Tuesday, August 30, 2011

As Elder Daughter turns 12

Elder Daughter turns 12 in the next week.  She just started 7th grade yesterday.  The first day went well - although I am more than a little nervous about her ability to stay on top of the amount of homework she will now be getting, with 7 different teachers/classes!  She's taking French - her homework yesterday was to practice saying her name with a French accent.  To help her I kept asking her to say that for me...I'm sure speaking that way will feel awkward for her at first, but to truly implant a foreign language in the brain, ya gotta actually speak it!

Anyway, like I said, she's turning 12 soon.  I look at her, with her makeup and getting taller...and my brain can't help but jump forward about 10 years and wonder what her future will be!  Here is a list of all the things I wish for her:
-I hope she chooses a path for her life which not only makes her happy, but is also fulfilling, honest, legal, moral, and pays her bills!
-I hope she is picky about who she dates!  She won't be actually "dating" until she's maybe 15 or 16, which I suspect will become hard to enforce because I know B and I are more strict with her than the parents of her peers in some respects.
-I hope she grows into a young woman who is curious about the world beyond our town, our part of the country, our continent! 
-I want her to understand that just because her peers may have little or no interest in attending college, as a female in this economy/society it is doubly important that she obtain as much higher education as possible!
-I hope she grows to understand that getting married is not a mandatory choice just because she is female.  I hope as she gets older, she understands that while it is human nature to want and have relationships, it is not imperative to be married in order to be happy.
-I hope that as she gets older, she knows that it is not mandatory - just because she is female - that she have children.  If she does choose to have children, I hope she waits to do that until she has a true understanding of the sacrifices involved.  I hope she understands that the choices to get married, and/or become a parent, should be fully informed choices and not something that circumstances choose for her.
-I hope she grows into someone who chooses to read a book/take a hike/walk the dog/otherwise engage her brain cells...instead of watching hours of pointless television.
-I hope she maintains a compassionate and kind heart for those who have not had the same advantages she has been blessed with, and approaches those people/situations with which she in unfamiliar with an open mind.
-I hope she maintains a positive relationship with her sister, throughout their lives.

I could think of more, I'm sure!  By the way, I doubt K will see this post - at least not anytime soon.  I wouldn't lay all this on her anyway, it's all too 'deep' for a kid her age and anyway, I'm sure I have told her most of this one way or another.  I have to go make a "real hair-cut" appointment for her, she wants an actual style, done at a hair salon as a birthday present.
Thanks for visiting.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mental "down-time"

The kids finally, finally, finally started back to school today.  It was both a quick AND a long summer.  Part of our current challenge, here, is teaching Elder Daughter (aka "K") how to best tolerate Younger Daughter's (aka "S") behavioral and personality "quirks".  S's quirks are very much generated, at this point, by Prader-Willi Syndrome - and so, while she will grow up and change some, many of those quirks are syndrome-driven and, as such, aren't going anywhere.  Thus, what drives K crazy will continue to do that, unless and until we can help her find some coping tactics.  One of the current coping tactics is for her to go in her room and hang out there with her door closed...but, you know, I don't want her doing that constantly

Anyway.  That's not what I was going to write about!  I was actually going to present this list:

10 things I am taking advantage of, being home by myself:

1.  Being able to take a shower without S needing to use the bathroom.  We do have two bathrooms...that's one thing that sold us on this particular house...but that doesn't mean either child is willing to actually go downstairs and use the other freakin' bathroom!

2.  Being able to move about the house, doing this and that, without persistent questions about what I am doing and why I am doing it.

3.  NOT having to prepare some snack or meal, every 120 minutes.  NOT having to consult the clock unless I need to.  Aaaaah, the mental rest that comes when my child-with-PWS, who is constantly thinking about the next eating time, is at school for 6.5 hours.  Aaaaahhhhhh.

4.  Being able to go outside, let the dog out, skim the pool....and not have to worry about the girls in the house, getting into a vicious back-and-forth over something.

5.  Being able to run errands quickly, without needing to plan it around the 10 - noon - 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. snack/meal times.  Running errands quickly is not possible with any child under the age of, say, 10 or so.  Not that I've run any errands today, but I will tomorrow.

