Friday, June 25, 2010

How many years are you in school?

School is out (at least for a little while)! The last week of school was a bit tough for Madeline. Change is always hard on kids and especially hard on a little lady who suffers from some intense anxiety. Consequently we do a lot of talking about what is going on which means Madeline is going to say some pretty great things. On the way to school one morning she asked why she was going to summer school. I told her that some kids need a little extra school in the summer to keep them from forgetting all that they learned over the last year. She said, “Is it to help me catch up?” I told her that was part of it. So, she said, “because I am already good at second grade- I did it twice.” Oh Madeline… Then the following morning while she was getting ready she went even farther. She said, “I know I already did second grade twice, but can I do it again?” “No” I calmly said. “Well, why did I only do first grade once?” she asked. This made me pause, how do I make this sound affirming? “Well, usually kids only do each grade once, but we thought you might need a little extra time in second grade.” “Oh” she said, “well, maybe I can do it again too.” Dear God! She needs to get out of school at some point!!!! It really is hilarious how she is trying to put this all together.

So far, two weeks into the summer things are going well. True, the first week she went to Bible camp in the mornings and played at a friend’s house all afternoon on Tues/Wed/Thur. This last week my mother-in-law, Lila, took on the task of entertaining Madeline- hey I can do this kind of summer. We will see how it goes.

This is before the first day of the second run of second grade- does that sound right?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Teacher Gifts

You know the saying, “What do you get the person who has everything?” My predicament is, “What do I get the teacher who had Madeline for 2 years?” To say that he is a saint is an understatement. This year alone has been incredibly trying and by incredibly I mean mind-boggling. Well, I have been thinking about this for a while now and finally figured it out! He had Madeline for a total of 20 months, so I got him 20 containers of alcohol! I kept joking throughout the year that she drives me to drink, etc, so I thought it was a fitting gift. I know he likes beer so I went to a super cool Beer store in Portland where I politely asked the guru to please pick out whatever is good, because I have no knowledge of this particular area. So the guy took me around the store and helped me choose (by helped I mean he did it) 18 different kinds of beer. For the other two months I decided that I should ramp it up a notch. You see, January was a rough month so I thought he deserved more than a beer for that particular portion. I found a great Russian vodka from St. Petersburg (considering Madeline is from St. Petersburg, I thought it was a tad funny). Lastly this month- since this is the end of his tenure with Madeline I gave him a bottle of Champagne. What can I say? If I can’t have a sense of humor about it all you would probably find me curled up in the fetal position in a dark alley. Well, this is not where it ends. I tied a little note to the top of each bottle saying one of the reasons he “earned” it. Here is what I came up with:

1. January 2010- enough said (this was tied to the bottle of vodka- it really was a hard month).

2. For painting Madeline’s nails to help her stop sucking on her fingers. Hey, we tried!

3. For all of the extended bathroom breaks.

4. For all of the visual schedules.

5. For all of the secret signals.

6. For trying everything- literally.

7. For all the long emails.

8. For all the bad words I know you wanted to say, but didn’t.

9. For all the calls.

10. For Madeline’s desk- I don’t know where to begin or end.

11. Transitions (this was tied to a bottle of beer with an eight ball on it- you never knew how they would go from day to day)

12. For all of the outbursts.

13. For all of the really really really sharpened pencils.

14. For all of the teacher questionnaires.

15. For all of the behavior plans.

16. For the days I forgot to give her her meds.

17. For all the times Madeline went MIA/Rogue

18. For listening intently and still not having any idea what she is talking about.

19. For all the IEP meetings.

20. June 2010! (this was tied to the bottle of champagne)

I know that these are not all self-explanatory, but you get the idea.

Online masters degree programs in education are available for those who also want to make a difference by being a great teacher.

It was a fun gift to make- I must say. I love using that 1/1000th of my brain that is actually creative and can sometimes come up with stuff like that. It is rare, but can happen. The best part was his reaction. Either he is a really good actor or he really liked it. Apparently, when his wife saw it she asked, “is this from Madeline’s parents?” If that does not tell you how much of an impact on his life she has been I don’t know what will. It was nice to actually be honest about how trying these last two years were, but to also hear how much he loves Madeline and really cares about her success is wonderful.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Can I get a little help?

Madeline is getting into some serious financial debt these days. We do the whole, "natural consequences" thing with her. For example, if she were to do something like cut up a pair of jeans or purchase a gift card for the neighbor boy who saved Timothy (a story for another time), than she either has to pay me from money she already has or earn money the hard way (by picking up pinecones in the backyard 1 pinecone = 1 penny). At this point she owes me $9- not bad considering she owed me $30 last week (that's a lot of pinecones). A new income source has presented itself to Madeline, thanks to her brother. You see, Timothy has some

sort of vendetta against Sadie. I am not sure if he is doing the whole- if a boy is mean to you it means he likes you- thing or if genuinely doesn't like her. Actually, I think it is a matter of him thinking she is his newest cause and effect toy (think of one of those annoying toys with a lot of lights, sounds and buttons). She is the best one yet because she can do that and more! The only problem with his new obsession is that Sadie is a little girl and not an annoying talking piggy bank. She can actually get hurt and it matters. Where is this going, you ask? The other day I was not able to chase after him and Josh was making dinner. Timothy decided it would be the perfect time to play with his favorite red-headed toy. So, being the resourceful person that I am, I told Madeline to be her bodyguard. She did great! She and Sadie watched a cookie monster DVD and anytime Timothy got near-Madeline would use her body to cover Sadie. It was sad and sweet all at the same time.

