Monday, October 27, 2008

Nicole the Special Needs Mom

Yesterday I was driving around in my car and as I turned a corner, Jaden's wheelchair clinked a little bit and it dawned on me "I have a special needs child".

Oh, he's 11. I've had plenty of time for it to sink in and all. But, sometimes it's like I forget. I mean I know that every day, he gets out of bed and I get him breakfast, because unlike the other 11 year olds in my house, he can't reach the cereal and milk. And, I know that every day he gets himself a diaper as part of his getting dressed and everyday I put him in his braces so that he can spend some time walking. And, I know that every school day we wait for a different bus that the other kids get on because the other one deosn't have a wheelchair lift. And, I know that everytime we go somewhere I have to be concerened about the accessibility of that place and I know that everywhere we go people stare or avert their gaze in a "whatever you do don't look" sort of way. And, I know that we seem to spend a lot of time in the hospital and at Drs. appointments. But, sometimes I forget that not everyone is doing the same things we do. And, sometimes, like when the wheelchair clinks in the back of my van, I am reminded that we are different. That not all families have to live through hospitalizations and fighting insurance companies and waiting for medical equipment companies just to return your calls. And, every now and again, sometimes, that realization sucks.

It's funny to me that sometimes I forget I am a special needs mom, that sometimes, most of the time, I just think of myself as a mom who gets out of bed every day and tries to do what is best for her family. I don't know if that is progress or denial. Some special needs mom wear it like a badge of honor...and really they should. It's not always easy. In fact, it really never is. I guess I just enjoy the times when I forget. If only I had been taking that turn a little slower... :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homework x 3 or 4, someday 5.

Remember the good old days? When you would read a book and then have a to write a book report? Or maybe you'd learn some math and then have to go home and do some math problems? Or maybe you'd read about some wonderful Indian tribe in Social Studies and then take a multiple choice quiz on that tribe. Those days are gone, folks. Those days are gone.

Trisha is also working on a "hogan" for social studies. This has to be made out of materials found in nature...just like the native americans did back in the day. Listen, people, I can help a child with writing, some math, but creating a hogan out of materials found in nature...forget it. What makes this extra fun is how every suggestion I make gets shot down:

Me: "Trisha, what if I went to get some plaster and we got the basic shape with plaster and then glued things from nature to it."
Trisha: (In a screeching, over the top, how could you be so stupid tone of voice) "The teacher said we couldn't do that."

Well, did the teacher maybe tell you how I am supposed to pull a hogan out of my a**. Although...that does give me an idea.

Then, Jonathan is working on a book project. He gets to make a movie poster to "sell" the movie rendition of the book he just read. His original rough draft was basically a reworking of the cover, which I have to say, I thought was brillant. I mean afterall, if a publishing house thought it was good enough to sell, well it should be good enough for the I right? However, he now sits upstairs looking at a blank page and asking me for ideas. I have not read the book, so I have no ideas. I am now going to read the book so I can have some ideas (unless anyone has read Frindle and can help me out)

Jaden surprisingly seems to have no homework. Ever. I am not sure what this means. When I ask him, he always says he did it at school. There was one project he had where he said he had to watch TV for 90 minutes each day. Something about tracking commercials. You don't think he's pulling a fast one on me, do you?

Ah, yes and then there is Ryan. So far, he's pretty independent. Except that once per week he has to bring in a current event story. He always likes to pick odd news, and believeyoume, there is plenty of odd news out there, which brings up tons of odd questions like: "Mom, what's chocolate body spread? It's been recalled" or "Mom, why would a naked man try to go down someone's chimney?" or "Mom, what is sex and why did people get arrested for it on the beach?" Good times. Good times.

Just think, in a few years, Hayleigh will be in the mix. I can hardly wait to see what ridiculous, er I mean, educational things they come up with by then.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

5th Grade Girl-y-dom

Here are two books I have been reading lately as part of my quest to "Get Trisha Through Her Teen Years Without Pregnancy, STD, Date Rape, or Drunken Cell Phone Usage". I can sum up both of these books in three words: Terr. I. Fying. It makes it seem almost hopeless to try and overcome the influences seen and heard on a daily basis; to try an overcome the desire for male attention and the desire to be "popular" and to have the best clothes and the best everything so that by some miracle you can be a queen bee or at the very least NOT the person that everyone picks on.

By wordly standards, Trisha is probably off to a good start. Since starting the 5th grade, she's been invited to cool parties and been told she has cool clothes and even achieved that prize of prizes: being listed as one of the hot girls in her class. I can't really relate to that at all. I can assure you that I WAS NOT on anyone's list of hottest girls in 5th grade. Unless someone was listing who was sweating the most during gym class. Then I might have made a hottest girl list. And, it's not so much that she made the list, heck she can't help that she's's that she was so proud of herself for making this list.

The books do have some good suggestions that I am going to take heed of. Like going out to breakfast once a month to talk about what's going on in her life. The goal is to find out what she values and why and to tell her what I value and why. I also need, in the next year or so, to talk frankly about the dangers that lurk out there. And, to tell her that there are plenty of things one can do to get attention, but how will that make her feel?

Wouldn't it be nice if I could have total control of everything all of the time? But, then, what would I do with all of that free time I currently use worrying about things...

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Poor Neighbor

My neighbor recently had two of his 6 Obama signs stolen. No. I didn't do it. Seriously. I didn't. However, the person who did was probably thinking the following:

I mean my neighbor was obviously wealthy in the yard sign department. He had 6 of them and perhaps the person who took them was simply looking to redistribute the wealth. Say, take two of the signs that my neighbor has and give them to someone less fortunate, someone "behind them" in this journey of life. In fact, I am surprised my neighbor is bothered by this. The fact that they are so upset leads me to think that perhaps they need to rethink their vote...since this is exactly the type of wisdom Obama espouses.

