Archive | October, 2016

Knowledge is a Gift

27 Oct

I hear plenty about the 4K classroom and how my youngest’s day at school went.  She shows me the new Disney Princess book she got from the library, the letter C project they worked on today in writing, the hanging spiders that had to stay at school, and I know all of her friends’ names.  I usually hear a briefer version from my teenager as well.  But for my middle child, who has Down Syndrome and limited vocabulary, I don’t hear it from her.  

She has limited vocabulary and will tell me that she had a good day, but other than that I am completely dependent on the school staff on telling me what she is working on in school. In other words, I usually guess by her behavior.

Except we are blessed.  We have teachers that go above and beyond.

Relocating and leaving her last team was very hard for me.  Every time I was at her school her case manager or one of her aides would let me know how her day went.  When I stopped there on her last day her teacher gave me a gift for her new staff and school.  A beautiful book filled with photos of her days, her staff, and antecdotes of her school self.  I can fill in her home life, but I can’t decribe school.  She made it by hand and it is the best gift we could have been given.  It told her new staff more than an IEP ever could and I was given the gift of more knowledge of my non-verbal girl.

Over summer she worked one on one with a wonderful teacher who challenged her and rewarded her just as much.  Yes, we were lucky enough to be the only elementary age special needs student enrolled, but this teacher gave her all to my girl.  And told me daily at pickup how those days went.

And her new school…I’m not sure if we are insanely blessed with a great teacher or if amazing communication is this school’s norm, but I get daily notes.  I learn of her successes and what she did during the day.  I also get communication from her 3rd grade classroom.  In the past we have been stuck in an in-between where the regular education teacher tends to assume her case manager passes along everything and possibly vice versa.  

But right now, I’m only going to get a yes or no reply to “did you have a good day?” But that’s okay because I know how it did go.  I know that she enjoyed the water play on the field trip, that she actually ate peas one day at lunch, she can almost roller skate, and that she learned to play Connect Four with a classmate.  I was also given the gift of knowledge and that is priceless.

The Unicorn That Saved The Dog

20 Oct

Five people and three pets means laundry.  Lots of laundry.  Moving into a two story (three if you count the partially finished basement where the washer and dryer are) house had me questioning how I was going to carry all those baskets up and down those flights of stairs.  After all, not too long ago I couldn’t hobble down in the boot.

So I am incredibly grateful for the built in laundry chute.  One door is on the main floor (not used as much) and one door is next to the girls’ bedrooms (used a lot!).  The chute empties into the basement bathroom (the guest/my son’s bathroom).  During the first few days of unpacking I would send my son’s things down the chute.  I’d text him to let him know it was on its way and giggle as I heard the satisfying plop that meant I saved walking down two flights of stairs just to bring him a few spare insulin pump infusion sets.

But again, with five of us in the house I have laundry.  I tried to avoid sending things down the laundry chute in front of my older daughter.  My peanut is a curious girl and a fan of physical comedy.  Watching things move or fall is one of her favorite things.  She used to put toys in the heat registers.  Before we moved I pulled a piece of hanger, a plastic cucumber, two Candyland game pieces, Barbie’s sunglasses and a dime from her bedroom register.  Her discovering the chute is inevitable.  I wanted to wait.

A few days ago I threw in some towels.  And they didn’t plop down on the basement level like usual.  I went to the main floor and couldn’t see laundry piled past the door, only an empty metal duct.  

So back to the top floor.  The chute wasn’t large enough to see in.  And when I stuck my arm in as far as my armpit I felt the last towel I put in.  But couldn’t reach it. 

I don’t have my husband’s problem solving brain.  He’s probably have some amazing way to take it apart or his suggestion was to find the blue bear claw his father had given us as a gift.  My resources were different.  I grabbed my daughter’s hot pink and purple unicorn toy.  It’s the unicorn version of a horse-head on a broom stick.  Instead of being a cowgirl and racing around in her cowgirl boots yelling “hee-haw” she parades in princess slippers and feather boas riding a unicorn. 

The unicorn head stared at me with its plastic eyes as I jammed the stick down the chute trying to push the clothing clog down the chute.  It budged!  So I continued to use the poor unicorn to shift the clothes around until I could no longer reach the pile.  Down to the main level!  Jab, jab, pull clothes, back up to the top level!  Add clothes, repeat.

By now my dog was warily following me back up the stairs probably wondering why I was  making him follow me up and down so many stairs with the unicorn head stabbing routine.  

And then-I found it.   I reached the clog: a big toy puppy dog that had last been seen in my elder daughter’s room… The dog who made my husband and I laugh.  Because it is the beginning.  Soon we will be seeing plastic fruit, Barbie dolls, and many more stuffed animals at the bottom of that chute.  

