Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Test Results

I had been anxiously awaiting this day since it was scheduled last week.  Today was the day I went up to the school admin building and got the results of the kids' tests.  

Before I got the results, however, Doodlebug finished taking the ADOS test - Oz and I had filled out the first part, the school psychologist read the results, and those results warranted taking the remainder of the test with the special needs coordinator, the psychologist, and another lady whose title I can't remember at the moment - when we were there today.  

When it was finally time for the results, the psychologist ushered the kids out to wait for me and then told me… everything I already knew and that the plan was exactly what I had hoped.

Here's how it broke down:  

Doodlebug tested extremely high academically.  They are going to put him directly into advanced/gifted classes.  However, the ADOS testing revealed that there are, in fact, some areas where they felt they could offer some accommodations to make his transition and school experience easier.  Well, duh.  But I understand there's a process and they can't take my word for it, just like they couldn't take my word that my kid is freaking brilliant and doesn't need special-needs classes but does need gifted ones.  Anyway, the three folks who were in there today are going to make up a list of initial accommodations and we'll sit down and have another meeting before school winds up here at the end of May to put them to paper.

Boo tested extremely well in reading and is right on par for her age in math.  The school psychologist would actually like to test her for the gifted program but wants to wait until fall, which is exactly what I had wanted to do, anyway, because I would like whoever her teacher is to be on board with that process.  I think it's one thing to put a kid straight into middle school gifted classes, because there are multiple teachers involved, as opposed to putting a kid into an elementary gifted class when the teacher has no background with the child.  Maybe it's just me.

Anyway, what was fun was that the kids' reactions when I told them the results.  Doodlebug was especially relieved, because he felt he hadn't done very well during the ADOS testing.  I laughed and told him I hadn't really expected him to, because it was a test that was designed to trip up kids who are on the autism spectrum (I hadn't prepped him for that previously because then he would have been trying to figure out what to do differently and probably would've skewed his own results).  He was thrilled that he had done things "right."  Boo was just happy that she's still advanced in reading and had done all right in the math portion.  

Will there be gaps in what they know compared to what their peers know this fall?  Probably.  But nobody in that room today seemed concerned.  They can read.  They can write.  They can compute at least at age level.  

Mostly what I heard today - in my head - was this:  "You didn't screw up.  You have a clear picture of where they are, and you planned properly.  Good job, Mom."

So far, all goes well.

Monday, April 28, 2014

That Whole Unschooling Thing...

In theory, to make our legal count of 180 days, we have two more weeks of school, plus this week.  So 14 days remaining.


I'm done.

The kids are done.

I'm pretty sure the entire school room is done, because certain places - shelves, binders, etc. - have reached maximum capacity and have begun to spill over into new areas.

The kids have asked to take one week during their extra-long summer break to do a review week, so really we only have to have 9 days left.  I'm cool with that.  Very cool.  Practically chill.

When it came time to make my weekly lesson plans yesterday, I couldn't muster the energy.  I didn't want to climb the stairs and repeat the same process I've done for the last 33 weeks, give or take.  I knew the kids didn't really want to do the work.

And so I said to Oz, "Y'know what?  If they were in public school, the last 2-3 weeks would be field days, field trips, awards ceremonies, movie days, end-of-year tests, and general shenanigans.  So phthththththth."

Today when the kids dutifully climbed the stairs to the school room and asked what they were going to do first, I shocked them.  I pulled a piece of paper out of the printer and made two lists.  One list was for Doodlebug, the other for Boo.  These lists contain everything that I'd still like them to finish in the next two weeks - grammar books for both kids, a couple of math assignments for Boo (Doodlebug is thoroughly enjoying his pre-algebra and has asked to go ahead and continue despite the probable futility of the effort), the play that they're creating/writing, and some reading.  That's about it.  I mean, there are a couple of other little things to wrap up, but those are the big items.

