Sunday, December 28, 2014

You Said!

The week before Christmas brake, Noah and his classmates had a gingerbread week.  They made a gingerbread house and they learned the story of the Gingerbread Man and had Gingerbread Man cookies.  So, when I got groceries and was trying to think of things to do with Noah over the break, I got some of those pre-rolled out gingerbread cookie dough packages and some cookie frosting. 

Of course, with all the sickness, we hadn't gotten around to making them yet and last night he saw the frosting in the pantry and was ready.  I told him we'd do it tomorrow.

When he woke up this morning, and Ching came up here to get him to pee and get dressed, as usual, he wanted no such thing.  Sigh.  He wanted to make the cookies. 

I came up thinking I'd be reinforcement, and he pointed at me and said, "YOU SAID." 

HA!

I told him, "You're right.  I did say we'd do the cookies today.  You just have to get dressed first." 

So that's what we did. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thoughts on Education From Three Perspectives

I've had lots prompting me to think about education the past few weeks. 

First, and most importantly, as a parent.  You all are probably familiar with my thoughts on public schools and home schooling.  Yet, we find Noah in a public pre-school for special needs kids.  And I am generally very impressed with his little school.  I think there are a total of 42 students that go there.  There are two morning classes and two afternoon classes.  They have a fantastic playground, a lunch room, a special area for kids to go blow off steam or energy by jumping on a little trampoline or some similar activity. 

Mostly, though, the teachers are great.  It takes very special people, with special skills and patience to work with special needs kids. 

As you know, Noah loves school.  He's not the best behaved kid, but he follows along pretty well and has fun with the other kids.  His language ability has come so far since school started.  They're also trying hard to help us figure out how to get him to eat new foods.  We send something new and they have him try at least one bite of it.  That's more than we can usually get him to do at home!  And now, even better, they're really helping us move him along in potty training.  This week he's finally wearing his underpants and not diapers.  At school they made him a sticker chart and every time they ask if he's still dry they give him a sticker and high five.  Praise really works for him.  This started last week.  We'd put his underpants over his diaper, then at school he'd pee when he got there and they'd just not put the diaper back on.  So yesterday we just started the day with undies.  It wasn't until they helped him that he started making real progress.  And I'm so glad they help us come up with a plan and help him with it.  We were really at a loss as to what to try.  Before that he'd absolutely refuse to let me put undies on him. 

So this is an area that for now is really great for Noah and us.  They have the years of experience and the tools and resources we would never have. 

I'm still not sure I'll be as impressed when he's out of the special ed programs.

Second, I'm also involved in the school's advisory council which means once a quarter to go over the goals and progress of the school.  This led to me also being on the Superintendent's Advisory Council, which meets monthly.  I've been to two meetings so far and have really learned a lot about the school district.  This is a group of 75 or so people from all of the schools that really does give recommendations to the school superintendent.  At the meetings we get different presentations.  Last one was about how the district is trying to serve the Gifted population, and then the other was on how they're teaching math at the elementary level. 

So far, I've also been really impressed with the school district.  They seem to have a good approach to things. 

But...  it's a huge bureaucratic organization.  There are FOUR curriculum people for example.  In a future meeting we'll do budget stuff.  That really interests me.  I know big budgets are hard to read.  I was thinking it would be nice to have it broken down by building - the budget and staff at each school and each administration building. 

Anyway.  It's really made me think about just how hard it is to really accomplish real change in "education".  For one thing, they're about to start making their plans for 2020.  It's taken several years to overhaul the Gifted program, and so far they've only done the middle school programs. 

Of course, in some way every teacher and every principal can have an impact - for good or bad.  But for big change it comes from "big government" - the school board, the city council, the governor.  Etc. 

And we saw what happened to Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee when they tried big, serious reform in the DC school district.  They were pretty much run out of town.

Third.  As you also know, I score standardized tests from home.  I read everything from middle school and high school essays to short answers.  I'm currently doing a project of high school short answers that are just terrible.  They wouldn't be passing if written by 6th graders, much less high schoolers.  Some are literally a jumble of words.  Forget grammar and spelling, they can't even understand that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address - it wasn't about him. 

I know a lot of people are against standardized testing.  I'd challenge any of them to find a way to read even 20 essays from students at their school.  They would be appalled. 

Sigh.  So how does it all tie together?  How can the district have all the specialists, all these people working so hard, so dedicated, and the results sometimes be so terrible? 

I know...  parents, society, economics... and on and on. 

But.  Whatever it is that's broken has to get fixed.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where Are Your Parents

Since becoming a parent, one thing I often find myself wondering when reading or hearing news stories is, "where are your parents?  what do your parents think of X."  When I watch The Actor's Studio or other interviews of famous people, or read biographies, I am interested in their parents and early childhood.  Are people still close to their parents?  How do they talk about their parents?  So many of the people on Actor's Studio are children of divorce it's a theme of the show. 

This naturally leads to me wondering what Noah will one day think and say about us.  What will he remember?  This is also a little complicated by the fact that we're older parents.  While I have every intention of living to 100, who knows.  Who knows how long we really have to love and teach and influence him. 

This isn't a very well thought out post.  But hopefully you get the gist. 

Fun With Pets

The cats have wanted to go outside from just about day one.  We really wanted to wait until Spring for that to happen.  Then lately, there has been puddles of pee just in front of the two litter boxes.  The other night, Ching caught Ramen doing that.  Poor old puppy.  He might have actually been trying for the box.  (Dealing with Ramen and his old age is a different post.)

We decided the most simple solution was to put the pet door back in.  We bought one several years ago that is an insert in the sliding door to the deck.  It lets in drafts of cold air and such, so we had taken it out mostly because we didn't have Silly and Little Man to go in and out anymore. 

It's been fun this morning to "teach" Peppa and George to use it and to watch them venture out, Peppa more bravely than George, into the outdoors. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Special Boy

Noah's speech delay was obvious.  He makes slow, but steady progress.  It was easy enough to get him speech therapy.  No problem.

But.  Then came the phrase "developmentally delayed."  I'm not sure we've ever been very clear on what that means.  I don't think I even paid any attention to it the first year or more.  I would get frustrated with his speech therapist the year he was two because she always seemed more concerned with his not paying attention to the activities than to his speech.  (I thought the activities bored him.)  It was at the end of that year we found out she really was doing developmental therapy - not speech - because he didn't have enough speech for speech therapy. 

When he was three, we sent him to a regular, private pre-school.  In our minds, this was mostly because he loves being around other kids so much, and then, of course, it was also a good way for him to work on his speech. 

