Nine

Happy 9th (!) birthday, to my beautiful, beloved Baby Ike. And his Hairz. Today isn't the sort of birthday I hoped for him. There will be no party at the roller rink, no cupcakes and goody bags for his friends at school. I'm making his favorite pumpkin cake, at least, and Jason managed to track down what seemed to be the very last number 9-shaped candle in our town. We'll be able to get ribs from an actual restaurant and eat them outside, which is more than seemed possible just a week or so ago. Noah had to draw him an IOU because his present didn't come on time, because ha! Remember when things came on time? Remember how annoyed you used to get when things didn't come on time? This isn't the sort of world I hoped for him either -- the sort of world that, in all my naive white liberal bubble privilege, I thought already existed. A world that wasn't a fragile, roiling tinderbox of chaos, hatred and ignorance about to fully erupt in flames. And justifiably so. I am so angry. I can't stop crying. I hate how many times I've mentioned myself already, like I... Read more →


And So It Begins

Ezra and Ike both attend a small after school art program on Thursdays. They adore it. Ezra's the only fifth grader (and thus the oldest), and his art is routinely heaped with praise from the teacher and gets rapt, awed wonder from a pack of kindergartner fangirls. He goes for more realism with a ton of hidden details, while Ike has more of a pop art aesthetic with lots of plays on color and proportion. Obviously, they are both artistic geniuses, but I am really running out of places to hang their masterpieces, week after goddamn week. Last Thursday, the teacher asked everyone to draw a tableau of "things you need if you have the flu." Um. Okayyyy. Timely, I guess? What's next, a portrait of their favorite fallen Democratic primary candidate? A mixed-media collage of sensible 401(k) investments to withstand a bear market? Clockwise from top left, Ezra will require: Orange juice, "Flu Medicine," what appears to be toilet paper in a tissue box, a get well card from his family, drawing/writing supplies, his glasses, a journal, cough drops, and his ADHD medicine. Ike envisions more of a looming hellscape where his room gets taken over by two-story sized... Read more →


All the Small Things (That I Forgot To Mention the First Time)

Not really a full post today but more of an addendum to yesterday's, since a lot of y'all seemed to appreciate the book and Positivity Jar recommendations. (Which, for the record, both came from Ike's private therapist, who is just wonderful. [AND ACCEPTS OUR INSURANCE WOOOOOO.] We -- okay, technically Jason, because he's even more On It than I am sometimes-- found someone who does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy AND who understands the connection between learning disabilities and the resulting depression and social anxiety that frequently come along with them. Her input helped shape Ike's IEP and the school's plan, so if you're kind of flailing around with this stuff as well, it really helps to have someone like that on your child's team. Ping me if you're local and need a recommendation.) Wow, went on a TANGENT!! after just one sentence there. Anyway! Ever since hitting the publish button I've been like OH WAIT AND ANOTHER THING, and since I'm too lazy to go back and edit an existing post I figured I'd just write a new one. This is personal blogging. We don't edit things! We just go on and on and on forever about the things. A WEIGHTED... Read more →


All the Small Things

I'm happy to report that our school has really stepped up quite admirably in response to Ike's most recent struggles. I'm sad, of course, that he's having all these struggles in the first place. It's heartbreaking to watch your happiest, bubbliest child suddenly close up and fold into himself, unable to look out at the world without a lens of suspicion and anxiety. We're on it, though, and so is our school. One of (several) services Ike now receives is a "stress reduction and mindfulness" small group that meets once a week and is run by the school counseling department. (All the third graders were asked to rank and rate their stress levels. Anyone who rated themselves as REALLY STRESSED THE FUCK OUT was invited to join the group. Turns out Ike has plenty of company there.) At the most recent meeting, they were asked to draw where they physically feel stress, and to describe what it felt like. This was Ike's: (I asked him if I could share all of this, by the way, and he said yes. He also gets to clear any photos I post, but usually makes his selection by deciding which one will "get all... Read more →


Like Cats and Dogs

I was about a third of the way through a new post for today when I realized it was kind of heavy/mildly depressing for a Friday afternoon. And nobody wants that on their Friday afternoon! Save that shit for first thing Monday morning, as the gods intended! Instead, here's another thing that nobody wants or asked for. Boring, self-indulgent photos of my pets! Finn and Rey and Fostercat finally seem to have settled into an aloof-yet-peaceful coexistence. I've been trying in vain to get a photo of all three of them together -- between the gray tabby, black cat and a big ol' orange tom, we've pretty much got the perfect moggie trifecta here -- but so far I've only managed to catch two of them at a time. Tormund: "If I don't look at her, it's like she's not really there." Rey: "Derp?" Tormund: "I will stretch alllllll the way out over this giant tiger face to assert my size dominance, even though I'm actually terrified of everything including vacuums, power cords, loud noises, my own tail sometimes, and honestly maybe a little bit of the cat behind me who is barely half my size." Finn: "Yeah but look... Read more →