The kids were thrilled.  They worked nonstop from 8:30 to noon, when I told them to put away the stuff and eat lunch.  And after they ate lunch, they went back upstairs… and kept going!  Boo pulled out a stack of posters and learned about the battles of the Revolutionary War.  Doodlebug yanked out a book about drawing comic strips and made some really cute ones.  Boo wrote a letter to her friend, addressed the envelope, and mailed it.  And I sat on my backside and didn't have to do a thing!  It was glorious.

I told Oz about it when he got home, and he started laughing and said, "So you're unschooling now, are you??"

It's only taken me five years to let go and unschool for a whole nine days.  I might be a bit of a control freak.  But for that amount of time, yes… yes, I suppose I am.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Because Random Thursday

A few little tidbits of no importance to get you through this Thursday:

1.  Doodlebug finished Math-U-See Zeta last week.  This week he picked up the Art of Problem Solving prealgebra book.  And then I watched his brain explode.  I have to admit, it's not an easy book to follow.  It starts off by saying, "Hey look, we're going to introduce you to proofs!" and then uses half a dozen of them in the first few pages.  Whew.  Overwhelming.  But he's starting to get the hang of it.  (I say that, and he just handed me a paper of incorrect answers... be right back while we figure these out together.)  I'm happy for him to do as much as he wants in the remaining three weeks we have in our school year, and if he loses it over summer, he loses it.  I'm not getting rid of the book for a while yet.

2.  We meet with the school psychologist again next week to go over the test results of both kids' testing.  Apparently the forms that Oz and I filled out have triggered some extra testing in a couple of areas - I assume in the autism spectrum and/or ADHD category - so he'll be doing that, too.  I'm really, really glad we're not trying to do all this in the middle of next school year.  Getting the process started early has been nice.  Here's hoping we can get the 504 set up prior to August.

3.  Boo has her spring violin recital tonight.  At this point, she's kind of blasé about the whole thing.  Can't blame her; I rather am, too.  She wants to take some time over summer break to work up some fun stuff.  I'm looking forward to that as well.

4.  I went to a gym for the first time in my life on Monday night.  It wasn't bad.  I can't decide if I want to join or not.  On the one hand, if I'm paying for it, I know I'll go, and I'll work out, and I do want to get in shape.  On the other hand, I'm not sure I got any better workout than I do here at home when I do make myself exercise.  I'm debating.

5.  Summer break is going to be interminably long this year.  I warned Oz last night that the household may descend into actual chaos since I'll have the kids for three months straight with little to no structure whatsoever.  Doodlebug has one week of camp, and right now Boo is set up for one week of morning acting camp and wants to attend a horse-riding day camp, and I may even let her sign up for a one- or two-day sewing camp, because all of those together roughly equal the total of the cost for Doodlebug's away camp, but regardless of how many camps I sign them up for, I'm going to have at least one child with me at all times.  Last year they were both gone for a week - well, Doodlebug was at away camp and Boo was at a day camp - and I was insanely productive during those days.  I cleaned out closets, painted the school room, ran a bunch of errands that needed to be run but that nobody wanted to run with me, and met up with a friend or two for coffee sans kids... it was glorious.  I'm rather sad that I won't get that break this year.

6.  Boo has suddenly forgotten how to math.  Seriously, in the last week all mathematical ability has flown out the window.  She's been sitting there staring at her math paper for 45 minutes.  She won't ask for help.  She won't let herself take a break.  She won't try, either, though.  She just sits and stares and has convinced herself it's all too hard.  I'm chalking it up to end-of-year doneness and the cold she's been fighting, because I don't think there's anything else going on.  She knows the stuff; she's just having a mental block.

7.  People around here are preemptively freaking out about a storm system that's supposed to move through over the weekend.  I feel no such mental stress.  I'll clean out the closet under the stairs on Sunday if it comes to that, but I'm not very worried.  Yet.  When the red and black start to crop on the radar, then I'll worry.  Ain't nobody got time for worrying now!

