Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me!

I went down diagonally and waited for her, like the instructor had. She came right down after me. We did this a few more times, and then the Pumpkin asked if we could go together. She said that is what she wanted--us to ski together. At the same time. (Like ski buddies!)

And so we did. I kept on the lower side of her, just in case. But she was doing great.

When we got to the end of a diagonal, we would stop facing the way we had come and slowly inch our skis around till we were facing the other way. But then, my daughter started turning at the end of the run so she was facing the other way once she stopped, ready to go on the next run.

I was very impressed, as she did this without me giving any instructions. I pointed it out to her. She said, "I just thought it would be easier to end facing the way we'd go next." Indeed it is! And I told her she had just naturally taken the next step in downhill skiing!

We made it to the bottom of the hill, with her getting better each run, and gaining in confidence. At the bottom, she looked at me with excitement and asked if we had time to go again. And we did! So we did!

My daughter and I skied down that bunny hill together! She was feeling so good about her skiing that she pointed out she was skiing faster than I was! I gave her a look and asked if she realized that I was going slower than her on purpose, and with chagrin she admitted she hadn't realized. I pointed out that although it had been a while since I skied, I was actually quite good and was only using the snowplow/pizza wedge method to stay with her. I think that gave her some insight into what would come next, and how much more she can learn, as she continues to learn to ski. Besides, I couldn't let her think she had already surpassed my skill in skiing! Confidence is good, but let's not overdo it!

When we reached the bottom, our time was up. We had had a fantastic time, and when we went into the lodge, she told my dad that it was "EPIC!" Epic! Hurray!

We are both looking forward to going skiing again, and my brother said he would love to go with us any time we were going. I foresee a lot of fun trips in our future! Unfortunately, this winter was so mild, we didn't have the opportunity to go again this winter. But I'm already starting to plan for next year...

Friday, March 31, 2017

We Take to the Slopes

In January, I planned a ski weekend for my family with my brother, his twins and my parents. (My sister and her kids couldn't make it.) I'm very lucky that we have family who has a house by a ski resort within a few hours of where we live, so we had a free place to stay. My brother and I priced out how much the skis, lift tickets and classes would be for us all, and we went for it!

I first learned to ski when we were on a trip to New Hampshire when I was probably 8 or 9. I remember... bundling up in my furry gray and white coat... how difficult it was to move around in skis... the lesson I took with my sister... how lost I felt when I slipped off the J-bar behind the trees when no one else was around... and the exhilaration of sliding down the hill while in control of my movements and speed! I loved it! After that, we went skiing pretty much every year at one of the ski resorts close to where we lived.

Londo used to ski, but he didn't grow up skiing like I did. Then, he hurt his knee pretty bad the last time he went skiing,--which was why it was the last time he went skiing. Londo really enjoyed skiing prior to that, and he supported taking the kids to learn to ski. In fact, he would have gone on the bunny slopes with us, except he got really sick with a cold and couldn't be outside and/or active. But he did come up for the weekend and stayed at the lodge with my parents while my brother and I took the four kids out to the slopes.

The Pumpkin was VERY excited to learn to ski. She was almost 10, and I felt she was ready to ski. When I first mentioned it a couple of months earlier, she immediately said she wanted to learn. The Pookie was not so sure. He is two years younger (7 and a half), and these days he gets anxious about learning new things or trying things outside his normal routines. But I showed them both a video of some little kid doing the pizza wedge (I grew up calling it the snowplow) down a bunny hill, and that got him interested. He thought it looked pretty easy and maybe even a little fun. He agreed to try it.

My brother's kids were only kind of interested, but they don't always want to try new things either. However, the twins are about to turn 11, and my brother wanted to make sure they at least attempted to learn at this age. He loves to ski as much as I do, so he wanted to share it with them. In order to preempt any arguments about it, he outright bribed them. He offered them each $10 if they at least tried the lesson.

We rented all our gear (with Londo being our hero and running across the entire resort to get us goggles even though he was sick); however we had to wait a while for the next class to begin. So my brother and I showed the kids how to put the skis on and take them off. We showed them how to move around on the flattish ground, but it is not nearly as easy as it looks! Still, the Pumpkin seemed to pick it up pretty quickly, and the Pookie fell a bit but seemed okay. My brother's son fell down constantly, but he got back up every time and kept trying. I was rather impressed with that grit! My brother's daughter struggled to move herself on the skis. I think she was getting pretty frustrated.

