So here's the part where you make a choice

I had the pleasure of a stolen hour with Bean today; one of her OT appointments got moved to 10:00 Monday mornings, and I took that shift and gave up the Thursday afternoon one. So now we can drop Miss O off and hit Barnes and Noble or Rudy's and steal a snack and an hour together. This morning I got coffee, she had a cookie and we read books at B&N before heading over for her OT visit.

Her OT, besides noting how tired Bean was (and she was .. the kid just doesn't sleep well), remarked on how much she's improved. I agreed with her; the restraint Bean shows at school when she's getting roughed up by the bigger kid is remarkable in itself. But she's more reasonable and easygoing at home, too. I hate putting things in writing ... it's kinda like the old days when I'd be dumb enough to put something like "Miss O fell asleep in under 20 minutes!" in my blog, only to have the next night take two hours.

But I'll risk the jinx to brag on her for a minute: her behavior has been a lot more stable. Yes, she can still get upset about things, but the nonlinear freakouts are few and far between.

On the way to school this morning, after her OT, she and I were talking about how she has to give this kid at her school a clean slate every day, and how I know that's hard when he's not showing her any change in behavior. We talked a little about that and that he was making mean choices and she said the most amazing things to me about how she closed the door on mean choices and instead opened the door to crying, basically saying that she no longer made mean choices, but instead cried if she got upset. She said "I locked the mean choices in a cage and I won't open the door."

I was blown away by what she was saying - it was in 4.5 year old words, but the wisdom and restraint behind it seems well beyond her years, doesn't it?

I can just feel my mind opening up, you know?

In my between-high-school-and-college days (and that was a LOT of days ... 5-6 years worth, for those counting along at home), my friends and I used to watch hour upon hour of documentaries. Biographies, nature shows, science programming pretty much anything that wasn't about hair, makeup or celebrities. Sometimes we imbibed and watched Disney movies, but usually it was a documentary.

I'm not sure what it was, or still is, about documentaries that draws me in. I seriously could spend all day in front of the TV if supplied with quality documentary options. Maybe it's the learning aspect, maybe it's just the nonfiction aspect. Whatever the case, documentaries draw me in. I watched a few on the universe and Stephen Hawking this morning, and now I'm sucked into 'Planet Earth'.

Are you a documentary nerd too? What do you like to watch?

My bed is better than any bed that's... not my bed

Mornin' all.

I spent most of my Saturday futzing around, getting little done, and watching the TEDx Austin livestream. There were a couple really great talks, including Carrie Contey, Turk and Christy Pipkin, Philip Berber and the closing speaker, Mark McKinnon. I cried a few times, I laughed and I felt inspired to do more.

Now I need to actually get stuff done .. I've got early (for me) mornings coming up Tues-Thurs, where I need to drop the kiddos off early so I can be to work in time to capture worldwide calls for reposting on internal portals, so that means dropping Miss O off at 7:30. Since the kids are usually up at 5:30 or so, it's not that hard to get out the door by 7:15, physically. It's just that these are the mornings when they're most likely to sleep in and make it a rush .. sigh.

I want to redo their room a little, get a closet 'system' in there and get them a real dresser to two. I'd love to get a bunk bed, but to do so may mean they don't get a ceiling fan ... it also worries me a little, safety-wise. I love the ones with an actual staircase, but they are wicked expensive.

There's the cheap Ikea option, too.

I need to figure out something to maximize space in there ... Bean doesn't want her own room; she really likes being in there with Miss O. And for now, with the icky cat litter boxes to contend with, they *have* to shar a room.

I wonder if I could hire a carpenter to build a loft in their room?

I've had a lot of people talking at me the last few days ...

What a week.

We started off with both of the girls' 'schools' being closed on Monday, so I struggled thru a work from home day. Let me just say it requires Herculean effort to accomplish work when these two are around. I can barely get through a Tweet before I'm interrupted, so actually working ... le sigh. And after the emotionally draining, PMS-fueled weekend I had, a bonus full-time mommy day was a bit much.

Some Mondays, I hate that my time with them is over. Some Mondays, I can't get them to school fast enough. This was that kind of Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday mornings were 'up at the buttcrack of dawn' mornings, and, as a result, Bean was just wiped out by the time I picked her up each day. When you fall asleep at 8, get up at 5:30 and don't nap, your energy is about tapped out by 5 pm.

She's doing well enough at her new school; she's still getting knocked around by the bigger kid every day. The director says "she gives as good as she gets", but what I'm seeing and hearing is that she gives it *verbally*, but this kid dishes it out physically. When I pulled up to pick her up yesterday, they were outside, and he shoved her down without provocation. And she went down *hard* - if there had been something hard or sharp between her and the ground, the outcome could have been very bad.

Bean was upset, but didn't retaliate in any way. I've been spending so much time talking to her about how she has to give this kid a clean slate every day; how he might not be as good at expressing his feelings with words, so he hits/kicks when he can't express himself; yadda, yadda, yadda. But honestly? I'm close to telling her "you remember when you popped that chick in the face at your old school? Do it again, but harder."

