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Posts tagged ‘friendship’

It’s a Wrap

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Well, that was fun, one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time. It ended for all intents and purposes when Mae returned to school today. She saw one of her classmates from last year as we were walking into the school building. She promptly ditched me and went about her business. I think she said bye, but I’m not sure.

Jay has two more weeks of camp, and I expect a similar ditching from him when his school opens after Labor Day. Over the summer, his attitude matured more than his body. He’s still a sweet kid over all but he developed a smart mouth somewhere along the way this summer.

Ahhh, it was a sweet summer. We rested, we took it easy. I took it easy. That’s unusual for me. I did it and I’m proud of myself. I read at home, not just on the train during my commute. I did only one day of yard work. The yard was plain and boring, and I was ok with that; fortunately, Hubby kept the grass at a decent level.

I baked for no reason or special occasion. I even took naps on a couple of days. I started the summer with a plan for the kids to have 20 minutes of study time per day. I wasn’t a stickler about it, so they had 20 minutes most days. And, most days, I didn’t check the work to see if it was correct. Bless their hearts, they didn’t complain much. They acted like studying during the summer was normal. Mae especially surprised me because her summer workbook was all math. I asked her to focus on fractions, multiplication, and division. She struggled most with fractions. Still, every time I suggested that she go to the multiplication or division sections of the book, she said she wanted to keep working on the fractions. That’s my plucky girl.

She and Jay enjoyed their camp at Jay’s school. Since it’s Mae’s old school, she got to see some of her old classmates. Jay is easy; if there are Legos available, he’ll be fine. I thought for sure Mae would be bored out of her mind. Nope. Day after day, she told me camp was fun. In fact, she didn’t have a meltdown until the last day. Some girls yelled at her because she bumped into one of them. She thought they were being mean to her and she said they had been mean to her before, for no reason. I could tell from some of her daily reports that she’s still learning how to pick up on the social cues and keep her distance from children who don’t like or accept her. Otherwise, it appears that she got along with her fellow campers ok.

The kids had swimming lessons, and Mae had Tae Kwon Do and Jay drum lessons. It was manageable, no overscheduling. We actually had several free Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes both in the same weekend. That was a beautiful, lovely, awesome thing.

One of the best parts of summer was that Mae had no hypersensitive reactions to bug bites. Like the doctor said, she outgrew the sensitivity (it appears). This was the first summer since she was about 3 years old that the mysterious brown spots and sores did not appear.

We all needed that relaxed break; last school year was grueling. I think I’m ready for 4th and 1st grades. Deep breath in . . . .

How’s That for You?

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Here’s to another satisfied birthday kid. Jay’s party went well yesterday. He and his friends had fun, and the staff were so helpful. I actually spent a lot of time talking to other parents and relaxing, so much so that I missed a lot of good pictures.

Jay had asked for a Ninjago cake. I stressed for a few weeks about how to pull that off. I looked at lovely Ninjago cakes online that were in the shape of the Ninja Lego men, brightly colored fondant draped elegantly to depict the characters’ costumes. I envied those bakers. Fondant scares me. I’m not ready for it. I thought about star-tipping one of the Ninja, but I visualized myself cramped over a cake for a few hours, ending up with a severe case of carpel tunnel syndrome. Then, someone suggested an edible print-out. Bingo! It was so easy and fast, and he was pleased with it — always the ultimate test.

Before the party, he had his first drum lesson.  He had fun and he wants to continue with the lessons, which I think is great.   What I like too is that the lessons are at the instructor’s house.  Yay!  I’m excited that Jay chose something that is unrelated to Mae’s interests.  Sometimes, it seems that he likes what she likes because she likes it and he’ll stop liking something if she doesn’t like it or shows no interest.  I have a feeling the drum lessons will be different.  I’ll ask her to encourage him to practice because she’s great at motivating others, and I think that will help him stay focused.

I’ve been making it a point lately to preach to them that they have to help and support each other.   This is the first weekend that they are responsible for their own laundry.  So far, they have moved their clothes downstairs, into the washer, and then into the dryer, using teamwork.  I just listen carefully and intervene if necessary.  I have to particularly listen out for the bossy one, Mae.

Love her like I do, I know Mae can be slippery, which came out most recently this weekend. She’d been suspicious of the Tooth Fairy since Jay lost a tooth several weeks ago. She lost a tooth at camp on Friday and didn’t tell me about it. She placed it under her pillow Friday night to test if the “Tooth Fairy” would bring her a gift. I walked into her bedroom Saturday morning and she pulled the tooth from under her pillow with a flourish. “Aha! I told you.” Yep, she proved herself right. No question, the Tooth Fairy does not exist outside of this house. I am she. Then, she proceeded to think out loud about what I should give her for her tooth. “Should I get candy or money or . . . .”

