Saturday, January 30, 2010

Marriage Encounter article and column

My feature on Worldwide Marriage Encounter ran in today's Patriot Ledger. I also had my recent Marriage Encounter weekend in mind when I wrote this week's family column. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Food for thought

I actually sat down this morning and read The Pilot, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston. In it was an article about how the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican is urging Jews to dialogue with Catholics.

The thing that struck me was when the ambassador, Mordechay Lewy, quoted Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, in an article he wrote for the Italian Jewish newspaper. The article was also printed in the Vatican newspaper.

Here's what he wrote that struck me so much:

"Claiming an absolute possession of truth would be to claim God's action in human hearts is limited."

I like that. I like it a lot.

Ohhh, boy. First politics, now religion. I'm sure I'm in for it, now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I welcome comments on my blog. While I especially welcome opinions that mirror mine (and who doesn't?) I do recognize that there are other viewpoints out there.

Comments written by people I do not know, who do not make their profiles public (in essence, anonymous commenters) may or may not be published. It's my blog, and I see no reason to publish comments that attack me or my writing, especially when the commenter isn't willing to identify him- or herself.

I stand by my writing, and invite commenters to do the same.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is not a discussion

I don't discuss politics.

Well, I will say that I do engage in a little bit of discussion -- and I mean very little -- with Earl, on occasion. But in general, I like to keep my political opinions to myself.

Some people enjoy political debate, and can remain civil and thoughtful even when confronted with opinions that are far different from their own.

Sadly, many cannot. This is why I don't discuss politics.

I don't enjoy listening to others discuss politics, either. Or watching, as in the case of Facebook over the past several days.

The Massachusetts special election for U.S. Senate is over. Hopefully the discussion will die down pretty soon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Feel-good Wednesday

Happy is the woman whose husband brings her coffee in bed.

I've been having such a hard time getting up in the morning, but I need to get up early to get some things done before the kids get up. Today when the alarm beeped, I asked Earl to come back in 20 minutes to wake me. He came back with coffee. He is the best.

In other news, I had a meeting with Abby's teachers this morning about some concerns I had about her math work and school-home communication. The three of us met for about 25 minutes and were able to come up with ideas and solutions that should make both the math and the communication go more smoothly. If you're looking for me, I'll be printing multiplication facts worksheets.

Earl's birthday is on Friday, and for once, I'm on top of it. Gifts are bought, cake is planned (complete with ALL olive oil cake like last year) and I even have a sneaky plan to take him out to breakfast. He wants to go to the high school basketball game on Friday evening with the kids, so that's where we'll two cars, so when Abby and Timmy have had enough, I'll take them home and leave the two sports fans to finish the game. We'll have birthday cake and ice cream at home post-game. A sweet little family party.

I have gotten at least 5 compliments on my hair within the past two days. I'm letting it grow, and it's kind of full around my face now. A new look, after years of a pixie and a Martha Coakley before that. It sticks out in at least one direction every day, but it is a softer look, and it must suit me, because people are talking to me about it, nicely.

I rediscovered dark chocolate with a coffee chaser today. Oh, my goodness. How have I lived without it?

I've lost a few students over the past couple of weeks. I'm not panicking; students come and students go. I would like to fill up the couple of vacant time slots I have, though. This reminds me that I need to follow up with that mom I emailed from my waiting list.

One of my voice students had a major breakthrough this week. I talked with her last week about jaw tension and the correct positioning of the jaw relative to the head when opening the mouth. She took that knowledge and ran with it, and lo and behold, she had no jaw tension this week, and the hoarseness and cracking that had gone along with it just below the passagio was gone. I mean, gone. Vanished. I am so proud of her, and so happy that we were able to get to the bottom of the problem.

I lifted weights for the first time in two weeks this morning. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. I'm not beating myself up, because I did have a cold and didn't feel like working out before, but wow, what a difference. I'm glad to be back to it again.

And on that note, I think I'll bake Earl's birthday cake so I can just figure out the frosting tomorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Gift of the Monday

Earl bought me a prayer book for Christmas called "Every Day is a Gift." I read a little passage from it each morning, to try to start my day in a good mindset. This morning at 5:15, however, I gave the book a new title: Every Day is a Gift, except Monday.