6.  The silence in the house.  The absolute, utter silence.

7.  Being able to use the computer all day, to get things done that I've been putting off for weeks.

8.  Being able to listen to an entire CD, without S coming along and wanting to listen to something herself.

9.  Being able to sit and do absolutely nothing except let my brain rest, for some short length of time.  Aaaaahh.  Bliss.

What does your mental "down-time" look like?  Do you meditate, take a walk, take a drive?

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garage Sale Report!

Yay, it is DONE!  Some observations from the day:

1)  When I make 5 signs advertising my garage sale, and every single flippin' sign says VERY clearly "NO EARLY BIRDS", yes I really do mean that if the sale starts at 9 a.m. I am not ready or willing to sell even a pencil UNTIL 9 A.M.  I really mean that.  I'm not kidding.  I am not a morning person so, FOR SURE, I am not ready for you to begin trolling through my cast-offs until 9 A.M. and no sooner.

2) And you know what?  The woman who attempted to start shopping my sale early this morning was, I swear, the same woman who tried to do the same thing at the sale we had about 3 years ago.  Apparently she has not learned how to read.

3) Once again, same as with the last time we had a garage sale, the things I thought would sell immediately...didn't sell immediately, or didn't sell at all.  For example, the Hubster used to work for a company called "The Bom.bay Company".  It was a higher-priced home decor store.  At one point they company opened a Kids decor store, from which he purchaned this small, pink, ride-on rocking poodle thing.  Stop laughing, it's very cute. It originally was priced for about $130 (he bought it at a discount).  The girls were never at all rough with their toys and this little toy was no exception - it's still in really good shape.  We had it priced for $10.  We still have it, it did not sell.  I was really surprised.

4) Coffee mugs do not sell well, at garage sales.

5) Maci.ntosh computers from around 2002 (?) also do not sell well.  In fact, they don't sell at all.

6) A cozy-looking pink Snu.ggie, which some young girl received for Christmas just 8 months ago....also does not sell.

After our last garage sale, I was amazed at how much "money spent" was represented by all the stuff we had spread out or put on tables, on our lawn.  It was truly amazing, the hundreds of dollars represented by what we had on sale that day.  This time around, the Hubster made that observation first, early in the day, as we sat and surveyed everything we had put out.  Lots and lots and lots of toys, lots and lots of children's book, a good number of very nice girl's dresses,  almost $1000 worth of car seats and baby equipment...all priced at just a fraction of its original cost.  Some of the toys were really never even played with.  I know, I know - that's the way it is with kids.  You can try and guess what kinds of things they'd like for birthdays or holidays, but inevitably, unless they're standing right there telling you what to buy AND they have about two months to try out the thing first, you have only about a 10% chance of getting them something they actually will keep/like/use.  So, a good deal of the gifts kids get are either re-gifted, or touched once and then put away, or exchanged for the thing they really wanted.  Maybe companies should start shaping the gift cards into big, gift-size plastic cubes gift-cards, so we can all wrap/gift those for birthdays and holidays and still be sure that the kids will like/use them? I will say this - if you are still in the baby-having phase of your life, or you are a grandparent who is able to spend time with the grandkids - shop at garage sales.  Do not pay full-price for ANYTHING which you might be able to get, almost new and for so much less, at a garage sale.  This includes small toys or toy 'parts', large plastic yard toys, books, furniture, playpens, high-chairs, clothing.  Seriously, take a day and troll the neighborhood garage sales.  It may take a couple stops or tries but I am sure you will find something good!

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

What day is it?

Oh, right.  It's Monday.  Okay I'm all caught up now.  It's summer, the kids are not back in school yet...once S got done with summer camp the days all started to sort of run together.

