Inspiring the uninspired…first grader?

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Three days into the school year. I have already suffered through a multitude of temper tantrums, pouting, slammed doors, and more ‘you’re not my family, I hate yous’ and tons more negative comments than I can count. My husband and I suffered through forty minutes to do one connect the dots, counting by two through eighteen. Something he sits and does easily in the car when no one is paying attention. Give him a pencil, paper, and fun little dog to draw and the tears start flowing. Ahh, The life of my six year old drama queen…ahem, king. Needless to say, we never made it to the fifteen minutes of reading we were supposed to do. 

So when did this start? Way back in kindergarten. We never were really sure why. He was fine until the long two weeks of Christmas break. Well, actually the almost three weeks, after the polar vortex. Then the half of January and February that they also couldn’t go because of that same vortex and the poor busing in our district that makes most of the kids walk up to two miles to school. Suddenly, I have a kid who hates school. Screaming crying fits about going. I visited his class. Talked with his teacher, who was astounded by the way there was any problem. Apparently my devil at home is an angel at school, figures. 

Now, normally I would send him to summer school, something offered to all schools to keep up their brain skills, but seeing how miserable he had been I let him stay home for the summer. But was that a mistake? I don’t know. He is back to , and even worse than, he was last year. Every morning is worse than the last. Even saying the word school, or homework, sends him into a tizy. We cannot get anything out of him that is wrong there though, No bullying, that we can see or have heard of from school. What kid hates school this young? I have been there last year. He seemed liked. No super hyper like at home, actually spacey, but he can be like that, sorry to say, kinda your typical blonde. Extremely creative, can weave anything into a story. Anything.. and make it believable. But hate school. Such a strong word. And hates everything about it. We try to be patient with him. But let’s face it, that only goes so far before you become frustrated. 

We have offered to put him in whatever after school activity he likes. He tried football over the summer. So not him. I can’t believe he even picked it. I think he only did cause of his father’s love for it. He never showed an interest before. And it showed. He kinda just stood on the field looking lost. Needless to say, that will be his only season. He wanted to quit after the first couple games.  Glad they only had eight. Karate was a joke. Made the mistake of paying for a year of that upfront. Won’t make that mistake again with this kiddo. We have offered him everything from music, art, dance to baseball and basketball. Whatever, just pick something that he would enjoy. Nothing. Ugh. How to inspire a six year old? 

I have seen him interested in comic con, and the costumes. But still a little young for that, can’t enter that stuff until you are eighteen. The costumes are expensive to make. I have encouraged him in the direction of  art if he wants to do that. I draw, he needs some sort of back ground in that if he wants to do fantasy stuff. He is also a walking encyclopedia for Star Wars. But what can he do with that? Loves super heroes. Marvel comics. Again, not sure what to do in that area. Did tell him he has to learn to read so that he can read those comics and books. He still blows me off. I thought at least that would inspire him to learn. 

So, how to inspire the uninspired first grader? I don’t know. I’m not asking him to love every aspect of school. All I want is one thing. Art, math, recess even. Anything. How to make the pessimistic glass half empty kid to a kid that at least thinks in terms ‘hey, that glass is has something in it’. One that can come home and take a two minute homework assignment and do it without making it a forty minutes ordeal for the entire family, even his sister escaped to her room and fell asleep waiting for someone to play with her. Like any parent, I just wish happiness for my child, and not the misery I see now.  

Creepy Kids Toys

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Admit it parents. We all have them. Those toys that just creep us out. The ones’ whose eyes follow us. The ones’ with the weird grins. Who makes these toys? Do those people have kids of their own? Do they have some sick sense of humor? It makes me wonder.

Yesterday I am sitting on the loo, one of the few moments as a parent one has to ones self, if we are lucky, I think we all can agree, when our children are little. When I notice one of my children’s star wars angry birds sitting on the tub staring at me. Usually a little pod like that wouldn’t be all that creepy. But sitting there trying to do your business, in one of those rare moments of peace, it kinda made me feel a little weird. It’s little beady obi wan kenobi eyes staring at me from underneath its little cape was just a little too freaky. And who put it there to begin with?

