Monthly Archives: October 2015

life lessons, Mary Alice edition…

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5) Always have a song in your heart:

“Yipee yay, there’ll be no wedding bells for today…” I’d sing, and she’d giggle. “Cuz I’ve got spurs that jingle jangle jingle…” together we would clap our hands and sing along to the song.

4) Always have a spring in your step:

Getting dressed each morning can be a mundane chore. However, getting dressed can be made fun, so long as you have a good song to sing with a beat to dance to. “Well we ain’t got a barrel of money, maybe we’re ragged and funny, but we’re traveling along, singing our song, side by side” (Kay Starr). No matter how slow the road may go, dancing in the morning is good for your soul.

3) Always accept things as they are:

“I’ve learned over the years, even when I wanted things to be different, I had to trust in God and just let go. Everything will work out if you’re willing to place things in God’s hands, and just let go.”-Mary Alice Schuller.

2) Always have a sunny disposition:

There was never ever a day when I arrived at Mary Alice’s home that she was not happy to see me. Even though she never remembered my name, she was always happy I was there. How often can we same the same?

1) Always, without exception, love:

Yesterday at lunch in my own special way, I tried to convey to Mary Alice what she’s given to me these past four years. It went something like this…

“I want you to know how grateful and blessed I feel having had you in my life these last four years. Not a day went by when we didn’t laugh, sing songs horribly together, and or just enjoy one another’s company. In addition, you helped build my confidence in areas I was unsure of and made me a better person overall”. “Really? I didn’t know that” She replied. “Yep, 100%” “You’re kidding me…” “Would I kid a kidder?” I aked and then she laughed adding, “Probably”. “Plus you put up with my lousy singing.” I added. Giggling she said, “Mine too”. “Your daughter Julie and I went to school together…” I began. “Really?” “Oh yes, and she has a beautiful voice”. “She does?” She replied. “Yep–guess she got that from her father…” I added and smiled. “Oooh” she said and then giggled, you’re probably right.”

When the time came for me to leave, I realized her daughter was late arriving home. Ten minutes passed and then my phone rang, “I’m stuck in bumper to bumper traffic,” she explained. “Whatever, we’ll be here…” I replied, relishing the extended time I had with her mom. Twenty minutes later, after wishing Mary Alice a happy weekend I said, “Until we meet again…” and then bent down to accept the hug and air kiss she gave to me. Walking out of the room, to gather my belongings, Karen, her daughter extended a thank you hug, which I accepted before walking out their door one last time–taking gratitude, love and Mary Alice’s wonderful life lessons with me.

 

 

 

 

grade card mysteries…

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The end of each quarter of school used to be very worrisome for me as a kid. My parents via my report card were given an inside view to whether I was living up to my potential, or if, more than likely, I was slacking. However, on occasion, I surprised not only my parents but myself as well by what that card reported.

Today there are no more surprises when it comes to my kids grades. The doll’s school emails me her grades every day, including her homework assignments. I’m sure there is a way I can turn this feature off but have found I kind of like knowing what’s she learning and how she’s doing. As for the boy, all I need to do is click on the school’s grading website, enter in his student code and password and there they are, in all their glory or failure. “I don’t think you should have access to that,” Mrs. K said to me one day. “That’s an invasion of the boy’s privacy”. She explained. Smiling back at her I replied, “Yeah, but since I’m paying for his schooling…” Nodding she replied, “Well there is that, however, I still don’t think it’s right”. She makes a good point, though. Being in “trouble” for grades only at the end of a quarter sounds better than being in trouble all quarter long. Thus when the report cards do eventually come home, they have meaning and substance behind them.

This year when the doll handed me her card on Monday, I only took a moment to read the teachers comments, ignoring the grades, because I already knew them. The only new information was a separate honors card designating she achieved first honors. As for the boy’s card, despite his loathing of French, he achieved third honors.

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Taking a peek at the online grade site, when the boy entered the car yesterday after school, I asked, “Bay what’s with this British Lit grade?” He paused for a moment before replying, “Well, I forgot to do the assignment and apologized profusely until the teacher told me to stop…” He replied.

I guess I can’t resist being a helicopter parent after all…

 

Loverboy…

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Contrary to what’s written here in my blogs, I am not the perfect mother. Hell, I’m lucky if I’m an adequate mom at times. But what I do have going for me is the willingness to learn, how to become a better mom. Though, I have to admit, learning is one thing, putting the ideas into practice is quite a different matter altogether.

