Sunday, March 29, 2015

GAH! There shouldn't even BE a 4th place

I like to think God has a sense of humor.  Sometimes I suspect he/she mocks me.

Yesterday, D took N to the awards ceremony for the district's elementary academic competitions.  I had been hoping she wouldn't win.

She placed 4th in fine arts.

There shouldn't even be a 4th place as far as I'm concerned.
(Does that make me an a-hole mom for saying that?)
(I don't care if it does.)

Both D and I made our comments:  "Imagine what place you could have come in if you'd actually prepared and studied for the assessment?"

Her response:  "Well, at least I got 4th."

I hate it when life has the opportunity to teach my child a lesson, and life doesn't listen.

D said she was very surprised to hear her name called, and I think her excitement, which was tempered from last year's 3rd place (and mine and D's certainly were) is an indication that even if you get an award it doesn't feel as good as when you've actually worked hard to achieve that award.

Benefits of a stomach bug?

It began last Sunday.

I woke up intermittently between 4:30-6:30 a.m. with "rumblings."  Between 6:30 and noon, I was losing fluid at both ends and passed out twice.  The first time I hit the tiled bathroom floor.  The second time D was helping me from the floor to the bed and eased my deadweight to the carpet.

On Tuesday night I could barely sleep because my legs ached so badly, as if I had the flu in just my lower extremities.  Evidently, this is a sign of dehydration.  Wednesday and Thursday I drank 1 gallon of a combination of Gatorade, water and hot tea (each day....1 gallon).  And ate bananas.

The legs were better by Friday, but I still didn't feel 100% so I checked in at the doctor for bloodwork and a urine analysis.

Today, I still don't feel 100%.  Everyday is like an incremental 1% improvement, and while I'm not complaining because I feel so much letter than earlier in the week, I keep expecting myself to "bounce back."

Apparently, that stops becoming a thing in one's 40s.  Bouncing back is just a memory....sorta like consistent sleep and non-cracking knees.

While I would say there is nothing good about a stomach bug, it did remind me of how much I need D in my life.  He was a good caretaker to me, and although I like to think I run the show, he is a big part of me being able to run the show around our house as well as I do.  As the children have gotten older, it has become easier for him to help me.

Being sick, especially when I don't bounce back, tends to set off my anxiety.  At one point I was worrying if I had kidney cancer.  All that relentless peeing from the gallons of water, you know.  I realize this is ridiculous, but anxiety doesn't care if my rational brain knows the difference between what is absurd and what is not.

The stomach bug, especially on Sunday when I was half out of it and sleeping most of the day, made me consider people who have late-stage terminal illnesses.  Whenever I think of dying before my kids are grown, I become terrified, but there is something comforting in knowing that if sickness befalls a person, eventually they truly are so out of it (either via pain/discomfort or drugs), they really don't care about anything they once cared about.  I think of people dying as struggling right up to the moment of death, fighting against it, but whenever I'm really sick, I reconsider this idea.

Sometimes I wish I could just be sick without all the thoughtfulness that goes along with being sick.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Drum roll please......the middle school letter

I had been checking the mail every day, expecting N's letter from CroMS any time.  I anticipated it with completely mixed feelings.

Wanting her to be accepted because....well, who wants their child to be rejected for anything?  And knowing that she wants to go there for whatever goofy reason she has in her head.

Not wanting her to be accepted because of the school's overcrowding and because I really, truly hate the system in this district of only certain schools offering certain programs, certain bells & whistles, which ultimately has a "this school is better than that school" effect for both students and parents.

So I opened the letter and she was.....accepted.

I texted D whose response was, "Well shit.  What do we do now?"  (Which was basically my response.)

I have been thinking about this since we received the letter, which was greeted with screams of glee by N.  I continue to think on it even though I signed and mailed the confirmation of acceptance yesterday back to the school.

As much as I wanted to email the superintendent after finding out about the overcrowding in early March, I hesitated.   I feared it would cause N not to be accepted, and I didn't want to be the cause of that.  Education is political, and I would be an idiot not to believe that a gadfly parent could cause a child to be "overlooked."  I can be a royal pita, and who wants to welcome that into their world if they don't have to?

