Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We Don't Do Cold





Listen. We, the great state of Texas, don't do winter. We just don't.

Texas is hot. Hot as hell. Hot to the point where a saying like, "Sweating like a whore in church" rolls off my tongue over 100 times a year. 90 degrees is nothing to us. A heat index under 115 degrees means we kick our children outside to play for hours. As long as they have water, they won't dehydrate.

We do heat. We do not own proper coats, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, etc. Those of us that own Uggs or boots did it for fashion, and let's be real fucking honest here - Uggs are ugly but holy shit, they are the most comfortable shoes.

So when it gets cold, freezing temps and below, our city FREAKS. The media has catchy, fear mongering titles like "Winter Storm Coming!," and "Icemageddon." Words such as wintry mix and cold have exclamation points and are in all capitals. Freezing temps are dangerous here if precipitation joins the cold.

Which brings me to my point. We are on our 13th day of missed school due to weather. That number is not even a joke. It is legit. And it is as annoying as a crying baby at 3 in the morning. First was Hurricane Harvey and now we have ice and snow. Texas doesn't do ice. Go ahead and make fun of us Canada and Chicago, it's okay. We are Texas, we don't give a shit.

In Texas, we are not equipped to salt and sand all our roadways. We are a BIG state, much bigger than your stupid sized state, Rhode Island. If the roads are iced over, our drivers, who suck on a normal day, die. Our idiot drivers will ignore all warnings and get on the road and crash. This is Texas. We don't do ice and we don't listen. Everything is bigger in Texas, including our morons.

Because every state has its fair share of idiots, we must cancel school. Our buses cannot risk one of our rogue ass hats crashing into it and potentially killing the students on the bus. For fuck's sake, the damn airports are closed and people are still bitching how the school districts are closed. Do you want to be responsible for a bus crashing? I sure as hell don't. Err on the side of caution. Working parents, yes this is more of a nuisance for you, except on days like this. The damn city is shut down. The fucking hospitals cancelled outpatient appointments. The city is shut. Everyone is supposed to stay home because again, Texas doesn't do cold, ice, sleet, snow. We do heat. We do hurricanes. So stay home with your kids. Don't be an ass hat. Don't be a moron. Don't be the next person I see on the news who "braved the icy roads." During hurricane season and thunderstorms we say "Don't drown, turn around" to remind you all to stay home. Here is your winter saying, "Don't roll the dice, stay away from the ice." Good lord, we need a damn slogan for people to stay home...My eyes hurt from rolling.

I get it. Our kids are on our last nerves. And these Texas kids cannot go play outside because they are made to play in heat and while their bodies can handle 100 plus degrees, if it dips below 50 these little shits start crying about frostbite.

I feel your pain. My kids are home and if you read my blog on the regular you know I would love to home school and you know I love breaks from school. BUT....when it happens all of a sudden the break in routine does more harm than I care to admit. My kids act like they've never been home before. They have a cabinet of arts & crafts, a television, Netflix, a playroom filled with toys, iPads, and each other...and yet, somehow these little spoiled brats are bored. Cry me a fucking river.

To my fellow Texans that are home, pour a glass of wine and relax. To my friends in other states making fun of us for freaking out about iced roads, come live here during hurricane season and I will watch you shit your pants at the first thunderstorm as I drive in the pouring rain and our swim team still holds practice.

Texas, I love you. And you can stay closed for as long as you need. My love for you will never die.



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Girls' Trips



My husband is not my best friend. Sorry readers, he just isn't. I love him. I even like him, but after 16 years of marriage, he is not my best friend.

Who are my best friends? My girlfriends. I need my girls. I really do. We talk on the phone, go on walks together, get dinner, lunch, or coffee. We talk about our kids, religion, politics, the crazy bus driver, the neighbor with the shitty lawn, and the neighborhood Facebook page that is better than any real housewives show. And yes, we discuss our BRAVO shows too!

Some of my favorite friends do not live in the same city as I do, so we schedule girls' trips. The kiddos stay home with the husbands, grandparents, or a baby sitter. A weekend for just us friends. What happens that weekend is awesome. We eat, drink, talk, all in person! We hug, laugh, cry, roll eyes, smile, all in person! People need people. I need people. The phone and social media are not enough for me.

