Archive for November, 2011


I’m trying to be thankful. I’ve been living in Thwarted Land and unable to help my daughter in anyway. I feel like I’m throwing money at an issue that isn’t any closer to being diagnosed, or recognized, much less resolved. Doctors look at me after a round of tests shows that my daughter has “Perfect Vision!” and “Excellent Muscle Control!” and “Absolutely Nothing Wrong!” and they smile and beem and generally act as though I should be grateful. One part of me is, surely, but it seems to be very deeply buried. No, I don’t want there to be anything wrong with her. I don’t want her issues to be something awful. BUT SOMETHING IS WRONG and when that doc tells me there’s nothing, THEY AREN’T HELPING. They are closing off an open avenue. I try to see that they are narrowing the options of what is going on with her, but all I can see is that they seem to think that answers all the questions. IT MOST ASSUREDLY DOES NOT!

So in my efforts to try and view the world through less fogged glasses (HA! GLASSES!!) (In other news, I may be losing it.) and try to find the silver lining (it’s faint and hard to see these days), a list of what I should be thankful for (I’m sure I’m thankful, somewhere in my heavy, frustrated, broken, depressed and completely at a loss heart/brain).

I’m thankful for:

  1. My kids. They are well behaved and respectful. They are healthy and loving. They are illegally cute and make my heart expand painfully in my chest (no, it’s not heart problems, I had it checked).
  2. My husband. He didn’t fight me on getting Chi tested for his various pervasive developmental issues even when he wasn’t in complete agreement. He let Momma’s instinct lead the way. He has supported me in my writing efforts and my crazy homeschool notions. He tells me he loves me every day and holds me when I don’t feel strong enough to press onward (like during this time right now). He has worked his ass off so I could stay home with our kids and will work extra contracts if we need extra money for, oh say, a replacement car.
  3. My husband not being dead. Two weeks ago he was in a major car accident that totaled his Civic. A guy going 70 mph tried to merge with stopping traffic during rush hour and crushed the back, drivers’ side quarter panel of the Civic sending it into a spin that then hit the oncoming car and flipped it up over the hood of the Civic. In the end, the only part of the Civic not crunched was the front and rear bumpers, the driver’s side door, and the top of the car. Hubs walked away with a bump on the head and a lot of sore muscles and a severe case of shock. But he walked away. Yeah, I’m really thankful for that.
  4. My parents. They are ever supportive of me and my family. They are there if I have need of love, support, crying shoulder, advice, an ear, whatever. They don’t always agree with me, but they love me unconditionally and that. is. awesome.
  5. My brothers. I’m crazy thankful for them even if they are driving me crazy. T-bow has stepped up and been there for us without our second car in the form of Hubs’ ride to work. He also potentially risked his life to see if we were okay when our house alarm sent a silent signal to the alarm company that our house was being broken into at 2am last Friday. When no one could get a hold of us, he got dressed and came to check on us. Being a man of brains and no gun, he watched the house until the cops showed up. In the end it was a security system malfunction, but I am thankful that he cared that much. Doodle moved away, but I’m thankful for him all the same.
  6. My sister-in-law. I’ve been friends with her since 3rd grade. Having her here, in the city we live in, has been a blessing. We hang out and support one another. We trade off childcare whenever we need it. She has helped me a BUNCH during all of my many health crises. There really aren’t words enough to express my gratitude and thankfulness for her.
  7. My closest of close friends. They don’t live nearby, but I love them like sisters all the same. I miss them with a fierceness and I long for their presence. We can’t see each other often enough, and that’s a fact.

I guess I could list all the little mundane things I’m thankful for, but I’ll leave it here. Being thankful can be a process, and this process has made me feel thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving. In that non-supporting-the-genocide-of-an-entire-peoples kind of way.

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So, I don’t know how many of you have sensory issues, but it turns out that I do. These are things that I’ve always just “dealt” with because I thought that was just how life is. I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate: I cope. It’s what I do.

So for ease of organization. A list. A litany, if you will, if my visual ills.