Even after that reluctant beginning, this was a much better Monday than last week's. Kids were good as gold this morning, even though (or perhaps because) Earl left the house extra-early. Everyone got dressed and did their morning routines without a fuss. Abby and Brian both practiced, and they even had some free time before it was time to go.

One little glitch: I almost forgot to take Timmy to school. Earl usually does it, and I was aiming to leave at 8:30 to take the other two to school, not 8:15 to accommodate the preschool's earlier start time. I remembered in time, though, and everyone piled into the car and we got to preschool right on time.

With the Christmas tree no longer in my living room, there was no excuse to sit around and look at it, so I got busy once everyone was in school and did some general cleaning and tidying-up. Not glamorous, but satisfying in its own way. Then, I picked up Timmy and headed to the gym for a light workout. I'm over my cold but have a tiny cough now and again, so I didn't kill myself at the gym. Good thing, too, because I really noticed the difference a week and a half made. I'm rather de-conditioned.

Then I had an interview for an upcoming article, which was OK, but I learned an important lesson: remember to put people at ease before asking them questions. I had to stop the interview and explain that I wasn't an investigative reporter. Better to explain feature-writing up front next time, I think. Everyone will be more comfortable, and it will save time, too.

School pickup wasn't that stressful, Abby's violin lesson was very good, dinner was uneventful. I taught a couple of lessons and the kids are now in bed. I'm headed there, myself, soon, as I was yawning in my lessons tonight.

Every day is indeed a gift, even Mondays, sometimes.

My favorite LOLcat

This photo was featured on lolcats last week. I love it! I can't have a cat so I get my daily dose of kittyness from the Cheezburger network.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Settling in again

We're now in day 4 of our post-vacation daily grind, and things are feeling more normal again. After the initial turbulence of re-entry on Monday, we had a couple of unusual days, in that Abby had a doctor's appointment one day, and all three kids had dentist appointments the next. Back to normal today, though, and not a moment too soon.

Dinner is in the crock-pot, my cold is all but gone, and I'm enjoying my afternoon coffee in front of my Christmas tree. It's coming down this weekend. I finally feel like it's time for it to go, but I've really enjoyed it this year, just like the holidays in general.

Other than that one little blip of overscheduling in early December, it was a peaceful and fun month. It really helped to get virtually all my shopping done by December 1st, and to have a master plan for dealing with everything else (I adapted FlyLady's holiday control journal and will never attempt another Christmas without it.)

Some wondrous things that took place over the holidays:
  • true pretend play from Abby, thanks to Littlest Pet Shop. It was such a joy to watch, seeing her use toys as agents, and to be able to interact with Timmy and Brian when they were playing LPS with her, too. Sadly, and predictably, the quality of her pretend play diminished noticeably toward the end of the vacation, as the days without the structure and services provided by school wore on. But, for a few days, it was a joyous development in our house.
  • Epic games of Camp and Monopoly, Jr., involving the whole family
  • A lovely evening dinner party with good friends, gifts, caroling, and the best roasted turkey ever
  • Relaxed mornings for me, when Earl dealt with the kids' breakfasts and I could sleep or wake up at my leisure
  • Another lovely dinner party and visit with my sister and brother-in-law
  • A little family New Year's Eve party, with menu and preparation a joint effort between Abby and me;
  • Two weeks off from two of my jobs. I love my work, but the vacation time really was such a gift, and one I will give myself next year, too
  • Abby's beautiful Christmas Eve mass prelude

I think the best part was slowing down and enjoying the time and the people. I hope I can continue to do that, even as life gets busy again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

So much for peace on Earth

I never realized how relaxed I'd been on our little holiday vacation-at-home, until I wasn't relaxed any more. The shoulder and upper-back tension returned at approximately 3:20 p.m. today, as I was shepherding all three children between cars, over snowbanks and back to the van after picking Abby and Brian up from school.

It makes me sad, being back in the grind again. Not that I dislike being busy, but when busy spills over into stressed, it's not much fun.

