geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Sometimes I miss my dad in this empty, aching sort of way that I can't describe quite like anything else. Like yesterday when Miriam and I were doing some math with ten frames and she looked at me and said "If it had only four spots I'd only be able to count to four." I would have loved to call my Dad and tell him "She just basically grasped the idea of base ten math without ever hearing the words." He'd have kvelled. And I'd have enjoyed telling him about it.

There's an amazing difference between working with Miriam and working with Naomi, and it comes down to how much the mechanics of fine motor tasks were difficult for Naomi. Both of them knew the materials but because we were asking Naomi to do things like "draw the counters in the picture" it would take ten times as long as it needed to. Once we switched to things like stickers, it helped, but it's refreshing to start from a positive experience. We're typing a lot of Naomi's work now, but I'd really like to get her settled with a 504 or IEP soon because while we're very lucky to have amenable teachers, that may not always be the case.

Speaking of amenable teachers, what a change this year's teacher is. Kindergarten was fine, nothing outstanding, just there. The English/Math teacher wasn't very good at differentiation, nor very creative, she was just kind of adequate. The French teacher was pleasant, and slightly more creative. (She's Miriam's main teacher this year.) First grade was a nightmare. It's a challenge to find teachers who are certified to teach both elementary grades and French, and so they hired someone last year who had previously been teaching high school and who was totally inappropriate for elementary school-developmental expectations were out of line with first grade, didn't understand why bringing four cupcakes, saying "only the best students get them" and not giving them to the typically well behaved students who don't stand out meant that my typically well behaved student came home in tears and wondering why her best wasn't good enough. That was a relatively mild incident with her-she was fired at the end of the first marking period. The rest of the year was a cobbled together mix of long term subs (some very good ones) and the second grade French teacher pulling double duty with two sections of second grade French and two of first grade French. We were looking forward to a reprieve in second grade, possibly even having the Mom of one of Naomi's friends this year. Well she ended up moving up to teach third grade, and they hired a new second grade French teacher this year. We were a little nervous, seeing a new teacher's name on the list, especially after last year (and understandably so,) but what a breath of fresh air he is. He's an experienced teacher, solid-he's been teaching for over 20 years, and hasn't been beaten down by the system. He's creative, he has them moving and interacting when he can. He makes sure they go outside every day. He does differentiated education as more than a buzzword. He says that he knows that there's value in good data but that they do too much testing. He says "I know the school policy is that you can't just drop in, but I don't mind if you do." He encourages contact from parents and if you contact him he says "come in for a conference." It feels like he's really invested in their success. (It also doesn't hurt to hear things like "This is probably one of the brightest classes I've ever taught.") They really are a good group of kids-the school is divided into two "academies"-French Academy and Spanish Academy, and it's a small school to begin with, no more than 72 kids total per grade level, 36 in each academy, so the kids know each other well, the parents know each other. I'm told by parents of older kids that they're all kind of like siblings by the time they get to grade 5. The teachers know the kids too-when Miriam started this year there were people saying "You must be Naomi's sister," or saying "Hi Naomi's Mom."

Sweet note-the school is spread over several buildings all contained within a fence. Kids go in through the gate in the morning and then off to their classes. Kindergarten is in it's own building which also houses the resource room, therapy room for kids recieving services and the cafeteria. The steps up to Kindergarten are opposite the entrance to where Naomi goes in the building to go to class. The first day of school I walked with Naomi and Miriam, gave Naomi a hug and sent her to class, which is what she wanted, and then walked Miriam up to the kindergarten rooms. Parents are permitted to walk kindergarteners in for the first week, but it's a nuisance to find parking, walk in, then get back out, so we told Miriam that after the first day there would be teachers and the safety patrol to help her get to her room if she needed help. One of the other parents with a second grader and a kindergartener who enter the school from a different gate (they're walkers, we drive to school) said to me "I see the two of them in the morning, they walk together to the stairs, then Naomi gives her a hug and they go to class." There's some magic between the two of them and I don't know what it is.

I had a really sweet experience tonight at open house. I'm the class parent for Naomi's class, and her teacher had asked if I would mind coming at the beginning and staying the whole time. I said I'd check with the rest of the family and work it out if I could-someone needed to pick up Miriam and really it wouldn't be right to not visit her classroom, so I had to make sure she was okay with Andrew visiting and not me. It was fine, and so I hung out in Naomi's classroom for a couple of hours (good thing I get along with her teacher.) So as I'm sitting there doing the things I need to do, one of the kids I don't know so well comes up to me (I know his Mom-the family is Muslim and the process for religious accomodations in the cafeteria is the same as the process for food allergies, and even though Naomi won't buy lunch, she has to have a plan with substitutions in place for safety reasons, so I see the Mom at the beginning of the year when we all go through these things.) The boy looks at me and says "Hi Naomi's Mom. I think Naomi is really nice and you teach her good." What a sweet thing to say, and in front of other kids, too.

