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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween, birthday party, potty training and stuff

For the record, this halloween, I gave kids a choice between some Halloween party favors- plastic black and also white bats, sticker sets, and ms&ms, and then I offered a gourd for everyone since I have so many. Perhaps a third to half of kids chose something other than candy.  The bats were a total hit, and I supplemented with party favor gel pens when I ran out of bats.  When I didn't say choose one, kids usually went for the candy- or took both or took more candy. Just about everyone , including some parents were happy to pick a gourd.

My little star didn't want to go trick or treating... perhaps I explained it wrong, but he said that too much candy wasn't good for you. I smiled and agreed.  I have told him that, but I haven't exactly forbidden candy.  I just don't keep it in the house.  However, if we are out and he is offered candy, I certainly let him try it.  He seemed to like it when the kids came, and at one point got together some paper clips to offer.

This weekend we went to this birthday party that was held an hour away at a farm tourist market- that is they had farm touristy fun things there.  They had hay bales in a maze in a large hoophouse with ropes and swings hidden; they had a hoop house with a huge pit of corn, toys, and a slide.  They had a bouncy house.  They had a hoop house dedicated partly to decorating pumpkins.  

Another hit was a tractor train- a tractor pulls little barrels with seats, one for each kid.  My son HAD to ride on this, and when he finally got to do it, I got worried because, he didn't seem to understand until it left that I couldn't go with him.  It went a little too fast for me to follow, and it went kind of far away.  He left looking distressed and got back distressed.  The driver said he was happy in the middle, but I felt really sad that I had let him go.  I'm not even sure why I thought it was really safe- they weren't even wearing seat belts, and that tractor, like I said, was not slow enough for me to keep up with.  The kids could have tried to climb out... really, I was really glad when he returned.  I asked if it had been fun or he'd been scared, and he said scared.  Then again, he wanted to do it again.   We also had a hay ride, and there were goats and a miniature horse.   So the place was really nice... except the porta potty's.  Actually you couldn't have nicer cleaner porta pottys, but my little star was not going to use one!

And the party- well, it was a little fast paced- one activity to another where my little star could have spent a long time on each, and a complete meltdown when I found it out it wasn't "time" for the party to be taking the tractor ride when my little star wanted to- I'd even let him get in by then.  Perhaps there wouldn't have been a melt down if they had served food at the party.  Can you imagine having a party from 12:00-2:00 (and almost an hour drive to get there), and not serve LUNCH?  They just had cake- and that was well after 1 pm.  My little star licked the frosting and got it all over him.  Aside from that issue, it really was a pleasant place for the kids to play.  The little girl received gifts, most of them barbies.  We gave books, unlike everyone else.  The mother told me twice that the little girl loved books, but I can't tell if she was just saying that, but it was nice.

A nice unexpected thing about the party was that aside from the cake and purple drink, they did not give out any sweets.  I was expecting big candy halloween theme from the invitation that requested costume wearing, but this did  not happen.   Every other party we've been at kids have been given a bag containing some candy.

Oh, did I mention my little star wants a birthday party now?
So, how do I make sure its at a reasonable time (ie not nap time, and if its during meal time, providing a meal!), and have enough room to have a big play date... our house is  big enough for about three kids (including mine) and their parents, and we've already been to three parties of kids that are not necessarily his best friends (OK, my kid doesn't really have friends, so lets say my best friends- Ok, I don't really have best friends locally, but there are other people I'd want to invite.)  I'm totally understanding the having birthday parties some place out of the house that you pay a stack of money to rent out... that exist an hour away- we don't have anything here that I know of.

On the potty training score (if you want to read about that)...well he got messy underwear this weekend at breakfast after a messy diaper in the morning, part of three messy diapers in a row in the mornings, but he also managed to use the toilet at Wendy's- we had to go there after the party to get something to EAT rather than letting him fall asleep in the car.  At that point he had not peed in about four hours and it took him about an hour on the toilet, promise of sticker, and lots of water for it to happen.  Eventually we found the "pee switch".  I held my cool.  I figured I could wait as long as it took because I was NOT going to drive an hour with him in desperate need of peeing- and likely to fall asleep.  Additionally, he's also managed to use the toilet at home most of the time, and figured out how to poop into it-the stickers do seem to be of some interest, but I don't think he would do it just for a sticker if he really didn't want to try it. I say this because we tried stickers earlier and he was not interested, sticker or not.. He even managed to use the toilet to poop at playcare today... we think... and not take a nap.  So perhaps some progress?

After play care today, his teacher explained that my little star had a melt down before lunch today- he was exhibiting classic stalling behavior- apparently a new thing at playcare, but very common at home recently.  As far as I can tell, the teacher and I treated it the same way, so I feel better.  I thought it had to do with me not being assertive enough, or not treating it properly.  I assure you his teacher is assertive enough and is very good at knowing what to do.