Now that she is in, a letter would be coming from a "concerned parent," I truly now have a vested interest in keeping my kid as safe as possible.

As much as I value my internal "do-anything-to-protect-my-kids" stance, the following things occurred to me in my musing:

1. If we don't allow N to attend CroMS on the "safety" issue and nothing happens (which it probably won't from a statistical standpoint), then we have denied her something potentially great out of fear.

2. I take medication to help me not live fearfully everyday of my life.  I try very hard to think things through so as not to live in fear, and I don't want to subject my children to my potentially poor decision-making.  (And decision-making based in fear is often that.)

3. The hard truth is that every day of a parents' life is the act of letting go of their children.  There will come times, probably many of them, when my children will enter situations that I'm not aware of that will not be as "safe" as I'd like.  I will have zero control over these episodes.  The only control I have is to prepare my children for how to make smart choices, how to care for themselves when I am not available to do so.

So, long story short---she is going to CroMS.  And I'm going to learn how to live with it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Let's add speech therapy.....

After contacting the district about M's speech in October, we finally got through the initial screen, the at-home interventions, the meeting to proceed with formal evaluation, the formal evaluation, and this week's meeting to discuss the formal evaluation.

I was fully anticipating him not qualifying for services, but he did.

Now I'm waiting to hear if there is a spot at the kid's school, where he will begin kindergarten in August.  If not, we will start speech therapy at a school within our cluster.  Once he starts kindergarten, he will be pulled out twice a week for sessions until next March when we see how he is doing.

In 11 years of parenting, I have done PT with N, ST and OT with G, and now ST with M.  It occurs to me that this, somehow, feels like a lot of therapy for a group of kids that is pretty darn "healthy."  Since I don't know the ins and outs of other families, I can't begin to know whether this is "normal," and I guess it really doesn't matter.

I guess maybe I shouldn't wonder and worry about the flawed genetic pool D and I have spawned and concentrate on the fact that we are aware and responsive parents who get their kids the help they need.

Maybe all of these therapies are just par for the course for a woman whose blog's purpose is as CBT.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My newest (old) concern about the middle school situation

Recently, I received an email and heard some grumbling about an SBDM meeting at CroMS related to over-crowding and the school's optional program.  This is not the first time I'd heard about such meetings on the topic.  

What was news to me was a newspaper article mention that the school has a special exemption from the fire district due to overcrowding.  


Apparently, the school doesn't have to follow the fire codes to the letter (hence, the exemption).

While I calmed down about overcrowding once I toured the school, I didn't even think about fire codes until I read this article.  

This district calls off school for an entire day because we are expected to get massive snow in 7 hours all in the name of SAFETY.  And yet, somehow fire codes aren't important enough of a safety issue.

I am this close to sending a letter to the superintendent asking this very question.  

This rankles me to the core.  I have no issue with CroMS as a school, but why in heaven's name would I send my kid to a school that knowingly and intentionally violates fire codes when she can get a perfectly sound education in our resides school that is totally not overcrowded?  

D and I talked about it.  He suggested if N does get accepted, I go and talk to the principal and counselor.  If I'm not satisfied, then we explain our reasoning to N and send her to CarMS.  

Honestly, N doesn't want to leave her elementary school.  Throughout this whole process, she never once acted interested or impressed with either school.  She only applied because her best friend applied.  If she was excited and thrilled with CroMS, I would feel like at least she wants to go there. As it stands, she doesn't appear to give much of a sh*t, which makes me feel like it doesn't really matter where she why not go where mom prefers?  

Every day I am checking the mailbox, and every day I am hoping that she doesn't get accepted into the optional program.  I am also considering whether I could violate my morals by lying to my daughter and telling her she didn't get in (if she does get accepted).  

I won't, of course, but I am having a very, very difficult time not pulling the "I'm your mother and what I say goes" card.

I can't believe I thought all that babyhood stuff was a pain in the rear. 

My newest reason to not have an awesome body

My most recent mind battle about body image occurred when my SIL showed me the new Piyo disk she is using as a workout.

I visited the website and was simultaneously envious of this gal's body and concerned that she is too thin.

I won't ever have a body like for her a number of reasons.

