Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I think I can

I think I might be a runner.

I run now, 3 days a week, and I don't make excuses not to go anymore.  I don't run for LONG periods of time - I'm almost up to a 90 sec. run, 30 sec. walk for 30 minutes at a time and I generally don't feel like dying, crying, or throwing up.  My running stuff is organized - I know exactly what I need so I can grab it and go without too much effort.

I started a Couch to 5K program in late July because a friend was starting it.  I decided that I didn't want to be the sort of person who never tries anything new, so I signed up too.  The program is okay; it moves too fast for me but I like the camaraderie.  I've had two sessions with a friend who is one of those crazed fitness type people and that was amazing.  She watched me run, made suggestions on my form and breathing, and it made a huge difference.  She's also a devout Catholic, so we say prayers and the rosary while we run.

The girls have had to go with me a couple times.  They will walk while I run back and forth or they will ride their bikes.  They make helpful comments like: "Way to go mom;" "keep it up mom;" "your butt sort of bounces, is it supposed to do that?" and my fave: "your boobs bounce too, but don't worry, it's not that bad."

I confessed to Beezus that I was scared of running and I was scared of the race.  She was so contemplative when I told her that I was scared and nervous but that I was going to do it anyway. She must have told Ramona because she seemed so confused later when asking me why I was going to do something I was scared of!

It feels good to have a project, a goal that I am working towards.  I am heavily goal driven, so this works for me. I don't see myself running through the winter and I can't imagine running on a treadmill.  I miss working out with my regular cardio group and I'm wondering if running just 2x per week would keep me at my current fitness level so that I don't lose where I am.  But honestly, none of that really matters.  I'm focused on the race on Sept. 19th and I'll deal with those other issues when the time comes.

My dear friend Elaine gave me some advice that has really stuck with me: "Give yourself a chance to succeed at this."  In many ways, I feel like I already have succeeded; but I'll run in the race on Sept. 19th just to be sure.

Yes, I wear a sweatband under my running hat.  This pic is from the FAR side of the lake trail near our house.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Joy in spite of the Dys

This sight still makes me so happy.


Let me tell you something, mama friends.  When you think something is "not quite right" with your child, don't give up.  It is very, very important that you don't give up.  You must trust your instincts that your child is TOO smart to struggle SO much.

Do every single assessment and every single evaluation that is out there until you get an answer. Then, when your kiddo is reading at grade level and things seem a lot better, but you still think something just is "not quite right", do another assessment and evaluation.

Then ... after you've spent a buttload of money on that kid;

and after you've dealt with the dysfunctional/passive-aggressive tutor who implies that this poor child's mama works too much and that's why the child isn't able to be a good learner all the time;

and after you've cried to your therapist, your friends, and your family about how much you can't stand that tutor (even though she is effective with your kid);

and after you (and your husband) have cajoled and negotiated, threatened and yelled, and dug very deep to stay calm, positive, and empathetic to get this child to do her tutoring homework almost every damn day all damn summer long and made this child so MAD.AT.YOU. because IT.IS.SUMMER and YOU.YOU MOM. are ruining her summer by making her do homework;

and after your kiddo tells one night that she had a spelling test that day (the first spelling test of the year) and she just knows that she got them all right and your heart sinks a little and your throat tightens up because you want so badly, so very badly, for that to be true but you are so afraid that it won't be;

and when your husband texts you (at work) a photo of that spelling test, and not only did she get all the regular words right but she got the bonus words right too.

After all of that, you will fall to your knees and crawl under your desk and thank God for giving you this precious child to raise.  You will thank God for giving you the doggedness and persistence and confidence to help that child; for the friends and family that supported you in your quest; for the jobs that made the money to pay for the expensive tutoring.  You will thank God for giving you a husband who believed you when you told him that something is "not quite right" with the way their child reads and writes.  You will even thank God for the VERY.STRONG.WILL of this child because that turned into determination as well.

You will even feel grateful for the dyslexia and the dysgraphia that your child may or may not have, because without that you wouldn't have been able to feel such joy and gratitude over a spelling test.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Joy.  The "dys" will always be there, and we don't even know the full extent of the "dys" but what I know for now is that what we did all summer is working and now we have a few months of breathing room before we figure out the next step.  Just so much joy.






Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Really Over: Back to School edition

Today really feels like summer is over for me.  It's the first full week of school, our after-school nanny starts today, I'm back to my old schedule at work.  It was chilly at night-time a couple days ago so I remember what the cool air feels like.

I didn't feel quite as sad sending the girls back this year.  I think it's partially because we had such a great summer that I don't feel like we left anything undone.  I'm proud that Mr. Quimby and I made it that way for them: summer swim team was SO good for them, fun times with an afternoon babysitter, lunch at home with Mr. Q. or me everyday, plenty of time to get bored and time to have extra electronics time too.  It was hard on us with all the travel and schedule changes, but it was really great for them.  As a fluke, Mr. Q and I only had a little bit of work travel from mid-June - late August and that made a difference too.

I love their class placements, and I feel like they were done so thoughtfully.  Beezus can handle pretty much any teacher and she got one that is young-ish and VERY energetic.  She has a fellow "good girl" in her class and I think it will be so good for her to not have to bear the burden of being the "teacher's pet" alone.  Ramona has the perfect teacher for her (and for our family) as we try to figure out what is going on inside her head.

Beezus runs out the door and across the street to her "cabin" aka portable classroom that has been permanent for 8 years.  She will only make brief eye contact when she sees us walk Ramona over.  Mr. Quimby is out of town today and as Ramona was leaving she said: "Don't you dare walk me to school."  (She's such a sweet, genteel, little flower of a young lady.)  I said: "Okay."  As she was walking out the door, she muttered: "You better hurry up and come with me.  I don't want to be late."  Then she gave me the sweetest hug and kiss at the door.  That pretty much sums up my relationship with them these days!  It's hard for me sometimes how Beezus runs so hot and cold - but it makes it easier to bear when I know that she is SUPPOSED to be acting like this.

Time marches on.

At least we don't miss seeing them.  This is a view of Beezus' classroom from our front porch!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Loss ... and Return


After a good streak lasting many months, I got into a funk a couple weeks ago.  While I'm normally a fairly happy and optimistic person, I didn't feel like myself in my quiet moments.  I picked on Mr. Quimby and the kids, withdrew from life a little bit, and was crying more often than my new normal. I had seen my kick-ass awesome therapist recently and talked about what was happening at the surface but couldn't get down below it to figure out what was causing this funk.  I had just started to get concerned, because while a funk for a few days is normal, a funk approaching two weeks is not normal for me.

One of the things I do in therapy is rattle off all the things that are bothering me and see what seems to "stick to the wall" in that moment; but this time as I finished my list there wasn't the same sort of clarity I normally found.  Instead, it just all felt so heavy.  So, my therapist made a list on her whiteboard (she loves using her whiteboard) and I just looked at it and said to her: "I can't see it this time.  I don't see the thing that is linking these together.  I just need you to tell me."

She responded: "I see loss.  The continuing loss of your friends back East, loss of regular communication with your sisters, loss of time with your parents, loss of the easiness of summer with the girls, loss of your time to comfortably have a baby, loss of the girls being little kids, even accepting the permanence that some other things in your life will probably never change.  That's a loss too."

I sat quietly for a minute, processing, but then my immediate feeling was one of extreme relief.  I thought: "That's it.  That's exactly it.  No wonder I'm in a funk."  Then I felt sad.  Sad that I had been so hard on myself and on my family, but the understanding of WHY I was in a funk and sad made all the difference.  I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

The things that were making me sad aren't anything wrong or anything that can necessarily be fixed; it's just the way it is right now... and that is totally okay.  I work a lot on acceptance: I haven't done anything wrong, nobody else has done anything wrong, this is just the way it is.

The past couple weeks I've felt lighter, and just in time too, to get ready for the busy-ness of the school year.  So, not only are we experiencing a return to the rhythm of the school year, I'm also feeling a return to the rhythm of a predictable work schedule, more time with Mr. Quimby and time with new friends.  I feel like I'm returning to me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Self-Advocacy

I post so much and so often on Facebook that it's often hard to remember to blog; but this topic is definitely more appropriate for the blog than for Facebook.

Ramona has some learning issues going on.  Without going into the whole backstory, she doesn't have an official diagnosis, but we have figured out some things that work differently in her brain and some coping mechanisms that make things easier for her.

