Monday, December 31, 2012

The New Normal

At the beginning of this year I was a college professor. Now I am a homeschooling mother.

At the beginning of this year I wore heels and jewelry and makeup every day. Now, I live in pajama pants and nerd t-shirts.

At the beginning of this year I was in pain every day. I still am, but not as much. And I've learned a lot about managing my disease.

About two and a half years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I had been symptomatic for over a decade - it started being debilitating in the last few years. And as difficult as dealing with the pain has been, its assault on my mind has been much harder to deal with. They call it "fibro fog" and when that part shows up, my ability to think clearly and logically - such an inherent part of my personality, to think and speak precisely and elegantly - is undermined. I can't follow conversations. I hear other people, but can't process what they are saying. My vocabulary gets locked away and I can't find the words to express the thoughts that are fighting to get out. That's more frustrating to me than the pain.

But this is the new normal. There are days when I stay in my pajamas, because I literally have to choose between putting on jeans and reading stories to my child. I have reduced my outside commitments drastically because I have had to define my priorities, and my husband and my child are always going to come before anything else.

If I was in charge of the world, nothing would start before 1:00pm. It takes me three or four hours to get to the point where I feel like I have the energy to face the world. Rather, I think it would be more correct to say that it takes me three or four hours to accumulate enough energy to face the world. I wake up with an empty fuel tank, and a pretty good idea of how big my fuel tank is going to be for the day. That's a particularly frustrating point for people outside my family to grasp - my ability to deal with the outside world varies widely from day to day. I may be able to go out to the movies one day and seem fine, and the next day I'm going to stay in my pajamas and have someone bring me food. It makes planning ahead difficult. I never know when I am going to have a good day. I really want to take Cooper to Disneyland next year, but how do you plan something like that when your own health is variable? And then you feel guilt for not being able to do all the fun mom things, and that rebounds into making your symptoms worse.

I also have the fun additional quirks of having depression and being severely introverted. Depression makes the pain worse and the pain makes the depression worse, so that's fun. And then with being introverted, having to interact with people is exhausting. So, I might be able to go sit through Les Mis fine (I did and bawled like a baby) but going to a party for the same amount of time, where I'm expected to interact with people, especially people I don't know well, would end with me spending the next day in debilitating pain.

And that's the new normal for me, and for our family. We do the things we can when I can. GeekBoy picks up my slack when I can't do things, and never complains. We may not have the perfectly decorated home, and sometimes the dishes don't get washed for longer than I like to think about, but it works for us.

So I update facebook more than my blog, because posting a sentence or two, or just uploading a picture, is so much easier for me than writing out a thoughtful post. And we have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner rather than pork loin or gnocchi. But my son reads now, and he didn't do that three months ago. And he skip counts by two for fun, and can do math in his head, and he builds elaborate marble mazes, and loves story hour at the library (my Thursday priority) and gymnastics (my Friday priority) and knows the first three Articles of Faith by memory and the first six apostles and he is kind and generous and thoughtful and sharing and that means I'm doing right by him even if he doesn't speak multiple languages or play a musical instrument. And he knows he is loved. Every minute of the day.

And my husband knows that I love him. And we laugh together, and I go to the movies with him when I can, and watch tv in bed with him when that's all I'm capable of doing, and he is the most amazing person for never letting me feel like he resents me for the additional burdens my health places on him and on our family. He is wonderful. He is my rock, and my guardian, and my best friend.

This is my new normal. It's a good normal. And I'm perfectly happy with it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What week is this?

I think we had a good week here at our little school. Geekboy's company has been experimenting with consolidated schedules and for the last month he wasn't getting home until 6:30 or 7:00 at night. That was super difficult on both Cooper and I, and by the last week of that we were both just dragging through the days. But this week, he moved to a different schedule where he's home by 5:20 and still has time to come home and see us during lunch. This has been a much better schedule for everybody (except maybe Geekboy, who is getting up at 6:00am now) and I'm really grateful that I have a husband who is willing to get up early to make his wife's life easier.

So, what have we been up to this week?
We've been doing our standard handwriting, math and reading combination in the morning. Larry the Lobster (a handpuppet my mother sent us is required to supervise these lessons, according to Cooper.) This week we started doing children's fairy tales. Cooper's favorite has definitely been "The Gingerbread Man." 

For science we've been studying the change in the seasons, and what happens when it turns autumn. He gathered a bunch of fallen leaves and has brought them into the house for his collection. We read Four Seasons Make a Year by Anne Rockwell, and learned about the cycle of nature on a farm. He recognized the drawing of a chickadee in the book.

We went to story time at the library this week for the first time. I finally remembered it and got there on time! Cooper was very reluctant to go at the beginning, but by the end, he decided it was fun and he wants to go again next week. We have a wonderful children's library here. They are doing some remodeling, so I'm not sure what they are adding. Cooper has also discovered the big bean bag style chairs up in the teens' section on the third floor, so we have to go visit up there every time we come so he can lounge in one of the chairs for a few minutes. We checked out his first Bill Peet book, How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head. It might be the start of a new addiction for him. I remember my little brother loved Bill Peet books. It cracks me up that Cooper checks out books by the color of the spine rather than any other thing. This week was yellow books.

We tried geocaching. We didn't find the cache, but had a great time being outside and learning about shadows and burrowing animals. I need to get a better gps system than the one I have on my phone.

We've been watching playoff baseball in the evening. Cooper is fascinated by the scorekeeping icons on the screen, and likes announcing which bases have players on them. Teaching your child isn't all about academics.

Cooper's favorite thing this week was using poker chips as toys. He sorted them. He played "which cup has the red one in it." With transparent cups. He fed them to his farm animals. He built roads for his cars with them. We had a target throwing contest. Which reminds me I need to get some of the chips out from under the bookshelf, because sometimes my aim is really bad.

He had gymnastics this morning. He loves his gymnastics class and Miss Tracy so much! He may not be the best athlete, but he is definitely enthusiastic.

We watched the (Scandinavian?) movie Max's Magical Adventure, or Frogs and Toads. Netflix has it listed both ways. It's dubbed, and is about two little kids who go on an adventure in the countryside looking for frog eggs. Cooper was mesmerized. He laughed and smiled, and was fascinated by all the different animals the kids saw. He was singing one of the songs from the movie later. It's definitely a kids movie, but much less annoying than most.

Finally, his favorite app on the iPad this week has been Where's My Water? It's a logic game in which you have to get water to the alligator's shower around a variety of obstacles. It amazes me how fast he can do some of the levels. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Growing up

Cooper now wears a size 1 shoe.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monastic motherhood

There is a part of me that thinks parenting is, or should be, like monasticism. There's a lot of repetition of chores, praying, hard work, service and calls to overcome the flesh. Right now the issue I am dealing with the most is learning how to parent as an introvert.

