Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Boy One is up to his old tricks: arranging to get into trouble at school so that I receive calls from teachers - or at least notes threatening to call.  Then I wait around all afternoon and evening for the dreaded ring and it never comes. 

I talked with his first kindergarten teacher (Mrs. B) about my dread of those calls that began when Boy One was in her class, and she had the gall to laugh at me!  Apparently my fear that Boy One will be too much for the school system to tolerate and they'll ask me to remove him and I'll have to home school him thereby missing out on the social communication aspect of school that is the entire reason I have him enrolled is hysterically far fetched.  Huh, who'd have thought?  Apparently I'm much too concerned about my children being a burden on others. 

Feeling a moment (and it really WAS just a moment) of curious self-pity this week, I sighed over the fact that there are so many families out there where every member is perfectly healthy, while in our tiny nuclear family of five three of us have complications:  I have a rare form of epilepsy, my son has autism, and my daughter has a rare heart condition and organ condition.  Really, Lord?  I have incredible peace about all this but when I have a week like this one it reminds me of the quote (and I can't remember who said it) addressed to God: if this is how you treat Your friends, it's no wonder you have so few.

In another realm, Girl finally crossed a necessary childhood barrier today.  I looked up from washing dishes at the sink to see her hovering over the couch in the living room, scissors in one hand, bangs in the other.  I was very proud of how little fuss I made.  I strode right over to the camera, made her pose for a picture, then solemnly reminded her of the rules for scissors and the fate the would befall her if I caught her at the again.  I performed the entire soliloquy with a straight face, and didn't even smile until my mom stopped by and had Girl tell her the story, during which I hid in the hallway and giggled while I listened.

Girl also found my wedding dress in my upstairs closet and has now become obsessed with it.  She even brought out her box of dress-up clothes to find various ways to accessorize the dress, which she carries around the house and 'dances' with.  As an aside, I really should have had that dress cleaned nine years ago - I don't know if those stains will come out anymore.  Ah, well.  I guess I'll just have to cut it up and turn it into something else!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Random Fuzzy Thoughts

Alllllrighty then. 

Well, no one had much advise to share so I had to go searching for some.  Fortunately (or not, your choice) I know several women (no men, though) who suffer from seizures and a few of them are even related to me.  Hmm, now we have the genetics factor, too.  Does this play much of a part?

Out of the three people I poled advice from, two advised that I find myself a neurologist pronto and start the laborious task of sifting through anti-seizure meds to find which ones give me the greatest help for the least side effects (honestly, if the side effects are worse than the occasional seizure, is it really worth it to take the medicine?).  I just can't imagine paying $35 dollars a month for meds for the rest of my life.  They will just become more expensive, I'll probably have to increase the amount, and this doesn't even count appointments and drive time, etc.  So, so not the route I want to go.  Is this unreasonable of me?

On the other hand I have a cousin who also suffers from epileptic seizures and has had great success treating them naturally, mostly through an elimination diet.  Since I'm not overly attached to anything that I eat (except maybe peanut butter) this may be the best option. 

Yuck.  I really  REALLY hate doctors appointments.  Calling to schedule a time, dealing with insurance companies who want you to pay them more while they refuse to pay for you, finding someone to take care of my kids not to mention drive me there.  I have come to accept the fact that I am not, nor will ever be, completely self sufficient, but it does bother me when I feel like such a burden to other people's time.

*heavy sigh*

Okay, enough griping for today.  On the plus side, both my sister and sister-in-law came to visit me this week  and even though I wasn't thinking clearly, I immensely enjoyed the company!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wasting a Perfectly Good Sunday Afternoon

That was not my plan when I arrived at church on Sunday morning.

I hadn't slept much the night before - only four hours.  And there wasn't anything keeping me awake this time!  So I turned instead to (gasp!) CAFFEINATED coffee: two cups!  Woo!  Due to either the one or the other I seemed to buzz around church that morning.  I was even too jittery to sit down in my usual spot (the front row!) so I paced around in the back of the room while my husband preached. (Aside: this was a really good sermon.  He preached on honoring your parents and demonstrated by reading a letter he had written to his biological father's parents stating the reasons he would not be contacting them again and praising the way his adopted father raised him.  I cried.  So did his dad, who was in the audience.)