My little star slept until 8:30 this morning.  Is it darker- yes.  Is he going to bed too late? maybe.  In any case we are having trouble getting out in the morning, partly because he doesn't want to go anywhere- especially playcare.  He'd rather be home with mommy.

Along with a ton of stalling, he also is starting to say thank you when I do something for him without any prompting.  Well, that feels nice!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carrots and positive attribution

I think I've said how useless my garden is this year.  Still occasionally I bring something in that makes me happy.
These carrots are really big and fat.  I've almost given up growing carrots altogether.  Its not that much effort to plant a row or two of them, and if they happen to germinate, and I pay attention, thin them.  The things is, they are usually so small and weird that it seems like the effort to peel them hardly is worth the amount of carrot you get to eat.  These carrots that I just harvested are worth it.  Does that mean I need terrible conditions for the rest of my garden to get good carrots?
Here's the rest of the harvest:

You see there are a few small heads of broccolli, some green onions, a little parlsey, and in addition to the big orange carrots, some of the usual and a few yellow ones.  The yellow ones seem really weak, and I had to dig them out.

Well, at least the carrot size was impressive.

In other news...
Another parenting class (we are being trained to use Conscious Discipline) we learned about using the "skill" of "positive attribution"- that is you attribute positive motives to people's (your child) actions.  I've tried to do that quite a lot as as I get older, but somehow I missed out on a key aspect of this proposition.   The point is, not that you judge people in a good way- as I thought I was doing.  The point is that YOU STOP judging.  By giving them a positive motive, it allows YOU to treat them well, and doesn't matter at all what their actual motive was in the first place.  I never thought of it like that.  Its very powerful.

So, the food they served us for dinner at these classes is well, you know, institutional.  It's usually OK if you are not expecting vegetarian or gourmet.  This week,  however, it was pretty terrible- even the cake.  They had this chilli- like how can you mess up chilli?- but it just wasn't any good.  My son apparently ate mashed potatoes- he woke up so late from his nap that I didn't get a chance to give him a snack.  He didn't eat anything else, but it was nice to know he actually ate mashed potatoes.  In any case, he said he was hungry so we decided to feed him (and ourselves) when we got home, so he didn't get to bed very reasonably.

He was in this great mood the next morning after sleeping until 8 am!  When I picked him up from playcare I found him kind of in a crazy state.  He had not napped, and had not apparently eaten lunch (not liking the food, presumably), filled up on animal crackers at snack and not touched the apple (apparently he likes it peeled as I do at home.  I know how pesticide laden apple orchards are).  I don't think the animal crackers really agreed with him for he kept saying his tummy hurt until what finally came out of him almost clogged our toilet this afternoon.  I don't know why they serve animal crackers for snack, or why they would let him have as much as he wants without eating real food, but  anyway, I like his teacher and all.

Monday, October 17, 2011

not stomach flu and birthdays

We had this too-much-fun day on Saturday (me and my little star- my husband was too tired and overworked).   First we went to a Birthday Party at a mom's friend's house.  The little boy is only two... but that kind of makes him on par with little star socially I think.  Anyway, he was pretty excited about it even when I told him there would be no bouncy house like the last one he was at.  The part was low key- it was like a big play date- all the parents- even the fathers were all there, the kids were little so they mostly just hung out and played.  My little star got lots of junk food- not like candy, just teddy grahams, gold fish, crackers- really his favorite stuff.  He wasn't interested in the chili or some shredded cheese, but he also didn't even want to try a cupcake which had pretty appetizing frosting on it.

My little star predictably fell asleep in the car on the way home.  So I parked him in the driveway- the weather was nice to do this in, and went in the house, checking his status every so often. Well, I think I must have missed his wake up because he was very upset when I checked.  He's been napping in the car a lot this year, so I'm not quite sure why it upset him so much- he's never been upset before if it took me a few minutes- it takes him a while to awaken fully usually.  I felt pretty bad about this, perhaps I should stay with him next time.

Anyway, after a potty stop (he refused to use it even though I brought his own at the party) we headed off to the harvest festival, where he had a good time despite waiting pretty much forever for a "hay" ride.  He did awfully well waiting- I let him snack on some cheese, and he quite enjoyed the ride.  I really think we shouldn't have waited that long- kind of a ridiculous waste of time, but little star didn't really seem to mind much.  He also didn't want to run off from me to play with three of his "friends" from preschool who were within sight, but far across the field.  At the festival my little star, aside from the cheese I brought from home, ate exactly three pieces of candy- two gummy bear type things and one jelly bean.  I didn't foresee any problems.

The next morning my husband made us waffles- he always does this and they are really good.  My little star ate the waffles though more slowly than usual, and didn't touch the cheese I gave him to supplement- though he did eat some banana.

