Monday, April 30, 2012

Moms and friends

Hello anybody.  I know its been a very long time since I posted.  Life has been busy.  Of course.

 So first is the update: We have a small science related play space now, supported for six months rent and overhead by a local foundation- Yay.  As director, I'm the main volunteer 2.5 days a week.  We now have a board- very exciting- we had our first meeting this week.

I've been sick since about February, two really evil cold/flu things in a row. I'm still coughing a bit, but I feel a lot better this week.  Consequently I tapered off my gym time to nothing a few weeks ago when my ribs hurt too much from coughing to get anything done.

And this weekend I guess I over did the gardening, now my arms hurt again.  I've gone on a course of naxoproxine (Aleve).  Maybe then my ribs will feel recovered and I'll get back to the gym... after our trip to CA next month.

OK, on the the post.  Its an issue I've noticed before, but I've really got some questions about what to do about it.  Yes this is rambling, but thats how you get the thoughts out sometimes.

There are a lot of people like me around here, it turns out.  The more I get to know various moms who visit our spot and moms from the moms group, the more I want to work more on this problem.  So what is the problem?  I thought it was just me... sort of an inability to make new friends.  I don't mean new acquaintances- I have a lot of them now through the moms group and my project.   Some of them I even see pretty often.  And I realize the moms group is intended to work on this issue- and it does, we do meet each other, and see each other on a somewhat regular basis; we do confide in each other to some extent.  But for many of us, the next level is missing.  The level of friendship where you actually see each other OUTSIDE of organized activities, where you actually schedule play dates with their children or get the two families together.  My son doesn't have a "friend" outside of play care that he sees on some regular basis. The friendship where you call each other up, email, drop and visit, plan something at the last minute, where you don' to worry about over staying or what they might think of your small messy house.  Friends that when you do visit you cannot stop chatting and stay up way past when you meant to.  Friends that when you say, I'm visiting town this day, they make time to see you and you know you are not imposing.

We have friends like this from our previous lives.  Why is this relationship so hard to obtain locally? Or is it a stage in life?  I ask this about stage in life because, for me it seems like my spouse is so busy and caught up in work that he doesn't have time to be part of a social life or isn't interested or doesn't care... I don't know.  So why can't I just be social on my own?  Honestly, its just not the same.  I don't know if other women have similar spouse issues, in fact, I don't think so, but still they seem to be looking for companionship- and many are as introverted as I am.   I'm speaking of stay at home moms mostly.

 It seems like families where two parents work just have no time for socializing- I can't imagine that we would.  But I do know one family where both parents work that seems to socialize a lot more than we do.  I don't understand how they make time to do it.  Actually I know many families that seem to be more sociable with others- but they seem to relish travel more than we have the energy for-these families seem to go out of town either to visit friends or relatives quite often- like more than once a month.  Of course this cuts down on local friendships I imagine.

Another thing I have in common with many of these moms is a lack of local relatives for day care... or even a regular babysitter.  If you move here from elsewhere as many of these moms have, the family is somewhere else. A babysitter...well where do you find somebody you trust?  And how can you afford to pay them for their time if you are not working?  Some of us, myself included, are opposed to paying them a pittance to take care of our children- we think their time is worth something.  It seems we are not the only ones too lame to find somebody and don't have the grandparents, aunts, etc to just drop them off here and there. (Yes, I thought it was just us before I heard others complaining about this.)  I think we need to set up a system for foster grandparents/uncles/aunts/relatives- I'm sure there are people out there who might like some extra kids/relatives in their lives?...But how do you find them and get a relationship going?

My point... there is no point, but the moms2moms group, and I hope my project, bring people like us together... but how do we go from group friend to REAL FRIEND.  Is it something an organization can help with?, something we can learn?, how do we do it? Do we just have to be more motivated and try harder? What would it take to turn my circle of friends I see frequently to real friends you can leave your children with, drop in on, share meals with?  Or is it just that I haven't met the right friend yet? And all these other women ALSO haven't met the right friend yet?

I really would like some comments here!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa, Birthday party (two topics, long post)

So I was just going to write something short... At ten o'clock my diary program pops up and I say... Oh, ten o'clock I should get ready for bed,... and then ignore it.  So I decided today I was not going to ignore it... but maybe I should write something....

I wasn't going to ignore it because I'm sending little star to playcare every morning next week rather than three full days, and want to get him there at a reasonable time in the morning so he gets some time there and I get something done.  I plan to take him home so he doesn't have to NOT nap there for two hours.  He's not been sleeping at nap time, and its become a problem.  This plan entails actually getting out of bed before 8 am, and therefore suggests going to bed reasonably as well.