Sitting there I started thinking of all the other creepy toys my kids had, the ones I yanked the batteries out of, hide, or just plain ‘disposed’ of one night telling them they ran away. Mean I know, but yikes, what are people thinking giving these things to my kids? One such was the pony from last Christmas. I have purposely left it at the old house we just moved from. Hopefully, to be sold at some future garage sale. It is this large furry horse, like the old ones we had in the seventies on a frame with springs we could ride, but much safer. The exception. This one sang and ‘clippity-cloppoted’ every time you came within about 6 inches of it. It had large black glass eyes with pupils and long black eye lashes, and yes they followed you where ever you went. Every time I had to walk by that stupid thing to clean or just get from one place to another it broke out in song. So creepy. I finally ripped the batteries out of its little neck. It’s eyes still followed me around in resentment. I finally put it in my son’s room. I didn’t have to deal with it up there as often.

One of the other creepy toys in the house is the baby dolls. You know the ones. Glass eyes, eyelashes, blink when you lay them down. I think I may have seen too many Chuckey film when I was younger. I usually hide these dolls in the bottom of the toy chest or on top of the closet. Luckily my daughter doesn’t play that much with dolls. I try to steer her towards the cabbage patch or Barbie dolls that creeps me out slightly less. Don’t get me started about the ones that need fed and poop I am not sure I can handle her having one of those. I am sure one grandmother or another will think that is a wonderful present and get that when she is old enough.

Speaking of grandparents, they are usually the ones buying these creepy ass gifts. My outlaws  um in-laws are the usual culprits. I think it is some kind of torture. They are usually buying the musical toys that have no off button. Do they go out of their way to find these gifts? What company doesn’t make an off button? My husband and I usually say, “please don’t buy such and such a gift, they won’t play with them.” So what do they get next birthday or Christmas, that gift. I cannot tell you how many musical Elmo’s we have at our house. We have begun to hate Elmo. My kids have never played with them past the first day. They always get left on, and sing whenever something is moved around in the toy box, and yes that is kinda creepy when you aren’t expecting it. That weird little Elmo voice and the sudden movement coming out of the toy box area when the house was silent a few minutes before, ugh.

My poor children. They are growing up with the belief that we never have batteries in our house or that there is no way to open their toys to “fix” why they won’t sing anymore. Not sure if that makes us bad parents, or parents that just want occasional peace and quiet and a break from the overstimulation and noise of some of these toys. I wonder if my parents had these problems when we were little. I guess there is always something that irks us as parents; toys, video games, too much t.v., clowns (yeah, that’s another one I have problems with, put not a topic for this time), but I try not to make it too obvious that my daughter’s doll gives me the heevy jeevy’s or my son’s newest whatever is totally weirding me out. I guess that is just one more part of being a parent.

 

 

The Upside of Downs

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One phone call. Three weeks of waiting and one phone call. That is all it took to change my life. The diagnosis, Down Syndrome. All the dreams I had…gone. That child, that future was dead. I sank, down into blackness, a pit of depression. Here I was a nurse and I knew next to nothing of this syndrome. Only the bad stuff. Everyone around me was so positive, why couldn’t I be? I had love for this little wiggly being inside me but I could only see a bleak future. I read books, looked up information on the internet until I was on overload. Great stories of achievement and happiness, but I could not see past my own pain.

She arrived six weeks early. But the moment I saw her I realized. It had nothing to do with the label. She was a child. A child like any other. Yes, she had more challenges. She could not suck, she had no tone, but that didn’t make her different, it made her unique.

Don’t get me wrong, I was in a dark place for a long time, that did not go away overnight. I still struggle with that everyday. I am still scared about her future. I am terrified about how other people, other children, will treat her. I cannot accept her pain. But so far, she has an uncanny way of drawing people to her. People seem to love her. She is almost four now. She still cannot talk but a few words, but she doesn’t need them, she signs a little and she is so expressive and comedic she gets her point across.

She has an amazing sense of humor. She is firmly in the terrible twos and threes and has been since was two. Each stage for these children takes almost twice as long so each milestone is that much sweeter. She was rolling front to back and back to front at one week even with her prematurity but couldn’t walk till two. At almost four she is still not potty trained, thank goodness she is fairly small and can still fit in diapers.