  1. I’ve always had issues with my eyes. I have stupid good eyesight. I can see very far away from myself without having issues reading things close to my face. Off and on throughout my life, I’ve had to wear glasses for reading, but that never seems to stick.
  2. I’m terribly nightblind. I have a really hard time seeing at night. My theory on this is that I naturally focus further away from myself than the beams of my headlights reach. It makes me feel like I can’t see because my natural focus distance is all shrouded in darkness. I don’t know if that makes me not truly nightblind, but there you are.
  3. I can’t stand pointy things. Pencils, straws, construction cones, fingers…many many things. An example of this is eating dinner out with friends and/or family and everyone having a straw in their cups. It just about kills me, all those straws taunting me with their poking, as if they are just waiting to gouge into my eyes. Intellectually, I know that won’t happen, but it doesn’t make those poking straws go away or hurt my eyes any less. Another example is teaching school. My kids incessantly fiddle and fidget with their pencils. THEY POINT THEM AT MY EYES ALMOST CONSTANTLY. What the hell is wrong with them? Don’t they know that HURTS me? *ahem* Anyway, so I’m constantly redirecting and/or stealing the pencils to keep them from poking deep into my retinas and digging into my brains. It is a physical, painful reaction to these things for me and it makes my sick to my stomach when it happens. Funny? Maybe. My reality? Definitely.
  4. Light hurts my eyes bad enough you’d think I was a vampire. It’s bad enough that lights on anywhere in the house at night will wake me from a dead sleep. Hurting me. srsly. But I can’t watch TV in the dark. It gives me a headache. There has to be light on in the room with me or in an adjacent room where the light spills in through the doorway or something.
  5. I don’t like 3-D anything. You remember those posters from the 90’s that were all the rage? Where you stare at them with relaxed eyes and see the hidden image? Yeah, I HATE those. They hurt me in a visceral way. And 3-D movies? FUHGEDABOUDIT! no way. They make my eyes feel all wonky and misshapen and give me a headache and motion sickness (which is really a whole other sensory issue. Hello, vestibular system!).
  6. My eyes are the wrong shape for my eye sockets. This is fact. I can feel it, and you can’t tell me otherwise. They are big and bulbous and they feel gooey and gross. If I press the heels of my hands into my eyes, everything gets better. When I was pregnant with Pieces, I went to the eye doctor because my eyes were such the wrong shape and hurting me all the time that my brother, who was living with us at the time, said, “Well, go get your eyes checked.” Which sounds so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think to do that for myself. Of course, I could see fine, but I could barely look at things anymore because my eyes WERE THE WRONG DAMN SHAPE AND SIZE! So I went, and the Optometrist says, (please note: these are not direct quotes, but a general synopsis of a five year old conversation.) “Well, you are the slightest bit farsighted, but other than that, and the barest hint of an astigmatism, you are fine. Except, what you describe to me says you notice the astigmatism and that just shouldn’t be. Most people can’t tell anything is off when it’s this slight. It’s not even necessary for you to have vision correction for this, but because you are WHINING SO LOUDLY seriously miserable, I will give you a script for lenses, but you won’t have to legally wear them to drive. In fact, you shouldn’t have to wear them all that much.” HA! HA, I say! Those glasses have been like a freaking revelation for me. When I wear them, I feel like I’m wearing sunglasses, because the sun doesn’t make me turn away and hiss. My eyes are suddenly my eyes again and they don’t feel wrong. They don’t feel wrong shaped or too big or gooey or anything. I WEAR THESE GLASSES ALL THE TIME.

It was supposed to be a pic of Pynni and I but we had a photo session stow away.

I believe these things could be applied to Pynni. When she complains about her eyes, I feel like she is describing myself. I’ve even tried looking at things out of the corner of my eye to see if it makes the POKING better (I can’t see that it does anything but strain the muscles of my eyes). And I took her to a Pediatric Opthamologist. Yesterday. All of her eye muscles work exactly right. She has fantastic eye sight. She has extremely good distance vision. She has a very slight astigmatism. Now, at the time, I just nodded and smiled. I was trying to be okay with the outcome of this appointment. She’s FINE! She has NO EYE PROBLEMS!

But she does. She has eye problems. She rubs her eyes constantly and complains about pain and looks askance at so many things. I don’t know why I didn’t say, “but I have that very same astigmatism and glasses cleared so much of those symptoms up for me.” Maybe because he’d just finished telling me not to take her to an optometrist (with a bit of a sneer to be honest) because that would be an enormous waste of money. He recommended getting her tested for a learning disability (which is valid) and taking her to an occupational therapist for assessment for a sensory integration disorder (this at my prompting. He admitted to not know much about sensory issues).

