Enjoy the Win

My son finally completed his first stick weld today!  We’ve all (DH, our son, and myself) been concerned that he would have to either drop welding or fail as he just hasn’t been able to make this weld.  (Strike an arc? I think that’s how he put it)  So here I am celebrating this accomplishment and my son starts saying that he was wearing a particular helmet and maybe he won’t be able to do it a second time, etc.  I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him if he could just enjoy the fact he’d done it.

Ah, my Eeyore.

On the plus side, DS has been doing great on getting his assignments turned in this year.

I’m working to get back on track with household projects.  Friday I got a huge batch of pumpkin bread made for my son’s lunches.  Sunday DS and I tried two new quick bread recipes for a church baby shower, and there were enough leftovers to put up six more lunches for him.  We made orange bread and lemon bread, but as we were baking between services we ran out of time and didn’t get them glazed.  He still liked the breads, but we agreed that the next time they’ll be glazed.

Tonight we tried a new pasta recipe (parmesan garlic spaghetti) and it was a hit, so tonight I added three new recipes to the typed recipe book I’m keeping for the kids.  I need to print a few pages to update my binder.  The pages are all in sheet protectors and I just bought enough index tabs for my binder and each of the kids.  I typed the recipes a few years ago to make it easy to pass them on to the kids as they fly to their own nests, then printed one set out to try to make it easier for the kids to get in the kitchen.  They still need a prod.  My son likes to get in the kitchen, but never thinks about it on his own.

I’ve had a few sessions of deep cleaning.  I used to deep clean each of the bedrooms once a year, but haven’t gotten that done for a few years.  I’m working on our master bedroom and have been trying to take it in sections.  DH gets frustrated when I clean like this as I usually ask him to put something(s) away, throw things out, etc.  He’s got a bunch of abandoned dress shoes.  I may have to stealthily throw a pair or two out for him.

DD2 rode her bike across town to the library.  That’s huge as she hasn’t ridden around town before, and if she keeps this up it will help build her confidence and independence.  I just downloaded a blank W-4 and directions for filling it out.  She’s scared of the whole ‘work’ thing, and I’m hoping to take some of that scariness away.

I’ve been dealing with some things keeping me tired and I historically have a day of industry followed by a day of tiredness.  I’m going to have to push myself each day.




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Just When I Thought We Were Done

So these past couple of weeks have been busy.  My parental radar went off when I helped my son with his last English essay.  He’s had issues with spelling and writing for as long as both have been required, but something whispered to me with that essay and I made a call.  Now we’re waiting to find out the results of a day long evaluation.  The word ‘dyslexia’ has been thrown out into the air as a possibility.

Then came the feelings of guilt.  Why didn’t we do something sooner?  What made me think we just needed to put extra effort in and it would all be okay?  And so on and so forth and what have you.

Then came the feelings of annoyance with the schools.  Flags were pointed out to me during the initial meeting.  I don’t expect teachers to diagnose things such as dyslexia, but shouldn’t some teacher along the line have had radar go off?  Before the end of Freshman year of high school?  And so on and so forth…

Then came the voice telling me that guilt and annoyance don’t do any good.  I don’t have a time machine.  We’re doing something now.  Move forward, because that’s all you can do.

Two weeks yet to wait until we know the results gathered from an entire day of evaluation, two parent surveys, my son’s survey, and four teacher surveys.  I just pray the answers will be clear, however they come out.

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These Cats of Ours

We adopted sister kittens about two months ago.  Things have been a bit different since they’ve come into our home.  Our previous cats were adopted way back in 2001, so it’s been a while since we lived with kittens.

Our brand new curtains, which we waited about 18 years to get, are looped up on the curtain rod to prevent kitten 1 from climbing them.  We don’t want the other curtains climbed, but they are all much older and we don’t want to stop using all of them.  One tie back has been put away, however, to keep it from being a focal point.  When holding the curtain, it resides within reach from the back of my recliner.  Enough said.

My son is watched down the sidewalk each morning as he leaves for school.  I think he likes this small attention.

I often wake up with a cat curled up against my side in the morning.  Granted, she’s waiting for me to wake up and feed her, but I’ll still take it.

Kitten 1 gives me ‘love fests’ of cuddling and purring while she gets attention lavished upon her.

It’s funny to find out how picky kitten 1 is about her canned food.  No pate-style for her, thank you very much.  Kitten 2 is quite happy to finish the other half.  Kitten 2 is getting a bit of a belly as a result, but these kitties are at an age where I’m slowly reducing the canned food, so kitten 2 will likely slim back down.

Kitten 2 steals the cloth napkins from the table, so we’re using up napkins from a graduation open house for now.  Too funny to see the cat dragging a napkin through the house as if it’s a great and noble trophy.

My son has learned that if he insists on taking his socks off in the living room, kitten 2 may steal one of those socks.

I love watching the cats push their toy basket over and look through the toys to choose what they want to play with, or to push their noses through until they find a pompon to chase.