1. I don't get paid to exercise.
If it was my job, I would do it a heck of a lot more than I do.  When I see celebrities, I have to remember that part of the millions they make is based on how they look.  If I had millions riding on it, I would have a personal trainer at my house every morning, too.

2. I don't particularly love to exercise.
I do love to write and teach literature so I put my effort into things I love doing.

3. I refuse to cut out entire categories of food and become a slave to food either in gluttony or denial.
Having had to restrict my diet in the past, I won't do it again unless medically necessary.

4. The stand (I just came up with this the other day....hence my newest reason title above)
I can't stand the way she does above, jutting my hip and chest out and looking beneath my long gorgeous hair with bedroom eyes.  If I had a body like that, would I have to then stand in that come-hither fashion?  Even if my body looked that good, I have my head on top of my neck, and my head wouldn't fit such a body.  The short hair....the nerd glasses.

My head would also refuse to try to act sexy.  Some people can pull it off.  I cannot, nor do I have any desire to try.  I have trust issues with people who feel compelled to pose sexily.

I'd be lying if I said I love how being in my 40s is affecting my body. It's clear by this post that at 40+, I do not have a handle on my body image.

I realize that I look fine.  I am, by all definitions, slender.  I am in no way complaining about how I look.

I am, however, struggling with how I look.  I'm the one that has to look at myself coming out of the shower every day.

To me, I look like I'm constantly 16 weeks pregnant from my first pregnancy (anyone with more than 1 child knows how the uterus springs back into pregnancy stretched-out-ness 10 seconds after conception for all other gestations).

I'm not thrilled with what happened to my upper body following 5+ years of breastfeeding.

I am seeing the slow signs of aging--the sagging, the crinkling--making their first forays onto my physical self.

What should be most important is that I am fairly healthy.  My cholesterol is 129.  My BMI is 23.  My blood pressure's last read was 100/60.  The only reason I should exercise is for my health, but I admit there is a secret hope that doing what little exercise I do will miraculously result in ripped abdominals.

I know it is redonkulous that it bothers me that I can no longer fit into my wedding dress.  Although I wear a size 8 now, and my wedding dress is a size 8, it won't zip up the back.  I like to think that perhaps things have just "shifted" over 17 years.  Of course, I seem to remember weighing around 127 lbs when I married, and now I fluctuate between 138 and 142.  I like to think that this additional 11-15 lbs is muscle mass (since I only started working out at the gym 5 years ago), but that is redonkulous, too.

When it comes to body image, there are all sorts of things I tell myself, some true and some complete balls of crap.  Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between them.

It saddens me that after working through so many teen angst issues, I am still struggling with how I look.  I'm hoping that at 50 or 60 or some more wise age in the future, I will permanently let this issue go.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nipping narcissism with the 11-year-old (Try hard, my ass!)

I've read a couple articles about the recent study on narcissism and parenting.  Based on my discussion with N yesterday about her lack of preparation for written assessment, I think she will not be a narcissist.  Or if she is, I'm not the one responsible.

She was selected to take the written assessment test in January and over the past n weeks was given  fine arts tests that she was to answer and review in preparation for the district competition.  I sat with her when she answered them and then we looked up her responses online to check whether she was correct.  I didn't badger her to death to study because it is not my competition.  Last week's snow day moved the competition to yesterday.

On Monday night, I asked her if she wanted to study.  Nope.
On Tuesday night, I asked her if she wanted to study.  She studied for 5 minutes before bed, and that might be an overestimate on the time.

I drove her there and hung around for an hour and a half, trying to contain M and G's loudness to a dull roar in a poorly insulated cafeteria.

When she was finished, she brought the test with her (each student could take their test home).  When I looked it over, I saw that any number of questions were 1. identical to questions on the practice tests she took and 2. answered incorrectly.

I admit I was pissed, and not because I care whether she wins.  I was angry because ---

I had spent time picking her up from the initial written assessment test to see if she made the team.
I had spent time going over the practice tests and looking over answers with her.
I had driven her across the county to the competition and spent entirely too much time trying to entertain her brothers in a boring cafeteria.

I spent more time on her written assessment than she did.
And if I am going to spend time making something possible for my kids, I sure as heck expect them to at least try.
Oh wait, according to her she did try.  She studied the night before.  That big expanse of 5 minutes prior to bed surely made a huge difference.