I was actually very busy the rest of the day; starting work on a new story; taking care of child-care issues brought on by two upcoming trips to Children's Hospital this week; cramming my Target and BJ's run into this afternoon because the next two days are shot because of the appointments at Children's; and generally tidying up so I could teach in the house this week. That was all stuff that was no big deal. It was a lot to get done, but I got it done.

For some reason, however, taking Timmy to Abby and Brian's school to pick them up in the afternoon sends me right over the edge. Timmy doesn't exactly run off, but he doesn't stay as close to me as I'd like. Add to this the confusion of so many people picking up so many kids, and then add snow, slush, slow-moving kids because of winter outerwear, and traffic zooming down the supposedly closed street that runs next to the school, and it's enough to make me forget I was ever relaxed in my life. I actually sighed with relief when I closed the van door with the three of them inside, thankful that no one was hit by a car or lost.

Then, the usual chatter that inevitably turns into bickering; a bad yogurt experience for Brian, followed by a nosebleed; a violin lesson for Abby during which she focused for maybe 2 minutes out of 30; homework trauma; kids asking for seconds on dinner before I've even finished cooking it or had a chance to sit down to eat; Earl being at work later than he thought he'd be -- all of this just completely squashed what little inner peace I'd had in reserve from my time off.

I'd better take up meditation. Or drinking.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome, 2010!

Happy New Year! Earl and I spent New Year's Eve as we usually do: celebrating on London time with the kids (7:00 our time) and going to bed before midnight. We made it more of a party this year; I had asked Abby to help me plan the party food on Wednesday, which she did. She helped me shop for it and make some of it, too, with recipes from her Junior Cookbook, which she loves.

It was fun, but I've come down with a cold and as the evening wore on, I felt worse and worse, so it was just as well that we didn't get to our family time capsule project. We'll do that today.

I still feel pretty lousy, but have only been up for an hour so hopefully that will improve. Especially since I'm scheduled to sing the 10:30 holy day mass. I sound like a bullfrog but am hoping for the best.

I wish I could write a "2009 year in review" post, or a "grand plans for 2010" post, but I really don't have it in me. Besides, if you want the year in review, you can read older posts, like I did, to refresh my memory about this busy year.

A few events do stand out in my mind, though:

  • a major misunderstanding in Abby's IEP process in the spring that not only soured my relationship with her then-principal, but made Abby's summer extremely difficult for her and for us;

  • the change of Abby's diagnosis from PDD-NOS to Asperger Syndrome;

  • turning 40 (!); and

  • the Marriage Encounter weekend Earl and I attended in October.

The IEP thing stands out in my mind because it's now 2010, and I need to start thinking about Abby's and Brian's IEPs for the next academic year. Earl and I especially need to give some hard thought to the summer, because the programming Abby had last year was inadequate, and caused a lot of problems in terms of regressive behaviors for her (and also family stress for us.)

I hate that as soon as the calendar turns to January 1, I get that panicked feeling brought on by impending IEP meetings in the spring. I have no reason to believe that this year's process will be a painful one, but so many have been painful in the past that it's a gut reaction. The best I can do is to be prepared and make sure every single communication is clear. It's a hard-enough process without also trying to smooth unnecessarily ruffled feathers.

I've written a lot about Abby's new diagnosis. Abby continues to grow and develop, but I think the biggest change has been in my perception of her disability. It's brought me peace, somehow, to have the new diagnosis. She's still the same person, but I'm dealing with her better, for the most part.

Turning 40 has been fine. I think I've written about that, too, but the overall feeling is that of leaving a difficult decade with many adjustments behind, and facing the future with more optimism and less concern about what others think of my life and my choices.

Marriage Encounter was a life-changing experience. It has revived Earl's and my marriage, and we have grown more as a couple in the past three months than we did in the previous three years, easily. I'll be writing more about it this month, but for now, it just ranks up there with the biggest events of 2009. Probably the most important event.

As for 2010 (I'm saying "two thousand ten" but am wondering if others are saying "twenty ten") I hope for continued growth together with Earl; achieving my modest and realistic health goals; a smooth IEP planning process with adequate summer programming for both Abby and Brian; and a continuation of the many blessings I sometimes take for granted.

I'd also love to kick this cold really soon.