After the service I buzzed around as usual: putting things away, vacuuming,  setting up rooms for the week, etc.  Around twelve forty five I began to notice that I was having the beginning signs of one of my 'vision compromising' seizures - my eye sight was limiting in my right eye with some scattered cloudiness, I wasn't remembering certain words that I needed in conversation, I had to try and sound out printed words that I've known for twenty five years.  I sat in the van with the kids and waited for what I thought would be the worst scenario that I'd had in thirteen years: nausea and flashes of forgotten memories.  When my husband got in the car and told us to prepare for a trip to Subway for lunch with friends I told him that I was having a seizure and that it was going to get worse.  Was that an understatement.

I lost consciousness less than a quarter mile from the church parking lot.  According to my husband my whole body went as stiff as a board with my hands curled into claws in front of me; I stopped breathing and turned blue while foaming at the mouth and muttering jibberish.  He pulled the car over, rolled me over on to his shoulder and called 9-1-1.  Fortunately, there was an ambulance just half a mile away and they arrived to give me an anti-seizure injection and load me into the vehicle, at which point I remember barely coming to before he closed the doors and we drove to the hospital.

I talked with the paramedic on the way to Silverton Hospital; at least, as much as I was able.  I remembered more and more as time elapsed (that's routine for me) and even joked about some things ( I can't remember what.  I know, you're shocked.).  It's actually kind of fun to ride in an ambulance.  At least, until you calculate what it's going to cost you.  But they were able to wheel me right in to the Emergency Room to get another injection and update my stats.  Then it was just a matter of waiting a few hours until I was functioning better mentally.

They had planned to take me in for a head CT because of severe dizziness until I remembered (!) that it's normal for me to be dizzy after a hard seizure.  Of course, I hadn't had one like this EVER but still, the principle is the same.  So now the question:  find a neurologist and start the agonizing process of trying medications that may or may not help me, or just continue to go on as I have been, trusting that it will be a dozen years (or more) before I have another grand mal seizure.

I hate medication.  The cost, the synthetic ingredients, the side effects that are worse than the occasional seizure itself, the doctor visits, the insurance problems.  Advice!  I'm open to advice!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tears from the Son

Wow, this has been a FULL day if I now have another post to write!

I received a call from Boy One's teacher this afternoon.  Every time the caller I.D. announces it is the school district, my heart stops momentarily.  Too many phone calls over the years (and this is only the beginning of year three).

She mentioned a few 'incidents' that have happened at school over the last few days.  Things like disliking the librarian at the school and not wanting to do what she asked.  Hiding under the table because of it and needing to be coaxed out.  Having a different aid in class and not wanting to do what she asked.  And not doing the writing assignment (that was actually a placement test!). *heavy sigh*

When we got off the phone I sat down with Boy One and talked with him about these incidents that teacher mentioned.  He admitted to them (yay for his honesty when he's caught doing wrong!) and when I asked him about the writing assignment he was silent.  When I asked if he didn't understand the assignment he crawled in my lap and started crying.

I forget that he still has problems communicating ideas/emotions/thoughts because, in comparison to last year or the year before, his communication is phenomenal.  At home I compensate by brainstorming for him: giving him words that he can choose from to find the best description.  Almost like a multiple choice test.  Then when he does start using those words I know that he has really grasped them.

Also, he may be able to enjoy and understand a story, but he doesn't understand that the same ideas and concepts can apply to his own life.  The writing assignment was to write and illustrate about what you did over summer vacation.  Although the teacher read a book to the class about summer vacation, Boy One couldn't figure out what this had to do with him.  He just sat at his place and stared at the blank sheet of paper.  When we talked about it later I reminded him of things that he did (watch a parade, go to the beach, camping, bike riding, etc.) I saw the understanding dawn on him.  Oh, so THATs what Teacher was talking about!

Another things that I remembered is that Boy One has no idea about the passage of time.  Days of the week, tomorrow vs. yesterday, months, years; these mean nothing to him after two years of trying to drill them into his brain.  He can memorize the order that events go in but not the abstract idea of time.

Crying with your children about the struggles that they're facing breaks your heart.