It’s funny to see one or two paws sticking out from underneath furniture as if they haven’t quite figured out how to hide.

It’s fun to hear the cats racing back and forth through the house for an hour every morning as they chase toys, each other, or a combination of the two.

It’s so nice to have cats again.

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New Things to Worry About

My son is taking welding this year, and I have been more excited about it than he is.  He’s still taking the full college-bound track, just exploring some other things while they are available.  He’s artistic, and many artists use welding.  He’s thought about working as a park ranger, and park rangers are also builders, plumbers, welders, etc. to keep the buildings running.  He’s interested in taking black smithing lessons, and welding does have some tie ins.

Then he came home to tell me a couple of sparks fell on his mesh-top tennis shoes and he’s checking his feet for any burn.  We had a pair of steel-toed boots on hand he could take in to wear during class.  Taken care of.

Last night he tells me his eyes ache, and it was probably because he accidentally saw sparks in class when his shield was up.  But he closed his eyes quickly, so he should be okay.

Big sigh.

Please don’t let these things be daily.  Please let him settle in to safety methods FAST!

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Sore but Thankful

On Labor Day, DH wanted to have one last outing as a family (minus DD1, off at college).  It was rainy, but the forecast showed clearing by the time we arrived at our destination.  The kids helped me to quickly pack a few things and we were off.

It was raining lightly when we reached the first state park, so we explored their nature center and then took a trail which had a lot of boardwalk.  We then braved the continuing light rain and played miniature golf and all of us had fun.  DS had been in a mood which broke during the golf game, and the rain broke too.  We then headed for another state park where DH took pictures and the kids stuck their toes in the lake.

The day was slow paced, lots of driving, and part of me wondered why we drove three hours for these activities when a similar day could have been had with a one hour drive, but hey, it was a day out.

We were back in our home town around our son’s bedtime (the night before the first day of school) when we hit another car in an intersection.  Both cars thought the green was theirs, no security or red light camera present.  BUT, everyone was okay, no one went to the hospital.  In our car, I’m the only one who had an injury.  The seat belt nailed me and gave me massive inflammation of the cartilage at the ribs.  I’ll spare you the technical term.  I’m still sore and a bit frustrated that recovery is so slow, but it could be so much worse so I’ll just keep resting and icing.

Given the choice between me being sore and the kids having been hurt, I’m definitely okay with being the one who is sore.

My son is awesome and went to the grocery store with me Sunday afternoon to carry the bags for me.  I prefer shopping at 7:30 am on a weekday, but having his help also helps the recovery from inflammation.

School has begun well.  My son is definitely seeing the ‘other side of the tracks’ in his welding class.  We aren’t wealthy, but we’ve never had to worry about how we’d feed our children, DH and I have been married 24 years and counting, we attend church every week and there hang out with similar families, etc.  His welding class has one on parole, a teen dad, and two who talk about vaping quite a bit.  The teacher has dealt with vaping enough that it was part of the safety rules he presented.

It’s actually good exposure for him.  DH and I went to a small school which had quite a social mix and in which one quarter or less of each graduating class went on to college.  It’s a good thing to see up close that we’re all the same at the heart of who we are.  We’ve just grown in different environments and have different ‘normals’.  Hopefully he’ll have a chance to see the difference that is made by the family you are raised in, and therefore be mindful when possibly raising his own family.  This child swears he’ll never marry and isn’t fond of babies, so grand irony could give him the largest family of all my children.

I know I complain a lot, but at the same time I’m complaining, I can find just as many things to be thankful for.  Thankfulness always wins in the end.

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Mother Bear

School hasn’t even begun and I’ve had my first battle with the school.  Schedules were available last week, and we found that my son had been put into an on-line course for his history class.  ?????  He goes to public school.  Why would he have an on-line class, especially for a class that every student there has to take at some point?  To me, the fact that he was put into an on-line class without first contacting us was highly rude.

Before I go farther into this post: I taught in the public schools, my father taught in the public schools, so did my grandmother, many aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on down the line.  It’s one of the two major professions in our family.  I am not anti public school.  All three of our children started with public school and this is our second child in the high school.

Why do I consider being put in an on-line class without a head’s up rude?  Because we made a choice to have our son in a physical public school with physical classrooms and physical teachers.  There are on-line school options out there, and we did not choose them.

My son’s counselor wasn’t present for schedule pick up and my email to him bounced a message back that he wouldn’t be consistently available until school began.  A call to the counselor office told me that my son would have to wait until the first day of school to make a change.  Curriculum night is tonight – this is where parents learn about their children’s specific classes.  If the change wasn’t made until next week I’d have incorrect information.

I contacted the vice principal and the change was made.  Another black mark is next to my name at the school now.  But wait there’s more (infomercial voice), because I may need to opt my son out of a book again this year.  This lit class has the potential for “The Grapes of Wrath”, which in our household is inappropriate for 15 year olds.  I quoted the book to the teacher when opting my oldest out of it, and never heard another word about it.