We were a little surprised at the end of that school year to have his teacher and his development person tell us they thought he'd be better off in a special needs class.  That took a while to sink in. 

We've never had someone explain to us exactly how and why he's delayed. 

Sure, we get the IEPs that tell us he's at X years and months for X abilities according to their charts.  We're never sure those accurately measure our boy.  Sometimes it's things he can do at home but doesn't do at school that are slightly off.  Or, it's things we think are mostly due to his being an only child. 

But, we followed the advice and put him in the school he's in this year.  A classroom with three teachers, a helper, and his speech therapy once a week.  There are supposed to be 8 special needs kids and four regular kids in his class.  There are a wide variety of special needs in his class.  The teacher also comes to our house every other week for 45 minutes of activities for him and is really good about answering any questions we have. 

This year we at least feel like his main teacher mostly understands him.  He had a IEP that was supposed to last until Feb. or so, and they're already amending it because he reached those goals.  I think at the end of January we all have another meeting to start figuring out what to do with him next year.  We're also happy that his goals are concrete and seem suited to where he is at now.

Our goal is to keep him on grade level and not hold him back.  But, we do know there are circumstances where that might not be possible.  We were happy to hear there are smaller, specialized kindergarten classes he might qualify for next year. 

Anyway.  All that to get to this.

He's getting closer to four and a half and shows no interest in potty training.  We have the two weeks of Christmas break coming up and I'm going to make a more focused effort and see how it goes.  For two or three months he's had so much trouble with pooping, we're afraid he's getting a complex about it. Last night we really wondered if him not wanting to take a bath was due to being afraid he'd poop in the tub.  We'd given him some poop meds for two days and it was starting to work.  He needed to poop and just wouldn't do it.  I swear he has an amazing ability to hold poop in.

He did poop overnight and was so happy this morning that he and I could just clean up him and his diaper and he didn't have to sit on the potty for poop.  We clapped and did high fives that he pooped at all.

We often find we don't know how far to push Noah and when to back off in the interest of not screwing up the future.  He is so stubborn in such a quiet way.  And he forgets nothing. 

Then there's the new NO phase, the telling us "Shhhh Quiet" when we tell him to do something.  The hitting us when he's frustrated.  The yelling we do.  The meltdowns.  It really feels like he finally hit the terrible two/three phase.  His being so tall and strong makes it harder to literally handle him than if he had done this back at age two or three. 

Is this part of the developmentally delayed stuff?? 

His teacher saw one of his meltdowns last week after school.  She and I were talking after class, everyone else left.  Then he didn't want to get in the car and go home.  I got him out the door of the school.  Then moved him along to the car.  He's saying NO over and over.  We get to the car and now I'm out of patience.  It's cold and raining and he won't get his backpack off and get in the car.  I finally get the backpack off of him and throw it in the car.  I finally yell at him, pick him up, and wrangle him into the car.  Sigh.

She said there really wasn't much to do differently.  I had talked nicely to him, offered him choices, told him he could have his gum once he got in the car (he usually loves that), told him he could watch his favorite cartoon when he got him.  None of the nice worked. 

In the car he's still crying and yelling and saying NO.  I tell him if he doesn't stop he'll have to go home and go to bed.  Four minutes later he says, "no bed", stops crying, and is fine.  Sigh.

Over the weekend he had other meltdowns over baths, bedtime, etc.  It's leaving us feeling exhausted and frustrated and horrible.  When they're over he seems fine.  But he's getting to the age he'll start remembering all of this later. 

His teacher is good with suggestions on a lot of this.  But I think Ching and I both feel alone together in this.  Over the weekend I was ready to pack it all up and move to Texas where there is at least family to hand him over to sometimes, and better food. 

Parenting is all trial and error.  It's figuring it out as you go along.  It's praying for wisdom and patience.  It's limitless love and limited patience. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Evil Genius

After school today, Noah's teacher went over the information for his upcoming IEP.  It's about how he's doing in school with language, social skills, motor skills, etc. and what the plan is to help him along the next few months.

It says:

Noah occasionally adopts a directive mode and will tell another child that an adult wants them (when they don't) so he can take their toy when they leave.  Or, he will tell the lights helper it's time to turn off the lights for clean up time without an adult giving the request.  (This is so he can stop doing whatever activity it is he's not enjoying.)

HA!

We kinda proud of his planning and carrying out such plans.  The nice part of the first one is that at least he's not just yanking some other kids toys from them.  He continues to be very polite in his evil ways and refusals to do things. 

Oh my. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Public Meltdowns

After being stuck in the house for a couple of days, we decided we'd take Noah to the big indoor play place with the big inflated slides and stuff.  He was talking about the big slides on the way there. 

Once we got there, something didn't set well with him and he started clinging to Ching and wouldn't go into the play area.  This is phase one of his meltdowns.  Kinda silent refusal.  Sometimes we can coax him out of this.  Sometimes we have to be more forceful and physically carry him or move him along.  If we can coax and move and be patient, sometimes he'll be ok and things are fine.

Other times he just melts down.  He will lay on the floor and wrap his arms around Ching's legs and cry NO NO NO... 

This usually ends in me picking him up and carrying him out of wherever we are and getting him into his car seat.  You know how tall and strong his is, so you know this is no easy task. 

This is the second time we've had to come home from trying to take him to go play.  The other time was at the park.  Same thing, he wanted to go to the park, and then when we got there he refused to go play, refused to go home, refused everything. 

Both times we came home and put him in his room for a few minutes and everyone cooled off and he was fine.  The rest of the evening he acts like nothing happened.  

We just don't know what to do. He is so epically stubborn.  These episodes aren't pretty.  And later we feel horrible. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

First semi-scary movie

Last night, Ching was doing the usual bathing of the boy and getting him ready for bed.  I had headed downstairs and was just starting to watch a 1971 Spielberg film called Duel.  The description sounded just strange enough and there was nothing else on.  (Duel is a 1971 television (and later full-length theatrical) thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Richard Matheson, based on Matheson's short story of the same name. It stars Dennis Weaver as a terrified motorist stalked on a remote and lonely road by the mostly unseen driver of a mysterious tanker truck.)  I enjoyed seeing things from 1971 - old cars with the old instrument panels, pay phones, etc. 

Noah, as he sometimes does, came downstairs to get something he'd left down there and to see what I was up to.  But, instead of heading back upstairs, he sat on the sofa with me and began to watch the movie.

Now, I can see how a simple, prolonged scene with a bright orange car and a big truck driving along could get his attention.  I didn't expect it to keep his attention.

We kept trying to get him to stop watching it and go to bed, but he wasn't having it.