The further I get from this appointment, the more clearly I see that I have to get her glasses. I at the very worst it won’t help anything I will have wasted money trying, but my every instinct tells me this will help. Occupational therapy for visual sensitivities is difficult at best and Chi’s OT told me that auditory and visual sensory issues were the hardest to treat because there isn’t much you can do but plug your ears and cover your eyes to make them better. The most you can do is address other issues (and wear noise canceling headphones) and reduce the amount of sensory sensitivities in that way making the ones you can’t directly address easier to bear. Right.

So I’m going to (another bullet point list, aren’t you EXCITED?!?):

  • Take Pynni to that Optometrist and bully him into glasses
  • I think that will help Pynni tremendously and address her issues, but
  • I will be scheduling a meeting with a child psychologist (psychiatrist? I can’t ever remember which is which) and have her assessed for a learning disorder.
  • If that doesn’t yield any results, and if the glasses aren’t the answer I suspect they will be, then I will get her assessed by an OT, one that is a visual specialist, preferably.

Anyway, I feel very positive now that I’ve decided to make my own diagnoses based on facts given to me by a very competent, if moderately condescending (not to me), eye doctor.

Cheeeeese!

Teaching Pynni has been hard. She balks, fights, pouts, whines, sulks, mumbles, cries. In essence, she acts completely unlike her usual, giggly, smiling, easy-going, happy self. It has been baffling and frustrating and stressful to say the very least. I’ve wondered if I’ve done the right thing for her. Kindergarten may have been its own special kind of hell and may have damaged her self-esteem, but at least she was happy (except for that pesky crying during homework, OH, and when she begged to stay home because school made her cry).

Right, so I would get to a point during school days that I would begin rethinking this homeschooling thing for her, but then I would begin the litany of reasons that I started homeschooling. That very list of reasons that pushed me into the deep end of childhood education in the first place. Then, I would see that I just had to figure out what is up with her attitude about school.

Reading was difficult, and can still be so. I’d decided that her issue was either physiological or sensory in nature relating to her vision and have set the wheels in motion to get her tested or assessed or whatever is needed.

Then in a flash of brilliance I realized something. I, the teacher, was struggling teaching her the math curriculum we’ve been plodding through. I chose Saxon Math, and it is wonderful. For Chi. Mister Cut-and-Dried, Mister Point-a-to-Point-b, Mister Get-in, Get-done and Get-out. Why did I think Pynni was doing fine with this boring, dry curriculum when I was dreading teaching her math every day? And why did I think that she would be looking forward to much of anything when that core subject, that makes up half of her school time, was so stinking boring?

Pynni is NOTHING like her brother. Pynni needs colors and pictures and glitter! Pynni needs arts and crafts and projects! Pynni needs stories and crayons and PAINTS!

So I returned to the Homeschool store and asked those wonderfully informative, approachable people if there were some workbooks I could use to supplement Saxon Math 1. It was very pricey and I’m not willing to dump it until after the school year. HA! RIGHT!

“Of course, there are workbooks!” they said. “BUT, you should look at this,” handing me The Life of Fred. “And maybe you should look at this,” handing me Mathematical Reasoning. Mathematical Reasoning is a full curriculum in and of itself, but it is presented in bold, colorful, and fun workbook pages. “This,” I thought to myself, “screams Pynni.” But it’s a $40 book and I’ve already spent so much on the Saxon Math course.

Fred

So I check out The Life of Fred. It, too, is a complete curriculum, but it’s sub $20 for one year of study. It is, now see if you can wrap your brain around this, literary math. It takes a literary approach to teaching math. It tells the story of Fred, a five year old college calculus professor. He encounters math in everyday life.

The author, Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt, writes, “When I taught at the high school and college levels, the most frequent question that other math teachers and I got was, “Why are we studying this stuff?” In this series, every piece of mathematics first happens in Fred’s everyday life, he needs it, and then we do it. Everything is motivated–everything from introducing the number zero in this book (as the number of elephants that Fred owns) to hyperbolic trigonometric functions were we find three uses for them on page 250 of Life of Fred: Calculus when Fred and the 8’2″ lion enter an all-you-can-eat buffet.”

