Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I awoke this morning with a whole list of things I am Thankful for swirling around in my head. Here, in no particular order, is my list:
  • I am thankful that my children are having a wonderful time with my parents and my sister’s family, while my husband and I are enjoying private time in beautiful (but chilly) Quebec City.

  • I am thankful for my beautiful children, for the imagination which runs in their spirits, for the generally good health they have been blessed with, for the love I feel for them, for the skills they all are learning each and every day. I am thankful for the opportunity and ability to see each of them grow into their own individual person, so different from each other and from anyone else in the universe.

  • I am thankful for my husband, because we are best friends and sweethearts and we have so much fun together just walking around and talking. I am thankful that we both enjoy things like talking to strangers and meeting people, being the host/hostess, having friends, traveling around the world, exploring new places, wandering bookstores for hours at a time, learning and investigating ideas.

  • I am thankful that I live in a time when, as a woman, there is no hindrance to my ability to study the texts and stories of my religion. I am thankful to live in such a vibrant Jewish community, to have institutions such as Hebrew College nearby for me to study, online resources including just about every holy book in the canon, Jewish Day Schools in abundance (last Shabbat, in the K-1-2 service, there were 3 different day schools represented among the children, plus the religious school!).

  • I am thankful for my brain, which allows me to observe, appreciate and understand all of this!

  • I am thankful for my girlfriends (and today I’m listing you by name!): Renee, for her sweet and gentle way mixed with her quirky and funny sarcasm; Jody, for her strength and organization and sheer joy in life; Debka, for her seriousness and caring; Cheska, for her earth-mother feel and wild-woman reality; Ruth, for her thoughtfulness and fun; Brenda, for her caring and her love of Judaism and her children; Michelle, for her cautious ways and infectious laugh; Nicki, for her goofiness, her guidance and the insane amount of clothing she hands down to my daughter; Debbie, for her wisdom and her guidance in the Jewish-Special Needs arena; Sara, for her warmth and sweetness; Cari, for her own strength in the face of Special Needs and our customary “rock talks” even when they don’t take place on a rock any more; Elyse, for her dedication to her projects and her quick thinking; Toni, for her humor and her knowledge of people; and all the other friends whom I am sure I am forgetting to name but I am never forgetting in my heart. You are all special women, and I am so fortunate to have you in my life!

  • I am thankful for my ability to be friends, real friends, with men also: Peet, who is the Kahuna to my Gidget; Michael D., my geek-twin; Eli, sweet and gentle and patient with his beautiful family; Michael K., a friend since 7th grade, who patiently allowed me to be the tag-along tomboy, then continued to stay in touch as we became adults, and who now, improbably so, also has a daughter with DS (and a beautiful family in general). Again, there are more, I’m sure, but all of them are important to me, important to how I see the world.

  • I am thankful that my sister-in-law, Laura, yesterday delivered a healthy baby girl, Lilien Eve, 6 lb 4 oz, 18”. This “thankful” is tempered, however. I am thankful that both Laura and the baby are healthy, but so sad about a host of things: my mother-in-law was not “allowed” to go to the hospital to be with her only daughter because my FIL wouldn’t “let” her; instead, Laura’s erstwhile boyfriend was there with her, and at the end of the day, it was his family who got to hold the baby (however, I am willing to take it as a possibly good sign that he did stay with her all day – maybe he’s not as horrible as I thought). I hope this all turns out ok. I feel guilty for not being available to her, but that same guilt made it clear that it was very wise of me to plan to be out of the country at this time!

  • I am thankful for the decently good health my family has. Yes, we all have our “stuff”, but it is really so minor compared to what other people are going through. My skin cancer was quickly discovered and easily cured, and now I have access to a wonderful dermatologist and RN, who are overly cautious and willing to test just about any spot. David’s Crohn’s Disease can be annoying for him, but he also has a great doctor, and usually the medications he receives keeps it fairly well controlled. Sam is getting terrific reading guidance to learn how to cope with Dyslexia, and he uses his time with his therapist really well. Micah’s food allergies are also controllable, and he is so good-natured about what he can and can’t eat (and we’ve been so lucky to have nut-free schools!). Sofia’s Down syndrome has brought us nothing but joy – joy in the ability to appreciate every milestone, joy in the way our friends and our community have showered her with love, joy in the new people we have met because of her extra chromosome, joy in the fact that she is really “high functioning” (as much as I hate that phrase) because she can do so much already. I am thankful that her cardiac issues are so minor, and that her gastric issues do seem to be settling. I am thankful that all of us have wonderful healthcare professionals, who are all willing to work as a team to take the best care of us.