The good thing was, the movie was tense, but not really scary or violent or bloody or sexy or anything.

So, he got his first taste of a movie making him all anxious and nervous. The times when the truck tried to run the car off the road, or into the on-coming train, and failed - Noah would say "whew, that was close". 

At one point we were laughing and I said, well, of course he likes it, it could only be better if it had a helicopter or firetruck.  A minute later there's a big long train.  Then we really cracked up, because of course there's a cool train in this movie! 

He watched the whole thing.  Then was hard to get upstairs and get into bed because he'd stayed up a little late.  But, he slept through the night, so that's good. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tying the Knot

As most of you know, the Supreme Court didn't do something a few weeks ago, so now gay marriage is legal in our dear state of Virginia.

We were kinda surprised by this.  At first, we really didn't think too much of it or have any grand plans.  As it sunk in, and we thought about it, we decided why not. 

Now, if that seems underwhelming, well, we've been together well over 15 years.  We own a house, have a kid, have pets, you know - all the things that make most people married already. 

Also, as most of you know, getting married is a two step process - get the license and then have the ceremony.  Neither of these was as easy to schedule as they could have been.  We had thought that Monday the 3rd would be good - we could go to the courthouse in the morning and then have the ceremony and a good lunch.  Noah is out of school that day.  But, the person we (I) chose to do the officiating wasn't available that day. 

Well, Ching had a doctor's appointment scheduled for this afternoon, so we decided she could take the whole day and we could go to the courthouse this morning.  And that's what we did.  We now have the state's license to get married.  Took longer to drive there than to get the forms and pay the fee.  It all felt bureaucratic, not romantic.  (I know, the romance is in the next part.) 

The official ceremony is next Thursday evening at our house.  Just us and Noah. 

I told Ching if she just imagined she was writing some loving words about beef noodle soup and applied them to me I'd be pretty happy. 

I also told her she's getting upgraded from Baby Mama to Wife.  heh. 

I think that until the ceremony is all said and done, I always have this fear in the back of my mind something will prevent this from happening.  But, as the day creeps closer, we get a little more excited. 

After the Supreme Court decision, we got a letter from our lawyer that explained this also means I can finally adopt Noah.  That makes me very happy!  That process will start after the ceremony and hopefully won't take too long. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Big Changes Update

We're a few weeks into school and so far he still really loves it.  He's learning his friends names this year.  From what we know he's following directions well and having fun.  Two cool things that have happened since school started.  He will let us read books to him now.  He would usually just flip through the pages really fast and either name the things on the page or just ignore it all.  Now, on Wednesdays they check out books from the little school library and he will let us read it to him along with some books we already had.  He also busted out the Pledge of Allegiance the other day.  He couldn't say the whole thing, so he made us take turns saying it - and then he'd tell us "good job".

Another new thing is he's starting to sing along with songs in the car.  He's always loved music, but hasn't generally been a singer.  The past couple of weeks, his favorite songs are "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore - about being all grown up and out on your own, which is pretty funny for a four year old, and "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.  Could be worse.  He's also likes No Doubt's "Hella Good".  He's down with the chick singers.

In the mornings, he's also doing some music time when getting out of bed.  He'll turn on his little Casio keyboard, hand me the bongos, get his little guitar and play along to the pre-set tunes on the keyboard.  I think it's pretty cool!  He's always been able to keep a beat, and now he strums along to the rhythm.

The downside of everything is this whole no naps change.  Ugh.  It's horrible.   And it's taking longer to adjust than I would have thought. 

The first hard part of this school year is that he doesn't go to school until noon.  So when he wakes up at 7:30 I've got a good four hours to fill.  I'm not good at that.  Especially now that he's not so into going to the park in the morning.  (Extra special fun - our favorite park has been removed, we can only assume they're going to replace all the equipment.)  We play in his room a little while.  He finally decided to play with the little train and track we got from Ikea two years ago.  Then we watch his cartoons on the computer while I make the coffee and his juice and snacks.  We head downstairs for Disney Jr and my shower time.  By now it's 9:30 or 10 if I'm lucky.  He and I just aren't good at indoor activities.  But, I'm working on it.  Gonna try a few little games and stuff.  Pretty soon it'll be too cold to go outside anyway. 

I'm so happy when he goes to school.  You know, until an hour in and I actually miss him a little. I'm also very aware that this is my last year to have this much time with him.  It's hard, but I really am trying to enjoy it as much as possible. 

This year when he comes home from school he's really trying to tell me more about it, and then tell Ching when she gets home.  That's cool! 

He and I have about another hour and a half to fill before Ching comes home.  Mostly he wants to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Then more snacks.  I try to get him to at least play in the front yard a little.  In spite of cooler temps, the mosquitoes have been horrible.

We know we need to get him to start eating dinner with us and trying new foods, but he's so hungry after school, in spite of eating snacks there, it's hard to make him wait until our dinner is ready.

By this time of day, he has gotten so very tired, and then so very excited that Ma is finally home, that he's terrible.  A little hyper, a little emotional.  Sigh.  He's still learning how to function while tired.  It's not pretty. While we're aware he's still better behaved than a lot of kids, it doesn't make it easier.

The big upside to no naps is he's finally getting to bed earlier.  7:30 bath times, asleep by 9. 

Growing up is hard work. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Long Week

This week was so long, I don't even remember last Sunday.  Ugh. 

School started this week.  Noah goes M-F from 12 to 3:10.  His school day would end at 3:25 if he rode the bus.  They like us Moms who drive our kids ourselves to come get them out of the way of the end of day processes and to help with loading all the kids on the bus.  Nope, I'm not missing those 15 minutes at all. That said.  It is nice having one more year that Noah and I don't have to be morning people! 

As I've mentioned, this schedule means that Noah no longer takes naps.  Technically, he could nap when he got home from school for an hour or so.  But, his bedtime has been about 10 pm forever.  We'd like to move that up an hour or so!  This week, that has meant that we're all tired and cranky and kinda tired of each other in the evenings!  We're hoping he learns a little bit of self-control even though he's so tired it hurts. 

School.  He's still so very happy to go to school.  He loves his backpack and putting in on and going into the school.  He loves playing in the fake kitchen again this year.  He loves playing in the big sand box on the playground.  He might even like other parts of the school day.  He's always happy going to and coming home from school.  There are ten kids in his class, and three teachers.  We're hoping this year he learns their names.  We have a picture of all of them to help with that. 

