Friday, April 18, 2014

Slow Down

I got a speeding ticket last week while driving to see my step father in the hospital. I tried to explain, but it fell on deaf ears. The cost (ticket and insurance) are an annoyance, but the worst thing is that I am not a rule breaker. I was telling my friend about it and she shared a story about her sister getting a ticket. She said her sister told her "Didn't the police officer know I'm a good girl?" That is it exactly! Of course I made the entire experience into a joke about the police officer keeping the county safe from soccer moms driving SUVs.

The reality is it nagged at me. There was a message there from the universe. Not to sound corny, but maybe I need to slow down period. Ever since December 14, 2013 (the day the shooting happened in CT, also the same day one of my students had a break down and tried to hurt himself and me.), I have been on high alert. That is almost a year and a half with my cell phone in my pocket waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting and prepared for an emergency. The thing is it is quiet literally raining shoes, and I am still surviving. I am not sure how long I can keep this up.

I am making small steps toward slowing down. Lily has doctors appointments coming up, Caroline just got her learner's permit, I am trying to catch up on school work. All these things will simplify life. Next up, clear the clutter! I need the rest of the family for that.

We went for a hike with some friends today. It was beautiful. I need to try to do that more often. Maybe, I can talk some of my kids into walking the track with me at recess? That would get me moving a little and give me a chance to chat with my kids. I have zumba on Mondays and yoga on Saturdays. Maybe I can squeeze in a few after school walks. I think it would be good for Lily too.

As far a Lily goes, I'll share the facts and strategies that others might find useful, but no more symptoms. Right now it is almonds, bananas, and walks. I am trying to increase serotonin and dopamine naturally. I have also cut back sugar, which has lead to her new berry obsession. She eats strawberries and blueberries like her life depends on it. I have also started chunking directions and "drive by nagging." For example as I pass through a room, I check in to see where she is on a step. That way I still keep moving, she gets a reminder, and I don't stand there waiting with soaring blood pressure for her to "Do it right now!" Nobody in this house does anything the minute I ask. It drives me insane, but the only thing I can change is myself.

If you are driving in NoVA and get stuck behind a silver SUV driving slowly, right at the speed limit, it is only me, trying to slow down.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Doing My Best

There must be something about my face or manner that makes me seem like an easy target for unsolicited advice, because I get a lot of it. Oh, if only the advice givers could hear the voice in my head declaring how little a crap I give about opinions (or do I?). I am a well documented rule following people pleaser. I am Sandra Dee at the beginning of Grease. If I think I've upset or offended someone, I die a thousand deaths. So, yes I listen to advice and fret about it and wear on Rob's last nerve analyzing it. I might add that in the course of our lives, he has been one of the chief advice givers (Especially before we were dating. Lord, that boy was a know it all!).

I have reached the stage in life where I can usually brush advice off (Unless it is really useful and well intended). Mostly that is due to having a good support system (Thank you, Rob, Caroline, and Lily).

Of course there is some advice that is not meant to be brushed off. Last summer, I was hit with the litany of  "your body is getting older so now you need too...." advice from doctors. Unfortunately, this has been one of the hardest and most stressful years of my life, and I have not been able to follow most of it. If you recall, I posted this summer about all of the doctor's advice: lose weight, floss three times a day, take a brisk walk, use sunscreen, eat less sugar, relax...... The entire thing reminds me of that song about always wearing sunscreen.

Well, I managed two: sunscreen and flossing. I flossed like it was my part time job. So much so, that any little food particle in my mouth after eating drove me crazy. I was so excited to go to my last cleaning. I followed his advice! I did it! I was a good girl! I don't know what I expected. Praise? High fives? A golden toothbrush? What did I get?  Two cavities! I can't win for trying.

To be fair, the cavities are at the site of old fillings that have worn out and most likely are the result of years of soda drinking (I gave it up 3 years ago, but drank it like water for almost 20 years). The hygienist threw me a bone by telling me that my gums looked great, and it was wonderful that I no longer drank soda.

This entire experience gives me so much hope about my next hurdle: weight loss!

Things That Make You Go Hmmm?

Mom bloggers the world over have a dilemma: how much info is too much to share about your child, and at what age does it become an invasion of privacy? Long ago, I stopped relaying many personal details about Caroline because that is her story to tell and not mine. Lily's story always seemed like mine to tell, most likely because she is my baby. The funny thing is, she is not anymore. She is also aware that she is the source of much of my writing. She does something and will say "You can Facebook this if you want" or "This is not for Facebook, Mom." When we see people who know me, but not her, and they ask questions about her, she looks at me like "What the hell, Mom?"

