Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Beacon of Something

In addition to trying to knock out my latest article and finish putting my presentation for Thursday, I find myself sorting through a variety of dilemmas and teachable moments.

Dilemmas first. Much to my chagrin, the boys languish in the Learn to Swim rung of the township lessons because neither of them will swim on their backs.

It was frustrating to watch the Level 3 swimmers kickboarding up and down the deep end, knowing BOTH my sons were doing just that at their pool before Christmas, when instead they are stuck on the platform waiting to take their turn swimming out, with a floatie attached and a teacher.

The teacher was smiling, but dismissive, when I told her this.

Lest you think I am taking this lying down, I AM working on a plan B. But dealing with the soft bigotry of low expectations is what I do daily. I get tired of it, but at least I can name it and deal with it.

Anyway, we head to the library, and I am pleased to watch Nic join a pair of brothers at the computers. He logs on, talking to both brothers about Poptropica. One of the brothers logs on, and Nic leaves his game from time to time to help coach one, then the other, brother as they discover this new game.

We stayed at the library much longer than I planned to, just because this interaction was just too cool and too NORMAL to interrupt.

From there we joined dad, who was setting up Nic's Pack's Pinewood Derby. We all helped set up chairs, and I ended up working the concession stand for pretty much the whole time. After trying to redirect Nic (unsuccessfully), I eventually invited him back to help me work.

He enjoyed making change. He also enjoyed talking to the rest of the women working the stand. And I found myself talking to a mom I hadn't seen since Nic was in K. Once upon a time, Nic was *that kid* to her--now, she remarked on how mature he was, how far he's come, and that she's dealing with her own *that kid* issues.

What's interesting, I'm finding, is that I am very much a go-to person in our school district. People know me and Nic, and as a consequence, I find myself increasingly sought out, and I'm not sure about the why. Maybe it's just enough that Nic is doing as well as he is.

But he's not doing it in a vacuum.

And the other plus is that we didn't have to worry about G eloping. He is excited about racing his own car next year.

The kids are growing up. It's amazing to watch.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I need to achieve draft by the end of today. Can't focus to transcribe, so I thought I'd knock out some notables to get me rolling.

Nic answered the phone for the first time ever last night. I knew his dad would be calling, so I gave him my cell phone and instructed him to answer it because it was dad.

And he did. Such a small thing, but such a big step. Hubby couldn't believe it and didn't recognize Nic's voice, so unused to hearing him on the phone is he.

Nic realized it was a big deal, too. He was very pleased with himself.

I'm pleased with him, too. It's the little things that keep me going.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heart and Hands Open to Receive

I wanted to know what next last week. And the answers came faster than I can process them.

I'm working to turn around an article--draft out of here late today/early tomorrow. I have two firm speaking engagements with another five tentatively scheduled. And there's a bullying prevention training program that I will apply for.

Meanwhile, Nic continues to amaze. I made a nonprefered dinner last night, and he actually ate everything on his plate--not ALL of it, but a few bites of rice, a few bites of meat, and all of his broccoli. Huge. I think I am going to have to insist that here on out, both boys will eat whatever I put in front of them--because I know they actually will.

Nic wrote an essay that the teacher felt moved to call me to tell me what a great job he did, and that she read it out loud to the class. He is also needing fewer prompts to get work done during the day. AND he actually wore a button-down shirt and slacks (he is playing a businessman in a play his class is doing--I stowed his tie in his pocket and a 'normal' shirt for him to change into when he's done).

Everything has its own order. Sometimes, I just have to let it go, and let what needs to happen, happen.

This is hard for a control freak like me, it's but becoming easier as I see the results--and trust in them.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reflections on Gifts and a Eureka Moment or Two

So I was slated to lector yesterday am. We had a lot planned yesterday that didn't quite pan out. I opted to go to mass alone, since hubby was still asleep and G buzzed around downstairs while Nic lay in his room contemplating his ceiling (given the state of our flat roofed sections of our house, I'm thinking the contemplation was not ill placed at all. But I digress.)

I stood at the ambo and reviewed the readings. *Good news.* I smiled to myself, thinking I could use some of that. Fr. Mike strode up, beaming at me. "Aren't they great readings today?"

I agreed. "I know I don't ordinarily ask you this, but do you want me to go longer or shorter on the second reading?" I had just reviewed it: "One body, many parts." The longer version essentially said the same thing in about 10 different ways, and I said as much.

"You know what, today is going to be busy, there's a lot going on," he replied. "Go shorter."

I'm glad I asked.

So the readings went fine. That's one thing I know I do well. Other stuff, not so much, but I know I have everyone's attention when I lector. Hubby tells me I have a compelling voice. I have to take his word for it.

