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Here, have all the Band-Aids

I’m sure this will come as a complete shock to anyone who’s been reading here for longer than a day or two, but Monkey has a small group of friends with whom he gathers every few weeks to play Dungeons & Dragons. This band of merry nerdlings is made up of the nicest kids imaginable with even kinder parents, and we especially appreciate having this group now that some of us are no longer at Hippie School. With Monkey truly homeschooling most of the time this year, every get-out-and-be-social opportunity is even more important for him more than ever before. And he just really loves D&D and these other boys with his whole nerdy heart.

So yesterday was a D&D day, and we dropped an excited, bouncy Monkey off at the hosting friend’s house, and then as I was back here at home riding herd on a certain other child who had a crap-ton of indecipherable homework, I thought, “Well, this is unpleasant. I’m glad this is the worst thing that’s going to happen today.” (When will I learn, Internet? WHEN? I should just go get on LinkedIn right now and change my job title to “Tempting Fate.”) (more…)

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Back in the saddle again

I’ll be headed into our first special education meeting of the season later this week, and it should be a real doozy. Chickadee’s guidance counselor has been changed, since last year, and she has a new diagnosis, and we want some additional testing, and… well, you know I always make cookies, but I think I’d better be certain to make REALLY GOOD COOKIES for this one.

I pull no punches when it comes to dealing with the school. Five minutes after meeting the new guidance counselor, I was saying, “Look, I’m going to be a pain in your ass. I know this and I’m telling you. I’m here to advocate for my child, and if we need something, I will be here until she gets it. On the other hand, I think you’ll find I’m pretty realistic about who she is and what she needs and what the school should be providing, and when everyone here does their job, I will be here saying thank you. Plus I make good cookies.” She looked a little scared. We’ll see how it goes.

Transitioning to the high school years when you have a kid with an IEP or 504 Plan is a whole new ball of wax, man. I’ve got a few quick tips on navigating special education with an older child up at Alpha Mom today, just in case you, too, recently realized how little time is left before college to teach your special snowflake how to be her own best advocate. (Hold me.)

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They refuse to stop growing

Last night at dinner, the following conversation occurred.
Otto: How was your day at school?
Chickadee: Terrible.
Otto: Really?
Chickadee: No. Just messing with you.
Otto: And how was YOUR day at school?
Monkey: It was good. How was YOUR day at school?
Otto: It went well. Thank you.
*here there was a pause, as everyone turned to look at me*
Otto: Do you feel left out?
Me: A little!

Of course, Monkey’s “day at school” yesterday was on the computer, but today, EVERYONE WENT TO SCHOOL. I’ve been alone all day and it’s rather glorious. (I’m hoping the new co-op goes well for Monkey, as I’ll be treasuring the one day each week where I don’t have to listen to Minecraft stories.)

This morning I packed lunches for my darling children, and then Chickadee put on her shoes to go wait for the bus, and because I was still barefoot, this made her taller than me. THIS WAS NOT OKAY. Shortly thereafter, Monkey put on his shoes, and that made him almost my height, and that was even WORSE. The saddest part about all of this is that I’m a dirty enabler, constantly FEEDING these kids and encouraging them to grow. I am ashamed. But not so ashamed that I won’t tell you how we do it, because misery loves company.

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I think this is the end of an era

I made the homeschooling child get up early and put on shoes, much to his chagrin. Chickadee was already up, maybe a little nervous, maybe a little excited, but saving us from the “I’m NOT A MORNING PERSON!” slog for this first day back, at least.

It’s the first day of 10th grade, and—as the saying goes—what a difference a year makes. Thank God.

For those paying close attention, you may note that this year, Monkey’s shoes are slightly larger than Chickadee’s. Next year when we do first-day-of-school pictures, I think he’ll be taller than her, too. I’ve been telling her for years to enjoy being taller while it lasts, but I think she’s never really believed me that her days were numbered.

This morning was calm and ordinary and unremarkable—just one of those everyday miracles. I had the passing realization that Monkey will pass Chickadee’s height by this time next year, then nearly burst out laughing at what a normal thing that was to think about.

Today’s a good day.

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The giant calendar will save us all

Today is the first day of Monkey’s last year of middle school, such as it is. (“Such as it is” because homeschooling does not include the typical hallmarks of those hallowed middle years such as gum on the underside of your desk, stolen lunch money, and being knocked into the lockers every so often.) This is a sacred and serious occasion, which we are marking by… ummmm… well, I should probably wake him up and then figure that out. I am TOTALLY on top of things, as you can see.

His online classes “open” today, and then our new homeschooling co-op starts next week, and everything feels familiar yet different and I am very busy NOT NOT NOT thinking about what we’re doing next year for high school, which of course means I am obsessing over it to the point where if it was a scab, I would be a bloody mess with MRSA by now. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

But before the start of school, we decided to go have one last hurrah in the woods. As you do. (more…)

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I don’t know how this happened…

… but school starts next week. I mean, that should be illegal, right?

Monkey is embarking on his last year of middle school (!!!) and Chickadee will be a sophomore at the high school. I… may need a moment here. It never seems to matter that I’ve been with them for their whole lives, the fact that they’re lurching towards adulthood always surprises me. Like, isn’t he just four or five? And she’s only seven or eight, I swear.