A term that was bandied around a lot when I worked at a University was "advocate."  As I was writing a VERY BRIEF letter to her new teacher, the thought occurred to me that Ramona really knows what makes things better for her in the classroom and that she is old enough now to learn how to self-advocate given the right support.  So, after I wrote 7-8 sentences giving a very brief background, I sat down with Ramona, read her the letter and asked her to tell me some things to tell Mrs. Smith about what makes school better for her.

I was blown away by a couple of her observations, prompted her on one, and in the end she came up with 5 things that she either wanted Mrs. Smith to know or that would make the classroom easier for her.  We rehearsed what she would say to Mrs. Smith and then she said something entirely different when we got there.  I could see she was so nervous, and I was so proud of her that she spoke up.

After she got this over with, she helped me with Girl Scout recruitment; or perhaps I should say that she and two other Girl Scouts did recruitment, and I just watched.  She worked that table like a BOSS and told me later that the adults were surprised that a Girl Scout could talk so well.

I think she'll be just fine.

These learning issues don't keep her from a loving to read nor from devouring books!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Make new friends ... Or not

Since were still relatively new (almost 23 months since we moved) I spend a fair amount of time nurturing new friendships and thinking about how to begin other ones. For the most part, it's just a matter of being committed to making the time. Texting back-and-forth with another mom trying to work out a time to meet with or without kids while taking into account all the other commitments that life holds.  Whether it's spontaneous or planned, it still requires me to put myself out there and although it's still a little uncomfortable at times I've gotten used to it.

Generally speaking, full-time stay-at-home moms I invite over for coffee after the kids are in school, and full-time working moms so I invite to get together on a late Saturday afternoon at the playground for a family play date.

But there's one mom that I just cannot reach, and that's the mom who refuses to ever leave her kids.  We've had several family play dates with the kids, and I'd love the chance to delve into deeper conversation with her. The kind of conversation that's difficult to do when your little darlings are always within earshot.

This woman seems to literally, never, ever leave her kids.  She home schools, her kids don't go to day camps in the summer, and although her kids have several activities she stays in the waiting area during them.  Evenings are family time as are weekends.  

After several emails back-and-forth a couple weeks ago trying to find some mom only time to meet up, I just gave up.

Perhaps that day will come one day, but for now I'll just invite her to meet up at the playground again.

Or maybe she's just not that into me!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Disney Pixar's Inside Out

For Father's Day, Mr. Quimby requested a few hours of peace and quiet to watch the U.S. Open, so I took the girls to the movies to see Disney Pixar's Inside Out.

It was a beautifully sweet movie that chronicled the journey of Riley, a ten-year old girl who moved from her home in Minnesota to San Francisco, and all of the emotions and experiences that go along with such a big move.

We did our big move when Beezus and Ramona were almost 6 and 8 and I honestly don't think the move affected them much - they weren't really that sad to leave their friends, just our house and my sister. It was my and Mr. Quimby's adjustment to the movie that affected them more than anything!  The movie hit me hard, but not in the most obvious way.

But oh my goodness, this movie had so many amazing moments: how core memories influenced personality development, the abyss of the memory dump, how the emotions of sadness and fear could spur action in a way that joy couldn't.  I particularly loved the moment when the parents displayed such empathy for Riley and her sadness that the core memory changed from one of only sadness to one of sadness mixed with joy.

I have a core memory just like that: I got in trouble once at school and was crying when I told my mom.  I expected her to be mad and was so surprised when she hugged me and cried with me.  I also loved thinking about my other core memories that shaped my personality: reciting a prayer in church as a very young child and seeing the look of delight on my mother's face; the feeling of belonging I got from being an altar server at mass and how my Dad would often take me to the early mass by myself; my first meeting at the Youth Legislature meeting when I was in 8th grade and the power I felt when I made a statement in an assertive voice; babysitting for ALL those children over the years and how good it felt that the parents trusted me.  It's pretty easy to see how those core memories shaped my personality!

Watching the movie together gave the girls and I a common language to share when talking about emotion.  When Beezus was nervous about a swim meet recently and I was trying to talk her down, I told her that the emotion fear was in control right then.  I suggested that she let fear stay, but make it move over a little bit and share the space with joy because that's what she'll feel at the end of the race. It made sense to her.

The girls rolled their eyes at me when I asked them what their core memories were, but I'm still planning to buy the DVD and I hope that the girls will sit and watch it with me as the years go by.

A selfie on a lovely shady bench after the movie while waiting for pizza.

 
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