Ben has had a series of breakthroughs in the last few weeks that are nothing short of remarkable. I think some of my readers know that Ben is a dancer. He doesn’t just take dance; he’s a dancer (big difference, at least in this mom’s opinion). He started ballet in October and it has been a serious struggle. He didn’t like it. He was frustrated because he just couldn’t seem to keep up and get his body to do what it was supposed to do. He’s a natural tapper. You can explain a step to him, he’ll fool around with it for a few minutes and then he’s ON IT. But ballet is not coming as easily and he was frustrated. Then literally the Tuesday after Sam died, his ballet teacher changed. This was a decision that was in the making for a while, but the suddenness of it was a bit of a shock. Fortunately, he knew the new teacher (she was Katie’s teacher last year), and he adjusted to her pretty quickly. The thing is he’s about a year behind the girls in his class, and he knows it. About three weeks ago, he asked me if I thought he could take some private lessons. I told him that if he wanted to do that, he needed to ask his teacher and work with her on a schedule. And he did it. The funny part is that everyone was shocked that he wanted private lessons for ballet. But he has a goal, and improving his ballet technique is part of reaching that goal. He has his homework for the next couple of weeks and he’s pretty committed to doing it.

We started back with All About Spelling recently because he doesn’t like the way spelling is taught in Learning Language Arts through Literature. He loves everything else about the program, but not the spelling, so we agreed to go back to All About Spelling. He’s discovered he can spell a lot more and a lot better than he thought he could. Yesterday, we tried an experiment and discovered that he can type a response if he’s dictated to, so we have dictated phrases and sentences in the last two days and he has done them all right. He is so proud of himself, and he’s now understanding what the purpose of learning how to type actually was. Hoping that means he will actually start working on that again.

He’s also finally getting a grip on how to harness his imagination and powers for good. I can’t wait to see who he becomes. We’re on an amazing ride with this kid.


This Year’s Plans

As my husband of almost 20 (!!) years will tell you, the beginning of the year can be a little scary if you live with me. I am full of ideas, plans, and things I want to do. I make lists, I join classes, I find lots of ways to try to make our lives more meaningful and more fulfilling. And then, I lose track of all those projects and I fall off the wagon and I end up sitting there on December 31st trying to figure out what happened. But not this year.

What makes me think this year will be different? Well, for starters I have a planner that I adore that makes me think about my choices more concretely and helps me to plan and organize in a fashion that is more suited to my style (read, I can ramble on a bit and it doesn’t seem to matter given that it is paper). I’m using personal sized Life is Crafted pages from here. What I like about these is the review aspects of the monthly pages and the other pages that give me a place to put the books I read and the movies I see and so forth.

One of my goals is to write more. Thanks to a random mention on Twitter, I discovered the Magic Spreadsheet. More importantly, because I’m not quite at a point where I want the world to see how many words I write in a day, I found a personalized one that I can use for myself and only myself. I am using it and it is helping me to be aware of how much I am writing.

Right now, I’m writing in word, but I finally made the decision to commit to Scrivener this year and I can’t wait to get started with it. I’m hoping to produce some more academically focused articles this year, and I think this a tool that can help me do that.

As for the other things that I’m doing, well, I joined Ali Edwards’ One Little Word class and Cathy Zielske’s Move More, Eat Well Jumpstart at Big Picture Classes. I’m not expecting miracles from the latter, but a bit more consciousness on my part simply won’t hurt anything. I’m starting a year long cross-stitch project in a few days (Once Upon a Time Sampler, some scripture memory work from A Holy Experience, and some other things designed to help me find and focus on the goals that I need to pursue to fulfill the person I am supposed to be. I’m also continuing with Digital Project Life. I truly love doing this project and I think we learn so much from what we used to do and who we used to be even one year ago. I may suck at scrapbooking in a traditional manner, but put me in front of Photoshop and watch out.

Finally, I am tackling the house. Anyone who knows me knows that my house is something of a terror zone. So I’m working on decluttering and clearing, and making space for us all to breathe. We’re going to tackle some small projects along the way to try to make things more workable while we decide whether this house is still a fit for us or if we need to do something different. Only time will tell.