8.  I cancelled the boy's orthodontic appointment that was scheduled for early May.  We have decided to nix the braces for now.  Just easier all 'round, and if he wants them when he's an adult, fine.  Right now it'd just be for cosmetic purposes and he doesn't care. 

And now the boy wants to use the computer for writing.  I s'pose I should let him, huh? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stress & Testing

The public schools have had their annual tests over the last couple of weeks.  I remember taking the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills when I was in elementary school, and while there was some emphasis placed on getting a good night's sleep and eating breakfast and all that rigamarole, I don't think it quite had the same impact that it has today, and I certainly don't remember actually giving a rat's hindquarters about it.

To be fair, I test well.  I could usually 'get' what test-takers are after, and I like to think I was pretty good at weeding out crappy answers.  Thus, I always scored in the 99th percentile in everything.  I'm not saying that to brag; I don't consider myself any smarter than a lot of other people who don't test well.  I just could work that particular system.

On Monday I hauled Doodlebug and Boo in for testing at the public school administration building.  Doodlebug worked with a school psychologist for his part, since his testing was more extensive; Boo was supposed to have taken hers separately.  However, the woman who had her tests had gotten stuck in a meeting and her office, understandably, was locked.  So we had to reschedule.  It worked out well in the end because after 2.5 hours, Doodlebug still wasn't finished, so we set up a time for the kids to come in today (Thursday) so they could both be done at the same time.

Today, back we went.  Now, before we went in on Monday, I had told the kids several things:
1.  You will not know everything.  They are going to ask you questions that they know are beyond your level just to see if you can do them or can figure them out.  Skip them.  It's okay to say, "I don't know."
2.  You are smart.  I know this.  They will see this.  Don't worry.
3.  If you need help, ask.  Nobody is going to get you in trouble for asking for help.

Doodlebug, of course, didn't have any issues since he was working face-to-face with someone for most of his tests.  Boo, however, was largely on her own, and I guess she had somehow expected the math questions to be just like what she was used to on her math worksheets here at home, and she got really upset initially.  The psychologist got her straightened out - he did a few questions with her orally to get her jump-started and then she was all right - and then she said the reading and spelling questions were easy.

So it's done, and now we wait.  Both kids are completely brain-fried, and I don't blame them.  It took Doodlebug almost two hours again today to complete his stuff, and Boo took nearly two hours herself.  That's a lot of brainpower being used, especially after doing some school today.  It's interesting to see how they're handling their stress.  Doodlebug is parked in front of the Wii; Boo has taken the dog for a walk and is now running around outside hooting and singing at the top of her lungs.

No matter how they do - and I suspect they both did just fine - I am proud of them.  I know they're progressing and have the capability to learn.  I know they did their best.  I'm anxious because I'm a mom and that's what us mom types do.  I know that if they did poorly (which, again, I doubt) it will be a reflection on me to some extent, but at the same time I know that if they did well, I'm just as likely to turn around and say that they did well because they're really smart kids who can absorb things easily (which is also true).  And I'm not good at waiting.

Hope everyone has a beautiful weekend, and if you celebrate Easter, have a good one!

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Son, the Unique One

We went to see the retinal specialist this morning.  Our appointment was at 7:45, and when we got the paperwork in the mail a couple days ago, I was not encouraged.  For one thing, it said I would need to allow three hours for an initial visit.  For another, it said that Doodlebug would need to bring sunglasses because they dilate eyes on every visit.  Makes sense for an office dedicated to peering deep into the pupils of every patient.

I discovered when we got there that they run an interesting ship.  It's an efficient ship, I'll give them that.  They open at 7:30, for one thing, which is the earliest I've ever seen any doctor's office open.  We got called back around 8, and they took us to the first room, which was the basic vision check room.  It was a tiny, narrow space, and Boo wound up wedged in the front corner on the floor.  They don't often get kids in there, or parents with kids in tow.  I was the youngest in the waiting room by some 30 years, and Doodlebug... well, the looks he got when the tech called his name and not mine were rather interesting.  The tech took some vitals and checked Doodlebug's vision (an easy 20/20, just like it always is, with the exception of not being able to see some of the letters with his left eye due to the 'line' that we were there for in the first place).  Then she put the drops in his eyes and we waited for them to dilate before we moved to room #2, where she took some photos of his retina and checked pressure.  Then we moved to room #3, where we actually saw the doctor.  He came in and did even more checking. 

