Another year, another taco post. And the years just fly on by faster than a spinning teacup.
Lydia has continued to grow and mature in her eighth year in ways that never cease to amaze me. Eight short years ago she was this petite wiggly baby. Now she’s an exuberant kid who loves fashion, art, and tromping through the muddy woods. Sometimes I even see the glimpses of the teenager that she will soon become. My gracious, what an unnerving thought.
Lydia is still my athletic child. She continues to take gymnastics, something that she has now been doing for over half her life. This spring she learned how to do a one-handed cartwheel. She was super proud when she finally mastered it. Crunchy the cat was also proud.
She has also continued with soccer — she played both last fall and this past spring with her friends at the YMCA. Lydia is not overly competitive and it never phases her when they lose a game. As long as she is able to talk with her friends on the sideline she’s a happy little soccer girl.
This year Lydia tried her hand at piano lessons. She caught on quick and was fairly good at it . . . when she was willing to practice. She learned a lot this spring and played very well in her piano recital in May, but she is taking a break from it. Music, or at least musical instruments, is just not her passion.
Now art and theatre — that just might be where her passion lies. Her dresser — and sometimes floor — are usually covered with a mound of drawings that she produces at a fast rate. Most of these are fashion designs, though you can find the occasional picture of Godzilla destroying a city for Sam. Just today I finally got the bright idea to collect all her drawings together in a binder to help control the clutter. Every piece of paper is VERY IMPORTANT to her.
Right before her birthday, Lydia attended a two-week theatre workshop here in town. She loved every stinkin’ minute of it. Every afternoon I’d pick her up and she would gush nonstop about the pictures they created, the songs they learned, and the best ways to fake punch somebody. She’s already talking about doing it again next year.
Last October, Lydia got to experience Every Kid’s Best Vacation Ever with a trip to Disneyworld. Lydia was really at the perfect age for this trip. She was old enough to be able to handle all the crazy that comes with such an experience, yet young enough to truly see everything though the magical-tinted lenses of childhood.
Her favorite thing at Disneyworld wasn’t the rides, the food, or even the animals at Animal Kingdom, it was the character meetings. The look that would appear on that child’s face when she met Aurora, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and all the others was truly wonderful to behold. I’ve never seen her so excited. Watching Lydia interact with those princesses was worth every second of waiting in those crazy lines.
In between gymnastics, soccer, Disneyworld, and piano, Lydia worked her way through second grade. We learned about Earth Science, along with math, history, reading, and writing. Last year after Lydia was diagnosed with dyslexia, we completely changed up how we were working with the Language Arts. When I last wrote about it we had just started our new program and I did not yet know if we would see any changes. Now that it’s been a year later it’s safe to say our adjustments have made a significant improvement in Lydia’s reading ability.
One of the most surprising things that came with the change in curriculum was the inclusion of cursive handwriting. Believe it or not, cursive handwriting is easier to learn, especially if you are dyslexic or dysgraphic. I admit I was skeptical at first, but it has done wonders for Lydia. Her reading skills have greatly improved as well. She is still working to catch up and many days are a struggle, but we are actually seeing improvement. Lydia will always have to work harder than other people when it comes to reading, but she will read. She is not going to let it slow her down.
And now it’s summer. We’re still working on school — third grade! — while making sure to spend plenty of time in the pool. I begin to think ahead and before I know it she’s going to be nine! Then ten! Oh my gosh, she’s almost to the double digits! The adorable, angelic kid phase will soon draw to a close. There’s already glimpses of the future around me, if I look hard enough . . .
For her birthday Lydia requested a desk for her room.
She also got real, bonafide makeup, though she gets miffed when I won’t let her clown herself up too much.
She watches these stupid, snarky pre-teen shows and then afterwards she behaves as if her life is accompanied by a laugh track.
She takes the time to read — out loud! — all her birthday cards during her party.
Time is short, my girly-girl. Enjoy these days full of coloring, LEGOs, friends, and cupcakes.
June 22, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on sputnik; 72 months in orbit
Another year of life; another year of Sam. Earlier this month Sam turned six years old — he was very proud.
I always joke about how late I am with Sam’s posts, but this year I think I outdid myself. I do have an excuse this time! Steven and I have been very hard at work on the basement this month, and between that, my part-time teaching gig, plus teaching both kids now . . . sometimes I’m just beat.
You guys, I’ve never been so excited about a ceiling since we walked into the Holy Shit On My Face house all those years ago. I like to just wander downstairs and stare up at it . . but anyway . . .
Sam. Sam’s year. The Year of Sam. Yes.
