Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Note from School

Yeah…that happened again.

Friday afternoon I came home, went through O’s backpack (because it’s what I do every day when I get home.) and found this note from her speech therapist:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary,
Olivia missed speech today due to not completing classroom work. I walked into the classroom and she was under her desk picking up her pencil. The teacher was writing a math problem on the board for a math review. The students were instructed to copy the problem down onto the given paper. She was not copying the problem down so I told her to copy the problem down then come down to the speech room. I was working in the speech room with one of her classmates for 30 minutes and she never came down to speech. When I went back into the classroom Olivia was still at her desk and this was the sheet that she completed. It was supposed to have two to three different math review problems.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
She included her contact information.


I replied with:
Thank you so much for your note last Friday. I am sorry that Olivia was uncooperative that day.
By the time she got home from school, she was unable to articulate to me why she behaved the way she did. She tried but couldn’t quite tell me what she was doing when she wasn’t doing her school work.
Please believe me when I say that I understand the frustration and share in it when Olivia is at her most obstinate. I do, though, want to say that I don’t think she’s ever deliberately trying to misbehave. I think she’s easily distracted and some days are worse than others.
I really think she wants to cooperate but sometimes things get in the way of that in her head.
Yes, she’s very stubborn and once she’s set on a path, it’s VERY hard to get her to change paths.
I talked to her about the importance of following instructions and doing what you and all her teachers tell her to do.
I hope I’m not coming across as making excuses for her. We know she’s capable of following directions and doing the work. She sometimes just needs to be guided back to the task at hand over and over again.
Thank you again for keeping me in the loop with her progress and/or lack of progress.
Tommie Ordinary

Yeah. So I find myself wondering…is keeping Olivia in the mainstream classroom doing her any favors? Would moving her to the special ed. class full time help her at all?

I mean…would she be missing out if we moved her? Is she even getting anything at all out of being mainstreamed? Sure, she’s learning but she’s also frustrated because she can’t do the work as well as her typical peers. Then again, if she were in the special ed. classroom full time, I don’t even know what she’d be learning. I don’t know how that classroom works when it comes to academics.

She CAN do the work. I know she can. She’s proven she can. But she needs someone near her ninety percent of the time keeping her on task. She’s capable of doing the actual school work but she has a hard time maintaining focus if there isn’t an adult there helping her maintain that focus. She needs to be redirected often.

Is it fair to her peers in the mainstream class that her teacher or the teacher’s aide, has to be nearby most of the time? Then again, do the rest of the kids even need the help of the teacher or the aide and is Olivia’s presence hindering them in their learning at all?

So many questions, so few answers.

Her next IEP meeting is in a couple of weeks. I plan to go in with these questions and more.

I desperately want Olivia to succeed but I also want her to be happy and if academic success means she’s stressed and frustrated all the time…well, we may need to weigh the positives against the negatives.

Honestly, if we were independently wealthy, I’d opt to homeschool her and look for other, less stressful ways to find social experiences for her, like dance, gymnastics (non-competitive,) crafting with friends, etc. There are so many things I feel like I could do for her if I didn’t have to work. But we have to deal with what is, not what we wish was so I’ll keep doing what we’re doing and hope it’s enough.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Third Grade Math

I cried last night over third grade math.

Ugh. That sounds so stupid.

And it is. But then, so is third grade math. I mean, WHY can we not just teach children to subtract numbers the old fashioned way? Why must there be two different ways to subtract? If a child can do the problem and come up with the correct answers, why does it matter how she got that answer?

We were supposed to make ‘ballpark estimates’ of the answer then calculate the problem using both the ‘count up’ method and the ‘trade first’ method.



The stupid worksheet’s instructions said, “Have your child explain to you how to do the ‘count up’ method and the ‘trade first’ method and then prove their ballpark estimates using those methods on this following problem.”

Let me point out right here that my child has a hard time explaining to me what she had for breakfast this morning, she is NOT going to be explaining to me how do these stupid math problems using these insane methods.

I tried to google the methods and all I got was the explanation of simply borrowing from the tens to make the ones big enough to subtract and so on.

Olivia is in a typical classroom. She is doing the work that her typical peers are doing. However, when she brings home worksheets like this, it sure would help if she were allowed to bring home actual books explaining what we’re doing so I can help her!

And never fear, I did email her teacher (the sub) about this very thing this morning because the frustration level in our house last night due to THIRD FUCKING GRADE HOMEWORK was through the roof.