 I just had to post about Santa.  I found out last night that TWO moms I know are not planning to do "santa" with their families.  That's two out of five who were at a moms2moms gathering... who are Christian. So, I mean, if even CHRISTIANS are opting out of Santa, can they please give my Jewish family a break and stop pushing it on us?  NOT everybody has Santa.  Yes, there are EVEN Christians who don't do Santa.  Its so "secular" Christians don't even want it.   

Really, I was quite encouraged by this surprising development.  Yay for serious Christians.  When I say serious, I mean the ones who are NICE- they may or may not be fundamentalist, but they take the whole loving kindness aspect of Jesus seriously.  They are responsible generous open minded people who can put themselves in another's shoes.   These are people we would all recognize as good people, and I know whatever religion they ended up in they would find the good things in it to practice. The Christian ones that I know tend to see these fine attributes as directly related to their faith, so that is why I single them out, and in a positive way say they are "serious" Christians.

I was thinking that some time my son might ask what Santa is because somebody will be sure to talk to ask him what Santa is bringing him/has brought him/ what he wants from Santa... it's happened in past years.  I would tell him Santa is what SOME Christian's pretend, and maybe he tells all his friends...  Of course this will never happen because despite Santa being pushed on everyone, my son doesn't care enough to ask, and even if he did know, is not likely to talk about it with other kids.   And of course, really, that's not a very nice thing... so I haven't really told him much about Santa, but I figure I should tell him about Christmas.  

You see I was just going to ignore it, but then a friend of mine asked me about Chanuka books for her kid- she wanted her kid to know about other people's holidays.  Here I thought the few Chanuka books I saw in the library were token for people like us, but no, perhaps other people do read them.  I realized that as much as Christmas annoys me personally, my kid, also, should know about other people's holidays.  Well, now I can tell him that not all Christian kids do Santa.  

And that Chanuka book I got out of the library- its probably the best Chanuka book we have -and we have PLENTY from the PJ library and other sources- which is silly because in the Jewish tradition, Chanuka is not an important Holiday.  Its not even biblical.  I hate the commercialization of Chanuka just like some Christians probably don't like Santa. I know one of the mom's said something about they didn't like lying to their kids, but I'm not sure if this is the primary reason they don't do Santa.  

Of course just a few weeks ago I found out about the Dutch Santa through facebook and I was feeling mightily happier about the American idea. You can read this One article about it or just type in Dutch Santa into Google to find out what I am talking about.

Well, I just had to write something about Santa.
And given that Chanuka starts in a few days, I really have to schedule my son's Birthday parties a bit farther from the Holiday.  Yes, I finally got around to organizing him a four year old party.  I had to invite NINE kids, and that was leaving out a few.  This relates to the four parties he already went to, and kids his age at play care and other reasons.  So Seven actually came and of course their parents which makes over twenty people if each kid brings two parents- some did, some didn't but you don't actually know in advance.  Anyway, I was lucky enough to reserve a room in our community center for this event.  For FREE.  Our house just doesn't cut it for that many people.  The space worked well- we even got to set up my son's little play house that takes up the whole living room at our house.  

The only expensive thing was that we had to feed everyone.  After making cupcakes, frosting them, jello (my son's favorite), cutting some fruit,...well, I was so pleased when my husband suggested I should just order pizza to feed everyone.  No brainer.  Expensive, but worth it, and now we have a lot left over.  I felt pretty bad about not providing the right food for the one child who is allergic to everything except the jello and fruit, but his parents did say they would provide for him- which they are used to doing.

You see there was just a lot of food prep that week. I was also baking cookies for a cookie exchange the same night- it was more baking than I EVER do.  To get little star to help I asked if he'd make cookies with me and he said he wanted to do cutout cookies- it was the second time he'd asked, and we'd never done it before, so how could I refuse?  It seemed to take all day- dough in the morning, cutting in the afternoon.  The next day more cutting; frosting.  I did the next day without him because you just don't want dirty four year old hands all over cookies you are planning to give away- and it would have taken doubly forever.  So I let him try the cookies.  "They are too hard" he said, and again, I'm off the hook for giving him cookies.  He doesn't like them.

Now about the birthday party- it was low key, pleasant, not dramatic.  Kids were happy, they played, parents talked calmly, hanging out in their own cliques, but I don't really care- I just wanted everyone to be happy, and I think they were.  My son was happy even though it was all parallel play on his part. He watched the kids, played, and got jello.

