar children are loved and well taken care of, well, we have no say so in the matter.

Today's lesson: here's one - of several actually - I learned from the Duggars. Praise your children publicly and redirect them privately. They are frequently seen to praise their children on the show, but only very rarely redirect/discipline them.  None of us wants to be disciplined in front of others. What a beautiful way to teach our children about respect - by first giving it to them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The First Report Card

We got the kid's first report card yesterday. I didn't have high expectations. But it was even worse than I could have guessed. That teacher, oh that teacher!!!!!!!!!!!!! She had the NERVE to say that my kid's vocabulary isn't age appropriate. As in, it's below grade level. MY KID, y'all! Anyone who's ever met him knows how absolutely ridiculous and fictitious this assertion is. I mean, this kid was saying things such as "I am not available to you" when he was less than 2. He has a more expansive vocabulary today than many adults I know. My child, went through a rhyming phase when he was 2, where, really, he seemed to talk in rhymes all day long. She is claiming that his ability to rhyme is "an area of concern". These are only two examples. Nearly everything on that darn report card was marked as an "area of concern". I can barely contain my rage.

At the appointment with the pediatrician last week, the pediatrician agreed with me that something needs to happen. While she would have preferred that we just demand he be moved to a different class, I wanted to do everything we could to prevent that, to minimize any further disruption. Thus the 504 plan. I'd put off calling the counselor as I'd planned because I started reconsidering, thinking perhaps I was overreacting. As I've mentioned before, I don't want to be one of those parents.

Well, eff it. I'm over it and will be calling the counselor to set up a meeting first thing today. I am tired of this teacher and her shananigans. I am tired of her telling me that my child doesn't know squat. I'm tired of her making him feel inadequate. I am tired of him coming home, sad-faced, unable to tell me anything good about his day. I'm over it and I am OVER this woman. Things will get better. They will. My baby will love school again. He will come come bubbling with excitement about what he learned, or what he did that day. He will smile when talking about school. He will laugh and smile all the time again. He will walk around lighter, not like the weight of the world is on his little shoulders. He will feel successful and confident once again. Whether or not that woman is there to see it.

Today's lesson - beware of pissing off  the momma bear. That is all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just UGH!

Things have been rough around here. Baby E still isn't sleeping (big ole shocker there). I've been sick for, like, forever (really, this is week 3 of this crud, which I think actually is the big, nasty flu 'cause I thought I was going to die for awhile, or at least I wanted to). The time change is causing big problems in the kid's sleep (as in he's been getting up at 5am or earlier, for a couple of weeks now which is - most assuredly - pure awesomeness for his behavior, or the antithesis there of, one of those two). Baby E is into EVERYTHING (garbage, toilet, cabinets, drawers, etc...) and is driving me somewhat mad. Hubby and I have been particularly crabby with each other of late (can't imagine why, but it sure doesn't help with any of the rest of it all). Work is just...grrrrr. The kid's 1st report card came home today and things are not good, y'all (I completely hate that teacher - update on that whole mess to come in the next couple of days, hopefully, if I can get my shit together again long enough to write a blog post that is). And I'm just flippin' exhausted, like all the time. Ah, yes, and to top off this lovely mess with a fun little cherry, I think I'm pms-ing, in a ferociously bad (like worse than I've had since before I started the whole inducing lactation protocol more than 2 years ago) kind of way.

Doesn't that make you wanna come on over to my house? I thought as much. But there's cleaning - dusting in particular - to be done! I thought that might convince you.

Whine session over.

Today's lesson - sometimes things just suck. Sometimes it's really hard to remember that tomorrow (or the tomorrow after tomorrow, or the one after that) will be better. Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in the suckiness. And then something small happens, to remind you in some itty bitty way, that - really - the better is coming. If you can just hold on long enough for it to arrive.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Siblings

Several people have commented how much my boys enjoy each other. And, truth be told, they do. Like all the time. It is awesome. The kid loves to entertain baby E. And baby E loves to follow him around, showering him with gooey kisses. Which the kid loves. Baby E is like a built in audience for the kid. And the kid is nearly always entertaining for baby E. They're a perfect match. And I am so incredibly blessed by that.

But their relationship has started to make me think about my own with my brother. (What? You didn't know I have a brother? Well, I do. A younger one. He lives far away.)