In the end, he sat back in his chair, looked at me, and said, "If you're looking for a diagnosis, I don't think I can give you one.  His eyes look perfect."  The retinal scan was perfectly normal, the pressure scans showed that the fluid seemed to be in the right place and have the right pressure, the fluid itself looked clear, etc.  The best he can figure is it's just a weird manifestation of Doodlebug's amblyopia that he's had since his strabismus correction when he was 2.  He dictated a letter to our referring physician [Side note: After he got off the phone, he told me what he'd done, which I had listened to and knew what he'd said and made my own assessments based on the technical version he gave the ophthalmologist. I told him I knew what he'd been doing because I had previously done medical transcription, and he laughed and apologized and said that he always felt sorry for those folks because of how fast and badly he figured he talked.  Of course, I'd had no problems understanding him and thought he'd have been an easy doctor to work for!  I told him that, and he said it made him feel better.  It's always nice to give someone their daily odd compliment.], and we were out of there, potentially never to return.

All this is, I suppose, good.  We don't have to go back, and there's nothing special we have to do (though I think it would be good for Doodlebug's long-term eye health if I made him use that eye once in a while... he's so right-eye dominant that I fear his left eye may just, like, quit if he doesn't ever use it).  The down side is that there's no way to 'fix' it, either.  Not a big deal but rather frustrating.  I'm a 'fix-it' sort of person.

This boy... he blows my mind.  I've never met his equal when it comes to having benign abnormalities.  When he was born with his 12 fingers and 12 toes, it wasn't a health hazard, but it had to be corrected.  When he was 2 and had his strabismus, same deal.  Then he had his tonsils and adenoids out not because they were infected (though apparently the backs of his tonsils were grossly cryptic and did need to come out, anyway) but because they were so large they were causing him to have sleep issues and snore.  He's seen an endodontist because of his missing/small teeth; I didn't even know what an endodontist was until we had to see that one.  Now a retinal specialist.  Oh, and we did genetic testing recently, too, to rule out a couple of issues (the panel came back clear... we're still supposed to go get an echocardiogram, just to be on the extra-safe side, but I'm of two minds about it... and that would be yet another specialist). 

I'm extremely grateful that none of his issues will cause him any long-term problems, I really am.  I know there are so many families out there who may only have to see one or two doctors but have to see them all the time and their children have to live with certain issues and even disabilities for a lifetime (I'm ignoring Doodlebug's ADHD and autism spectrum issues for the moment, because those don't really count in the grand scheme of things, if he can learn to function well enough).  I just hate that every time I think we're done with specialists and doctor visits, something new crops up. 

Ah, well.  He's outside with his sister now, planting the herbs and other stuff they got yesterday.  He wants to create his own garden space this fall so he can plant his own actual garden next spring.  And I'm glad that he can plan for that and not have to worry about things like vision.  I'm lucky I have such healthy kids.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Working in Dirt

It has been a good, long while since I've dug in the dirt.  I had a little bit of an herb garden (wow… I typed 'harden' for 'garden'… it's been that sort of a week) last year, but with the exception of the rosemary, it didn't do very well.  Part of the reason is the spot where there is a ready-made garden is just too shady and moist for most herbs.  They like the heat and the dry a lot more than a lot of other plants, ya know?  So when they died, I didn't bother to replace them.  I just pulled them up and sighed and said, "Maybe next year."