I did make sure to tell Olivia several times that this was not her fault, that she’s incredibly smart even if her homework is so very stupid. Yeah, I’m mother of the freaking year over here.

And Tom simply didn’t understand my angst and frustration over the homework.

When I suggested he have a seat and take a turn at helping her, though, he remembered something very important that needed to be done in the garage. Coward.

I’m beginning to rethink our division of labor in which he packs her lunch and I help with homework…I think I might be getting the shaft here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


We have a pretty good morning routine. I get up, shower, wake the girls, do Liv’s hair (it’s the Year of the Bun so hair is pretty easy these days as compared to last year’s Year of the Braid and every day the braid needed to be just a little different from the day before.) and send her down to Tom where he’s got breakfast ready. (She dresses herself, which….yay!)

After breakfast (during which I’m finishing up my own makeup/hair/whatever) I find Liv and brush her teeth. She and Tom work together to get her shoes and socks on, I put lunch boxes in backpacks (Tom and Lyss packed them the night before.)

Then it’s time for me to leave. And while this is my least favorite part because, duh, I’m going to work, it’s also kind of my favorite time because the three of them line up to hug and kiss me goodbye. Then, as I walk out the door, Tom yells, “Girls, window!”

And as I pull out of the garage I see the three of them standing in front of our living room window, waving to me as I drive away.

One day earlier this week, I was heading for the door and announced, “Time to go.”

Olivia was in her favorite spot on the kitchen floor (girlfriend likes to find corners/cubbies/tight spaces and squeeze herself in, I think it’s a sensory thing…) and seemed to not want to get up so I said, “It’s okay, I’ll just kiss Dad twice and he can kiss you before you get on the bus.”

She declined that suggestion with a mild shriek and catapulted off the floor.

By the time she was up, Tom had already pulled me in for a hug. Alyssa had entered the room and started to lean in for her own hug when Tom pulled me tighter, declaring, “No, you two stay back. She’s mine.”

By then, we were surrounded (I know, it doesn’t seem like two girls could ‘surround’ us but it definitely felt like we were surrounded.) and so they just piled on for a group hug.

And in those moments, when I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be one of their favorite people I am able to rise above my current state of self-loathing and see how great my life is.

And it is. It’s great. It’s just ME that isn’t so great and I sometimes wonder if I deserve all this awesomeness when I’m so very much less than awesome.

But those three people, my three favorite people in the whole world, they love me so much and if they can love me so much I realize that I need to try and love myself. Because they aren’t stupid. They aren’t fools. They are so amazing and if they love me so much, I must be worthy of their love.

I simply must be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tough Times

Last week was rough. I had a training/meeting/thing at work that lasted from Monday at 1:00pm until Friday at 10:30am. Sure, we got to go home each day at 5 (or 5:30 if we were REALLY lucky) but we had to be back at 7:00 the next morning. So yeah, I was very tired. I don’t like long hours at work. Which is why I have a job and not a career. My family is simply more important to me than my work. I work forty hours a week because it provides insurance and pays our mortgage, not because I’m changing the world or anything amazing.

I come to work, I fumble through my day, I go home and I fumble through the evening.

Sadly, neither work nor home get the best of me because I give just enough to each to not lose my mind while dealing with the other.

I’m pretty sure that’s not fair to anyone but the girls (and Tom and I) have to eat…so here we are.

We’ve had a lot going on that has nothing to do with work but since work has been crazy, I haven’t had a chance to write any of it down.

Alyssa was invited to join an honors choir which performed at a theater in Toledo (okay, Maumee, if you’re at all familiar with northwestern Ohio.) She loved every minute of it and my mom and I did too as we watched her perform. It’s just so great watching your kid get to do something she enjoys so much. Music is a huge part of her life and that she gets to embrace it and learn more and more is just awesome to witness.

We went to a play at a small theater in Michigan (Jonesville) because one of Lyss’s friends and that friend’s mom had roles in the play. It was The Beverly Hillbillies and Lyss’s friend was cast at Ellie May. She was simply adorable. Her mom was pretty great too.

Olivia chose to stay home from both of the above performances. She declared that they’d be boring and she’d rather stay home with her dad, not have to change out of her pajamas and just watch Monster High, thank you very much. I guess I’m lucky Tom wants to stay home from these things too. I’m also really lucky that my mom is willing to go to all of these things with me.

Olivia’s teacher went on maternity leave a couple of weeks ago. This has caused a little stress for Miss O and so we’re dealing with that as best we can, working with her special ed teacher and the sub who will be in her classroom for at least the next six weeks if not for the rest of the year. So that’s been fun too.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Just a Suggestion

I don’t take ‘suggestions’ well.