A few months back following a Sunday mass, I ran into a friend and made small talk. Somewhere in the midst of that conversation, I let slip how frustrated I had become with my son, due to his inability the to get out of his own way;  placing the blame squarely on his Asperger’s. Later via Facebook’s instant message system, she sent me a link to a website run by two adult men with Asperger’s, who offered clues on how to motivate the boy instead of holding him back. My husband, unbeknownst to me, also began searching  YouTube looking for videos that might help all of us bring the high frustration level in our home down to a manageable level.

Skeptically I clicked onto the link and watched what these “experts” had to say about the subject and was surprised by what I found. “Marsh…Oh, you’re checking out that video link I sent you…” My husband said as he entered the kitchen. “No, this one’s from my friend…” I replied. Taking a closer look, he laughed, amused I was watching the same experts he had found. “Have you watched this whole episode?” I asked. “There are several videos on there. I simply sent you the one I found most helpful,” He replied. After viewing several videos and testimonies from other parents who employed these same techniques, I made the decision to try and do the same.

****

Today, our home has become a calmer, less stressful place to live, with very small levels of frustration thrown in for good measure. Sure there are still times when the boy bugs me–not eating properly, for example, but my approach to problem solving is different. The other day he asked me “What’s gotten into you?” “What do you mean?” I wondered. “You’re less angry all the time”. Sheepishly I asked, “This is a good thing isn’t it?” “Yes, but I’ve been waiting…” He began. “What? For the other shoe to drop?” I interrupted instead. “Yes”. He replied. “Bay, I’ve made the decision to try and not get upset over all the small details any longer. It’s not good for you or me,” I replied. “Well, you have been quieter…” He remarked. “Imagine that!” I said before we changed the subject.

So what was the magic pill?

Very simple.

Love.

Show your kid you love them, support them, are their biggest fan. Look upon their issues, not from a worried parent’s perspective, but rather from a loving parent’s one. Work together to solve the issues they are experiencing, approaching from a perspective of Love than from any place else.

*****

Prior to having someone point out to me that I was problem-solving wrong, I would have told everyone  I was using love…my love for him to succeed, my love to make him the best version of himself, my love to push him out of his own way. The difference here is that loving him should be easy, not frustrating. Hence, taking a step back, recentering my love on what’s important–his overall well-being. This is what has made me a better mom. In addition, I’m more relaxed, which as he pointed out, has made me an easier going, less angry mom. What’s more, he’s succeeding without my constant harping.

Yes, love for the win.

 

 

 

 

Cookies…

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This is a scary time of year for many parents of eighth-grade students, Halloween notwithstanding. Why so scary? Because the areas private High Schools are vying for the next calendar school year’s enrollment and thus have been inundating us with mountains of mailers, invitations to events, clubs to join, musicals to see and cookies to eat. In addition, each school, in an effort to put their best foot forward have invited students to spend a day with them, via visitations called  “shadowing”; to help the student (to be) make the best-informed decision possible. The doll is allowed four excused absence days to shadow and over the past two weeks did so at her top two choices: An all girls school and my alma mater.

After shadowing at the girl’s only high school, this was our conversation:

” How did you like the school?” I asked. “I liked the laid back atmosphere and the block scheduling gives you more time to get your homework completed. But I think my number one reason for liking them was the cookies they gave me at lunch. They were sooo good Mom.”  “Surely cookies won’t be your deciding factor here…?” I returned. “You obviously have never tasted their cookies.” Trying to see whether or not she was pulling my leg I asked  “Seriously?” “You never know mom, I am weighing all the options..”

Oh, brother!

After shadowing at my alma mater, this was our conversation:

“Hey, how’d the day go?” Walking up she said in no uncertain terms, “I’m going to this school in the fall!” “But what about the cookies at the other school?” I replied while secretly jumping for joy in my head. “I’m just going to have to suffer without them…” She said and then went on to tell me why this school enthralled her so much. “Besides the obvious pep rally, I liked the teachers and the students were all nice. Plus, I was called down to the admissions office and had a one on one conversation with the admissions officer who took a genuine interest in talking with me about my choices for high school and where I saw myself next year.” “Perhaps the reason your didn’t get that chance at the other school is because I showed up too early to get you?” I put out there. Nodding her head she replied, “Maybe.”

