Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blowing off the Dust, and A Few of My Favorite Things

Hey! I haven't been here in forever! And it's realy dusty... just like my house. Man, it's incredible how much faster my house gets messy at this time of year. All the extra stuff is like a dirt magnet, I swear.

The kids have actually been off for well over a week now, because the snow made such a mess around here (ie, the state can't handle it) that side roads were pretty much screwed until most of it melted. The big problem is, here in MD, everything is run by county, so if even one town in the county is impassable, the entire county is shut down. Since there are many, many towns in a county, and since our town is surrounded by rural places, every time anything happens at all, the whole place is closed, even when our own area is fine. Thus, the mall in town was PACKED all three days when the schools were closed due to 'treacherous conditions', so much so that it took some friends of mine over twenty minutes to circumnavigate the parking lot (once you're in, you pretty much can't get out).

Our Xmas has been great. The doorbell didn't ring for many days, and neither did the phone, which was wonderful. Usually, there are kids all over the place around here, and the bell rings several times a day, setting off the dogs, interrupting me constantly, and making family time nearly impossible. Also, with my classes over, and the kids at home, and all the extra activities over for the break, we've actually had time to play games and hang out, just the four of us.

The Elf Project I ran ended on the 18th, and in the end, we helped thirty-one kids from fourteen families. It was awesome. Most of the families were really nice. I hadn't been sure what to expect on pick-up night, whether people would be friendly, or shy, or what. Almost everyone was really friendly, and only one person was downright nasty, which I think is a pretty bug success. I got to meet the boy whose presents I bought, which was a treat since he's 13 and I didn't think I'd ever see him. He doesn't know it was me, of course, but just from meeting him I know he'll like what he got. Seeing the families made me sad, but also happy that they were there. I feel like I learned a lot, and got at least as much out of it emotionally as I put into it.

Patrick has a 'testing' date for the magnet program we've applied to; we're going at 10am on the 9th, so less than two weeks away. I'm nervous, but also excited for him. I can't go in with him, and he's never taken a test like that before, so I'm wondering what it will be like, and how he will take it. I haven't talked much about it to him, because I don't want him to psyche himself out over the idea of a test, especially since I have no idea what it will be like. His current teacher refused the idea of my sending in anything extra to take up his time, and the 'enrichment' teacher refuses to work with him, so we're back to square one. I'm really frustrated. She noted on his mid-term progress report that she's providing challenging work herself, which seems to me to be crap, since he's bringing home the same work he always has.

I can't help but wonder, a little, if some of this isn't a bit of backlash for what happened with Josie's teacher last year, and the letter I wrote that eventually was used to get her removed from her position a year ago and fired at the end of the school year. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone knew what I'd done, and while I don't regret it, I guess I didn't think about future repercussions other than having to run into Her in the hallways, etc. I suppose anyone who liked her (I can't imagine) would think I'm a pretty big dillhole.

Anyway, interestingly enough, since telling Patrick that we no longer care about his 'color', he has gotten ALL GREENS (the best behavior). ?!?!?! WTF?! Here's a funny thing - his teacher asked what we'd been doing differently, and I had to tell her that it was nothing other than telling him that we didn't care anymore. HA! So, I don't know if this was one big attention ploy on his part, or what. I'm going to cancel the appointment with the doctor for his ADD eval, because it's in only a few days, because I want to see what happens in the weeks after break. More and more, I think it's Nothing To Worry About. No one other than his teacher thinks there's a problem, not his karate instructor, his friends' parents, or our relatives, including my SIL whose child actually *is* ADD. So, we'll wait and see.

Tomorrow, I'll write about the cool games we've updated our cabinet with. We're big on games in our house, and we got a lot of fun ones this year! I can't wait to catch up on all your things; I've missed everyone, but also haven't felt like parking on the computer. After being chained to it all semester, it was nice to just look at email as I walked by and be done at that. I knew you'd all be right there when I came back. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Awesomest Web Site EVER

For those of you who love a) PostSecret, b)Pets, or c) both, go here:

I found out about it when I came across the site's book the other day in a store. I heart it.

More soon, I promise. Finals are this week. I still have an A in both classes, and it's going to stay that way, dammit. I hope to be done Tuesday, but we'll see.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not-so-Mellow Yellow

I am reaching the point of being pretty stressed out about Patrick.

In his parent-teacher conference last month, Mrs. W hinted that she thinks he may have a hyperactivity problem. She of course wouldn't say anything outright, because they're not really allowed to, but she said that she was letting him use handheld fiddle toys to help him sit still and give him something to do, because that's what her mother did with her brother, who had ADD. When I asked her if she thought he had a problem, she backpedaled so fast it's a wonder she didn't fall over her own feet, and said if that was something WE were concerned about, we could talk to a doctor about it.