To all my girlfriends - thank you for your friendship and thank you for making time for girls' trips.

Thank you for using Waze vs Google Maps and driving us through areas of the state that look straight out of a horror movie and make me think about how many dead bodies are out in the remote area.

Thank you for stopping on the side of the road so I could pee in a fucking cup. My thighs might touch, but man can they squat and allow for a successful pee in the cup experience.

Thank you for having a pool so we could lay out without going somewhere.

Thank you for willingly splitting the bill evenly every time. Pretty sure we wouldn't be friends if you were one of those damn people saying your meal was less.

Thank you for making reservations at a restaurant that are appealing to all of us - even our meat and potato friend.

Thank you for introducing me to pickle shots.

Thank you for suggesting the bar after dinner because even though at 40 we all could have gone home, we needed to rally and party like the college girls we once were.

Thank you for staying up until 2:30 in the morning to have a conversation.

Thank you for the countless conversations.

Thank you for leaving your work day early because our weekend started.

Thank you for driving six hours to meet us.

Thank you for flying on a plane to join us.

Thank you for the profanity filled conversations because let's face it, any friend of mine has a mouth like a fucking sailor. They just hide it better than I do.

Thank you for ordering that weird dish that I made fun of and then ate it all.

Thank you for compromising on the weekend's events so that all of us did something we chose.

Thank you for giving me the affirmations I needed.

Thank you for telling me like it is.

Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for understanding the value of friendship.

Thank you for your love of Garth Brooks.

I love my annual girls' trips. While I barely get any sleep, they leave me empowered and full of energy, ready to face my role of wife and mother with a renewed outlook. These weekends allow me to release the inner party girl that gets locked up most of the time.

Until next time, best friends!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Answer



I don't even know how to start this post, but it is what it is.
E2 was diagnosed with mild spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

I woke this morning knowing I was taking my daughter to a neurologist. I woke this morning knowing I was bringing examples of her school work, a letter from her teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, and developmental optometrist. I woke this morning knowing that my husband, my sister in law, and myself were truly the only ones who saw all of E2's struggles. I woke this morning not knowing that we would finally have an answer.

The neurologist was incredible. He read every letter, heard my every word, and assessed E2. While he examined her, he asked more questions, wrote down more information, and then gave the diagnosis.

I cried. The doctor asked why I was I crying and I said, "What is her future?" His answer - whatever she wants it to be.
She should not be progressing in school, but she is. She should not be able to ride a two wheel bike, but she does. She should not be an incredible swimmer, but she is a rock star in the pool. There are so many things she should not be able to do....

How did we miss this? Who can I blame? Who the fuck can I cuss out, fire, and beat the shit out of?

The short answer is we all did our job. Due to early intervention, the signs were not clear. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As I begin to research more, the diagnosis makes perfect sense.

The neurologist took his time. The neurologist understood my tears and my fears. He reminded me the only reason E2 is as amazing as she is is because of me and my perseverance. The only reason E2 was even in his office was because of me. You would think this would make me feel better, but I was in no mood for the ego boost. (Shocking, I know)

I, of course, responded with a joke saying I was an overbearing Jewish mother and he quickly replied, "You're an educated professional who wanted answers. You got them. Don't let this label define you, your expectations, or limit E2. The sky's the limit."

I cried hysterically.

How do you balance pushing your kid to achieve more now knowing there is a reason she is not progressing like others? How do I punish her? How do I not coddle her? How do I look at her the same? How do I even begin to believe the sky is the limit when I am suffocating with fear of the unknown?

The answer to the how is the same answer it was yesterday. How do I do push her, expect more, etc?
I just do. I did it yesterday, I can do it today, and I will do it tomorrow.
It is not fair to no longer push E2.  It is not fair to squash her hopes and dreams because she received a label this morning. E2's life did not change this morning. Mine did. I knew I was a mother of a child with special needs, but the thing was no one really believed me. All the label did was validate what I have been saying for years.

Next steps....E2 will have an EEG and MRI to try and figure out why she has CP. If those are clear, she will undergo genetic testing. There is a reason for CP and we need to find it. Her diagnosis will not change. She will not get worse. There is no cure.

Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy all help children with cerebral palsy. Like I said, E2's life has not changed. She will continue to receive these therapies. The biggest difference will be E2 is now covered by by the special education umbrella for school meaning she will have an IEP vs a 504.