This past year Sam was in kindergarten, but we really did not do any formal schoolwork with him. He just mentally wasn’t ready for much sit-down work outside of what he gets at his OT. Now, this isn’t to say Sam wasn’t learning anything. On the contrary — Sam is constantly absorbing information, whether it be from Lydia’s studies, books we read, or whatever is on his mind at the time. Just the other day he started asking questions about toilets and how they work, so we snagged some library books on the subject.
Man, I thought Lydia asked a lot of questions. Her amount of questions are scant in comparison to the number of questions Sam asks in a day. Sam’s questions tend to be harder to answer, too. He keeps me on my toes!
Last summer Sam was formerly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which I wrote about in a separate post. It’s been close to a year since then, and Sam is really still doing well on that front. He loves his weekly OT, or ‘play appointment,’ and he has made some good strides with his fine motor skills. He does still have a lot to work on, especially handwriting, and he can become easily distressed and anxious about curiously specific things.
Autism has lent Sam some strengths as well. He has a memory the likes of which I have never seen. You can mention something in passing to him and he will remember it many months down the line. Never make a promise to Sam you cannot keep. He has memorized every single Elephant and Piggie book — there are twenty-five of them! — and can quote them on demand. There are other books stored in his brain as well, along with movie quotes. So. Many. Movie. Quotes. Often when Sam is by himself he will run through all these dialogues of books and movies that he knows.
Sam also has an incredible ear for music. He’s been my music lover since he was a wee baby; now that he’s older he’s more intense about it. His iPad — Orange — is chock-full of his music. Like his parents, he mainly listens to movie soundtracks, but he’s also keen on Guns and Roses, Imagine Dragons, and Florence + The Machine. If the song has a good beat, he’s all over it. We never go anywhere without Orange and his headphones.
Lately he’s been listening to the newest X-Men soundtrack, which has a good clip of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in one song. This has steered him toward Beethoven in general, and in between switching from the 7th to the 9th and back again Sam will ask his questions about Beehoven: “How old was he when he died? Why was he deaf? How did he make the music? How did he hear the music if he was deaf?”
Since Sam is my musician by nature, we made it official last fall and signed him up for drum lessons. He has really taken to the drums, and oh does he ever love his teacher, Mr. Wes. Sam is always looking forward to Tuesday afternoons. On Christmas, Sam even got his own drum set! Thankfully they’re the electronic kind, which means the sound will only come through the headphones. This is much better for Mommy and Daddy.
We did not get in a beach trip this year because we took a family vacation to Disneyworld last October! When planning for the trip I really wasn’t sure how well Sam would take to all the crazy, but he did really well! Disneyworld is a well-oiled machine, and they have thought of everything (current news stories notwithstanding) — even for kids with special needs. It was a fantastic week, and Sam still talks about it. He wants to go back, but he also wants to go to Harry Potter World and Godzilla World. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Sam still carries along his string of obsessions. There’s the color orange (since he was one), car washes (started around age 3), volcanoes (age 4), and Godzilla is still going strong (age 5). His newest addition is Harry Potter. This happened while Lydia and I read through all the Harry Potter books together. Sam didn’t listen to the books, but he did watch the movies with us. He probably knows more about Harry Potter than his sister. His current question loop is about the size of Dumbledore’s wand, which of course we all know is fifteen inches.
Godzilla is quite present in Sam’s life. He currently has about 19 Godzillas that he prominently displays on his dresser, five Godzilla shirts, four Godzilla books, Godzilla slippers, and two Godzila footie pajamas that he insists on wearing even though it’s summer. For Halloween . . . he was Godzilla. For his birthday . . . Godzilla! He knows all the music from the different movies, he refers to different Godzillas by the year the movie came out (’14 Godzilla, ’98 Godzilla, etc.), and he can pronounce ‘Nick Tatopoulos.’
To sum up, Sam kinda likes Godzilla.
And now he’s six. He’s officially a first grader and we have started doing real bonafide schoolwork this past month. He still loves drums, he still loves going to OT, and swimming in Grandma’s pool is his jam.
Like any parent, I have many hopes for Sam this year. I hope he learns to swim this summer.
I hope against hope he learns to read.
I hope he can overcome some of his anxieties about life.
I hope he continues to crack me up everyday with all the wild things he says.
May 10, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on watership down
Crunchy, the outdoor cat, shows up this morning clutching a live rabbit in his mouth. He sets it right by the back door and looks up at us.
This is the latest of many animals Crunchy has fetched for us. The kids have been both fascinated and grossed out by Crunchy’s recent dining selections. At least he eats all of it so there’s nothing left except for an errant foot or tail.