"Get Used to Disappointment"

Granted, the quote is about swordplay and not making bookmarks at the library, but the sentiment still stands.

After the awesome morning my daughter had, we gathered our already overdue library materials and walked there for the first session of this year's story hour.  As the story hour specifically is for "4-5 year olds" I have never had all of my kids qualify to attend this grand event.  Now that Girl turned four and Boy Two has yet to turn six (three more weeks!) we have a small window of time to seize upon!

First off, I had no idea that patrons intent on joining the Sacred Story Hour must enter through the Forbidden Door (aka Employees Only) and give the Secret Knock.  (Okay that last part isn't true, but it makes the event seem so much more mysterious.)  Huh.  I had thought that since we arrived four minutes late the small window of time (exactly sixty seconds during 9:30) had closed for the week.  Sheesh, I though, how demanding they are of moms with small kids.  They must really want to keep this a small assembly.

Second, I was exceedingly proud of my kids.  They were the best behaved kids there (out of a possible fifteen) and actually paid attention to the three stories.  Hurray!  I adore it when my kids show off how well I parent them (ahem).

 Then the small hiccup and pending disappointment.  The craft was to use the stickers to customize a bookmark, cover it with contact paper, and cut it out with fancy-edged scissors.  Girl is easily pleased with butterfly stickers and some amazing three-D daffodil stickers that sparkle.  Boy Two, however, spots the fluffy (squishy?  spongy?) snake stickers (a full sheet!) that another boy has, sets his mind on those, and feels great sadness when the boy uses the entire sheet of stickers on his bookmark.  Grief!  Woe!  Anguish!  Sorrow! Heartache!  Angst!  Pain!  Misery! (synonyms from my computer thesaurus, thanks WORD).

Despite the other sticker possibilities, Boy Two nurses his sadness (albeit silently with minimal frowny faces and pouting) for the next fifteen minutes until he decides to make the best of the situation and use an entire sheet of stickers himself: the horse head ones that nobody else wanted.  He was finished in record time and, because it was the first day of Story Hour of the year, was invited to choose a snack bag of bunny crackers (thank you, Library!) as a treat.

The three of us had a decent talk on the way home about why it's important to share things with others and about considering other people's feelings.  This is something we discuss often at home regarding siblings, but I hope the situation that was presently experienced with strangers helps to solidly reinforce the idea.

The Princess and the Frog

Occasionally there are real perks to being a stay-at-home mom.  This morning was one of them. :)

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a beautiful young Princess lived in a castle with her mother the Queen, and her brother, the Young Prince.  The Beautiful Princess spent her days cleaning the castle with her mother (for this castle tended to attract dirt like no body's business) but one day dreamed of being carried off to a perpetually spotless castle by the Dashing Prince of her dreams.

One day while cleaning the Queen opened the door to clean a particularly small and long neglected dungeon when a quick, small movement caught her eye.  Afraid that the Dreaded Spider may have returned to wreak havoc on the castle, she called for the Young Prince to bring a torch to light the way, determined not to let the Dreaded Spider escape.  However, the Young Prince was very frightened and too scared of the perils that may present themselves, so the Queen hurried to get a torch of her own.  Lighting it and proceeding with caution into the small dungeon the Queen was pleasantly surprised to find, not the Dreaded Spider, but instead a small, perfect Frog.  The Queen was puzzled.  How did the Frog get into the dungeon and how long had he been there without her knowledge?  Being too tall to fully enter said dungeon, the Queen called for the Beautiful Princess to enter and retrieve the little Frog.

Happily, the Beautiful Princess complied, ever watched by the fearful Young Prince.  After a few failed attempts and amid much giggling on the part of the Princess, she was able to cup the Frog in her small hands to take him outside the castle where he may be free.  She kindly set the little Frog along the rocky pathway and wished him well, returning to the castle.  Only when she was fully indoors did she realize that this Frog may in fact be the Dashing Prince of her dreams.  Oh no!  She quite possibly had missed her opportunity!

Hurrying back outdoors, the Young Prince and Beautiful Princess searched far and wide, finally finding the Frog hiding under a watering can.  The Beautiful Princess carefully picked him up, certain that her dreams were about to come true.  Tenderly, she raised the little Frog to her lips and gave him a small kiss. . . . . . 