I think Naomi is nice too, Ahmed.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Cried my way through Rosh Hashana services today. Glad that the kids opted to sit up front with other kids, and not with us. The Rabbi does a nice Children's Service...he talked about how the older kids ("teenagers" Naomi wondered) come and ask what Judaism tells them to believe about G-d and how the answer is "nothing" and then went on to talk about the thirteen attributes (schlichot) and about living a godly life. It was very accessible, very humanistic, and quite nice. The sermon was based on the book "The Secret Shofar of Barcelona" which the kids also enjoyed (I think it may be a PJ Library selection for us next year, I forget which group it's in.)

Naomi shocked me with how grown up she looked when she got dressed today. She is still a kid, she's only 7, but I can see a teenager, and eventually an adult underneath and it makes me catch my breath.

All I really want to do is stay in bed under the covers. Not an option though, so I keep going with what I need to do, though sometimes its the minimum, it gets done. I've been bingewatching Girl Meets World on Netflix when I can. Maybe one day I'll feel like getting up.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
I was chatting the other day with someone I'd met recently, and somehow the topic of what I was doing when I found out we were moving to Florida came up. And the person asked how I felt about what I'd given up (career, PhD, etc,) for Andrew to follow his job. It was incredibly freeing to answer in a brutally honest way, without any consideration about how this person might have thought about me or Andrew, or how my honesty might affect Andrew or Andrew's job or anything like that most of the time, I'm okay with it but sometimes, I am filled with rage and resentment over it.

I hate the feeling of not knowing what I want to do or how to do it. I feel so completely at loose ends and directionles when I think about what to do once some of the overwhelming projects that have been put off get done. I'm not even sure what I'm good at anymore.

And to completely swerve here, I never thought there would be a cat I could love like Beta. He was special. A little less than two years ago, we adopted Rocket though. He was supposed to be "the kids' cat" but he attached himself to me. And I feel so much warmth towards him, and joy. He's my cat, for sure, and I really enjoy that feeling.

Too bad my life doesn't have that kind of clarity.
geminigirl: (Driving)
Dad died. We had a funeral. We sat shiva. I spent my 40th birthday alone on the autotrain. We went on a really long trip this summer. Two weeks at my Mom's with the girls, then two weeks on the road with Andrew, the girls, my mom and my younger brother visiting a whole lot of places (Denver, Four Corners, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco.) We saw my new niece in Los Angeles. I fought with my mother a lot. Everyone fought a lot. We came home. The girls started school. (There's a first day of school photo on Facebook, but if you want to see it I can show you.) Miriam started kindergarten. Miriam continues to frustrate me and freak me out. Naomi is growing up, and I know the bedtime snuggles will stop someday and so I soak them up as much as I can because just like the sweet, fresh baked baby smell disappeared from her head, so will the need for bedtime snuggles. I thought for a while she might be over having a bedtime song, but that seems to have come back and I'm okay with it. I volunteer with Girl Scouts. I'm still trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do.

There is nothing wonderful or exciting, it's all kind of grey and circular. Just one day, one foot, time folds onto itself and we all keep going.
geminigirl: (Mass Marriage)
I started this Livejournal nearly 14 years ago. I've been having conversations about marriage equality for the last 20 years and thinking about it since Hawaii tried to pass marriage equality in the 1990s. I was losing hope that I'd ever see the day when marriage equality was the law. And today it is.

That doesn't mean that everything is okay. There are still many fights to fight. For today I am going to celebrate the victory and allow this to reinvigorate me, to re-energize my fight.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
My Dad is going to die. I'm getting on a plane in a few hours to say good bye, I suppose. He fell down the stairs, and has a head injury and he's gone. I think my mother is just waiting for the children (who are scattered around the country right now) to get there before taking any action like removing the breathing tube unless he passes naturally before then. I mean, he's not been right in his head for several years, and they recently diagnosed him with progressive supranuclear palsy, and in a way I've made peace with that part being gone but not having his physical presence is different. No more days of 10 phone calls trying to figure out what my mother's phone number or my sister's birthday is. No more stories where he tells me how much nachas my children bring him.

My father is going to die. And I don't know what to do. And I have no one to watch the kids while we do all the funeral stuff and to take them home instead of the cemetary.

And I don't know how to take care of my mother.
geminigirl: (N'est Pas Un Blog)
I feel like the universe is screaming at me and I am too afraid to listen.

Another writing opportunity may have just fallen into my lap. It would probably be an ideal place for the thing I said about "My Jewish Kids and their Muslim Babysitter."

