Thoughts From The Weekend

If you hadn’t already noticed, I didn’t have time to blog last week. I didn’t even watch my beloved Drag Race until Sunday night. Sunday night, folks! There are a couple of main reasons for this – 1) My work week was super busy and 2) I pulled a muscle in my back. All I wanted to do when I arrived home was lounge on the couch, complain a little, and watch television. The muscle pain came to a head on Thursday night sending me to be super early, but has slowly dissipating since. Tonight, while writing this, I’m feeling 98% normal. Good news!

So, Friday was my birthday. I reached the grand age of 33 on 9-9. Yay! I went to work on my birthday – I’ve never really been the person who takes that off, preferring to celebrate on the weekend – but the family surprised me with a delicious chocolate cake that evening.

The original plan was to celebrate at Oktoberfest on Saturday, but we made a last minute decision to avoid the crowd and head to the Facebook Farmer’s Market instead. Yes, Facebook has a farmer’s market.

It is a regular kind of farmer’s market, but with the addition of a theme – this time it was olives – live music, children’s activities, food trucks, and cocktails. And let me tell you, I have a discovered a very important thing about life. . . every farmer’s market needs cocktails. My farm to cup sangria made the afternoon. And turned a place to buy fruits and veggies into an event.
Facebook Market
The weather was perfect – I even pulled my long sleeves down when hit by the breeze under the tent. I still just can’t get over this weather. I’ve never been chilly on my birthday before. We enjoyed lunch with some entertainment from Girls Got the Blues, an all-woman blues band. We really had an excellent time and will likely spend several of our Saturdays the same way. Next weekend’s theme is Mediterranean. Yum.

On the way home we stopped by San Mateo’s Seal Point Park for some spectacular views looking across the bay. I neglected to take any photos of the view or of the nifty kinetic sculptures taking advantage of the wind, so I’ll have to show you next time.

All around just a good day out at a family.

And I Would Move 2000 Miles

13178599_10100453791027146_7722111268941119391_nSo, California. Yeah. We are about to move 2000 miles.

There is a long story surrounding this with a lot of details, but you don’t really care about that so I’ll give you the short version – I accepted a great new job in San Francisco with a start date only seven weeks later. The employer was able to be more flexible about the start date, but we made the decision to go ahead with it, assuming it would work better for us in the end if I set up on the west coast and left the rest of the family behind until the end of summer.

Seven weeks might feel like a lot at first glance. But remember – this isn’t just stopping one job, taking a little time off, and then starting another. This is uprooting a family of four across the country. In that scenario, seven weeks is just a drop in the bucket.

What’s our theory behind this two separate household things? It gives us time to transfer all of the little man’s services, find new medical providers, set up insurance, etc. It also gives more time to sell our house with someone actually still living in the same state at the property. If we all moved together right now, the husband would have to wait to find a new job until school started up again (since we wouldn’t know anyone to set up care for the little man). Another plus of doing it this way is his continued salary during this very expensive move.

Let’s talk about the move. We’ve never moved this far before, so I tried to do some research online. But almost every source I found only offered one bit of advice – get rid of as much as possible. Sources that actually offered more details tended to either be 1) moving with a full service company or 2) flying to the new location and starting over. Once this whole thing is said and done, I’ll recount our process and maybe offer some insight to someone out there.

There are some sad bits to this move. Obviously we are leaving behind family and friends. Aside from that, our older dog Leela isn’t going to be able to come with us. Poor thing would hate living in an apartment and we made the difficult decision to find her a new home. It will be better for her. Still hard to do though.

I think I’ll stop this post here. This move is all I’m going to have to talk about for a while; I don’t want to use all my material at once.

And Then There Was Fourteen

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. That is a lot of years. Oh sure, plenty of people have more years on us. But still . . . fourteen is a lot. Especially when you take into account the fact that we were married at the age of nineteen and twenty-one.

Hallmark tells me that the traditional gift for fourteen years used to be ivory. That is obviously out now, so the “experts” suggest gold jewelry or, if you are still feeling traditional, something elephant themed. One website cleverly suggested piano lessons (you know . . . so you can learn to tickle those ivories).

Like many couples, we aren’t buying each other anything for our anniversary this year (although we do plan to live-it-up tacky-style in Vegas for the big fifteen). If we weren’t moving to California*, we’d rope someone into watching the little man so we could go out for a romantic dinner. Every penny counts right now though, so instead we will take the family out for a standard dinner at your generic family-style place. It’s about being together, right?