Fr M had much going on after, I so I slipped out, thinking I'd catch up with him later. I have to set up Penance and First Communion for Nic, and he told me he'd help me get that done. The Stewardship coordinator told me she'd help if I needed it. Probably will.

I came home and the kids were still in their pjs. We had an event to go to, but I get tired of doing the border collie thing. After four warnings, I told both boys "Last time. Get dressed or we're not going."

Neither moved. Fine.

About 1 pm, Nic decided he was good and ready to go. By that time, it was too late, and he cried many bitter tears about it. Hopefully, the lesson learned is that when I say it's time to go, they listen. G didn't seem to care one way or the other.

Last note, I made a new rice and bean recipe last night and called it Who Hash for G's benefit. Nic complained bitterly that he didn't like it and could he get some real food?

I fumed. Hubby told him he could leave the table if he took a few bites.

He took a spoonful. And quite involuntarily said "Mmmmm."

I jumped all over him. "See?? It *is* good."

My mistake, because then it became a matter of principle. "Oh, no," he groaned. "It's awful, can I be excused?"

I swear, cooking is another thing I do well, and I hate that he is so damned picky. But the fact that he *did* eat some, and that he's starting to eat vegetables, well, I guess there is some hope for him.

I did have a few more thoughts on the whole "good at" thing, but I guess I'm not as prepared to write about that as I thought I was....more later. I have another phoner, then a draft to kick out of here....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

T-Ball and the Rearview Mirror

So once I herded everyone out of the house, into the car, and over to the pool (stopped on the way by a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses, what timing), I pulled up, dumped everyone out and told hubby "You're supervising today--I have stuff to do."

I love hubby, but he thinks when errands need to be run that we all need to go. I thought time would be better spent if one of us knocked out a few while the kids were swimming, and since I'm not the one with the attachment issue, I was the only one for it.

Anyway, took care of the bank and postal runs, then stood in line for a half hour to register G for T-ball. You can tell it was the last day of registration, because you could see the line from Loch Alsh Avenue. I called hubby and let him know where to find the car if I wasn't back in time. Then I settled in line, half-listening to conversations ahead of and behind me.

Ahead of me, two men of comparative age registered their boys, one was a late starter, the other a second-time around dad. (I chuckled at the late-starter, being one of those myself). Behind me, one mom regaled another with the UPenn clinic her one boy was with (the other mom didn't know the difference between PSU and UPenn) and all the sports her son was with, and how her son liked township basketball because it was 'fun and no pressure.'

I wondered why an 11-year-old kid needed to feel pressure in a sport.

Soon, it was my turn, and the guy registering G noted Nic in the system. "Not Nic?"

"No, just G."

"Are you sure?"

I hesitated a split second, wondering if I *really* wanted to go there, internally shook my head and replied tersely, "yes."

He glanced at me a second, then went back to it.

I related the story to hubby on the way back from our collective errand running after the lesson (He guesses it went fine, Nic is still with the beginners, but he wasn't paying much attention and couldn't really tell me how they did, although both boys assured me that it was 'fine.'), who told me "You know, if Nic did T-ball, we could register him for baseball."

I sighed. We've had this conversation many times in varying forms over the years, but I said (again) what I have said in the past. "Nic could not do t-ball. He was not conversational, he tantrummed, and he wandered all over the place. He is not Gabriel. Gabriel, on the other hand, can handle t-ball. Two different kids, two different sets of issues. Remember?"

He was quiet for a minute, probably remembering the last 50 times we've had this conversation. "Oh. Yeah."

As much as possible, we try the same things out with both kids. This was one of those rare instances where G 'got there' before Nic. But I anticipate it will happen more, especially as G advances in elementary. His relative skills are already emerging, and there are things that will just be easier--and more realistic--for him to do than Nic.

On the other hand, Nic has the makings of an intellectual powerhouse. Between them, they will have an amazing repertoire of skills.

But it's my job to help them figure out what each of their gifts are going to be. And not to spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror and asking myself "what if?"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Turning My Frown Upside Down

Coming out of this week, I cleared out my personal stuff as well as got a running start on my next project. That will be off my desk by the middle of next week, with hopefully another waiting in the wings. I just scheduled two more guest lectures.

Things are definitely looking up. I feel much better, like I renewed a contract. Maybe I did. It's all good. A starlit walk with my boys the other night did a lot to adjust my attitude. Even the crushing eval I received for Gabriel yesterday can't wreck my mood.

Although, all things considered, this is the best eval he's gotten yet.

It's all good. Lunch with my sister today reminded me that I am on the right track. I will just keep plugging along.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up

Sometimes God answers my prayers, I think, just to shut me up.

It's not the yelling, it's the whinging and handwringing that gets it done.

Anyway, I lined up four interviews in the next couple days--if I can nail down a fifth, this assignment will be done, shipped, and invoiced by the end of next week.

