Thursday, September 27, 2007

At a retreat

I'm leaving town for a few days for a retreat near the foothills in NC. I'm looking very forward to this weekend of renewal and rejuvenation. I'm sure I'll have tons of stuff to write about upon my return.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Weekend o'fun

Sofie and I had a very busy weekend fitting in way too much fun. Friday evening we had spontaneous dinner with Angela and Annette at Fuddruckers. Then even more spontaneity happened when they came over and hung out and we had pie and coffee. I'm really grateful they came over because while they were there, my back that had been slightly bothering me last week, did a full on "go out on me" while we were just sitting there eating pie. I literally couldn't get out of the chair! So they cleaned up the plates, loaded and started the dishwasher and left me with a very sleepy kid. Unfortunately, I couldn't even put her to bed so she had to do it herself. I took two pain pills, iced my back and went to sleep.

Waking up on Saturday, I realized I was in a bit of trouble and needed to figure it out. Sofie and I had a huge weekend planned and I couldn't let her(or my dad) down because my back hurt. I called my new roomie who's also my acupuncturist and asked for a treatment on my back. She happily obliged. Sofie and I headed over to her place and she stuck a million needles in my back...okay, not a million, but if you would have heard the exclamation that came out of Sofie's mouth when she saw all the needles you would have thought there were at least a million! After stretching, poking, pulling and twisting Sofie and I were off on our big adventure.

First stop, Snaketakular!! We'd been looking forward to this event for a few months. It's an annual occurrence at the Greensboro Natural Science Center, so I'm sure we'll go back next year, too. Grammy met up with us so she could see all the snakes, too. A local herpetologist/venomologist brought 40 venomous snakes for display. He has a great variety of snakes. We saw a black mamba, green mamba, many rattlers, many variations of cobras, several constrictors and boas. I was amazed that the only thing between us and some of THE most deadly snake in the world was a piece of Plexiglas! At the end of the line they had some non-venomous snakes out to see and Sofie petted a Ball python:

After an afternoon of snake saturation and the acquisition of yet another stuffed animal(fox) and snake book, we headed over to Grammy and PePaw' dad and step-mom's place. Before cooking, Daddy and Sofie got the boat ready for our Sunday adventure. It was so cute seeing her hang out and help my Dad. Reminded me of me as a kid, always helping and learning stuff from Daddy! He was planning on cooking a belated birthday meal for me. As usual, he didn't disappoint! Boneless ribs on the grill, fried squash, broccoli salad, corn on the cob and a homemade lemon pound cake. My mouth is watering just thinking about those squash...yummy. With full tummy's we sat down and Sofie watched, for the first time, ET. She loved it and later, after we'd gotten into bed I mentioned how ET always makes me cry. She had a shocked look on her face and asked "Why?" I explained about sad tears and happy tears and that this movie had both. She got a sheepish look on her face and said, "Me, too!! You know when I was burying my face in my blankie?!?! I was hiding my tears." I told her that she never had to hide her tears and that crying during movies was completely natural! That seemed to please her and off to sleep we both drifted.

Sunday morning we woke up and the first thing out of her mouth..."Today is fishing day!!" She popped out of bed and immediately got dressed. PePaw was cooking bacon and pancakes for breakfast. I just have to put it out right daddy makes the BEST pancakes, ever. No mix from a box...real batter. Sofie had a great description..."They're squishy" ...light, fluffy and they soak up the syrup. Mmmm, mouth is watering again. After breakfast we piled into Daddy's truck and headed from the river. Sofie experienced a few "firsts" that day.

First time driving a boat:

First time fishing and catching her first fish:

First time jumping off a boat and swimming in a river:

We all had fun. She and Daddy fished. Daddy actually caught the first fish seconds after tossing the line into the water. It happened so fast that as he pulled the line back up I exclaimed, "Is that a real fish?!?!" One of my finer brain moments, I must say. Uh, of course it was a real fish! After Sofie caught her first and only fish, she became quickly bored with fishing so she swam, built snake castles out of sand/mud, jumped off(and jumped and jumped and jumped...) the back of the boat. We had a picnic lunch on the boat. Next time we'll take a grill and cook hot dogs on the shore and play more in the water. I was under prepared for this trip. I didn't even bring a bathing suit for me! Next spring, we'll be much more prepared for more boating adventures. I've already invited some friends to come along!