Over the years I’ve protested my eldest making a Day of the Dead altar for fifth grade Spanish (separation of church and state, but only when we want to), pulled my middle out of the public school system in fifth grade after two teachers dragged her down a hallway (She had the audacity to cry and then be frozen and unable to do anything other than sink to the floor.  She has sensory processing disorder and we were early in the treatment process), opted out of several books in the high school, fought for my eldest to have a physical teacher for Spanish when they wanted her to take it on-line, and wasn’t afraid to tell the International Baccalaureate head that our daughter was taking the program because she wanted to, not because I supported it.

I complained to the language director when German was taken out of our middle and high school track.  We got French, the other school track got German, whereas both schools had offered both before.  That was the only language of three that my son was interested in, and they need language to graduate.  I did not take it kindly when he treated me like a five year old when I told him that all three of my children hated Spanish after being forced to take it Kindergarten through fifth grade, and the only word any of them honestly remembered was ‘hola’ after all that time.  That’s frustrating when there were so many days in kindergarten the kids had no recess because there wasn’t time.  There was time for a class which taught them nothing that lasted, but their young legs couldn’t get the stretch that all five year olds need.

When my son was going into fifth grade, the school was going to put him into a math class with the teacher who had dragged my daughter, and there was a meeting with the principal to prevent that.  Who seriously thought we would be okay with that?

When the school systems touts the slogan “partners in education”, they assume we parents understand that we are to be silent partners.  Sit down.  Shut up.  We know best.

I will never be silent when it comes to my kids.  I know them better than any teacher ever will.  The kids have had some wonderful teachers who have had such a positive influence upon them, and I will quickly and eagerly acknowledge those teachers.  That said, the world of teaching also has bad and indifferent members just as every other profession has.

I have seen excellent teachers in action and seen fantastically creative projects in my kid’s classrooms.  I’ve seen the other end too.  Elementary school had so many food parties and movies that it drove me nuts.  They were referred to as ‘breaks’ that the kids needed.  They didn’t need Disney movie and chocolate party breaks!  The chocolate party was the (literal) icing on the cake.

The fact that I’m going to be intensely helping my son with his writing this year doesn’t help the plus column for the school, either.  I have gone to every one of this boy’s conferences, and until spring last year, I was not shown one of his papers or informed how poor his writing skills are.  The middle and high school recycle everything at school that’s printed, and the rest is electronic.  I dropped the ball, too, but still wonder why it took so long for a teacher to show me how bad his writing is.   Not even an email.

Some days I wonder why I put myself through the hassle of public school.  Oh yes, it’s because of his art teachers.  The two team teachers he had in sixth grade.  The fact that he got into the welding class this year, and hopes to take wood shop next year.  The trap shooting club he’s thinking of joining.  The core classes can be had anywhere, but it’s the extras that keep us positive.

Three more years.  We can get through that, right?

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My middle child has Sensory Processing Disorder, and it brought anxiety along for the ride.  She just turned 18, and I mentioned that she could register to vote.  Fear swept over her eyes.  She has a partially finished job application and freezes when I ask if she wants help (it’s a long one).  School is about to begin and I already deferred her taking a class until next semester, in order to ease into the new things cropping up for her.

Sometimes, it is exhausting and frustrating to parent this child.  I love her and have been on this journey with her a long time now.  God has taught me much in the way of patience, but that patience can still wear thin.  Some days I wonder if my job will ever be finished in preparing her for the world.  Will she ever be able to live independently?

This child is highly intelligent, has an enormous amount of compassion, a loving heart, and can be a lot of fun to be around.

Home school ended last June.  Today it is evident that school is not finished, but rather will be taking a new turn.

DH and I had a discussion about all of this.  My role is now shifting from a school teacher to more of a life coach, and it will begin when DS begins school.

There will be much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  Okay, more like frustration, tears, reactions, and blow ups.

Hopefully there will also be increasing feelings of competence, confidence, and calm.

All of those loved ones who asked what I’d do with myself now that home school is over really have no concept of what this child’s daily life is like.

DD2 does not know about this resolve.  I will let her in on it the first day of my son’s school.

So what will we be doing?  Regular exercise, for one thing.  It seems to be a pretty consistent suggestion for living with anxiety and is good for everyone.  She’s going to take part in more housework and outdoor work.  She needs to get in the kitchen and not be afraid to mess up a recipe.  If you never mess a dish up, it’s because you don’t get your hands dirty in the kitchen.

We will have set times for needlework.  Both she and I have numerous projects either started or planned.  Knitting and crocheting have been shown to be as effective as meditation.  Aside from that, it will be an accomplishment to produce useful, pretty things.

I’ll be assigning her lessons in her anxiety workbooks.  She does all of the writing in a notebook to keep her thoughts private and to allow me to see what she’s learning.

Hopefully, she will see the goal of all of this and come along willingly.

I’m going to need to pray a lot.

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