I knew that even telling people gifts were not expected would not stop the gifts, so I wrote gifts were not expect, but if they felt the NEED to bring one I wrote what my son was actually interested in to help them out.  The first thing I wrote was that he likes soft fury things - I think I forgot the word furry-... like a stuffed animal.  Did he receive ANY stuffed fury animals?  No.  I thought this was a no brainer.  I think I'm going to have to buy him one.  Actually he did get this teddy bear thing, but its not soft and fury, its like a rag doll.

He did get reasonable gifts (I did mention he wasn't familiar with media characters so that really helped!)... sort of.  He got some books- also on my list, so that's great.  He received two small building toys (legos and erector set) that he will EVENTUALLY like... for a four year old party why would you buy toys that are age rated 5+?  Well, he WILL eventually like them, so I'm not complaining, I'm just surprised/confused.  Maybe busy people just don't read/trust the ratings, or maybe their kids are more advanced than mine is- quite possible.   He sure liked the stickers.

He also got two battery powered toys- a zhuzhu pet that he loves, and a nanobot (buglike thing)- that he also loves... that the battery already died on this afternoon- we opened it this morning. The pet might last longer since it sleeps by itself.  I can totally see why he likes these, but I'm not going to replace the battery every day.  Maybe he'll learn?  I admit I'd rather have a fake bug in my house than a real one... and a fake hamster than a real one.  But I can see that a real one would be much better... intellectually.  Fact is I'm NOT getting my kid a real hamster or having bugs in my house- and they are in short supply outside in the winter (aside from ANNOYING LADYBUGS), so really can't complain here. Thanks for the toys.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joys of a picky eater and sweets

Did I for some reason say "last post"... well, I was serious, but I just had something to say.  Its not political, its not related to my project, and its only slightly embarrassing that I haven't cleaned out my cookie jar since the last time we had cookies.  I mean, it would only be SLIGHTLY embarrassing if the last time we had cookies was say, two weeks ago.  Well, here's the post:

1.  I gave my little star some chicken soup last night that I made.  I just cut up a lot of vegetables to add to some chicken stock- and little star "helped" by not getting into trouble, stringing celery, and cutting a few potato slices.  For eating the soup, I gave him mostly broth since he's not into chunks of stuff... or trying things, but usually he'll try soup.  I told him the carrots would be soft and sweet, which apparently after four years of refusal had some effect.

Instead of eating broth (oh well) he got into eating carrot and celery chunks.  The fact that I had just put a little soup in the bowl resulting in the impossibility of actually scooping up the chunks with his spoon did not deter him. He used his fingers to get the carrots on the spoon and ate them, for some reason disregarding the messiness of his fingers.  So he did not get frustrated at the difficulty of the task and fully enjoyed the "soft and sweet" carrots.  Today he claimed my soup was better than the one at playcare because that one didn't have carrots... I think it does.  Well I'm awfully pleased as I usually am when he actually likes something new... but I have to remind myself that this is probably temporary.    However, having a picky eater makes it all the more exciting when something as simple as cooked carrots is eaten.

He also decided he needed cherry jam, the kind "daddy" had, even after I explained that it had chunks of cherry.  Chunks had definitely been a no-no until he decided that blueberry jam was OK- but it has pretty small berries in it.  Actually, on the jam side I hadn't encouraged the cherry jam since its my favorite and rarely on sale... but still its nice he wants something new and with chunks.  See, with a picky eater you can even be excited when your kids eats something bad for them, like marshmallows or even weird candy.  I mean, at least they are trying something new!

Today I tried out this new cookie recipe that claimed it was super easy... well not exactly, but the cookies taste just like brownies, so who can complain?  (If you love brownies the way I do)  And the recipe wasn't impossible, it just took a bit longer since I had to substitute cocoa powder for baking chocolate- I think this is usually easier than melting chocolate.  Since I don't have a mixer I decided to mix it by hand rather than food processor since I wasn't sure if that would work correctly.  Any recipe that asks you to chill it for two hours is NOT by my definition easy, but it allowed me to make the batter yesterday and do some cooking today.

You were supposed to role the batter into balls- which were very sticky and roll those into powdered sugar, which wasn't too bad after I figured out that powdered sugar is a bit like flour in keeping things from sticking.  Little star got to help a little and without too much prompting licked off his fingers... which is a good step when you have a four year old who still hasn't learned to LICK things including his hands.  See, I was happy about this- though I did make him wash his hands before any more "helping" occurred.