But next time we might hear the maniacal laugh that means she’s discovered something new.  After all, when I returned the stuffed dog it was instantly discarded along with the request to shut her door.

And me?  I keep the unicorn at bay while I do this.

I Will

10 Oct

One of the gifts that my husband’s new job gave us was the ability for me to be home for a bit.  We don’t know how long  yet.  But it gave me the gift of time.  Being a special needs parent, even just a mother to three means I rarely had me time.  Even reading was usually done with a kid on my lap watching Netflix, I would zone out within my game apps just to focus inward and try to steal moments of inner reflection and quiet.  I was exhausted.  I adore my family, but as a strong introvert I craved quiet.

But now I have three hours a day when my kids are at school.  Last week being the first week in our new house I used those hours to unpack or do laundry and try to get as much accomplished as I could.  But by Friday I realized how counterproductive that was.  The main goal of my “me time” was for me to relax.  To do something I wanted to do and for so long that one things has been writing.  That day I had a lunch date with my husband and then I tackled it.

I enrolled myself in an online course on writing a novel.  I’ve never written one.  I’ve drafted a few starts, I have many plots fighting in my brain, but I’ve never had the uninterrupted time to actually draft them.  But…I do now.  That’s my “it.”  The novel inside that I want to write.  Always have.

I’ve psyched myself out many times writing, thinking “sure I can blog, but how hard is that?”  It’s me drafting my thoughts.  It’s what I say in my brain or sometimes don’t say out loud.  I am hard on myself, so I’ll read what I wrote and hit “delete” not even giving that chapter or start a fair shot.  I compare my writing to some of the incredibly talented friends I have and think no one would read it, why bother until I can write something better?

But that’s not what it needs to be.  That’s not what I need to do.  I just need to write.  All weekend long I was able to enjoy my time with my family.  And this morning I was able to do the mundane housework (and unpack a few more boxes) knowing that after 11:15 I would have my time.  It’s my “me time” and all I wanted to do was write.  That’s saying something there.

Passion.  While I wanted to write, I was stuck and unable to find the time.  I gave myself bits of time here and there, but not enough.  Not nearly enough.  So I am holding myself accountable for writing.  And that blank screen isn’t going to stay blank.  I bought this silly little laptop to fulfill my dream of writing.  I can and I will do it.  I will draft a novel.  Whether it stays in my laptop or is added to the boxes of my old work from my college years, that’s okay.  I’m doing it.  I’m writing.  And I’m loving it.

What I Learned Moving 

8 Oct

1.  Somehow we can actually function even though we are too tired and sore to move.  But it’s still easy enough to fall asleep.  Even after you’ve walked down the stairs and got changed for school.

2. What you spent months packing is suddenly strewn in your garage and you are expected to know where the necessities are.  You won’t.

3. You’ll have to go to the store for said necessities and even with a list you’ll forget something.  And make yet another $450 Costco run buying necessities.  Sad, but true.  At least we only needed one grocery store run after that.

4. After many of those trips you’ll decide it’s easier to use Amazon.  On the plus side you get to meet the very nice mail person.  On the negative you end up with a storage unit that holds DVDs instead of a bookshelf.  After wallowing in sadness you can deliver said “media storage unit that showed CDs and paperbacks dang it” to the teenager in his room for the video game collection.  

5.  The kids will do an amazing job settling in to their new schools.  You’ll realize this from the 4 trips a day to drop said kids off and pick up even though you signed up for bussing. That gives you the chance to talk to their teachers daily and they at least pretend the kids are great.

6. Boxes.  You thought you hated packing?  Unpacking the 10th box of Barbie dolls makes you wonder why you have so much stuff and where is the box of tshirts and your knee high boots?  It’s fall.  We need boots.

7.  The first few days you might accidentally miss the turn to your road and drive down the next looking like a creepy stalker peering at the road signs.  But by the end of the week you find new routes to home.  And the shortcuts Google Maps avoids. 

8.  Your pets either move gracefully or not.  You prepare the resolve and carpet cleaner just in case, but thankfully they move gracefully.  In fact when one of the cats realizes their food, water and litter box are in the basement along with their human’s room-she finds no reason to leave that floor.

9. If you can keep one room free of kid clutter and boxes do it.  Because it helps you regain your sanity.  I’m lucky as we chose the living room for that room.  And the fireplace helps soothe the soul too.  Clutter distracts me and I can’t concentrate so that room is where I go to work.

10.  Enjoy.  Find the little quirks of your new house.  Hear the creaking in the floorboards, see how mini rainbows form on your walls when the afternoon sun filters through your window, watch your kid swinging safety in a fenced in back yard (and the dog who stands and waits at the door instead of exploring the yard).  Just enjoy making your new place home.  And relish the feeling when it feels that way from day one.