People tire me out. I need a certain amount of time alone to recharge. My son is quite independent but also needs a good amount of attention, quite regularly with physical contact. And while I love cuddling with him and playing games with him, sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the backseat of the old station wagon with both of my brothers. "Stop touching me!"

I haven't come up with a solution to this problem. It's something I'll probably always have to work on. For example, right now he has both of his legs draped over one of my forearms as I am typing this. And he's stealing my graham crackers.

It's a good thing he's so cute. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A good week

This last week has been good. Cooper's making noticeable progress in all of his learning. The FCRR curriculum I'm using is just wonderful, his handwriting is getting better, he's making progress in math, and we have been learning about magnets this week. Our front door kind of looks like a refrigerator with the number of magnets on it, but he had so much fun discovering which surfaces in the house were magnetic and which were not.

Now I just need to find my cell phone so I can take pictures of some of the things we have done. I haven't seen my phone in a week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chapter books

I've started reading a chapter book to Cooper at bedtime. I've found that his tolerance for read alouds is much higher in the evening than during the day when there are so. many. things. that needs his attention. Not only am I hearing the fabled words of "read some more!" but I'm also impressed with how much of the story he remembers. He basically retold the story to his dad last night, to catch him up to where we were.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How things have been going

A little update on how we are doing:

Math: We've been working on more than, less than lately and today he figured out how to skip count by 10's as he was playing with the calendar. So, yeah, I'm not really worried about his math progress.
Writing: We're working our way through the Getty Dubay Handwriting A book. A page a day, or sometimes we'll do something else for copywork.
Reading: He does pretty good if I give him a word that he can decode how to spell it - he loves typing on the computer. We're working on recognizing rhyming words now. We stopped using Hooked on Phonics and have moved to a program developed by the Florida Center for Reading Research. It's lots of fun games and ideas for a more kinesthetic approach to learning. And then we are testing out the weight limit of our library bag each week. 
Science: This is mostly interest led. Today we spent quite a bit of time playing with flashlights and different colored lenses to explore color mixing. Also, the major thing Cooper learned from the unit we did on the body was that the body turns food into poop.
Memory work: Address, phone number, scripture verse.
Fun extras: Cooper had his first gymnastics class last Friday. He is not the most coordinated child, but most of the other kids have had gymnastics before, so he's just behind in some of the routine. I think we're going to start going to story hour at the library every Thursday. We bake bread every Monday. Cooper finds the bread machine endlessly fascinating, and today's loaf was the best so far. I tried mixing a couple of recipes I've liked in the past and came up with a nice, light but hearty, recipe with whole grain flour.

Oh, and we got these awesome hand puppets

identified this Box Elder Beetle nymph

and built this giant rocket.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Listening to Cooper make himself a sandwich

I would like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on some nice bread.

We have to get the bread and the peanut butter and the jelly.

The bread is the first ingredient in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

We have bread. Now it is time for the peanut butter.

So, we've got all the ingredients to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The peanut butter is the second ingredient in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Now we have the peanut butter.

This is the jelly. Jelly is the third ingredient of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Ta-da! This is peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Awesome thing about parenting #432,566,895

Watching your kid fall in love with the books you loved as a kid. So far both Make Way for Ducklings and Millions of Cats have been favorites.

Friday we are going to read We Were Tired of Living in a House (with the Doris Burn illustrations), Andrew Henry's Meadow and The Little House, and then do an art project that is based on designing a house.

And how do I not have the Mr. Putty and Tabby books?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My life is awesome

Things we've done in the last week or so.

Made birdbaths. We put one in the sun, and one in the shade. We're charting the results to see which birds prefer. So far, shade is winning.

We are learning bird calls. Chicka-dee-dee-dee!

Built forts. Stocked forts with supplies.

Tried to make popcorn on the stove. Made waaaaaay too much.

Colored. Ridden bikes. Spun around in circles.

Baked bread.

This is how I spend my days.

This is the best life ever.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Funday

Today has been a good day. We started working with a spelling program today (All About Spelling) and Cooper seemed to really enjoy it. We'll see how it works out long term, but I like that it's very hands on, and I also like that it's completely open-and-go.

Then we worked on sight words. We reviewed flash cards for five sight words that all started with the letter B. I then put them on the floor and said, "Which word says ____?" and he would smack it as hard as he could with a fly swatter. Because they were all b words, he had to look at other letters to figure out which word was which. I would swap the order of the cards every time we went through them all.

We followed that up with an episode of Word World. We talked a lot about building words and how letters go together to make words.

That was followed up by a round of jumping math. Jump twenty! Jump two plus three! Jump backwards from 15! It's a fun way to practice math facts and burn off some extra energy.

We did some coloring, and worked on handwriting, and played Lego. Though, apparently, I play Lego wrong. I was trying to build an RV, but you cannot put a house door on car wheels in this household, according to the enforcer of the Lego rules (a.k.a. Cooper.)

And I worked on blowdrying the carpets some more because I am going to fire my contractor if he screws up sealing the window wells one more time.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Settling into a routine

We're starting to settle into a routine now that we've finished a week. Cooper and I get up when we get up in the morning. I fix him breakfast and give him his medication. He eats and watches an episode of some educational show. The current favorite is The Magic School Bus. That gives me time to eat and shower.

First off we do calendar work. We're learning days of the week, months of the year, seasons, and weather. Then we use our hundred chart to count days of school. We'll be using this to reinforce place values as we go along.

We typically start with handwriting. We spend about five minutes working on fine motor skills, writing, and penmanship. My main goal is to slowly increase his stamina for writing. And working towards legibility.

We do math next. I had three different math programs I was choosing between. I think I've settled on MEP for right now. Miquon will probably be used for reinforcing concepts. Singapore may show up later, but it isn't a good fit for right now.

Next is reading time. We are using this to cover science and letting Cooper's interests lead us. Right now we're learning about all the different types of animals and how the human body works. We've learned songs about breathing oxygen and why we're glad we have joints. We have learned about mammals and insects. We've sorted animal cards into insects, mammals, something else. We've filled the bird feeders (very enthusiastically.)

More formal reading instruction is being resisted a little. We're using Bob books, and some Hooked on Phonics. He knows all his letter sounds, but he doesn't like putting them together yet. I think it's time for some building block letters so we can build words.

Of course, we don't do all this back to back. We play games and watch videos and do art and stuff. Afternoons are pretty freeform. Legos and errands and trips to the library. It's been good.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

First day of school

Wednesday was technically our first day of school.

Throwing some kind of gang symbol.