My little star seemed very tired that day even with just hanging around inside, so I gave him lunch of which he didn't eat as much as I expected, but enough, and I got him to nap.
After our nap ( I got one too- I have some sort of evil cold thing), I knew I had to do some lawn mowing, but that little star seemed too tired come outside without a meltdown.  Lawn mowing, because our batteries are dying takes about two ten minute intervals with the batteries, so I let him play inside while I did it.  He was fine after the first ten minutes- wow no melt down.  He was listening to his favorite tape "The Civil War".  I finished off the batteries, and he was fine when I came back in.  He was so fine- he lay there on his now favorite blanket that he must have with him, listening to his tape.  I began cooking dinner.

We've started with a timer to help make potty time more.... enforceable?  So anyway the timer went off and he went to the potty.  He said his tummy felt funny, and I said it would probably feel better after he used the potty.  So he sat on it; I went to put the pressure regulator on our pressure cooker.  I came back and he'd vomited... and then did it again.   What??  Did he have stomach flu?  Not that again!  He didn't eat anything funny TODAY... yes he had some other stuff yesterday, but that was a long time ago. Was I going to come down with it too?  Oh no, and don't we have this appointment with the psychologist about him tomorrow?  I can't send him to daycare with stomach flu!

On the plus side- he did it IN the BATHROOM, and not on the carpet, and not while I was outside.  Really this could have been a lot worse.  He didn't want to eat dinner and I did not encourage him.  He went to sleep early.  He slept through the night.  I went into him in the morning, and he began talking about "oil poop"- I think that's loose stool to him-and he did have a messy diaper.  Grr.  I thought we were done with that, but he had one the day before as well- not loose stool, but I was prepared for it this morning because if you have a stomach virus, it comes at both ends.

So I changed the diaper, and it was, lo and behold, not loose.  And he wanted to eat breakfast.  Maybe I could send him to playcare.  We started with half a banana, waited a bit, he seemed fine.  He ate the other part of breakfast.  He seemed fine, and I sent him to daycare... because really how much are they going to charge me for canceling an appointment (our first) at the last minute?  We barely got there on time.  We chatted with the guy and of course still know nothing because he has to see little star next week to really tell us anything.

I learned from the psychologist that a difference between Aspergers and high functioning autism is that kids with Aspergers wants friends and has them in the beginning but give up up on it later because they are not good at and have had bad experiences, but high functioning autistic kids never really wanted friends to begin with.  I'm really not sure where little star would fall (if he's even on the spectrum at all).  I asked him if he wanted a birthday party with other kids this evening and this time he said YES.  I asked him what the kids would do at his party... but he said they would poop (a word that is constantly in his speech lately.  I don't think he's thinking this through exactly- but he is enjoying the parties..even if he's not really playing with the kids.

I think they told him not to talk about it (poop) at school.   He said "don't use poop work" (I think he meant words). That surprised me since its actually developmentally pretty normal to do at his age.  Then again, it wasn't his lead teacher... if I can trust what he said (not really), but I'm pretty sure who would have said it, and if I think of it, I'll ask.  And, to be fair, I'm very tolerant, but after a while, even I get tired of this topic of conversation.

When I picked up little star at the end of the day today he was fine.  I am so relieved, no stomach flu.  Though... I still don't know why he was sick- was it really the party food and three pieces of candy.  I really didn't think what he ate was that bad... and why would it take so long to be problem?

And the other troubling thing... the psychologist informed us that our family doctor was taking another position in the county- one I'm really glad he is filling, but how can we possibly find ANOTHER doctor- he is our third one we've lost in our six years here.  My son has already had two different ones and he's not even four yet- and it wasn't easy even finding a good doctor that was taking patients.  It means another appointment to meet a new doctor.

Really, some people have a lot bigger troubles.  At least we have health insurance- did I mention my son never got enrolled in a dental plan, and we didn't know it until after we took him to the dentist.  Although we do have to pay for this... I'm not sure we've really lost anything by not paying premiums for almost four years and then paying for one cleaning.  We've just been lucky his teeth are good.

Friday, October 14, 2011

First try at mayo and cuddly things

I really really wanted mayonnaise with some leftover canned fish we have sitting around.  We've been getting tins of kippers- low on the food chain, sustainably caught and all that. We ran out of mayonnaise a few days ago, and the fish needs to be eaten already.  I thought there must be some kind of substitute that would serve the purpose, but ended up trying to make it.  It was surprisingly easy.  Despite putting in more salt than I meant to, it did end up tasting like it was supposed to- though it seems more runny than it should.  Anyway, I was satisfied that making my own was easier than expected, and seemed to work.  My one concern relates to the fact that I don't usually use raw eggs, so I hope there is no evil bacteria to worry about.  Maybe I'll try improving on my technique next time.