One of the misconceptions I had, and that a lot of people have, is that downs people are always smiley and sweet. But they have the same moods and emotions as the rest of us. My daughter does smile a lot. She smiles and laughs as she hits you over the head, pinches you, pull your hair out, throws things across the room and spits. She has a higher threshold for pain, so while my son cries at the littlest scratch, she skins up her entire knee, blood dripping off and never even acknowledges it. She doesn’t play with normal toys, but will find fun in unusual ways, usually the mirror, she can talk to herself for ages.

She has her daddy wrapped around her little finger, just like any little princess. She picks on her big brother, just like any little sister. She does all the normal three-year old crap all three years old’s do; she collapses on the ground and pouts when she doesn’t get her way, she put her arms straight in the air and slides through your hands when she doesn’t want picked up, she’s a picky eater. She has a great new move we call the “ostrich” where she is essentially doing yoga’s downward dog except head and feet are closer together, actually touching, (try that pilates people), when she doesn’t want to do anything, the benefit of being hypo-tonic, or extremely flexible. She also sits in the full splits, eat your heart out yoga enthusiasts.

So, while I will have plenty of blogs about my family, in general, and DS in particular, I wanted to give a brief glimpse into some of the good side, so far. Even when I am at my most down and depressed, I look at that smiling and impish little face, and the mischievous little sparkle in her eyes and it lifts my spirits, when its not driving me nuts, just like any three year old does.

Love/hate relationship with my computer

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I have just recently taken up writing, as I am sure most would be able to tell. I decided in March to use some of my tax money to finally ditch my antiqued gateway that was running windows XP for and upgraded Toshiba Windows 8 that I had been researching for a while. Laptop. But now that I am writing I am finding some irritations with the design. The biggest problem right now is the huge mouse pad, which at first was a plus. But I find now when I am writing there is no place to rest my hands w/o moving the cursor and suddenly finding I am typing someplace completely different then where I thought. I don’t even have to be touching it, just moving my thumbs over it can sometimes cause this. I have changed the settings to no avail. My second problem is that sometimes on WordPress I am typing along happily and suddenly, out of no where I have hit a key, not even sure what one, and most of my page is gone. Just vanished. Even though is saves itself every few seconds I have yet to get anything back. I think I am somehow hitting Enter which is bringing up a menu for “undo” then typing so fast that I’ve hit another key and erased everything before I realize it. Ugh! My third problem happened on WordPress today blogging. Again typing along with no problem, covered my mouse with clothe to try and avoid other problem. Paying more attention to my key strokes, or so I thought, and suddenly all of the words on my page go to half the size they just were. What? How did that happen? I spend the next half hour trying to figure that out and never do. After I publish I go through all my setting and still cannot find anything on how to adjust word size. How in the heck did I do that? What weird combo of accidental key strokes did I mess up? Went tonight to write a poem and letters are so small I can’t even see them. I know I don’t really have a following yet, but I some soul reads this and has any wisdom to share I would be so grateful.

What happened to childhood?

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Once upon a time in a land, well here, there lived a little girl who had a great childhood. She played on her family farm with her two dogs. Roaming through the corn fields and woods. Playing on the rope swing in the barn and in the hayloft. Playing “house” on the trackers and “horse” on the young pigs.  She was the only girl among boys in the immediate neighborhood so, obviously, she was a tomboy. This is the days when mom kicked you out of the house in the morning and you only can back to eat lunch and supper. All the neighbors knew each other in this 1970’s era Northern Indiana farm country. Technology wasn’t so big a deal, phones were rotary, t.v.’s in the county had 5 channels and did not have remotes. Cartoons were only on Saturday morning. Quite a few of the neighbors were Amish, Mennonite and German Baptist and didn’t have t.v.’s anyway, so when playing at their houses she didn’t have to worry about technology. Aah, nostalgia.

But, we can’t go backwards. I can’t give my kids that childhood. Just as my parents could not give me the childhood they had in the 40’s and 50’s. But I feel my upbringing was much closer to what my parents had then what my children have and will have in the near future. My kids are five and three (almost four). They are not getting the experience of growing up on a farm. The times are such that I can’t even just let them go outside and play by themselves without a trusted adult present. We live in the city, no fenced yard, neighbors on top of each other. We still live in Northern Indiana, but it is much different then 30 years ago. Meth lab arrests, gang shootings, and not even of other gang members, of random strangers, of children. Burglaries are up. Heck, we didn’t even lock our doors when I was little and we slept with our windows open, we don’t do that now; even when we could save money on air conditioning.