Setting up dominoes to knock them down with his car
Figuring out how to make the path turn corners

Practicing classifying

Practicing which group is bigger with the crocodile mouth

Cooper's done pretty well with school. I think the harder adjustment has been for me. It's taken me a few days to realize that he really is five and really does have a five year old's attention span. Some of my grandiose plans have been shelved for a year or two. So far one of the biggest hits has been the series of My First Discovery Books that his Aunt Sarah sent him. He has decided that his favorite insect is the Colorado Potato Beetle. He made me promise that if we find one, he can keep it and feed it potatoes.

The crocodile mouth was a huge failure. He doesn't like it when the animals get eaten, so he kept adding animals to the smaller group to make both groups the same size so the crocodile couldn't eat either group. We had the same problem a year ago with the Pig Tails game. He refused to play it half way through because the wolf eating the pigs upset him so much. I need to remember this for future activities.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sweet dreams are (not) made of this

You know how sometimes things happen in dreams, and then you wake up, and you aren't sure if they really happened or if you are just dreaming?

So, the Queen of England is trying to convince Switzerland to support her plan to make the US give Alaska to her and the Russians, because it's not culturally American anyway. She had maps and stuff.

Waking up from that one was a doozy. It was like last night's march of nations was a reminder of all the countries she used to own, so she decided she was going to do something about that.

Giving Alaska to the Canadians would be entertaining politically, though.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Random tidbits

1. I chopped my hair off again. It has never been this short, I don't think. My mom will be happy because it is physically not possible for my hair to fall into my face. Unless it has previously fallen out of my head.

2. Insomnia is teh suck. Luckily I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday because oooooooohhhh myyyyyyyy, this is like having a newborn again, except without the sweet baby head to snorgle, or the tiny little hats, or the general smooshiness.

3. I cleaned out my office this week. I kind of cried. Maybe. Also, I have a lot of books. I think I need another bookshelf. Or two. That seems to be a recurring theme lately.

4. Also, I went to that new used bookstore. It was okay. Nothing fantastic, and the shelves weren't labeled, which is kind of annoying. Also, it mostly seems like an excuse for random hipster guy to just play his guitar and get paid for it.

5. I do not know how to play guitar.

6. Between the moving out of my office and the changing of the living room into the playroom, there is a lot of framed art that needs to get hung stacked up against various walls in my house. Apparently, I like pretty. There are also giant fly guts on my wall that I need to clean off, because I just killed a giant fly. Apparently sleep deprivation does wonders for my reflexes...Okay, now I have cleaned the giant fly guts off my wall, because ew.

7. I cleaned up my bedroom yesterday. (My mom is going to be so proud of me with this post.) Apparently I fling my clothes when I take them off because I found dirty laundry in the oddest places.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I have a blog?

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

Poor neglected little blog.

Let's see, what have I been up to in the last six weeks?

I have a totally new yard. We've been saving for years and this year we did it. Patio, fence, new grass, xeriscaping in the front. It's fantastic. It also involved a broken water line to our house and a flooded basement. That was not so fantastic. We also installed egress windows in the basement which has made the basement so much more liveable. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to take advantage of the increased livability of the basement. I think there has to be a way to turn one of the windows into a little reading area, but I haven't figured out the exact best way to do it yet.

Geekboy managed to fall into one of the window wells. He's still healing from the cuts and scrapes. Cooper has managed to lecture his father on not falling down holes multiple times in the last few weeks. "You are not supposed to fall down holes. You take the stairs and if there are not stairs you take the elevator. You do not just fall down holes."

We have pretty much moved every piece of furniture in the house except our bed and dresser. The living room is now in the playroom. The playroom is now where the living room was. It's also been turned into a learning space, so the table and easel that were in Cooper's room are now upstairs and the train table is now downstairs, and... you get the idea. Of course, as all those little things lost places to live they ended up on the kitchen table, so the last of them finally got rehomed today, so we used our kitchen table for the first time in about, oh, a month today for lunch. That's not quite as horrible as it sounds because we have been using the table on our new patio to have meals and it is so lovely to have a patio to have meals. When Cooper's done, he gets up and runs around the yard and plays and Geekboy and I sit in our fake Adirondack chairs and we all just hang out and it is lovely.

The semester is over. I have to go clean out my office sometime in the next week. I'm not sure where I am going to put all the books I bring home. Oh, the books. We moved all the bookshelves in the house and reorganized them, and for about six minutes there was actually empty shelf space in my house but then homeschool happened to them and there are no more empty shelves. I also found a new used bookstore in town. I have not yet been there to check it out, but it is within walking distance from my house. That may discourage me from buying books that are not truly necessary (what? what does that even mean?) if I have to carry them home.

We adjusted Cooper's medicine back down. He was too focused, wouldn't stop what he was doing to eat, and becoming obsessive in his play, like to the point he couldn't make himself stop long enough to use the bathroom. He is on one extended release tablet in the morning, but he may go to a multiple pill regimen once he is at home full time. We'll see how he handles schooling on the lower dosage before we make any more changes to his medication.

I have lots of blog post ideas for the next few weeks. My feelings about transitioning to full time at-home momma, the end (for now) of being a professor, a full picture show of our awesome new yard, the schoolroom, first day of kindergarten, etc. The last six weeks or so have been chaotic, both at home and at work, and transitions are always difficult to process while in the midst of them. But I have lots of thoughts up in my head that will eventually make it onto the pixellated page.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bad idea

Buying a rock pick for a five year old is a disaster waiting to happen, right? Right. Okay. Putting down the science catalog and backing away.

No idea

I have no idea how people homeschooled before the advent of the internet. Not only does it make it faster to review curriculum because you can download samples instead of having to wait for catalogs in the mail, or going to curriculum fairs, homeschoolers are a social bunch and love to share all their ideas and activities. I've been reading quite a few homeschool blogs to get some ideas of how to get started. Hint: do not buy everything you look at.

The best and greatest tool I've found is Pinterest, though. It's so great to be able to follow other peoples' boards and have this great idea bank of the best and coolest ideas.  And you know me and my believe that no knowledge will ever go to waste; I may have managed to assemble the most comprehensive set of homeschool boards in the (less than one year) history of Pinterest.

Of course, as soon as I did that, this new site called Learnist launched, which is basically like Pinterest but for educators, so, yeah.

But, until that gets up and going, Pinterest is where it's at, so I'm participating in a homeschool Pinterest board linkup.
Just click on the link to be taken to an index of everyone who is participating. And be prepared to spend hours.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm such a rebel

I can't think of any reason to teach state flowers to my kid. So I'm not going to.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Deciding how to homeschool

No matter how I choose to homeschool Cooper, someone will think I am doing it wrong.

I've been reading lots of homeschooling books lately, and that seems to be my consensus.

The classical education people think I should be teaching Latin and reading Cicero to my kindergartner. Not that's there's anything wrong with that.