Long Days, Little Rest

It’s been a while since I’ve written a straight up blog post, but I thought I’d give it a try. The start of 2012 has been a perfect storm of insanity. Our air conditioner died. In a typical Florida winter, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but this wasn’t typical, not by a long shot. It was finally replaced on Monday. I have never been more grateful.

P has changed jobs and company. The new company is a good fit for him and is an exciting opportunity. But people who know what those words mean know that there is a lot of work involved and he’s frequently far busier than he used to be. He also now works from home part of the time. This is not always ideal as he tends to prefer quiet to no quiet, but we’re persevering so far and we seem to be getting the hang of it.

My work schedule went loopy. I’m teaching classes I haven’t taught in quite a while and they’ve changed significantly and I ended up working crazy numbers of hours to not be behind my students. And, really, it’s not settled, I’m still working crazy hours and don’t have a lot of time when you add in teaching my own kids. I don’t see this schedule letting up until summer. Sigh. I can hope for a miracle, though.

My health has been a roller coaster. Allergies hit very hard this year, but I didn’t end up with my semi-annual case of bronchitis. This is good since my primary for the last seven years quit the practice and left a lot of patients with no primary care. I’m meeting one of his partners at the end of the month and we’ll see if that relationship will work or if I need a new primary all together. I also have to admit defeat (ha ha) and find a podiatrist. My feet are so painful in the mornings now that I look like a 90 year old woman hobbling across the floor. It’s not attractive and it’s not fun. Plus, now my knee is in on the act. It clicks and makes noises I know it shouldn’t. First step is the feet. If that doesn’t fix it, then off to the orthopedist I go to try to find out what the heck is going on in my knee.

And then, there’s homeschool. It’s a journey and a lot of times, it’s not fun. Ben is prone to tantrums and he is very vocal about what he doesn’t like and what he won’t do. There have been more curriculum changes — we’ve adopted WriteShop A, and that seems to be helping a little, but anything involving the physical act of writing is right out. He can read phenomenally well, and could easily read chapter books, but he’s realized that some of his friends can’t do that and so he refuses to do it as well. He keeps reminding me that he’s a first grader and I can’t ask him to do anything that isn’t first grade. We’ve had the talk that the grade thing is arbitrary and that we use first grade as convenient because it keeps him with kids his age. He seems to understand that, but he’s still very attached to the idea that he’s a first grader and that’s that.

I’ve started calling what we’re doing story-schooling because Ben seems to learn best through stories. We are using a host of curricular options that rely on telling him stories or him creating stories to get the information across. This seem to work better than anything else we’ve done, but still, there’s resistance if he feels like there’s any fine motor stuff involved (clearly, he doesn’t call it that, but anything using his hands, he’s not interested in). And there is irony in this because he will draw for hours, color to his heart’s content, cut out things he’s drawn and glue them to other projects, but if it’s not his idea, he’s not willing to do it. Sigh.

Katie has started preschool with a vengeance. We tried a more formal program, but she wasn’t quite ready for it, so we do a page of Core Knowledge, read AlphaTales, and she loves to watch Leap Frog’s Phonics Farm. I’m toying with Reading Eggs for her, but haven’t decided yet.

We’re adding and subtracting activities and options as we go. This homeschooling thing is really an adventure. I don’t know if I’m going to be more active in the coming months, but I thought a brief update was in order.

February 3 in 30: Wrap up/March 3 in 30: Goals

3in30 Challenge

February Wrap Up

Positive Parenting Solutions

I failed utterly at this one. I didn’t manage to watch one session or complete one worksheet. So, that was a bust.

Drink More Water

I did it. I now consistently drink at least 2 32-oz glasses of water (or water mixed with Crystal Light Pure) every single day. It’s definitely improved how I feel and I’ve even lost a tiny bit of weight as a result.

28 Days To Hope for Your Home

I completed all 28 days and my kitchen, bathrooms, and clutter areas have not looked better in years. I’m really very pleased. It took very little time to get organized for a visit from an AC repair person. Woohoo!

March Goals

Positive Parenting Solutions

My goal is to watch one session, complete the worksheet, and incorporate the actions into our parenting “plan.” I think this is much more manageable and actually gives the sessions and their material the time that they should receive.

Stop Eating at 8p

Because I work in the evenings, I have a bad habit of snacking all the way through my work sessions, so my plan this month is to stop that. I can drink, but no more eating while working. We’ll see what that does.