My goal. If I can pull it off, it means more good things.

I took the boys for a walk last night in the dark. It was a cold, brisk walk, but it was clear enough with little enough light pollution that we could see some of the major constellations they both already know.

We could have easily accomplished what we needed to in less than a half hour, but this way, it was nearly two hours outside, looking at the stars, and enjoying each other's company.

Trying to get them to enjoy the walk, and enjoy what's around them.

It makes me laugh that they wanted ice cream--not hot chocolate--when we got home.

The sun shines bright today. I am going to be sure I am out to enjoy it. And get what I need to get done, done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At a Crossroads

The road I've been on seems to be at an end. I'm not sure what's next. I'm not even sure if there IS a next.

I have some time, so I will make good on some promises I've made. After that, I'm sure some one has my next little while figured out for me.

It's not for me to know--just DO. Time to get busy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Keeping Christmas in My Heart

and in my house. Today was a gorgeous, sunny, 50 degree day, so the boys and I spent our day off out in the sunshine. We bonded, hiked, played, got errands run, and finished our day at a local playground, the boys chasing one another as the sun set and a redtail hawk circled overhead.

But my Christmas tree hovers accusingly in the next room. I really need to take that thing down.

Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reconnecting and recollecting

The raw, rainy day outside is a good reason to be indoors and get things done. I was going to do a little war-rooming until I considered that even God gave it a rest on Sunday.

I wanted to talk a little about my meeting with C on Thursday. It was so good to reconnect after 10 years. I fear I ruled the conversation, but she seemed amenable to the flow of how things went, and she even stuck around and met one of my current partners in crime.

One good thing that happened was that I was able to walk through with her what happened with my novel and that other online group a few years back. Finally relating the tale of the betrayal out loud gave me the wherewithal to close that particular chapter. I don't worry about the other players in that drama, and am quite content that karma will catch them both if it hasn't already.

And I had one of my 3 am epiphanies that led to another online chat with my younger sister. She is such a good egg. I had a chat with my youngest sister last week that really has me counting my blessings that I have such a cool family.

I wish we talked more, but I cherish our conversations now.

And in other unrelated news, we had lessons at the new pool yesterday. Not only did they go well, Nic is going to get kicked upstairs with the more advanced swimmers and G is settling in with a smaller group. The good news is that they can both do small group lessons now.

I NEVER thought that would be possible.

Nic was also really good about getting G focused and on task. He really is an excellent big brother.

I won a three month family membership at the Y the other night. I'm probably going to take the boys over to investigate it tomorrow, and maybe sign myself up for a program or two. As it happens, Special Olympic practice will be at the same Y.

G keeps asking about the other pool, but right now, I have no answers about that. He's going to have to learn the hard way that things change, go away, or otherwise fall apart.

Who am I kidding? He already knows. They both do.

Hubby is nagging me to get cooking, so cook I will. It's an excellent soup night, and I have just the recipe to break out.....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Unfinished Business

I didn't get anything done this week I would get paid for (oh wait, yes I did, have to send article and invoice today! :)), but this was one of those weeks where I did not waste time; I made connections. I listened. Took copious mental notes. And here are some challenges ahead:

1) Help get our Special Olympics team back on track
2) Make sure the boys succeed in their new swimming venue and lessons
3) Get back our camp
4) Get back our camp
5) Get back our camp

I crashed the gala last night and didn't get thrown out. Instead, it was a bit like old home week, but again, I sense a 'last time'. Oh, my heart just breaks. I need to duct tape it together long enough to get together with my other moms and fix this.

On some level, I have to accept that I may not be able to. But I can't NOT try.

Nic's back in business on the bus--we've had a good week. G had a rough time yesterday, and I sent his teacher detailed instructions on what to do next time (hint: do not drag him kicking and screaming back to class; instead, give him a minute to pull himself together).

This week was good for my soul. I reconnected with quite a few people, including one of my bestest friends on the planet while I was in grad school. I connected with a mom who gets me better than I thought anyone could. And of course I am reminded yet again of what's important, what I need to think about and what I need to do.

There was not a wasted moment this week. I go forward with purpose and hope.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New week, new pool, new attitude

I have a lot on my plate today, and still no voice.

The article must go. It must. And then I can start shaking the trees again. I had a bizarre feeling of peace last night, even though things are quiet. I must not get lulled into complacency, however. There is much to do, and I need to get it done.

Haydee's six-year anniversary was yesterday. I have to make my days and time here on earth worth it.

So we tried the new pool on Saturday, and the good news is that both boys like it. I am not sure how they will fare in the small group setting, but I will be positive and put rewards in place for lessons successfully completed. They will not like the fact that there is no 'play time' as in the Variety pool, but we have to make adjustments, and life is not without its complications.