The unschoolers think that workbooks and structured, parent chosen learning experiences will crush the love of learning out of your children. There's something wrong with that (the crushing part, not their philosophy.) You can imagine how well these people get along with the classical education types.

Charlotte Mason thinks I should be spending hours outside everyday, regardless of the weather (easier said in England than in Idaho, lady) and not allowing our children to read "twaddle." But if reading Cars books is going to get my child to read, is that so wrong?

Then there is delight-driven learning, and unit studies, and notebooking and lapbooking and workboxes and Waldorf and Montessori and Thomas Jefferson Leadership and the whole range of Christian/secular debates and comprehensive versus eclectic and three learning styles and five learning personalities and eight types of intelligence and

And my head just exploded.

And that doesn't even get into the whole educating a kid who has ADHD stuff (fidget toys! sensory pillows! no fluorescent lighting! face him away from the window or close the curtains!) that I am trying to deal with, too.

So, I am developing a mantra:

I am educating my child, not a hypothetical child.
What matters is what works for my child, not what someone else says should work.
You are trained as a scientist, view this as an experiment. Make a lab notebook. (Bonus: new notebook!)
If it doesn't work, I can change it.
If it doesn't work, I can change it.
If it doesn't work, I can change it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Updates and stuff

Life has been crazy!

I've had a cold that's refusing to go away, and then Sunday I got a migraine for the first time in a really long time. It's taken two days to fade. I'm starting to think one of my students has a voodoo doll.

We are gearing up for homeschooling here. We're talking about swapping the living room and the playroom so we can have the bigger room for the combination playroom/classroom. I've been researching curriculum and reading about teaching little ones and specifically teaching kids with ADHD. I've found lots of good resources and have to keep reminding myself, "You have years ahead of you. You don't have to do everything at once."

Cooper is responding really well to his medication. One of his teachers has been on medical leave since before he started medication. She came back this week and has commented both days on how well he has done and what an improvement he has made. That's wonderful to hear someone else validating our views that this is helping.

He's been doing great at home as well as at school. He's fallen in love with Lego, but still loves playing with his Trio blocks as well. He built a quite complex trailer bed with pontoon wheel supports (he actually figured out how to use gears as wheels), and then built a trailer hitch out of the blocks and hooked it up to one of his cars so the car can pull it all over.

We were looking through one of his animal books the other night and talking about the different types of animals. I said that animals that have hair or fur are called mammals. He said, "I have hair. Am I a mammal?" Yep. Then he looked at me. "You have hair, are you a mammal?" Yep. "And daddy has hair, so he's a mammal, too!"  Smart kid.

Also, he thinks getting to use the hose to water the flower beds is the funnest thing ever, so that's a great help. He also likes to fill the bird feeders. We're working on identifying some of the birds that come to the yard as well, but he still has urges to try and catch them.

And he insists on calling me Captain Momma and GeekBoy Captain Daddy. And sometimes he salutes and says, "Yessir!" when we ask him to do stuff.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching up

New one for the birding life list - white-crowned sparrow. Very noticeable black and white striped head and bright yellowy-orange beak.

Drove by the river yesterday and was wondering what the little fluffballs on the ground were. Then I realized they were baby goslings! Awww, little fluffballs.  I've also been watching some birdcams - great heron, red tailed hawk and peregrine falcon - so have seen lots of little fluffballs.

Cooper had his speech evaluation today. He has all his sounds except he's about 50% on R and misses almost all of his L and TH sounds. The speech therapist is a friend of mine and works for the school district, so she is going to do speech therapy with him over the summer. She says she doesn't think it will take that long to get his sounds in, it will just take some training to get his tongue to go to the right place after having a tongue tie for so long. I'll just pay her directly - take that insurance! We'll do two 15 minute sessions a week until we get him caught up.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm a Spoonie

The most accurate description of what living with fibro is like that I have ever read.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Last day of Spring Break

I got the snow tires taken off my car. That pretty much guarantees that we will get a blizzard in the next few days.

Cooper has an appointment tomorrow morning with his pediatrician. I'm pretty sure he's been losing weight on this medication, and I want to discuss where we go from here. The recommended specialist in pediatric ADHD isn't covered by my insurance, but it is by GeekBoy's, so we will gain coverage in about four months. I need to call my insurance tomorrow morning about out of network coverage for seeing the specialist before then, and if we need an official referral. I'm sick of waiting for things to happen for him. This medication has helped with impulse control, but I'm not seeing an improvement in attention. That combined with the weight loss means time to try something new.

I also need to call the school district to follow up on scheduling a speech evaluation for him. At his five year check-up, the pediatrician expressed some concern about his speech. I'm pretty sure that it is just from him being tongue tied for so long; he doesn't know how to shape certain letters. But that's one more thing to work on.

Cooper has a large head, just like both his parents. We went to Target tonight to find new shirts. We actually have to try on each t-shirt to make sure that it fits over his head comfortably. So, all his shirts are big on him, but at least he doesn't complain about the pain they cause going on and off now. Also, thank goodness for polos and henleys. Bonus - button  practice!

We also picked up a horseshoe and badmitton set at Target. More outdoor activities. I am so looking forward to it warming up. Our second daffodil bloomed today. It may be half way through April, but it is still on the chilly beginning of spring here.

Back to campus tomorrow for my last semester. I bought a new funky necklace to wear for the first day of classes on Wednesday. I am such a girl.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Notes about Cooper

Cooper and GeekBoy are practicing math with pretzels right now.

Last night, Cooper engaged in an act of civil disobedience. We put him to bed, but he didn't want to go to sleep, so he sang the ABC song at the top of his lungs for an hour straight. He varied tempo, but it was pretty much always at blastissimo. Sometimes he would just sing the same six letters repeatedly, like a record that was stuck. After an hour he started to fade off, and then after a few minutes he would start up again. That repeated a few times until he finally fell asleep. It is very difficult to read or concentrate on anything with the Cooper Choir in the next room.

We had our first camp fire in the back yard Friday night. We're burning off a lot of brush that we trimmed out of lilacs and other bushes. Cooper perked up after about ten minutes and said, "We need marshmallows!"  He loves roasting them, but doesn't really like eating them.

We went to Salt Lake City last week and rode the commuter train around downtown. Friday Cooper asked if he would could ride the trains again. I said we don't have trains in our town. He pulled out his hand, pointed to a dot on his palm, and said, "Here they are! I don't know how to get there, but this does." I asked him, "Oh, is that your map?" And he replied, with a slightly disgusted tone to his voice, "No, that's my phone."  Okay, child of the 21st century, excuse me for not realizing that a phone is a map now.

