Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Broken in

How you react when the doctor says:

Your child's vision is really bad; I want to explore doing surgery on his eyeball to correct the muscles.

Hypothetical first child: oooooh, my sweet baby!  Oh, how can this be!?  I want a second opinion.  I want a vigil held.  Oh, why?  Why????????

Actual fourth child.: *sigh*.  Ok, let's see when we can schedule it.

School Year

 All four kids have officially been in school for a week.  Life at home is starting to look a little bit less like a war zone, although homework and projects are creating a stresser for the girls.
Maryna is, of course, in high school which is the most homework of any part of school, I think.  More than they get in college in my experience (though all the teachers insist that it's just practice for when the really tough workload starts in college...) We're getting through it with some sanity left, for now.

Katie's school has exceptionally little homework compared to most, but by 6th grade they do start to put more deadlines into the kids' lives to give them time management practice. She has small projects due nearly every week. If she uses her time at school wisely she doesn't necessarily have to work on them at home, but they do have to be done eventually.  Katie's never been a procrastinator, so if a project is assigned today and due late next week, you can expect she'll be nearly in tears trying to get it all done tonight, now, before bed.

Jorge has moved up into the upper elementary room with Katie, but they run in pretty different circles.  During morning work block, they mostly work at their own table areas and the teachers wisely put them as far apart as possible so Katie won't mother-hen on Jorge and he won't be distracted looking at her. Afternoons are broken out by grade level a bit more, with (for example) 5th and 6th graders doing fitness while 4th and 3rd do music, then switch on a different day, add in things like French, "Great Books" (book club), advanced math lessons, etc. and they often connect in the car as if they had hardly seen each other all day.  They do have lunch, recess, and some other whole-class activities together, but they're not in each other's way.

August has moved up to first grade and loves it.  He is getting challenging works and seeing the older kids and just happy to be learning every day.  Little stubborn ball of sunshine.

As for the grownups, we DO have an insane amount of homework: grading, test writing, answering every student's request for "just a few quick questions", lecture planning and more.  It all gets done and occasionally we sleep. The end.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Because this is what normal looks like here...

Slept terribly Monday-into-Tuesday night, then taught all day Tuesday and was nearly asleep at the dinner table.  And yet, when it came time for bed, I couldn't fall asleep until 3:30 AM (did some laundry at 2 AM out of boredom).

I woke up when August came in with a morning nightmare at 6:15 and proceeded to play "Auggie the human back-pack".  Then had Jorge come in three times in the 7 o'clock hour to relay questions from Rob in the kitchen who was dealing with a noisy fridge and was confused by the laundry I had hung-dry in the bathroom at 2:30 AM.  Cried a bit about how stinking tired I was and how I had a meeting at 11 and just needed to sleeeeeep.

Came downstairs for real at 10:10 and checked my phone to see that meeting was at 10, not 11. Dialed into a video-conference-call in my pajamas and headband with coffee in hand while shoo-ing children away.

Showered, dressed, and went to work.  Long day.  At 5, Maryna sent me a message on Facebook to ask when I would be home and offered this glorious glimpse of life as Rob left for work.  Auggie has...well...some separation anxiety issues right now.  This was captioned "Need u home!!!"


I wrote her back that I would call and talk to him and started looking for my phone. Hm. Hmmmm... So I used my office phone to call my cell phone.  Immediately the Facebook conversation showed that Maryna was writing to me.

"My phone's on the dining room table, isn't it."
"Yep, and you just missed a call from someone..?"

Yep, that was my day.

Home exhausted beyond functioning and told myself I'd go to bed guilt free at 8:30.  Laid there for 2 hours and gave up; back downstairs working (well, blogging, but sometimes that's just better).  Rob is on his way home from work with ice cream, so things are looking up.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to normal, bit by bit

The foot is healed enough to not freak out anyone, so a pedicure happened today.  So did a manicure and a hair cut.

School starts back up tomorrow for  me.  Rob started his class last week.  The kids start next week: Tuesday (boys), Wednesday (Katie) and Thursday (Maryna). Eventually this circus will be corralled back to the routine in which we aren't all ready to duct tape each other's mouths shut by mid-afternoon.

Not that it has actually happened.  Usually we manage to delay drastic things like that until at least dinner time.

Kidding.  Kidding.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pain and suffering

Ok, I'll admit that might be a bit dramatic.

Things here have been a little off for a while.

My neck and shoulder have been a source of nearly constant pain.  I saw two massage therapists in a week last winter and then a chiropractor for several months.  Overall diagnosis was that my muscles in my left shoulder were super tight for some reason and were pulling my spine to the left.  My spine was distinctly off center and it was causing a lot of muscles to have to work in strange ways to compensate. So we did massage to loosen the muscle, then chiro to push the spine back toward the right spot, then more massage to keep the muscles from pulling on it and repeat. Despite looking at everything I do--how I sleep, drive, carry my bag, sit, teach--we never did figure out clear cause. Eventually it got better, but earlier this summer it flared back up.  Several rounds into the massage and she's now thinking I have "frozen shoulder." Super.  So, another long round of stretching, massaging, and trying to un-crunk this thing.