So of course I offered him a taste of cookie- just before dinner as it was.  He took a little bite, said it was good, and DIDN'T ask for more.  Let me tell you, these things were amazing- just like eating a really great brownie.  After dinner I asked if he wanted a cookie- I mean, after all he "helped" make them, and we already shared a whole peach pie without him last week when he didn't want any.  Well, he said he didn't want a cookie.   More for US :)  I love the way he's not into sweets.  It helps me feel not guilty about eating them without him, usually after he's in bed.

2.  Now you may think we have sweets a lot... and sometimes we do- Most of the time in the fall I cook a lot of chocolate chip zucchini bread or pumpkin bread and we eat it almost all year.  But this year, my pumpkin and zucchini crop did not turn out, and truth is, I STILL have some grated zucchini in the fridge from last year, so I guess if the crop did turn out I still might not have done it.  Last year I brought (or somebody else did) donuts to my husbands department for a friday afternoon treat.  There were usually leftovers that we got to share at home almost every week during the school year.
Sometimes my husband uses baking to de-stress, so sometimes we get home made cinnamon buns, or pistachio nut cookies, or rugelach on a rare occasion.  Lately, however, its just been waffles- which are great.

This year, not much baking happened, until this month.

First there was this pie: I had to make this pie because I decided I was tired of waiting for my man to make pie crust so we could have a quiche.  It had been almost a year.  So I made a crust myself- not sure I've ever done it before.  In my house it was my dad's job- and he' didn't do it very often.  So I guess I followed that model and made it my husband's job since he actually likes to fool around with it and get it "just right"... though really I could care less if its perfect- I just want crust that tastes OK.  I don't care if its not that flakey or whatever.

Anyway, he's just not had any time lately, so I did it myself trying to follow the recipe to the letter since its my first time and all.  Of course I ended up using the plastic mixing blade on our food processor when I was supposed to use the cutting blade, but I wasn't sure, and I figured I couldn't really screw it up.  So as I tried to follow said recipe it sure took about forever to mix the butter and flour using the wrong blade, and it took about forever to role out the very cold dough as well.  And then there was the fact that I used a pyrex dish, and it said to get it VERY cold before putting it in the oven.  The internet claims that's OK-Phew.  And then there were all these cool it off steps.  No wonder I never make pie crust- it takes forever.  The quiche, by the way, was EXCELLENT and so was the crust.

Anyway, quiche only uses one crust, and by the recipe, the dough is only supposed to sit for two days at most in the fridge.  My husband MONOPOLIZED the kitchen that weekend preparing a chicken.  You see, it had to be done JUST right- every single part of the thing.  You can't just massage it a bit, put it in the roasting pan, and cook it.  No, you have to unfreeze it carefully, debone it, separate the different parts into different dishes, prepare each one, and cook them all in different ways including breading some of the pieces.  And then, you are not done, no, you have to cook what's left down in the pressure cooker for stock.

Do I sound like I'm complaining...well, lets say that the chicken was EXCELLENT, we ate it all week so all I had to do was prepare starch and veggies, and the stock made great soup.   On the other hand I think it was too much work, my husband got behind, got annoyed, stayed up late every night to catch up, and I believe is now sick.  So perhaps this is all my fault because I asked if he'd cook the chicken last weekend, and perhaps I should have waited several weeks, not bought the chicken, or done a less perfect chicken myself.

Anyway, fact was, I had to use up that extra crust.  So I looked up a recipe for how to use frozen fruit in pie.  I've never made the inside of a pie before either.... just quiche.  The only fresh fruit we had was honey crisp apples, and I think its a shame to cook such expensive delicious eating apples (though they would probably be good in a pie).  We did however have some peaches that were over a year old and blueberries in the freezer.  So I followed the instructions that did not mention if I should drain the extra liquid from the fruit (so I didn't), and I made a "streusal" top crust that the recipe said to do.   It did kind of bubble over- as I knew it would since it barely fit in the crust, but WOW, it was a great pie.  I was not sad that I didn't have to share it with little star.

My husband's godmother sends us this wonderful fudge every year around Christmas.  Now we told her more than a year ago that we liked the chocolate fudge without nuts the best, but every year, including last year we get half chocolate with walnuts and half this white chocolate fudge that neither of us like much though my husband tolerates it- we often give it away.  But who's to complain- the dark chocolate, even with nuts is amazing.  This year, however, she sent us a whole container with dark chocolate fudge and no nuts!  Oh, its heavenly.   Usually my husband, kind man that he is, knowing how much I love the stuff, lets me eat more than my fair share.  This year, he's all stressed out, and I am happy to make sure he's getting his share... or more.  He deserves it and there's twice as much to share in any case!