No matter how unprepared I was, I think this says it all:

Sofie had plenty of fun times.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tears of concern

Sofie's teacher recently emailed to let us know that Sofie had been whiny, emotional and inconsolable of late. We chalked it up to being a side effect of her new ADHD medication and said we'd check in with her doctor on her next appointment. I also forwarded the information on to Sofie's therapist, to see if she could shed some light on the situation. Boy, did she enlighten me tonight.

It seems that our little miss is concerned that "something" is going to happen while she's at school. That "something" being related to mine or Debra's health. You may remember that when she was at Camp Kesem, her bunk mate's father died while she was at camp. That memory has stuck with Sofie and anxiety is building in her little psyche. Her therapist also noted that her "play" during therapy was way too organized for Sofie. She said that she's hyper-organizing to keep order in her life...a sure sign of anxiety. Her recommendation...encourage messiness in play!! I certainly don't mind that, heck I'm a great role model for clutter and chaos. Debra will probably have a harder time with that one.

The important lesson with all of this is that it's still very important for us to be as upfront and honest as we can with Sofie. Her strength, security and stability come partially from the fact that we've been so forthcoming with her. She knows that Mama Debra isn't getting better and that she may have to be treatments forever. We haven't had a more serious talk than that, yet. I'm sure we'll have many more discussions with her and help her try to make sense of it all. Hell, we need to try to help US make sense of it all. Our girl is becoming so grown up and clued into what's happening.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Telling Tuesday

Today was supposed to be the day that Debra found out if her CA125 went up or down. In what can only be described as a comedy of errors, we found out that machine was broken. I'll let Debra write more on that whole saga. Today was going to be the day that would make Debra feel better about the future or would be more of a reality if she needed more reality checks. From the brief chat that we had this morning it sounds like she got another reality check. Which means we have to have more discussions about the future.

What we haven't been talking about publicly (well at least on our blogs) is the fact that we were thinking of buying another house and moving into it as a family...not partners, but a family. There are many many pros to that decision. Unfortunately the cons, no matter how small they are, are significant and causing stress...undue and certainly not needed. We actually found a wonderful house last week, but the costs would end up being too much for me "after, after" so we slowed down and now I think we've come to a screeching halt. So for now, we go back to the original plan of Sofie and I living in the house that she and Debra live in currently...after, after.

My major reason for living together was to be able to help Debra more without feeling like I was neglecting my own home...which I have to say is being totally neglected at this point. As Debra becomes more ill(and we don't have a time line for this, so people don't panic!) I'll need/want to help out more. The unfortunate thing that seems to be going on right now is Sofie is growing tired and weary of having a sick mom. I know this is very hard on Debra. Especially when she says she wants more time with me. I don't want to remove Sofie from Debra's house because I want them to be able to spend as much time together as possible. I just want to make sure whatever happens is in everyone's best interest. I'd rather Sofie spend more time with Debra.

We'll get through this with many more ups and downs. To be honest, I'm not looking forward to those down days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Birthday Bamboo

After celebrating my birthday Jamie style...hanging out at Sharon's chit-chatting with a wonderful home cooked meal and catching up on life, gossip and the world...I came home with this waiting on my doorstep:

It's from a friend from California, card said, "Hey Dude, Happy Freaking Birthday." Indeed it was a Happy Freaking Birthday. Aside from the wonderful time spent with Sharon, I also got to hang out with a favorite friend, Donetta and her cute daughter, Taylin. Donetta had a jewelry party yesterday so I went and after everyone left we hung out for awhile before I headed to Sharon and Tracey's house. My idea of a really good time all the way around. Spending quality time with good friends.

Today, a small group will gather at Debra's for Key Lime Pie...yummy...and coffee. Afterwards, Debra, Sofie and I will have dinner. Another great thing in dinner.

Right now, I'm spending quality time with myself...doing laundry and catching up on some work. Okay, that's not really quality time but it's alone time, nonetheless!! Thanks for all the birthday wishes via phone, text message and email. I'm not really feeling the birthday spirit this year, but I'm 42...what's the big deal about that?!?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Finally it's Friday!!

Where has the week gone? I feel I've been remiss in posting this week, it's that I didn't really have much to report. That doesn't mean there's not a lot happening...I just can't report some of it yet.

I've had kind of a crappy health week. Some sort of bad chest cold. One of my bosses told me I sounded like the Ferris Bueller tape...well, at least my cough is real!! On top of that, I had lower back issues all week. Sounds like my body needs a tune up. Probably not a bad idea!

I found out that I was accepted into a free retreat for cancer survivors. Debra actually sent the information to me and encouraged me to go. It's being offered by Wind River Services in the foothills of the NC mountains. I'm looking very forward to some time to be in nature and be by myself. My group is the "maiden voyage" of this organization. I'm sure it's going to be incredible. I'll report back after I attend.

