Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two lives

Snapshot of a life #1:
We have (presumably) 2 baby doves, freshly hatched today.  I haven't glimpsed them yet, though I've been looking hard today.  I did get to sit beside the nest this afternoon and spend a while alternating between a book and watching Mama Dove feed the babes, from whom I could hear the very smallest of cooing sounds. 

While I'm not a "baby person," not one to go nutty over newly minted infants, I still greatly appreciate and am continually awed by the progression of and sudden understanding of new persons.  One moment the world is complete and the next there is a new presence, which will forever be a name, a body, a potential. 

Snapshot of a life #2:
A teacher friend/acquaintance of ours is devastatingly and suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor.  While I did not have the luxury of teaching with this man for longer than a few months, I knew of him and about him for several years.  Like so many others who have been through his classroom or have worked alongside him, I think of him as an honest representation of all that is good in education. 

He is yet another representation of a person who has been touched by all that is unfair.  In my time with this school, I struggled with reading my co-workers, what my role was in the school dynamics and how I could or should approach others.  Tim, however, has always been a good memory of those rough months.  I remember two distinct conversations with him quite vividly not because of what we talked about (though I do remember that as well) but because of the acceptance with which he treated me.  I was not, somehow, an outsider to him trying to break through and find a place.  His conversations were seamless, which I suspect is true for all whom he comes in contact with. 

I heard of Team Strand 4 days ago at which time $6000 had been raised to help off set the cost of Tim's treatment goal of $97,000, which at the time seemed an insurmountable sum to crowd source.  As I write this, over $64,000 have been raised, including many many donations from former students.  Goosebumps.  What a perfect testimony to the power of an individual, one who embodies truth and the pursuit of good, one who treats others with purpose and acceptance.   

One moment his world was complete and the next, there was suddenly a new presence, which will forever have a name, a mass, a potential.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Poking, prodding and collecting...doesn't everyone do this?

Pee-se be seated unless urine a hurry.  (There's something about being an adult and/or a parent that makes your normal inhibitions take flight, hence the punny foreshadowing.  Feel free to stop reading really at any time if this isn't your thing.)

Well, obviously, this is about that liquid gold that doctors love so much.  Not love in the normal way, mind you but more in the favorite-lab-test-don't-know-what's-wrong-with-you-let's-get-a-urine-sample-and-see-what's-happening kind of "love."  This post is also not about me, cause, you know...why would I be writing about this if it were about me?  Well, I wouldn't.  Instead, it's about my kid, so that's fair game, right???

It's a story of trying to get a quick, easy little urine sample from a non-toilet-trained child.  Apparently, we have discovered the medical crux for #2.  With our oldest, she only has to look at another kid who has the sniffles and that child's cold magically seems to morph into an ear infection in my own.  For the majority of her first 3 years of life, my child was only around 1 other kid for child care.  The odds of avoiding mass sickness were in her favor.  It practically gives me the vapors to think of what would have happened if she were in a more traditional child care situation for those years.  We're just doing our part to help create a new Amoxycilin resistant superbug.  (Remember when I wrote about the time I had to physically restrain her by laying over her upper torso while two kind but perfunctory nurses gave her painful shots in her thighs because the traditional antibiotic route had been exhausted...on her birthday.  I do.)

To her credit, #2 scoffed her way through a couple of small ear infections.  No big deal.  She doesn't let those get in her way.  Which is fan-tas-tic given her turbulent relationship with Amoxycilin.  However, she does seem to have a procilivity for UTIs.  This leads us to the most recent bout with collecting "a sample."  It has been something of a 3-day saga involving
*2 juice boxes
*a 2-hour visit to a walk-in clinic
*the happiest, most amenable kid I could possibly imagine in an exam room
*songs...lots of songs
*careening across town to get our almost-5-year-old (!!!)'s closing program for pre-school
*20 minutes massaging (manhandling?  probing?  palpating?  all of the above) the little one's lower abdominal, e.g. bladder, region so as to lead to "a sample" while she merrily ignored my urgency and continued to play with the tie on my shirt in an imperturbable manner
*cookie bribes
*a couple of collection cups hanging around the house...nothing brings back memories of pregnancies like those
*putting things on backwards
*spilling things
*going through a whole explanation with the med office about how, well, my child can't really potty on the potty on demand given that she has never done this, it doesn't matter that there's a special little "hat" for her to sit on (hat??? why in the world would we call it that?)
*and more!