So, why was I making cookies?... well last year I participated in this cookie exchange with my mom's2moms group, and we got all these cookies that I exchanged for pumpkin/zucchini bread.. which we scarfed down rather quickly.  I wasn't sure I exactly had time for that this year given little star's birthday party is on the same day, I'm not sure if I have Jury duty this week, and I'm planning something for my project.... but I asked my husband if he'd like me to participate assuming he wouldn't care or would think it was too much work (even if it was my work, it would certainly impact him).  He said it would be nice to have the cookies... or something like that.  What?
OK, so sure, I like cookies too, and I can try this new recipe.  So thats why I baked cookies. They are really good.

I knew the cookie jar probably hadn't been cleaned..well because every time we have cookies I seem to have to clean it before putting any into it.  We rarely have cookies... probably last year after the cookie exchange was the last time.  But we have this great cookie jar.  Its from my grandfather's shop.  My grandfather, who died when I was around four years old used to run some sort of used furniture store... that burned down... but anyway, my grandma's house used to have all sorts of stuff that I don't think people on their income could necessarily have afforded.  The cookie jar was always there.  Its a ceramic cylinder painted as a round thatched house with a little chimney and has the look of Italy where it claims its from.  When you take the lid (the roof) off, it has a characteristic sound that lets you know for sure somebody is stealing a cookie.  Cookies seem to hold a very nice texture when kept in it.  I'm not quite sure how it influences humidity, but somehow it does it right.

I took off the lid. Sure enough it needed cleaning.  And it had ONE COOKIE in it.  And that cookie wasn't even obviously moldy.  It seemed to look just like one I remembered from the cookie exchange.  I couldn't believe it.  A year old cookie?  I was still a bit afraid of the thing and put it into the compost.  There were lots of crumbs and sugar in the jar, and nothing looked moldy or strange.  Weird.  Cookies must really be bad for you if the microbes won't eat them and no bugs even got into the jar. Its not sealed.  Its just a ceramic lid on top of ceramic.

Moral?  None.  Food is good. Food is fun.  Food is interesting.  Hearing about what other people do with food is interesting.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last (?) thoughts

Hi readers,
I haven't written in a bit, and I just wanted to let you know what's up.  Stuff is going on, but nothing really really compelling.  The interesting stuff (OK, its not that interesting) generally has to do with family- ie not bloggable, or maybe its my political take on something, or something to do with the science playspace project.  Well, I just feel that these topics might get in the way of the playspace project if they are public, so it doesn't leave me much to blog about.  I may open another blog at some point that's less traceable to me... or not.  Or maybe I'll write here and there on this one.  I'm not sure, but I thought I should be honest about it with anybody who's reading this... if anybody is.  In fact if you do read this and want me to keep blogging, please comment.  Otherwise I assume nobody cares.

Last updates:
My son turned four years old.  I've reserved space at our local community center to hold him a party (he wants one), but I still have to plan it.  Of course what I mean is plan some food and some toys or something.  Its just a big play date to me... though my husband did suggest liquid nitrogen icecream or silly putty making, so I think some sciencey thing would be fun.  Why did I reserve space?... well I can imagine about three kids inside our house at most- and I've noticed you get both parents as well.  He's already been to FOUR parties this fall, so we owe some people.

I got a good report from playcare yesterday- when I came in he was evidently enjoying being tickled by another little boy.  I've never seen that kind of interaction before.  His teacher said he was interacting with the kids more and responding better.  I'd like to say this is because we are doing something better at home but... well, we've tweaked some things, but I really think its just age... or just he had a good day.  He seems to be giving up his nap at school... and maybe at home too.  I may have to change his schedule around.  I don't see much point in making him lie there for two hours every day and not sleep.  One hour I can see... Its because he's still in the three year old class room- the four/five year old classroom is full, and really I LIKE his teacher, and he's not exactly on the top of maturity.  There are also at least three kids who are older than him in the class.  But because its the three year old classroom they expect reall naps... that the other kids still do.

Little star is improving with potty training in the day, but we are still lacking the part where he decides to go when he needs to.  However he is mostly dry and is using our toilet and the one at school... though not other ones, so I still can't take him anywhere.

We had a good time with my family for T-giving, and little star did reasonably well . traveling. Its the first time I can remember with no snow on T-giving.  My little star got lots of good uncle, cousin, and great uncle time.  And also aunt time.  He just doesn't get much non-nuclear family time at home, and I don't think that's a good thing.

About the science playspace...we are sort of in a strange place- we have some money, but can't really spend it properly without more people in the organization and a space.  Its not like I'm getting paid, so its not always my top priority either.