He also wanted to go back to "the room with all the balls in it," i.e. the Children's Discovery Museum at the Gateway in Salt Lake City. He thinks we should be on vacation every day now. GeekBoy took him to McDonalds to play on the indoor playground, but it totally did not cut it.

He turned five a few weeks ago. He gets more fun every day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taking the plunge

Cooper starts medication tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting a diagnosis: Part Two

Part one is here.

I spent several hours last week dealing with doctors and insurance companies. We called to schedule the testing that Cooper's pediatrician recommended. The highly regarded specialist in our town who does this testing with children doesn't take our insurance. If we want to have it done anyway, it's $2600 out of pocket. Goodbye plans to fence the backyard this summer.

So, I called my insurance company and asked if there was someone in-network who performed these services. They put me on hold for a while and then told me that they don't cover that procedure at all until ADHD has been ruled out as a diagnosis. So, I have to get ADHD ruled out before they will authorize anyone to perform the examinations. It doesn't matter if ADHD is co-occuring with other disorders, they won't authorize it at all at this point.

So they send me back to their website to pick a provider to do a psych eval to determine if Cooper has ADHD. I finally found one person who specializes in psychiatric diagnostics rather than in counseling, and he can't get Cooper in until the end of April.  The specialist I was referred to could have gotten him in this week.

To make this even more fun, my insurance ends when I resign this summer, and we'll be switching to GeekBoy's insurance. GeekBoy's insurance covers this procedure with no hoops to jump through. But we can't swap to his insurance unless there is a "life change" like loss of insurance coverage someplace else. But I can't voluntarily terminate my insurance so we can get on his insurance.

At this point, I'm seriously considering just trying Cooper out on medication, and waiting until August when we are on the new insurance to get him properly assessed by a specialist, rather than paying for an ADHD diagnosis twice.

Things like this are why I support single payer health insurance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting a Diagnosis: Part One

We met with Cooper's pediatrician today, who said he is presenting like a textbook case of ADHD. He said we have one of two options at this point, 1. Test him for any other conditions that mimic the symptoms of ADHD to rule out anything else, or any co-occurring disorders, or 2. Put him on meds and see what happens. I went for one. He'll refer us to a group that does diagnostic work with little kids and they will do a full screen of IQ, learning disorders, developmental or sensory disorders, and psychiatric conditions. We should be expecting a call from them this week. Can I say that I just love Cooper's pediatrician? I know so many people who have to fight to get their kids the treatment they need and proper assessments done, and we have a doctor that's completely on board with letting us determine what course to pursue.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wouldn't want life to get too easy

Cooper's preschool teachers talked to GeekBoy Thursday about some problems Cooper is having in class. He's not paying attention, he won't sit still, he can't focus, it takes him forever to do a worksheet because he can't remember things short term, he doesn't follow directions he hits or pulls hair or lifts shirts of other kids, especially during circle time, etc. This was at the end of a week where Cooper lost all of his tickets - they get three tickets at the beginning of each day and lose one when they break a rule - every day.

When GeekBoy told me this, I felt like someone had stomped on my heart. No one wants to hear that their child is struggling in school. Discussing these symptoms, which we had also noticed at home, but to a lesser extent since he is an only child and doesn't have to sit still often, I brought up the idea of ADHD. This wasn't a huge surprise because GeekBoy has had ADHD(undiagnosed) for his whole life, and finally got diagnosed last month and went on medication to treat it. It's made a big difference in his behavior. We probably wouldn't have immediately jumped there if he hadn't sought treatment last month. Looking at the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, Cooper demonstrates 17 out of the 19 criteria, many (most?) of them to a degree that affect his functioning to the point where he is demonstrating some sort of deficit in the classroom.

If it turns out that Cooper has ADHD, it will be a lifestyle change for us. But I think we've been prepared for this. It is easier to see now why I have felt so impressed to home school. All the things that he is struggling with right now are just going to be a bigger part of his school life if we put him in a standard classroom. GeekBoy finally sought out treatment for his ADHD so we were looking for that connection.

So we've scheduled an initial evaluation with his pediatrician for tomorrow. We've sent a functional assessment checklist to his teacher to fill out so we can take that with us tomorrow as well. And, to the surprise of absolutely no one who knows me, I spent the weekend researching and reading everything I can get my hands on about parenting, teaching and ADHD. We are increasing the protein in his breakfast. I've researched the legal rights of children with ADHD. I wrote my first letter requesting accommodation for my child last night and sent it to school this morning. We roleplayed with him what to say when he gets frustrated, and how to ask for help, rather than hitting.

And today he kept two of his tickets. Whether it was a fluke or because of the work we did with him, it felt like someone saying, "You can do this. And so can he."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This is not a Valentine's Day post

Twelve years ago, I had no idea that when I sat at my sister's computer, inputting a handful of search terms into a website that has long since disappeared into the ether, that I was going to change my life forever.

But then I hit enter, and within a few seconds up popped a list of matches, and there he was, at the very top, as if the internet gods had conspired together over cables and pixels to say, "You don't need to search any further. We have the sum of all knowledge here in the folds of our servers, and we know, and soon, you will know."

And within two months - two months of emails and messages and phone calls that stretched for hours put passed in seconds - I knew.

I knew that I was in love.

I had no idea what that meant, though I thought at the time that I knew fully and completely what it was to love. But in those twelve(!) years, I have loved more and deeper and with a painful awareness of failure and loss that ultimately - if you can outlast it - strengthens what it tears at and creates something new and old and wonderful and terrifying in its significance.

He told me on that first date, a little over two months after that impulsive search, "I'm not a patient man. I'm going to kiss you now." And he did. And part of me knew in that instant that my life was different now. Part of me - the part that makes lists and had been accepted to law school and believed in organization and planning - would hold out for almost another week before it too saw what the beautifully irrational part of me that lived on fairy tales and iridescent dreams had already realized. I was in love with this man.

And so a few months later we married. Technically it was on our fifth date, but we spent every night on the phone together. I changed my parents' long distance plan to save me money. We tried to limit it to an hour a night, but it was impossible. One hour became two, and sometimes three, and to the chagrin of both sets of parents occasionally four.

And now, we spend each night together. He is my protector - some times from others, some times from myself - and my best friend. And he hasn't gotten any better at being patient. He still has to kiss me, and I see in his eyes today a greater fulness of what I thought was complete twelve years ago. He loves me beyond any correlation to my worthiness or deserving. He loves me. Me. Flawed and fragile me.

Somehow, he thinks he is the lucky one in this relationship. I'm not sure how someone so smart can make such a basic error of logic. I am the one that has the luck in this relationship. I won the jackpot in the online dating lottery, and it's still paying dividends.