Uh, when you plant a seed like that in someone's head, who wouldn't be concerned, whether I believed it or not? Either he has an issue, and needs help, or he doesn't, but she's treating him like he does.

Not to mention, he's been getting Yellows almost every day, all year long. (For those of you w/o school-age kids, this is a behavior thing; kids start the day on 'green', and get moved down a scale to other colors based on the teacher's perception of their behavior. Yellow is the first color down after green.) In this particular class, there's no physical chart, so the children aren't moving a clip or marker of any kind, and therefore have no idea when they have moved from one color to the next. This nice in that there's no public humiliation, but a pain because the kids don't know exactly what they did sometimes to get whatever color they get.

For months now, we've been trying to encourage the green behavior, while stressing out over whether he's just not capable of it, and if not, maybe there IS a problem, etc. Then, the other day, I caught him lying about having already done his homework, and the root of the problem smacked me in the face: he started crying and saying he didn't want to do it because it was too easy and boring. (This is true; his class is doing simple addition when he could multiply many of those numbers.) After talking with him a little further, I realized that the times he's getting in trouble are when he's waiting for other people to finish their work, and he's sitting there bored in his seat looking for something to do.

Suddenly, I felt like I had broken through the ice and could breathe again. There's no problem with my boy. There's a problem with the school. They're not challenging him, and he's bored, which makes him fidgety, which in turn is making the teacher treat him like he's got some medical issue. I know he does a lot of weird things, and boredom probably isn't the only reason he gets in trouble, but I'll bet it's a big part of it.

Enter The Guilt. I was taking the side of the school's behavior system over my boy, and believing things they were not-quite-saying rather than looking for an answer myself. He's not having problems with his schoolwork, he has lots of friends, and he functions well in almost every environment but those where he has to sit still and simply wait quietly. I should have known. I'm his mother, why did I come so close to accepting someone else's definition of my son?

Last night, I did two things: one, I filled out an application for Patrick to get into a magnet program for science and math next year at a local school. It's a drive, but he would get to do schoolwork 1-2 years above his grade level, and yet still be with his own peers. He was so excited when I told him about it he started jumping up and down. The other was that I emailed his teacher, explained what I thought was going on and how it's the same as last year before his K teacher started sending him to 2nd grade for reading, and asking if he could either have more challenging work, or if I could send in a workbook or something for him to use when he has down time, even if it wasn't something he handed in to her. I haven't heard back yet, but I'm almost scared to. I tried talking to her at the beginning of the year about it, and got shut down, so we'll see. Fingers crossed, people.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mad Scientist Hearbreaker

It has come to my attention that Patrick has been conducting Experiments in the bathroom. (Wait, it's not what you think.)

I have been finding random cups of water in the shower for awhile now, and have been dumping them out, grousing about why on EARTH there are glasses of cold, dirty water in the shower all the time. The other day, though, DH and I were talking, and he told me that these are actually Patrick's experiments! He's been finding out thing like, 'if I cover a cup with a facecloth, will the water still evaporate?' and 'what will toothpaste do in water after a few days?'. That just CRACKS me UP. I knew he had put Mythbusters kits on his Xmas list, but bathroom experiments are just in a whole other league of pocket-protector-hood. That's my boy. :)

Last night, Mr. Wizard came to say goodnight to me while I was sitting on the couch watching TV with Josie. He leaned over and hugged me, and I whispered to him, 'who loves my pickle boy?' He whispered, 'you do, and daddy does... but she doesn't.' Meaning Josie. Who has been unpleasant to him for a long, long time. Who I have been warning and talking to about this whole idea. Her jaw hit the floor. She said, 'I do, too'! He looked at her, and then back at me, and whispered, 'yeah, but I don't believe her'. My heart just broke. He was so matter-of-fact, like please pass the butter, Josie doesn't love me, can I play Wii later? She was floored. I asked why he said that, and he replied that it was because she never wants to be with him, always says no when he asks her to play with him, will only do something with him if I'm there too, and leaves when I do, and isn't nice to him when they're with friends (like A, who lives down the street, and went to prek w/ him for a year, but is now more friends with Josie instead).

I maintained a neutral face while he said all of this, and after he left, I looked at Josie and said, 'well, how did that feel?' She was still floored, and said, 'um.... not too good.' So I told her that whatever she was feeling in her stomach and heart right at that moment was what she's brought on herself, and is exactly what she deserves. I also told her that I can't help her, and that she's going to have to find her way out of this one herself.

Today, I saw her catch herself on the walk home; after telling him 'oh, nevermind' on the way home when he asked her to repeat himself, she stopped short and explained exactly what she had said. Later, when I asked if she'd like to be the one to give Patrick his iPod for Xmas, she said yes.