My little star is surprising me- he seems to be getting into his stuffed animals.  He's always had some, and sometimes takes them to bed, but its little more than passing interest.  Last night he was finding some animals he hadn't looked at in months, covering them up in blankets, and this morning he took one to school for show and tell... along with his blanket.  He's never really been into a particular blanket either except the kind you wear to bed.  Recently he's become very attached to a particularly soft lavender blanket I got for him before he was born... or soon after.  He keeps telling me how its cozy, puts in on himself, and brought it too school today.  I always thought it would help him to have a security lovey, blanket, animal, and always brought familiar things on trips, but really, he's never been that interested as far as I could tell.  Maybe things are changing.... but maybe now he's a little old for that?  Anyway, I like watching changes like this and wondering what it means about his development.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meltdowns, school board candidates, and good news

1. My little star melts down most of the day.  Perhaps he is feeling an illness coming on- like I am.  He started at 6:20 this morning- tried and did not succeed in going back to sleep.

2. Quiet morning transferring music from a CD from old computer with CD player to my computer.  It was only one CD but it must have taken about half an hour to figure out how to do it.  Little star explores kid medical kit I got from rummage sale last month for science play space... or for him.  I hadn't really decided, and in either case, he gets to play with it- but today was the first day he was actually interested.  He loves stethoscope (too bad its a toy that doesn't do the actual thing), and blood pressure thingy. The hammer you use to get a reflex reaction is plastic and I was unable to get any reflex to show.  I kind of thought it would, but perhaps you have to know exactly where to hit. No melt downs for a while.
I began making little star a picture calendar, but it proved more difficult than I had thought... or more complicated.    I didn't finish- I couldn't decide if it was better to give a daily or weekly calendar, settled on weekly, but then put in stuff for each time of day, then got half way through and thought it was probably too much info for him, and then it was kind of late.  I suggested we could go look at progress on the house building, but little star would have to use the potty first.  Nope.  potty refusal.  I'd already had enough melt downs earlier, so we stayed in, and put off the potty issue until lunch.  More meltdowns around lunch.

3. Nap.  Little star actually went to sleep at a reasonable time despite no physical activity all morning.  I thought I would just go do that too because I'm not feeling well.  I was just drifting off when big huge mower pulls in next door and mows, and mowes, and mowes for the next half an hour or so.  Little star miraculously sleeps through it.  I don't of course. I am just beginning to maybe drift off again, and little star wakes up.  I drag him down to the potty (no melt down), but he's already wet.

4. Melt downs.  I mistakenly decided it was time to go outside and rake some leaves.  I get little star out without his shoes figuring he can put them on himself, since I know he can.  I rake, he hangs out on the porch and doesn't put them on.  I offer him a leaf ride in the garden cart, but he has to put his shoes on.  Utter melt down.  I come back from transporting the leaves.  Still melting down.  Eventually he gets his shoes on.  I give him a ride.  He wants a towel for his runny nose.  I tell him he can go get one- nicely.  Utter melt down, refuses to get it.  Eventually calms down, but still wines and wants towel but won't go get it, and I wonder who is going to call child services on us.   Another happy leaf ride.  Looks like he needs to use the potty.  Utter melt down, and I drag him inside, so the neighbors won't have to suffer anymore.  Eventually he uses the potty and I was glad I'd made him go.  He didn't want to come back outside with me, and it looked like it might rain soon.  He seemed happier, and played inside a bit while I mowed a little.  The batteries on our electric mower give us about five to ten minutes right now, and it began to rain anyway.

My son spent more calm time with the medical kit.  I sat with him.  I was feeling bad for letting him have such a long melt down while I got a few leaves raked.  There was another melt down about using the potty before dinner.  Things improved with dinner.  This was an early dinner- he was not starving.  I waited for my husband to get home so I could go to a meet the candidates for school board.  I guess he had some trouble getting done, so I got there very late.

5.  There were six school board candidates.  I heard from two and half of them.  They were asked about Ohio Issue 2- that's where Ohio's trying to take away union collective bargaining rights.  One candidate had to think pretty hard about what this was about, and then surprisingly said she and her husband were both union members- but didn't answer how it might affect the schools.  What really got me was the other question. It asked about Race to the Top.  Now, I don't expect foreigners to know about this, but I DO expect anybody interested in education, and especially people running for school board offices.  Race to the Top is a Federal program/contest to get school districts/states to do certain things to improve schools.  Ohio, was competing and I think won some funding to take part.  The reforms are controversial- rightly so- there are good and bad things about it, as I see it.  But not to know what it is???  Two of the candidates said they were not familiar with it!!    The last candidate sounded useful and knowledgable, but you have to be suspicious when he goes on about managing the biggest charity, but never mentions what it is.  My friend told me the charity was the salvation army.  Now in this district, the district of the Freshwater case... lets just say separation of church and state is kind of a big issue here.  Two issues that were not asked that we would have like to have known were their stance on that and about bullying, which apparently is a problem here.  Luckily my friend could tell me about all the candidates.  I probably should have just asked her rather than going anyway, or certainly better than going late.