  • I am thankful for my extended family. I love my grandma, and am so thankful that even at my age, I can still enjoy special conversations with her every week. My parents are loving and caring, and so willing to take care of their grandchildren! My sister and her family are also loving, and my sons have so much fun with their cousins. My own cousins, spread across the country, are all interesting and fun people, and my aunts and uncles have always been fascinating personalities for me to learn from. I miss my great-aunt Toby, who died last summer, and my grandpa Benny, who died 2 years ago, as well as Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Ralph, both of whom have been gone for a while now, but I am thankful for the time I did get to spend with each of them, and for the ability to know them all even after I became an adult. You see different things as a child than you do as an adult.

  • I am thankful for the safety and prosperity that we enjoy, that allows us to do all the things we want to do.

Ok, now that I have typed all of this, my brain is settling back down. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

Oy, what a week! And it's only Monday ;)

Well, tomorrow, after the day-school student concert (which I have to videotape), the kids leave with my parents for a week in Connecticut, and David and I are off to Quebec City! Hooray!!!

However, I'm handing over Sam, who has some sort of winter virus (he gets red spots on his cheeks and very dry skin around his lips); Micah, whose eyes "felt like they had lots of sand and dust in them" today; and Sofia, who has...

1. a stuffy nose
2. diarrhea (from the stuffy nose)
3. a yeast infection (from the diarrhea)
4. horrible diaper rash (from the yeast infection)
5. croup (because we were silly and visited our friends for Friday night dinner even though both their little ones had croup); and
6. a double-ear infection.

Well, at least she's on antibiotics now. The doctor and I had to practically sit on her to keep her still while doc pulled large clumps of wax out of both ears. And this morning, before we went to the pediatrician, we had her first visit from the public pre-school's director. Miss Sofia croupy-coughed throughout the session, but otherwise did very well (right up until she fell off a chair and split open her lip!).

(Oh yeah, 7. a split lip).

But now that we've seen the doc and gotten meds, I feel slightly better about handing her over to my mom for the week. Slightly.

I went craft-fair hopping on Sunday afternoon (all by myself) for a few hours, and got a few gifts for people.

Mazal Tov to my cousin J and her hubby J on the birth of baby Lily Iris this morning.

Mazal Tov to David's cousin H and her hubby P on the birth of baby Ian Robert 2 weeks ago.

(Now we're all waiting for David's sister, who is due next Saturday).

Mazal Tov to my friend S's mom for her recent marriage. (Not so sure S thinks it's worthy of a Mazal Tov, though!)

Deepest condolences to my online friend A on the loss of her best friend.

I have to go finish packing - I think I've gotten the kids' stuff done, now it's just my stuff. David is responsible for his own gear!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone; drive carefully, drink responsibly, eat thoughtfully. And try not to stress too much!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The return of Smokey

After I dropped Miss Sofia at her playgroup today ("bye bye mama"), I did some shopping. We'd broken the ancient plastic paper towel holder a few weeks ago, and it was time for a change. Well, not only did I find one, but I got really inspired, went to the Container Store, and got stuff to clear up a lot of space on my kitchen counters! New drying rack (smaller and nicer), glass pouring bottles for the Olive and Canola oils instead of the giant plastic bottles. Things like that. It's nice to be able to accomplish so much for so little.

Then I went SHOPPING. The day-school had a fundraising event at a local boutique, and I went a little nuts. I actually had to go home to get more money! I might return a couple of items, but I got the coolest jean jacket (really comfy and it fits perfectly) and a pretty grey long skirt that I can wear to shul.

Miss Sofia fell asleep in the car on the way to my therapist's office, but she woke up when I tried to transfer her (to my coat spread out on the floor in D's hallway). Sofia rested the entire session, not even standing up until the very end, so it worked out ok.

Picked up Sam (Micah stayed on the playground with friends) and dropped him at HIS therapist's office, then raced back to get Micah, then BACK to pick up Sam. A quick stop to drop off library books (the Framingham library does not have a drive-through book drop!), and then home... Sam having a complete melt-down. He proceeded to scream at me almost continuously for about 3 hours. And Sofia got a massive diaper rash (the food from last night's dinner did not stay well in her belly), so she was really whiny and uncomfortable, and then Micah wanted lots of attention, so....