We won't go into politics here, except to say I find myself curbing my speech on political matters (of which everything falls in that category) with local people because I don't know  how it will effect the science playspace project in such a mixed environment.  Did I mention we are the home of the Freshwater case... and we are a "purple state".  I'm so worried I'll say the wrong thing to the wrong person (I probably already have).  There are lots of things I'd love to promote on facebook, but I don't; I just like it when other people post it- thus only those people know I agree with them... well I assume that's how facebook works since I don't know everything everyone else likes on other people's pages.

As usual, trying to get to bed earlier.
Please comment!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Entering the darker time of the year

Has anything memorable been happening?
This morning we went down to the bathroom and there was a dead mouse in the toilet.  It was a bit shocking, but practically, it save us from trapping it.  Still pretty gross, and surprising because usually mice are in our kitchen, not the bathroom. Also, we haven't had a mouse problem in a while.  I guess its back.  Its that time of year. Ugh.

Other things?
My little star is re-entering terrible twos?  That's what it seems like; perhaps it has to do with turning four soon.  Perhaps its to repay me for suggesting that the psychologist was exaggerating when he said my son was hard to parent.  He's had a lot of meltdowns recently over... well... nothing aside from maybe he was hungry or needed to go to the bathroom.

He had his four year old checkup today in which we waited about forever in the doctors office- you know after the nurse takes you in so there are no toys and nothing to do except to keep your inquisitive little child from opening up the two biohazard waste containers in the room.   Little Star handled this as well as could be expected especially considering the day didn't exactly have him in the best of moods.  Our new doctor examined him for perhaps five minutes- the time it takes to check his ears, eyes, heart, tummy, and feet, tell him to climb on the examining table and jump.  I think I have everything here.  He told us the boy was he was healthy in the top ten percentile for height and weight.  I asked about hearing and eyes, so he conceded the nurse should check his eyes- he did fine on that, and that he didn't need hearing checked since we hadn't noticed any issues.

He explained what we would have noticed as issues, and I supposed he was right since yesterday I took little star to this very nice children's concert where he complained that the orchestra was too loud.  Stupid me, I sat near the front with him so he could really see the instruments.  Brainless.  Next time, into the balcony- maybe he won't remember that he didn't like it last time because it was too loud.  It really was a nice concert.

So about the doctor...the corporation, which is the American Health Network, or somebody in the practice has decided to keep us on with the practice and they are looking for a nurse practitioner to take our doctor's place.  Now, frankly, I don't really mind seeing a nurse practitioner most of the time- I don't have serious health problems, and if I did I'd probably have to see a specialist anyway.  But it does strike me as somebody just trying to save some money.  Or it could be no doctor in their right mind wants to live around here, so they might has well find somebody they can get.  

But that's not my main complaint- aside from them NOT NOTIFYING us that our doctor was leaving.  My main complaint is that I believe we are being kept on because our insurance is OK.  We think that's the only reason we got in to start with.  This situation is just so unfair, and I feel bad participating in such a system at all.  The office is also 25 minutes from our house.  If I had an acceptable alternative closer I would certainly take it.  Luckily they've just opened up an urgent care center near us.

The only thing,  I can say that's good about the idea of the American Health Network business, is that they give their doctors a salary so there are not these perverse billing/testing incentives...  Our new doctor also comes highly recommended from other moms I know.

Frankly, I wasn't that impressed.  He didn't ask me anything at all that I can remember, aside from if my son was caught up on vaccinations.  We do have concerns about our son's social growth.  I didn't bring them up because we are addressing it in other ways, but I remember last year I had a long talk with my doctor about it.  You might think they would ask if I had any questions or concerns- or maybe he would ask if the boy was potty trained- maybe he just assumed the kid was since he was wearing underwear and most kids are. He's making some progress on the potty training, but he's still got a long way to go, so I am still frustrated with it.

Oh, the other great news (that was meant to be sarcastic), we are accepting brine water from fracking in PA into injection wells in our county.  I learned that last night from our local paper.  We can only hope "brine" water is really all it is and that it won't be a problem.  And what did facebook have to tell me today? Our governor has decided to allow fracking in Ohio state lands- I forget exactly which lands the article mentioned.  Oh Yay.  At least there are no earth quakes here... yet.  And we still have power... so far.

I think my son's moods are affecting me... or mine was affecting his?  All things change in time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The good news and my whining

So we got to meet with the psychologist to see if my son has autism or Aspergers or what; he observed my son last week.  Well, it wasn't really like I expected, but that's not a bad thing. He said my son definitely is not autistic, and explained why.  He said he didn't seem to have Aspergers... we at least not definitively- yellow flags not red ones.  So maybe at some future date that would be diagnosed, but there wasn't enough evidence now, and there were things that suggested he did not have it.  So, although he used the term "eccentric", I like the more common term, "quirky", to describe my son.   So this is excellent news to me- what it says to me is that my son won't need to continuously work around his basic wiring to deal with people.