My brother and I have never been what I'd consider close. We're very different. Our career choices kind of do the best job of explaining it. I am a social worker, a therapist. He's an engineer, a computer one. See what I mean? I'm people. He's math and science and I don't even know what because that's not how my brain works. I figure out behavior and relationships. He figures out scientific computer stuff.

He and I have always been on different planes. Occasionally we cross, and those are (as adults at least) positive interactions, but - truth be told - we just have very little in common. And it's not that either of us made that decision consciously, it's just kind of how it is. How it has always been. Really, the gulf seems to have gotten bigger since our kids were born (he has 2 also). I don't know why that is, but it is.

And then my MIL died. My brother drove more than 13hrs by himself in one day to be at her funeral with me. I absolutely didn't expect him to do that (seriously, that's a lot of driving for 1 person in a day). Also, like I said, we're not really close. And that, I think, is why I was so deeply, profoundly touched by his being there. We had many friends who came to support us that day, many of whom we were surprised to see. But, hands down, having my brother there meant the most. That he would make that effort...that he would know that I needed him...that he would simply come and be there made the biggest difference for me that awful day.

It's funny - I thanked him, but I couldn't find the words to really tell him how much I appreciated his simply being there. It meant the world to me, truly it did. And it reminded me of something. Siblings have such a unique relationship. They share so much: DNA, history, parents, family, holidays. They often fight like no others. Yet they tend to stick up for each other, too. They understand each other's experiences in a way no one else can. So much the same, and yet it can sometimes be such a difficult relationship. And yet, there it is. One of those relationships that once it exists, will always be there.

And there is such value in knowing that some one else, no matter how distant, will always be on your side, have your back. So thank you, dear brother, for having my back when I most desperately needed it, even if I couldn't articulate to you how much I needed it, or how much it meant to me. And may I be able to instill that loyalty and love into my children so that they, too, will always be there in that way for each other.

Today's lesson - the sibling dyad is such an interesting one. Siblings know each other - and their parents - in a way no one else does, or ever will. They have similar, yet different experiences, but nonetheless ones no one else can really ever understand. The sibling relationship is a permanent relationship, one of the few in our lives. It can be difficult at times. It can also be a blessing. Sometimes when we least expect it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A brief Bailey update

Several of you have asked about how Bailey is doing. She had her first round of Chemo and got to go home. Unfortunately, she quickly ended up back at the hospital because she got some kind of infection (because of the chemo she's extremely susceptible to infection). Last I heard (Monday), that's where she remains. She's tired and cranky, and not the happy, sweet child her parents have known until now. Of course they are simply happy that she is alive and with them. They are emotionally and physically exhausted. Please, please continue to keep Bailey and her parents in your thoughts and prayers. Asking this of you is, I feel, the only thing I can do for beautiful Bailey and her family.

Today's lesson - sometimes in life we feel so unsure of what to do. Those are probably times when there simply is nothing tangible that we can do. Those are probably the times we should pray, think supportive thoughts, send good mojo, simply release positive intentions out into the universe. Because sometimes that is the only thing to do. Sometimes that is the thing to do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another breastfeeding benefit, maybe?

So, I was conversing with another amazing momma who donated milk for baby E a few weeks ago and something she said has led me to an interesting thought. She was asking how long we're planning on nursing (in a conversational, not judgemental kind of way) and then said she thinks she'll either nurse this baby (her 3rd) forever, or have to keep having babies. Because the oxytocin high is too addictive to give up. She described how she is transported into this blissful state of happiness and not caring what else is going on. It was like talking to an addict, y'all (but not in a bad way).

And that got me thinking. Well, truth be told, first I got all jealous and IF-y and started being pissed off that my body can't do yet another thing the "right" way. And not only can I not get pregnant, or produce enough milk to really feed my baby, but apparently my body can't even make itself feel all high and blissful and crap. UGH!

But then, once I pulled myself together, I started thinking that maybe it actually is doing something pretty cool here. Because here's the thing...people ask me all the time how I function on so little sleep. Really, y'all it really is in about 2hr increments all. night. long. I often get somewhere along the lines of about 4-5 hours of sleep/night, total, and -again - in about 1.5-2hr increments. That's half the amount of sleep I used to get nightly, which was of course all in a row. I usually just shrug this off with a "well, you get used to it and just do what you have to do".  But, hubby hasn't gotten used to it (uh, at all, even though he tries, it's usually just easier and faster - and quieter - for me to deal with E). In truth, hubby's tolerance for being up at night is going downhill fast.