So, in honor of fourteen years here are Fourteen Things I Like About My Husband:

  1. He makes up and sings weird songs with me, creating an unusual soundtrack for our home life.

  2. He never misses an opportunity to goof off and embarrass our daughter.

  3. He cooks 99.95% of our meals and only complains about it occasionally. Bonus – he makes a mean meatball and is always open to splurging on some pizza.

  4. He is on top of this dad thing. Like, really. All over it.

  5. He never puts ranch dressing anywhere near my food.

  6. He supports my extreme dislike of those family stickers people put on the back of their mini-vans and oversized suvs. No knocking mini-vans and suvs, I just never really see those on smaller vehicles.

  7. He is about as far from pretentious you can get.

  8. As a kid, he dressed up as the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” lady from the commercial for Halloween.

  9. He likes to watch Good Mythical Morning with me and doesn’t complain when I turn on Bob’s Burgers for the sixteenth-millionth time. Sometimes he still laughs when I quote the show or even – amazingly – quotes it himself. That is a sign of some serious spectral traces right there.

  10. The one and only time I had a really serious pregnancy craving, he went out early in the morning to buy me a tub of powdered mini-donuts. Then watched me eat one after another in silence.

  11. He lovingly refers to our lifestyle as “one step up from the bottom.”

  12. He always remembers our wedding anniversary and only makes fun of me a little when I have to ask him to remind me. Plus, he never holds it against me that I just can’t seem to remember the date. I think he secretly likes being superior in this part of our relationship.

  13. He is completely supportive of uprooting our family and moving 2000 miles away so I can follow my dreams.

  14. 85% of the time he smells damn good.

Here’s to love, ya’ll!

*YES! More about that Monday. . .

Turn Around, Bright Eyes

Last week, the family spent an evening together enjoying some nourishment in the great outdoors. Or, at least, we ordered dinner from a selection of food trucks parked behind the husband’s office. Best yum of the night was some mint chocolate chip ice cream that tasted like I was being enveloped in a fluffy spearmint cloud.

It was fun, but the real event happened on the way home. Nothing elevates a ride home in the mini van like being treated to Total Eclipse of the Heart on the radio. Being proper parents of a modern teenager, we took this opportunity to educate our lovely daughter on some classic ‘80s realness by singing at the top of our lungs. Mix in some fascinating interpretative dance and quick-thinking fill-ins when we didn’t know the words, and it was a performance to be remembered.

Well, being a typical modern teenager that she is. . . *Ding recorded the whole thing. We let our guard down. ::sigh:: Parenting fail.

I’ll let it slide though. For starters, she’ll never share it outside of a few friends as it would be too embarrassing. Really, really embarrassing. Secondly, those little moments are what makes a family. We will never think about that food truck event again, but we might look back on that rocking night in the mini van and smile.

Or we might remember coming home and sitting down to watch Total Eclipse of the Heart – Literal Video Version on YouTube. Now that was some ‘80s education for the kid.

Sadly, it looks like most of the literal videos have been taken down for copyright reasons. They are clearly parodies, but I can understand that ending up in court over a humorous YouTube video isn’t very appealing.

The Christmas Eve Countdown

My Christmas spirit is still missing and the 70 degree weather/tornado watch isn’t helping one bit. With no natural holiday cheer, I had to purchase the store-bought kind.
No, that isn’t all for me. Except for the Pimm’s, that one is all mine.

Since I’ve been sick and feeling like a bit of a Grinch, I haven’t gotten all of my holiday stuff done and I’m feeling that stress that people always talk about. For the first time. I don’t usually experience a lot of holiday stress because I finish all of my stuff extra early in an evil plan to enjoy and soak up every minute of Christmas joy. In general, I don’t really see why the holidays have to be a stressful time, so I’m just dropping some of my regular holiday stuff off of the list. I’d rather be as stress-free as possible than finish it all.

Oh, well. This year I wasn’t able to finish all of my cards (sorry if you don’t get one, it isn’t because I forgot you!), didn’t do any of our regular pre-holiday activities, and still need to purchase one gift. I’m probably out braving the store while you are reading this to buy that gift and some dollar store nonsense for tomorrow’s white elephant bingo fun. After that I have to finish wrapping presents. Those are all must-dos.