My brother and I took the beginners lesson with the kids (which turned out to be SUCH a good idea). When it started, the instructor had us take off our skis and go up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slope.

When we got to the top, I learned that my brother's daughter had opted out. My brother made sure she understood that she would get $10 if she did the lesson, but she was uncomfortable and did not want to continue. (Luckily, the resort let him return her skis later for full reimbursement.) His son then asked if he would get the $10 even if he fell during the lesson, to which my brother said of course! So his daughter went into the lodge with Londo and my parents, and his son continued on with us.

The instructor was great, showing us how to move without our skis actually on. Then we tried with one ski on, then the other, and then both. The Pumpkin seems to pick up on it pretty well, and the Pookie struggled a bit but was making progress. My nephew was still falling a lot, but he continued to get back up and try again!

Then we started moving downhill. The instructor would go across the hill and a little ways down. Then she would signal the next person to come down, and then the next. Sometimes, she would come back up and help a person down (most of the class were kids, and it was everyone's first time, except my brother and me ). I watched as my daughter went down, doing pretty well for her first time! Then I went down... boy, it had been a long time since I've skied! Last time was before kids, so over 10 years ago!

And then I looked up to see my son hesitant to come down. I had been helping him quite a bit at the top of the hill, and I realized too late that I should not have come down before him. The instructor went up to help him, but I felt my heart in my throat when I watched him. He was nervous. He was not steady. Here was my boy up the hill on skis while I watched from below. He held on to the instructor's pole, which she held out horizontally, and came down with her.

The next two passes across the hill were as shallow as the first. The Pumpkin was still doing great, and I went down with the Pookie, with my pole out for him to hold. Then, the instructor went farther down the hill than she had before. I watched my brother, nephew and daughter do fine. Then, I went with the Pookie.

He was really anxious about this pass, since it was steeper than all the others. But I took him slowly, and he did okay. His biggest problem was keeping his skis in a wedge without crossing them, and I realized he would have done a lot better with shorter skis (lesson learned for next time). When we got to the stopping point of this pass, he fell over. I sat on the ground with him and pointed out that we had only a few more passes to go.

His eyes went wide.

"No, Mommy! I just can't do it!" He said to me, pleadingly. And I realized that was as much as he could do. He had done great! He had made it through the lesson itself, and we were just practicing pizza wedges to the bottom. He hadn't complained, he didn't have any meltdowns (something we are dealing with lately), and he really did try hard the whole time! He simply did not have the ability to keep his legs far enough apart in a wedge to keep the skis from crossing.

I looked up at my brother, who quickly said that he could go down with the Pumpkin and his son. She was doing really well and didn't need much supervision. I thanked him and took off my son's skis and my skis. I carried all the skis and poles, and the Pookie and I walked down the last part of the bunny hill.

Londo was at the bottom, and I watched the Pumpkin ski right up to him! She did great! When the Pookie and I walked up to him, I knew he was worried that our son had thrown some sort of fit, so I quickly explained how well he did and that we just walked down the last part. And we all went in to the lodge for lunch!

After lunch, we started talking about what we were doing next. Most people were ready to go back to the house. Just as I started to agree that we should all go back, the Pumpkin piped up, "I want to go back out and ski more! Mom, I wanted to ski with you."

YES! There it is... the thing I was hoping for... the beginnings of a Ski Buddy!

I've needed a ski buddy for years. With Londo not skiing any more (in fact, he stopped before we even met) and most people busy with their kids, I need someone to go with--ideally without leaving Londo with both kids for a weekend. And my kid wanted to go with me! I quickly agreed, and since we took two cars from the house, it worked out well.

This post is too long already, so I will write up my wonderful time skiing with my new ski buddy later.

But here was the after-lunch tally:
- Caramama: Happy to have a ski bunny and going back to the bunny slopes.
- The Pumpkin: LOVED skiing and going back to the bunny slopes.
- The Pookie: Tried skiing, but struggled enough for one day and going back to the house.
- Londo: Really quite sick and going back to the house.
- Brother: Going to the more advanced slopes for some time to ski by himself.
- Nephew: Tried skiing and did alright, but ready to go back to the house.
- Niece: Got on skis, but did not try skiing and very ready to go back to the house.
- Mom: Going back to the house.
- Dad: Staying in the lodge (working on his computer) to wait for us and drive us back. (Isn't he a great guy? This was totally his choice, too, since either my brother or I could have driven back.)