"Smokey" the dog has returned. Unlike "Fire" and "Koda", who are just invisible, Smokey actually appears, looking exactly like Micah pretending to be a dog (shades of Sybil). But Micah has been mourning the fact that Smokey had moved away a few weeks ago (to go live with his real owners), so he was much happier when Smokey arrived. It's amazing how kids cope.

Sigh. I'm beat now. Fighting with Sam, or rather trying hard NOT to fight, or scream, or burst into tears, really is exhausting.

OH! But on the wonder-front, Miss Sofia is now fairly strongly signing things like "Want-More-Crackers-Please" and she's attempting to verbalize a lot of those every-day words, too! I can't at this moment remember which, but several were really clear today. COOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL! It was fun to watch her on the playground at the end of her playgroup today. She's the only girl, with about 6 boys. She certainly holds her own! She kept perching herself at the top of the toddler slide, but every once in a while, one of the boys would come and shove her down the slide. She'd say "Whee", and then make them go down the slide too - so that she could get right back to her perch! TeeHee!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life in Suburbia

How is it that, just as Sofia and I were about to start walking around the Mall, the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the building?

Why is it that we were seemingly the ONLY ones to leave? (a friend of ours made it down 63 steps in the Twin Towers just in time because he left when the alarms started, so I don't mess around with fire alarms!)

And how come I managed to exit as far away from our car as possible, including having to walk down 6 ramps of the "Diamond" parking garage?

Ah, the joys of life in the suburbs.

Oh, and since David was coming home late from New Hampshire today, I took the kids to Friendly's for dinner after Tae Kwan Do. Yippie. They do not serve things like Vodka at Friendly's. Too bad.

Oh, and Micah's teacher mentioned to me that Micah because one of his friends' great-uncles had died and now all his friends' great uncles are dying. Micah can get very deep about death sometimes. We're not quite sure whose uncle is dead - possible his friend "Fire" (Fire is an imaginary person, but do NOT mention that fact to Micah!).

Here's Sofia, watching Muppet Show clips on YouTube:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

Sam reminded me this morning that it was Veteran's Day, and he warned me that he would be drawing lots of pictures of guns amd weapons today!

We had Micah's parent-teacher conference. I dropped the boys off with a friend for a playdate (two brothers, both best friends with my guys), and Sofia stayed in the babysitting in the gym - she was thrilled to have the run of the place.

Micah is doing REALLY well in kindergarten! I love this teacher, she's so enthusiastic and so on top of his needs. Because the school tries to specialize in "differentiated learning" (i.e. each kid learns at their own level), she's giving Micah lots of more challenging problems and activities to work on, but she's mindful of his frustration level. He's a really intense little guy. I'm happy (and not surprised) to report that he's a classroom leader, and he loves to get up and explain things to everyone.

We have Sam's Team meeting on Thursday. It was tough for David and I not to "compare" the two boys - some of the stuff that Micah is doing so well is still really hard for Sam. Som of the "age-appropriate" stuff didn't surprise us this time around, but I remember wondering about it with Sam.

This morning, Sam and Sofia were watching a Signing Times video, and Sam asked me if he sister would ever talk. When I reminded him that she already does talk, and has 40 verbal and 100 signs, he said that wasn't like "real" talking. Sigh.

Oh! The Concert! Well, first we all went to a restaurant in the North End (Italian section), and had a fantastic time. (We also had 4 bottles of wine for 8 people!). My friend R and I agreed that we could have stayed there all night. It was so much fun to be with these friends. And the "extra" couple that we had invited, David's friend from day-school and his wife, hit it off just fine with the other two couples; it turns out their daughter went to camp with J's daughter last summer!

The concert was funny/fun. I swear, there were only about 12 people under age 30 at the Garden. I also have not been to that part of town in years, and have never been to the new building (last concert I saw was at the original Boston Garden in 1987 - John Cougar Mellencamp!). So I was totally disoriented by the lack of overhead road and T-tracks!

The band sounded...well, like they were playing a charity concert for their drummer (who did earn his keep by working very hard). The hands of a 50+ old guitar player are NOT meant to be shown up-close on the giant screen of the arena! And Sting wasn't going for the high notes, which meant some of the more a-tonal songs just sounded plain old off-key. It was a little painful, musically. But fun.