Just to add in a little craziness, yesterday we changed out Noah's crib for a twin bed.  We had decided to wait until this weekend when he wasn't napping anymore so he'd only have to adjust to one bedtime in the new bed and not two.  So, off we went to Ikea yesterday morning, after donuts of course.  We had looked online and decided theirs was nice and simple enough.  Then we ended up getting a different one anyway.  As if the chore of simply going to Ikea wasn't fun enough for one day.  We then had to come home and put the bed together.  While Noah didn't nap.  Yeah.  Fun. 

He seems to be happy with the new bed.  Even better, he wasn't sad when we took his old crib apart and moved it out of his room. 

We also finally got him one of those Ikea rugs with the roads on them.  We'd often thought he would like one, but he never showed any interested.  Yesterday he finally did, and it's his favorite new thing!  It goes well with all the cars Ching buys him when the two of them go shopping.

It took him a few extra visits from us to go to sleep last night.  Part of that was being overly tired and overly stimulated - and the big new bed.  He woke up once in the night. 

He's been waking up at 8:15 or 8:30.  Or maybe sometimes he woke up earlier, but played with his collection of cars that he sleeps with for a while before yelling for us.  Today was 7.  Ugh.  The funny part was he didn't even get out of bed until I came up to get him!  We know that won't last forever, but it's cute in the meantime.

Today was also the day Ching's company rented out King's Dominion amusement park.  So at least getting up early got us on the road and to the park while it was still cool outside. 

Unfortunately, our dear boy is not a rider of rides.  Any rides.  Part of that may be his aversion to standing still, even in lines for rides. 

I, on the other hand, got to ride the big roller coaster.  I'm pretty sure I was the oldest one in that line.  I had a blast.  It was a lovely day to be walking around outdoors and people watching.

Because all of that wasn't enough fun.  Tuesday morning we have painters coming to paint our upstairs living area and the stairwell.  That means moving all the books on the built in and not built in bookshelves.  (Having the built ins painted, the other just has to be moved out from the wall.) 

Sigh.  This week didn't have enough chocolate or alcohol, even though it had some of both.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Ridiculous Kittens

We're really glad we decided to go ahead and get the kittens almost two months ago.

Our house-sitter called them ridiculous while we were on vacation - and they really are. I'm glad they're siblings and they play and chase and chew and clean and lay on each other!  Silly and Little Man occupied the same space, but were so different and didn't really enjoy each other.

They've taken over the house - as only cats can do.  They get into and play with everything.  They get up when Ching does in the mornings, which means they run all over me and the bed my last hour or so of sleep.

They're also pretty snuggly and in the afternoons when Noah is napping and I watch a little tv, they're usually both on my lap.  This will be much nicer in the cold winter!

We were not sure how Noah would do with them.  But we hoped as kittens they would adjust to a toddler chasing them.  They have.  He's doing better.  If he's sitting on the sofa with me and they jump up, he'll let them come and sit and not be too loud.  He likes to push their ears down. Then again, I think it's cute, too.  He'll pet them and say "awww, so cute".  When he's more rambunctious, he'll chase them when the go under the sofa or bed and lay on the floor and try to get them.  A few times he's tried to pull them out by the tail.  Ugh.  But, kittens are very sharp and fast, so I don't worry about them too much.  As long as he's calm, they'll sit with him and let him pet them. 

Noah's been watching the Curious George Christmas episode a lot the past week.  We were talking last night and just how much fun it's going to be having a Christmas tree this year with Noah AND the cats.  Sigh.  (We haven't had one before.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Poor Sick Boy

We've been very blessed that Noah doesn't really get sick.  He's had his breathing issues, so we're used to those.  But "normal" sick was new to us.

Yesterday, after Ching got home from work, he wanted to go for a ride in her new car.  Actually, he sat in the back seat and checked it all out, and then decided he'd sit in the front seat and drive.  We never put a car seat for him in her Matrix because well, it was her commute car.  He knew my car was his.  We've got a car seat for the new car coming tomorrow. 

We finally got him out of the car and to the park.  But, when we got there, he just sat on the bench with us and was all snuggly.  He didn't want to go home, but he never got up and ran around and played like his normal self.  Sometimes when he needs to poop and hasn't yet, he'll tell us his tummy hurts.  We assumed that was what was going on. 

After a while, we finally came home and he wanted to sit on the sofa and watch Curious George (again). 

We could tell he didn't feel good, but didn't know what was wrong.  Then he sat up and threw up, and then threw up again.  Poor baby.  This was his first time throwing up and being aware of throwing up.  He wasn't too upset by it and we told him it was all ok and we'd clean it all up.  That was laundry load one. 

He was also starting to get warm, so we came upstairs and took his temp, just about 100.  Gave him some meds. 

I thought we might have to stay with him into the night, so we put him to bed in the full size bed in the guest room, and we plugged in his night light, and we brought in his music. 

He fell asleep for a few minutes, then woke up and was laying there.  Then he sat up and threw up even more.  That was laundry load number two.  He seemed to finally feel better after that and we did his normal bedtime routine, with a bowl of cereal and some honey.

He was funny though, he wanted to stay in there and sleep on the big bed!!  Heh.  Soon...  we'll get him a new bed soon.

Today he's pretty low key and not eating a dozen snacks all morning.  We chilled on the sofa and watched a lot of George and then Cloudy With Meatballs. Did another dose of medicine. 

The upside is this is happening this week and not next - which is when school starts. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nashville Recap

Ching is once again switching from one contracting company to another one, so she decided to take a week off in between so we could do a road trip/vacation.  Almost everyone here in Virginia goes to one beach or another for their summer trips.  Having an aversion to lots of sunshine (sunburns and skin cancer) and heat and humidity, summer beach trips aren't at the top of my list.  Noah won't get in water with waves anyway, so we can always go in cooler weather and just run and play in the sand.  Ching and I would love to go to a nice place with casinos, but we'd also need a babysitter for Noah there if we wanted to do any gambling together.  So we nixed that idea.

Really, our biggest goal in vacations is usually to eat some really good food.  I know you're all more than aware of just how much we hate the local offerings.  Sigh.

We became more aware of Nashville as a possible destination a few years ago when another lesbian mom couple who lived there had a blog.  They gave us some good recommendations on food and things to do with Noah.  I also knew Tennessee was a beautiful state to drive through.  We have thought about going to Dollywood, which is actually a little closer, but Noah's not so much into amusement parks and rides and such yet.  Maybe another year.

So, we looked up driving time and decided we could do it.  (It ended up being twelve hours instead of the ten or so we thought, but still within a day's drive.)