More to come...

Friday, January 6, 2017

So That I Have Breakfast

The two mornings (before today) had gone pretty well. The kids weren't arguing, and yesterday they even got ready before I told them to! In fact, we did so well getting out of the house, we were able to handle a last-minute change to our carpooling.

This morning was not as good. Luckily, it was mostly they were just moving slow. Sooooo ssssllllooooowwwww. hehe.

So there I am, dashing around like mad, trying to get them to brush their teeth already, and finally, I look at them and say, "Do you know what gets cut out of the mornings when we are running behind? You know that I make sure you get dressed and brushed and eat breakfast and have a lunch and pack your bags. But do you realize what I don't do on mornings when we are rushed?"

They looked at me with questioning eyes. They honestly couldn't think of what was missing from rushed mornings.

"My breakfast. I don't eat MY breakfast when we are running behind." I told them. "This morning, I am hungry. So please just brush your teeth and let's get downstairs."

As they headed towards different bathrooms to brush, I told them not only that I was hungry but that I was struggling with a headache and eating helps my headaches.

Recently, my son has asked me or Londo to time him brushing his teeth. He doesn't think the timer on his toothbrush is accurate, so he likes us to use our timers (on our phones). He started to ask me to time him, but then quickly, on his own, stopped himself and said, "Never mind, Mommy. I'll use my toothbrush timer. While I brush my teeth, you should go downstairs and get breakfast."

Awwww. How sweet! My daughter quickly backed him up, telling me to go downstairs. Usually, they dislike being upstairs (or on any floor of the house) by themselves and beg me to stay up with them. This morning, their empathy prevailed! (Plus they were both upstairs, so no one was alone on the floor.)

When I went down, I of course started making their breakfasts and getting their lunches set. Because I'm a parent, therefore I put their needs before my own. But when my son came down, he immediately took over preparing his breakfast and asked if he could fix me a breakfast! My daughter came downstairs at that time and said she was about to do the same thing!

I was really touched. I told them that I would rather they get their own breakfasts and eat--their eating breakfast would make me feel better. But then, I made my own instant oatmeal. I was able to eat it while I was fixing their lunches. I made my coffee to go, as usual, because I didn't have enough time to drink that before leaving, but I DID get to eat!

Their empathy for me this morning was really heart warming. They made sure that I had eaten before we left the house. Sure, they were loud as we left because they'd forget I had a headache, but they really do care about me. Even in the mornings.

Monday, December 19, 2016

ADHD Runs in the Family

It has been a tough year for my son. He's in 2nd grade this year, and he is having a rough time. I mean, a really hard time, to the point where his ability to learn is suffering.

We worked with the school addressing his sensory issues during his kindergarten year, and we made it through that year. Then his first grade year went really well! He did great all year long, and his teacher seemed to know just how to handle any issues that came up. And some issues did come up, but the teacher worked with him to resolve them quite successfully.

But this year, a lot of things seem to be coming to a head. His lack of focus, inability to control his impulses and inattentiveness have exacerbated his sensory issues, leading to some serious behavior problems. His teacher is great, really wanting him to succeed and working with him and us to try to get him there. Unfortunately, the things that have worked in the past do not seem to be working now.

In the first week of school, I got two phone calls and an email from the teacher. The second week was about the same. He was not doing the work assigned in class, especially the reading and writing, he was not listening, he was disrupting the class with talking and noises (while the teacher was talking), and he was having meltdowns. We met with the teacher and with the counselor. We talked with the Pookie, we've offered rewards, used behavior charts, we've threatened and punished, we've consoled and supported.

He seems to have the biggest problems adjusting to changes in routines, and neither of my kids have been good with transitions. For example, we've known for years that if there is a substitute teacher in the Pookie's class, he is NOT going to have a good day. We know that he does much better with routines and structure (this is why we did not keep him in a Montessori school), and when there is not a clear routine or when things change, he has a really hard time adjusting.

As the school year progressed, things were getting worse and worse. He was getting upset and leaving the classroom without permission. He'd go in to the bathroom and not come out. For hours. While a staff member sat outside the bathroom to make sure he was okay and to not leave him alone. When they finally got him to talk, he said he wanted some time by himself alone. But the bathroom is no place for that, with other people coming in and out, as they explained to him. One day was extremely bad, and they offered a quiet room that the school has set aside for kids with special needs (small and nothing in it except a mat on the floor), which helped, but the room can't be used as a cool-down place on a regular basis. That day, the second time I was called I said that was it, I was going in to pick him up early. I brought him home and we spent the next few hours doing schoolwork and homework, with him fighting and being contrary the whole time. It was no fun at all for either of us.

