Monday, November 30, 2009

Living well and other thoughts

No chickens to chase this am.

But I do have to finish clean up operations in my living room and throughout the house. I am in the process of a major clean/clear out, and I will be finished come hell or high water by the end of the week.

I have a draft to write too, and that gets done today and tomorrow.

I have to be careful in times when work is not hectic; I tend to get sucked down all kinds of rabbit holes, and really, I don't have the time or inclination for anyone else's head trips. Mine provide me with more than enough entertainment, thanks.

I'm heading out later to see some people I haven't seen in decades--looking forward to that, actually. Time is the great equalizer, if not the great healer.

Fixer? Not so much. Although ironies are not lost on me. Am having a quiet smile about how some things worked out. Short-term losses for me tend to be long-term wins. Nice to see some of the pain bearing fruit and becoming something of beauty.

Stings eventually disappear. Still, they are necessary. Without sadness, there is no joy. And misfortune has a way of resetting priorities that get shuffled out of order in the good times.

The yin and yang of my life balances me, thus my family. Life is not easy, but I am thankful for all that I have--every day of my life.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken capers

I just spent the last half hour chasing a chicken.

It came strolling past my house as if chickens did this in my suburban neighborhood as a matter of course. Actually, up until about 6 months or so ago, they did. Then people complained, and they surrounded their yard with chicken wire. So chooks de-ticking my lawn became a thing of the past.

Until Sylvie strolled up the sidewalk.

The saner part of me told me to go get my newspaper and leave the bird to its own devices. But my conscience said no, you know where the bird belongs and you better get it home.

Paper abandoned (as well as my pride I suppose), I shrugged on hubby's jacket and began what I foolishly thought would be a five minute jaunt around the corner and back to the bird's house.


The bird thwarted me across three front yards and two back yards. She decided she liked the relative safety of the thick brush against our wooden fence. I'm sure if my driveway neighbors were awake, they were at the window with coffees in hand, enjoying the show, and wondering why the hell I was engaging with the fowl across the fence.

Eventually, I saw the owner in her robe in her back yard, and I waved her over. A fox had gotten into the chook house, and Sylvie (that's the fugitive's name) was the last one to be recovered. She came over and much to our collective amusement, her bird figured out a way to go around the fence.

Silly me. I thought I was going to take the bird for a longer walk.

Given my relative lack of shepherding skills, the bird was definitely the smarter of the two of us.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This year more than any other so far in my life I approached Thanksgiving with a grateful heart. Times are hard, but we are surrounded by good friends and family, we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in the refrigerator. Honestly, I can't ask for more than that.

Actually, I can ask for Nic's former posse to leave him the hell alone on the bus, but one of the neighbor's older girls is doing that for me. Although, not for nothing, Nic has been instructed to go to the principal if it continues. And the chips will fall where they will.

I hate that it's coming to that.

Spent a wonderful day with my friend K and her kids in Baltimore yesterday. We hit the train museum, then had lunch and went for an explore in the inner harbor. That's one of my favorite places to go; the kids get to hang with their friends, I get to hang with mine, and we get to have fun together.

Nic even had elevator adventures. We went to the Top of The World while they stopped at the Aquarium (I am considering a family membership for a family Christmas gift--already got one to the Train Museum).

This is the last clear weekend until New Years. I want to get the kids over to the Hawk platform today, maybe take a run over to the Wissahickon for a bit.

GORGEOUS day--we do have to spend some of it outside.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Measure of How Far We've Come

I was driving around this morning when it occurred to me what was so different about my meeting with Nic's teacher this morning for semi annual conferences.

Hubby was there, and the kids waited in the hall-SOP. We reviewed his progress, appraised his strengths and assessed his weaknesses. Overall, a great meeting.

But what made this meeting different, I realized as I was driving, was that we met with Nic's teacher. The regular ed teacher. The AS/LS teacher was nowhere to be had. And that was fine.

When you consider that 4 years ago, that whatever questions I had for Nic's teacher were redirected to the AS teacher, I say that we've made huge progress.

Nic's teacher has taken full ownership of Nic as her student. HER student.

Do I dare think that he is no longer THAT kid?

Well, no. He will always be THAT kid, but not the same THAT kid he was perceived as 3 years ago. But when I consider the fact that he wasn't even talking seven years ago, he wasn't conversational until 2 years ago, and that only recently he's been able to tell me himself if he's been running into trouble in school--that's huge, huge progress.