In other wayyyy-too-much-information news, I have had a wart on my right foot for (not even kidding) 14 years. I've had it frozen off at the doctor, tried every off-the-shelf treatment (alone and combined), tried every at-home trick...nothing. It doesn't get any worse, but it never gets better. It's just always always there.  Two weeks ago I decided I was going to give it a focused-super-effort. I combined several at-home tricks and went full-offensive on it.  Every second of the day and night something was on that thing--mostly a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar held in place by a band-aid or duct tape, but occasionally an aspirin.  It cause intense horrible pain.  I woke up in the night with my foot feeling like someone was twisting a screw right through and into the bones, keeping me awake for hours. I have not been able to walk on it for several days now, and instead I hobble around on the side of my foot. It swelled up, turned black, seemed to swell more each day. It's nearly all I can think about--this burning, stinging, sharp spot in the ball of my foot. But today--today my friends--was my victory.  Today it fell out. (as I was changing the band-aid; have no fear, it's appropriately disposed of with gagging included and is not lurking around somewhere unknown) It's gone.  It's so extremely gross I'm horrified by it, but I. AM. VICTORIOUS.  My foot still burns like a branding iron is jammed into it and there's a literal hole in my foot big enough to fit a pencil eraser in (ewwwww) but it's GONE.

There have been a few other achey miseries this week, too, which has led to restless nights, constant Advil, pharmaceuticals, and occasional tears.  But recovery will be mine.

Whine whine whine.

As soon as this hole in my foot clears up, I'm getting a pedicure.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

To Auggie, on turning six.

My darling Auggie,

Never have I known a child so completely soaked, drenched, and dripping with love.  You simply must tell me twenty times each day that you love me.  You snuggle into bed with me and daddy every morning (sometimes at a respectable 6 or 7, often at a painful 3 or 4) and roll like a magnet to be attached to one of us. You rub our backs or hair, comment on how wonderful we are, and say things like "I'm so so glad I get to love you."  You seek us out all day long to give a hug or kiss.  You ask me how my day was and remember little details and ask about those, too. "How was your meeting this morning?  How is your project today?"

You're kind and compassionate. If I'm in pain or sad you ask thoughtful questions, you recite encouraging statements back to me that sound vaguely familiar, or you nod sympathetically and say things like "I'm so sorry that's happening" without trying to fix it.  You're one of the best emotional listeners I know, and you're just turning six.

But let's not get too swept up in the songs of praise.  You are easily the worst listener I know in almost every other respect.  If I ask you to do just about anything--move something to a different location, put on your shoes, sit down, get buckled, finish your breakfast, eat your lunch, put away your dishes, eat your dinner, go to sleep, stay asleep, sleep --- you usually completely and totally ignore me.  It's like you can't even hear the sounds I'm making.  Sometimes you calmly answer that you don't want to right now, like it was a mere suggestion. And occasionally you fall to pieces in total despair that you just can' You're so amazingly sweet and considerate most of the time and so we let it slide more than we should.

You love math.  Glorious numbers and operations and squares and square-roots and sequences and patterns.  No matter the question, you answer the same:

"Augs, what's 6 times 5?"  "What? 6 times 5?  oh, 6 times 5. EASY. 6 times 5 is...30"
"Augs, what's square root of 49?"  "What? Square root of 49?  Oh, square root of 49. EASY. Square root of 49 is 7"


We've spent the majority of this year working our way through the entire L Frank Baum collection of 13 books about the Land of Oz. We're 2 chapters away from done with the last book. These are absolutely the most motivating currency ever.  You get two chapters each night, an extra if you shower, then 2 in the morning only if you stay in your own bed until at least 6 AM, and one more if you go to sleep in your own bed without a fuss after stories.  You bank these up and calculate them out.  Heaven forbid I miss a night for working late.  "Mom, don't forget, tonight we read 9 chapters...2+1+1+2+2+1?  Right?  Eeeeeasy.  9.  9 chapters."

You love GI Joe, Legos, talking, Ninjago, diamond mining, riding your bike, the Beatles, being handsome, arm-knitting, creating things, swimming, your cousin Baby Jack and his cousin Baby Jude,

You run into stuff, you climb walls, you talk constantly and get frustrated when we aren't listening.  "Yes or no, mom?  Yes or no??"  Oh, sorry dude.  Tuned out 4 minutes ago.  Were you still talking?  Yet you are the most sunshine-filled boy ever.  You find joy in everything.  You respond to stress with love.  You answer hurt hearts with a gentle pat on the arm. You hate seeing anyone hurt or sad.

For your birthday you asked for either a fish or for a dog.  When I pointed out we already have a dog you gladly said you would like to just get our current dog for a week. You were thrilled as you explained it: you would get her for the whole week so that week you would be responsible for feeding, walking, and otherwise caring for the dog that easily weighs twice as much as you. This would be your ideal gift.  Your other three siblings obviously understand you all too well, as the immediate response from Jorge was "just dig Daphne's grave, then."  Well-intentioned but hard-to-herd.  That's you.

You are my dreamer, my cuddler, my boy that dances to his own drum when everyone else is marching...and you compliment that marching and call it beautiful.  You feel huge emotions and want better for the world. You see patterns and opportunities that others don't, and that will change the world. You are joy and love and smiles disguised as a sticky-handed little boy with his glasses hanging off his nose and probably some food in his hair.

You are my puppy.

Congratulations on six.  I know five was magical, but six is sure to impress.