Mindset for Moms

I seem to be using my third goal as sort of an e-book a month kind of thing and that actually works for me. So, this month I’m going to read Jamie Martin’s Mindset for Moms and see if I can improve my attitude.

This is the weekly link up page. Please go there if you’re joining in, want to see what others are doing and so forth.

Things Mothers Don’t Talk About — But Should

One thing I never really heard anyone talk about before I had either of my kids was a less than ideal “bonding” experience with the baby. My relationship with Ben was rock solid from day one. I adored him. He was beautiful and perfect in every way. We felt connected and to this day feel deeply connected. While we have our issues (screaming, him; yelling, me; hitting, him; crying, me), he knows without a doubt that his mommy loves him and has loved him every single day of his life.

I wish I could say the same for Katie. I love my daughter. I think she’s the sweetest, funniest little girl to ever set foot on the planet. She’s definitely one of the toughest, but that deep, elemental connection that I’ve felt with Ben since day one is not as present with Katie. That’s not to say that it’s not there or that we’re not connected, but I’ve had to work really hard to make that connection with her that just came with Ben.

I know that a large part of the issue was the fact that she and I were separated within a few hours of her birth and I didn’t see her again for almost 72 hours. The first 24 hours I was fighting for my life and on a ventilator, and then they needed to get me strong enough so that I could hold her, which I did — in the ICU. But I felt disconnected from the process. I was so consumed with trying to get myself better, I couldn’t think too much about this tiny little life that had just joined the planet. It was honestly a relief to me that she could stay in the nursery and get care, because there was no way that we could have done it with all the bells, whistles and wires attached to me. I was on an extensive array of scary drugs, so breastfeeding was out.

I made it out of the ICU, into a step-down unit, and then onto the maternity floor. At that point, I think everyone expected me to go nuts wanting to see the baby. I wasn’t as interested as I guess I should have been. I don’t know. I was in a total fog. I don’t really remember much except P suggesting that if I didn’t show an interest in her soon, they wouldn’t let her leave with us. The poor lactation consultant walked in after that and I sobbed all over her for a good twenty minutes. Thank God she recognized full-fledged panic. She convinced me that no one was going to keep Katie from us, that everyone understood what a horribly scary thing I’d just been through, that I was a warrior because I was out of the ICU and back with my baby — I lived. No one was expecting me to be completely together and it was okay.

Still, I wasn’t attached. I let other people take care of her. I was the still ill person that P dragged along to appointments for Katie even though I couldn’t process the information that we were being given. I felt like P had another child and I was along for the ride. She didn’t scream when she saw me or in any way show that she realized that mommy was having a hard time with connecting to her.

The fog started to clear right around the time Katie was six months old. I loved her, but I didn’t have the deep feelings that I had for Ben. And then the other shoe dropped — Katie had trigonocephaly. It’s like I’d been waiting for that shoe all along. I was waiting before I connected with her because I was so sure she was going to be taken from me. I was just so sure. And I shut down again for a little while.

But it was the rounds of doctors and exams and pushing insurance companies to do right for her that started to connect me to this child in a way I hadn’t been before. Handing her to a nurse for her surgery was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Getting home after her delivery was cake compared to handing her to someone not being 100% sure that I’d see her again or that she’d be the same baby after her surgery.

Those of you who follow me regularly know that she isn’t the same baby, and maybe that’s what finally sealed the bond. See, I’m not the same person I was the day before Katie was born either. I’ve had to build a new life, a new reality and I think we’re now both in a place where mommy and little girl connect. It may never be quite like the connection I have with Ben, but I’d say that it is just as deep and just as meaningful because we had to work so much harder for it.

Not sure where I’m going

And not sure where I’ve been.

Definitely sounds like a country song, anyway.

I’ve been battling my inner demons for a few weeks now. I’m not really sure how to describe how I’ve been feeling other than to say not good. I stress way too much over little things. I get abnormally sound sensitive (making my sound sensitive child look like a lightweight). I get super emotional. I cry.

Part of it is frustration. I should be better by now. If the thyroid stuff was going to work, it would be working by now . . . and it’s not. I’m, if possible, in worse shape now than I was when I started. I still have no energy. I feel quasi-sick all the time. I agreed to do things because I expected to feel better, but instead I’m feeling worse and wiped out and utterly unable to cope.