6.  The head of the grant agency I applied to for the science playspace said our grant had been approved!  I'm like great!... now I guess I have to take it really seriously- I wonder when we (I) actually get the money.  I wonder if people will see that and get helpful again.  In any case it looks good!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Showing empathy? and the olden days

Exciting thing (for me anyway) this morning.  My little star made a little house with pillows (kind of new thing for him), and asked me to sit in it, so I did, and then I said I needed to go get my socks if he wasn't ready to get changed.  So he said he would get my socks for me- and he did!  I don't think he's ever volunteered to do something for me that I didn't even ask him to do- I don't mean like empty the dishwasher or do laundry- tasks he enjoys and doesn't always have to do- this was a very personal thing that he's never done before.  It was helpful.  It was empathetic.  It might have had an ulterior motive of keeping me there, but he had to leave to do it- and he had to think about what I said I needed to do.  Anyway I was excited to see this behavior since I think its been lacking.

My little star is also into discussing the "olden days" when there was no electricity, or gas, or plastic.  We have a lot of interesting discussions.  Funny thing is, although we have a book about the "olden days", the conversation really got going when I was discussing pop-up toasters, and I think I used the term olden days.  Then of course I had to backtrack on that since plenty of people, including my sister, use pop-up toasters.  We had a whole discussion of what the olden days really were, but sometimes we find ourselves using the term for things of the past... but things that wouldn't really qualify.

He keeps making things with "fire" (pretend) and seems to keep trying to contain it with a blanket, though I'm not sure that its a fire blanket intended to make it stop burning. I think the blanket is more like a container.  Not sure where he came up with this idea.  I think the whole fire thing is related to the olden days conversation.

He's also taken to enjoying my tailors measuring tape.  He wants to "measure"everything and see the numbers.... but now it seems have been turned into some sort of fire device.

Did I mention I had a great day with little star yesterday.  No melt down, pretty good cooperation, an actual nap at a reasonable time in the afternoon...
Of course today.... well at least he's at playcare today.

And now I get to do some cooking.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Slow day; frustrations of potty training

Its a slow enough day that my little star is napping.  We got him to bed a bit late last night... and that's all related to potty training.  In fact I really feel like my life with him is very constrained by his not being potty trained yet, and its a bit frustrating.  I can't take him anywhere very long because he won't use another toilet, and probably won't even use his potty if I deign to bring it.  And, even if he does actually do it, it stressed me out because I don't know if he'll do it.  Last night, and this has been happening a bit lately, we get him upstairs to get ready for bed, start (or finish) reading stories, and then he has to use the potty again.  Its not like I can say no.  I have started to not get his sleeper on.  And then how can you tell him to get off the potty when he says he's not done?  How am I supposed to know if he's done?  By the way, most of the accidents are now occurring at school.. cause I'm so good at taking him (and cajoling and making him sit) to the potty and not taking him anywhere interesting? Is that progress?  He still resists going, and he still don't take initiative to tell me when to go... but he's getting very transparent about needing to go.

Anyway, this morning we went to the Moms2moms meeting to discuss healthy eating... and just chat.  The kids hung out in the church nursery.  Yoni does well there for an hour and half, and then I rush him home to use the potty- he clearly has to go.  If he were potty trained I would probably take him for a walk around town, or maybe to a playground and have a picnic lunch.  But he's not. Instead we go home. We then check out the new house that is being built just behind the house next to ours.  We get the lovely sight of the portapotty outside our kitchen window.    Then again, building a house holds endless entertainment for a small child.  So far its not been too noisy at the wrong time of day... now that our windows are mostly closed.

My little star lost his shoe last night, luckily not in the leaves.  I would be so upset if he lost another shoe like that.  I do believe his new shoes fit better, and was really surprised to see it off his foot briefly.  He is loving playing in the leaves now that the weather has warmed up again and we actually have a bunch this year.  Not enough to, say, cover the garden, but enough for some fun for a three year old.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My little star, Day of atonement

I suppose I'm supposed to write in my blog since I've been ignoring it for a while.  I've been doing other stuff. 

 I set up a small play area at local consignment sale of kids stuff.  That is, I brought a rug remnant and a table for our info and all sorts of cool "science" toys.  This was OK, but really it was in a very dirty place.  The kids liked it, but there was one who kept running away and his mom didn't seem to be supervising, and one who kept throwing the toys in even dirtier places- parent really not doing anythign about it.  However, the rest of the forty kids (over three hours) came and explored the toys, generally playing nicely.  Siblings were quite helpful with each other, and older kids got along with younger ones.  Also it was clear that the toys were more cool than the lolly pops two of the kids had brought- they kept trying to figure out what to do with them... and then got really sticky hands and that was a problem getting the toys sticky.  I guess I'll need wipes- its not a bad idea.  I'm thinking for a play space we should ask kids to wash hands first- or use wipes.  We'll say it will cut down on our cleaning- and make it slightly more sanitary for all.  Of course they won't all do it, but I think it would help.

