Saturday, January 29, 2011

Refereeing sibling rivalry

Brian and Timmy are great friends, as well as frequent rivals. Sometimes their problems are easy to resolve; sometimes not. At any rate, they keep me on my toes, and one recent incident is the subject of this weekend's column in The Patriot Ledger. Read it here.

In other news, we had yet another snow day on Thursday. I'm beginning to forget what a full week of school feels like. Rumor has it there's another storm on the way for the middle of next week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow Day

We had yet another snow day yesterday, making three so far, with another storm brewing for next week. This could get old.

We had our first two snow days back-to-back last week, and I thought it would be a nightmare, but it turned out pretty well. Read all about it in today's Milton Musings.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Suddenly Chatty

I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a bat mitzvah yesterday. My friend Bonnie's lovely daughter, Mackenzie, was called to the Torah for the first time. The service was moving and Mackenzie did a wonderful job. I was thrilled to be there, my first time at a bat mitzvah, or for a Shabbat service, for that matter.

Abby was invited to attend with me, but she is taking part in a Saturday morning math and basketball program at her school, and yesterday was the first session. We decided it would be best for her to begin her program and send her regrets. She would have found the bat mitzvah very interesting, but I do think it would have been rather long for her, as well.

Last night, after dinner, Abby started asking me about the bat mitzvah. Who was there? What did Mackenzie do? Was there music? What did the synagogue look like? Was it all in Hebrew? I answered her questions, and then the topic of family conversation changed.

A few minutes later, Abby said, "Mom, we are SO not done talking about the bat mitzvah."

Every once in a while, she surprises me. She's never said anything like that before, and it cracked me up.

We continued to talk about the bat mitzvah, the Torah, the prayer book, the music, the tallit, the people who were there, and different parts of the service. When we had all but exhausted the topic, she announced that she wanted to talk about her math and basketball program.

It was less of a conversation and more of a data dump, but as I told Earl later, she opens up so infrequently that whenever she's in the mood to talk, I make it my business to be in the mood to listen.

She also expounded on her Friday morning social skills group, which she almost missed this week. (It slipped our minds because of the snow days on Wednesday and Thursday.) She left nothing unsaid, and was adept at defining expected and unexpected behaviors, and how they can influence what others think of us. She gave examples of behaviors from her group, and even from some real-life situations where others had demonstrated unexpected behaviors to her.

She was less successful at coming up with examples of her own unexpected behaviors. I was able to help her out on that one.

It was such a gift to see Abby so engaged in a topic (or three) and to want to communicate about it. The give-and-take of a conversation needs a little work, but for now, I was just so thrilled that she wanted to talk to me. The gift of gab, indeed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homework, homework, give me a break!

Today's family column is brought to you by my daughter's never-ending homework. As I tell my own students...if it weren't hard, you wouldn't need a teacher.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Blues

I'm not feeling enthusiastic about anything this morning. My get-up-and-go got up and went somewhere else. In a word: blah.

We had a pretty good weekend, although I spent much of it working, as usual. I took Abby shopping on Saturday morning, and she had a birthday party to go to in the afternoon. We got all her homework and practicing done in between those two events, with a minimum of fuss. The boys hung out with Earl a lot, and all the kids played in the snow. Sunday saw three masses for me, one for everyone else, more playing outside for the kids and then we all went out to dinner, a rarity.

In and around all those activities, I wrote. I also spent far more time on Sunday doing lesson plans than I wanted to. That's because my normal planning time on Wednesday was used for a doctor appointment, at which I was diagnosed with bronchitis. I'm feeling better; still coughing and kind of under-energized, but much better than last week.

I need to try hard to do all my planning at school, doctor's appointments aside. I resented all the time I had to take from my weekend yesterday, made even longer by three kids asking for my attention at the same time. It was the first weekend in 10 years that I haven't had an afternoon mass to cantor each day, and I was looking forward to the free time. I did have some, but it wasn't nearly as relaxing as I had hoped. Plus, I never cooked ahead for the week, as I like to do, to make the weekdays easier.