But there was not change.  Slightly confused, the Beautiful Princess bestowed a second kiss on said Frog.  To her chagrin, the little Frog remained trapped in his tiny, amphibious body and refused to transform into the Dashing Prince of her dreams.  The Beautiful Princess was disappointed.  Who ever heard of a Frog that refused to turn into a Prince?  With slight melancholia, the Beautiful Princess gently set the Frog upon a stately rock and turned to reenter the castle.  Apparently, this Frog was not her Dashing Prince.  The Beautiful Princess dwelt upon the discouragement of the mornings events until a little while later when she heard the comforting sounds of the Frog, having returned to his grateful family in the bog, singing a song of thanks to the Beautiful Princess for rescuing him from the dungeon.

Maybe not every Frog was destined to become a Prince, but she would keep kissing them until one did.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Second Boy

I'm always surprised at what my second son catches on to.  He seems to take in a lot of information, process it, and then attempt to implicate it in a no-nonsense approach.  I'm not even sure what I mean by that, precisely, I just know that it's true.

Despite the fact that we don't let our children watch a lot of inappropriate videos there are always things that slip through.  For instance, in the Disney version of 'Hercules' the characters use the phrase "O my gods" as a witty pun for those who are paying attention.  After watching this video once or twice he started to use the phrase and, although I shouldn't have been, I was a little surprised.  I had to do some quick stepping to talk about how words always mean something even when they don't seem to mean anything and how we need to be responsible and respectful about the words we use.  Thus, we had to come up with an 'acceptable' phrase that he was allowed to use to describe astonishment.  I think I threw out "Goodness gracious" and "Oh my gosh" and "Oh my goodness" as alternatives.  Since the first few thwarted efforts he seems to be weighing his words more carefully.  For now.

Despite the fact that he's never been around a lot of kids for long periods of time, he seems to already grasp the idea that his brother is 'different.'  While watching Boy One acting in signature fashion one day, Boy Two remarked "He always does that.  I don't do that."  Huh, so he noticed.  Boy Two has also been trying to correct Boy One's speech by pronouncing words more clearly for him and restating things that he said.  He reminds his brother "Use your words" and acts very protective of him in situations where he senses that Boy One is overwhelmed or doesn't understand directions.  I'm curious to see how the siblings will relate to each other as they age.  But I'm pleased with his early sensitivity.

I'm afraid Boy Two has an Oedipal complex.  I understand that many little boys do, but it seems especially pronounced in this one.  He's always telling me how pretty I am, how much he likes whatever I'm wearing that day, is giving me kisses, etc.  And then he dismisses Daddy completely not minding when he's out of town and, while playing Wii games, is focused on destroying Daddy instead of seeing him as an ally, like his brother does. Hmm.

He also finds ways to recreate things that make an impression on him.  After visiting Wildlife Safari earlier this year he spent a morning in his room this week pairing similar animals together at various 'stops' around the table, and made a line of cars that drove around the view said beings.  Huh.
Along the same lines, he was impressed by Swiss Family Robinson and recreated the climactic last scene of the family fighting the pirates.  To do this, he used some LEGO rowboats, parked them at the bottom of the air conditioner, and figured out how to attached the LEGO pirates (with their swords) to the slats in the air conditioner to show them 'climbing' the 'cliff face.'  At the top of the air conditioner was the LEGO family (Robin Hood characters), their muskets, two palm trees with 'coconut bombs,' and the pet monkey.  I have to say, I was impressed. (Picture to come.....later.)

More observations to come, I'm sure.

Weekend Stuff

After hearing from my parents all summer long about the painting/decorating bonanza that has been transforming their church's childrens' wing from drab to fab (hey, it's all I could come up with), our little family finally made it to the Saturday evening service on the big 'revealing' weekend.  However, not smoothly.  After reminding the Husband that we had evening plans and then declining his offer to take us out to eat (yes, I'm that cheap) we managed to leave around six ten to get to the service at six thirty.  Unfairly, after telling Husband several times that yes, it started at six thirty, we arrived just beforehand to learn that this was the first weekend of the new 6:00pm start time.  Drat.  How does he happen to be right when all the time he had no idea what he was talking about?!  Ah, well.