My three year old has down syndrome and has been in some type of therapy or schooling since 6 months old. But my son started kindergarten this year. I realize how much things have changed in schools, compared to what they used to be. One major thing that has changed is that kindergarten is full day. My son is gone 9 hours from getting on to getting off the bus. So long for a child that never went to school before. Which brings me to my next point.I didn’t realize that the going trend is that children go to preschool whether the mom stays home all day, like me, or not. I really didn’t understand this trend. My child is social, he was around kids I used to babysit, cousins, kids at the playground. He learned his basic ABC’s, numbers, colors, shapes, etc at home. I thought we were plenty prepared. But as I now sit listening to mommy groups and my sons classmates parents, they were sending their children to preschool for so much more. Some are bragging that there children were learning states and capitals, more complicated math, etc. I’m sitting there like what? Since when does a 5 year old need this? Why can’t they be kids while they still can? They have so much time to worry about all of that. I also found out I have a text book fee, in kindergarten. Really? Kindergarten? They can’t read yet. They are just learning to write their names. Why do they need a text book?

Look, I believe highly in education. I just believe we cannot force our children to learn faster then their little brains are ready to absorb it. Developmentally they just aren’t ready for some of the higher thinking preschool may be trying to load on them. Of course, these preschools came about by the high pressure from parents that want their kids to “get ahead” and “be the best”. Our kids are becoming a society of non-empathetic auto-trons. Glued to their tech, over pressured and over scheduled by their helicopter parents. No true creativity can come unless we just let them be themselves, have some alone play time, daydream, tell tall tales, maybe even run in a field with a dog sometime.

Seasonal Confusion?

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early christmas saleAs I was eating my morning Frosted Flakes and drinking my  English Breakfast Tea, I was watching the Today show as I do every morning when I get my children ready for school. This morning I see a news clip I found quite interesting and on a topic I have been complaining about for years. This particular news clip was on a Texas Costco that already had out Christmas decorations, Christmas trees and lawn reindeer.  Wow, I thought, what are they thinking? They seem to have even skipped Halloween at this store. That kind of brings me to the point. What happened to selling in the season we are in? Two weeks ago I went to the local Micheal store to pick up some thread. I had just been there the week before, which was the beginning of August, to pick up some school supplies. Now mid-August and I see almost no school supplies, but row upon row of Halloween decorations. Yes, I’m also seeing some Christmas decorations peeking out of the side aisles too. What the heck. I am just getting my kids used to school. It is 80-90 degrees outside. The trees are green, and it is still allergy season for goodness sake. I am not even thinking about Halloween, let alone Christmas. So that brings me to my point. What happened to the joy of the seasons? What happened to being able to go and buying swimsuits and shorts, tanks and flip-flops in summer? Yes, I could buy that stuff at the end of winter or early spring, but I need the warmth of the sun on my face, the new green grass under my feet, temp’s over 65 degrees to even want that stuff. I love Fall, especially the changing of the leaves from green to yellow, red and orange. I need that nip in the air, seeing my breath first thing in the morning, wearing the fall jackets; before I can even think of buying Halloween costumes and decorations. By then, all the good stuff is picked over like the proverbial turkey. Speaking of turkeys, what happened to Thanksgiving? I don’t even remember seeing decorations for that holiday anymore. Sometimes the occasional plain pumpkin or cornucopia or window decal, but nothing like when I was a child. Christmas is the big one. I have never been able to get in the mood for Christmas until December. By now the stores have been filled with Christmas “everything” for two months and the radio stations have been playing Christmas music since the beginning of November. Christmas programs galore. By the time I finally get in the mood, the good stuff is gone, the big season toys are picked over. I am so sick of Christmas before Christmas even arrives, I haven’t felt like celebrating it at all in years. The children are the real losers in all this. My children are only three and five. They think holidays are for getting things. Holidays have become so commercialized, they walk into any store and they see advertising everywhere. Mommy can we get Halloween decorations, can we get Christmas Decorations, can we get toys, can we get Easter candy? Can we get, can we get, can we get? They have no clue the meanings behind anything. No, we are not religious people, but I would like to think I install something in my kids besides commercialism. But the stores don’t help, their relatives don’t help. Heck, a couple of years ago I went to a specialty shoe store to buy a pair of Uggs, it was only January. In Northern Indiana it had really just started getting cold and snowing, thanks global warming.  Anyway, almost no boots. Some picked over, way to small and too big sizes in colors no one my age should own. I asked the salesperson if he had anything left. He looked down his nose at us and laughed saying we should have been here in  “summer and fall”, when it is boot season. Huh? Since when is there snow in summer in Indiana?  It is rare anymore to have it in the fall, we used to, but not much anymore. No good snowfall until January. Why was I the crazy one?decorationsSo as much as I would like to bring back to nostalgia of yesteryear and bring back the days when I could buy my coat and boots in the appropriate season those days seem to be long gone.  So I guess I just need to find a way to accept it and learn to go against my procrastinating nature and get out there and buy early. Well, at least if I want to get that “hot” toy for my kid, or ever get that pair of Uggs I have been wanting, but never get to the store in time to get.