It’s not that I’m out of hope, but I’m not sure what’s next. I think Dr. T expected this to be a quick fix and it’s not. I look at pictures of myself and I realize that I don’t look well. I don’t know where to turn from here. I can’t even really describe symptoms at this point because I don’t know what is actually a symptom and what is an effect of how I feel.

Am I tired ALL. THE. TIME. because I don’t feel well, or is that why I don’t feel well. I don’t know. I have another appointment with Dr. T in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping that his problem solving abilities are in the forefront and he’s going to have some ideas of what to do from here.

Add to that, I’ve been having eye trouble. Not the big thing. Thank God, not the big thing (macular degeneration — I live in total fear of it), but something called blepharitis. I wish I was joking about it, but I’m not. It had reached a point where it felt like I had boulders in my eyes, so I went to see Katie’s eye doctor (yes, she treats grown ups, too). She said, “It’s just bad luck.” But I have to do warm compresses, lid/lash washes, and ointment in my eyes every night. It completely freaks me out.

The suckiest part of it is that I am wearing glasses. I have been wearing glasses non-stop since she diagnosed me almost eight weeks ago. I think it’s getting better but my eyes still hurt, which probably means that I have to continue treating. Sigh.

I haven’t been able to work out. I feel like limp spaghetti by the end of the day with my kids and I still have to work after that. My temper is short and I’m just not feeling good.

Goal Review: Month 4

Another month down in the build a happier Adjunctmom and it appears that we’re doing so. I’m pleased about that.

1. So, we’ve learned something. I need a group for accountability or I am not going to be successful with reading plans. I have not managed Proverbs or to keep up with the reading plan from my church. HOWEVER, I did pick up a copy of Praying With Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year and I’ve really found it to be centering and helpful. So, that’s this month’s goal, to pray the beads at least once every day.

2. I managed the March for Babies with no ill after-effects. I tried the Shred, one day, and my knees are still protesting two weeks later. So, this month I’m focusing on the May challenge over at Shredheads — work out every day. Some days will be the Wii, some days the gym, and I start swimming class on Saturday. Trying not to be nervous about that.

3. Organizing made some progress and some not. I haven’t been following the book as well as I was supposed to, but I did work on organizing my sewing area and parts of the kitchen. We’re all finally feeling much better and this has added us in operation organization. Hopefully more organizing to come this month.

4. I’ve discovered that one thing I need to be happy is time to work on things that I love to do. I’ve been doing some knitting, some quilting, or some cross-stitch as often as I can. I’m trying for daily this month. We’ll see if I can pull that off. I’ve also discovered the interesting side effect that my blood pressure is much lower if I stop with teaching type work by 9p and spend the last couple of hours working on things I enjoy doing instead. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy teaching, but there’s stress because it’s work.

5. The attitude is gratitude. The journal is the journal. All is well.

6. Katie’s image journal is coming along fabulously. I am caught up with pictures. I have precisely the number I need for right now. It’s going to be a very special book for a very special girl.

7. I completed the April challenge at Shredheads. I logged everything I ate for the month of April. Over the course of the month, I lost five pounds, so I think it was helpful. Would have been better if I could have exercised more. Hopefully now that pollen season is almost over, I stand a better chance of exercising regularly and eating better.

8. Will continue moving. This month, as mentioned before, Shredheads May challenge is to work out every day. I will do this; I can do this. I’m looking forward to doing this.

9. Plan continues apace.

10. The homeschool plan is complete. I need to place the order (likely next week), but we know what we’re doing; he’s started some of it and he’s doing great. At this point, I’ve decided to start doing a weekly wrap up for the homeschool week on Fridays. We’ll see how that goes. This week won’t look so good as we still haven’t done anything. Some weeks are just like that around here.

11. Things with Ben are on an upswing. We’ve started really thinking about consequences and it’s working. He understands that there are many things that fall into the category of a privilege and that privileges are things that you get when you make the right choices. We have him enrolled in swimming lessons and he’s a confident little guy. He was convinced after four weeks of lessons, he’s ready to swim (he’s not). He starts the next set on Saturday.

I’d say the year mission: Find our Happy Place is moving along well and I’m happy/content with the progress.