Erck! (FYI, that’s the sound of a car hitting brakes hard.) I explained that now that she knows there is no Tooth Fairy, she can’t expect to collect on a lost tooth. I thought that would be a short conversation. Not with this child. No, not this one. So, then I explained it this way: The Tooth Fairy leaves gifts. A giver decides whether and what to give; there is no entitlement. I added that she’s a nine-year old allowance-earner and she can buy herself whatever gift she thinks the “Tooth Fairy” would have or should have given her. She’s grown out of the make-believe, so she can grow into more independence. Since we were having a frank conversation, I told her that Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are fake too. Done.

Spread Thin

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I would have written this post days ago were it not for Ruzzle, that addictive word game that has become my go-to mental break.

Work was on fire the past two weeks. I gave away hours of personal and family time in the evenings and weekends to keep up with the demands. I went to bed exhausted and woke up groggy and still exhausted.

Mae went back to therapy and social skills training last week, after a break of over one year. Overall, the school year has been great compared to past years. This is still a critical time. She’s made some friends and she seems to have a lot of fun with them . . . until someone doesn’t want to play tag. Then, the crying begins and then the teasing about the crying begins. Last week, she decided to give an upper cut to some boy who wouldn’t stop mocking her crying. She told me that night that no one likes or wants her anymore because they won’t play tag with her.

It’s the self-degradation and the hitting that worry me. I’m afraid that her classmates will stop wanting to play with her at all because of how she reacts when they want to do something other than what she wants to do.

So, we’re continuing to work on how to play what others are playing or learn to move on and play with someone else, and how to handle disappointments and disagreements.

Before tonight’s appointment, Mae said, “Today is a perfect day to go to Dr. [M]. I have a bunch of stuff to talk about. Last time, she did most of the talking. This time, I think I should do most of the talking.” And talked, she did.

I was unsure that more one-on-one therapy would be beneficial, but I’m glad we went. I think it’s good in the long run that Mae has a practice of going to safe places and people when something is troubling her. Unfortunately, we have a scheduling issue. Our choices now are 5 pm or 8 pm appointments. So, we’ll have to postpone more sessions until the therapist has different openings or I can change my work schedule.

Mae thinks social skills training is fun because she gets to play with other kids. The group meets on Saturday mornings, so the scheduling is working for us right now. She is the only girl in the group, which sucks. She seems to have more trouble playing with girls, and I was hoping for some practice in that area.

In better news, Mae and I had an awesome time for her birthday in NYC. It was a fun-packed two days. We got to do everything on our list and we made a new list of things to do on the next trip. We’ve already made a photo book, which is a birthday tradition, for the trip. She asked to add the captions this time, which took some letting go on my part. I had to tell myself, “She’s nine. Let her tell her story in her own words (and edit it before ordering :))”.

I started a 4-week cake decorating class. I didn’t do too bad on my first cake. The kids recognized it right away as an Angry Bird, and that’s all the validation I need. I thought it was much better than the “my family” foursome of mini cakes I made for Mae’s birthday. I thought Jay should have been easily recognizable with his two missing teeth and Mohawk. Hubby said that his cake should have had hair although he doesn’t wear any in real life. Oh well, I’m learning.

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Life after Kids

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I filleted a fish for the first time! It was a lot easier than I expected.

I have a friend who is four months pregnant with her first child. She’s past whatever is that golden age for pregnancy, meaning increased risk for complications for her and the baby. I called her today to see how things are going (well, thank goodness). When I called her, I was on my way home from a cooking class and I told her that I plan to use what I’d learned when I next host supper club. She started lamenting that she’ll “never get a chance to do stuff like that.” I asked, “Stuff like what?” She said take a cooking class or be in a supper club. She asked herself out loud why she and her husband had started so late.

What a funny thought. I reminded her that I started supper club after I became a mother. And I told her this was my first cooking class ever. Heck, I didn’t even take home ec in high school.

Mind you, my friend tends toward the melodramatic plus her hormones are out of wack.  Still, I felt very lucky all of a sudden while I was talking to her. There I was giving her a pep talk about how she’ll be able to do fun stuff after the baby comes, maybe not right away but eventually.

I reached out to friends about starting a supper club when my second was still an infant, precisely because I wanted to have a life beyond wife, milk bag, diaper changer, booger picker, etc. I’m having that life. Of course, I don’t get to have or do everything I want, but I have some plans, some goals, some dreams. Some are frivolous, some not. Maybe I’ll accomplish all of them, maybe not.

One thing is for sure: Talking to Preggers was a good reminder that it’s my responsibility for making myself a full, rich life.

Coming soon, a cake decorating class.

Fade to Black

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As 2012 fades to black, I think back on how blessed we have been this year and in previous years. Life hasn’t been perfect or stress-free. All-in-all, though, it’s been darn good.