The bummer about this situation is that Sadie will probably be in need of these services for a long time. We have been searching and searching for "answers" and solutions for what is going on in Timothy's little brain and, yet again, we have been told that they don't really know what the future holds. We know that he is at about a 10 month-old cognitive level and his motor skills are like that of a 21 month-old (I would seriously love if that were switched). That he is severely to profoundly (who knew there were many types ranging from mild to profoundly) mentally retarded which is a pretty broad diagnosis. While this is good to know it is not helpful in the whole, "how much longer can we keep going on like this" problem. Now is the time I can/should do all of the, “we only are given what we can handle” or “take one day at a time” schpeel, but what I really want to say is this bites! Okay, that is out of the way- whew. One thing that Timothy definitely has going for him is how darn cute he is! He is so endearing that you can’t stay frustrated for long- I didn’t say you can’t be frustrated just that it is hard to stay that way. In fact this is a tad embarrassing, but I was told screaming was a good way to relieve stress. I remember thinking, “What situation could possibly arise where I would want to scream?” Well, shockingly enough one presented itself quite soon thereafter. I don’t remember what Timothy was doing, but I do remember thinking I was going to lose my mind, so I just let out a loud piercing scream. Rather than getting upset like most kids he started busting out laughing. So, this may or may not have happened again with the same response. That means I now have a fun way to get out a little stress and make Timothy laugh- what a bonus! In conclusion, does anyone know what the going rate for a bodyguard is?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Suck It Up!

I am doing this whole, trying to let my feelings out, thing. It is something I have been trying to do for a long time. You see, I prefer to keep my emotions in and ponder for a long period of time. Once I am finished pondering I seem to forget all about what was wrong anyway. Well, it turns out this whole “pondering” thing is actually called “bottling up your emotions” which is not a particularly emotionally healthy thing to do. I am just so good at it though! I am not saying that things don’t bother me, but rather, I tend to not be outwardly upset. When I do feel the need to cry it is generally at inopportune times, so I suck it up.

Last week as I was headed to the airport to pick up my parents I was quite upset about something entirely ridiculous. You see, I was having a boo-hoo-my-life moment. You have them- right? Basically, I heard some good news about a wonderful person and rather than being happy for the person I decided to think about how “bad” I have it and how “good” they have it. My emotions were having a field day and these strange drops started coming out of my eyes- it was insane! I have so many friends who say they cry all the time, I grew up with a mom and a sister who were not afraid to shed some tears, but for some reason this is not something that happens often in my world. I have no mockery of those who cry (well, I did once and that was not nice), I am actually jealous- it seems like a perfectly wonderful way to get some icky feeling out. Anyway, I was crying and feeling incredibly sorry for myself- it seemed so right and I had quite a good case for myself as to why my life was so hard. Then it happened- I was in line to get on the freeway and waiting on the side was a homeless man. Shoot! What a way to get dragged out of your pity party! I mean, maybe I should try having emotional breakdowns in the comfort and privacy of my own home. At least then I would only have to deal with little orphans. Well, crap! I can’t get a break! You see it occurred to me that I have it way better than most people in the world. The mere fact that I was born in America gives me a one-up on a large portion of the world. I have a home, a family, a car….so much more than I actually need. I have friends and those who love and care for me- how many people are alone? Before I go too far, I think you get it- right? We are incredibly blessed. This is not to say that I don’t or shouldn’t allow myself to ever feel bad, but rather I should not stay there. There is nothing but bitterness and anger in that place. What did I do- you ask? Well, I sucked it up and stopped crying. Don’t worry, more than a few tears and even a little snot had escaped before I cut it off.

Just a cute picture of Sadie- if she is not a blessing I don't know what is.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just Write it Out.

I have so many ideas about blog posts, but so little time... Madeline provides me with a plethora of material. Writing can be such a good thing for mental health. I have filled up many journals with unimportant whining/prayers (well, the prayers are important, but the whining is a bit annoying). Why do you think I write this blog? To make sure as many people as possible know as many embarrassing details of my life as possible? That is part of it, but it is more so that I can get things off my chest while trying to be funny (trying being the operative word here).

So, Madeline must be picking up on this idea. She has always liked to scribble on paper and write in books, etc. Now though, she is taking it to the next level. Not too long ago I took Madeline to school (well, I do that almost every day if I can- gives me a chance to find out what is really going on) and her teacher (a saint) asked if I had heard about “yesterday’s incident.” Surprisingly, I had not. Apparently while on a bathroom break Madeline decided to try her hand at a little graffiti. This is not surprising if you go to our church (it is held at a Portland high school) where you cannot go to the restroom without seeing a colorful (both language and hue selection) array of reading material in each stall. One problem though- while Madeline has the concept of graffiti down, she does not quite “get it.” On the door she wrote, “Do not disturb! By Madeline Pond.” I guess the whole not getting caught thing did not matter to her. Her teacher tried to make me feel better when he said that all the words were spelled correctly- sad to say, it did.

I did not have the heart to make a big deal out of it- I actually cannot even remember what I said- I think I was too amused to think of a consequence. Having the principal take you into the bathroom and watch while you clean up your mistake seems like a big enough consequence to me.