Easy Blackberry Cobbler

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blackberry cobbler 2It is August in Northern Indiana. Most years it is hot and muggy, but we have been lucky this year to have temperatures in the mid-seventies during the day and cool nights in the fifties. This is a great time of year. Fairs, festivals, children returning to school, and harvest season. Some of the best fruits and vegetables are being harvested during this time of year. I grew up on a farm with a large garden. My parents still live in the farm house, but no longer run the farm. They do, however, still have the garden. They keep it rather large so my siblings and I can share in the crop. They even continue to can vegetables, make jam and wine.  One of the fruit my children like the most is the blackberry bushes. We go pick them every year. Large, tart, purple berries that they eat straight off the vine. We always have enough to freeze, but they just never seem to make it to the freezer. There are just too many great ways to eat them. One of my favorites has always been Blackberry crisps or buckles. Until recently I did not like cobbler. They always seemed too dry and biscuit-like. I never cared for a biscuit on top of something sweet, I prefer mine at breakfast. So when I stumbled on this recipe on allrecipes.com I had to give it a try. I love the website, and usually will try a recipe if the reviews are good at 4.0 to 4.5 stars. This particular one had over 900 positive reviews. The only thing I have done is double the recipe, since I have so many berries to use, and because it is so good, the size in the recipe wasn’t enough. I use fresh blackberries but actually any fresh or frozen fruit could be substituted.

EASY BLACKBERRY COBBLER

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cups blackberries (or other fresh or frozen fruit)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust oven rack to middle position.
  2. Place butter in 13 X 9 inch pan and place in oven; remove pan from oven when melted.
  3. In large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk until batter is smooth (like pancake batter).  Pour batter into pan, scatter fruit on top.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the batter browns and the blackberries bubble. Serve warm or room temperature. Also great with vanilla ice cream.

If you want the original recipe it is on allrecipes.com under Easy Batter Fruit Cobbler. Mine is changed somewhat from that one to accommodate my needs.

Back to School

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My babies start school tomorrow. One in kindergarten, one in special ed pre-k. We have a financial problem in our area, Northern Indiana, so our children’s schedules had to be rearranged to use fewer buses. The elementary children have to 70 extra minutes. A huge change for a child who has never gone to school before. Eight forty-five in the morning until 4 pm. A long time for a 5 yr old who has never been a way from home. I am so sad for him. I will miss him. At least my daughter only has a few hours 3 days a week. She has already been going for a year, though, in special education. Shouldn’t I be sad they are going off to school? Maybe a little, but I am so happy to have some mommy time. I feel like that commercial where you see the mom at the bus stop crying and another scene where the father is partying. I would be like the father. Relaxation here I come. Okay, that is not reality. I still have a house to clean, and I have been meaning to work out since, oh I don’t know, since my kids were born. The excuse for baby fat only goes so far. So I can dream of eating bon bons (whatever those are) in front of my t.v. while being fanned by hunky guys, but the reality is I need to take up jogging and finally attack my sons pigsty of a room. Good luck to all those other parents out there who have little ones starting school. May all your mommy, and daddy, dreams come true too.