We've been figuring out about my little star's weirdness.  I've seen a lot of kids playing this week or so (I was in and out of his day care a bit, and my little star is definitely not playing with them as they do with each other. .. This has always been the case to some degree, but its getting to be more worriesome.We had him observed by the mental health person at head start (His playcare is run by headstart though many kids are not head start subsidized kids), and filled out some screening tests.  Well, he comes under concern for just about all categories, particulalry poorly for attachment and withdrawn.  However, there was this spike where he passed typical kids- he has even less agression than typical kids- this is a good thing.  Of course it could change.  Then we got referrals to a local psychologist, and two places related to hospitals in Columbus.  One is an autism center.   So... yes, it does point to autism.  Funny how I was prepared for that... but I kind of expected there to be a bunch of other possibilities suggested, or that it wouldn't be narrowed down to that when no diagnosis has been made at all.  Funny how when you get referred to a center like that it feels different than when you say, it kind of seems like the things he exhibits are like autism and maybe he has that.  Its like your observations are completely validated- but you didn't realize you didn't want them validated until they were.

My little star has a cold.  Yesterday for the first time ever he slept until 11:30 am.  Granted he did not have a nap the day before- this suprised me since he usually does at playcare!  And granted he seemed to have fallen off his bed in the middle of the night and was up for a while as we helped him go back to sleep.  BUt even after returning from CA, he only slept until nine or so.  In his almost four years of life he's never slept that late for any reason.  Ever.  He slept through his light alarm coming on.  He slept through the replay of his going to sleep music.  And he seemed fine when he awoke, though slightly more tired than I would have expected!  We did some errands, and then he had a huge melt down before dinner- like you might expect if he hadn't had a nap.  Of course I couldn't give him a nap when he'd just woken up!
And then he melted down after/during dinner as well, so I didn't figure we should take him to Kol Nidre.  

I went without my husband, who was under the weather, and felt bad because they had a whole string quartet, and he would have loved it... though maybe he wouldnt have lasted that long.

Today I got him to services... oh around 11 am, and it was almost over.  He seemed very slow, but sat quietly til it ended.  I think we were only there about 20 minutes.  When I was growing up services lasted practically forever on Yom Kippur- past 1pm usually.  And on Yom Kippur, well, what else do you really have to do anyway?...if you don't have kids... and you don't take it very seriously. Like, I'm sure you are NOT supposed to use the computer today- but I do think taking stock and reflecting is very much Yom Kippur.

Anyway, today is the day of atonement, and, I believe, introspection.  But I dont' feel like I'm introspecting much.  Its mostly taking care of little star (husband still seems under the weather).  There are some things I should work on more- being lazy at times, selfish, focusing on the wrong priorities, not being generous enough,  those are probably the main ones.  I don't really have an atonement message... or a deep thought.  Perhaps some years you just go through the motions, feel the traditions, and maybe other years you can take more away from it.  But its a tradition you do every year, and it spart of you.  Each year builds on the repetition; every time you do it or listen to it, you become better attuned to it and it informs your whole experience of life; its part of you.  So its worth doing every year if you can.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Life, Conscious Discipline, and other things

Oh its been a while.  Its not that I had nothing to say... its just sleep is so much more important sometimes.

This weekend we made bubble prints at the maker's market.  The turnout was low, as expected since it was pretty cold and overcast.  Yet, the activity was well suited, and everyone who came enjoyed it.  Also it was great having help from a mathematician who studies bubble stuff.  She was a lot of fun.

Today I finally turned in our first grant application- I had to go back and sign the thing.  Duh.  It's a bit ironic because there's not much of left of the planning committee, but yet, the organization is doing things... well, at least I am, and the planning committee did do some important things that are still really helping.  So, despite the lack of commitment byt the original team (or impossibility of their time), I think I can still make it happen.  I get this feeling people still want it to happen, and people on my list come up to me and say how they read all my emails, and that it sounds like its going well and that we are making progress- and this is true for me and the project, its just less true of the building the organization part.  I think I just have to assume having a space will make that part come together.

In other news- my new shoe/hiker/sneaker things are amazing.  I can run in them.  I can not get wet in the pouring rain with them.  They are comfortable.

My little star has resumed walking to playcare again.  This is good other than me not getting any time until 11 am.