In lieu of more signs, my neighbor handcrafted a poster that says "You can steal my signs, but you can't steal my vote!" No, neighbor we'll leave election stealing up to the fine folks at ACORN.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh, that crazy Joe!

We have a family member I don't mention too much. The fact is, I am usually quite embarassed by his antics. His name is Joe. Oh, you can't ever see Joe, he just shows up to play games and cause mischief all around our house.

He first appeared on our vacation. Ryan was bored and was playing a dice game. I wasn't sure who he was playing with (I couldn't see anyone), but when I looked at the score sheet...there he was. Ryan had 5,000 some points and Joe had like 6,000 some. When we went to play miniature golf, Grandpa played against Joe and found him to be a challenging competitor. We later found out that Joe isn't a young man like Ryan, he's more like Aunt Kristin's age (late, late, late 20s). In fact, Ryan thought perhaps Joe might be a nice match for Aunt Kristin.

Joe has hung around over the past few months. Anytime there's a spill or something is broken or missing, you can bet Joe gets the blame. That ground in fruit and grain bar on my carpet...Joe. My cell phone in the toilet...Joe. Sharpie on the wall...Joe. That Joe is just a rascally guy. Except for the past few days. Things have been pretty quiet around here. The past few days we haven't seen him much. We thought maybe he was travelling, seeing some sights. Maybe even getting someone to talk to a certain presidential candidate and ask him about some made up plumbing business he has. Who knows? Anything is possible with our crazy Joe.

If it was our Joe, at least I am glad to know he is a Republican. Although that no longer makes him a very good match for Aunt Kristin. Darn!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cooking isn't my bag.

I'm not a very good cook. At all.

It's not that I don't try. Well, to be honest, I really don't try. I have a few recipes I like to macaroni and cheese and hotdogs or quesadillas. I'm a big fan of the make-your-own nights. Like make-your-own cereal or make-your-own leftovers. Those are fun nights. I can also do some crockpot cooking. Like throw in some frozen chicken breasts and a bottle of barbeque sauce and let it sit all day. That I can do. Gourmet for me is grilling on the George Foreman. And by "grilling", I mean cooking the chicken in the microwave for a few minutes until it is almost done and then throwing it on the grill just so it gets those fancy grill lines on it. Oh, I've tried joining recipe clubs and mailing lists and such. If it has more than 5 ingredients or 5 steps, I just get lost somewhere between "debone chicken breast" and "add a pinch of fresh garlic". I need recipes that say things like open a can of chicken, add soup, enjoy. If anyone has any like this and would like to share, please do!

Of course, this is all part of my plan of good parenting. I mean if I wanted to cook really good meals, I would. But then, my daughters-in-law would have to live up to my perfection. All this non-cooking really is just my way of looking out for the future welfare of my boys' marriages!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The 80s are alive and well at my house...

I don't think there is much about the 80s I'd like to bring back. A few things, maybe. Like music and big, big hair. I mean the kind of big hair that can only be achieved by hairspraying a piece of hair, wrapping it around a tight curling iron and then taking a comb and teasing it big. That kind of big hair I would take back. Jeans with a peg-leg and long sweaters that cover the butt with leggings...not so much now that I have had children. And, the TV shows? Well, perhaps with the exception of Growing Pains (Hellooooo, Kirk Cameron), there is not too much I am interested in seeing again. Which is why it pains me greatly to say that my kids have taken to watching this show:

Yeah...remember Alf? I didn't like it the first time! Jaden chuckles through the whole thing. He asked me where this show had been all of his life. Which surprises me, given my dad can probably name every time and station the show is on. Watching Jaden chuckle makes me chuckle, I have to admit, but I'm not sure how much more Alf I can take. I guess I should consider myself could be Punky Brewster!

Monday, October 06, 2008

When Did I Become THAT Kind of Mom?

Saturday at cheerleading, we found out that one of the girls decided to quit. The reason was that the coach was being harsh on the girl and the girl's mom didn't like it. I guess the mom of the girl said "They're only 11, coach!". That comment sort of struck me. In a day when we see so clearly what a lack of taking responsibility for our actions can do to a person, a family, a nation, it seems like at 11, we can expect a certain level of behavior. Can't we.

But, really, I can't judge that mom too harshly. Because, it has come to my attention that I've fallen into the same trap.

It happened so quickly and yet so subtly. I used to be so big on the kids cleaning up their own messes and taking care of their own things. I used to be big on not necessarily getting everything you wanted, but wanting everything you got. "You get what you get and you like it!" was the motto around here.

And, then, they started school. And, people weren't always nice. Teachers yelled. Kids were mean. Schedules were busy. And, somewhere I thought that if I could ease their burden a bit, it would be better for them. Hey, let me pack your relax it's going to be a hard day. Hey, I'll clean up your breakfast dishes, you go ahead and relax. I'll set the table, make dinner, clean up the family room, etc, etc, etc, you go out and've had a hard day. Hey, I'll call your teacher and make sure they go easy on you, they probably don't know how hard you have it. You can't be expected to're only 11.

I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping things easy on them at home. I thought I was giving them that "soft place to land", which I totally believe is so important, but I have to find a way to do that that doesn't kill the lesson of personal responsibility. The future of our country depends on us teaching our children this important lesson. Afterall, 11 is plenty old enough to learn how to behave.