But he did suggest there might be some problems we should address...

and this is what I totally didn't expect about it- he asked why when I left last time it took us like 15-20 minutes to get into the car.  I was like, "what???"  Now I can't really remember it much except that I may have let my little start play around with something before he got into his seat because we weren't exactly in a hurry and I don't mind him exploring stuff if we have time, but it couldn't have taken more than about five minutes- he'd drunk a lot of water and I did want to get him home before he had an accident.  Now admittedly, it does often take my son longer to respond to commands than is ideal, but I am quite sure that if it had been important that we leave quickly, I would have got him to leave in a reasonable amount of time.

The Dr. thinks that he has to learn to respond faster to commands (which is true- but I hardly think him getting into the seat in that particular instance has anything to do with it), and its not that he never does.  The Dr. kept saying these things implying that I just don't expect enough out of my son (my interpretation), that I'm one of these parents that allows him to get away with murder, make too many choices, and explains too much (my exaggeration).  Frankly, that I take it too intellectually and am not direct enough.

The Dr. kept giving these examples of other parents that were doing things I don't do (at least not more than once, when I 'm not tired, when I realize they are ineffectual- what I mean is, they are not parenting behaviors that I find useful even if I do slip into them sometimes- I KNOW they are not effectual, I don't need to be told)  And then he'd say what the thing the "good" parent did with an emphasis on giving consequence that I really don't think would be effective or nice- they were based on fear, which he then said he wouldn't advocate a fear based thing- so I wasn't sure he really understood what that meant or that he wasn't advocating these particular methods; he was just suggesting I didn't give consequences.  I do give consequences, they just aren't draconian, and they are meant to teach, not punish.  That is, if you don't do x I'll have to help you with it, or we won't have time for y, you'll have to get down if you can't x because its not safe, or we'll have to put this away because its distracting you.  And he does respond to these.

The Dr. implied with an example that if we went about our bedtime ritual- that is if we had one, it could be done in fifteen minute rather than an hour.  Sure it could (and yes we DO have a ritual and yes it does take a while- he kind of implied we didn't as if he's even asked us!), but then I wouldn't get to spend half an hour reading books to my child or spend fifteen minutes singing to him every night.  I like reading and singing to him and I think its good for him.  We don't, as consequence put him to bed too late, we just start earlier, and if he's stalling too much we read less stories- but I didn't tell Dr. any of this.  The Dr. did not give ONE example of a way of going about any particular thing that would in fact be helpful and be any different than what we have done- and he doesn't know what we do anyway.    And the meeting really wasnt' about specifics, I was just really annoyed by the tone of his thoughts, assumptions, and examples.

Basically, all I took out of it was that I am not assertive enough (he pretty much ignored my husband- who agrees)- and this part is true, but its actually something we are both working on and I think have actually made some positive changes lately.  He said my son was going to be difficult to parent and the usual strategies might not work as well.  Thanks for validating that.  I actually kind of thought that while he wasn't the easiest kid, I've certainly heard of worse problems, so I was counting my blessings that we don't have problems with aggression and lots of other evil things I've heard of.

Although the Dr. claimed he was not attacking my parenting, I sure felt it.  I felt like the parenting he wanted is kind of a crushing of spirit.  He said something like, it looks like your son is waiting to decide if he wants to do what he's asked... rather than just doing it.  Well, why shouldn't he decide, why should an adults request always trump his interests and needs?  I think the doctor assumes that my little one automatically should do what authorities ask him to do- that I should train him to do so- and he has a point- the kid does need to do what his teachers tell him to do whether he likes it or not or he'll get in trouble and not be offered opportunities- that is he has to learn the game.  I kind of thought he had learned just fine to respond to his teacher... until a few days ago.  The doctor suggested that peers don't want to deal with him because they are not skilled in doing it and they won't make that special one on one effort he responds to.  Probably true- a concern.

I kind of think I missed something... like is that all it comes down to- he doesn't respond properly to requests?  The Dr seemed to think that my little one behaved differently with him because he was more assertive and knew how to do it better- that our concerns didn't mirror what he saw, but I don't really know what he was referring to- it looked to me that my son stalled with him the same way he does with me.  He said the boy did multiple step tasks with him... as if he doesn't at home when he's not tired?  Of course he does, and he does at school too.  And that was not a concern of ours.   He didn't try potty training with the kid, and he didn't try face recognition, so he can't speak to these- our main concerns.