I love you, GeekBoy. Thank you for loving me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

That's what you get for going to the bathroom in the middle of the night

Apparently on my way back to bed this morning at 4:00am, I tripped, fell over, landed on GeekBoy, told him he was a campfire, and made him go get some water. Then, while I was drinking the water, I rambled on about My Little Ponies, whether or not you could make french toast with cinnamon rolls, and a conspiracy by the business community to strip my high school basketball team of all of its championships.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seven for Saturday: February 11, 2012

1. I asked to be released from doing a visiting teaching route and to be put in charge of writing letters to people who have asked for that to be their only contact. Being proactive in taking charge of my health and recognizing my limits is a big step for me.

2. We found one of the vitamins that I am prescribed in glass bottles rather than plastic. Also, the bottles are full rather than mostly empty. Yay for reduced waste.

3. Donut holes for breakfast. Yum.

4. GeekBoy is currently massaging my feet. This is not an unusual occurrence.

5. Cooper is in a phase where he only wants to watch the fourth episode of his favorite TV shows.

6. I have been falling in love with the poetry of Mary Oliver. I keep telling myself to slow down and portion out how many I read at one sitting, but it is so difficult.

7. My political ecology class is traumatizing my students. I've had one give up meat already.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moments worth remembering...or not

Stepped barefoot in barf last night. That's a true badge of motherhood.

Was teaching Rousseau's The Social Contract today. I'm working the students through the part where Rousseau argues for the need to overthrow existing corrupt, master-slaved dominated, enslaving society to move towards liberated man in a free society. I was exclaiming rather loudly, "We have to overthrow the government," when I realized my classroom door was open, so I asked a student to shut it. A few seconds later a student from out in the hall re-opened the door. He apologized and said, "We're rather enjoying the lecture and want to see where you're going with it."

We also now have a class pencil named Steve. Don't ask.

I ordered 35 perennials to put in the flower bed that we planted 400+ bulbs in last fall. I have really high hopes that this is going to end up being beautiful. Also, it was snowing while I was ordering plants. Flower catalogs are gardener porn.

Cooper lied to me for the first time. He told me GeekBoy had told him he could do something when I had heard GeekBoy tell him the exact opposite.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sick. Again. Boo.

I used to get strep infections about every other month. Super painful wouldn't respond to normal anti-biotics strep infections. My doctor finally told me that I needed to get my tonsils out or I was just going to keep getting them.

Sunday night my throat started hurting. That's usually the sign that I'm going to get a cold in the next 24 hours or so. This morning my throat was still hurting and it was getting worse. I went to the local drop-in health clinic to see if I had managed to get a strep infection regardless of my tonsilless status.

It turns out I do not have strep, but I am running a fever and have some sort of probably viral infection. The doctor doesn't know what it is, but he gave me a scrip for antibiotics and said if it doesn't clear up in the next few days, fill the prescription.

I want to know why we have the technology to make an invisibility cloak/Romulan cloaking device (choose your flavor of geek) but still can't identify what is living in my throat.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy birthday, son

Today would have been Peter's seventh birthday. Mostly it's gotten easier with time, but his birthday is still as hard as it was the first year.

Happy birthday, baby.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

To every season

I had this idea when I was younger that a time would happen when I would know who I was. That there would come a day when all the pieces of my personality would some how mesh into a solid pattern, like carbon atoms achieving the perfect matrix of a diamond.

My whole life, there have been all these different parts of me that I could never successfully coordinate. There's the scholar part of my personality, and the geek part; there's the nine year old girl who is obsessed with owls and hedgehogs and gnomes; the tailored classic country clubber and the crunchy earth mother; the planner, the list-maker, the organizer; the dreamer with a stack of books and a garden swing; the maker who tries different crafts and hobbies every three months or so; the mother; the lover; the naturalist seeking simplicity lives cheek by jowl with the girl who lusts after expensive leather purses and sparkling stones.

For so long this felt like I was unfinished. Trying to reconcile the contradictory parts of my personality into one finished piece of art - trying to cross "grow up' off of my life's to-do list - has never felt within my grasp.

Last night, I was looking at a picture that reminded me of the images you see through a kaleidoscope. One of the great things about kaleidoscopes is that the image is never fixed. You can always give it another turn and see what happens. Sure, diamonds are pretty and sparkly and reflect the light, but they are always the same. Kaleidoscopes are much more fun. You are always creating new beautiful arrangements. Diamonds all have flaws, fixed within them, that are permanent. Kaleidoscopes don't have that problem. All the inclusions are a part of the beauty. What takes center stage in one scene will fade into the background with another twist of the viewer, and then merge together with another image to form something greater than the sum of the parts in a third image.

I think life is more like a kaleidoscope than a diamond.There isn't one right configuration for all of my elements. They mix together and create different patterns for my life at different times. For someone who gets bored easily, that's a benefit and not a drawback. My life has been pretty stable for the last few years. I've seen certain parts of my life take a dominant position, and some have faded so far into the background that I have almost forgotten them. I've turned my kaleidoscope, and I have a feeling I'll keep turning it for the next year or two trying to find a new pattern I want to look at for the next phase of my life. But I'll always remember that when I want to, I can turn it again, and a new pattern will emerge.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Seven for Saturday: January 21, 2012

1. Seeing the look of happiness on GeekBoy's face while he was opening his birthday presents.
2. Cooper randomly telling me that hippos don't fit in backpacks.
3. A student told me I would fit right in on The Big Bang Theory. Best compliment from a student ever.
4. The 100th episode of The Big Bang Theory. I laughed until I was on the verge of tears. As someone who has played more games of Catan than I can count, those conversations were dead. on.
5. We had a breaker flip in the middle of the night. We found this out by Cooper coming into our bedroom and asking to sleep with us. Our new bed is big enough that he can fit in the bed without disturbing my sleep. Sleepy cuddles are awesome.
6. Needing a treat and knowing there were no treats in the house. And then remembering about my emergency chocolate drawer that GeekBoy stocks for me. Such a great feeling to open it up and have a choice of treats.
7. GeekBoy got me a bird house for the yard. One step closer to getting our yard certified as wildlife habitat.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Things to do with Cooper

I have all these ideas running around in my head about the things I want to do with Cooper when I get to stay home with him.

1. Make big soft pretzels.
2. Plant a play yard with sunflower walls and a teepee covered in some sort of vine.
3. Grow a small garden that he gets to decide what is in it.
4. Do yoga together.
5. Do little "chef" classes - he loves to help in the kitchen.
6. Read together every day, just for fun.
7. Test out every playground in the city.
8. Feed the geese our failures from number five.
9. Make suet pine cones with pine cones we gather ourselves.
10. Blow the biggest bubble ever.
11. Sidewalk chalk art contests.
12. Weekly library trips.
13. Learn the names of the stars in the sky.
14. Take walks under every full moon.
15. Hopscotch.
16. Go to the zoo a lot.
17. Visiting daddy at work for lunch.
18. Nature walks.
19. Building forts and caves in the living room.
20. Bike rides.
21. Popping popcorn on the stove.