He would also bang things, throw things and shove and even hit people when he was upset. He was disrespectful to teachers. But most of all, he was mad at himself!

It was as if he didn't even know what was going on when he'd get so upset. When he was calmed down, he usually wouldn't even remember what happened! I mean, for real, not just trying to get out of trouble. We'd walk him through what lead up to it and then ask about the actual thing that happened, and he would say, "Here's the thing, that's the part I can't remember!" and then he'd say that he was dumb and he hated himself and things like that.

We used to have the added frustration that the Pookie didn't know how to find the words to describe things. At least now, he can do that. But he still has issues finding the words in moments of intense frustration or when he is simply overwhelmed by sensations or emotions. The even bigger issue, though, is that he can't seem to control his actions.

For example, we had my close friend and her two girls stay with us for a weekend. All four kids played well together mostly. (It was really cute, in fact, because they came up with their own play and practiced and made sets and costumes and the performed it for us at the end of the weekend.) At one point, there was some kerfuffle and the Pookie pushed the older girl and then got upset. I sent him to his room to cool down/have a time out, and he asked me to come in after he calmed down. He told me that he was sorry and that he really didn't mean to do it. He said he didn't even realize she was so close to him or that he was using his hands (pushing her) when he was doing it. He said it was like he couldn't even control his own body. It was the best explanation I'd ever heard from him!

So even though he was getting better with using his words to describe what was wrong, he was still having lots of trouble at school, where it's easier to be overwhelmed and there is no place to go to be by himself to calm down.

The absolute worst was how upset he would get with himself. He would say he hated himself and wished he wasn't alive. It's so heartbreaking to hear your child say and think those things about themselves.

He was (and we were) in crisis.

During this time, I bought a lot of books for kids about how to understand and control your emotions, how to recognize sensations in your body, how to calm yourself down, how to meditate (which I've done with the kids on and off for a few years) and about ADHD. I bought him fidgets to help with his anxiety and getting overwhelmed, and to help him stay focused (research shows kids/people with ADHD focus way better when they are able to fidget). I bought him a sensory-input squishy cushion for his desk chair. We talked about techniques for calming down, and I even made him little cards with the three techniques we decided on to keep in his pocket (Flexible Thinking, Meditation, Distraction).

But this was not enough. All the band-aids that Londo and I worked on with him were not enough. There was something more going on, and we needed to address the underlying root cause. At this point, it was very clear to Londo and I that until his inability to focus and control his impulses were addressed, he wasn't going to be successful at school or at home or in his activities.

So while we were doing all the cognitive-behavioral work, we had set up an evaluation for him. We went to the same people that evaluated and diagnosed my daughter. This group is amazing, and the doctor who does the evaluation is really thorough. Like with my daughter, they tested the Pookie for ADHD, learning disabilities and IQ, and I requested that they evaluate him for Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

As side note about why I requested he be evaluated for ODD: My son is often contrary just to be contrary, says the opposite of what you say just to say the opposite. Like that time when he was literally standing in the rain and said that it wasn't raining--with an angry face, not like he was joking. When I looked at the list of symptoms, the Pookie had many of them. He is very moody, is touchy, argues with anyone if that's his mood, defies his teacher and staff at school, deliberately annoys classmates and his sister. But he is never spiteful or vindictive. And he does not blame others for his mistakes. It seems more like his instinct is just to be contrary, and because he is so impulsive, he can't help himself and then feels bad afterwards. And on the flip side, he is so sweet, cuddly, friendly, supportive, helpful and creative! But just to be sure he did not have ODD, I wanted a professional to evaluate him.

The thorough evaluation came back with no surprises. He definitely had ADHD (it run in my family and Londo's family, and boy does it run in ours!), he is smart, and he has anxiety. They did not evaluate for sensory processing disorder, but we had submitted his previous evaluation for that (by a different group), so that was accounted for in the report we received. The evaluator did not think he has ODD, mainly because he is never spiteful. She provided a thick report that included two pages of recommendations for school and home. This evaluation was well worth the money (and it was expensive)!