Sofie is with Debra this weekend, although I'm sure I'll see her some since it's my birthday tomorrow. Having a hard time getting excited that it's my birthday. Too much life is happening but I know I should slow down and enjoy it. Tomorrow afternoon or evening I'm hanging out with my best friend Sharon. Her partner is out of town, so she and I get to do some serious "couch laying"...meaning she lays on one couch, I lay on the other and we chit-chat for hours. My idea of a perfect birthday!

Sunday I'll celebrate with friends/family since Debra has a house guest starting tonight through Sunday morning. Probably something cream maybe. Who knows. It'll be fun. Next weekend Sofie and I head to Greensboro for "Snaketacular" at the science museum, then over to my dad's for a home cooked meal of my choice.The next day we'll go out on his boat and he and Sofie can fish while I chill on the boat. Blissful indeed.

To all my Jewish friends and readers...L'shanah tovah(Happy New Year...actually "for a good year")

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ghosts and Angels

Sofie said to me this morning, "Did I tell you what G said to me the other day at school?" (G is the initial of one of her school chums) "You mean about a ghost biting her?" I respond. Yep, that's it. So we continued that conversation. G told her she saw a ghost on the playground and that it bit her on her hand. Interesting, I say. I asked Sofie if she believed her or if she believed in ghosts? "Do you?"...which has been her retort often when I ask her opinion lately. "I asked first." She told me she thought there were only good ghost, not bad ones that would bite or hurt you. That's reasonable. I gave her my side of what I believed and that lead to another topic of angels.

She knows that I have have an angel hanging from my rear view mirror that reminds me of my grandmother who died a few years ago at the young age of 99. I've always felt she was one of my angels. Someone who watched out for me. I told Sofie that. She pondered that a bit and said, "So if your mom dies then they'll always be around as an angel?" Yes my dear, there will always be angels protecting you. She seemed comforted and as quickly as we started that conversation she changed the subject to the patterns and colors that are on my bedsheets.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Realizing you're different

Well, it's finally happened. Yesterday, Sofie told Debra she was the "worstest 2nd grader." Yesterday was Free Choice Friday, which means when you finish all your work for the week, you get free choice...which for most kids means playing outside. Apparently Sofie didn't get free choice because she hadn't finished all of her work. She told me she was the only kid not to get it. I don't know if that was Sofie embellishing or the truth. My heart tells me it's the truth. She was pretty down on herself about it all. Ironically, I had just done all the research on ONH and I'm realizing her vision is probably causing her more problems than we've realized.

Last night, after picking her up from Kids Night Out at KIN, I broached the subject with her. I wanted to get a read on it myself, since Debra had the original conversation. Wow, she's really upset by it all. I explained to her that I'd done some research and found out that there are a lot of kids like her with a "not so good seeing eye"...that's what she calls her bad eye. The older she gets, the better she can articulate how well she does or doesn't see out of that eye. Sometimes, when she's cuddling on my lap with Yang Yang(her blankie), she puts the tag over her good eye as if she's testing the bad eye. She's very aware of the limits of that particular eye. Last night she told me she really couldn't see much out of it. I told her that without my glasses, I couldn't see very well at all. I allowed her to test it by having her stand a few feet away from me and hold up fingers while I took my glasses off. I had no idea how many and I said so. She said "Guess!!" So I said 5. She walked towards me holding up just 2 fingers. See, I said. I can't see either! That made her smile and feel a little better.

We talked about making changes this year. How it was going to be trial and error but we(the mommies and the teachers) want her to succeed and like school. I told her that we'd just keep trying different things until we found something that worked. I also explained that since she had trouble seeing, naturally it would take longer for her to finish her work. That frustrated her..."I hate this eye! It doesn't see!" I explained to her that she was actually lucky because some kids are born with both eyes that don't see so well. "You mean they're blind?" she asked. "Well, kind of...they see with both eyes like you see with your bad one." She had a look of understanding, as if she was getting it. I also told her that as she got older her vision might wouldn't actually improve, but the compensation gets better.