We didn't get home until 12:30, much to our babysitter's chagrin, because J&M wanted to go out for drinks after (which was fun). And both David and I have tummy aches today (probably due to too much wine!), and David's already asleep; I'm not far behind...

Oh, here's an updated picture of Miss Sofia, that I took for a post on the T21 website today:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Nice Young Lady

I took Micah and Sofia to the playground today, for some much-needed fresh air and exercise. David and Sam went for a nice long hike around the reservoir.

While we were at the playground, a family came in with a pretty little 10 year old girl, who raced for the swingset. At that moment, I was de-sanding Sofia after she'd practically buried herself in the sandbox (I picked her up and got a faceful of sand from her coat hood!). The dad came over and started chatting with us, and it was clear that he knew all about DS. Yes, his daughter is also chromosomally enhanced. And such a lovely young lady. She came over to meet us, and remembered my name from that moment on. We kept chatting, and she helped Sofia on the slide and climbing the stairs.

It was so nice to meet a young person (not a toddler) with DS. She was a honey, and gave me a kiss on the hand when she met me and a big hug when we left.

Tonight David and I are off to see The Police. He's napping now, while I'm supposed to be doing Hebrew homework. The boys have a friend over, and Sofia is trashing the house (as usual). Can't wait for the babysitter!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just checking in

It was a busy week, but not much really happened. I kept Micah home from school on Tuesday because he started getting a cold too. Sofia was fairly stuffy-nosed all week, but she is progressively improving now. Sam was actually ok this week; minimal screaming, occasionally agreeable. Micah stayed healthy enough to go to school the rest of the week, but he stayed home last night (the rest of us had a dinner at shul; fortunately my mother's helper could stay with him).

Today we just hung out all day (actually, David went to work for several hours!). I sorted through lots of the piles of junk I'm storing in my room - Sofia's progress reports from Early Intervention, the boys' arts and crafts from school, etc. So much STUFF.

Now I'm working on HOMEWORK. I just finished the 2nd review (only 2 weeks late), and am about to launch into this week's lesson (last week was a make-up week, whew). I was supposed to have a phone conference with my teacher on Friday morning, but she didn't answer the phone when I called, I left a message and tried again, but she didn't call back, and then she emailed saying she'd been in her office for an hour waiting for my call. So obviously we didn't connect. Oh well. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up for real and not have to do special sessions with her, just the regular conferences with the class.

David has mostly lost his voice (that doesn't stop him from talking, of course!). He sounds like Brenda Vaccaro.

I updated Sofia's word list. She's got more than 100 signs and 40 verbals! Woohoo! She's so funny. She likes to use PlayDoh. The Developmental Specialist always has her use the Rifkin Chair (ok, I could not find a link TO a Rifkin Chair, but here is a similar chair. I did, however, find all sorts of links about kids with Autism being put into Rifkin chairs as punishment! That surprised me - Sofia loves to use her chair!). Anyway, so whenever Sofia wants to use PlayDoh, she says "roll-roll" and then climbs into her chair! She looks like such a big girl. When J first gave the chair to us, more than a year ago, she was so tiny, I couldn't imagine her using it. Now, it's just great for her. Thanks, J! (I'll get a photo up here soon).

Ok, back to Hebrew Homework. Tomorrow night, David and I (and several friends) are going to see The Police! (You know, Sting's other band...).

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's all "Relative"

Whew. We survived the weekend. And what a whirlwind it was.

After school Friday, Micah had his 6 year checkup. My babysitter met us there and took Sam home so they could do tutoring, and I took Micah and Sofia on some errands after the doctor's office. They both got flu shots.

Friday night was nice - a mom and her 2 sons from the day school came for Shabbat dinner, and we all had a lot of fun. But about 30 minutes before they arrived, both Sam and Sofia popped feers (Sofia's was probably form the flu shot, but I don't know what's wrong with Sam). Saturday morning it was pouring rain out, so we slept late and I made challah french toast for breakfast (yum!).

And then the fun began. We spent the weekend visiting with David's family. But that's not nearly as clear-cut as it sounds, since his father won't talk to/be in the same building with David's sister or either of David's grandmothers and especially not my parents. Sigh.