I also started out strong last week on a new exercise program, and fizzled out over the weekend. I should be exercising right now and can barely deal with the thought of moving off the couch to get ready for school.

Right now the only highlight I can see for the week is the possibility of a snow day on Wednesday, as we're supposed to get quite a storm. I guess that means I should try hard to get all my lesson planning done for next week today and tomorrow, so I don't have to do it at home again. While I'd welcome the time off, a snow day will also mean that I'll have to reschedule my private lessons that day, something I hate to do.

I guess it's just the Monday blues. I said it before, and I'll say it again: blah.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January is the coldest month

Winter isn't my favorite time of year. Read how I plan to survive January in today's Milton Musings.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Resolution Column

I'm keeping it simple this year. Read about my two new year's resolutions that cover a multitude of...well, not exactly sins, but, shall we say, areas in need of improvement.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year! My family rang in the year with the stomach bug and laryngitis. Whoopee! We're on the mend now; it was only Abby and Earl who had the stomach bug, and while I'm kind of hoarse, I was still able to sing a mass this morning (hopefully will be able to do one this afternoon and tomorrow, too!)

I spent a little time over the past day or so reading my blog entries from 2010. What a year! It's amazing to me how things have changed. Even knowing full well that there had been changes, it still surprised me to read entries from last spring, before I had these three new jobs I've been blessed with, when Timmy was still in preschool, when I was doing more feature-writing than I am now. I'd say, overall, things are better now.

Sure, I miss the comparatively less-packed schedule I enjoyed before this fall, when I could meet a friend for coffee without panicking that I wouldn't get my writing done. The funny thing, though, is that the more I have to do, the more I actually get done. It must have to do with that deadline-driven work style I have. (Maybe I should set deadlines for housework!)

More changes are coming, in that this is the last weekend of my afternoon mass cantoring schedule. I've been singing a 4:00 mass on Saturdays and a 5:00 mass on Sundays for about 10 years, and have decided to give them up, given my new position at St. Catherine's. I've let the music directors at the Quincy churches know I'll be available to substitute, but I won't have an afternoon commitment on Saturdays and Sundays every single weekend any more. It will be nice to be able to plan activities, or even just spend more relaxed time with my family, without knowing I have to run out and sing those masses.

I spent some time this afternoon purging old files. Our home office has been a cluttered mess for some time, and I vowed that I would clean it up during this vacation week. It's not totally there yet, but I've made a very good start. Today I threw away reams and reams of paper -- everything from Brian's Early Intervention ABA session notes, to various iterations of his and Abby's old IEPs. Earl had also been very involved in the Special Education Parents Advisory Council for our district a few years ago, and we tossed a lot of his old papers and notes from that, too. Hallelujah!

The office still needs more work, but it feels great to have ditched all that paper, which has no bearing on our lives any more.

My New Years' resolutions are pretty simple -- lose 15 pounds (probably more like 20; I've been afraid to step on the scale for the past two weeks) and be more patient. Pretty much the same as they are every year! I've got some external motivation for the weight loss, though, with a college reunion coming up in the summer. As for the patience...well, it would just be a good idea. My "Just a Minute" column for the Ledger was on this subject. It's not online yet, but I'll post a link when it is (or publish it myself if need be.)

I'd like to write something about hopes and dreams for 2011, but I don't do hopes and dreams very well. It's probably a personality thing, but I immediately start to think about plans and strategies, rather than just letting myself be hopeful and dreamy. But if I really tried...
- I'd imagine Abby's Asperger's becoming a negligible force in her life
- I'd become a truly syndicated columnist, with the financial arrangements to match
- I'd have time to swim every day, or at least as often as I wanted to
- I'd see our family debt-free
- I'd have time to relax and do something totally indulgent (like watch a movie!) without the nagging feeling that I really should be doing something productive

Some items on the list are ridiculous; others, maybe not so much. In the spirit of hope that comes with a new year, I'm not going to stomp on any of them, but just let them be, and see which, if any, will be.