There is still so much for us to learn. There is still so much to process, but one thing is for certain - Nothing has ever stopped E2 and we certainly will make sure nothing does.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gray

Gray, a mixture of black and white.

There is nothing about me that is gray, but unfortunately E2 is what I call  gray.

To all the kids that are gray and to the parents of the gray, I see you.

Gray has a speech delay. Severe enough to struggle with word retrieval and simple conversations, but not severe enough (yet) to qualify for public school intervention.

Gray has fine motor issues. Severe enough to cause anxiety of over learning to tie shoes and button pants and use a zipper, but not severe enough (yet) to cause handwriting concern.

Gray has motor delays. Severe enough to see a difference in PE at school, but not severe enough to prevent you from learning to ride a two wheel bike or learning to swim.

Gray has motor planning issues. Severe enough to not know what to do when you lose something, or when faced with a new environment, but not severe enough for intervention because you learn the motor plan after doing it once.

Gray has a learning disability. Severe enough to need tutors, at home intervention, and materials to be retaught frequently, but not severe enough (due to age) to qualify for special education or a 504.

Gray can have low self esteem and poor self confidence, but has a parent pulling the puppet strings to avoid situations that will truly bring these issues to light.

Gray cannot figure out the simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe until someone plays it with them multiple times a day for months. The same goes for Hide and Seek and other typical childhood games.

Gray sucks. Special Education is for children with a diagnosis. 504 is for children with a diagnosis. What happens when your child is just on the cusp of many diagnoses but due to intense private early intervention they don't qualify for a specific problem? Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Gray costs money. Gray does not benefit from free services. Gray is not two years below as the state requires for intervention, but lagging behind peers. Gray requires outside help. Gray requires a fight you don't want to fight. A fight that says my child is not developing normally, but I refuse to let them fall further behind. Gray requires knowledge of health insurance and how to get them to see the issue. Gray causes arguments with family and friends that say they will catch up.

Gray has had private intervention since 20 months of age and is still delayed.

Gray is sweet and kind and gets enrolled in public school because schools for children with special needs say Gray is too high achieving.

Gray is exhausting.

Gray has an accident at school because they cannot tell the teacher it is an emergency. Gray only raises their hand because that is the motor plan that was taught and Gray has poor communication skills and problem solving skills.

Gray plays with the same children over and over again because it is easier than initiating play with someone new and trying to figure out the new game everyone is playing.

Gray plays alone when the usual friends are not available.

Gray gets frustrated.

Gray doesn't like lunch in the cafeteria because it is too loud.

Gray has issues that are not recognized by the public school district to receive accommodations, but Gray desperately needs them.

Gray has amazing compensation skills which mask the delays.

My Gray is lucky. I am a stay at home mom and former teacher. I work tirelessly each day to help her achieve goals, to help her achieve "normal." People say what is normal anyway, but there is a normal. Avoidance does not help. Pretending it's all okay because she is happy and smiles all the time does not help.

I do not wish for someone to say Autistic, ADHD, Dyslexic, or another well known learning difference. I just wish for someone to know something. The word "delay" doesn't help. Delays don't get public school services. What are parents to do that cannot afford private intervention?

Why does a child have to be so severely behind to get help?
Why do we have to let them fall to then try and catch them up?

My Gray is extra lucky. Our elementary school is fantastic. We have a campus compliance coordinator that works WITH families to get the children help. We were blessed with the most incredible kindergarten teacher that truly sees my child. She knows her so well and goes the extra miles, yes mileS, to help her.

Special schools are 25k - 40k dollars a year! We do not have the financial means for that tuition right now.  I cannot even begin to think about what if we were at a public school without an amazing staff. I cannot imagine the stress it would cause if our public school was awful and we could not afford a private school. Where would we go?

What if we could not afford private speech, OT, and PT. What if we had to rely on the bureaucratic bullshit we call Early Childhood Intervention?

If you're a mom of a Gray, keep fighting. Processing issues, communication issues, motor issues, are all cause for concern and deserve help. We need to open our minds that children do not fit in a box. There is not always something you can check. Our society wants to label children to provide for them.
Gifted, ADD, Learning Disabled...whatever it is, it must be a box that can be checked in order to receive services.