It's next year now.  After the herb debacle, I got on Ye Olde Interwebs and hunted down some good shade garden plans.  After looking through so many my head was starting to spin, I ran across this one (and no, Better Homes & Gardens doesn't know I exist, so don't consider this an endorsement):  Cold-Climate Shade Garden Plan.  There were two reasons that I liked this plan.  #1 was that it looked like it was ready-made to fit the space that I had.  #2 was PERENNIALS.  I {heart} perennials.  Anything that will come back season after season without being repurchased and replanted makes my black-thumbed gardening heart sing.

The only thing that caught my attention, as I'm sure it caught some of yours, was that the garden said it was a 'cold-climate' garden.  But I looked closer and most of the plants were hardy to Zone 8 or 9.  I live in Zone 7.  The only one that might have been a bit iffy was the plant right down in front, lady's mantle.  I just shrugged and mentally (and now physically) swapped it out for Roman chamomile.  Every other plant had at least one version that would work quite well around here, and I suspected I could find most of the plants at a local nursery.

So today that is exactly what I did.  The kids and I piled into the car and went plant shopping.  I didn't exactly stick with the original garden plan, but it's close.  The kids begged for a few plants of their own, too, and I'll take a few pictures of those in the coming days.  Doodlebug was especially keen, and he even requested (and got) a curry plant, among others.  My hands reeked for hours after touching that thing.

Anyway, we got home, and I dug right in.  It was a beautiful afternoon, around 85 degrees, and it's supposed to rain this weekend, which makes it a perfect time to plant.  I picked up three bags of potting soil and already had a couple bags of mulch on hand, as well as some plant food, so I went to town digging up soil, moving rocks (in the photo below, you can see the rocks behind the drainpipe… they used to be smack dab in the middle of the garden), adding potting mix, planting, feeding/watering, and mulching.  It felt so good to get a little bit dirty, and now I have a very nice garden to show for it:

How it will fare, of course, remains to be seen, but I have some lavender, chamomile, geraniums, hostas, astilbes, bleeding hearts, and snapdragons (which aren't very good perennials but were too pretty to pass up).

I have a garden again.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Surprise Company

Oz and I have been married for nearly 14 years. In that time, I have talked to and/or met only one member of his dad's family - his dad. We've gotten a few Christmas cards from aunts/uncles and there are a few folks on Facebook who show up in my 'People You May Know' list because they're on Oz's friend list, but I hadn't met them.

Oz's dad is one of six kids.  He's number... five, I think?  That sounds right, because I think he and my dad are the same number (except my dad is #5 out of 12).  Anyway, when we went to Australia, I met three of the other siblings.  A fourth, one of the older siblings, passed away while we were there; I didn't meet him, though we did go to the hospital so Oz could visit his aunt and say goodbye... not that we were hoping it would be goodbye, but it was. And the last sibling lives in New Zealand and we just didn't have the time/money/ability to get over and visit him.

We also didn't get to visit any of Oz's cousins while we were there. But his cousins, like Oz and his brothers, aren't exactly static.  Hardly anyone lives in or near the Sydney area.  In fact, one of them lives in Japan right now and another is here in the United States.  He's down in Florida, so it's not as if we're neighbors, but recently he got in touch with Oz and said if he was ever this way, he'd drop in.  Well, of course, who really travels to Tulsa if they don't have to?  So I never expected to meet him unless we went down his way.

Yesterday, however, Oz called me on the way home from work and said, "Oh, by the way, my cousin is driving to Dallas from Kansas City and may drop in."

Um... what?  Long story short, we offered him a bed for the night, which he accepted.  I'm sure sleeping in a bedroom with a lizard wasn't exactly what he'd had in mind for the night, but I also suspect it was better than driving till 2 or 3 a.m... though after meeting him, I have no doubt he'd have had the stamina to do just that. 

So now I've met a cousin. 