I will not attempt to do these all at the same time, or even in the same year. But they are things I want to do.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And back to our normal programming

And, I'm back to feeling good about this whole thing. I really am excited to try and live out some values concerning sustainability and ecology that I didn't have the opportunity to do before.

My problem is going to be going about this in a sensible manner instead of a "do ALL the things NOW" kind of way. I tend to either being going 100mph or completely stopped. I need to work on a middle ground.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weird head space

So. I think I have transitioned from the, "Yay, so many choices! The possibilities are endless!" option to, "Oh my word, there are so many choices. The possibilities are...endless."

If you haven't figured out by the title of my blog, I am a very goal oriented person. I like plans. I like knowing what the next step is. I like crossing things off of my to do list. I have been known to write things on my to do list after I did them, just so I could cross them off.

I love a feeling of accomplishment. I like other people being able to see what I accomplished. I like being able to say "Done." and look about and see what I have finished.

I have known what the next step of my life was going to be since...junior high? Graduate, college, marriage, advanced degrees, kids. All of these were planned for and accomplished. And though there were some detours and scenic routes, all of these things happened.

And now I don't know what it is I am supposed to be accomplishing next.

It's unsettling.

I have a question: Is it okay to be - and I'm going to get slammed for using this word - just a mom? I don't mean that being a mom is easy because I am under no illusions there. And I don't think being a mom is of less importance than any other thing women do. Caring for another human being has to be the pinnacle of human experience. But is it okay to just mother. And not mother while being an A-list blogger/raising heirloom tomatoes in a multinational organization to preserve seed diversity/spinning yarn from the fleece of the pygmy goats that I rescued from experimenters (fleece? fur? hair? What do goats have?)/developing a plan for international peace/sewing my own clothes/founding a multimillion dollar empire dedicated to...something?

There is sooo much pride embodied in this question: Am I allowed to just be mom for a while? I have above-average intelligence and a good work ethic. Combine that with being told "Unto whom much is given, much is required" on a fairly regular basis all my life, and I feel like I have to be extraordinary or I'm failing. I was voted "Most Likely to Conquer the World" by my senior class. The guy who was voted the same died in an accident a year after we graduated. I kind of feel like I need to conquer the world for him as well. And for his parents.

I feel like it's okay for me to quit my job because now I am going to home school Cooper and that is noble and virtuous and provides a reason for me to be at home. It isn't enough, in my own mind at least, to say I am going to be a stay at home mom, and my kid is going to go to public school, and I am going to have several hours of the day to myself with little to no responsibility to anyone other than my own soul and conception of the good.

I need to accomplish something.

I just don't know what yet.

And yes, I know parenting is an accomplishment and the most important work I can do is parenting well and it is never done blahblahblah crunchy platitudecakes. I know all that stuff. In my head. It just doesn't seem like truth to my heart.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Seven for Saturday - January 14, 2012

1. Getting to use the phrase, "Whatcha gonna do, fire me?" at work. There are some benefits to resigning.

2. Going an entire week without burning anything in the microwave at work - did I mention burning popcorn and then almost setting off the smoke alarm at work the next day last week? A week later the microwave still smells like smoke. Apparently, they are serious about the "add water to line" part when you make fancy cup o noodles. Note to self - figure out if there is a way to remove smoke smell from microwaves. I'm pretty sure that some combination of baking soda and vinegar would do it.

3. We have a pupusa wagon in town! The only El Salvadorean restaurant in town was short lived and went out of business about two years ago. But we had pupusas for dinner tonight and they were sooooo good.

4. Reading a new book to Cooper and watching him be mesmerized by the story. If you have a child in your family mesmerized by trucks, you should get a copy of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. It is wonderful.

5. GeekBoy restocked my emergency chocolate drawer without prompting. He also stocked it with multiple types of chocolate so I can match the emergency with the appropriate treat.

6. I ordered some frames for the art work GeekBoy bought me for Christmas. They showed up this week heavily bubble wrapped. So Cooper and I have been having bubble wrap dance parties this week.

7. GeekBoy made the best oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies Sunday night. They were delicious, and he made them because I wasn't feeling well and asked him to make me cookies and he didn't even complain at all.

Life plans

I resigned my job. Again. My chair refused to accept the letter the first time and told me to take more time to think about it. So yesterday, I resigned my job again. The job I worked for a decade to get. The job that pays significant amounts of money. The job that I love (most of the parts most of the time.) And I feel so relieved. It's like I suddenly have all these opportunities that I can take advantage of, and all these choices that I can make.

I keep flashing back to that scene in You've Got Mail, where Meg Ryan's character is talking about writing a children's book, and that this is something she never would have done if she kept the store. I know a lot of people got irritated with this movie because she falls in love with the guy who put her out of business, but it seems to me that sometimes, our lives are planned so far ahead that we sometimes outgrow the plan and don't change it. Life changes us as we go along, and being willing to embrace the change and give up the plan of the person you used to be and create a new plan for the person you are now is an important ability. I am not willing to buy in to the sunk cost fallacy.

I am not the person I was a decade ago. But every experience I have had in the last decade has lead me to be the person I am now. And frankly, I like the person I am now. I can't regret a single decision I've made because they all taught me something and shaped who I am. And who I am is awesome. I've done what I needed to do at the University. I have learned important things about me. I'm coming to realize that I get bored easily, and once I have mastered something, I feel a need to move on to something new. I'm not content with just being good at something. I have new things to learn and do and create.

The resignation was prompted by my fibromyalgia getting so bad that I literally couldn't do my job and maintain any level of meaningful health, but I am thinking that this is actually a blessing in disguise. So I am going to go from working full-time or more with a substantial income to being a stay at home mother and homeschooling Cooper and dealing with a budget.

And I couldn't be more excited about any of it.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I am ashamed to admit that I have never read a book by Charles Dickens, other than A Christmas Carol. If you were to pick only one Charles Dickens book to read, which one would you recommend?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I know trends are cyclical, and taste is individual, and the people who can't wait for the owl to go the way of the dodo are probably disgusted with my love of all things hootie. And hedgehoggie. And gnomes and mushrooms. Okay.

But seriously, I do not get the hipster fascination with mustaches, the mommy-blogger need to make all food look like a rainbow (seriously, I look at those pictures and the only thing I can think of is the amount of artificial food coloring you are pumping into your kid) and the fashion trend of patterned tights. I have yet to see a pair that didn't make the wearer look like she had some sort of weird skin disease on her legs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I developed a simulation for class today and it went really well. One student told me that it was the best class she had even been in.