So that means we:
1. Met his parents at a youth soccer game (in 40 degrees and pouring rain), so they could present the trophy in memory of David's brother Larry (who was killed by a drunk driver when he was 13). Of course my in-laws were 30 minutes late, and my FIL had to make a big rambling speech, in the rain. I sat in the car with Micah and Sofia for an hour, because it was just too cold for them.

2. Went to an early dinner with my in-laws. But it's much easier for them to sit around and talk than it is for the kids. So after about 2 hours, the kids started getting really restless.

3. Sat in the car for another 20 minutes with the kids while David and his parents continued talking ouside in the cold (at least it had stopped raining).

4. Spent the next 3 hours at his maternal grandmother's house. Grandma R feels the need now to divest herself of all her "stuff" - and she's certainly got tons of "stuff" - so we came out of there with about 6 paintings, 2 shoe boxes and a large shopping bag full of "stuff". It was kind of fun. I'd rather get the important things now, while she can still remember the stories behind them. She gave us the kiddush cup her parents used at their wedding; I'll put a label on it before I put it in the cabinet. Oh, and Laura stopped by, so we got to see how the belly is growing.

5. Got to my parents' house at 9 pm to sleep over. Of course, we couldn't tell my inlaws where we were sleeping - they had suggested a hotel. When David finally did tell his mother, she didn't understand why we'd go there. (Uh, it's free, it's 10 minutes away, and they're my parents!). Sigh. But I had a nice visit with my folks, and the kids had fun.

6. Sofia, having stayed awake until after 10:30, then had night terrors at about 1 am, so I pulled her into bed with us. Then her nose got really stuffy, and she didn't stop moving and thrashing all night. Not very restful for any of us.

7. Left my folks' house at 9:30 to go meet my inlaws for a Lion's Club pancake breakfast. Of course they were late, and Sam was stressing about going into an unknown place (the Senior Center) with a lot of people. It was ok, 'though, and I got to see some friends of my parents, which was nice.

8. Then we went to visit David's paternal grandmother, who is going senile and is very angry at her son (my FIL), so all she did for 2 hours was rant to David. I let David and Sofia stay in the overheated house with her, and the boys and I played outside for 2 hours.

9. Our quick run to The Crown, the kosher meat market in West Hartford, was longer than expected due to a VERY slow deli counter, but I got to spend time with just Sam (the others stayed in the car), and saw some more family friends.

10. Then an hour drive south to David's cousin's house. This was my reward, because I really like his cousin, and the boys have fun playing with her son. She was due last week, but hasn't popped yet, so we all kept yelling at her tummy "Come out baby!". Her aunt and uncle and cousins were there when we arrived, so it was nice to see them for a little while.

11. We stayed until 7:30 (I'd brought deli), and got home around 10pm.


Oh, I won a pair of silver earrings in the Bloggy Giveaway!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

157 posts?!

Holy Cow! That's wild. All for hippos and Starbucks? And I thought the hippos were so lame that I just needed to sweeten the deal anyway ;) [No really, they are awfully cute, we just already had a very similar toy]

Well, I'm so glad to have participated in the Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway. This has been so much fun - and horribly addictive, so I can't wait for it to end! I have better things to do than sign up for all these prizes...but I can't remember exactly WHAT I'm supposed to be doing...MUST SIGN UP.

(Poor David is talking about something, but I'm trying to type...)

I had a talk with Sam's teacher and the SpecEd coordinator and the Curriculum Coordinator this afternoon. I've been concerned about the homework that's been coming home, whether it meets his adaptation needs appropriately. He is so tired at the end of the school day, that doing homework is just an emotional train-wreck even when he can do it easily. When it involves reading and comprehension and writing, it's a nightmare.

So it was a good talk. Basically, they will check with the reading consultant to make sure the homework is indeed in the correct format, and make changes as needed. The teacher or the reading specialist will make sure to jot me a note on the homework explaining the assignment better and giving me any notes I might need from the class. I will do more of the reading for Sam, taking that stress away (they are doing a lot of reading during school), so that he can concentrate on the content instead of the mechanics of reading.

This came to a head because of this week's homework. The paper had two paragraphs. Before the first, the instructions only said "Write the topic sentence" and after the second "Write the concluding sentence". I had Sam read both paragraphs, but he could not understand the content at all. I had to re-read them before he understood what they were about. So he wrote the sentences, and then the homework was sent back the next night with a note saying that he'd done one incorrectly, and he had no idea what it meant. So I needed to get it straightened out. Whew.