Oh yeah, here's the other thing that - for me at least - gives some credence to this hypothesis. In the last month-ish, baby E has been nursing less frequently. And my tolerance level for both boys' difficult behaviors (baby E being up so frequently at night, and the kid not listening/following directions) has gone down. And the amount of sleep I'm getting is the same (not less). So, I think this could mean there's some correlation there.

SO, what if actually the oxytocin is what's helped me not lose it and kill one of my children - or, to be a little less dramatic, just not lose it and yell at baby E at night, or the kid during the day? What if the oxytocin from nursing baby E is actually filling me with some of those calming hormones, to a lesser degree than that milk momma was talking about? What if my body is doing something right? Wouldn't that be awesome! I mean, it seems a long shot, my body doing something right, but I think I'm gonna go with it. Mostly because I need something to go right about now.

Count that as reason one hundred and thirty-five why nursing rocks. Or yet more proof that the benefits of nursing are about much more than just the (albeit numerous) benefits of breastmilk. Or that nursing is also really good for mommas. Yeah, maybe I'll continue nursing baby E forever, too. Or (have to convince hubby to) keep adding more babies to our family.

Today's lesson - babies and mommas are made to nurse. There are benefits of this relationship that science and even mommas have yet to uncover.  Also, sometimes our bodies actually come through and don't fail us even when that's what we expect them to do. Oh, yeah. And mommas rock!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Parent-Teacher Conference

So, I think I've finally calmed down enough to write about this in a reasonable and rational way. Well, at least enough to write about it. You can be the judge about the reasonable and rational part. (That, and I have access to a computer for the moment - our laptop is with a friend, hopefully being brought back to life).

So, here's what happened. We had a 20 minute time slot. And got started 5 minutes late. Mrs L was in with another set of parents before us and they ran over for whatever reason. No big deal other than we were now down to 15 minutes. So, she started off by asking us if we had any concerns (uh, yeah, Duh). So I told her we were concerned about the continued behavior issues. She totally blew me off by saying, "well, we need to focus on the progress, even though that is an ongoing problem". I was like, "wait, didn't you just start this off by asking if we had any concerns?!". So, I was irritated already.

And then she went over this sheet thing, focusing primarily on academic areas, which is great. Except it wasn't. Because in almost every area on that paper, she said "an area of concern". With the exception of getting along with other children, which she kind of rolled her eyes about and said something to the effect of "of course he does just fine there". Respect = area of concern. Following directions = area of concern. Handwriting = area of concern. And it went on and on and on.

So we've known that the kid doesn't like to write. Fine motor skills have always (since he was an infant) been the area with which he most struggles. He never chose to do it at Montessori, and though he was encouraged, he wasn't made. So he didn't. Same goes for reading (re: his desire to do it). I think the two are related (not wanting to write --> not wanting to work on reading either) and really, I'm paying attention to this because the idea that we could be dealing with some dyslexia or another learning issue is in the back of my mind. But, of course Mrs L had completely dismissed this concern previously so I didn't bring it up again.

All of the other areas of concern, though, they all boiled down to one thing...my kid likes to talk. All the time. Who here is surprised about that?! He talks in the hall. He talks in the classroom. He talks in the cafeteria. He talks all. the. time. And it quite obviously pisses Mrs L off.

So, let me have you guess what she wouldn't talk about...you get 3 guesses and the first 2 don't count. That's right. She wouldn't discuss his behavior. Granted, we'd run out of time, but still. You'd think, with as much grief as she's been giving my kiddo and all those "area of concern"'s, that'd be the first thing she'd want to talk about. (It sure was with me and hubby!) But apparently not.

So, I handed her several resources about red dye (which she'd previously requested), and she - wait for it - rolled her eyes at me. And then said, "oh, look. You brought ME homework. How exciting?!". I mean, not even I could have layered on any more sarcasm. I explained that I'd brought her research from peer reviewed journals, an NPR story, and something from a teacher resource website. She said, "I just can't wait to spend my weekend reading this". I had to sit on my hands so they wouldn't be clenched in fists. Y'all, I was pissed.