After our first day of driving, we stopped at the Black Eyed Pea to get some dinner and fried green tomatoes.  Yum.  Thankfully the place was mostly empty on the Monday evening, because we knew after being in the car all day Noah wouldn't be so great at sitting still.  He spent a lot of the time playing waiter.  It was new and funny and cute.  He'd make a great waiter!  We also got lucky that our actual waiter told us of some additional places to eat in a new-ish, hipster-ish East Nashville neighborhood that wasn't all that far from our hotel.

I got smart on this trip when finding a hotel and put all the places I knew we wanted to go into Google maps and then found a hotel within that vicinity.  One of the reasons we like road trips as opposed to flying is having the car to do more exploring and driving around in the cities we visit.

I had also checked the weather for the week, I knew we'd be driving in rain on Monday, just didn't know it'd be so much, or such downpours.  It was still a little wet out Tuesday morning, so we went to the Adventure Science Center.  It was really cool.  It had two things Noah loved, an ambulance he could pretend to drive, and a big mouth you could try to throw soft balls into as it open and closed.  (Actually, Ching had just as much fun with that!)

The next day we went to the Nashville Zoo.  There was a lot of walking, a lot of skinny moms, and not so many animals.  It was kinda ok there weren't a lot of animals, because Noah just wanted to run and run on all the trails. 

Nashville also has a full scale replica of the Parthenon.  It's part of the huge Centennial Park.  There was also a local outdoor Shakespeare presentation that Noah sat through about ten minutes of going on.

Other than that, activity wise, we went down to the pool every evening.  Noah spent the first two days sitting on the steps, not going out into the pool at all.  Even with other kids there, he's engage with them, but not get out in the water.  Finally, on the last day, he let Ching carry him all around the pool!  So brave!

As for food.  Yum!!  Southern cooking for the win.

We had the best hot dogs ever at I Dream of Weenie.   This was the first place we tried in the hip neighborhood.

Then we tried Martin's BBQ.  Oh my.  Best bbq we've had outside of Texas.  It was so good, we went back for lunch another day.  Their brisket sandwiches are put on Texas Toast - so how could it not be good.  

For lunch another day we went to Batter'd & Fried Boston Seafood place in the hipster neighborhood.  Sounds crazy.  But I had the best fried seafood platter and Ching had an enormous platter of fresh sushi!

Our last morning there we decided to find a good southern breakfast.  There were so many choices, but we went with Loveless because they're supposed to have great buttermilk biscuits.  It, too, lived up to the hype.  Ching came home with a couple of jars of jam!

We enjoyed our little stay in Nashville.  It often reminded us of Austin - but a more southern, conservative, less hip and rich version.  I would probably prefer the Austin of 15 years ago, but the Austin of today, with it's overgrowth, would be harder to choose.

It also led to me pondering, too much, about the difference between being a Texan and being a Southerner.  I have a feeling a lot of the difference has to do with Texas' limited role in the Civil War and such. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

We Have A Four Year Old

Noah turned four just over a couple of weeks ago.  We're already starting to notice the difference.

He's always been independent, but it's increasing.  On our trip to Nashville, not only was he in charge of all elevator button pushing - and he always got it right, he also decided to be in charge of using the key card to open the room door.  We had to tell him which way it went a couple of times, but he mostly go it right.

Today, at the grocery store, he decided today was the day he was in charge of pushing the grocery cart.  Now, he's tall for his age, but not tall enough to see over the cart.  But he did a good job, with a little verbal correction - because there was no way he was going to allow one of us to put a hand on the cart to help him!

One of his new phrases is "follow me".  Heh.  He's still using a lot of "I'm fine."  As in, when he's being a bit bad, "Do you want to go to your room?"  "Nope, I'm fine."  And he'll say "No, I can't have it." instead of "I don't want it."

We were talking today about how we're looking forward to him using "I"m fine" on his teachers at school.  "Noah, will you sit down and listen to the story?"  "Nope, I'm fine."  Sigh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Changes Coming

Noah turns 4 in a week.  Yesterday would have been his birthday if he'd been born on his due date. 

For me, it feels like he's been 3 for at least two years.

Partly because he's getting older and bigger, and partly because of his school schedule this Fall, some big changes should be coming soon. 

Before all of that, my parents and nephew are coming for a visit.  Noah's going to love having them here, and then he's going to be sad for a while after they're gone.  Ching's cousin came to visit last weekend, and he's still asking where she is sometimes. 

One change is that he's about to outgrow his crib.  We decided to wait until after the family visit to change it - one crazy thing at a time.  We can change the front of the crib to be a low bar so he won't fall out, but he'll be able to get up and out of bed if he wants to.  We're not really sure how he's going to do with that. 

For the past month or so, he keeps waking us up in the middle of the night (sometimes two or three times) to turn his Sophia The First soundtrack back on. So we're pretty ready for him to be able to get up and do that sort of thing for himself! Of course, we're also expecting him to play with his toys half the night and fall asleep in the middle of his floor.  

We're also going to have to get night lights for our stairs (thankfully, for some odd reason there are not one but two outlets on the walls of the stairs).  We'll have his door closed and the kid proof handle so he can't get out and around.  But, if/when this dear child ever really does potty train and needs to get up and pee - well, then we can't have him "locked" in his room.  

Seriously - how often do 4/5 year olds get up and go pee in the middle of the night?

Yes, then there's potty training.  We haven't pushed him on this.  For the whole last year at pre-school, they would go to the potty every day and he learned how to pull down his pants/diaper and sit and pee.  If you tell him to go pee, fine, he will.  But, even when we tried regular undies and training undies, he would just pee and not tell us he needed to or that he was bothered by it.  Ugh.  

Again, after the family visit, we're going to have to get a little more serious about training.  He loves lollipops and Starbursts and stickers - so we'll see if bribery/rewards work.


Then there's the new school year.  Instead of MWF from 9-12, he'll be going M-F 12-3.  

That means no more naps.  

The upside is that hopefully means 8 pm bedtimes instead of 10:30 bedtimes.  We've been bad about late nights this summer.  

It's going to be weird not having to get up for school.  Noon to 3 isn't always his best time of day, but it'll be fine.

We know he really misses school and playing with his friends all the time.  

Lots of fun the next 6 to 8 weeks.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Noah's First Misheard Lyrics

Starting last week, Noah's new favorite song is Back In Black.  I'm a little proud of that.  For the past three days, when the song would be on, Noah would yell "LIONS" from the back seat.  We were puzzled.  Whenever he tells us things from the backseat, like fire truck, or bus, or balloons, or lights, he's never wrong.  So we had no idea where this Lions thing was coming from.  We'd repeat it and he'd say "yes, lions". 

Today we decided to pay closer attention to the song and see what it said when he yelled "LIONS".