Curb Your Enthusiasm

Something Jason and I struggle with is making sure each of our individual children get enough quality one-on-one time with us. We finally seem to have hit a solution by just picking random dates on the calendar and marking them off as "Mom and Ike Night" or "Dad and Ezra Night." We have no specific plans for what we're actually going to do on those nights, but dammit, we're going to do something. For the last couple months, Mom and Ike night has mostly been about ribs. Ike loves ribs. He is otherwise our pickiest eater by far, but ribs, man. He will eat the shit out of some ribs. Chocolate milk is another must for Mom and Ike Night. (Please note the happy face drawn on the chocolate milk. He did that because that's how chocolate milk makes him feel. Thank you, chocolate milk!) These nights are a screen-free zone, so we usually bring along some word searches and books and art supplies. (And plushies. So, so many Very Important Plushies.) This past Wednesday was our latest Mom and Ike Night, and our plan was ribs, chocolate milk and a trip to Michael's for more art supplies. We ordered... Read more →


Magic Ike

We had an IEP meeting yesterday. Another IEP meeting in an endless series of IEP meetings. Yesterday's meeting was for Ike, and then there's another meeting for him in February, and then one in March for Noah, and I think one more after that, to finalize his schedule for high school. (Tonight is technically Ezra's middle school orientation, but we're going to skip it. We already know everything about the middle school and how things work and where the IEP meetings happen.) The purpose of the meeting yesterday was to go over Ike's reading and writing levels and finalize the academic parts of his IEP. It was an unusually tense meeting. The district imposed new rules for who can receive certain accommodations for standardized testing. Ike meets every single criteria except one: He's been receiving services for dyslexia for one year instead of the required two. So he'll get extra time, but nothing to help him read or decode the test questions. I thought back to kindergarten, when I begged his teacher to have the school's reading specialist come and observe him, to look at his mixed-up writing and spelling and his struggles with basic sight words. Wait and see,... Read more →


ON SECOND THOUGHT

Anybody got any recommendations for nice-looking fake trees that I could maybe get on sale right now? Because look at this shit. Although, honestly, I just swept up the carnage and burned it all up in our fireplace. Jason came inside from dragging the tree-corpse to the curb and said our neighborhood smelled amazing! *** Hey, remember when I had a baby? Don't ever do that, because look at THIS shit. A smallish-large niche corner of the Internet lost its mind over that, while he was just like, "GREAT, another THING I have to DO now. It never ENDS, these days." *** (I just now watched the yard trim collection guy pick up, toss, and mulch our giant-ass tree. It took him barely a minute, but I bet he hates us now.) (Yes, it snowed! Don't worry, they didn't cancel school for that piddly lil' covering. They simply closed three hours early yesterday and had a two hour delay this morning for maximum schedule fuckery. YOU CAN STILL SEE GRASS, PEOPLE.) *** Look at this shit, for no particular reason (other than BFF doggo adorableness, of course): We originally decided that we wouldn't take in another foster dog until the... Read more →


The Scottish Play the Musical Jr.

It's the most! Wonderful time! Of the year... ...When our school district decides to cancel a full day of school over a dusting of snow so inconsequential you can still see the tips of grass and the roads could maybe be generously described as damp. Even Noah was like, "I'll take it, but they're crazy." The cancellation also means Ike's long-awaited performance of Elf Jr. The Musical has been rescheduled for a still TBD future date. Or maybe it's Elf The Musical Jr.? Hmmm... I don't think anybody knows, to be honest. He was super disappointed, but quickly saw the bright side of having more time to work on his lines. He has a scene playing "Greenway," the Evil Children's Book Publisher who demands Buddy the Elf's dad work on Christmas, the monster, and he is hamming it the fuck UP, delightfully so, but he's still struggling to pronounce the word "unemployment." It keeps coming out as "unempointment." (Everybody gets two speaking scenes as different characters, unless they're singing a solo, which Ike didn't want to do. So he also has a scene as Buddy, where all of his lines are delivered at top volume while running around in excited... Read more →


Plushie Power

To encourage Ike to stick with his various reading and writing exercises, we bribe incentivize him with plushies. The kid is crazy for plushies. Jason came up with the ingenious idea to buy a couple bulk bags of cheap knock-off Ty Beanie Boos. (You know, those little toys with the oversized sparkle eyeballs that they sell literally everywhere, so you can't walk into a grocery store or even a gas station without your child begging for a fuchsia and purple giraffe-type thing that you could've sworn you've bought five times already, but nooooo, that was Gilbert, this is Twigs. And then the other one is Sweetums, whose birthday is in February, not August. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND VITALLY IMPORTANT, MOMMMM.) Ike gets to pick one as a reward for say, mastering a new sight word deck, doing well on a spelling test, completing a writing assignment or a challenging book, etc. The plushies make him very happy, and the possibility of even more plushies motivate him to seek out even more challenges, vs. doing the bare minimum or nothing at all. Which is what we were getting before, in the pre-plushie era. I'd find stacks of homework worksheets mashed into the... Read more →