So the kids and I are staring out the back window at Crunchy and this rabbit that’s screaming bloody murder. Every time it tries to get away Crunchy calmly grabs it and puts it back at the door, then stares up at us like, “WHY WON’T YOU EAT MY GIFTS?!“
May 2, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on april 32nd: meme supplies dwindling
Starting about last October I began reading the Harry Potter series to Lydia. We’ve read them, a chapter a night, all through the holidays, all through the winter, and into this spring. The other day we finished the sixth book — I can’t believe I read through it without crying — and we’re about to move on to the seventh and final book.
Even though he is not listening to the books, Sam has absorbed much of the Harry Potter lore, and will sometimes watch the movies with us. In fact, Harry Potter is beginning to rival Godzilla in Sam’s obsessions. He has asked SO. MANY. questions about the world of Harry.
Earlier today we marked the occasion of finishing the sixth book by watching the sixth movie together. Now they are in Lydia’s room playing wizards while they wait for lunch.
“Avada Kedavra!!!” I hear Sam shout.
Lydia immediately fights back with, “Expelliarmus!”
Sweet summer children. Little do they know they just acted out Voldemort and Harry’s final battle.
March 9, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on the devil’s spawn
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I was driving down the interstate with the kids in tow. Tuesday is Errand Day, and this Tuesday had extra errands in preparation for Thanksgiving. We had already gone to Sam’s play appointment and through Costco, which was a madhouse. I was a little keyed up and was ready to be done.
We were almost to Pelham, gearing up to hit the grocery store, when the giggling laughter from the backseat changed to a slow wail, then quickly grew to a blood curdling scream.
That is never a sound you want to hear when you’re flying 70 miles an hour through nutty traffic.
“What?! What happened?” I asked, looking through the rear view mirror at Lydia.
Lydia stared back at me, eyes wide as saucers, and said, “Sam just pulled out a tooth! There’s blood!”
What?? I just checked that tooth last night and it wasn’t loose at all!
I glance briefly at Sam through the mirror and holy crap look at all the blood!
We were blessedly near our exit, so I told Sam over and over it was going to be fine while I navigated us off the exit ramp and over to a gas station. I was ever so glad to see they were well-stocked in those little paper towels next to the windshield washing paraphernalia.
It took a few minutes to calm Sam down and get him cleaned up a bit. Once he was settled, Lydia managed to find the tooth sitting between him and his seat belt.
And what a tooth it was! He had pulled out his tooth, root and all! No wonder he was screaming.
You know, Sam, people usually get numbed up for something like that.
December 29, 2015
by Carrie Comments Off on end of year notes
And suddenly it’s the end of 2015. This year went by so quickly there were some things I never got around to writing about, so I figured I’d fill in the gaps. Not sure if we did way too much this year or if I’m just getting old. Maybe a bit of both.
In October we completed our family Disneyworld trip extraordinaire — and survived! I’d never been to Disneyworld outside of school trips before, so I feel pretty good with how everything worked out with all the planning I had to do. Man, that was the key right there. Planning. Disneyworld favors the planners. Dinner reservations were made, fast passes were acquired, and itineraries were printed.
Since we had a lot of time to prepare for the trip, there were only a few surprises. We discovered the first one on our first night at the resort, where we had a character dinner. The moment we walked into the restaurant and Sam saw the six foot tall Pluto walking around, he nope’d right back out into the lobby. We ended up playing a game of round robin during dinner, with one person hanging out in the lobby with Sam. In hindsight, I should’ve just ordered a pizza up in the room with him.
Our second surprise was how quickly we warmed up to the idea of a rental stroller for Sam. The moment we passed the ticket gates and saw the sea of people, we knew that was the way to go. With Sam happily secured in his own personal stroller bubble, we were better able to navigate the masses. Well worth the 60 or so bucks it cost to have a stroller for the entire trip.
The third surprise was a tragic one. During our first full day at the park, the room-cleaning staff, surely accidentally, scooped up Lydia’s treasured white blanket along with the rest of the laundry and my personal microfiber hair towel. I shed no tears over the hair towel, but Lydia’s blanket is irreplaceable. The blanket was HER THING, that one thing that a young child attaches to and never gives it up. Though the staff assured me they have protocols and safety nets in place for this sort of thing, the blanket never turned up. How in the hell their “protocols” couldn’t catch a well-worn blanket WITH HER NAME STITCHED ON IT is beyond me. I plan on writing a letter, but three months on, I’m still too mad to concentrate on it. This is the first time I’ve actually typed the story out, and now I’m all pissed off again.
So. Back to more jolly things.
Happy happy happy.
Here we go.
Not so surprisingly, Lydia loved all the character meet and greets. Her first meet-up ended up with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and after that she was hooked. She met with most of the characters we saw, including her favorite, Princess Aurora, and Anna and Elsa from Frozen, which we thankfully had fast passes for.