Maybe, finally, something will sink in. At least for awhile. Because hearing my resident mad scientist describe why and how his sister shows that she doesn't love him breaks my heart.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stop the Ride, I Want To Get Off

A few days ago, my MIL called me while I was driving around town running six errands in my small two-hour window and asked if we were free on the 20th, which is the Sunday before Xmas. I said I thought we were, thinking she was scheduling the larger-family Xmas gathering, when she said, 'oh, I'm not going to tell you'. Suddenly, I was paying a LOT more attention, but it was too late. I had just Agreed To Something, and worse, I had no idea what, because she wouldn't say.

It turns out, she's planned a whole Girl's Day Out for my two SIL's, Josie, my oldest niece C, and herself. And, it's a Surprise.

Oh, no.

The good news is, it's apparently somewhere near us, which means one less time I have to drive all over creation.

The bad news is:
1. yet another day that I'm scheduled; I am now officially down to TWO days that I have no plans, classes or appointments until Xmas.
2. yet another day that our family will be going in all different directions. With karate, piano, school, my classes, me working, and the Xmas pageant which rehearses 3x weekly now, we are almost never all at home for any amount of time. I HATE that.
3. an entire outing with my SIL K. The one who sent me that awful hate mail this summer. The one who, along with her husband, makes me so nervous now that I feel half-ill even thinking about being trapped in a car and on some excursion with.
4. I feel seriously duped, although had I been paying more attention to what she was saying I might have caught that it wasn't a family thing, just a girl thing. I know she wasn't trying to fool me, and it was my own leap, but I'm still annoyed in general at thinking something is one thing, and it's another.
5. I HATE surprises. We have NOTHING in common. For all I know, we're going quilting, which she and K are really into. Even if it is something I would like on an ordinary day, see #1, 2 and 3. The last girl's outing we went on was to a tea house, because that's what she wanted as a gift. Yeah. A TEA HOUSE. Egad.

I love my MIL. She's a lovely person, and even though we have nothing in common, she's always been very kind to me. I will do whatever it is and smile because I have to. DH keeps telling me that I should email or call her and say that really, we're swamped, and are in desparate need of having time to do something with our own little family, but it's too late for that. She sent an itenerary of when she's going to be picking people up, which means that there's a schedule for a reason, and probably money has been spent. Besides, it would hurt her if I backed out. So, that's that. I tried to explain to my SIL J, who I love to pieces, why I wasn't thrilled, but she just said to relax. I don't think she can understand the severity of my stress level at being around her sister. I think it has something to do with how I lived until I was about 20 - never knowing when someone was going to snap and start screaming and/or throwing things at me. I was terrified so much of the time. That most recent hateful, massive email outburst from K and my BIL finished it off; I think they trigger the same panic-run response in me that my first family did. I will never, ever relax around them again.

Relax = my couch and my family and a movie or a game AT HOME, FOR ONCE.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009


In the holiday category:

My favorite decoration is my Christmas village. I enjoy my little neighborhood WAY too much. See?

This year, it's in the dining room on the folding tables, where I get to see it all the time. I made the skirt to velcro on around the bottom (thank you, Mr. Glue Gun), which I think is a huge improvement, too. It has street lights, shrubs with lights, people who actually skate, and, new this year, Santa and the reindeer on top of the Smithsonian (I put little lights on them, so you can see the sleigh, on the right). I think I like it so much because, deep down, I would love to have lived when things were all mufflers-and-sleighs. Sigh.

In the school category:

Took my third trig exam today on the most blisteringly-horrible chapter EVER. I had trouble logging in, and the 60-something testing lab staff person actually ROLLED HER EYES at me when I questioned her comment of 'you'll have to go down to the lab to try and log in with your password down there to find out what your password it, but you can't leave'. huh??? That comment was wrong on so many levels, it's a wonder my head didn't explode. I was so pissed by that point that I couldn't let it go by. I looked at her and said, 'Did you just roll your eyes at me?!' really loudly. She was embarrassed, and stopped being such a bee-yotch. Then the manager came over and helped; really, all I needed was someone to give me the password to get into the exam. Someone had obviously used her Fixodent to spackle the wrong hole.

I ended up with an 85%, but only because I'm pretty good at eliminating choices based on sign and probability. I can't believe I did that well. There were TWENTY ONE formulas in this chapter, and they're all pre-calc, so they make no sense at all until you actually get to calc, which is a place I'm SO not going. One last exam left. If I can manage a 79 on the last test, I'll still get an A in the class.

In the matching category:

ALL THE KIDS ARE MATCHED WITH SUPPORTING FAMILIES!!!!!!! Last night, I got three more people who wanted to take on children, and that was all I needed!!!!! What really did it was that my friend Kristi's mom is in a local women's group, and the family they have supported in the past has moved away, so they took on the five-child family, plus they're giving them store and grocery gift cards as well. I could have CRIED when I heard that.

In the soft and cuddly department:

That's my soft and fuzzy Brown Dog. :) Mmwah!