Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just a busy week

Whew. We made it back home in 24.5 hours. Because my husband is a complete FREAKZOID who does not need to eat, drink, sleep or pee.

Left Grandma's around 3:00. I drove up to St. Augustine, where we stopped, a little longer than we'd planned, for a yummy dinner. Then I drove again for another few hours. Switched with David mid-Georgia, a little before midnight.

He stopped once around 4am for gas, and I made the kids take a bathroom break. Then he drove again until 9:30, just into NJ. We stopped for breakfast and wake-up time, but after a half hour of breakfast, I thought David's head was going to explode. "We have to get going!"

Ok, so by 10:30, I was behind the driver's seat again, cruising along the NJ Turnpike. Didn't stop until right before CT, for a quick bathroom break, and then again in Farmington to hand the keys to Grandma's condo over to my father. Then straight home. We made it by 3:40 pm!

I took Sofia to ballet on Saturday morning, but turns out it was closed for vacation week. Bummer. David had to go into the office to get some stuff, but I called him to come home when my friend came to pick up the boys for a play date.

David left for the airport (to go to Germany) around 12:30, and it was just me and Sofia for the afternoon. Ahhhh.

Met up with the boys back at shul in the evening for the Purim Carnival. Sofia had a blast, and we stayed until the very end. I won a whole bunch of prizes in the raffle: gift cards for iTunes and the Arcade, half off membership to USY next year, and reserved parking on Kol Nidre!

Sunday morning I had to go back to shul for the Megillah reading (Book of Esther), but I left the kids (plus one extra sleep-over kid) home to play. We really did not much all day. Very lazy. In the evening I had chorus rehearsal, but I had to leave early because Sofia had gotten makeup all over herself and the boys could not get her into the bathtub. When I got home, they finally had gotten her into the bath, but the water was ice cold, and there was still tons of makeup all over her, and she was turning purple. Ugh!

Thank Heavens they all went back to school on Monday! I ran some errands and eventually made it to the gym, then shower and dress and lunch and pick up Sofia to go to the day school. We had a Shushan Purim celebration (in a "walled city", Purim is a two-day holiday), and Sam's class read snippets of the Megillah plus a storybook about it in English for all the other kids. Lots of costumes.

I started working on the school Yearbook, so of course I'm obsessed already. I think I'm making good progress. I'm trying to use Pages instead of my old version of InDesign. It's interesting; means I have to do a lot more photo editing in iPhoto first, including making all the black-and-white adjustments before I ever place the photos on the page. But I think it'll be cool.

Last night I went to my first ASHPAC (Ashland Parent Advisory Council) meeting, for a screening of the film "Monica and David" about a couple with Down syndrome who get married. It was interesting. I felt that both of them were excessively sheltered. I was struck by how upset Monica got when her routine was interrupted because they were moving. I can't imagine Sofia getting that upset about change; she seems to thrive on our chaos.

It was also interesting going to the meeting. We discussed the film a bit after it was over. And no one introduced themselves; I had to ask names. Everyone was nice, and most were familiar faces, but still strangers to me. Involved parents of kids with IEPs. But I still felt like the New Kid.

Today I had my lovely acupuncture session...aaaaahhhhhh...........

Then I got to visit the new classroom where Sofia will be pulled for her academics. Yes, we are going SubSep - the sub-separate classroom. She will still be attached to her regular homeroom, for things like art, music, pe, and lunch, but she'll get all her academic work done in this much smaller group. I am very excited about it, actually. There are only 5 other kids, so for Sofia it will be just like being in her MWJDS class. Same size classroom as her homeroom of 20 kids, so plenty of space. Lots of work stations all around the room. Very language-intense. And two of her best friends are in there!

The only thing I am worried about it one little boy, who we see at pick-up at the end of the day. He is in that classroom too, and I'm worried that Sofia might mimic some of his behaviors. I had a bit of a chat with the Team Leader; they are well on top of not letting anyone pick up anyone else's unwanted behaviors. But my little lady can be quite the mimic when she wishes. So hopefully she will see right away that he is not someone to mimic.

