It’s a lovely, dreary day today. I’m not being sarcastic, either. I am so glad for the dreariness and rain that we’ve had over the last few weeks. All forms of grey skies are welcome after a drought.
Now that we’re in December, we’re taking a month off of school. With so much going on during this time of year, it’s nice to take a mental break. The kids have filled their time with riding bikes, building worlds with LEGOs, and generally getting on each others’ nerves.
For the past hour, Lydia has been sitting by the tree with her nose in a book. She’s reading, you guys. Reading! A book! No pictures, just words! Y’all know how long she has struggled with reading. Watching her be interested in a book of her own accord is quite a sight to behold.
She is sitting there, completely absorbed, without any awareness of how much she is blowing my mind.
November 26, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on the tree + one, 2016
Lydia’s smaller tree is also decorated, just not shown.
Total lights on the tree: 2,980; another new record and only 20 short of 3k!
Total number of incandescent lights: 1,350
Total number of LED lights: 1,630
Times the cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0!
Amount of interest the cat has shown in the tree this year: 0; he’s mellowing out
Ornaments children have broken: 1
Amount of new lights purchased to replace broken strands: 1,200
November 8, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on time to boat
It’s voting time again. Like most people, I’m ready for this election to be over. Almost there — woooooo!
I ended up bringing both kids with me to vote today. Steven’s working from home and the kids did have the option to stay there with him, but Lydia, who has been learning about the Electoral College, wanted to come. Once Sam realized Lydia was going somewhere, he just had to go, too.
“Buddy, we’re just going to vote. It won’t take long and it will be a bit boring,” I caution.
“No, I’m coming.”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
So Sam tagged along for the ride. Thankfully, our polling station is well-organized and we were in and out within ten minutes.
As we come outside of the building, Sam looks around and asks, “Where’s the lake?”
“Huh? What lake, buddy?”
“There isn’t any lake, Sam,” Lydia replies.
“But . . . you said we were going to boat!”
October 27, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on stranger danger
The ending of the Elephant & Piggie books has sent Sam on a quest to find another series of books. Recently he’s discovered the wide world of the Berenstain Bears books, so we have been borrowing them from the library in heaps.
Earlier I read to him The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers. Afterwards, I gave him a little quiz.
“Sam, if someone you didn’t know pulled up in a car and asked you to get in, what would you say?”
“No, thank you.”
“What if they said they had candy?”
“No, thank you.”
“What if they said they had toys?”
“No, thank you.”
“What if they said they had a Godzilla toy?”
“Yes, thank you.”
August 31, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on making the nurses swoon
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?!“