But the fact that I was meeting with ONE teacher, the regular ed teacher--and not a whole team? WOW.

We're not done, but wow, how far we've come.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do This!

We took a road trip yesterday to the Schermann-Hoffman Sanctuary, headquarters for New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS) yesterday. I was a volunteer at the old store from 2000-2002; Nic came with.

Today, a three story addition abuts the the old house at 11 Hardscrabble Road in Bernardsville. At the top is an observation deck that gives you a 360 degree uninterrupted view of woodland; the second floor is devoted to an art gallery and state-of-the-art classrooms. And the store and offices are on the first floor.

NJAS deserves your support--they are excellent stewards of the precious little open space left in NJ, and anyone willing to go to the mat for open space in the country's most populous state deserves a medal for bravery and moxie.

If you find yourself in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello to Denis for me, and tell him and me and the boys sent you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heart Full of Thanks

I am just overwhelmed with feelings of love and gratitude right now. For my family, for my friends, for Fr M who once again knocked it out of the park when he asked the question: 'Who's in charge?'

I have long since ceded control of everything to God. There is precious little I have control over. What I do control is 1) what I do 2) what I think 3) how I react to what other people do and think.

So for me it's been simple. I have been kind to others. Forgiving. And giving when and where I can. I used to want to be rich and famous, and the older I get, the less these things suit me. I'm realizing that you can accomplish more quietly by how you live than by being all noise and light and no substance.

I'm realizing that my inner light is reaching a lot further than I first thought.

I need to keep following that, wherever it takes me.

As for the rest of it, coming to some realizations about other people and things I have known has been healing. Because now I know I did no wrong, and any wrong done me has been forgotten.

After all, nothing lasts but eternity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Picture Thoughts

Open house at school yesterday enlightened me on a few levels.

I have some ideas about what inclusion will look like for Nic in middle school that incorporate what I presented to task force last week. I also have some ideas about how to fortify his academic position this year--emails have been sent to his reg ed teacher and the SPED director.

The posse is making Nic's life a living hell on the bus and their dad was spoken to. Nic will have to put them on ignore. Easier said than done.

I need to speak with my middle school mom and hash this out before I head forward.

Maybe that's what the work lull is about--I need to get this done. Today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Letting Go

The last little while has been instructive. Currently, I am between things (yet again), and I have some time to take stock and consider where I'm going and what I'm doing. I think these lulls are either exceptionally well-timed or just the divine mediator telling me not to forget to breathe. Because sometimes I forget.

Anyway, the sun shines brightly overhead and I have decided that I will do all my phone calls and door kicking now, and spend the rest of the afternoon outside enjoying the sunshine. Walking. Hiking. Maybe I'll go REALLY crazy and bring my binoculars so I can bird, too.

I don't even have to clean the house; the boys did that while I was at church yesterday. Gabriel and I raked leaves for an hour and joked about the coal he would get in his Christmas stocking if he didn't behave. We all went bowling with our church and spent a very productive evening getting some errands run, and then stopped for some quiet time at B& N. We had nonstop birthday library action (2 parties plus errands in between to return library books and buy presents for party #2) on Saturday.

The next couple of weeks are actually quiet, since we are on hiatus from swimming and PT. I've opted out of a couple things. Just trying to get a feel now for what the boys need. Both had bad days last week, and grand scheme, they were just days. Nic's on the outs with his posse, but again, nothing lasts, and he is not telling us he's afraid of the bus, so I'm not stressing about it.

It can always be worse. So I'm happy with holding patterns. Because this one is actually pretty good!

Friday, November 13, 2009

That Age....

I'm getting to a point in life where I check out the obits in the daily paper. More often than not I either know some one, or their sons or daughters. Often I am saddened by the sudden death of some one my age or younger, with small children, because I know too well what lies ahead for the family left behind.

Today, I struggle with two things. Hubby has to go in for additional testing for an ongoing issue, and they are taking a biopsy this go-round. That will happen sometime in the next couple weeks (guess it's not that pressing).

And I am struggling with something I have tried for too long to ignore, and realize I no longer can. Hubby has told me for as long as he knows me that I have restless leg syndrome, or something like it. In the last few months, I've been dealing with partial numbness in my middle and lower back that radiates to my legs. I can still walk, but this is a little annoyance that is not going away and is in fact getting worse.

I refuse to Google the symptoms. I'm talking to my PCP today. Hopefully, it's nothing.