I had a glorious time in SC with my immediate and extended families during our short winter vacation. We had a Christmas party on the Saturday before the holiday. The food was good, the games were fun, and spirits were high. One of the things I love most about my big (my mother is one of eleven), crazy family is that we manage to consistently have a genuinely good time, without the drama that is typically associated with big gatherings and without the help of alcohol (LOL).

Mae and Jay got to see all of their first cousins. They played well together, and I’m especially proud of Mae. I think she managed to avoid falling out with her big cousin, who is just 9 months older, even once. Usually, Mae whines or has a meltdown about not being able to play with her cousin’s things or something along those lines. No meltdowns at all on the trip. Growth is a beautiful thing, and she’s been doing plenty of it physically and otherwise.  Lately, she’s been asking questions on topics like periods and the N-word.  She’s becoming less and less of a “little girl,” a term she now detests.

Last week, Mae told me that she wonders if she should tell her friends that she has Asperger’s.  She said, “I don’t know what they’ll think of me.”  I told Mae that she can tell her friends if she feels comfortable, and that it’s more important to focus on what she wants her friends to understand about her and show them who she is without using a label.  I told her that the doctor said she’s barely on the spectrum, so Asperger’s may not be the best way to explain who she is.   Her question is an interesting question given recent media coverage of Asperger’s in relation to the Newtown tragedy.  Mae is aware of the tragedy because her school principal made an announcement the next school day.  She’s unaware of the media coverage and how some have attributed the shooter’s behavior to Asperger’s.  We’re not much of a news-watching household, and that’s a good thing.

After we returned home from SC, we buckled down to Mae’s homework.  She actually completed some of it while we were in SC, bless her heart, with little resistance. She has had so much homework over the past few weeks, more than I could have ever imagined for a 3rd grader.  We spent hours each day last Thursday through Sunday working on a book about the planets. There is a required 15-page minimum with limited use of illustrations, which Mae had to create herself. (Thank you, Microsoft, for Insert>Shapes.)

Last night, as Mae put the finishing touches on the book,  she told me that she enjoyed working on it, that she had looked forward to it.  She’s really had a good attitude about this homework business.  Hubby and I have been the ones grumbling for weeks.  I’ve been trying to think of a way to complain to the school, but I don’t know if it’s me or them that’s being unreasonable.  I wanted an accelerated and advanced curriculum, so maybe I should keep my mouth shut. What I didn’t know was that we’d be trading loads of personal time and family time, weekends and holidays included.

Mae worked so hard on her planets book and still needs to make progress on her science fair project, so much so that I can’t even bring myself to ask her to write thank-you notes for Christmas gifts.  That’s normally one of our projects over the winter break.  I may saddle Jay with writing for both of them, if I can get him to be still long enough. He has been a ball of energy, literally running in circles around the house, for no apparent reason.  He’ll go round and round the kitchen table.  He’s in constant motion, still at five and a half.  I don’t remember his sister being this way.

Yesterday, I surprised him when I told him that I like candy cereal too, but I don’t eat it.   He said, slowly, “That’s strange.”  Then, he added, “If you like something, you should just eat it.”  Oh, my dear boy, I have fillings in the double digits and a pouch to prove that I have done plenty of that.

I’ve got to work on my “just eat it” problem in 2013.  I’m not big on resolutions, but I do need to create a new exercise plan and cut back on sugar.  This year was not good for me in terms of healthy living.  I tried to eat healthy (though the green smoothie project didn’t work for me; I decided that eating should involve chewing.  I like chewing.) and exercise (I quit yoga after one session because one full hour of yoga is just too much).  I got off track, mostly due to exhaustion in the evenings from hard, long days at the job I started in March, and then curtailing weeknight gym visits to help with homework in the evenings.  On too many evenings, I ate salty or sweet snacks for dinner instead of a proper meal.

Despite exercising less and eating more than I should have, I’m ending 2012 with a pat on the back for myself.  I’ve already ordered our photo album for 2012, a year’s worth of pictures bound in a hard cover book.   It’s an annual project that I sometimes don’t get to until the spring.  And, I’ve ordered our Happy New Year photo cards to send to family and friends.  I think our 2012 cards went out in February last year.  I feel like I was more organized in 2012.  Also, I spent more time with the kids, making more of an effort to do fun stuff on the weekends whenever we could.  House and yardwork suffered, but I have no regrets about that.

So, I’m good.  We’re good.  2013 will be good.

Swayed by Feng Shui

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Mae came to me this evening with her National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 in hand, all serious, as usual. “Mom, mom. I need you to help me move the furniture around in my room.”

My first thought, probably before she finished speaking was, “No.”

I asked “Why?”