Tonight we are going to hit up a candlelight service then let the kids change into their pajamas and head to our state capitol – a Christmas Eve tradition in our family. I’m going to try really, really hard not to have a bah humbug look on my face the whole time.

But hey, at least we got the tree up!
IMG_1276 2

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. See you guys in January! I’m taking a few days off.

The First Nine Weeks

Okay, let’s talk about Kindergarten.

The little man has officially been a kindergartner for nine weeks now and – overall – it is going well. He has no problem waking up a little bit earlier to catch the bus. In fact, he really likes the bus driver and is usually excited when it pulls up outside the house. If I’m not in the living room when it arrives, he gives a little yell (usually “hey”) to let me know it is time to go. Then as they raise him up in the wheelchair lift he waves goodbye, just smiling and happy. We like the bus driver too; he has been driving the special needs bus for several years and is great with the kids.

Of course there have been some days he hasn’t been thrilled to head off to school, but the little man is pretty agreeable and typically gets over it pretty fast. Although occasionally he will tell me “no” when I try to put his uniform on. Sometimes that is a game – he wants me to be taken aback by his audacity – other times he means it.

He still isn’t completely sure of the routine. Every day when I carry him down the hallway to the living room he asks where his dad is. I’m assuming he just isn’t sure if it is a school day and dad has already left for work or if it is the weekend and dad is relaxing on the couch. It doesn’t bother him when I tell him dad is at work, so it’s all good.

I’m pleased with his teacher. She is absolutely still trying to figure our little man out, but is committed to finding out what works best for him. This is really all you can ask for. I mean, there is a huge learning curve with a disabled child and every single one of the kids in that class is different. I love the fact that she is supportive of our desire to get him spending some time with the typical kids. The little man has always learned better from other children and I wanted to make sure he was able to spend some time outside of the special needs class. His teacher was happy to give it a try and it worked out so well we are adjusting the IEP to add more time with regular kindergarten classes. This is during things like art and music, not standard teaching time.

He got a good report at the first parent-teacher conference. I was very happy that one of the first things his teacher said to me in that meeting was that she understood what I meant when I was explaining to her that there is a lot more going on in this head than he can communicate. The little man is profoundly disabled, but had a lot of potential mentally if we can just figure out how to get it out. I try to let everyone we work with know this, but it can be hard to get the point across – hard to make it seem like I’m not just an overly-optimistic, partially-deluded parent.

He is struggling with being comfortable around the kids, although I’m sure this will only approve. The little man is used to be the “most-disabled” in his classrooms. Being around other children in wheelchairs and children awkwardly (and adorably) traipsing around in their braces must be a bit of a shock. We are working on getting him a new chair in the classroom as he doesn’t like being in the current option that much. If he feels a little more secure when he is out of his wheelchair, I think he will feel more comfortable with the other kids. It isn’t a social problem, that’s for sure; the little man is a social butterfly.

I don’t feel like his therapy is up to the level it was at his preschool, but these are brand new (to him) therapists still learning about his skill level and possibilities. I’m not worried about this working itself out as they get into a groove with him.

From my point of view, I’ve been surprised by how much of a shock kindergarten has been for me. There is no ignoring the fact that my son is on a different educational track than the other kids in the school. He recently had a field trip where a small group from his class went to a local community market to learn about fruits and vegetables. I was conflicted – on one hand, I know the little man loved it and I’m glad he is getting to go out and about; on the other hand, I’m sad that my son’s education is going to be so based in learning navigate his world in a very rudimentary way. I’ve also discovered a new found fear of other kids (and adults, let’s be real here) making fun of him and his classmates when they are on field trips. These are my fears though, not his.

To Charter School, Or Not To Charter School

This isn’t a regular topic for, but I really wanted to talk about charter schools today. A little background so you can know where I’m coming from: my daughter attended public elementary school from K-2, until we moved her to a public charter school after problems with the local administration. She just started 7th grade at that charter. The little man just started Kindergarten at a public elementary school, although not the one the daughter was pulled out of.

I haven’t really processed all of my thoughts about this topic. Expect this post to be a bit rambling and unfinished – I’m still working it out. Plus, I intend to just draft this out and set it to post in the morning (I’m writing at 9pm, Sunday). I don’t feel like my words will ever feel polished enough for me and I’m just going to toss them out there anyway.