Anyway. The back-to-school dance feels a little more serious this year, so of course I wrote about it for Alpha Mom. We have some big decisions to make, soon. And really, how am I supposed to do that when my kids have rudely grown up against my explicit instructions??

[Unrelated, but kind of not: Yesterday marked a milestone that delighted even Mr. I Never Want To Grow Up, maybe because it struck him as hilarious. Guess who's now taller than his therapist? Summer growth spurts are amazing things.]

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“All kids do that”

I went through a long (longer than I will admit) period of time when the phrase “all kids do that” made me furious. Irrationally, completely, insanely full of RAGE. It seems to be used, most often, for someone to dismiss a special need or parenting concern with a not-so-subtle overtone of “you’re overreacting.” To be fair, I think many purveyors of this dreaded phrase are trying to be… comforting? Supportive? It isn’t always meant as “calm down, crazypants.” Sometimes it’s meant as a kind of solidarity or empathy, a sort of “I feel you,” albeit one that rings hollow because they don’t, not really.

As I’ve grown older, as my kids’ needs have changed, and as I’ve come to hate people less (ha), I’m realizing that “all kids do that” comes from a place that means well, more often than not. Lots of times it’s true that “all kids do that,” and it’s just that the degree/severity/frequency is the part that’s different and/or troubling. There’s nothing to be gained by believing that my special snowflakes somehow out-special someone else’s. Any common ground is worth having.

That said, you show me an organized teenager and I might have a bridge you’d be interested in buying. Yeah, my kids are probably more disorganized than most, but today at Alpha Mom I’m talking tips for teens who need organizational support, and I think they can be used for just about everyone. After all… all kids do that. (See what I did there…?)

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Teams for all and all for teams

I’m sure this is going to come as a shock to some of you, and I hope it’s not too devastating, but… I don’t think either of my kids are going to end up at the Olympics. Or getting sports scholarships to college. Weird, right? I mean, I myself am so very athletic… in my mind….

For years I assumed my sports aversion was a (non-genetic!) quirk of mine and tried to help them find their sports. Acceptance came when I made my peace with the fact that I absolutely do want them to have team experiences, and I want them to get exercise, but those two things don’t necessarily have to go together to work.

So that’s what today’s post at Alpha Mom is all about—because I believe you can have well-rounded, well-adjusted teens who don’t play sports. At least, I hope you can (for obvious reasons).

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Gone skinkin’

So the supplies were gathered up, the trailer packed, and this is the part where I would normally conclude “and we were off in a cloud of dust,” except it has been so rainy that there is no dust. We were off in a cloud of mud? Mud doesn’t really cloud. We were off in the splash of a puddle? That sort of works. We packed up and left, is the point. Because why sit around at home when you could sit around in a forest and be eaten by bugs?

[Fun storm fact: Right before we left, the monotony of regular thunderstorm after regular thunderstorm was broken up by ye olde BIG ASS THUNDERSTORM FLASH FLOOD ZOMG, and thankfully that doesn't mean anything too terrible for us because we live on a hill, but our #^&*@#% cursed pool, I'll have to ask Otto if he took pictures, because I have never seen anything like it. For one thing, our crappy pool was transformed overnight into an infinity pool! By which I mean the water level was right up to the concrete. (Flash floods are FUN!) For another thing, all of the debris knocked off trees and whatnot had washed down the driveway and directly into the pool, so after EVERYTHING we've gone through to right the pool and balance the chemistry, it was not only overflowing, it was swampy with lord only knows what. Otto spent a day fishing out branches and stuff and the water was still brackish when we left even after a day and a half of running the filter.]

I wanted to burn the house down before we left, but Otto—so unreasonable!—was all, “Look, I bought you some candy for the ride, just get in the truck and let’s go.” So we left. (more…)

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Sleepless preschoolers have nothing on this kid

One of my favorite parts of our visit with Kira—and please brace yourself for hysterical laughter from her when I say this—is that her 4-year-old doesn’t sleep. Mind you, Kira has nothing but my most heartfelt sympathy that she has been blessed with a child who has 1,001 excuses for why she cannot POSSIBLY go to sleep just yet, but it’s not MY kid who refuses to sleep, so for me, it’s kind of amazing to observe. Because Sophia is wee and lovely and delicate and she needs some water, no, some milk, and she needs her music, and her dolly, and she didn’t say goodnight to everyone yet, and she needs another hug, and did she say ALL her prayers, and what about the moths, did you get rid of all the moths?, and come to think of it she’s kind of hungry, and that shadow looks like something, and where is the kitty right now and WAIT she didn’t say goodnight to the dog yet, and and and AND AND.

The kid is a pro, is my point. (Also, it should go without saying that Kira and her husband are saints. Somehow Sophia ended up asleep, eventually, every night, and they never seemed particularly frustrated or bleary-eyed. I think one or both of them might be part unicorn.)

Anyway. As impressive as I found this nightly display, it turns out that Sophia was apparently something of an inspiration to MY child. You know, my FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD? Who is FAR TOO GROWN-UP to engage in similar delay tactics? Yeah, that one. (more…)

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