It seems like family grows not in small, planned increments, but in leaps and bounds.  And it's nice to feel more in touch.  As long as it remains drama-free, of course!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ugh, Monday


Doodlebug is in his room right now.  Theoretically he's working on his writing, but I'm pretty sure he's taking a nap because I'm pretty sure he's been up in the middle of the night on electronics or eating or doing something he knows he's not supposed to do.  One day I swear I'm going to install a motion-sensing camera outside his room with an app that links to my phone so it'll ding and wake me up whenever he starts his nocturnal wanderings.

Or not.  I like sleep a lot more now than I used to.

Anyway, he's in his room theoretically working because he decided this morning was a good time to conduct an experiment with mom.


Title:  FINE

-- One PMSing mother
-- Monday
-- Tweenage attitude
-- Grammar

Objective:  To see how far one can push one's mother before she threatens actual bodily harm.

Hypothesis:  I suspect it will take less than 30 seconds, if experiment is conducted properly, before Mom totally loses her shit.

1.  Half-ass your way through a grammar assignment.  Make sure to ask Mom to help you complete the work before you've actually read the lesson to see if she's as big a sucker as you think she is.
2.  Turn in said half-assed grammar assignment.  Start throwing a giant tantrum when you get approximately 20% of the questions wrong (mostly because you didn't read the lesson).
3.  Ignore Mom when she tries to get your attention to calm you down.
4.  Start yelling, "FINE," repeatedly at the top of your lungs every time your mother opens her mouth.


Observations:  My hypothesis was correct.  While I did not have a stopwatch during the experiment, I would estimate that from the time I initiated Step #4 to the time that I received results was approximately 25 seconds.

Conclusion:  Mom is nuts.  


Clearly all this is my fault.  And yeah, I lost my temper at the dude.  But for heaven's sake, it's ridiculous, isn't it?  You try to be nice, you try to help them, and all they want to do is pick a fight.  And I'm really, really not good at backing down when someone wants to throw their hat in the ring.  I'm better than I used to be, but if you act like a turd, things will not go well for you.  I'm just sayin'.

So he's in his room until he can get his crap done.

Boo is fine.  She's finished school and practiced her violin and is currently researching meteorology just for the fun of it.


Got a call this morning from the ophthalmology office as well.  Doodlebug has an appointment with the retinal specialist on Friday morning at an hour so ungodly that I'm pretty sure the doctor is coming in early just to fit us in.  I'm grateful, but I am not going to be human; I'm usually not even out of bed at the time of that appointment.  I'm just hopeful that I can figure out how to program the coffee pot so that I can at least stumble out of the house with a life-giving beverage in my hand.  I need the ability to ask coherent, intelligent-sounding questions.


Hello, Monday.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

You Mean the Weekend is Over Already?!?

Boo and I were sitting side-by-side while I drove to the grocery store today (and for all you car-seat-lovin', kid-in-the-front-seat-hatin' folks out there, she's 4'10" and 85 lbs.) when we passed by a church that had obviously just finished its service, and cars were streaming out of the parking lot.

"I guess it is that time," I remarked to Boo, and she gazed at the church for a moment.  Then she asked, "It's Sunday?"

Yes, my dear, I told her.  It's Sunday.  This is why we didn't have school yesterday and why we slept till 10 a.m. and then went to a picnic to meet my brother-in-law's girlfriend (very nice) and then came home and oozed until I left to visit another friend for the sake of hanging out and chatting.  It's why I made sure the grocery shopping was done and the lesson plans and worksheets are printed and the house is at least partially presentable, with the exception of the formal dining room where the refrigerator leaked under the wall and under the carpet and we've basically taken the room apart to dry things out and are just thankful that there doesn't seem to be any real damage.  So yes… it's Sunday.  Time is flying.

That said, I cannot wait until summer vacation gets here.  We only have six more weeks of school left, and after that, they'll get the longest summer vacation they'll ever have in their lives.  We'll be done May 16. Ordinarily we would go back in early July, thus giving the kids about two solid months of break.  But since Boo (and probably Doodlebug) will be attending public school in the fall, they won't go back until the middle of August.  They will actually have an entire three months of vacation.