So as it stands today, the boy and doll will be attending the same high school next year, which makes me happy on many levels. However, over the next two weeks we’re still going to attend both school’s open houses just to be sure. My biggest worry being, we’ll all fall in love with the delicious tasting, decision swaying cookies offered at the girls-only high school.

out of the mouth of doll…

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“Stop hurting my baby!!” I mock shouted at the doll. Giving me a pained look in reply, she said, “Mom that response is really tiresome.” “Well if you would stop bumping into things and hurting yourself, I’d have no reason to keep reminding you” I replied and smiled. Nonplussed, she walked passed me, out of the room, while rubbing the spot on her arm she had just bumped.

Later that night she asked me for an extended hug and I willingly accepted. “You know mom these hugs are weird,” She remarked. “Yeah? How so?” I asked, still enveloping her in my arms, “Lifting her head she replied, “Well, it’s just that my arms fit differently around you, I mean in a good way”. Smiling I replied, “Good, take all the time you need to get adjusted to this new me.” I said in hopes of extending the hug a little longer. “I mean it, mom, my arms don’t have to fit around you as far as before–not that you were fat, just…” She rambled until I laughed and replied, “Doll, I lost almost 40 pounds. I think it’s safe to say I was fat”. “I wouldn’t say that just different,” she said and then added,  “Before you began working out you were very contrary about yourself. I’m happy that that negative person seems to be gone. Please, don’t bring her back.” She said as I drew her closer and squeezed. “From your lips to God’s ears…and with my hopeful ability to keep the weight off, I won’t”. I said, and then squeezed her a little more before releasing her. “Even if you gain all the weight back mom, keep the negative body shaming person away. I’ll stop hurting your baby if you stop hurting my mom”.

Looking at her I smiled knowingly at the amazing young woman we were raising and then said, “Deal” as she gave me an additional albeit, quick hug, before heading off to bed.

Everywhere you look…

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I’m at a loss today for good subject matter. Too much, but not enough going on–if you get my meaning. So instead, today I thought I’d treat you to the beautiful changing landscape that is Northwest Ohio. The cooler temps have finally convinced the trees to blanket our world with rich, vibrant colored foliage. Though some leaves have already begun to blanket our lawns, this only lends more support in finding beauty everywhere you look.  

    
    
    
 

brave new-old world…

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I used to wonder if the boy had been born blind if his eating habits would be better. Regardless of taste, if the boy perceives food to taste one way, simply using sight alone, he decides he won’t eat said food. The only exception to this rule are cakes and cookies, because seriously, how wrong can you go with them?

Welcome to the brave new-old world we’ve been forced to enter.

Have you ever felt like you were beating your head against a wall with no end in sight? If the answer is yes, then you understand what life is like trying to get my son to change his eating habits. “Bay, you’re not supposed to eat jelly!” I shouted at him Tuesday when I entered the kitchen and found him fitting two pieces of whole grain bread together one with peanut butter, the other with the offending jelly spread evenly across. “Well, it’s too late now…” He replied. “Hey, you asked the doctor point blank and she said NO!” “So you’re saying I can’t eat this? It’s already made. You want me to waste this sandwich?” “BAY!! YOU ARE COMMITTING SUICIDE!! SHE SAID NO MORE, YET HERE YOU ARE, THROWING YOUR LIFE AWAY!” I shouted. “Mom stop being so dramatic. I promise after this one sandwich I won’t make another one. Grabbing the jar to ensure he couldn’t, I glanced down at the ingredients and I couldn’t believe my eyes, “HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!” I said loudly in his direction. Shaking my head, I opened the trash lid and dropped the jar inside.

Last night shortly after dinner I left, simply to keep myself from making matters worse with him. For dinner, we had scrambled eggs with peppers, onions and spinach. I knew he would fight me about the spinach, but wasn’t prepared for him to engage his gag reflex on everything else. For the next hour and a half, I wandered up and down aisles at our local grocer looking for foods that would fit into this new diet. New chips, new sugar-free foods–all of which are more expensive than their sugar-filled counterparts. All of which wouldn’t be necessary if the boy was willing to give an inch…submit, eat the foods on the new diet and avoid the old standbyes.”Mom, the peppers didn’t agree with me” He tried when I returned home. “Bay, you decided long before they met your tongue that you didn’t want to eat the food. Why do you think I left? I know they tasted good. But I’m not going to sit here and have you insult me because you refuse to change.” “I know I have to change, but not with shitty food!” He yelled back, frustrated I wouldn’t let him off the hook. “Bay, insulting me is not going to make your life any easier. We either work together on solving this or our lives are going to suck. Let’s find a good nutritional path together”. I offered as he walked away, slamming his bedroom door in reply.

What a brave new world we’ve entered…