We talked a bit about him not recognizing people- the doctor seems to think its a just a matter of not remembering names- that not being salient and interesting to him- he thinks my little star probably really does recognize people just doesn't respond with a name.  I'm not too sure about that, but he suggested a way of testing it.  In any case it doesn't seem to be an indicator of autism, so I guess I should be happy.  Dr. doesn't seem concerned.

The doctor seemed to think other people were concerned about my son's social progress- ie there is a problem, and I tried to say that no, nobody was concerned, I asked for screening, I asked for observation, but it was like I had said nothing- after-all everyone had something to say and filled out the reports.

Well anyway, I really was glad to find that my little star doesn't have autism, probably not aspergers, and school is good for him.  And that maybe I was right that some early intervention would be good for him.

I just felt really crappy during/after the meeting.  The Dr. occasionally would sprinkle in things in the conversation that I'd never heard of, and I had to ask him what he meant.  I'm pretty educated, I've looked into this, took child development, pyschology, but I'm not an expert- that's why we went to him, so I don't expect to be talked down to, but I also don't expect him to throw in this jargon that I have to ask about.  I don't expect too many of his patients know more about it than I do, so I would think he'd know how to talk to us better.  I could have just sat there and listened knowingly, rather than asked what he meant and feel stupid that I don't.  That would have been easier, but I was feeling pretty ornery and I do what to know exactly what I'm supposed to know about my son.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Everyday life and thoughts on the "Christmas walk"

I figured I should post something, but I haven't had a profound thoughts or experiences lately.  This is how it went this week: Some days I stay home with my little star where we maybe go on a short adventure/errand, or spend some time outside in the morning.  Since we are still working on potty training we never go far.

Afternoons are taken up with trying to make nap happen.  If lunch begins around noon, nap tries to begin slightly after one, but then it gets delayed for extra potty trips, and suddenly it is two o'clock.  If we are lucky, nap lasts two hours.  If not, nap lasts one hour.  Still there is not much time for anything interesting to happen before dinner time.  The next day little star goes to play care.  Those days, for some reason he sleeps later, we get to play care after 10 am, and somehow he manages not to take a nap there.  I go to the gym, eat lunch, do some errands, check out some internet stuff, maybe mow the lawn, work on dinner, and its time to pick him up.  Occasionally I actually get some work on my project accomplished- often on the one day I skip the gym.  

This week I worked on the business plan, but had to quit when the question of location cropped up.  And then today I noticed the nearest new children's museum is able to offer family yearly memberships for $95, very affordable, and I don't think we can match it unless we get a lot of families.  And that seems to be the crux of my worries about it.  I just have no idea how many people will come.   I want to open up soon on one hand, on the other hand, I want to have lots more people organizing.  I wrote up all the responsibility of the half time paid director- all the payment I think we can afford, and the job is way more than that- it also should pay more.

Funny thing is, we have grant money.  Right now.  And I'm feeling more worried about the project than ever.  The next big event we should be at is the "Christmas Walk."  Its like a first friday event, all the down town merchants are open and there are fun activities for kids and freebies and stuff.... and Santa.   Personally, I think even having a public event called the "Christmas" walk is insensitive at best, offensive at worst.  I'm sure it doesn't occur to organizers that not only are some people not Christian and don't celebrate or enjoy Christmas, but that they find this celebration to be excluding them.  And I'm sure for the tiny number of non-Christians who care, our lack of participation won't make any difference to the merchants.   Perhaps there are Christians who also would rather that it wasn't celebrated in such a commercial way as well.

Thinking carefully about how they could do this event better, I have to admit that honestly it wouldn't make me that much happier if they called it a Holiday walk or something non-christian when they really DID mean Christmas. At least they are not equating Chanuka (a small non-bibical holiday) with Christmas.   A title that is used for a different non-religious event in Ithaca is "Light in Winter". I like that.  I like "Harvest Festivals"- nothing religious about that- every culture has a harvest.  How about "gift walk", "Autumn shopping", "Preparing for winter," "Lighting the night..." "Downtown celebration...".  And then people would complain we were taking Christmas spirit away from the "holiday season".  To be honest, non-christians often have to buy stuff for our Christian brethren or relatives, but still would rather it was called something related to the time of year or gift giving rather than "Christmas" that feels so exclusive.

In any case, since this is the big event, despite its name, our organization should be there, but it probably won't be because I will be out of town- its the Sunday just after Thanksgiving.