I'm excited for her to make the transition. I've spent all this time pushing for full inclusion, but really, at this point she does not do any of her academic work with the rest of her class anyway. She is either pulled into a corner to work with a SpEd teacher, or taken to another classroom for work. So that's not inclusion. I think this will be much better for her, and she will be able to progress faster without all the distractions of the large class.

On the other end of the (you'll pardon the pun) spectrum, Mr. Samuel took the math placement assessment today in preparation for Ashland High School. He took it at MWJDS, under the guidance of his learning specialist there, following all his IEP-outlined accommodations. But poor Sam absolutely melts under the pressure of a "test", and he was incredibly stressed. He finished a little more this evening with me as proctor, but there were things he'd done last year that he just could not remember. He is convinced he will get placed into a lower math class if he doesn't get a perfect score, and he is determined to be in Honors Math. It means a lot to him, since he also knows he will be in the lowest level for Reading (because that's where he will get the supports he needs).

So we'll see how it all goes. We'll hand the test into the middle school tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bittersweet week

It's 10:15 at night, and I'm sitting in the outside hallway at the Clubhouse, with Micah leaning against me (playing on his Nintendo DS). It's our last night here, in this place I've been coming for love and vacation since I was 14 years old.

We got to Grandma's house Monday afternoon, after a meandering drive down the coast. Stopped on the beach while David had a conference call - very cold and windy, but lovely. Micah and Sofia built a sandcastle on top of her toy horsey.

Hung out a bit and rested and unpacked and did laundry. In the evening, we drove down a bit and met my friend B and her family (three boys, including one of Micah's best buddies) for dinner. Lovely time, because the restaurant had a play area right behind us, fenced in and completely visible, so we could send Sofia and all the boys out while we had grownup conversations.

To celebrate Sofia's birthday, the waiter brought her a bowl of whipped cream with a candle (since they did not have ice cream). She was in complete heaven!

Tuesday morning, we swam. Actually, the kids and David swam, I mostly napped poolside. Sofia was in the water for two and a half hours solid; the boys took breaks periodically.

Back to the house for a bite to eat, then off to the mall, which wasn't as successful a visit as we would have wished. But Sofia and I spent some time in Build-a-Bear, and she found the Chipettes (the female Chipmunks). I bought her the purple girl, then handed her off to David and the boys and snuck back to buy the green girl and Simon, since they were on sale! Late birthday presents, probably when we have her party (on the 10th).

Took the kids to the movies to see "Escape from Planet Earth". Eh, but it was fun to go to the movies all together. I really can't remember ever doing that with all five of us!

It was pouring when we got out. Quick stop at the grocery store, and then home. We'd gorged on popcorn and candy, so no one (except Sofia, of course) was all that hungry. Hung out, relaxed. The boys played cards with David, and I went through boxes of old photos. Found pics from the 1930s! My grandmother was "A Looker", for sure!

Today was also relaxing. Spent the morning at the pool again - David had a conference call, so he sat near the clubhouse to access the WiFi - until they closed the pool because the pump broke. DARN IT! My last time here!

Back for lunch and showers. Then we went to the cemetery.


I miss her. I can't get sad when I think about her, because Wow she led such an awesome and amazing life. But I miss her. So that makes me sad.

The cemetery was farther away then I'd remembered (I'd only gone once, right after my grandfather died, back when I was pregnant with Sam in 1999). And it's in a less-than-lovely neighborhood, so Sam was freaking out. And they are "buried" in a mausoleum - big concrete building with "drawers" for couples or families. And it's multi-denominational (since Grandpa Ralph was not Jewish).

So it was completely different from anyplace else. And with the sun beating down on all that concrete, it was mighty warm.

But it was lovely. Very peaceful and beautiful. Interesting to read all the names.