There is a bit of a never-ending debate around charter schools. The data out there about the effectiveness of the schools is murky at best and – with a bit of spin – can fit any number of arguments. I’d say it is complicated, but neither side of the issue would agree with me. The major problems associated with charter schools are very troubling – 1) They take money away from the public schools; 2) They often strip away the best performing children from public school, leading toward higher ratings the public can’t compete with; 3) They are often a way for families to leave schools with a large minority or low income populations; 4) They aren’t bound by the same rules and regulations as their public school counterparts. The issues become more complex when you dig into individual locations. In my state for example, the argument includes a troubled history with public education, current problems in two large districts, and a conservative push for privatization of schools by a famous family foundation.

In theory, my political beliefs say I shouldn’t be a supporter of charter schools and I certainly shouldn’t be sending my daughter to one. It is actually a bit of a personal conflict for me. I’m a firm believer in trying to fix problems in our institutions instead of fleeing for greener pastures. I feel very strongly that it is our duty to work for the improvements together. Any doubts I had about this theory vanished after spending time with American citizens of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in camps during World War II. I’m constantly inspired by their ability to forgive and their commitment to bringing about positive change. The public school system is one of the building blocks of our nation and a place we should all be supporting (financially, physically, emotionally, and lots of other -allys you can think of). I know a lot of people don’t agree with me on this and that’s okay, but you’ll never convince me that simply paying your taxes is enough interest in your local schools.

So, when I came face-to-face with our school problems I was surprised to find my instinct to flee coming up so strong . . . and eventually winning out. I found it very hard to reconcile my personal beliefs with my need to provide the best educational opportunities for my daughter. I suppose part of what made walking-away easier for me was the fact that it wasn’t a “big” issue. I know we weren’t the only ones upset with the actions of our principal and some other high-level staff, but we weren’t dealing with discrimination or something similar. I justified pulling her out with simple questions – “Is it worth the struggle to get a simple slap on the wrist and a ‘we’ll try harder’? Do I want my daughters education to feel like a battle for such a small payoff?”

I still question my decision. Were the problems a one-off or something systematic that needed investigation? What happens if all of the involved parents leave? I don’t think this happened in this situation, but I worry about the precedent. Did I send the wrong message to my daughter? All good questions.

Monday was a Real Bitch.

We spent six hours in our local children’s hospital on Monday for regular check-up appointments. We got less-than-stellar news at the last appointment. Then we got really horrible extended-family news on the way home, although I won’t be sharing that today.

8:15am: Parking is spectacular, as none of the other handicapped vehicles have early appointments . . . apparently.

8:30am: First appointment time with the rehabilitation doc. Sitting in the waiting room – this neuroscience center is our most-visited location of the hospital. We got this.

8:40am: Called back to do all of the weighing and checking with the nurse. This was our first time taking the little man to an appointment in his wheelchair (instead of the stroller), so she weighed it for us to. Once they know how much the empty wheelchair weighs, we can just push him up onto the big scale and do a little subtraction for the final number.

8:45am: In the room. We are clearly the first appointment of the day and I think that means we will be in and out quickly [ha! I’m naïve]. We start planning a visit to a local brunch spot in-between appointments.

8:45am8:55am: The clock is broken.

9:10am: First up, the resident. She is nice and seems to be further along than some people we usually end up with – most of her questions make sense and she isn’t thrown off if we don’t know the answer to something.

9:20-9:45am: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

9:45am: The doctor! The appointment is pretty short, but we expected that. He is pretty much up-to-date on all of his equipment and doesn’t need any therapy changes, so we just get a prescription for new leg braces and discuss raising the dose of his muscle relaxer (that ends up tabled for the moment, as we meet with our neurologist in a couple of weeks).

10:10-10:45am: Ugh, it is later than expected and really hot outside. We decide to brunch in the hospital cafeteria. Eat. Eat. Sit. Eat.

11:00am: We head downstairs to get the little man fitted for his new braces. Last time we made the mistake of having them done through this school. We loved the style of the braces and shoes a whole lot better and it was definitely easier than visiting the hospital, but the braces fell apart too quickly. We won’t make that mistake twice! If you have never been cast for braces, it is a very simple process and only takes about fifteen minutes.

The little man's first AFOs, 2011.
The little man’s first AFOs, 2011.