I need to get my guts together and do this, right?
geminigirl: (N'est Pas Un Blog)
Back when I was a kid, I always wanted to write a newspaper column. With the explosion of blogging, and the decline of newspapers that never happened. I've always kind of tossed around the idea of really blogging for real but never pursued it. And people who do actually write have said "but you should do it, because you have interesting things to say." I've never really followed through, though I do have webspace of my own. I've never been sure I could be consistent, I don't know if I have a thick enough skin to hold up to the comments, and I'm really not sure that I do have things to say. I'm trying not to be afraid to put my stuff out there, though. I've been offered the opportunity to contribute to an Interfaith Ramadan project though, and I'm thinking about taking up the opportunity.
geminigirl: (Freedom Rings)
I post so little here these days, but I feel like posting today that Florida has, as of today started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. And that makes me happy.
geminigirl: (Rain)
I wish I could talk about it, but I can't. :(
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Someone grabed me at a meeting for our Girl Scout Service Unit today and said, "You should go take the training to be the training facilitator, because you really get this." And that person is the current training faclitator, and I haven't even taken the trainings that she facilitates yet (still need to do that.) But apparently she thinks I get how things should work, and that I'm comfortable speaking in front of groups of people who I'm unfamiliar with, and that I ought to be a facilitator.

That probably made me a lot happier than it should have, but it felt really good to have someone pick up on that, and to be recognized for that. And it's something I love to do, so I arranged to follow up that conversation next week. We'll see if it goes anywhere.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Dear D.L.,

I don't know you...not beyond your name, your age and a vague idea of where you live, but I think you ought to know that you've irreversably changed the lives of my children and I am angry about it. You see, a few months ago, you took your 19 year old self and wandered through our neighborhood (and by "our" I mean the one that my family-my husband, my children and me share with you,) checking car doors to see which ones were open, and taking things from those cars. Unfortunately, my husband had forgotten to lock the car doors after he had (very thoughtfully) taken my car and put gas in it, and you felt that it was okay to open my car door and help yourself. I don't know what you stole from our neighbors, (other than a gun, which I only know because it came up in conversation with the detective who investigated all 200 or so of your escapades, as we discussed whether or not to press charges, and I mentioned that what I'd likely do is press charges but request that the prosecutor offered some kind of diversion opportunity instead of the usual consequences,) but I do know what you took from my car. You took a case full of CDs, a few very special ones with meaning and memories attached, a phone charger and an iPad cable that's so broken that it's nearly unuseable. And to you, it's a few bucks, maybe if you sell it on eBay or to a friend-I can pretty much guarantee that you tossed the CDs into the trash...I don't think you would like any of the ones that were in there. But that's not really what you took. You took security from my children-the feeling that their neighborhood is free of "bad guys or ebil doers." You took away the belief that Mama and Papa will always be able to keep the bad stuff away. You made them face some very grown up feelings and fears. They're still talking about what you did...about what the "big boy" in our neighborhood did, and whether he had a gun or not, and whether he had a bag or not. And perhaps most important of all, if he'll come back and try and take things from our house.

You took irreplaceable things. And while I can forgive you (mostly) for the material goods, I will never forgive you for the way you changed my children.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
We had an evening event at someone's home last night with the Girl Scouts...so late that it was winding down two and a half hours after my kids normally start getting ready for bed. But, Miriam was handling it well, and so we stuck around. When we were just about ready to leave, Naomi emerged from another room wearing a bracelet that she hadn't arrived with, and told me that K. had given it to her. I looked at the kids and asked "Are you sure?" Before I could say anything else, K's mother chimed in with, "Oh, it's okay. She's not usually an Indian Giver."

Just hearing that made me feel sick to my stomach...but, I knew we were approaching the end of Miriam's rope, and I knew that I just didn't have time to get into a long discusson about casual/unintended racism, and so I said nothing. And I feel really yucky about it. Even more so because the kid involved is one that Naomi gets along with really, really well, but the more I get to know the mother, the less I want to encourage that friendship.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Somewhere in my work with peer educators or in doing educational groups as a social worker, I fell in love with teaching. I never really wanted to be in a classroom though-it's just not the place where I see myself being happy. But I love teaching, and I love the experience. I kind of gave up my career to get married and start a family though, and never really had a chance to expand on the things I loved about it. We'd talked about homeschooling, and I was looking forward to it, and then we fell into an educational opportunity for Naomi that was really too good to pass up, so she's been enrolled in a public magnet school and I'm not getting the chance to homeschool. And since I'm not homeschooling, there's also time...lots of it.

I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do-Miriam will be in school full time soon, I anticipate. And I don't know what I want to do.