Because we arrived late I decided to keep the kids in the service with us instead of letting them go to class together (it would have been their first time - not the way to make an entrance when you're already new and shy).  Happily, they sat through the next hour pretty quietly and fairly still.  Boy One distracted himself by drawing airplanes on the sermon notes.  We even got to sing "All to Jesus I Surrender," which I haven't sung in ages.  Yay!

The Children's hallway was amazing.  I have pictures, but alas, they are still in the camera.  (Aside: when I finally get those pictures out of the camera there will be a long, random post explaining them all.)  My kids' favorite part was obviously the slide into the classroom - they did this at least twenty times apiece (as did every other child present).  But I happen to enjoy the times we visit their church because it feels so familiar: my dad always seems genuinely thrilled that we are there and introduces and reintroduces us to everyone.  There are actually people there that are the ages of my husband and I (amazing!) and many of them have been to college/seminary - even the ones that we attended!  It's nice not to feel invisible at church.

On Sunday, our church switched from summer hours to normal hours and began Sunday School classes for the year.  The boys are in class together again, but Girl is back downstairs with the younger kids because of a change-up in class sizes.  Except for minor incidents with Boy One not wanting to participate in a few of his class activities, the kids performed adequately. 

But the great icing on the weekend was the horses!  A family at our church recently purchased two miniature horses for their farm and generously brought them to church so that we could all share in the joy.  Girl decided to stay with the horses for as long as they were there (they were just her size, after all - she's already claimed the buckskin horse as her own), covering herself completely in dirt but not caring in the slightest: there were horses at church, who cares about a little dirt?!  (This sounds much more reasonable if you don't realize that our church is right across the street from a horse ranch.)  Boy Two was only a little frightened, which I took as a good sign.  Boy One didn't really care that much: he's more of a dog boy.

As a tag on to the end of this post, Boy Two was randomly flipping through my Bible this morning and brought it to me.  "Could you read your Bible to me?  I don't know what the words are."  So we found his favorite story, Daniel in the Lion's den, and I read that to him.  Then he found an old picture Bible and sat down with it on the couch, saying "I have some reading to do."  So sweet.  Love that boy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hurray for school! Mostly.

Boy One's first day of kindergarten First Grade!  Finally!

I even took a picture of him, but it's hidden within the recesses of my camera.  One day I'll free those images and release them into cyber space like they're supposed to be.

I was in for a surprise last week when I found out, quite by accident, that Boy One was scheduled to ride the school bus again this year.  I had been told last spring that since we live only 1/4 mile from the school this was not an option.  Imagine my confusion.  The clarification (as I understand it) is that normal kids can't ride the bus so short a distance, but Special Ed kids can, and are pretty well expected to.  To add to this, they also release Special Ed kids to their bus ten minutes earlier than other children in order to avoid the crowds that can supposedly cause fear and panic with these kids.  Who knew.  I feel so uninformed as a parent - I forget that other people may think he always needs help whereas I think he only sometimes needs help.  But he might like the special treatment, who knows.

So he caught the bus this morning (the Special Ed bus pulls up right at your door, how handy) and I totally missed the joy of taking him to school/picking him up.  Do other parents not understand how important this is?  Or am I just too attached to my kids?  Fortunately, Mrs. B from his first year of kindergarten was there to give him a hug and see that he seemed perfectly comfortable and confidant.  One down, one to go.

After a LONG morning of waiting (afternoon kindergarten feels so anti-climactic) Boy Two and Girl and I walked the half mile to kindergarten for the delayed entry start.  We filled out some paperwork on volunteering, back ground checks, emergency numbers, etc. and sat for a little bit of circle time (learning to sing and English and Spanish, with some sign language thrown in for good measure), writing our names, and a tour of the school.  One of the kids in his class, Calvin, is the son of a girl I went to high school with, imagine that!  I couldn't have picked her out of a line up if my life depended on it.

It feels nice that, as this is my third year to have a kindergartner in this school system, I know all the rules and routines and am perfectly comfortable chatting with the teachers and staff.  I notice the other parents all have that deer-in-the-headlights look while I kept tuning out the teacher and letting my mind wander.  It was like high school all over again.