Though she might disagree, this is happening to the right kid.  Our youngest is unflappable when dealing with matters that the rest of us cringe, cry and curse from.  Watching the doctor poke around on her little body, my first thought was "Wow, this child will have no problem with her annual OB/Gyn visits."  I'm sympathetic like that, apparently. 

Finally, here's a shout out to out babysitter, i.e. my mother-in-law who will never read this, who takes it all in stride.  She ended up waiting at our house for about 1/2 an hour by herself until I came back from the "quick" visit to the doctor, only to throw a hungry kid at her an hour before the child's bedtime with brief instructions to feed/brush/dress the little one, and, oh, please get a urine sample from her as well.  Then I rushed out the door for the frantic, aforementioned dash across town to catch at least a couple of songs that only a 4 and 5-year olds would sing so enthusiastically (and with motions!) in front of a couple of hundred people.

I'm not a big proponent of starting potty training before a child turns 2, no matter the gender.  But this situation, admittedly, has given me the slightest urge to start the training post haste.  We're all hoping to get this mess out of the way so that the birthday celebrations (plural!) can commence because in this family, when you have kids, you bunch the birthdays all together, which makes for a good amount of present wrapping, cake and ice cream all at once.  In a mere 2 1/2 weeks, we'll have not only a brand new 5-year old but a newly minted 2-year old as well.  These are good times that make up for a lot for those moments that are less than ideal.   

Friday, May 9, 2014

Can I Get an Amen?!?

Yesterday, the words "Can I get an AMEN?!?" l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y ran through my head.  And then I wrote the cause of that moment down on a scrap piece of paper along with some other AMEN moments.  I thought that I'd share them here.  With you.  Happy weekend, all.

*Getting the urge to surprise your kids.  Knowing that you have a B1G1 coupon tucked away for a favorite ice cream joint.  Looking the flavor of the day up.  Finding out there is some sweet, sweet caramel turtle for the taking.  AMEN.
*Having all of the plants on sale when I go to restock my container gardening supply.  AMEN.
*A fully fenced in backyard.  A handful of outdoor toys stored in the shed.  A sandbox about five feet from the kitchen door.  And, two girls who are best buds.  AMEN.
*Track season winding down.  The boy will be home more than two nights a week, coming soon.  AMEN.
*Strawberries.  Raspberries.  Blackberries.  On sale.  AMEN.
*Season 7 of Psych on Netflix.  AMEN.
*Bon Apetit magazine.  Time to read it.  AMEN.
*Pulling about 70 lbs. of children in a wagon up hills on a walk.  In warm weather.  AMEN (to part of that). 

And which one of these caused my internal flipping for joy?  Well, here's a hint: I do appreciate having some time with no one repeatedly bumping me, hanging on me, or otherwise taking up my often non-existent space to do something as indulgent as cook dinner.  And I do listening to my girls play together.  And the fence...I really dig that, too.  Win-win-win.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reading, reading, everywhere

Confession: I'm a tried and true licensed high school English teacher and I don't really know how to teach someone to read.  As I read what I was writing, I realized that it's actually pretty similar to being a parent--you might have kids who depend on you for everything from Advil to zoo trips, but that doesn't mean that you ever feel confident in knowing what you're doing.  It's all 'bout winging it, ya dig? 

So back to being a seemingly incapable English teacher turned mom who has a budding reader in her midst.  What's with all the pressure from everywhere to teach your kid how to read?  To spend laborious hours together going through words one letter at a time?  To devoting serious parent-child hours to mastering this daunting task?  That's what elementary school teachers are for...RIGHT?!?!?  (That was said tongue in cheek, friends.)

Welp, it turns out that I'm not doing much of anything that I would call intentional in order to help teach my child to read.  She seems to be doing well enough as is.  We're cool with where she's at.  She has to have some genetic predisposition to all things symbolism, right?  (Will she be the only kindergartner who recognizes that the stated color indicates a traditional understanding of purity and innate goodness in gentle, caring Snow White?)  In actuality, she's picking up a decent amount of words out of a) curiosity and b) reading by the literal ton of books (I know that this is a true weight and not a bit of hyperbole given how I have been the toter for the aforementioned ton). 