What does all this mean? Who knows. What's apparent is that Sofie is really articulating her differences and how it bothers her. That's all good. Unfortunately, it's affecting her self image. That's what we have to work on strengthening. We tell her we know she's a smart girl. It's just going to take a little more effort to get that work done. We're here to help her and I know her IEP team is, too. As Debra said to me last night...we'll just have to manage this like we do other things. We'll be her advocate and come up with creative solutions. I'm already compiling information for her teachers. At least it's a start.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The "eyes" have it

I've been reading another blog where their second grader is struggling with reading, too. It's made me think about all of the decisions we've made regarding Sofie over the last year or two. All in all, I think we've made the best choices at the time. Of course the old adage, Hindsight is 20/20 does apply. However, I think all in all, she's doing great.

She's shown such tremendous change since starting the meds for ADHD. Her teachers have commented and given us wonderful feedback. They're even calling her a leader in the class now. They confessed to us just the other day that at the beginning of last year, they weren't quite sure what to do with her. It was nothing behaviorally, but more a lack of skills that they thought a first grader should have. Her handwriting was atrocious, her reading was well below grade level. She seemed to get stressed or unnerved at having to do things she just didn't know how to do. Intelligence was never a question, though. Remember she's the one that told her kindergarten teacher during an assessment when asked "what happens when you go into a dark room?" Acceptable answers were "look under the bed for monsters", "turn on a light", "ask mommy for help"...our little smarty replied, "Your eyes dilate!" Duh. At that point she had her teachers hooked. Charming, smart and lovable...just that pesky vision issue and her wiggliness to hinder her progress. Well, the wiggliness has been taken care of. Her focus at school is apparently much improved. So much has changed that she even gets to sit by her best friend at circle time because they don't laugh and giggle during class anymore! Cool.

Her vision issues, well, that's another story. Because she was a preemie, she has a condition called Optic Nerve Hypoplasia(ONH). Fortunately, she only has it in one eye, not both. There's not a whole lot of information out there, but you know if it's there, I've found it! I'm compiling a list of articles and resources for her teachers and IEP team to reference when coming up with this years learning plan for Sofie. It's becoming more apparent, as she feels more comfortable reading, that her vision issues are indeed impeding her progress and interest in reading. I've caught her several times being able to fully read large signs out in public. In fact, I was joking with her one day and said, "Ah HA! I see what's going on're tricking us into believing you can't read when in fact you can read JUST fine!!" She grinned and retorted, "I can only see the BIG letters. The letters in books are too small!" At least now she can say what's going on. In the past, she'd just throw the book down in disgust and walk away. Hopefully we'll get this issue resolved and her reading will take off!

Update**** After reading some of the information I've found I'm a little concerned we're behind the eightball on this. We've been so proactive with much of her other needs, it seems we may have neglected the most obvious issue. I'll dig further and I'm sure we'll come up with a plan.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Humor online

Just in case you're one of the 5 remaining people in the world that hasn't heard of the story about the mom who sold her kids Pokemon cards on EBay, you've got to check it out. She is hilarious and has kind of become an overnight sensation. I certainly hope it all works out for her. She's one of my current favorite blogs. She's a stay at home mom to SIX kids...and really funny, to boot. Her blog is called, BECAUSE I SAID SO. If you need a good laugh, check her out.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Go Appalachian!!

A big shout out to my alma mater, Appalachian State University for being the underdogs who came from behind and beat a nationally ranked team, Michigan in what's known in football world as "The Big House." Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge football fan at all. I can count on one hand the number of games I attended while living in Boone. Just not a big football fan! However, I do have the alumni pride one feels when your school does something good...even in sports!

My friend Sharon called me this morning to tell me about the fans in Boone. Since the game was played in Michigan, many of the students were in Boone watching the game at various spots around town. After the win, a group of folks headed up to the football field, climbed the fence, tore down the goal post and proceeded to march it a mile to the Chancellor's house and leave it on his driveway. Gotta love college kids!! For amusing stories and pictures go here, here and here.

Go App!!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

"Labor" Day Weekend

I'm determined to "labor" over my kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and bedrooms this Labor Day Weekend. It's been too long since I've spent any quality time tending to my own home.

I've already started with the kitchen and laundry this morning. Now I'm on to the living room and piles of stuff I need to toss, shred, purge or put away. I'm glad I finally have the concentration, energy and where with all to do such work!

This working weekend will be peppered with fun activities, too. Today I may go hang out with Debra and friends at my pool. Sofie is having a play date, so I may take a break and socialize a bit. Tomorrow, Sofie and I are heading to friends for dinner and playing. Monday, if I feel I've made enough progress, Debra and Sofie are coming over to the condo. Sofie will watch a movie while Debra and I purge some of my things. Goodwill should love me come next week! I may also go over to a friends for BBQ ribs and festivities in the late afternoon...if I've labored enough to deserve such a treat!!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.