We submitted the report to the school, and worked quickly to set up another meeting. This meeting was going to be an IEP screening, because the Pookie was having so many problems we needed to figure out with the school just how much support he would need. We made the meeting for the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, we met with our pediatrician(s), submitted the report to them, and discussed medication for ADHD. The Pumpkin was on medication for ADHD again this year, but this year she tried a different kind and it seemed to be helping SO MUCH--but that is a story for another post. The pediatrician suggested we put the Pookie on the same kind, since it worked so well for his sister.
This was right before Thanksgiving. We went to my in-laws' house for Thanksgiving, but we were able to get the prescription filled right before we left town. We didn't want to try new medicine on Thanksgiving itself (we didn't want to even consider an emergency trip to a hospital on Thanksgiving!), so we gave it to him the next day.

Holy. Crap.

The difference between the two days was amazing. He was calm and focused. It was like he was on his best behavior without even trying! From my outside perspective, it appeared to me as if all the noise and buzzing and constant chatter that must go on in his head was quiet. He looked like he could think, instead of just react which was what he had been doing. We had a great day, and he was so proud of himself.

I notified the school on Monday that he had started medication, and he had an amazing day. Tuesday was also a great day. When Londo and I went in for the IEP screening meeting on Wednesday afternoon, we were all a little discombobulated... We were seeing a different kid from just the week before. I mean, it's not like he is not himself. It's more like he was able to show the best sides of himself without all the struggle and contrariness that can come between his best sides.

At a bit of a loss, we all agreed to close the IEP assessment (which can always be reopened) and reconvene in January to discuss a 504 Plan for him. He will still need accommodations, and that is what the 504 provides kids with ADHD.

It's been about a month since he started medication, and he is doing great! Not perfect--he is still a 7-year-old kid, after all. He still has some problematic moments, but overall he is able to control his impulses enough to think before acting and he is able to focus on his tasks at school. His reading has just taken off because he can sit and focus on the words enough to enjoy it!

Most importantly, the Pookie is so proud of himself! With him, the bad will build on the bad and start snowballing into worse and worse (as we saw in the first few months of school)--BUT the good builds on the good! He is feeling better about himself, and he is very happy to be taking the medication. He is able to show everyone (without struggling to do so) how smart and funny and creative and sweet he is!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why I Cry Every Morning

The other day, my husband was giving the kids a pep talk about mornings. You see, he is awake, ready and out the door before the rest of us wake up. I handle the mornings with the kids (and I still hate my mornings). They are never easy mornings. Londo does everything he can to help without being there, including trying to get the kids to listen to me when I tell them to get ready. During this particular pep talk, he said something that included "so mommy doesn't..." And I piped in "...cry every morning!"

The kids looked a little startled at that, and Londo quickly said, "Mommy is just joking." But later in the day, I let Londo, then the Pumpkin and then the Pookie know that I WAS NOT JOKING! Their behavior has made me get angry and yell and/or (usually and) get upset and cry every. single. school. morning. for the last 3 or 4 weeks. Not. Joking.

Over the years, I've tried so many different ways of dealing with the mornings. I used to try to be fun and race the kids! (They always won, after all I have a lot more to do to get ready.) I have tried charts listed what they have to do. I have tried cajoling, threatening, being sweet, being mean, calmly talking through what is needed, getting everything ready for them, being logical, being methodical, being firm, being easy, being silly, letting my frustration show, yelling, letting them do it on their own, praising their efforts... OMG, everything I could think of!

I even had a whole discussion about how I wasn't the enemy, but rather I was their ally in getting ready in the morning. They HAD to get ready and go to school, and I was the one helping them not forcing them to get ready! That one worked for a little while, but eventually, they became difficult again.

Look, I remember how hard it was to get up in the mornings and go to school. It's STILL hard for me, especially in winters with my SAD. But I have to go to work, so I get up and get ready for the day. The kids have to go to school, so they need to get up and get ready for the day. It just has to be done.

So why do they fight me every step of the way?

My daughter gives me saucy attitude, if she even responds to me. My son is contrary about everything and then says mean things. I start off so nice! I really do! I sit on their beds and speak gently about getting up and what the weather is going to be like. Then I insist a little more firmly that they get up, at least start by sitting up. I remind them that we want to have a good morning, right? So they need to get up and get ready nicely. I give them a little time, while I go back to my room to get dressed or put on makeup. I come back and speak even more firmly about how they need to get up. That I don't want to have another bad morning. So don't wait until I'm yelling, but just start moving now.