11:45am: After wandering around for a while, we go ahead and check in at our next appointment with the orthopedic department. The appointment is scheduled for 12:30, but he will need x-rays first, so it doesn’t hurt to arrive early. The hospital is in the middle of a remodel and this is our first time in the new orthopedic waiting room – very nice!

I lost track of the time spent in this waiting room. At some point, we had three x-rays taken. That went well, mainly because the little man doesn’t have to be put in the horrible baby-tube anymore.

A baby in a Pigg-O-Stat - amazingly not screaming like very other child I've seen in one. This baby became a meme, so I don't know where the original came from.
A baby in a Pigg-O-Stat – amazingly not screaming like every other child I’ve seen in one.
This baby became a meme, so I don’t know where it originally came from.

12:45pm: We are called back, finally!. . . . But wait! It is just to see the nurse and sit in a sub-waiting room. BLARGH! I can’t complain too much though, at this point we are only fifteen minutes past appointment time.

1:00pm: Okay, finally in the actual room. Let’s get this show moving.

1:15pm: ::sigh::

1:20pm: The nurse pops in again to do the initial questions. Yay! She says they will be back in a few minutes. She is lying.

1:50pm: I’m losing the will to live.

2:00pm: Doctor! The little man is tired and really isn’t handling being stretched all over the place very well. Unfortunately, the x-ray shows that his left hip has gotten worse despite our work with Botox in the groin and targeted therapy. We will watch it for a few more months, but if it continues down this path (very likely) we will need to discuss surgery to cut and re-position the bone.

2:15pm: After six hours, we leave deflated.

3:00pm: Distressing family news. We all take a nap.

I’d like end on a high note with a funny graphic about having a “case of the Mondays” here, but it is inappropriate. Perhaps I can update with better news before this posts.

It’s not a minivan; it’s a Honda.*

Well, we finally bought the minivan. You probably know by now that I am not thrilled with this new development. Yes, I know lots of people love their vans. Yes, I know it is going to make things easier. Yes, I know I’m being a pretentious little snot looking down my nose at all you van drivers. I’ve just . . . never wanted a van. Or even a suv. I am completely a car person. I’ll get over it though.

We ended up with a Honda Odyssey EX-L. Technically the EX-L is smackdab in the middle of what they offer, breaking with our family motto – “One step up from the bottom.” It can seat eight, so we told the daughter we were going to have to adopt more kids to fill the seats. [Joke!]

Here are some things I really like about the new van:

  • It has a ton of cup holders. No more “do you have somewhere up there to put this” coming from the back seat.
  • It has automatic sliding doors. No more getting soaked trying to load an immobile five-year old into the vehicle.
  • It has leather interior. Easy to wipe down spills, yes!
  • It doesn’t feel like a boat when you are driving it. I was actually really surprised by this. They kind of feel like boats when you ride in them and I expected the same while driving.
  • It has seat warmers for the front seats. I like a toasty tush.
  • It has enough space to fit the little man’s wheelchair into the back without folding any seats down. For now, at least.

And here it is in all of its glory:
Okay, let’s talk about the wheelchair. We decided against getting any ramp, roll-in capability, or lift for now. It is easy for you guys on the outside to see our situation and realize that it would make things easier if we had a ramp or lift. But – to be honest – this is one little bit of normalcy we don’t want to give up yet and if that means lifting the kid into his car seat and lugging the wheelchair into the back. His car seat has a five-point harness with a weight capacity of 70 pounds (shout out to the Britax Pioneer 70) and provides the support he needs while sitting. I know when we make the change I’ll probably write a post about titled “Why Didn’t I Do This Years Ago?” and I’m okay with that. For now, the chair stays in the back.

*This wisdom brought to you by Mr. Tacky.

A Glimpse of Laundry Day

Me: [holding up a random, unknown t-shirt from the laundry] Who does this belong to?
Husband: The Red Hot Chili Peppers? Well, it didn’t come home with [the little man].
Me: [calls daughter to come identify shirt] Is this one of your friend’s?
Daughter: I don’t know.
Me: . . .
Daughter: What? [tries to reason how shirt might have come into her possession in lengthy explanation that basically = “gym clothes get mixed up, yo”]
Me: [cuts her off] Yeah, I get it. I just want to to put it in your backpack and find its owner.
Daughter: [exits]
Husband: You know what she can do with it?
Me: . . .
Husband: Give it away, Give it away, Give it away now.
Me: [raucous laughter]