It's the lyrics "I've got nine lives..."  He hears "I've got LIONS" I guess. 

Which, hey, would be way more cool than nine lives!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Noah-isms

As Noah's vocabulary and speaking grow, we're getting more funny things he says.

Currently, The best one is "I'm Fine!"  We're not sure where he got it.  It started about a week ago.  The best use of it was one evening when we were watching videos of him as a baby (we tried to tell him it was him, but he said, "No, that's not me, that's a BABY") and we asked him, as we do every so often, if he wanted a baby.  His answer, "No, I'm fine, no baby."  Ha!

If he's watching his cartoons or something and you ask him to do something else, he'll answer, "no, I'm fine."  

He has also learned that a very loud "HEY" by me is often followed by "STOP IT" so now he says STOP IT before I do. 

If he's sitting close to you and wants to request something, like a snack, he'll get closer and whisper it to you.

The only princess Noah has watched is Sofia.  Yet, he will still get a stick and point it at Ching or and I "make" us a princess.

Oh yeah.  He's also the most polite toddler!  Anytime anyone sneezes, or if he sneezes, you have to say Bless You, or he does.  He uses Thank You and You're Welcome all the time, even in his play time with cars and trucks.  So sweet!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Crazy People

We did it.  We got brother and sister kittens that are about 8 or so weeks old.  Yikes!

It's been just over three years since we lost our Little Man and Silly cats.  Every so often we talk about how we miss having cats to boss us around, and sit and walk on us, and you know, be cats.  We had talked about getting just what we got - very young siblings. 

We've tried to wait and be patient.  Wait for Noah to be a little older.  Wait for Ramen to... well....

But, today when we took Ramen for his bath, there were four sets of sibling cats.  Two solid black, two grey, two white/calico, and the two we got were actually three when we first saw them.  The one that was more calico was adopted before we decided to actually go back and get them. 

The girl is all white with a splash of grey on her head.  The boy is mostly black with some white.  I had wanted more colorful cats, but these were so sweet. 

We have the cats in a medium sized crate, letting them get use to the smells.  We put them in our room, put Ramen outside our room, and let them run around a little.  So far, they're very quiet and didn't even Meow on the car ride.  The boy is more rambunctious.  They'll sleep in the crate for a while.  Then have more freedom in our room, then the downstairs, then we'll see how long it takes them to venture upstairs. 

We know it's going to be a slow process acclimating everyone to each other.  The cats to the house, to us, to Ramen, and to Noah. 

So far, Ramen couldn't care less.  We're hoping he's too old to chase them like he did our other cats.  We're also hoping they're young enough to not hate him on sight! 

Noah.  Well, he's a little harder.  He gets excited and squeals.  That's not good.  He also wants to throw their little toys at them for them to play with.  He'll get more used to them and be more calm - soon, we hope.  There's a fine line in disciplining him around the kittens enough to make him gentle with them, but not too much that he associates the kittens with getting in trouble.

That's what we did today. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Resistance

More thoughts on schooling.

I think Ching and I are both feeling some resistance to the idea of Noah going to the special needs class.

The goal of his teacher and special ed helper are to get him ready for kindergarten.  That's a fine goal.  But I don't know that it's a goal we share.  To me, it feels like we're taking a great kid and making him conform to a system that isn't designed for him.  Yes, cue my rants against schools and how they're designed for girls and not boys or at least not our boy.  We've always felt that he won't sit still for story time because well, he doesn't like story time.  He'd rather be running.  But maybe we're wrong.  Maybe he doesn't like story time because it's all just words coming at him, and he's not good at listening to stories as opposed to watching videos.  Regardless, even a "play centered" preschool seems to be a bad match for our boy.  I think that if he needs this much help then maybe school isn't for him. 

The counter argument that's always in my head after my anti "girl" schools, is that apparently the majority of boys do just fine.

The biggest problem is that there just isn't an alternative right now.  We don't have a social network where he can make friends and play with kids outside of school.  And he's not old enough yet for sports to fill in that gap.  I can't take away his time with friends at school and home school him just because I don't like the whole set up of school.  That might be an option in the future, but it's not for now.

There's also not a big choice of alternative schools.  I know a lot of people like Montessori, and he might do better there, but even the ones that might be within driving distance cost $20,000 a year and UP.  That's not in our reality. 

So I feel like we're stuck.  I keep reminding myself this is about what's best for Noah, but it's so hard to know what that is. 

In a perfect world - Noah would have an older brother to mitigate a lot of this, to run around with, and play with, and to learn with.  We often blame whoever hands out babies for making this grave mistake.

In an ideal world -  we would live in a neighborhood in a small town with lots of other kids, and Noah and those kids would spend their time like Ching and I did growing up, playing, running, riding backs, playing hide n seek and tag. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tough to Hear, Tough to Decide

Most days in life with a toddler pass on by.  The school days, the park days, the good and bad days.  No big milestones, just getting better at the little things, or just melting down over the little things (us and him).

Today we went to the parent/teacher conference.  His teacher and his special ed helper were there. 

Noah has come such a long way this school year.  He loves going to school, he loves to see his friends and kind of play with them.  His communication, while still pretty behind, has improved so much.  He understands how to follow what the group is doing.  He shares well.  His teachers said one day he even gave her a big hug and said "so sorry". 

But, both ladies feel like he'd do better in a special needs class/school next year than the regular one at the preschool he's in now.  That class would have eight special needs kids and four normal kids.  There would be three teachers in the room and Noah would get lots of help and attention.  They were nice and said he could be a leader in that classroom instead of probably struggling a little in the school he's in now. He would go M-F 9 to 12 instead of just M-Th. 

It's amazing to us just how much his lack of communication affects so many other things. 

The school they recommend is where he goes once a week for his speech therapy.  While he's in therapy, I sit and just take in what's going on.  He gets there the same time the afternoon classes get there.  My impression is the kids are good kids, a few are physically handicapped, I think most have sensory or language or behavioral issues.  The staff seem overwhelmed by paperwork and procedures, but are always great with the kids. I think there are maybe three classrooms and it has a great playground we've gone to on some weekends. 

His teachers this year, and his special ed helper, have been really wonderful working with him.  For the past two or three months they've pretty much had one of the teachers handle him one on one when he needs it.  His teacher explained that in the class next year, that probably wouldn't be possible. 

They also really emphasized that getting him all of this help next year will move him closer to needing help less in the future - early intervention and all.  And we are so grateful to even have these choices. 