At this point, I'm usually getting to the end of my patience. And at this point, they are still sassing me. The Pookie is saying that I'm so mean or something like that. Recently, the Pumpkin has started to just shriek in response to me. No words, just a shriek.

That's when I start yelling. Why oh why must they wait until I'm yelling to do what they are supposed to do?!? I try so hard to get them moving and doing the right thing before I start yelling. But inevitably I end up yelling. Usually, this is when the Pookie at least starts doing what he's supposed to, but depending on what kind of mood he's in, he may throw a little tantrum while doing it. The Pumpkin, however, continues to give me attitude and shrieks. Shrieks! What is up with that?

I get so frustrated, so sick of having to push them, remind them, stay on top of them, fight with them, yell at them. After all, what do they need to every morning that is worth this hassle? Get up, get dressed, use the potty and brush their teeth. That is all. I do EVERYTHING else for them, or at least help them with everything else. And yet, they bitch and moan about the very little that they have to do!

And it's this point, 10 to 20 minutes since first waking them up, that I start to cry.

Once I start crying, the Pumpkin feels bad and tries to do the right thing, usually even apologizing. The Pookie definitely turns his behavior around. But I don't want to be in tears for them to realize that they are behaving badly and treating me poorly. I don't want to go through this every morning!

They treat me like crap in the mornings. They are rude, mean and disrespectful. And I keep coming back for more. If they were anyone but my own children, I would have left them! I'm not one to stick around for any abuse! But it's my own children, and I can't leave them. I understand that it's hard for them--they don't do well with transitions nor do they do well at focusing or getting tasks completed without a gazillion reminders. But the emotional upheavals every morning aren't good for anyone!

So I let them know that they are treating me poorly every morning, and that I will keep helping them, but that they really are treating me poorly. Something has got to change, and soon. Since they are still going to have to go to school on time, something else is going to have to change. Hopefully I'll figure out what soon. At least I know I'm not alone in this frustration that is parenthood.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mommy: The Dream Crusher

This summer, the kids watched the Olympics with me, something I've been waiting for them to be old enough to enjoy! Well actually, they were at my inlaws without me during the week that had the gymnastics competitions, so I recorded hours and hours and HOURS of Olympics and saved the gymnastics to watch with the kids.

You see, growing up my sports were gymnastics and swimming. I LOVE the summer Olympics, especially the gymnastics and swimming. And I want to share my love of those things (especially especially gymnastics) with the kids. Londo has a vague interest in those sports, in the way that he is vaguely interested in all sports but NOT in the way that he loves football and keeps up with basketball and has this fascination with curling in the Winter Olympics (huh?). But I need to get the kids into gymnastics so I can share the LOVE I have for it with others and watch it and be amazed together!

So when the kids were back home, we'd watch my recorded Olympic gymnastics right before bed. Londo had warned me that the Pookie was not that into it down at my inlaws, but I believe that watching it with me made a difference. I'm able to point out things to look for, I give context to the scoring, I explain why the moves are difficult, I provide the backstory for the gymnasts. They really enjoyed it, and we were amazed together!

But things did not go smoothly one night. I think it was the second night we were watching, and the Pookie pointed out how short the Chinese gymnast was. "She might be shorter than Mommy!" he said surprised.

Yes, I'm short. I'm 5'2", which is short but not really THAT short. But isn't it funny how short Mommy is? Haha! It's sooooo funny! Mommy is soooo short! And Daddy? Daddy is a GIANT! He's crazy tall! He is, in fact, 6'4", which is really rather tall.

Guess which side the kids inherited? Their father's height. They have both always been in the 75-95% or greater for height. Which, of course, means that they will be taller than me in a few years. Or next year! They will all be taller than Mommy next year! Haha! Mommy is so short. Ha. Ha. :-/

So there we were, watching gymnastics, with the Pookie only half joking that the gymnast might be shorter than Mommy, cause Mommy is SO short. And I explained to them that actually, all those gymnasts were shorter than me. They were SHOCKED! I explained that it's true, except one or two who might be the same height as me (I looked up Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, who are both also 5'2"). All the other female gymnasts are shorter than I am.