The first lesson, in this book they are called chapters, introduces you to Fred, his home (his office at his place of employment), and his best friend (a “happy meal” toy named Kingie). He wakes up at 5am and wants to go for a run but it’s too dark, and in February it won’t get light until 7am. TWO WHOLE HOURS! He proceeds to have a conversation about this fact with his friend and through this teaches the first lesson in addition (5+2=7). The chapter ends in a “Now it’s your turn” sort of way and asks 4 questions that require Pynni to think about that equation in a few different ways and then to notice that both 5+2 and 2+5 are equal to 7.

Pynni and Fred: Fast Friends

It was brilliant. It is funny, concise, and entertaining. Pynni laughed all the way through and answered all the questions. The following day we did the Mathematical reasoning pages that most resembled this lesson. She did all her work in marker and used a separate marker for each different worksheet. She completed 8 of them. She spent over half an hour doing math, two days in a row, and complained not one single time. She was smiling when it was done and completed the rest of her school day in record time with minimal whining about reading (although still periodically complaining about her eyes).

I feel like I’ve won something HUGE with this change-up. I can’t stop smiling about it. I’m excited for school on Monday with Pynni!

Anybody want to buy Saxon Math 1 plus manipulatives? I know where you can get one for cheap.

Lamp Post Academy

Lamp Post Academy.  Here is our homeschool blog. It’s pretty bare right now, but I wanted a place where I could put all of the homeschool things. There will be links to resources we like and a compilation of our current, and eventually past, curriculum. There will be postings about projects and trips and daily doings. Eventually the kids will be writing little essays to post there. At first they will dictate and eventually they will do the writing.

The Lamp Post Academy blog will not be syndicated on my Facebook page. It will be up to you to make with the clickies and check it out for yourself. You will, however, be able to subscribe to the blog if you wish.

Make no mistake, the LPA blog will not be replacing this one. I still have all kinds of things to say, but I hope you’ll visit our little space on the web. I’m hoping it becomes a good starter place for other parents who are thinking about homeschooling.

 

I want to be this comfortable in my own skin.

I must confess. I have NEVER liked my body. Not even in high school when I was anything but fat. I have hated the skin I’m in for as long as I can remember caring about it. I never had an eating disorder, although if one could wish oneself into anorexia, I would have as a teenager. I would say things to myself like, “If you really were worth anything, you’d be able to stop eating altogether.”

I never cut myself to gain some measure of control or to block out the pain. I was far from miserable. I tended toward the morose in my late teens, but who doesn’t? Estrogen poisoning is pretty powerful stuff. But the truth of the matter is, high school did not suck for me. I had good friends, both in school and out of it. I had a boyfriend who was good to me. I was confident in myself on the inside and I’ve never really cared what people think about me. I knew who I was and I knew where I was going. So you’d think I wouldn’t have body-image issues, but I always have.

I never liked the way clothes looked on my body. I didn’t like looking at my body in any way. I wanted desperately to be a hippy but the early nineties were heavy into the flannel layers and torn jeans with long-johns underneath. I rode that wave all the way to the end, and it suited my mental state about my body perfectly.

Pregnancy gave me the excuse to gain more weight than is strictly healthy. But it never ‘bounced back’. My body post baby was almost more than I could bear. I know that part of my issue was clinical. It was depression, but that is an awful spirally illness that seems to have no beginning but everything conspires to pull you down further. All of which causes you to check out and not care. Which, then causes you to do things to your body that you wouldn’t do normally which puts you further into depression. See? Spirally.

I got help for that and I’m not unhappy. I have a great husband. We have a great relationship. I have great kids and I get to be home with them every day. I have great friends (I wish they didn’t live so far away and that we spoke more often, alas). I have a great relationship with my parents and brothers. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty stellar.

One thing. I hate my body. I hate it. It makes my life bloody miserable. It is weak and fat and prone to depression and pain. I have no issues with my brain, it’s where the creativity resides. It’s what picks up all that useless trivia and stores it for that Jeopardy win I’ll never have because I have zero desire to be on TV. But my body has betrayed me in so many ways. And because of that, I’d mostly stopped taking care of it.