At the same time, I've fallen in love with Girl Scouts-so much so that when our current leader decided she needed to step down, she asked if I would step into the role. And it's been fun so far. It lets me do the things that appeal from the teaching side while still giving me the non-classroom experience, and without overwhelming me so much that I don't have the time and energy to give to my family and other responsibilties.

I'd love to find a way to do something similar, but get paid for it. To teach a little, to plan a little, but not in a classroom, not in a restrictive way. I don't know what I want anymore.
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Do you think I should post more?
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
It started out not too badly and the latter part of the day is okay too.

Three fourths of the humans in the house have been sick. Andrew was working from home for almost a full week because of the plague, Miriam was home a week and is still dripping from her nose like a faucet, in lovely colors, and I was mildly congested and had a sore throat and a little cough last weekend when suddenly, in the middle of the night, I woke up with ringing and stabbing pain in my ear, and within five hours, I'd gone from stabbing pain and ringing in both ears to a ruptured ear drum on both sides. The doctor who looked in my ears had the kind of shocked look on his face when he looked at me after looking in my ears and throat and wondered how I wasn't dizzy and falling over from the fluid in my ears. I can't hear at the moment because of the ringing, and at three different pitches, too (the left has two pitchs about an octave apart, and the right has one high pitched one-the right ear hears less than the left right now though.) So I said to Andrew last night, "I think I want to run Miriam to the doctor this afternoon-I have an appointment for her next Wednesday for something else, but I want someone to look at her nose."

The morning goes smoothly, then I get ready to leave-my plan was to leave early and stop at CVS for a couple of things and at the knitting store across the street from Miriam's school before I picked her up, and then got Naomi and went to the doctor. I figured after the appointment I'd run over to the other knitting store near the doctor's office for some other stuff. I pick up my things, grab Andrew's phone which he'd forgotten and I said I'd drop off at his office after I picked up the kids, before I went to the doctor (his office and the doctor are opposite directions off the same highway exit, which is also the same exit I take to get home anyway.) Except there's a problem...my key won't open the front door. After fihting with it for a bit and calling Andrew and discovering he's away from his desk, I grab Andrew's phone and text his boss to see if he can track him down. No go, my key won't open the door, no one can find Andrew and I now have to leave if I'm going to get both kids on time. I go out the back door, leaving it closed but unlocked, and traipse through the yard to get to Miriam. And on my way there, I discover I've dropped my cell phone between the back yard and driveway. So I still can't actually reach Andrew, but I'm calling his desk phone just in case-he finally picks up and I unleash my rage. I get Miriam, I get Naomi, Andrew texts his phone which I have via Google Voice and says he's going to go try and find my phone (which he finds in the grass, and I am grateful that he picked out a very sturdy, although ugly LifeProof case for me.)

And the rest of the day had to go better, right? (It did-Miram's doctor's appointment was speedy, we got a snack, dropped off prescriptions, got home, Andy had called and arranged for me to take one of the classes I was interested in, and I am able to spend the rest of the evening in my pajamas. I just wish I could hear again.

WTF?

Mar. 18th, 2014 02:07 am
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Who the fuck tells you they have cancer in an email?
(No comments right now, no public FB comments. I'll talk here more when I'm ready.)
geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
Part of the way SPD has manifested for Naomi is that she hates water on her face. That, combined with the proprioceptive challenges she has (also related to SPD,) has made some things, like washing her hair, very difficult. And she loves having long hair, too, so it makes washing carefully even more essential.

One of our recent, small victories at home since starting therapy is that she's been able to take a partial shower. What that means is that she is now able to stand up, lean back and wash her hair-it means less water on her face from the washing, which she loves. She doesn't want to wash the rest of her body that way (and that's fine with me,) but washing her hair standing up with her eyes closed and her head tipped back is a huge change.

She still hates getting her face wet. And she's six. And we're in a place where she's constantly surrounded by swimming pools and water, and it's beyond time to get her in the water and water safe, especially since she's now at an age where she goes places without me. So we talked about swimming lessons again, and I said that Miss Angela (our OT) can probably help us with some skills to learn how to deal with that. And we talked about how her body feels when she gets her face wet, or when she hears the blender, and she talked about her body "Louding" at her...which I think means "yelling." I explained that we can ask Miss Angela to help us find ways to make that yelling calm down, and even sometimes, make it stop. She loved this idea...so in my calendar for next week is to chat with Miss Anglea about the things that we want to do-expand her diet, become comfortable in the water, things like that. What's mindblowing is how we've seen other changes so quickly-handwriting is greatly improved, emotional regulation has grown, things like that. We'd always been able to compensate, but I'm finding that I feel calmer and more relaxed when I'm doing less managing symptoms and a lot more just enjoying things.

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