So, what's happened since then. Nothin' good. First, we found out she's been having him write sentences as punishment for talking. Hands raised for who thinks this is ridiculously stupid? Here's what makes it even worse. She's taking away part of his recess to do so. And there's a policy in our district that specifically forbids taking away recess from a student as punishment. And, as previously mentioned, he already isn't a fan of writing. So WHY would one make that a punishment???!!!!!!  Hubby sent her a really well worded email the beginning of last week, giving her a few suggestions of what might be more effective (take away the social aspect of recess as it's the socialization that's getting him in trouble). Guess what she said? Absolutely. NOTHING.

So, what's next? Tomorrow we ask for another parent-teacher conference, 'cause the first one was so much flippin' fun. Then we go to the principal. I hate to become "those parents", but I don't know what else to do.

Well, actually, we do have one more plan. I have an appointment with the kid's pediatrician on Friday to discuss the possibility of getting a 504 plan. Without getting into technical details, a 504 plan is like an IEP (i.e. special education services) lite. It's relatively easy to get and still sets out specific accommodations the school has to provide. We're hoping to get it based on the red dye thing, but if not, I'm prepared to advocate for a Adjustment Disorder diagnosis because heaven knows my poor baby fits the criteria right now (thankyouverymuch, MrsL).

Yeah. So that's where we stand right now. Things still sucking for my kiddo. And me still pissed. On an up note, hubby is now also pissed. Took the taking away recess thing to do it, but I think it's good that we're both in the same place and can now advocate for our baby with a more unified opinion and front. Here's hoping it works. Because, really, if none of these things do, I really don't know what to do next.

Today's lesson - sometimes intuition can be mistaken as forseeing the future.  Sometimes we do know what will happen. It doesn't seem to help in the prevention of the thing, though. Sometimes, even as much as you prepare, and try to figure out how to keep the thing from happening, it still does. And it's damn frustrating.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween-worthy experience

I'm not sure if you remember this picture from our trip to Charleston. Who am I kidding? I know you don't remember it. I mean why in the world would you remember it?! Anywho, it's an old plantation house. I know it doesn't look like what I expected a plantation to look like either. The look of the house was disappointing. Though the rest of our experience wasn't at all.

We arrived late, because we got super lost. If you know us, you know how much fun that was since we both love getting lost and all. (Sidebar - I think we've given our child an anxiety disorder related to getting lost. He easily has the best sense of direction in our family, but still freaks whenever we get lost. Gotta ensure that future generations of social worker and therapists have jobs somehow. It's all about each of us doing our own little part in the world. Yay us. Sidebar/tangent over.)  So, anyway, the benefit to us having gotten lost, is that by the time we got there the crowds had gone and we had the plantation mostly to ourselves. Super cool. By the time we even got around to looking at the house (just the outside because they asked us not to do the inside tour - lol - because of the kid, which, really, was probably a good call), even the employees were starting to head out.

We were nearly done, and the big boys hit the bathroom before we tried to find our way back to the condo. I had baby E in the ever present Moby. We were walking up to the edge of this little side garden. I was just strolling slowly and quietly. Baby E was silent, maybe even asleep. As I came around the corner and saw the garden, I noticed a women in period clothes sitting on this bench (that the kid is standing on in the picture below). She had on a light pink dress with little flowers on it. Some blond hair peeked out from under her bonnet. She was reading a book, her head bent down, absorbed in her book.

A first I thought she was an employee. But then I realized she wasn't really there. She was there, but not. She was real, but not. She was, but wasn't.

It was such a peaceful moment. Quiet. Calm. Absolutely. Peaceful.

Just then I head the kid come barreling towards me. I turned around to greet him. When I turned back, she was no longer there. Gone.



I didn't say anything to hubby or the kid. I just breathed in the last of the peaceful feeling and walked over the bench, calling the kid, and we took a picture. To remind me of this amazing experience I had.

Today's lesson - mysterious things happen. At least in my world. What about in yours? I'd love to hear your mysterious experience!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bad days are relative

It was a rough morning at my house. There was yelling (me) and frustration (me and the kid). There were threats ("if you don't get those shoes on by the time I count to 10, there will be big, bad consequences, mister"). There were tears ("I can't find my socks"). There was muttering under the breath ("OMG!!!!! Why can't this kid get his shit together this morning??!!!!"). There was stomping down the stairs (maybe both of us) and cries of unfairness ("you NEVER wait for ME!!"). There were text messages sent to husbands cussing at them for not doing something just the right way. In short, there were big girl and little boy sized tantrums going on. It was ugly, y'all.