Not really, but I am pretty sick of her being hurt every day. She's being so "good" - she runs away from him, pre-emptively, she gives him a clean slate every day, she doesn't retaliate physically ... it's amazing to me that she can call on so much self-control at such a young age. Yes, she still has emotional outbursts, and can get nonlinear when things don't go her way. But she can also call on restraint that I didn't realize she had.

Bean had an appointment with a neurologist today, the goal being to ascertain whether "all" we're dealing with, behavior- and integration-wise is SPD or if there's more going on. I wasn't able to go since today was my day to cover OT, but Dave said that after the eval the doc wanted to approach "this case from two main angles: looking at the PDD (pervasive development disorder - ie autism) spectrum and the sensory integration aspect."

Autism is one of those 'sucker punch' words, so I'm still in the digesting/ processing phase. We know it's not profound autism - so if we are dealing with autism, my road is a much easier one than many parents of autistic kids face. And a PDD "label" would be beneficial when she starts school, as SPD isn't recognized as a diagnosis meriting special circumstances.

But it's still a helluva thing to hear and to think about.


Your mouth is open and sound is coming from it. This is never good.

Poor O has been grumpy lately. I picked her up on Friday, and she came out to me crying and never really got herself straightened out. I asked the teacher at the door what happened, twice, and was pretty much ignored, so I was left with O's "my butt-butt hurts" and between Bean and I, we managed to ascertain that she fell - or was pushed and fell - on her butt. We're pretty sure someone pushed her, but I couldn't make out a name.

(Another gripe about the school, she came out with dried snot schmeared all over her face. Like her nose ran, she wiped at it with her hand or sleeve, smeared it around and it dried on her cheeks. Over and over, and no-one could be bothered to take a wipe to her face with a diaper wipe. Tho I don't think they can be bothered with diaper wipes if the kids just pee, since she comes home with a bright red tush and remnants of that morning's butt balm.)

Anyhow, I elevated my parenting game to include a stop at Sonic for grilled cheese and popcorn chicken for their dinner, we came home, ate, did bathtime and then sacked out.

Yesterday, we did our breakfast taco routine, checked on my folks' place and I had plans to take them *somewhere*, but O was just a mess. She was sooo sleepy, but wouldn't nap at home, insisted on a car ride, and only slept about 30 minutes. Bean wanted to go play at the mall, but it was *packed*, so we'll try the playscape again this a.m. before the mall opens.

Honestly, tho, I hate the mall playscape. It seems to be predominantly lowest common denominator parenting and kid behavior. Parents bring sick, bratty *too old for the playscape* kids and let them cough and sneeze everywhere while they run and jump and make things totally unsafe for the kids that "should" be there. So since we get up at the a$$-crack of dawn, we can easily be there well before it opens, and while those parents are still getting tattoos and bourbon for their kids.

We stopped at Barnes and Noble and then PetSmart. At PetSmart there were puppies and kittens, so they were beside themselves.

On the way home, we're talking, she's firing off questions (and oh dear *god* can I tell you how old it gets having to answer things like "why we call a horse a horse?" and the corollary "well, then, why did those people decide to call it a horse?" when I answer the first one with "I don't know, sweetie, people named everything a long time ago and I didn't have a vote")

Bean: What's a stepmother?
Mommy: It's when a daddy has a new wife.
Bean: ... {insert look of horror here}

I think to myself 'wow, she's not happy about "new wife"', and then an equally horrified look crosses my face as I recall we read Snow-Stupid-White at the bookstore and the stepmother tries to have Snow White killed.

I furiously backpedaled with all sorts of platitudes and disclaimers that stories like that were utter poppycock. But seriously - what kind of idiot am I? Normally, I'd have bee cagey-er about it, trying to ask why she asked, and gotten a context clue about the best answer. But after a discourse on why dogs were called dogs, the difference between a Honda and an Acura and an explanation about why there are cats and kittens that need homes I was in the "get it answered and move on" phase of the game.

So now I'll be spending the rest of the weekend trying to find naturally-occurring set-ups where I can talk about how fake Disney is, how totally unreal the stories are and how great new wives can be. Piece of cake.


Before I forget, when Miss O was crying in the car on the way home Friday, Bean made up a song that was essentially "calm down, calm down, calm your body down; mommy and Bean are right here and we love you and care about you and will always be your friend" it was beyond sweet, and she capped it off with something like "mommy is the best mommy in the world and she will always take care of you. But she's driving and has to look at the road so she doesn't run over any deer."

Eat your heart out, Hallmark.

I rested my eyes now and then, that's all.

I totally zonked out with the girls last night. I fully intended to get up after they fell asleep, but as O was nodding off, I thought 'screw it' and went to sleep.

The girls got about 10 hours' sleep, and I was up an hour earlier, so hopefully we're all recharged sufficiently for another day at the grind. Since Bean doesn't nap, her nighttime sleep is precious. Miss O usually naps well during the day, so she's not quite as exhausted as Bean is when the lights go out. The Big Girl is usually out cold within 5-10 minutes, while Little One still takes about 30 minutes to settle down and fall asleep.