I know this. My husband even commented on it last night.

I often feel like when someone makes a suggestion to me, what they’re really saying is that I’m an idiot who can’t figure something out for myself and so they have to suggest an alternative because there is no way I’d have come up with it myself.

Last night, for example, I was getting ready to help Olivia write out her Valentines for her class party tomorrow. She had one new kid join her class this year, so this girl’s name isn’t on the list we had from the beginning of the year.

I said, “Okay, we don’t know her last name but we do know her first name…”

At this point, Tom interjected, “Are there any repeating names in her class?”

I glanced at the list and declared, “Nope, all the Addisons and Aidans are in the other class.”

“Well, then, I’d just have her write the first names on the Valentines,” he suggested.

In what I thought was a reasonable tone, I said, “That’s what I was going to have her do.”

Apparently, I was snippy when I said that to him because about ten minutes later, he came back to where we were still working on the Valentines and said faux-casually, “You don’t like it when I make suggestions, do you?”

I had forgotten all about the suggestion about the first names so I looked at him in confusion and asked what he meant.

He told me I’d been really short with him when he suggested writing just the first names.

Huh. Okay. Maybe I had. I wouldn’t put it past me to do just that.

Because…all of fifteen minutes before the Valentine ‘suggestion’ we’d been discussing Alyssa’s next orthodontist appointment and I got the distinct impression that I’d rescheduled her appointment wrong.

How does on reschedule an appointment wrong? Well, in this case, when I’d called to reschedule the appointment, the lady with whom I spoke said that the times we like best (after 3:40 because of school and bus drop off time) were going to be pretty far out, like in another month.

I remembered that the girls don’t have school on Monday, February 20 and so I asked her to check that day, any time being fine because, yeah, no school.

She told me that the staff would be in their other office, which is in another town about a half hour away. I decided I could take a half day vacation and accepted an appointment for 2:00 that day.

Tom didn’t understand why I didn’t just take one for a later time in our usual office later in the month. Why did it matter, he wanted to know, when her next appointment was.

It didn’t, I explained but I was TRYING to keep from inconveniencing him!

It was just weird and it put me on edge and made me feel like he thought I was an idiot and that’s probably why I snapped about the stupid Valentines.

So yeah, a wordy explanation about how much I dislike it when people make ‘suggestions’ to me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Late to the Game

I’m trying to find ways to deal with the low levels of constant irritation that I feel coursing through my brain these days.

So, two weeks ago, I bought the first season of Game of Thrones. I know…it’s been on forever. It’s been on long enough that people are naming their kids Arya and Khaleesi (please, just…don’t) and the oldest of those kids are starting preschool (kindergarten?) So yeah, I’m late to the Game of Thrones.

But it’s a nice distraction. I can just sit and veg out on fictional kings and queens and dragon eggs and boobs (so many boobs!) But wait, was that a penis? There was an episode in which they showed TWO penises! Holy crap, now there’s a distraction.

Yes, I am about as mature as a twelve year old, why do you ask?

On the bright side (another thing that helps ease some of my agitation) since I’m so late about starting to watch this show, there are six (seven?) seasons for me to catch up on. No lines, no waiting. For just under $30 I can start the next season the minute I finish the last. That’s kind of awesome since I’m not a fan of waiting.

Oh and the spoilers! I love spoilers. I love knowing what’s coming next. I love not being surprised or held in suspense. I love being able to go look something up rather than wait for the next episode or season. I’ve already read about every single death and marriage that takes place on the show in the first six seasons. It’s a dream come true for me, I tell you.

It may not be solving all the world’s problems but it’s a little bit of time during which I can forget that we might just be facing the end of the world as we know it. I can watch one episode, destress for a minute (an hour?) and then go do something productive in hopes of making our world a little better for my girls and your girls and boys and everyone’s children.

Ahhh, now I need to go put watch the last episode of season one just to come down from the stress of that last paragraph. It’s a vicious circle. Ugh!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Nice Lunch!

So I’m sitting at my desk at work, minding my own business, eating my lunch, hoping for ten minutes of peace and quiet.

I suppose I should have shut the door if I REALLY wanted peace and quiet. But because I’m, well, stupid, I didn’t shut the door and that meant that every single person who passed my office had to comment on my lunch.

One such co-worker happened to be passing by as I was taking a bit of my Big Mac (not the giant mac or whatever it's called, just a normal, regular old big mac.) and he stopped to say, "Nice lunch!"