I finally got us all into the car with all of our crap (maybe?!) and I started to have a mini-meltdown (just in my head). You see, I remembered something important. There's a little girl named Bailey. The kid used to go to school with her at his Montessori school. Her mama was one of his teachers when he was a toddler. And this adorable, blonde-headed 4 year and her gentle, beautiful parents have been told that she is riddled with cancer. They just found out this week. She starts Chemo tomorrow. She has tumors throughout her body. It's stage 4. She's 4, people. She still such a tiny little human. And she has stage 4 cancer. On her liver. In her bones. Stage. 4. Cancer.

That is a bad day. Running late for school? Not a bad day. Too fat to fit into any of my clothes? Not a bad day. Can't find socks? Not a bad day. Banana goo on my pants? Not a bad day. Homework not being done just right? Not a bad day. Starbucks gift card out of money? Not a bad day. Your baby having cancer? That is the worst day possible.

So, today, I will try to remember that my bad day, isn't really bad. It's irritating and inconvenient. I have two healthy children. I will not have to watch one of my children undergo chemo. And that makes today a good day.

Today I will pray for little Bailey and for her parents. I would so appreciate it if you would, too.

Today's lesson - Perspective is so easy to lose. Gratefulness is easy to forget. Banana goo is just banana goo. It washes out. Somethings are not so easily undone.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It wasn't exactly what I expected. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes I overreact. Sometimes I over-think things. Sometimes I imagine things to be more difficult than they need be. It's possible today's visit may have been one of those things. (The kid's parent-teacher conference is not. It really did suck as expected. But that's a post for another day. Mostly because I'm still too irritated to write it right now.)

To start off, we were late. The kid just had to have a nap today, and I - as always - was hesitant to wake him up. I sent L a facebook message, though I don't think they got it til right before we showed up about 45 minutes late. I'm sure this made them a little anxious.

The visit was...interesting. It was easy and friendly, like it had been only a couple of months since we'd seen them, and not almost 3 years. We chatted constantly. And yet...well...it was mostly about... nothing. I don't know what I expected, but - honestly - I think I'm a little disappointed. I think I wanted them ask question after question about the kid. I kept throwing out things - the asthma, his love of swimming/lack of fear of water, the constant talking at school - but it didn't seem like we got a whole lot of a response. I mean, they did comment some (L said her brother has allergy/seasonal asthma which is great to know, and D said he, too, was always in trouble in elementary school for talking). But that was about it. Again, not sure what I wanted to happen, I guess those things to lead to further conversation. They didn't.

So I kinda stopped tossing things out there. And they didn't really ask any questions. I took some pics for them. I thought they might be a good conversation starter. Seems they weren't useful exactly. They did look through the pictures, but the pics didn't lead to any questions or comments.

Now, I don't think it's that they're not interested in the kid. Like, they wouldn't have contacted us if that were the case! And they did seem really happy to see him, to see us all. Maybe they were uncertain about how to proceed also? I'm sure they were. This is a different kind of relationship. It has no rules, no role models. It is relatively uncommon. They've never done it before and it has been a long time sive we've all seen each other. I don't know...

The kid played with his birth sister mostly. They ran around happily, playing tag, bouncing, coloring with sidewalk chalk. They got along great. And there was no talk about what their relationship was. Well, at least not within my earshot. And I have no idea what L and D may or may not have said to their children. Despite all my worrying about this particular thing, it didn't seem to matter.

We left things with both saying we hoped to get together again soon. I so hope that will be the case. Their lives seem to have settled down quite a bit, so hopefully it will be a possibility for them.

At dinner tonight, the kid had some questions, really only about about his siblings. So we gave him the answers to the best of our ability. He hasn't yet asked the question I keep waiting for...why? Why do my brother and sister live with L and D and I live with you? It's coming and I'm not really looking forward to it. I can only hope we'll handle it with grace. I can only hope it, too, will be easier than expected.

Today's lesson - Sometimes things really will be easier than you expected. And you've gotten all worked up unnecessarily. Wouldn't it be nice to have spent that energy on something more useful? Like dusting. Or a game of Go Fish. Or anything really.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seems like it's actually kind of complicated

I think I mentioned that we heard from the kid's birth parents a couple weeks ago (after nearly 3 years of no contact at all!!). Well, we have a visit scheduled for this weekend! I'm super excited about it. But I'm a little worried/confused/uncertain about what to say to the kid, how to prepare him.