I'm just going to ramble.  The kids start back to school in one week.  I don't know what I will do with myself, that first day.  I know I will be freakin' tired because we will all be getting up at, like, 6:30 a.m. so that Elder Daughter will be ready for me to take her to school by 7:45.  6:30 A.M., people. I'm a SAHM, and my kids have never been early risers, so this is an adjustment with every new school year.  I may have a ride to school for her, so that Younger Daughter and I don't have to get in the car, take Elder Daughter to school, then come back home and get Younger Daughter further ready for school before her van comes to pick her up at almost 8:30.  Frickity-frack.  We are having a garage sale on Thursday. Here are some photos of the stuff for sale:
 Here you see bins of clothes; a sit'n'spin which neither of my kids could really use; bins of books
Clothes rack with the kids' too-small Halloween costumes, and too-small dresses
 Books, these were my husband's. I was surprised he was willing to part with this many.
This is the growing pile of to-be-sold stuff.  I took this picture several weeks ago, the pile got much bigger and spread to the other side of the garage as well.  Cleaned out a lot of stuff from the basement - toys, lots of those; books; three old televisions which have a VCR attached (not sure if they work, they'd need a converter thing); a printer/fax machine; a printer; a record-player/cassette player/radio thing; an old Apple computer; a Little Tikes slide; a Little Tikes "Cozy Coupe" (those red and yellow plastic cars that moves with foot-power); several car seats; two playpens.  And many more bits of flotsam and jetsam.  Oh!  In the process of cleaning I found my roller blades!  I wouldn't put those on again if you paid me, I'm sure I would break something.  I also found my ice skates; I may end up keeping those as they almost fit Elder Daughter at this point (and they don't fit me, not that I'm really fit enough to ice skate at this point).

I have to admit, while it was incredibly liberating to take bag after bag of stuff out to the garage, or fill many trash bags with stuff for trash day, I did hit a point where going through the kids' stuff got difficult and I had to take a break.  I mean, I know they don't play with this stuff anymore, or wear whatever it is - but it is still hard to continuously let it go.  I'm not having any more kids...these girls are It.  So in letting these things go I am simultaneously letting "That Part" of my life go.  Which means not only are the kids getting older...so am I.  Here is the item which stopped me in my tracks, and I had to stop sorting for the day:
It's a small, blue, plastic wagon.  It's small enough that the kids couldn't ride in it but I think S would put her stuffed animals in it and take them for a ride.  I don't even think she is that attached to it.  But for whatever reason, I got to this little wagon - and just had to stop making decisions about all the "stuff" for that day. 

I'm keeping the wagon.

So the sale is in three days.  I'm about ready to just put up a sign that says "everything's $1" and be done with it.  Not excited to be out in the garage for the next few days, pricing everything.  I told someone once that I would love to get my house emptied out to such a point that, should some emergency arise where we had to move, we could be completely packed up in two days.  I don't think such a thing is possible when it's a family of four; inevitably there's just too much needed for daily living to have such a spare living space!  So I've gotten rid of quite a bit this summer, and will enjoy making money watching more of it go to people who will hopefully use it.  But I'd say we are still a pack-up-the-house-in-one-week-at-least family.

Elder Daughter starts middle school on Monday. She is wearing makeup now.  She is not too heavy-handed with it...but I have to say, it is still an odd sensation for me, to look at her with makeup on.  She complains, when washing it off at night, that the soap stings her eyes.  I (rather unsympathetically, I know) responded, "welcome to the world of makeup".  She also is all up-to-date with her shots, now - got three altogether last week.  Two in one arm, and the shot area proceeded to hurt a bit and swell up a little.  One of the shots was the meningitis vaccine...have you heard those commercials?  Well, I don't even need the commercials really, we've probably all heard the news stories where a young person got meningitis and passed away a day later.  That scenario scares the cr*p out of me.  We go to the middle school tomorrow, to get her schedule and hopefully track down the whoever-it-is that can correct her schedule (K was horrified to find out they think she's taking choir.  She's actually supposed to be signed up for orchestra.  I'm not sure why Choir is so horrifying.).  S will have to come with us and I'm sure that will (NOT) be fun, as I'm sure K will be totally embarassed by S staring at everyone.