No box to check? Your kid is GRAY. And Gray needs a fierce mama bear.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I Am Modest. Sort Of.




Today I went bra shopping for the first time in way too long. Supposedly you are supposed to replace your bras every six months, but who the fuck has time to do that? And who the fuck has all that money??  Bras are EXPENSIVE. Maybe just my size is expensive? Target and Wal-Mart cannot help me with this item of clothing.

From the time I was in high school, I have been blessed with my two lady friends. My mom was a stickler for posture, so that made my chest seem even bigger because unlike my friends, I was not allowed to hunch over. Gain weight, lose weight - my friends are still there. They refuse to leave me. It's like they took out a 30 year mortgage, paid it off, and are here to stay. You would think at 40, I would be used to the annoyance that is bra shopping, but I am not.

In high school and college, my mom made me go to a special store that properly fits you. I have PTSD from those experiences. Even with my sailor like mouth, I am super shy about my body. In this special bra store, the sales lady comes into the dressing room WITH you! They stare at your chest, measure you with a measuring tape, and help you properly put your bra on. Are you embarrassed for my 14 year old self?? I am. It was AWFUL. I HATED going there. Ugh. A teenager has enough angst. I did not need the bra ladies adding to mine.

I am super loud. However, ones bra size should not be mentioned loudly enough for all to hear! I still think my mom owes me an apology. I am grateful she helped me have supportive bras and I don't have saggy breasts because of it, but.....for fuck's sake, it was traumatizing.

So here I am today, 40 years old, texting my cousins, aunts, and my mom from the fucking dressing room of Nordstrom's while I stand in shock at my bra size. G-d bless my grandma and her genes, we are all well endowed. Well, we, minus one...sorry Aunt "LACA."  Yes, I sent a group text. Yes, I am still in disbelief. You know what else is shocking? $78 for a damn bra. Sure, the bra is supportive. Sure, my shirts look better, but you need more than one bra!! How the hell can one justify this much money on a fucking bra!!! HOLY SHIT!!!  I need to take out a bank loan when it is time to purchase new bras!!

The Nordstrom's saleswoman saw me with my bras, asked if I needed help and I immediately said no. I don't give a flying rats ass that I am 40 and skinnier than I have been in decades, you bitches are not coming into the dressing room with your molesting measuring tape.

And now the saleswoman is asking if everything is alright since I have been in the dressing room for quite some time. I was in there for awhile partly due to my group text and partly because every bra I pulled gave me double boob, armpit boob, or had so many hooks I thought I was a fucking fisherman.

Damn it. Just come in and measure me. Great, now she wants to assist me in putting on my new bra. I AM FORTY!!! I CAN PUT ON MY OWN DAMN BRA!! Seriously. Is there a training lingerie sales people go through??? I want to run the next training. There IS a way to make this experience less uncomfortable. Perhaps a joke could lighten the mood?

After many different style of bras and more hooks than I can count, I was more than satisfied with what became my new bra.

The best part of the new bra - two hooks! TWO! I am not even sure how that's possible. I haven't seen two hooks since my training bra.

The worst part of the new bra - I had to sing my ABCs to figure out exactly how big my breasts are and that letter my friends: well, it only belongs in the alphabet.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another Year? I Think Not

Two years ago we left the synagogue I called home for 38 years. For a multitude of reasons it was no longer the right fit for our family of four. So, we "shul shopped."

This year during our shul shop, we decided to pray with our Chabad Rabbi, his wife, their children, and a community we are just starting to get to know. While our daughters attend religious school with these wonderful people, our family had yet to pray with them.
(Make no mistake, at this point "these" and "them" is now an "us.")

During the service, which by the way I enjoyed, the Rabbi delivered his sermons. In years past I have listened to sermons, but not with the concentration I had this year. This year, with a smaller community, my husband on the other side of the mechitza, and my children participating in a meaningful children's program, I was able to truly listen.

The message? A new year or another year? Interesting.

As the Rabbi explained, there is always another year. The Jewish new year happens each year (and I thought so does January 1st). With two chances at a new year, was I really making it a new year or another year? The Rabbi went on to discuss how we all get another year, but it is up to us to make it a new year. Will we change how we react to people, will we change our family dynamics, will we make a conscious decision to have a true new year.