See, here's the thing... the kid's birth parents didn't share with nearly anyone (actually, as far as we know, absolutely anyone) that they were pregnant and then made an adoption plan for a child. So, this wasn't so much an issue when their 2 other children were younger, because you know, they were, as little kids tend to be, completely unconcerned about who this kid who looked an awful lot like them was and what he was doing in their house every once in a while with his somewhat, uh, paler parents.

But it's 3 years later now. And they're at ages when they're probably going to notice such things. And ask questions. It was one of the reasons we thought they might have disappeared before, because the kids were starting to notice and maybe ask. Now it may not be the case at all, that they'll question our presence and who the kid is, but it certainly would complicate things for them. And it certainly seems likely.

Okay, so what that means is... I don't know what to say to the kid about our upcoming visit. It's entirely possible that their kids won't be there. And that will be really sad for my boy because, let me tell you, that kid wants to meet his bio brother and sister. With baby E having had contact of late with his bio sister, the kid is a bit jealous - and probably confused - that his baby brother has a sister and he does too (in addition to an older brother), but he doesn't know or see her. If the other kids are there, well, the kid isn't going to mince words or time in clarifying for them that he is their brother. I don't want this to complicate things for L and D (assuming they've not told their kids about him). I also don't want the kid to get hurt in the midst of all of it either (as in with someone denying that he is their brother).

I suppose what I ought to do is have a convo with them beforehand so we all have a better idea of what to expect. And geez does that feel uncomfortable, especially after so long of no contact. I mean, they've always been very private people. And I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable either. Or for them to disappear again.  Ugh. I was so excited when they contacted us - and truly I still am! - but it certainly is more complicated than I'd anticipated. Funny, because that seems rather naive now, innocent excitement. But I really never stopped to think about the complications, the things that might be difficult or uncomfortable. The possibility that my kid could actually be hurt in all this.

Today's lesson - preparations for a parent teacher conference can be intense. Apparently there is research to be done. Lists of questions to be made. Lists of things to be covered to be made. Arguments to prepare. Counterarguments to anticipate. Laws and policies to read up on. Intense. Oh, wait. Maybe that's just me. Wish us luck, friends, as we walk into the lion's den (aka parent-teacher conference) this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Answer Your Question...

I love you ladies (all of you, but particularly those who commented on my last post - both here and on FB). You are my people, lol! There's no education necessary for you all about the benefits of doing BLW, because you are already doing/have done it!

Lechelle asked me a question that I wanted to answer. Her question - and I paraphrase - is "do people really do things another way than BLW?!". And the short answer is absolutely yes, they do. Even more so, many professionals - pediatricians and WIC for starters - recommend it. WIC has very specific recommendations about what foods to start when (it used to be yellow veggies, followed by green ones, then fruits, etc... Now, I think, they start with meat, then go to veggies then fruits, with fewer specifiers about colors) and only covers baby food on its vouchers.

It's so interesting to me that the very families who would most benefit from the cost savings associated with feeding babies what you're eating (those who qualify for WIC) are so heavily encouraged to give them manufactured baby food which is infinitely more expensive. I get that many of those families may not have the best nutrition themselves, but, if we spent more time providing them with the information and resources needed to eat healthy themselves, then it wouldn't be an issue. Don't even get me started about how WIC is enabling, even encouraging formula feeding. That's another of my soapboxes entirely.

Confession time - I have been one of those professionals eschewing the importance of feeding babies only baby food, and in that very specific order. I bought what they were selling hook, line, and sinker. For al ong time I didn't take the time to research the reasons behind the recommendations (um, there isn't much). And I know if I (who is a bit obsessed about that kind of thing) don't ask for explanations, many people aren't going to either. While I knew I wouldn't ever be that anal about it all ever again, I didn't expect to cut out baby food completely. If I hadn't totally fallen into that BLW book, I don't know that we would have come into it on our own.

Today's lesson - it's so important to find your tribe, the group of people who truly gets you. These are the people who you don't have to explain yourself to. They're the ones who know where you're coming from. Or if they don't, they simply accept you anyway. They are a blessing. Even if you never meet some of them in the real world.