I can hear the people out there who maybe don’t struggle with this saying, “Well, just take care of it. Change your habits. Start walking.” Yeah, words are easy. Easy FREAKING Peasy.

What I want? I want to love my body as I never have. I want to accept what it is and love it for itself. I want to love not just the inside but the outside. And I don’t care what people think. This isn’t for “people,” those ephemeral everyone else’s that have opinions and judgements. No. Not for them, it’s never been about them. I want this for me. I want to love all of me. I want to love me enough to make the changes.

Today one of my top five favorite authors wrote a blog that had me in tears. Her name is Joshilyn Jackson. Her blog is Faster Than Kudzu and I think she is brill.

Are they beautiful because they see themselves that way?

What she wrote today though? It’s like she put my neurosis in black and white, ones and zeros, and said it all in a way I hadn’t thought to. She articulated my wishes for myself, probably the wishes of many women who aren’t thin; who are, in fact, fat.For me? And I hope for them? It isn’t about the everyones. It isn’t about society. It isn’t about Hollywood. It’s about our own view of our own selves and our own love of our own vessels.

My body is me. Why can’t I love it?

I want to be that girl. The one who loves her whole self.

Yar! Chi's Jack

My Three Bandits. Out to take your SUGAR!

We carved our pumpkins too early and they rotted in a most dramatic fashion on the front porch steps. Gross!

Our costumes were ready in time (read: not last minute), which isn’t in the buckets of fail per se,

Pie's Pumpkin

but it causes little kids to beg to dress up and trickertreat NOW even though Halloween is a couple of days away. It also results in being dressed for trickertreating much earlier than strictly necessary.

My kids were costumed and ready to rock an HOUR before we were scheduled to trickertreat, right around the time it started to rain while the temperature dipped into the lower fifties/upper forties.

Pieces Jolly Jack: A self portrait

They had to be de-costumed so they could consume some nourishment and then re-costumed after that.

Then we had to decide: Do we trickertreat in spite of the weather? Do we not trickertreat? Do we go to the mall and trickertreat inside?

We go to the mall and trickertreat inside! Brill! I bet everyone and their damn dog will be there and how fun is that? To cram shoulder to shoulder and chest to back with a bunch of pushy, self-ish strangers?  we’re the only people to think of that! I bet we’ll make out like successful bandits!

Piece-E

(Maybe I should have crossed out that last part, instead.)

Yeah, so the mall was more packed than I’ve EVER seen it. There were lines of cars just to get into the parking lot and people cruising the isles for a spot, any spot. Then the nightmare of the interior of that place is hard to relive. 7 billion people indeed. INDEED!

Fancy Nancy Pynni Pie

So after an hour of trudging through the masses and getting like 5 pieces of candy and lots of pushing,we returned home. Sad. Things were not looking up for the my children and their quest for the yearly harvesting of large quantities of sugar in all its glorious forms.

We, the parents, decided that this was not to be born and decided to do some trudging in the rain along the

Chi was Mac from SSX. When asked he said, "I'm Mac from SSX. It is a video game that is coming out for the PS3 in January 2012. All other SSX's were on the PS2!

sidewalks of our little neighborhood the usually turns out en masse for this yearly harvesting. And do you know what? There were quite a few people trickertreating, too and more people that I thought were handing out candy and the two coolest Halloween houses were all decked out and battery powered and SPOOOOOOOKY. Pieces

Hubs made the snowboard. Chi chose a Pokemon and Hubs freehanded the drawing. We wrapped it in plastic because its made of paper which isn't really waterproof.

was convinced the ghosts and the witch that fly through the air all around their house were real.

In the end, we trickertreated with friends from the neighborhood, hit a few houses, got soaked and cold, and harvested a decent amount of shaped sugar. The kids? Well, you couldn’t tell by the way they acted that there was anything amiss with the weather. Hubs? He was sopping wet and cold. Me? I hung out under the umbrella so that I didn’t go into anaphylactic  shock (I’m allergic to the cold! Sheesh.) Still, I was itchy, but I made a good holder-of-parts-of-costumes-the-kids-were-tired-of-wearing.

I like that the kids had fun anyway. I want to be more like that.

Post Trickertreating GORGE!