I found a giant tomato hornworm in my garden, and my little star completely enjoyed watching it for several days.  We left it out in a plastic washtub with some tomato stalks (I've got plenty of extra cherry tomato plants to sacrifice).  His biggest happiness, I think, was watching the worm "poop".  After a few days we woke up one morning and something had killed it.  It was kind of gross, so I took it out to the compost before little star saw it.  I was afraid he'd want to touch it more.  I think touching it is gross even when its just alive and happy, but I'm willing to encourage him to get more in touch with bugs than I ever was.  I think the exploration is positive.  There's no good reason to be grossed out by it, and I'm glad he's not... as long as he doesn't touch wasps, bees, yellow jackets, fuzzy caterpillars, poisonous snakes, scorpions (OK, we don't have those around here)- and POISON IVY.  I'm lucky he still touches plants at all after my craziness about poison ivy.  I've think I've dissuaded him from touching prickers too... but not pricklies.

We've decided we need to get him "evaluated".  I believe that means, we get to see if the kid is "on the spectrum" or not.  That is- is he neurotypical and just a bit delayed or is he fundamentally different.   I get this feeling the mental health person who observed him is used to parents who don't like to be told their kid is different or needs help.  She seemed to spend a lot of time being pleased that we wanted early intervention that I gather she spends convincing parents there kids should have some.

We've been going to Conscious Discipline parenting classes.  I actually find I get more out of the book (probably because there are two fathers who seem to have an awful lot to say to the class so it goes a bit slowly).  However, I'm glad for the class, because who knows how long it would take my husband to get through the book.  We are already doing some of the thing the philosophy espouses, but there are a ton more I could be doing a lot better.

 It's partly geared toward parenting styles people like me think nobody uses anymore (I'm wrong of course- I can tell that by listening to the parents in the class- quite the education).  It talks about not parenting through fear, and I think, I'm not doing that!  But...that some of the things we have substituted for the old "bad" way of things, are also not the best, and perhaps also have fearful undertones.  Of course the book explains this better than I am going to.  But here are some things I am learning to do better.

I just read the chapter on how to talk to your child, and I can see that I fall under the "passive" rather than assertive category far too often.  I also speak aggressively rather than assertively sometimes as well.  At this point I am now hearing myself in these terms, and it will certainly take a while to change such ingrained patterns of speech.

I also need to learn to take that deep breath, get out of emotional before I make a decision.  This aspect of taking control is why its called conscious discipline- you think about what you are doing- and the book gives you tools for doing it.  I also have to learn to turn conflict into more teaching opportunities- its funny how I espouse this, but don't really do it.  The book has tools.

The interesting thing, to me about this parenting book is that its not 300 pages with basically one main point.  It's many many points and tools.  It looks at many common behaviors, thinks about why they occur, and what appropriate responses are that teach our kids to solve problems and make better decisions.  It's also a self help book to help parents gain self composure and make better decisions as well because its sees parenting as modeling.

Well, you can see I've got lots of work to do now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gravity and first teeth cleaning

Did I mention the gravity incident?  Yesterday, or maybe a few days ago, my little star spilled some water.   I asked what had happened as I hadn't been watching very carefully.  He said "gravity pulled it down".   Well, a very accurate answer.  I really couldn't be upset with that.  I'm glad he's understanding gravity now.

Yay! Dentist appointment is OVER.  Yes, I don't like going to the dentist... like most people.  Sometime a few months ago, I was all set to go to my dentist appointment when my son's school called and said he had a rash that was spreading, and yes I had to pick him up immediately.  I couldn't even send my husband to do it because we only have one car.  I had to cancel my appointment- and I don't think the dentist was too pleased, but they were understanding.

 I'm a big procrastinator (especially about things I really don't want to do anyway), so it took me a while to make a new appointment, and I remembered this time, that I was probably supposed to bring my little star- after all he's almost four, and he came with me last time to "watch".  Last time they had him sit in the chair and counted his teeth.  He did not like it much, and I had my husband to watch him while they did my teeth.

I do recognize that my son is a lot more mature, but I really was not sure how he was going to do both while I had my teeth cleaned, amusing himself, and when he was in the chair himself.  And of course, while I have a great dentist and hygienist, I still don't like it.  He said he wanted to color in a coloring book- something that he barely ever does, and doesn't usually do it for long.  I think perhaps he associates them with this type of appointment though he's been to very few doctor/dentist things.  Anyway, I realized we were running late, and threw in a coloring book and a tiny travel box of crayon's he'd never seen before.  I also put in some books for him to read.  I rushed him out the door, with only slight protest when I said he had to wear pants he didn't want to wear because I didn't have time to find his other ones.  That is, the boy was in a very cooperative mood.

So we got there and got him set up.  He was surprisingly uninterested in the x-rays they took of my teeth, but was luckily cooperative has he had to be out of the room when they did it.  I hadn't warned him of this because I had forgotten they might do it.
By then it was clear that it wasn't coloring he was going to do, it was pulling the paper off the crayons.  I figured this would occupy him for a long time... unless he needed help.