Mae showed me the page she was reading.  Across the top:  “How to Feng Shui Your Room.”  I asked why she wanted to Feng Shui her room.  Mae pointed to and read aloud the opening words of the article, “Want to make more friends? Get better grades?”  She said, “Only 3 of my friends are in my class and I want 5.”

Alrighty then.  I told Mae that 3 is a good number of friends and I pointed out a disclaimer in tiny print in a box on the page: “If Feng Shui doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. This story is just for fun.”  I have to intently manage this one’s expectations.

Years ago, when I first heard of Feng Shui, I gave a “whatever” shrug and went on with my life.  But, I wanted to be open-minded and supportive.  So, while Mae took her shower, I started working on the 12 suggestions in the article.  It was simpler than I expected and we had most of the materials needed.

I took a mobile from the kids’ play room and hung it from Mae’s bedroom ceiling.  One of the kids’ aunties brought it for them from India.  Mae believes that “it’s magic,” and the magazine says that a mobile keeps positive chi moving.

I hung a jingle bell on each side of her door knob, which gives positive thoughts and inspire good luck and happiness.  Putting the bells to use helped me feel less guilty about having put them in the garage a few hours before.  The bells came with a holiday decoration kit that I tried to use as little as possible of when the kids and I dressed our little Christmas tree today.  They wanted to put on it every shiny bauble within reach.  I sneaked things back into the box when they weren’t looking because I swear there is a fine line between tasteful and tacky when it comes to Christmas decorations.

Mae has a bulletin board where some pictures of her and former classmates were pinned.  I added a picture of Jay and arranged the photos into a triangle.  This may help her get along better with family and friends.  Threes and triangles are important in Feng Shui.  I wonder if I should find a picture of me and Hubby and substitute it for one of the pictures of her friends?  From her perspective, Mae would probably say that the relationships with her friends are more important.  She had a tough day last Wednesday because she’d gotten into a pushing match with her friend-non-friend Gigi, a girl who seems to not like Mae and still insists on being around her.  It’s a strange relationship.  Even Mae said last week, “I kind of like not liking her.”  Go figure.

Fortunately, Mae’s bookcase is already to the left of her door (for better grades) and her bed is against her wall and gives her a clear view of her door (for better sleep).  So, we didn’t need to move any furniture after all.

I added two pillows to the one on Mae’s bed plus a stuffed monkey, the animal of her birth-year according to the Chinese zodiac.  These might bring more fun with friends and extra luck, respectively.  Mae has a cactus plant that I moved from the play room to the desk in her bedroom; which might bring more time with family and friends.

The article said that a quartz crystal on her desk can help with concentration, which Mae sure could use.  We don’t have a quartz crystal in the house, but my sister has one at her place.  I called her and she promised to bring it by tomorrow.

We don’t have a light green or purple bowl, which could help Mae save money if she puts a coin in a bowl as she leaves or enters her room.  And I’m going to risk not moving her bulletin board to the wall opposite her door, which could help generate positive thoughts as she enters the room.  We’ll take our chances on those two because they would require too much effort.

Mae handled the last item from the list on her own.  She drew a picture of something she wished for and placed it under her pillow to make the wish come true.  I fully expected her to hold up a drawing of, perhaps, her and a friend holding hands.  Instead, it was a picture of a book.  With Feng Shui written across the cover.  She wants a book on Feng Shui.

Dang it.  This is worse than Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy combined.  If I get the book it means Feng Shui works, or at least it says something about the power of positive thinking.  But then, she’ll come up with all kinds of new Feng Shui ideas and maybe even turn this whole house upside down.  Or, she might start putting slips of paper under her pillow every night for ever more ambitious stuff.

What now?

Some Things Work

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Anticipating a tough morning on the first day of her assignment to a new homeroom, I took Mae to school today and walked her in. There in the office was the home room teacher that she’s been with since school started in August.

Mae went off with another student and Teacher and I talked. I told her that Mae is worried about having to change to a new homeroom.

Before I could explain why, she said, “I know. I know. We talked about it and we’re ready. Trust me, this is better for her academically. I’m going to spend time with her this morning and let her know that she can still come see me if she’s having a hard time or needs to talk.” This awesome teacher and the other 3rd grade teachers had discussed how to help Mae with the transition. What a relief!

I went on to tell her that Mae’s first concern was whether Gigi would be in her class. This awesome woman said, “No. We took that into consideration.” Yes! I said Mae’s second concern was whether her friend Danielle would be in the same class with her still. Teacher wasn’t sure, but thinks so. Mae will let me know tonight, I’m sure.

Teacher went on to say, “She’s going to be fine. I think this is going to work out well [as she lifted both hands with two crossed fingers in the air]. I’ll call you if I think it’s not working.”

When you have to leave your kids with other people, it’s such a comfort to work with people who listen and care.

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