I have done the legwork for the Special Olympic sitch, but have heard nothing back.

So, this week, I have meetings tomorrow and Wednesday, and lunch with an old friend Thursday, and a meeting on Friday. Wow, I don't even think I planned it like that.

To work. This draft must go today.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Latest Lessons from Bullying

What was interesting about the phone call that started my blog yesterday was what preceded the accusation:

"He's special needs"

"We're not allowed to say anything."

Meaning, whoever was doing the bullying knows the rules.

If Nic had not burst into the house crying at the very moment I was on the phone with this parent, it would have been what is becoming a typical situation; bullies don't get caught because the person least likely to do the bullying is the actual perpetrator.

And Nic would have gotten detention, because it was essentially two against one.

I'm actually beyond angry.

I can't even name it.

Timing may have saved my kid's neck, but how many out there are waiting for salvation?

In Nineteen Minutes, the gunman just wanted the bullying to stop.

And that made him a monster.

I just see the trajectories, and it makes it very hard to sleep at night.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And so it goes.....

So at 4 pm I get a call from a mom who hems and haws and tells me Nic's language is a problem, that he was cursing at her son.


I told her that it was unlikely that he would do this unprovoked. Just then, Nic bursts in crying, telling me that B and another boy "a boy in a blue sweater," was picking on him.

The line went quiet, then she yelled her son's name. "I'll call you back."

So I get from Nic that he was cornered and harassed for a second day running by B and this other kid.

Mom calls me about 10 minutes later to apologize.

After hemming and hawing for an hour, I called B's mom. Told her what happened.

She called me back to tell me that B told her that Nic started it. And licked him.

I tell her I'll call her back.

What I had gotten so far was that B blocked Nic into the seat, and Nic told me 'he had an idea' to get free, and licked B, which sounds like something he'd do.

So I called B's mom and said, "Look, basically two stories against one here, I'll talk to Nic about not licking people, but please tell B to stop following Nic around."

She said she would.

Nic is bound and determined to go to the principal--and I realize he might get detention, but I kind of think it wouldn't be a bad thing.

It does bother me that B is a liar. And it bothers me that he will probably get Nic in trouble, but Nic will have to learn how to negotiate this stuff. I have to sit on my hands.

I hate it. But I have to.

The other kid's story does corroborate with Nic's hopefully that will be enough.

Yeah, dopey me. I always expect the truth to will out. Except it doesn't, always.

So it's 9:05 am

and Nic has ostensibly run his errand. If he has, I will get a phone call, oh, at about 11:30.

I get that kids will be kids. But what I don't get is that they repeatedly harass my kid--in spite of warnings. What the hell? Are they that hard up in the self respect department that they have to beat up on my kid to feel better about themselves?

I admire the grace with which Nic is handling this. But geez, does his grace and sense of self worth have THAT much of a detrimental effect on these hoodlums?

All we can do is keep on doing what we do. But support from the parents involved would be nice.

The words "Service Project" pop into my head. I'm thinking if these kids have to do some time interacting with special needs kids, that might be better than in school suspension.

As usual, I'll be waiting and seeing. And scheming.

In the meantime, have to finish this project. I'm so close to done. I can knock it out today. I can.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Okay, Bullies, Time's Up!

Nic is going to the principal again tomorrow because the same damn kids keep harassing him.

I think hubby is going to make a house call, as well.

I am really irritated that this persists. The kids clearly aren't intimidated by the consequences, so I am thinking it is time to up the stakes.

(Putting concerned--or perhaps overly UNCONCERNED parents on notice--fix this or expect it to get dealt with by in school suspensions)

Nic is dealing with this well, but why should he be dealing with it at all?

Spent today at a funeral and with the bereaved. Tomorrow I'll be back on the stick trying to get a place for the Special Olympic team that was displaced by financial ruin to swim. Already putting pieces in place for both boys' placements next year.

Ugh. And I am losing my voice on top of everything. I hope to ship my article tomorrow and get rolling on some new projects.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy holidays

It's been a nice week off, but reality recommences in less than 48 hours.

Which is fine, I'm ready.

So this year I am going to procrastinate less and get things done a bit more quickly and efficiently. And I am getting back to my regularly scheduled clothes size (not too far off and doable, thanks to the Wii Fitness kit I got for Christmas--I've already logged 12 hours and lost 2 lbs)

Nic spent most of the time off computer, which is good. They've both done a lot of reading this past week. Not much in the way of socializing but that's fine. I still have to work out the pool problem. I guess I'll deal with that this week.

I want to have my article shipped by Wednesday. And hopefully, I'll be ahead of the curve for the rest of the year.

Personal relationships--meh, I'm in a good balance coming in. I need to spend more solo time with hubby, so I will work on making that happen.

I don't take anyone for granted. I don't plan on changing that.