His tone told me he thought my lunch was unacceptable for adult consumption. Then he chortled as he walked away. Asshole.

Why? Why do people do this? How is it any of their business what I’m eating?

I mean, please, it was a stupid Big Mac and fries because, damn it, I was hungry and sometimes you just need the comfort food that only McD’s can give you.

I don’t bother people when they’re eating because it’s RUDE to do so. I never comment on someone else’s food choice. Because, again, it’s rude!

People make me crazy. I need a job where I can just be alone…like always. I’m really not fit for human interaction these days anyway. This was just one more example of that.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Standing Still...Still Standing

Olivia was a year old when I started taking her to a chiropractor. She wasn’t sitting up independently at that point. Sure, we could prop her and there were moments of independent sitting but mostly…no.

I started taking her because I simply had no other ideas. She was a year old, wasn’t crawling, wasn’t sitting consistently and while we’d just started therapies, I felt like I had to try the chiropractor too. I figured it would hurt her and it might actually help her.

I took Liv to that chiropractor once a week for a year. During her time with him, she learned to sit up completely unassisted, she started crawling and she always seemed happy when we arrived at his office.

Just before she started crawling, he told me something that has resonated ever since.

He said, “None of these movements are natural for her. She has to learn every single muscle movement that is involved in sitting up and then in crawling and eventually in walking. It isn’t instinctive to her like it is for you or for her sister. She has to think about each muscle movement and concentrate on how each muscle is contracting or stretching.

He compared it to learning to drive a car. When a person first learns to drive a car, they have to think about every move of the steering wheel, every push of the gas or break. They have to learn to watch every mirror without taking their eyes off the road. And then…they just figure it out and it becomes second nature.

“But,” he continued optimistically, “she does have muscle memory. Once she learns something, her muscles don’t forget it and she doesn’t have to think about it quite so much. Like the person who’s been driving for a few year.”

I was reminded of this conversation with that long ago chiropractor this morning. Olivia was next to me, attempting to stand as still as a statue. She said, “Standing still takes a lot of orders.”

“What?” I asked her, confused about her wording.

“I have to order my arms and legs to not move. Standing still takes a lot of orders.”

Ahhh! I get it. And I am so glad she can articulate those things. She’s so clever and comes up with some of the most profound things. It kind of amazed me that she basically echoed what that doctor all those years ago said.

She’s come so far and yet still has so far to go. But then, don’t we all?

And just because…she loves her new glasses:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Imagine...If You Will

Let me preface by saying that I love my daughters. I love my family. I feel VERY lucky to be married to my husband and to be my girls’ mom. I really do.

But I get tired. I get so, so tired.

The monotony of these days can get to me. I get up, I help Liv get ready for school. I go to work. I come home, we do homework, make dinner. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Olivia takes a bath. Week after week after week.

So last Friday was just another Friday evening. I mean, yeah, it was FRIDAY…yay! Except there was dinner to be cooked and dishes to be washed and a story to be read and children to be parented and I was tired.

While I was upstairs making putting clean sheets on Liv’s bed, I started imagining I was the respite care giver for our family. I was just there for the night, to give the parents a much needed break. I loved this family and appreciated all they do and all they go through. I made her bed lovingly, thinking about how hard the mom of the family works and how nice it is to be able to help her out even just one evening every so often.

When Olivia came in to hang with me while I was making her bed, I grabbed her and snuggled her for a couple of minutes, thinking about how much this respite care giver really loved this kid she saw only occasionally.

The peace I got from those few minutes of imagining lasted all evening long. It lasted through cookie and ice cream for Olivia. It lasted through the reading of a couple of chapters of The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Liv LOVED this book, which is about a girl who discovers she’s half mermaid and when she goes in the water, her legs turn into a tail.)

My sense that I was doing good, that I was helping someone else lasted through rubbing Liv’s back as she fell asleep. It was as if I’d recharged my own energy reserves by imagining that I wasn’t the mom in this situation. The mom was off at a hotel, watching endless hours of HGTV and sleeping next to her husband without interruption for as long as she needed. Just imagining that gave me a new verve for what we face in our day to day lives.

I was able to listen to stories about Pentatonix as if it were the first time I was hearing those stories instead of the twenty-seventh. I was able to sit next to Lyss and watching the same YouTube videos she’s shown me countless times because, in my imagination, I was there just for the night, just for her, for them.

I know it sounds juvenile but I’ve always had an active imagination and it makes the mundane moments go just a little faster, a little smoother. And last weekend, my imagination actually made me a better mother.