I'm going to need all the heavenly help I can get, because the preadolescent masses are going to get bored.

Part of me wants to get these last few weeks over as quickly as possible.  We'll wrap up Math-U-See Zeta and give Doodlebug a brief start on pre-algebra, make sure Boo has her division facts down, do a writing project or two (I'm going to see if the kids are interested in writing a play), finish studying the human body, do a study of ancient Rome, and polish off their grammar books… and that's about it.

The other part of me never wants this school year to end.  Boo is still very excited about the idea of going to school next fall, even if she experiences occasional bouts of nerves about meeting new people and going to a new school with new routines and new teachers, but I think she'll be fine and really, if she's honest, so does she.  I suspect she'll run into some girl drama sooner or later, but it's inevitable. She would run into that even if she hadn't been homeschooled.  Doodlebug is still not particularly keen on the idea, but he's coming around.  The other day he asked if he made some new friends if I'd let him play Minecraft with them, and of course I said yes.  Just not on the computer and possibly not HERE.  Not until he can demonstrate long-term responsibility.  But he's working on it.  I think his problems, if there are any, will be immediately obvious and he'll settle in better the longer he's there.  It could just be wishful thinking on my part, of course.  We'll see.

The point is, time is flying.  Doodlebug is half-asleep on the couch because I suspect he's about to experience another growth spurt; Boo has changed her earrings four times this week (which is more than she's changed them in the last four years combined, I think) and painted her fingernails all by herself the other day.  They weren't perfect, but they weren't bad, either.  They're growing up, whether I like it or not, and I've had more discussions with more moms about bras and periods and crushes and funky boy-smell in the last month than I've ever had.

And so it isn't just that the weekend is over already.  It's that this phase of life is almost over.  It's just all going too quickly.  I want to live in the present, seize each moment, but I'm not very good at that.  Still, I'm going to do my best between now and May, and then between May and August, to seize what I can.

What do you do when you feel like an entire segment of your life is coming to an end?  Do you mourn?  Get nostalgic?  Worry?  Get excited?  What do you do?

Friday, April 4, 2014

'Responsibility' is a 4-Letter Word

I went to bed last night optimistic about today. I really did. The plan was to get up, start a couple loads of laundry, do school (what little school we have on Fridays), run a couple of errands, attend our homeschool group meeting, come home, fix dinner, and relax.  Oz was going to run one of my errands for me so I wouldn't have to drive clear across town (he'll be 2 miles from that particular errand, which is far closer than I would be with my planned schedule today), and I couldn't really foresee anything happening that would screw up my plans.

I forgot, however, the most important detail: I have children. Chaos machines. Engineers of things not going the way they should.

My first clue that the day was going to be shot to shit came when I looked out the front window at the curb and the trash can wasn't sitting there. Trash is supposedly Oz's job. Not that we have gender-specific job roles or anything, but he is the one who leaves the house each morning, and so taking the trash to the curb has been his job, more or less, for years. I used to be more understanding when he would forget, because at our old house, everyone was responsible for their own trash service. Some of our neighbors burned their trash; others used companies that didn't have pick-up on the same day we did; and all our neighbors were fairly spread out. It was easy to forget. Now there's no excuse. EVERYONE puts out their trash on Friday, and we live in a cul-de-sac. EVERYONE's trash cans are visible. Our neighbor's trash can actually goes right next to ours beside our basketball goal.

So I had to take out the trash. While I was having the kids empty the upstairs cans, I asked Doodlebug if he'd taken his medicine. "No," he said, "but I will. Oh, and Tom's out of worms."

I have asked the boy repeatedly to tell me when we're 2-3 days out from needing worms - or anything else, for that matter. And to be fair, he did tell me yesterday that he was almost out of worms, and that was one of the errands I had on my mental list to run today. I did, however, expect that I wouldn't HAVE to run that errand today if push came to shove and he lollygagged his way through school like he's done most of this week. Now I have no choice.