Sofia collected all the rocks (usually, you place a small stone on the headstone you are visiting, but since this is a big wall, the stones are at the bottom) and lined them up while reciting the whole alphabet (which was pretty neat). Micah wrote a message for Grandma and stuck it in the crevasse between their box and the one underneath (kind of like sticking a note in the Kotel [Wailing Wall in Jerusalem]). Very sweet.

Ok. After that, we went to Singer Island to walk around the beach. David didn't want to swim, so we were just walking. Until Sofia decided to sit down in the water ;)

So then we had to go buy her some shorts.

Off to Boca Raton, to dine at Ben's Kosher Deli. Awesome, and as stereo-typical as possible.

Home, got Sofia to sleep, and here I am at the clubhouse with Micah. Time to go back to bed.

Tomorrow, swimming (at one of the other, smaller, pools in the complex), then lunch, pack the car, and we are headed back home. Ugh. Just found out there's 6-12 inches more expected on Saturday night. NOOOOO!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brevard Zoo

We had a great time with the Keirnan clan again today. We met them over at the Brevard Zoo, which is around the corner from the hotel. T and I took the two little girls to the zoo, while David and M took the four older kids on the TreeTop walk, with zip lines and all that.

It was much colder than usual for this area, and often windy, but a lovely day. Sofia was full-speed ahead for most of the time at the zoo. Their daughter R doesn't move as fast as my demon child, so there was a lot of stopping and starting. The girls had the most fun at the playground, where R could sit inside the tunnel and shout at other kids, and Sofia planted herself on the roof to "build a fire" in the giant nest.

Another highlight for Sofia was feeding the parrots. She kept trying to get one to land on her arm, but she moved too much for them.
 We left the Zoo around 3, had a nice lunch at Long Boarders, and then back to the house. David and I both fell asleep! He took a two hour nap; mine was about an hour. The older kids had fun out back and on the street, first using bows and arrows, and then playing "Cops & Robbers".  The two little girls had the disco ball and lights going up in the playroom, along with many movies.
Then we had a small dinner, and said our goodbyes.

Mike gives Sam a noogie.

We don't look quite the same as when we went to the junior prom; it was a few years ago!
All six kids:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Old Friends, next generation

It wouldn't be a vacation, or a road trip, without my blog, so here goes.

We had SUCH a wonderful evening with the Keirnan Clan tonight. It took the four older kids about 20 minutes to get back into friend-mode, and then they were running around the house for hours together. The two little girls settled right in to playing and watching movies and asking for snacks.

Grownups had fun talking ('cause that's what grown-ups do) and laughing and eating and drinking. Poor David - I'd only let him take a 25 minute nap at the hotel, so he was exhausted, but he held up most of the evening.

It's just about midnight now. Micah and David are out cold. Sofia, having napped a while in the car, is still restless, and Sam just got out of the shower.

Looking forward to the Brevard Zoo tomorrow with our friends.

Brothers, Friends, and other Important People

So I’m typing this in the car (will post it in a while) as we finish driving from Massachusetts to Florida. Straight through, stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks. My husband is a bit of a freak about things like that.

Through the magic of my iPhone, for the past hour or so I have been having text conversations with a handful of people, all of them important to me. My mother, to let her know where we are. My friend N, who is with her kids in Orlando, waiting for their flight to Jamaica (the trip we had originally thought to take with them). My friend Y from shul, who is already down here somewhere and giving me weather reports. My friend H, whose mom and grandma live near where we will be later in the week.

Also texting with my friend M, who we are going to visit this weekend. I met M in seventh grade, and we’ve been friends ever since. Went to each other’s weddings, despite living hundreds of miles apart at the time. His oldest daughter is a year older than Sam, middle daughter is a few months younger than Micah. And his third daughter turns out to have that same extra chromosome as Sofia. So our families have gotten even closer over the last few years.