It's just a little hard for us to put our heads around it all.  Until this morning, Ching and I have never thought of Noah as "special needs".  Noah is such a smart kid.  We usually attribute his off times at school as being immature.  But it's also stemming from his communication limitations.  He gets frustrated.  We know here at home that impulse control is not his strong suit yet.  We just never know where it falls in comparison to other kids. 

This year he's had two main problems (other than a short attention span) one is he loves to throw things, and when he does, of course it sometimes hits the other kids, and he's had trouble pushing kids, because he wants to get their attention and that's the fastest way.  These actions have the unfortunate side affect of other kids thinking he's not being nice sometimes. If that continued next year, it would be a little worse for him.  He has a hard enough time with classmates due to his limited ability to talk with them. 

We're glad there would be normal kids in his special needs class.  We can't help be wonder how the other kids will influence him.  But really, I sometimes think that he has such a sweet heart, it'll all work out. 

It's all also a little funny, because if Noah didn't love being around other kids so much, he wouldn't have been in preschool at all. 

The choice is ours on which school to send him to.  But I think we know which way we have to go.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Noah At The Park

We've been lucky that the last two Saturdays have been nice, spring-like days.  The rest of the days, not so much.  Ugh.  This winter has been the worst.

Anyway.  Those few, few days of warmth have renewed Noah's insistence on park time.  He wants to go to the park twice a day, every day.  It's 40 outside this evening, and poor Ching still had to take him to the park. 

The sweetest thing Noah does at the park is at the big slide.  There's a really big slide at one of the parks we go to.  Several trips ago, Ching started saying "one, two, three GO" for him and the other kids.  Yesterday, a couple of times when other kids were at the top of the slide, Noah would stand at the bottom and say "one, two, three GO" and when they slide down he'd clap and say "good job!!" 

We've learned to keep a ball in the car for him to throw and kick.  He'll find any Dad/Granddad there and say "Catch" (which they don't usually hear) and then throw or kick the ball at them.  Heh.  (One of these days we'll find a cool Dad to hang out with Noah.) 

The downside to Noah at the park is that no matter which park we go to, he tends to wander off from the actual playground area into the water, or mud, or the walking trail.  Seriously?  Playgrounds just can't contain him! 

Once school is out, I'm going to get Noah a week or two of swim lessons - ok, play in the water without crying or dying lessons.  And might look for an indoor soccer program or something.  But mostly, we'll be at the parks.  Probably even twice a day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is Noah Bored?

This post might ramble a little because I'm finding it hard to know where to start.  I've been mulling all of this over for a few days, and it seems Ching and I talk about it all the time.

Just over a year ago, Ching and I were not planning on sending Noah to pre-school.  She and I were both lucky enough to stay at home with moms or grandparents until kindergarten.  Plus, Noah didn't really seem like the right kind of kid for pre-school.  Then, he developed his love of other kids, and had his speech delay, and pre-school seemed like a good idea. 

He's had a mix of speech/development therapists and they've remarked on his short attention span when it comes to staying on task with things like books and specific activities.  I've always kind of thought - well, he has no interest in those things at his young age, why would he pay attention.  If he didn't have a speech delay, no one would be worried about his attention span, because he'd just be outside playing.

Ching and I often wonder just how smart our boy is.  Again, his speech delay makes it hard sometimes.  But, by 2 1/2 he had learned the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors just by watching videos of trains carrying these things.  And like most kids, he has an amazing memory. 

He started off doing pretty well in pre-school.  He's always happy to get up and go to school and see is friends and play with them.  We do think it's helped his speech along. 

In the past month or so though, he's started playing more rough, pushing the kids, and having a harder time staying on task. 

Yes, part of this is the stupid, stupid weather we've had and all the days of school we've missed and all the time stuck in the house.  There have been a few warm days, and since then he's wanted to be outside all the time. 

But here's where I think he's bored.  He is not a kid that's into pre-school activities.  He has no interest in arts and crafts or story time.  And I think he's also lost interest in the activities he really enjoyed for a while - such as playing in the pretend kitchen.  (That's why we never bought him a kitchen to play with at home, so he wouldn't get burned out.) 

Now, I admit I'm pretty biased against schools.  I am not convinced they are good places for little boys in particular.  Yes, they have playground time, weather permitting, but so much of the activities are basically sitting/standing at a table and doing something.  I do know they try to vary things.  Noah just wants to run and run and play and run. 

The purpose of pre-school is to get kids ready for school.  But he's 3 1/2 and if he didn't love kids wouldn't be in school at all.  So, part of me keeps resisting making him do school activities at home for practice. 

Is 3 1/2 y/o behavior a really good indicator of 5 y/o behavior?  I don't really know. 

I also wonder if they perceive his behavior one way because he's been defined as speech and development delayed.  Could it be he's one of those kids who's smart and bored?  We don't know.  Do 3 1/2 y/o get bored like that?

I don't know.  I don't know how to make sense of all of this.  The counter argument to so much of what I think is that there are kids his age who do all of this just fine.  And we just don't really have a good gauge for what's normal, yet I also find I don't always trust the people defining normal.  If you're in the education field, well, you tend to see everything as being fixed by education. (Do NOT get me started on ADHD and it's rise in it's diagnosis.) 

I'm sure there will be more to write on this as it comes up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Creepy

There have been a dozen or more times in Noah's life when we knew he was looking at/talking to someone we couldn't see.  Ching thinks of ghosts.  I think of guardian angels. 

About a week ago he started something new.  Noah and Ching were in the kitchen doing his pre-bed cereal snack.  He looked over toward the wall and said, "the baby is sad, the baby is crying, I see it."  Um what??  Then he went on and finished his cereal and went to bed. 

A couple of days later, he and I were in his room playing with his toys and he looked over towards a wall and his changing table and said, "the baby is taking a bath."  Huh?  At least it wasn't crying.

Then last night, again at pre-bed cereal time,  he once again said "the baby is sad, the baby is crying, I see it."  So, Ching asked if he could tell the baby it's ok - because anytime he sees a kid crying he'll go and pat them on the arm and so "ok, ok".  But he said, "no."  I told Ching I wasn't sure it wouldn't have been more creepy if he'd actually told the baby it was ok. 

Our least creepy guess is that there's some baby in one of the cartoons he's seen.  But we can't think of one. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Little Things

Noah has never been to Chuck E Cheese. As far as we know, he's never even seen a commercial. But when we pulled up today, he saw Mr Chuck and said "cheese!!" Huh?  We went yesterday to play with one of his classmates, but he spent over half the time in a play car that had a big Chuck E Cheese in the passenger seat.  When he hugs us he says "sweet" because that's what we say to him.  So he hugged on Mr. Chuck and said "sweet".  It was cute and weird at the same time.