Then he went to take his medicine. He pulled out the container of Vyvanse, which we're giving him a low dose of right now because the Intuniv alone wasn't cutting the mustard, and no, I do not want to hear that diet changes will fix my kid because they won't, I've tried, and I don't need judgment from random trolls, anyway, and I noticed there wasn't much of a rattle.

"Doodlebug, how many of those do you have left?"

"Hm?  Oh.  Um.  Two."


Don't get me wrong. I'm glad he's been taking it. He's retaining his math, and he's far less aggressive and far more focused when he's on it. And I'm glad I caught the problem before we went into the weekend and came out med-less on Monday. But... BUT! Vyvanse is a Schedule II drug, which means I have to go into the doctor's office and physically pick up the prescription each month. And his pediatrician's office is on the other side of town, miles away from any other errand I potentially had to run today.

On any other day, I would just toss going to homeschool group to the wind, run all the errands, and possibly take the kids to the park to run for a while, maybe let Doodlebug take his roller skates or something. However, I agreed to give a friend a ride home from group today, so I don't feel like I can bail.

I hate days like this. I hate when I think I have things planned out neatly and life interferes and gets things all messy. I realize this is a personal problem. But it's still irritating.


In other news, I called the pediatric ophthalmologist with an update on Doodlebug's eye today. It is both better and not better, and I'm not sure what will happen when the doctor gets into the office (he's in surgery this morning) and gets the report. The black line (Doodlebug's final description of the line was black with white edges) has faded to a medium-gray that is somewhat translucent, but he's getting occasional flashes around it now. He says the flashes aren't there all the time, and they're usually white but sometimes orange- or yellow-tinted. I don't even know what to make of all that. So I dumped on the poor ophthalmologist tech, and he said the doctor will probably give me a call later today.  Lovely.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Power of Words

I aspire.

Isn't that a powerful phrase? It's just a short sentence - two words, one subject and one verb, but to me, it means so much.

I have always aspired to be a writer. It sort of happened for a few years after high school when I worked as a journalist, but I discovered soon enough it wasn't the field I really wanted to be in. I have this blog.  I have written little things here and there - letters of recommendation, articles for another blog, etc. - but nothing that has really demanded any time or effort or paid much more than a pittance or a note of thanks.

Last year, a story popped into my head. The characters demanded to be heard, their story to be told. I wrote about 50 pages, and I haven't touched it since. Every time I look at the file, the thoughts flood my head, but I'm not usually in a place to write.

"That seems rather ridiculous," I hear you say. "You're writing right now... why couldn't you go and work on it while you're sitting there?"

The short answer is that I don't have time. The longer and more accurate answer is that once I start typing, I can't stop. Yes, I experience writer's block from time to time, and the story simply won't flow until the character speaks again, but until I reach either a logical stopping point or the character stops talking, I type. It's a compulsion. I don't feel like I have a choice. Once the words start flowing, I can't interrupt them or stop midstream to do something else.

Yesterday a second story idea popped into my head. It arrived around 1 a.m., as all great ideas do, but thankfully I was coherent enough at that hour to fix it in my memory, and in the morning it was still there, growing louder with each passing moment. I tried ignoring it. I know that I don't have the time to devote to another story right now. But the main character wouldn't stop talking. She needed to be heard.

And so, rather reluctantly, because I knew what would happen, I opened a Word document and began to type. (Doodlebug saw me punching furiously at the keys and asked, "Mom, what do you do with all these stories?" and I answered him honestly. "I never finish them.") By 10 last night, I had written more than 5000 words on nearly 10 pages. I was only able to stop because the character went to bed. She's already up this morning and wants to tell me what happens next. I can't put it down right now because I moved the working document to my other computer, and I'm not tech-savvy enough to reach through the network and grab it off the screen. But she's there. She's talking.

One day I will be a writer. Will I ever be published? Unlikely. But right now the possibility is out there, the stories itching to be written. I just wish I had the time.

What do you wish you had more time for?