She's in a bit of a murky place in the children's section at the library between being too advanced/old for many of the picture books (Really, how many different ways can we teach the ABCs and counting?  Lots.) and being not very interested in many of the super-duper lame "learn-to-read in 3 easy steps" early reader books.  They're often dull, boring, and really uninteresting.  AND, they're all about dogs or cats with an occasional amphibian or ladybug thrown in for good measure.  Plus, is this the age when girls start the stereotype about loving horses?  (I distinctly remembered how shocked my mom was when I told her, kindly of course, that I didn't care a whit about horses when I was younger.  I sadly dashed her nostalgic hope that I would share her childish devotion to Black Beauty, perhaps.)  All of a sudden, these early reader books are full of horses.  Yay. 

Regardless of the unappealing options that are quickly taking over, we still devote lots of time to the old recliner, which is very quickly going to be outgrown if she continues on this torrid pace of growing up and stretching out.  (I keep asking her how she suddenly got so tall; she thinks I'm silly.  I'd really like her to explain it to me, though.  She surely hasn't just naturally turned into this burgeoning school-aged kid.)  I'm a big fan of the cuddling that ensues, the stories that develop (even if we have to read Arthur and Co. fifty times a week...what's up with this odd menagerie of animals?), and the time devoted to learning words.  We sound them out sometimes.  We anticipate what is coming next.  And we make predictions about the story line.  Other than that, this English teacher isn't all that well versed in the intricacies of the learning-to-read process. 

This kid is an on-again/off-again fan of Super Why (which, truly, I could probably watch for my own entertainment on any Friday evening), and we share a love of the pig character and his fun songs.  One of the girls often sings her own special song, which Abby was belting out the other night.  As she says here, "I really love to spell!  F-E-E-L-L!!"  She'll figure all this stuff out; I've no doubt.  And if that means that we sacrifice some of the "use this book in order to learn to read even thought it's really boring because it's all very short, simple sentences and relies on about 6 words that are used repeatedly" books in order to gain some depth of actual storytelling and plot, then that's the way our daughters will earn their reading skills.  I may have to read the same books over and over cause our kids (for some reason) think that frog and toad are funny, but we're going to have complex sentences and four-syllable words, dang it.  That, I know, is some good stuff.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Let's define "snacks," shall we?

Good grief, this parenting thing is hard.  Not only do you have provide everything for these little babes who can walk and talk (they even have to be chauffeured on a walk around the neighborhood?!?), but you have to watch what goes in their impressionable little minds. don't have to.  But we do.  And it takes a lot of work.

I bring before you today my petition to STOP FEEDING MY KIDS JUNK AND CALLING IT "SNACKS."  Oatmeal cream pies (gross junk) are not snacks.  Capri Suns (disturbingly colored junk) are not snacks.  Apples...are delicious.  Keep feeding my children those.  Furthermore, they like them a lot.  That's a win-win.

***For the record, we're not living in this "Do as I say and not as I do" kind of environment in this house.  If I'm eating junk, my kid gets to eat it, too.  If I'm not, they don't either.  It's a helpful policing kind of policy.***

My (processed) beef with this pseudo-snacking going on is that it's a constant feeling of "Well, okay...they can eat that one time.  It won't kill them."  But it seems like we use this justification multiples times a week

Trying to balance the bits of junk that infiltrate their sticky paws, I find myself rarely offering treats of any kind.  That just burns my cookies, so to speak.  We love treats!  We are BFFs with sugar!  We're not really that opposed to out kids eating "junk" sometimes.  But can't we all just agree to cut out the more problematic junk that is simply everywhere and has become so ubiquitous to acceptable for children? 

Like any good set of parents who believe they have to filter everything in their child's life until they're knocking on 30 (hyperbole, I assure you), we'd ever so much rather being the ones doling out the junk cause we have specially-approved-crunchy-granola-type junk that, shockingly, our kids like, too.