By the time the hygienist was finishing me he was getting mighty frustrated with something, and quite close to melt down.  It turned out that all he was trying to do was close the box... and it wasn't cooperating.

Anyway, then it was his turn.  The hygienist was magical, explaining and showing him everything, and he magically cooperated, had his teeth cleaned and even some tartar scraped off at the end.  The dentist counted his teeth and said his bite looked good and he had no cavities.  Maybe he has my husband's teeth.  I sure hope so!

They blew up a glove for him and made it look like a chicken.  He loved it, and played with it all the way home... until it unfortunately broke.  This of course upset him, but he did get over it.  I kept thinking it would be awfully easy to get him another one- and I felt so sad for him- I don't even think he was abusing it. He'd said he was cleaning the chicken's teeth before it broke.  It was adorable... and it was sort of  reward for dealing with the dentist.  But that kids are supposed to learn how to deal with disappointment.  I stuck the broken glove on a gourd for him- on of the intact fingers fit over the top nicely and I tied some of the other fingers together., so I think that helped him feel like all wasn't lost.

Anyway, I'm really happy the whole dentist thing is over for a while.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parenting, early intervention for my little star

Last night we went to our first class on "Conscious Discipline".  It the form they use at my son's preschool, other head start classrooms, and several other day care's in the area.  Did I mention I like it?  But I don't really know how to do it, so that's why we attended the class.  Its a six week thing, so the first class is mostly introductions, and introducing their "brain" model.  The scientist in the family thought the model was not accurate, but that using Maslow's hierarchy of needs was perfectly reasonable.  

I was pleased to find one of her examples was exactly what I had done in that situation... but not exactly because I knew what I was doing.  And that's the point with this idea, you are conscious of what your are doing.  I began reading the book, and find the point really is to discipline yourself, and gain your own self control.  I think it will help- I really do get quite emotional at times in unhelpful ways.   Also, it does not contradict anything I already think- it just points out and explains what problems are and how we can respond to them better.  So, knowing what little I do, yes, I recommend this stuff because I really like what I see in the preschool.

Today, a mental health person for head start observed my child.  I believe she spent some effort on it, because unlike the last person (who admittedly had been observing the class, not my child specifically), she agreed that my son's speech is just fine.  She pointed out some nice things about my child that were my little star's strengths, and clearly she "got" him.  She mentioned his sweet spirit (or something like that- funny how she used the word spirit- I don't hear it very much), meaning really that he's not aggressive, like a lot of kids she had to work with.  I can see how my son would be nice to work with.

She did seem to think he needed some help on "connecting" to people, a description that really does describe what he seems to need help with, so I was pleased that she seemed to get what the issue might be.  She spoke of some interventions they can do with parallel play, and some things we might do at home- I imagine we'll find out details at a meeting next week.  Anyway, these seem to be the interventions I thought might be helpful, but I didn't know what they were (professionals are useful!).

She also did suggest we get him evaluated to see what, if any, spectrum he might be on.  I didn't really know there were other spectrums other than autistic, but I suppose there could be... or she was just using a euphemism.  But again, this is not shocking news, and I think early intervention, if there is a need, is a good way to go.  The professional implied that some parents were not nearly as interested in working on things early- probably they are afraid of labeling their children.  I can see that- especially labeling about IQ.

The professional was quick to let me know that my son did not seem to have any learning disabilities and she implied that he seemed to know and understand quite a lot- perhaps more than expected.  How could you not know a lot when you spent every second of your time exploring everything to its fullest? I think she wanted to reassure me that he would not be labeled in that way. I wasn't concerned about those particular labels, but I suppose labeling can be a concern.  But I think early intervention is more important- before there gets to be a bigger problem.

I have to thank a friend of mine for helping me think about this- before it was a concern.  She writes a blog about her family and life, but one of the aspects is that her son has Asbergers that was diagnosed in primary school.  The blog really made me think that even though my son is not a problem child right now- his meltdown, whiny, issues are like other three year olds, there might be problems when he gets older. If he's not neurotypical problems may crop up, and be worse we have not addressed them early enough... if they can be addressed.  So I supposed I'm just relieved to have a professional agree that yes, there might be an issue, and yes we should get it checked out.  And, yes, here are some things we will start doing.

I guess its too bad that when he was two and in the early intervention class (as a typically developing kid) nobody suggested intervention with him though we already wondered if there was some concern.  I think then we thought, well, he's  just a bit slow at social development, kids develop at different rates, and his father was late on some things.

Did I mention my little star has lately been answering  or even asking "how are you?" with  very deliberate eye contact and clear answer.  It's like he's been coached (it seems very deliberate), but we are not sure who taught him so we say, must be his grandparents.  We also assume they taught him what a whole note is.  Thank you.