A student told me that a comment I made two and a half years ago completely changed her life and she is now a much better person.

I have to remind myself that while quitting is hard, not quitting will be harder.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seven for Saturday - Jan 7, 2012

In my quest to find joy in the small things, and maybe spread a little joy, I'm going to try and do a list of seven things that made me happy in the previous week. Knowing I have to make a list should help me pay more attention to the good moments in my life.

1. A friend told me that I'm one of the lucky ones who has the coloring to pull off a wide range of hair colors. This was in response to me dyeing my hair a very dark brown. This is one more thing I can add to my list of things I love about my body.
2. The TV show My Boys.It's not great television, and the baseball metaphor can be a little overplayed - hahaha, get it? - but it's cute and fun and relaxing. Sometimes you just want to be entertained. This fills that spot.
3. I got an email from a student who is now in graduate school thanking me for all the things I taught her, and how much it has helped her in her program.
4. I have started using the "Absofrickinglutely" rule for deciding which things I want to be involved in.
5. GeekBoy found a Christmas present that he forgot to give me, the Firefly Les Femmes prints by amazing artist Megan Lara.
6. I have been listening to the new album by Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials. Her voice is almost primal. Total love.
7. Whole grain toast with almond butter and honey. Mmmmmm.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cooper, I Choose You

I would like to announce that I have knocked two things off of my list. I have a new mattress on the way. Also, I did something completely unexpected, though it was not spontaneous.

I quit my job.

I love my job. No, seriously. I love it. I've worked hard to get where I am. I love my coworkers. I love my students. I love being around these people and the conversations and the energy and feeling like I am making a difference in the world.

The part I don't like is spending every day on painkillers because my job uses up every ounce of energy I have and then draws on my reserves. Weekends for the last semester have been spent sleeping to regain energy. Every night after work involved me slumping into a chair, taking pain medication with my dinner, and having no ability to interact meaningfully with my husband or son. I was on painkillers almost every day for the last six weeks of the semester.

Over Christmas break, I actually got to sleep. I got to rest. I got to relax. I stopped being on painkillers. I laughed all the way down to my soul. I played with my son. I had fantastic sex with my husband. I remembered the person I used to be before I was on pain meds every day.

On one of the last days of break, as GeekBoy and I had a lovely lunch together, he asked me, "Do you really want to go back?" And I started to cry. Because as much as I love the people and the students and teaching, I dreaded going back to the zombie I am during the semester.

Last semester, Cooper got used to being with me for five minutes a day. I couldn't play with him, because if he touched me too hard, it would hurt so bad I couldn't keep from crying out in pain. And then he prayed to ask Heavenly Father to make me better so I could play with him.

When your child prays for something, how can you not do everything in your power to answer his prayers?

And so today, I quit. Academic hiring takes forever, and I don't feel like I can leave the university or the department in the lurch, so my plan is for me to finish out this semester as scheduled, to drop to 75% contract next semester, and then to stop working.

This was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life. I feel like I am letting down my department, my university, my students, especially the female ones as I am the only female permanent faculty member in the department, womankind in general, and myself. If only I was stronger/better/faster/more righteous/more something, I would have been able to do everything.

But I can't.

I can't be the mother I want to be or the wife I want to be and keep all the balls in the air. I taught one class today. I advised one student today. I planned one activity today. And I'm tired. And I hurt.

I needed to make a decision, and through a lot of prayer and crying and priesthood blessings, Geekboy and I have made the decision that I am going to be a stay-at-home mom for the next little while. Cooper is going to get a mommy he can play with. And everything is going to be okay.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting my life together

So, I suppose it's time for me to start having an adult life. No, not like that you weirdos.  It is time for me to get my act together and stuff. Probably should stop using stuff as a descriptive word if I want this adult thing to stick.

First thing I have done in order to get my life together: I threw away all my makeup I bought during the Bush Administration. Ew. Just think about all the nasty germies and other microbes that are crawling around in there, especially if you ever use your fingers as an applicator.

Then, I threw away all my mascara and started over with new ones. Docs say you shouldn't use any makeup that touches your eye for more than six months. That means I need to sharpen all my eye pencils anyway. It's nice to take a moment when you're not frantically trying to get dressed to put a fresh point on the eye pencils. They work so much better that way.

You should do this, too. Go, I'll wait. If you don't have any mascara, you should buy some. Just some nice brownish-black, a tinted moisturizing sunscreen and a neutral lip gloss and you'll feel like a whole new person.

And if you're a boy, well...go throw away all your underwear and buy new ones. Probably socks, too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Impersonating an adult

I turn 36 this month. That's like...old. Like middle age old. My 16 year old self would think I am ancient. People tell me I don't look that old. Good genes and moisturizing sunscreen on my face every day since I was 16. I also stay out of the sun as much as possible because I burn super easily. I once got a sunburn walking across a parking lot in Arizona in the summer.

Okay, back to the old. I know I'm not really old when it comes down to it. But I'm a full time resident of adult land. I am paying a bank to stay in my house rather than a landlord. I have a career. I'm married and have children and a pet that wasn't won at a fair. All these strike me as characteristics of adulthood. If I was a bird, and a birdwatcher was trying to classify me, all these are things what would indicate that I am a full-fledged (hahahahaaa) member of the species adultus humanus.

And yet. I have Playmobil goats on my desk. The required good Mormon Christus statue sits next to a sculpture of a meditating elephant.  One of my favorite Christmas presents this year is a miniature spirograph. I like to color. I wear funky socks under my work pants. I shot my husband with a squirt bottle this morning.

These are not things that I think of when I think of an adult. But I'm not sure why. Whoever said that being an adult meant being boring? Who says I can't wear polka dot socks as I lecture about Plato? Nobody. Or at least nobody that I feel like listening to.

Somebody I do like listening to said “In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand True and Faithful,” Ensign, May 1996, 91. I am going to enjoy life as an adult. Maybe that means by some standards I will not be an "adult." If that is the case, then I am going to just impersonate an adult. That way, I don't really have to be one, I can just act like it when needed.

So this is my plan for the year - to impersonate an adult.

What does an adult look like in my mind?

An adult takes care of herself.
An adult cares for those people and objects in her stewardship.
An adult knows her limits, and her horizons, and does not confuse the two.
An adult has at least as many laugh lines as wrinkles.
An adult finds joy in small things.
An adult knows that all sadness passes.
An adult has a place for all things, and all things (usually) are in their place.
An adult is more tortoise than hare.
An adult has a roadmap for the future, but also takes scenic detours.
An adult has passions, rather than fads.

So this is my journey this year. To become an adult on my terms, rather than someone else's. I'll be blogging some of the things I do to make this happen, so if you want to be an adult on my terms, you can. I really encourage you to come up with your own, though. It is much more satisfying.
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