But if it's not....

Not going there. No sense in borrowing trouble.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Speaking Up

So I found myself yet again behind the eight ball; I was slotted to present second on a two-speaker bill for our local task force today.

Speaker one went way over; I tossed my script out the window.

What was most important for me to get across to my audience is this: I am not sure what it will take to get the school districts to get community buy-in for inclusion. But I do know that, because I swallowed my pride, admitted wrong, weakness, and yes, vulnerability, I have people watching my kids' back, watching my back, and a good chunk of them I have never met or made acquaintance with.

I have the neighbor girl knocking on my door and letting me know when Nic is having trouble at school.

I have a few kids keeping tabs on Nic on the bus and letting the principal know if there are problems. And she lets me know.

So my message, in summing up the bitch kitty throw down and its consequences and in the multiple calls I have received about Nic since school started, is that I want people to keep building their coalitions--we do this anyway, but keep doing it, because it is doing good, even if it's not readily apparent. Keep connecting other parents to resources. Keep supporting one another.

It's not just about my kids--it's about ALL of the kids.

It takes a village to raise a child. It always did, and it always will.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weighing Options, Running, Punting...

How did we get to November already? It just seems like last week I was worrying about how to spend the six weeks between the end of ESY and the start of school. I'm forever reminded that nothing lasts.

So doors shut, and as ever, windows open. I just inked a new contract yesterday. And as usual, the opportunity dropped in my lap out of the clear blue sky. I'm grateful for that.

School, well, let's see, we're up to four calls from the principal, two teacher meetings, one IEP meeting, one FBA (scheduled--I think...good point, better follow that up with a phone call on Monday). Gabriel is blossoming but having wardrobe malfunctions; Nic is struggling with his inner slacker.

G amazes me, because he has suddenly become quite the artist. He never drew so much as a happy face, and now he draws some pretty complex objects and landscapes.

Nic, meanwhile, is taking comfort in Collodi's Pinocchio, Poptropica, and power bowling in Wii. I think he is suffering from Weltschmerz.

DH just had a bunch of medical tests done, and the doctor called and left a message that he would talk to him on Monday. I don't like 5:30 pm Friday phone messages.

I just had a bunch of discretionary stuff pulled from me, which is probably fine, since I didn't have time for it, anyway. I stepped away from a couple things, which I needed to do for a variety of reasons.

I'm still trying to make my peace with some of it. I know I did what I did for the right reasons, but I'm having problems articulating what those are. Sometimes, you just know you are right, but can't say why. I'm trying to get the words together, because not being able to explain yourself lands you in other difficulties.

I'm thinking of an earlier betrayal that literally left me without words.


I think of where I've been, and where I'm going, and I know I am headed in the right direction. But sometimes, life has a way of piling work, kids, relationships, responsibilities and other sundry stuff in my path, and I have to figure out what I can move and what I can climb over. Sometimes I try to move the wrong things. Other times, I try to climb over that which can be moved and end up ass over teacups.

But I get up, brush myself off, and move on.

Some things that happened yesterday remind me of how far I've come. I had some news that at one point would have wrecked my weekend.

Now, well, we'll fix what needs fixing and start fresh on Monday.

After all, nothing lasts forever. Hard times least of all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How Do You Spell Devastation?

L-o-s-i-n-g m-y n-e-u-r-o.

I just got the bad news at 10 am and now the reality is hitting. He's a crucial member of my team and he is moving 2,760 miles west.

(Banging head against a hard surface)

I'm meeting with Nic's teacher tomorrow am to discuss his grades, the science test he bombed, and ways to motivate him. Today, we finally got his EKG done and G dodged a bullet because he's actually running a temp and couldn't get his booster today.

Busy and productive day so far. But I am just devastated at the hit we just took.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Catching/Cleaning Up

My Phils aren't dead, but they are on a respirator. Go Lee!

This weekend was a blast--the kids trick or treated with friends for the first time, they were both what they wanted to be for Halloween, AND we did manage to get to Sesame Place for Variety's Spooktacular (and I got to catch up with people I haven't seen in a few months).

We had a great time, and managed to hold onto our clock/schedules despite the time change. I think it'll be a good week.

The kids' parties went off fine, I settled things out with the one room mom, we went to our first pumpkin carving party in the neighborhood, and I went to see BW for the fifth year running.

Jam-packed week. And I have to see if I can get the kids in for flu shots.

November ALREADY??