I explained how being so short was helpful to the female gymnasts and how being short helped the gymnasts get to the Olympic level of gymnastics. And then the Pookie commented, "The Pumpkin will never be a gymnast in the Olympics then." And I, like a FOOL, basically agreed. I basically said that she'd be too tall to be an Olympic gymnast.

We continued watching the gymnastics until a few minutes later, when I looked over at the Pumpkin, and saw she was crestfallen. She was even starting to cry! Oh crap! Why was she suddenly upset? I asked her what was wrong.

And she said, "Mommy, you told me I can't be an Olympic gymnast, and I've always wanted to be one! You crushed my dreams!"

I immediately starting saying things like, she could be the first tall Olympic gymnast! If she worked hard, who's to say she can't do it? She just needs to work hard and figure it out and she could be one if she really wanted! Etc. etc. etc.

In my mind, I was going: Wait... what? Since when does she have an interest in being a gymnast? She's "always" wanted to be an Olympic gymnast? Um, she hasn't taken any sort of tumbling class since she was, like, 3? I think 3. She only mentioned maybe taking gymnastics classes once during the Olympics. This is BRAND NEW! How can I be expected to know this BRAND NEW thing and not CRUSH her DREAMS when she's never even talked about it before?

Luckily for me, it blew over pretty quickly. The next morning, the Pumpkin told me that she decided she would be the first tall female Olympic gymnast! I totally supported her! If that's what she wants to do, she should do it! A day or two after that, she told me she was going to do basketball instead, since being tall would really benefit her in that sport. I encouraged this even more! In fact, I signed her up for the after-school basketball class this year.

I really want to be that supportive mom who is a great cheerleader for her kids, a shoulder to cry on when things don't go well, and voice that encourages them back into the game (or whatever it is) when they want to quit. I truly don't want to be a Dream Crusher! But how am I to know I'm crushing dreams when I am just being realistic and they have NEVER said anything about this supposed dream in their lives? Some days, it's just a crap shoot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back to Schools

Here we are again at the start of another school year. Yesterday was the first day of school, and the Pumpkin is starting 4th grade and the Pookie is starting 2nd grade. They are both still in elementary school, but they are going to different schools this year. That is because the Pumpkin got into the gifted and talented program in our area, and therefore she is bused to a nearby school that has the GT program.

Look, I'm a mom and this is my blog... so I am going to brag just for a minute!

My daughter got into the gifted and talented program! I KNEW she was a super genius! She's always amazed us at the things she does and says and how much she learns and remembers! Super Genius!!!

Now, back to the post...

The Pumpkin is very excited to start this brand new school and be in this GT program, which is a two-year program covering 4th and 5th grade. To help make the transition easier and more comfortable, we went to an open house for the program last Spring, another one last week, a picnic for incoming 4th graders (to the program) last week and the musical that they put on last June. In addition, one of her good friends from her "home school" (the elementary school she'd been going to) is going, as well as two other kids from her home school--and that's just the 4th grade class! She also knows a 5th grader in the program who went to her home school (who's sister is friends with my son). And best of all? My niece is in the program in 5th grade! In fact, when we talked with her about applying to the program, I told her that her cousin goes there and that's what made her say she wanted to apply for sure!

I'd been worried all summer about how I would get the Pumpkin to one of the close schools where the bus would pick her up to take her to her new school and then get back home to get the Pookie on his bus, which would come 20-30 minutes later. But the mom of the girl in 5th grade who's sister is the Pookie's friend worked out carpooling with me, so I think we've got a good plan now.

The Pookie is happy to be going back to school and starting 2nd grade. He has some friends in his new class, and he thinks he's going to really like his teacher. I can see him on the edge of a big leap forward, too, so I'm excited to see what 2nd grade bring with him!

This past weekend, they got some new sporty shorts, new shoes and haircuts. They cleaned their rooms, and we packed their backpacks. By Sunday night, they were ready to start school! I saw them off on the buses yesterday morning, and they were both happy and excited! And when my son's bus left the big bus stop in our neighborhood (our one bus stop fills the whole bus! it's the only stop for the bus!), we parents literally cheered! It was so fun and funny!

So now we are getting back into the rhythm of school, and I'm really ready for it. The kids seem to be, too. Summers are fun, with lots of interesting things to do, but each week is a different place and schedule! It's been really hard for me to juggle it all, especially with work--I often ended up leaving the office early and having to finish working from home in the evenings. But now, I'm back to regular schedules, and the kids are back to regular routines, and life keeps moving forward...

The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me...