It has been an okay summer, I guess.  We had about 10 days of really ugly heat, and that was about it; it's actually a bit cool-ish outside at the moment.  The pool we set up has lasted, thankfully, without collapsing - it's not on level ground, and when you fill up a pool with about 4500 gallons of very heavy water and the pool isn't on 100% level ground, you end up eye-ing the thing every day wondering if it's going to make it.  I was pricing pool heaters the other day.  Since it is starting to get chillier here at night, and the pool is in the shade most of the day, the water is, uh, not exactly fun to swim in.  Did you know that pool-water heaters cost anywhere from $150 - $1600???  I don't think we need the super-expensive one, thank God!  But Elder Daughter's b-day party is supposed to include swimming....which will save me from having to think up appropriately-amusing party games for 5-6 pre-teen girls...so I may go ahead and invest in the heater!  I did not end up teaching K how to cook this summer.  Well, correction:  One morning after dropping S off at camp, I came home and showed K how to toast two waffles in the toaster oven for her breakfast.  Silly me, even though she seemed to be awake, lucid, and paying attention, she now does not remember me EVER SHOWING HER THAT.  Seriously.  I also would have been challenged to get her excited about learning to cook.

Okay, okay....I chickened out on the cooking thing.  She and I butt heads about so many things sometimes...including and definitely NOT limited to how she treats her sister...that I was not eager to do the cooking thing because I know she would have fought it.  I mean, yes, of course, in 10 or 15 or 20 years she'd have all these great memories maybe, and perhaps she's be inspired to become the next Ir.on Chef or whatever.  But in the moment, to be honest...I was just intensely grateful that the two kids had some time apart, and didn't exert myself to "force" K to spend her sister-free time doing something she probably would have fought me about.  Oh well, such is life.

Ah, enough rambling.  Thanks for visiting,

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Pictures from around the yard


Friday, August 5, 2011

Get S through summer camp: check

Today was S's last day of summer camp. It is somewhat of an accomplishment for both her and us to get through all six weeks successfully.  She went to day camp six weeks out of the summer, for four days a week, 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.  This being the last day for this summer camp, I now have the few weeks up until school starts to keep her entertained.  (Yes, that makes me nervous.) 

The staff of this camp are just phenomenal.  This is more than your average summer day camp.  This particular camp is a program run through our county's Board of Developmental Delay.  There are just over 100 spots in this camp, and the application process is on a first-application-received, first-applicant-guaranteed-a-spot basis.  I have heard that some parents fill out the application the day they receive it in January, and overnight it to the intake person that day, just to make sure their child gets a spot.  The staff members of this camp are special people, because they do what so many people refuse to do - they work one-on-one with children with disabilities, and treat them with respect, kindness, and love.  Today being the last day of camp, the campers and counsellors put together a talent show, with each group doing a routine to a M.ichael Jackson song.  It was sooooo cute, the kids did so well and had fun.  The people working with the kids in this camp didn't look at them and say, 'oh, they can't do that'.  They picked a song, practiced with the kids, and put on a well-done show for all the parents.  It was truly wonderful to see.

This camp is another reason why we are so, so blessed to live where we live.  S does well at this camp, thank God.  She does not enjoy the drive there/back home as it highway driving, but she enjoys herself while she is there, and I doubt I could keep her nearly as well entertained and appropriately busy here at home.  So this camp ensures her sanity during the summer - and mine.

As I said, the staff of the camp is phenomenal.  The lead teachers are all either special-ed teachers or intervention specialists, so they know their way around an IEP/504 plan, and the goals/parameters of those documents are followed and worked on as much as possible over the summer.  The counsellors are all college students who are focusing their studies on areas matching the needs of this camp - nursing, special ed, occupational/speech/physical therapy and the like.  And yet, this is still very much a summer camp, with all the accompanying craft projects and silly songs and swimming!  The kids have a fantastic time in a safe environment where the staff is aware of their challenges yet helps the kids work through those challenges so they can still enjoy themselves.  So my daughter, who could not possibly go to a regular summer camp, day-based or otherwise, can still say she is "going to camp" like any other kid.

So days like today are bittersweet.  Like other special-needs parents, as my daughter gets older I find myself repeatedly going through the scenario of saying goodbye to people who I have trusted to take care of my daughter, keep her safe, help her learn and develop, and help her have a good time. That is HUGE for any special-needs parent.  I hope we will see many of the same counsellors and staff back next summer...but I don't know, maybe we won't.   Anyone who sees my daughter for the great person she is, is someone who comes to mean a lot to me - and it is hard to keep saying goodbye to these people.  I wonder if they know how meaningful their presence in my daughter's life is? I know they get a paycheck...but believe me, they don't do this job just for that.  They do this job because they see in these kids what is so often overlooked by the general public - they see a person. 

Thanks for reading.