I'm in the market for a new school for Miss O. The near-daily coronary event I have sitting in traffic on Mopac is just not good ... and - honestly? - I'm not a big fan of Montessori. Bean summed it up as "just boring work all day", and she's not that far off. I'm more interested in Miss O having fun than I am in her moving beans from one bowl to another with tweezers, yanno? That's a little bit of hyperbole, but it just totally goes against who I am as a parent, so I want her somewhere with play-based learning again.

I could drop her off earlier, I know, but the before and after programs at that school really don't offer much. In the mornings when I've dropped off before 9, the kids are all just sitting around the lunch area, not playing, not doing anything. They have active programs from 9-11-ish, but then it's lunch, then nap time and after that it's play outside (weather permitting time). That's a lot of money a month for essentially 2 hours a day of moving beans around. I also can't, in good conscience, just drop her there at 7:30-8:00 to sit around for an hour.

Does anyone have any schools they've heard good things about in central or North Austin?

I lie awake every night ...

Last night was one of those 'can't sleep' nights. I wasn't thinking on anything earth-shattering, but you know those nights when your brain is just kind of like one of those sped-up clock montages? Where the hands go sweeping around and pictures fly by? It was kind of like that. At midnight I gave up on laying there and tried to read myself to sleep, but was up until 2:00 anyways. Then the kidlets started to stir around 5:30 ... I think I'll be hitting the Starbucks bar at work today.

I awoke, with foggy brain, to Bean saying "Mommy, I tried to explain starcasm to C at school but he didn't understand. I said: 'when I say 'I really love it when you hit me', it's not a joke and I don't really mean it. That's starcasm.' But he didn't understand even though I explained it the best I could."

Yes folks, she did.

In the car, I've been trying to modulate my ... err ... *reactions* to drivers being total PITAs, so I've employed my favorite tool, sarcasm. Things like "Thanks a bunch for pulling out in front of me and then driving really slow. It makes the drive more challenging and therefore more fun!" instead of what I'd historically say, "$%#@#^ %^%$%#!!" Neither is great to teach children, but sarcasm at least won't have her excommunicated.

After a few of my 60's-housewife-style sarcastic deliveries (by that I mean, said with a smile and a saccharine sweetness, which all 60's housewives use in my head) thanking drivers for being so very skilled at what they do, Bean asked "Why did you say that? You aren't really happy they did that." I then got to explain sarcasm; I can't wait for the email I'll get from her dad when she tries it on him. Ooo - see Bean? It's just that easy.

Now with the flying kick. From a dead stop. What's powering it - raw enthusiasm?

What a week.

It's stressful as heck trying to get both girls picked up, at different schools, by pickup time. I was already getting to work at like 9:30 and leaving at 4:30 to accomodate the 9-5:30 stretch at the school they both attended; now I'm having to jog east a bit to pick up Bean, and then get over to Miss O, which means I need to leave by 4:15 and I'm getting in around 9:45.

Something's gotta give.

I'd really like them at the same school, but Dave had concerns about the lack of stuff to do in the toddler room. Since the Montessori is closed next Monday, I'm going to ask if O can do a day at Bean's school, so she'll get a chance to see it for herself.

Bean wants her at the same school; since they have completely separate classrooms, she's willing to share the school with her little sister. The Bean - Miss O dynamic is, from my perspective, the most bipolar thing EVAH. I think Bean would trade in every My Little Pony she has to be rid of Miss O, and yet she wants her at the same school, she gets mad at me if I get mad at Miss O, etc.

Anyways; it's been a bumpy school transition for Bean, through no fault of her own. There's a newer boy at the school (he started a little before Bean) that's pretty mean to her and the other kids; on Bean's first day, he kicked her in the chest and she fell backwards and had the wind knocked out of her. Kinda makes her decking a girl look a little tamer by comparison.

Karmically speaking, she's probably owed the daily beat-down. I say that very tongue-in-cheek; of course I don't really think she deserves it, nor do I like that she's getting hurt. My patience for it is probably much higher than it would be had I not been in the other parent's shoes for the past year or so, but still - it's not something I'll be able to tolerate long-term. She's getting hurt daily, talks about how mean this kid is a lot, and usually cowers when we drop her off.

She's learned, at least, that it sucks being hit/kicked/hurt, so it's shaping her empathy a bit. I do worry, though, that she'll retaliate or that she's learning how to be more physically aggressive than she was. I also just hate that she's being hurt.

On the flip side, though, she loves her school. I took her to OT the other day and when we finished at 4:15, she wanted to go back for the 45 minutes we had between then and when I could hand her off to her dad for the night. She chose going back to school over donuts at Barnes and Noble, so that's huge :)

Bean and I had a few great mommy-Bean adventures this weekend, which I'll talk more about later. Now I need to wrap up my morning and head out to work. I'm feeling a little worn down, likely from allergies; but in case I'm fighting a bug, I need to get in a few good days before I let it take over.

Wordless Wednesday



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