I’m also texting with my friend P. He is The Kahuna to my Gidget. He was M’s friend from high school first (they went to the Catholic high school in our neighborhood), but he’s been my friend since I was 16.

As I’m texting these two boys (ok,  I realize we are rapidly approaching the mid-century mark, but in my eyes they will always be boys), I’m also watching my daughter with her brothers. She woke from her nap, and immediately hugged Micah...in a head lock. And I realized that this is exactly how the younger sister blessed with two big brothers gives a hug.

And then I realized that, thanks to M and P, I am also the younger sister of two big brothers, who were incredibly important in forming my outlook on life.

I am so very lucky to have such wonderful friends. Friends who have been a part of my life for a long time, and newer friends, who hopefully will also be around for a long time.

Yesterday, I went with my “posse”, the mamas from the Day School who have been my bestest friends for the past 9 years, to celebrate J’s birthday at Maayim Hayim, the progressive Mikveh in Newton. We celebrated our friendships and how special each of us is individually and as part of The Collective. It was wonderful.

Tonight we’ll see M and his family. Hopefully later this week, as we make our last visit to my Grandma Doris’ house to do some clean-up, we’ll see my other friend-since-seventh-grade, B, who lives in south Florida.

At the hotel: I realize that mine and David’s relationship has always been defined very simply: he likes dirt, I like clean. We spend most of our travels sitting and marinating in a car or campervan or airplane. David loves to camp, real back-pack style camping, for days at a time. He thinks nothing of jumping into a clean bed whenever he is tired, regardless of when his last shower was.

And I spend the same time planning my next shower, or looking for the laundry. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

In Sickness, or in February

There's a reason we in the Northeast have school vacation in February. It's to clear out the GERMS. I've had at least one, if not two, sick kids every day for a week now. Probably again tomorrow, since Sam "feels horrible" but has no symptoms other than a raspy voice and a cough.

Micah stayed home Thursday and Friday.

Sofia popped fevers Saturday and Sunday, and stayed home today.

Sam barfed yesterday and stayed home today; likely again tomorrow.

David returned form Costa Rica Saturday evening, and left for North Carolina Sunday evening, which means he was home just long enough to be exposed to the germs.

Today's staff email included a list of about 10 kids who would be out sick - out of 58 students!

I'm trying to maintain my mommy-zen-acupuncture-enhanced health.

At least, since Sam was also home today, I could go to the gym, and I could also attend the funeral of a wonderful lady from my shul.

Baruch Dayan Emet, Blessed is the True Judge. In memory of Judy Baron.

The funeral was of course sad. She died of cancer, only in her 60s, leaving husband, children, grandchildren, and numerous friends and family. I did not know her well; she was simply part of my Temple Israel family. The funeral was also lovely, as I listed to the beautiful words from the Rabbi, her brother, her daughter-in-law, and both her son and daughter. I envied the calm assurity with which they could all talk about her love for them. It was quite beautiful.


On a better note, Sofia was well enough to go to gymnastics this afternoon, and I booked her birthday party for a Sunday in March.

Which brings me to another problem: although she has of course been invited to the birthday parties for the other six kids in her day school class, she has only been invited to ONE party this year from her public school class. I know that not everyone has a party, but given that there are 19 kids in the class and it's already February, I would have expected at least a handful of parties.

Which could mean any number of things.

It could mean that she's mostly friends with the boys, since they are more on her maturity level, but they had all-boy parties.

It could mean that she was snubbed by certain kids, or certain parents.

It could mean that nobody thought about her.

I don't want to read too much into it, except that we have her IEP meeting coming soon, and this speaks to how much she is actually part of the class.

The purpose of Inclusion is to have all kids BELONG. But if only the "real" students are invited, then my kid doesn't belong. And that sucks.

So I'll be gearing up for that conversation too...

Ok, Sofia seems to think that she can sleep in my bed EVERY night, and now she's hoching me to put my pajamas on. Time to get her out of here!