I am in a quandary, here. I want to be honest about my journey as a parent and especially parenting a little girl like Lily. I was just looking at the blogs that I love and one commenter brought up an interesting point: what will happen when a blogger's child gets older and some obnoxious teens find her blog and read all of the personal details about her child? I know if that happened to Lily, my heart would break. We are starting down a path to help her find out how to become the best possible Lily that she can be. My original plan was to share this journey to help other parents. But, is it my journey alone? Other bloggers have talked to their children and been given permission, but truly can a nine year old child give informed permission?

Lily will be my guide here. She has already on her own brought up going to see a doctor for testing (the direct quote was "Apparently my mother feels I need to be evaluated for, what is it, Mom? Oh yeah ADHD"). I am not sure if I will share the results here. Our family has such a complicated history of "alphabet syndromes." I don't think that is anything to be ashamed of. We are pretty honest about the whole thing and make jokes about it all the time. Not everyone is as comfortable, though. It is my experience that every time I tell someone that I have a learning disability (unless they are some way in my same boat), they look at me differently. It takes years of confidence and plain not giving a crap to deal with that. My little girl is not ready for that, nor should she be.

I want to be a voice for parents with unique children, but not at the expense of my amazing girl's dignity. This is honestly the first time that I am glad this blog is so hard to find and am not jealous of the mom bloggers with book deals. Luckily, I have so much more to say. I have wondered what my blog would be like if it didn't revolve around my children. Maybe it is time to find out.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Take a Moment

I started this week out with such skull crushing stress. My head was pounding, I could breathe, I could barely think. So much of this I bring on by my choices. I choose to pour my heart and soul into my work and family. I push, push, push and go, go, go. And some days, it is too much for my body and mind to process.

I made it through, taking one day at a time. I am caught up on paper work and report cards and lesson plans are finished. Right now, I should be grading papers, but for the first time in so long, I am relaxed.

This April is so bitter sweet. Caroline turns 16 on the 9th. That alone is such a momentous thing to digest. Then add in my mom would have been 63 on the 12th. She is missing such a big milestone for Caroline. I know that she would have made it so special for her. This is the first of many milestones Mom will miss.

The fact of the matter is milestones come whether you are ready or not. No amount of grief can (or at least should) stop them. Rob and Lily went to West Virginia to help his parents pack for their upcoming move. Caroline and I stayed here, so she could go to soccer and to watch the pets. It seemed like no big deal, but as things around here tend to do, the weekend snowballed into a much bigger thing. I promised that I would take Caroline to get her Learner's Permit before her soccer game. Then we'd chill the rest of the day.

Last weekend, Caroline's boyfriend called me to ask if he could throw a surprise party for her at our house on Saturday. From that point on, things took on a Keystone Cops level of hijinks as only we could do it. I was in charge of getting all of the supplies. I bought the soda and chips and explained that they were for the party she was planning for herself on the 12th (Did I mention that she was already planning a party and her friends were frantically pulling people aside to make sure they had the right date?). The problem was things kept coming up that required using the soda and chips during the week (school parties, snack attacks). By Friday, I needed to head to Target to get more snacks and decorations. I ran back and forth across the store three times collecting things I'd forgotten (I was exhausted by Friday). I hid everything in the car over night.

On Saturday, I woke up at 6:30 to see Rob and Lily off. I hid the party supplies in the basement and headed off to the DMV with Caroline. After an extremely long wait, she took her test and passed! I was so proud of her, but had a brief "Mom would be so proud" moment. We went right to her soccer game. After her game she cleaned up and Cristhian picked her up for the movies (he even talked her into dressing up so she'd be ready for a party). I proceeded to clean the house and bake her cake. Her friends started arriving at 4:30 to decorate. Of course, Caroline being my daughter, arrived home opened the fridge, found the fruit platter her friend had brought, figured out the surprise, and started crying. She was so happy (Did I mention a surprise party was all she wanted and she spent a good part of March bitter and sad that she wasn't getting one?)!

She has the best and quirkiest friends. They spent the evening eating, laughing, singing Happy Birthday in English and Spanish, dancing a conga line, and singing "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" through the basement door.

Ironically, I am not tired. I just feel peaceful and blessed. I rocked the whole "motherhood thing" this weekend. The cherry on top was opening my school email and finding that a parent had emailed me a picture of one of my babies from last year playing on his churches drum line. I do believe that giving my all to work and family has paid off this weekend.