The boys schedules this year will require quite the finagling, so I hope I can get it straight.
On Mondays and Friday, we leave at 7:50am to walk Boy One to first grade by 8:05.  Then we walk Boy Two to kindergarten at 12:10pm, return home, walk down to get Boy One at 2:20pm, then keep going to pick up Boy Two at 3pm.
On Tuesday and Thursdays, Boy One rides the bus at 7:40, walk Boy Two to school at 12:10, Boy One comes home on the bus at 2:15 (yes, that's before school is actually out for the other kids) and we walk down to get Boy Two at 3pm.
On Wednesdays, Boy One rides the bus at 7:40, walk Boy Two to school at 11:40, Boy One comes home on the bus at 1:15, and we pick up Boy Two at school at 2:30pm.

I'm bound to forget one of them somewhere. 

To top it off my dentist calls this afternoon, "When are you free to come in for a cleanings?"  My only answer was, "Uuuummmmm.............."

But last year's trick to get Boy One to go with his therapists ("If you go with Mrs. _________, then you can come home and play the Wii") has backfired this year.  Now he comes home saying, "I sat on the carpet, I get to play the Wii!"  "I lined up, I get to play the Wii!"  Um, no.  So now we're having the "You're in first grade, you're old enough to follow the rules just because it's part of school" discussion. 

A plus! (I think)  One of the boys in Boy Two's class we know from play group at the Gladstone Christian Church the last three years, so yay!  Well, at least for me.  I adore this boy's mom. When did I get to the age where it seems all of my friends have been gleaned from my children's friends or teachers?  Should this make me lonely?  I'll think about it tomorrow.  At Tara!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


My kids have recently discovered the value of money.

For years now they have been getting special two dollar bills and dollar coins from grandparents for their birthdays and for Christmas, but not knowing anything else to do with said items they plunked them into their piggy banks and never looked back.  As they are getting older they have discovered the value of those measly dollars and the sheer delight in spending them on things that they desire.

It started by using a dollar to buy a soda or a candy bar at Safeway when we would drop by after a bike ride.  Oh the pleasure of choosing your own kryptonite and not having to share it with your whiny siblings!  That fairly recently morphed into bringing some coinage along on a trip to Michael's craft stores and perusing the dollar section for treasures. (Side note: rubber snakes will quickly lose their tongues and then break in half, loosing all value for the consumer and ending up in the trash with a mild case of tears for the child who chooses them.)

Now, however, these kids are on to bigger and better things.  At the promise of the long anticipated trip to Target, Girl counted out her money and carefully placed thirteen dollars in her purse.  Boy Two could only manage to scrape up ten dollars (still a tidy sum for a five-year-old) and Boy One a grand fourteen dollars.
At the store they waited patiently while Mama meandered through Misses Clothing before riding the elevator up to the second floor Toys section.  Upon discovering that the Sleeping Beauty Play Set that Girl wanted was reduced to a mere nine dollars Girl gave the Great Sigh of "Oooooh!  It's so beautiful!" and never let it out of her sight.

Not finding a suitable dinosaur, Boy Two decided to settle for some animal figures that completely wiped out his funds but at least afforded him pleasure.  Boy One, scouring for airplanes, decided to save his money and wait for what he really had in mind, trusting that it would eventually be found.  Which it was, later, at Michael's: a P-51 Mustang model airplane (a mere $10).  We also discovered there that the animal figures purchased by Boy Two for ten dollars could have been obtained at Michael's for a mere six dollars and a little bit of waiting.  Oh, well.  Boy Two has only instant gratification in mind while his siblings can wait for weeks for just the right toys.

Seeing as how the children only receive $2 a month in allowance (in addition to any money they make at Grandma's house) it will be a while before another shopping trip like this.  But I think it is good for them.  I don't remember spending hardly any money as a child.  In fact, I saved for years the necessary $85 to afford an American Girl doll, but was never sure how to go about ordering one from the catalog and therefore never had much to show for it.

This is one of the areas that intimidates me most about parenting: purposefully creating moments of learning for my children to usher them towards independence and maturity.  I'm not sure that I can use those two words to describe myself so directing them towards my children seems entirely out of my grasp!