I asked her how she will feel if she doesn't place in the competition, and she said, "Disappointed."
I asked her what will be going through her mind if she doesn't win, and she said, "I should have studied."

I told her I wasn't mad at her or disappointed, but frustrated because if you are going to do something competitively, it makes sense to actually try to do your best, and she hadn't done her best.

I hope to heaven she doesn't place.  A good swift kick in the pants by "life" would be useful.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

The whole point of Boyhood is that it was boring

This past weekend we watched "Boyhood."

At 2.5 hours in length, chances were pretty good that I wouldn't sit all the way through it.  I rarely sit through a film that long.

Much to husband's dismay and the cat's delight, I sat still and watched the movie in its entirety plus the 20 minute extra feature on the making of it.

There were many things I liked about the film.

I liked that the transitions from one stage of boyhood to another were so seamless that I had to zone in on the boy's haircut to understand that a transition had taken place.

I like that the film showed the physical transition of the adults, which were in some ways as astounding as the boy's.  I appreciated that the film also showed how adults, depending on their personalities, can change/mature over time (the dad) or stay perpetually stuck in dysfunctional choices (the mom).

Of course, I loved the music.  The Black Keys and Flaming Lips in one movie=my kind of awesome.

After it was over I felt a sadness that lingered into the following morning.

It wasn't a sadness like what I get after watching "On The Beach" or "Melancholia," which is sadness and irrational fear bound into a tight bundle.  It was a sadness for something that I know without a doubt is coming---my children growing up.  But as with all things parenthood-related, that sadness is interlaced with joy at knowing that my children are supposed to grow up and create their own lives beyond me.

"Boyhood" reminded me that maybe I should stop worrying about making every moment count with my children.  Every moment doesn't count.

"Boyhood" reminded me that 98% of life is the in-between stages, not the milestones.  Not the big deal events, but the little forgettable moments.  The things that we don't remember anyway.

We are left with a feeling, a sense of who we are, where we're from, why we matter.  The nuts and bolts of that feeling, that sense, are long gone by the time we start to really try to get a handle on ourselves and where we are in the world.

I liked that the film gave me a ray of hope that my two boys, who talk about their penises all day long and really get way too much enjoyment from "Uncle Grandpa," may turn into pretty cool dudes when they mature.

I liked the movie's reminder that as a parent, you do the best you can with what you have, and the kids will probably turn out ok.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The beard

Today I was supposed to go to the kids' school to read a book to G's class for "We Love to Read" week and have N's class work on their festival creation.  But the district is in full "It is going to snow in 6 hours so we need to cancel school now" mode, so it is a snow day.

I'm afraid that if I start complaining about the snow day I will never stop complaining about the snow day, so I'm going to talk about the latest and greatest thing in my world:

D's beard

To be honest, I don't know where the idea even came from for him to grow a beard.  He has never tried before in all the years I've known him.  When he asked what I thought I think I said, "Sure, why not," and maybe suggested it might be sexy.  I think that was all the motivation he needed.

I have been thinking about his beard a lot.  Well, not about his actual beard, the little gray hairs poking out, but about how weird it is that something as simple as a beard can make me see him differently.

This coming summer is our 20-years-of-togetherness anniversary.  Given my penchant for pre-emptive worry and/or reflection, I've been mulling over the significance of this event, and the beard plays into this reflection.

N makes me listen to the radio whenever we are in the car together so I've heard Ed Sheeran's song "Thinking Out Loud."  I both like and hate the lyrics to this song, especially since D and I are sandwiched in that part of life between 23 and 70.

No one at 23 thinks with any seriousness about being with their partner until they're 70.  I'm over half-way there, and I can't think seriously about it.  My MIL turns 67 this month, and I don't know that she thinks seriously about it.

So in his lyrics, I snicker at this line:
And, darling, I will be loving you 'til we're 70

and completely appreciate and "get" these lines:
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day

I don't know that I will be breathing at 70, so I'm going to reserve judgment on who I will be loving and how when that time approaches.

But in all these years with D, I find that sometimes out of the blue, or because of a beard, I am falling in love with him again, feeling all goofy inside and wanting to be with him far more than usual.  Which is nice, completely unexpected, and one of the best things about being with a person for almost half my life.