Sam enjoyed quite a few rides. At Magic Kingdom we rode It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Peoplemover many many many times over. Peter Pan’s Flight was a new one for me, and it was neat, but I don’t see how the incredibly long line was justified. The wait was usually 90 minutes! Thankfully, Sam’s DAS pass kept him from waiting in that line too long.
Both kids enjoyed the food. They tried all the ice cream sandwiches and frozen Mickey-shaped Popsicles they could talk us into buying for them. Sam particularly enjoyed some sort of cherry slush I got in the Japan Pavillion at Epcot.
Oh yes, the food. Epcot was having their Food and Wine Festival while we were there, and the place smelled absolutely divine. I had some spectacular escargot and a vodka-based push pop in France.
The last few days were rainy but it didn’t slow the kids down. In fact, Sam was very pleased with the rain. Despite the wet weather we were able to enjoy the fireworks at Magic Kingdom on the last day.
Though I’ve been to Disneyworld many times previously, this was the first time as a parent, and in a way it was like experiencing it for the first time. Seeing the park and all its magic through their eyes was an amazing experience, and I’m so very glad we were all able to go.
Other things have been going on as well. On November 21st, my father wedded a lovely woman by the name of Margaret. They’ve been dating for about two years, but they knew each other back in the ’70s. Cathy and I are thrilled for Dad and we’re glad to count Margaret and her family as part of our own.
The wedding itself was an intimate affair, held in the chapel of St. Paul’s Church in Athens, Alabama, where Margaret is from and to where Dad has now moved. It was at the wedding that Cathy and I first met Margaret’s family, including her mother, her two children, and her grandson, who is a year or two older than Lydia and Elizabeth.
During the reception Lydia and Elizabeth entertained the crowd with some extemporaneous dancing on a low stage while Cathy and I visited with friends and family, both old and new. While speaking with Dad’s best man, a long-time friend of both our parents, he gestured at the crowd and mused, “You know, all of this, in a way, is a testament to your mother.”
“How is that?” I asked.
“Well, the fact that your dad wanted to get married again just shows how wonderful she was and how great of a marriage they had.”
Let’s see, and now we’re just finishing up the holidays. The Christmas decorations are still up but we’ll be putting them away in the next few days. I’m ready to move on into 2016 and surely at some point this winter it will actually FEEL like it. The last two weeks have been in the 70s and we’ve had a few tornado outbreaks. Never fun.
Halloween was right after we got back from Disneyworld. Ever since summer, Sam has been looking forward to Halloween — he wanted to be Godzilla. His costume, purchased from Amazon, was a huge success. I’m glad I bought it early so Sam could practice being in it. The costume was very claustrophobic and it was a long time before he was willing to suit up all the way.
Lydia wanted to be the scariest thing she could think of, but she couldn’t decide between a skeleton and a zombie. Amazon once again was a winner when we found a skeleton zombie costume — the best of both worlds!
Halloween night ended up very rainy, but it didn’t stop Godzilla and Ms. Skeleton Zombie. Sam’s costume brought a lot of attention. People stopped him on the street so they could get a picture with him. Ms. Skeleton Zombie was not amused by her brother getting all the attention, and she was much happier when she went off with her cousin and some other neighborhood friends to trick-or-treat with the bigger kids. Godzilla Sam stomped around in the puddles for an hour and growled at everybody answering the door.
Christmas was just as crazy as last year, but I think we handled it better, stress-wise. Christmas can be very overwhelming for Sam, but this year one of his presents proved most helpful — we turned his closet into a ball pool! Just like Chuck E. Cheese, but without the plethora of germs and kid pee. Whenever Sam needed to get away from all the crazy, he’d go in his closet, shut the door, and roll in the balls over and over. From the living room, it sounds like distant thunder. Steven and I are trying hard not to make ball jokes, like “Sam plays with his balls a lot,” or “Sam likes to be balls deep.” We’re horrible. Horrible!
Sam also added to his Godzilla collection. Not only did he get a “Godzilla with a button that makes it roar” that he asked for from Santa, he got 11 other Godzillas (11!), a Godzilla pen that projects Godzilla onto the wall, a Godzilla shirt, a Godzilla book, and a Godzilla fuzzy blanket.
Now he’s asking for Mothra.
Lydia, completely unlike her mother, asked for clothes, and boy did she get them! She’s got about five or six new dresses to model, along with some sweaters, boots, and fashion accessories. Santa brought her a soccer net, but it’s been so rainy we haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Her present from us is a telescope, but that one’s on the back burner as well. It arrived broken and I’m still in conversation with the company to get it fixed. It’s been too rainy and cloudy to use it this week anyway.
Someday, we shall see sunlight again.
So now we’re enjoying our last week of holidays before the new year arrives and we’re back on our schedule with school, gymnastics, and drum lessons.