The Jewish new year this year happened right after Hurricane Harvey hit our area. Devastation occurred physically and emotionally for all those involved.

A new year? Was it possible to take something like the hurricane and find a spiritual connection to it all? Maybe, just maybe for me the hurricane is a reminder to let all the "stuff" wash away in an effort to have this new year.

My girls have a new year. It is almost inevitable. As you grow your desires, needs, expressions, mannerisms mature. As a child, your year is new whether you're in control or not. You learn new things in school, achieve new milestones, make new friends, have new, age appropriate challenges - all of which allow you the courtesy of a new year. I do not believe my children have ever had another year.

But what about us? The adults. Are we blessed with the same unconditional new year? The answer is no. We may have new challenges and new joys, but the majority of us react the same way. We continue to yell at traffic, get pissy with a friend, spouse, sibling for not meeting our expectations, experience frustrations at what could be considered small stuff, while being completely overwhelmed with the big stuff. Yes we laugh and smile, but is it the same laugh and same smile?

At 40, is it possible for me to look inward enough and guarantee myself a new year? I sure hope so. I am self aware enough to know that I have tried (for a long time now) to give myself a new year vs. another year. Some days resemble this new year. A year filled with new hopes, renewed patience, a more genuine smile, and a deeper laugh. And then there are days that resemble another year.

My prayer for this year, my new year, is that each day I remember to have this new year. I want to fulfill that promise to myself, my family, my friends. I want to be able to have a fresh outlook, see the world with a new pair of eyes, and relish in the newness that I may have forgotten. I want to let go of any judgement, anger, or frustration that I am holding onto and let it wash away with the horrific flood waters from a few weeks ago.

Another year? No.

A new year filled with hopes, possibilities, and anything else I dream?  Yes. Yes, indeed.

Thank you Rabbi. Your words are powerful.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Making A Come Back

Wow!

It has been awhile since I last blogged. My last entry was a month ago as I was bracing myself for the emotions that come with sending your last child off to Kindergarten.

Fast forward a month and I cannot even believe what has happened.

We started school! Third grade and Kindergarten! We had a wonderful three days and then school was closed. Cue: Hurricane Harvey.

My family survived Hurricane Harvey and while we did sleep in closets due to tornado warnings and we did evacuate our home, we are very fortunate to not have suffered any physical damage to our property. We have many friends and family that were not so lucky. We did, however, suffer from emotional trauma. I will not go into too much detail but protecting your children in a closet while a tornado tears through the street your friends live on is unimaginable. Evacuating your home at a moment's notice knowing your home town is under water and your current community is taking in flood waters, rips a hole in your heart. The whole experience has left all of us looking for actual blue skies and rainbows.

When we did return to our home, we had play dates with our friends to help their working parents because school was still closed. We collected items for people who lost everything in the hurricane.
As we were trying to emotionally recover from Harvey, The Weather Channel and family group texts were all on again due to Hurricane Irma. We have A LOT of family in Florida.

Again, for the most part my family was spared. We do have family that has some home damage, but we do not the extent as they have been unable to return to their home. We continue to pray for them daily.

Finally school started again (yesterday) and we literally had a SECOND first day of school.

Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) is next week and while I typically get super anxious about The Book of Life and all it represents, I am so grateful to have a holiday that symbolizes a fresh start. It is time for a do over.

This past year was rough, emotionally. The girls had struggles from anxiety to peer pressure to social acceptance to typical growing pains and more. I felt like each week we were on this emotional roller coaster and it was anybody's guess as to which one was going to lose their shit and become hysterical.

Add to that, I really feel like my family has not recovered from my grandma dying. And when I say my family, I am not referring to just us four. My family is my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and my parents. Losing our matriarch was devastating. Everything is the first without her and it makes the pain that much worse. Some days are better than others, but we all miss her.

I am so grateful for all we have. I truly am. I am healthy, my girls and husband are healthy, and we are happy. But at the same time, I am actively praying for a better year for all of us.

I am not praying for happiness as that is a choice you make yourself, but rather praying for peace. I am praying the girls have peace in their hearts and in school, I am praying for peace in our home, and praying for peace in my husband's business.

Rosh Hashana begins at sundown September 20th and as my family begins to pray and celebrate this holiday I will keep my eyes on our future.

A new year awaits us and we are ready to make the most of it.