Then last night we had one of those drink trays from McDs and a plastic cup in it.  He also had a little cleaning cloth.  He was going around the kitchen saying "cooking" and then would bring us the tray and have us "drink it, try it" and then would clean up!  We've got a little chef/waiter on our hands! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter of Winters

Winter of our discontent just seemed too cliche and not all that accurate.

It definitely has been a long, cold, snow-filled winter.  The crazy thing is, back in the summer, I would tell Ching I was pretty sure it was going to be a long, cold, snow-filled winter.  And yet, that knowledge in no way, shape or form prepared me for it being just that.  Crazy.  Back before this winter, we talked about how Texas summers would be a big factor in deciding to move back there if the chance ever presented itself.  After this winter, maybe not so much.  Being stuck indoors and missing all these school days, well, hot summers don't sound as bad.

I find as time goes by it gets a little harder to write updates about Noah.  There aren't big milestones being passed.  There aren't growth spurts.  There's just every day life and little changes over time.  Let's see if I can maybe sum him up a little.

Typical Noah days...

He generally wakes up about 7:30 in the morning.  The days he sleeps a little later, maybe until 8, aren't the weekends, oh no, they're school days.  He wakes up happy and pretty ready to go.  He still calls out "HI" until one of us goes up there to get him.  When I get up there, he'll hand me the car or two he had in bed with him and then say "up, please" so I'll get him out of the crib.

He's still sleeping in his crib partly because he likes it, and partly because it's just easier.  We don't think he's quite mature enough for a big boy bed.  He wouldn't be able to get out of his room if he didn't want to be in bed, but he might get up and play all night if he could.

He still really enjoys going to school and seeing his friends there.  His special ed lady is working with him on being able to say his class mates names.  He still doesn't like to color or do crafts and that's ok with us.  At school when they get to play he spends a lot of time in the kitchen talking about food, and a lot of time with the cars.  We're sort of trying to involve him a little more in the kitchen at home, but it's slow going.  I have a feeling in a year he'll be a pro in the kitchen!

Because we've been indoors a lot this winter, he's still got his favorite shows and cartoons.  He still loves Curious George and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  He'll watch a ton of old Chip n Dale/Daffy Duck cartoons on you.tube.  He'll watch really old Mickey Mouse cartoons and a little but of Dumbo on Netflix.

He's learned a little bit of bargaining.  I'd tell him, "okay, one more George and then nap time." and he's starting saying "one more George" or "one more Jake" before doing something.  What's cool is he's content with really just watching one more and doesn't try to bargain for more.  We're sure he will try for more one day!

He's still just a really cute boy who is very sweet and mostly good.  When he's not good asking him if he wants to go to his room generally gets him to be better.  Every once in a while we actually have to put him in his room for a few minutes.  Also, threatening and actually tickling him works as a good motivator when it comes to getting him to get into his room and get ready for his nap or bath time.  That's pretty funny.

There's a lot I could write about how he loves to boss Ching around, but I'll save that for another time.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I've been thinking lately that I don't know how to be a Christian.

My parents joined a church when I was five, and they still attend that church.  I think I've attended church more years of my life than not.  I've probably read the Bible through two or three times.  I'm pretty well versed in theology. 

But I had a thought a few weeks ago that really shook me.

If no one knows you're a Christian unless you tell them, are you doing it right?

I've been reading the Gospels during this time.  Yes, Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners.  But His message was pretty tough.  He talks about plucking out your eye, or cutting off your foot or hand if it causes you to stumble - because it's better to be lame than in hell.  Heck, I'm not even good at turning off tv shows.

Every time it mentions Him healing the sick and casting out demons, it starts by saying He had compassion on them.  Also, there were lots of people with demons in those days - wonder if it's still true today and if so how would we know? One other interesting thing about the demons - they all knew exactly who Jesus was and why He was here - not even the disciples really understood that until later. 

Anyway.  Jesus was a radical with a strong message to any who wanted to follow Him.  The disciples tend to make me laugh.  I'm sure Jesus did lots of eye rolls in their direction.  I think there could be a great comedy movie in there somewhere.

Things I think I kinda get right.  I'm a pretty empathetic/compassionate person.  I try very hard to listen to that "still small voice" that I believe is God talking to us, and act on what I hear.  And I'm amazingly grateful - for my life, for nature, for trees and birds and sunsets and all the small things.  I also try very hard to be nice to strangers when out and about.  I smile at people walking by, things like that.  I often hope it can be that small thing that makes a difference. 

But I get caught in this notion that being a Christian is this complete devotion and surrender, every moment, every day.  And one of my all time favorite books in being a Christian, The Christian Secret of a Happy Life, teaches about our responsibility and God's responsibility in our lives/faith.  Our job is simply to have faith, and God's is to do the action part.  But even that seems hard sometimes.

I often think about being a "good steward" in the small things - you know, home and family.  And boy do those seem to be full of land mines.  My inclination toward depression and impatience make this hard.  If I can't be a Christian at home, how can I anywhere else?  If I can't serve Noah and Ching...  (Although today I was thinking about how much time I spend literally serving Noah snacks all day and hoped that counts!)

C. S. Lewis has some great writings about the very subtle sins that crop up in family life.  I haven't read it in over 20 years, but the basic message sticks with me.  He also wrote great stuff about "love your neighbor as yourself" and just how much and in what ways we love ourselves - part of which is always giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt in our motivations.  Do I do that for others?  It's hard.

I don't know.  I don't know why all of this is on my mind so much. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Friends is Hard

About three months ago, we had one of Noah's classmates and his mom over for a play date.  The boys had fun being totally goofy, and I enjoyed talking with the other mom.  Since then, that boy seems to be Noah's favorite classmate - he is always happy to see him at school in the morning, he even says hi to the mom in his own silly way.  There always lots of chatting and a little fun for the boys before class starts.

I kinda follow the my turn/your turn principle of getting together.  I'll do an invite and then I assume if the other person wants to get together again, they'll do an invite.  Well, there's never been a second play date.  On a couple of days when we ended up not having school because of snow or something, I sent out some invites to this mom and a few others, one time to the whole email list for his classmates.  Nothing. 

Here's where I get sad.  The mom has mentioned other plat dates and the boy have had.  These could have been with neighborhood kids, not classmates.  But I know Noah would love to play with this little boy again.  And I don't feel like I can make that happen.  And I don't know why it's not. 

Of course the other mom could just be busy and all that - nothing personal or anything.  But I don't really know how to navigate this territory and it makes me sad all around.  Sad because Noah loves being around his "friends" so much, and sad because I like these other moms and was hoping to make some new friends.