May 30, 2016: Big Weekends, Big Changes…

Happy Memorial Day, all! Hope you’ve all been enjoying the long weekend. Chris and I both have numerous relatives who’ve served in the military, but thankfully I don’t think either of our families has lost anyone during military service (at least not in the most recent few generations). Still, we think about families who have, as we know that’s a reality for many families. We had some good conversations with Theo about what Memorial Day means. Sam is too young to understand, but Theo’s certainly of the age now to understand what the holiday means and why we have it. It’s pretty cool that he has now reached the age where we can have Real Discussions About Important Topics. I like this age. 🙂

Our three-day weekend was hot, hot, hot! And next weekend is supposed to be even hotter. I’m hearing 103 degrees for us next Saturday, which I find just GROSS. I foresee much time spent in the air conditioning for me and the boys. (Chris has tentative plans for next weekend. I had thought to maybe take the boys to see my mom, but it’s going to be even hotter up in her neck of the woods, so I think we’ll just park it in our air-conditioned house and maybe venture to the pool after the sun goes down! Thankfully, Theo swims well, so he is able to be independent in the pool while I hold Sam, who does not yet swim but very much enjoys splashing around in the pool.)

Anyway! On Saturday we ventured to Santa Rosa to visit two museums. In past years we had gotten several family memberships to area attractions: usually two to museum-type places and one to the local zoo. But this year we didn’t because our summer is pretty booked up with activities already, so we weren’t sure how much we’d be able to use the memberships. So in lieu of that, I have been making use of Discover and Go, which is a program through our county library system where you can reserve discount passes to many local attractions. Sometimes they’re the big local museums, but a lot of times they’re smaller places that we might not otherwise have thought to visit. (It just depends on the weekend—different passes are offered different weekends.) In Santa Rosa, we did one of each: the Charles Schulz Museum, which is fairly well known and which we have visited once in the past, and also the Pacific Coast Air Museum, which is tiny and we probably wouldn’t even have known about were it not for the program!

It was super hot (and lots of traffic), but we had a good time anyway! The air museum was particularly fun—it is small but packs in a bunch of planes, and it’s all outside so the kids could run amok in a small fenced area looking at planes and helicopters. It was quite warm, so we only spent about 45 minutes there, but it was well worth the trip.

And then we went to the Schulz Museum, which is air-conditioned (thank goodness!) and much bigger. That actually was a lot of fun for Theo, but Sam was tired and cranky and kind of a mess, so I ended up taking him out to the van to sit in the A/C. Sam’s at that stage where he’s sort of starting to give up his afternoon nap, but without it he can be a total beast. Such was the case on Saturday—he didn’t nap, and he was a total beast when he got overtired. However, he also didn’t nap on Sunday (Chris tried, but Sam just didn’t sleep), and he was completely fine. So you never can tell—some days he’s fine without a nap, and other days he’s a hot mess. Saturday was the latter.

Anyway, Theo enjoyed the Schulz Museum and actually sat and drew a filmstrip to watch through a manual film thing-y, which would’ve been unheard of for him even a year ago. One surprising development in second grade has been that he now enjoys doing art projects. He has always hated art, but now he enjoys it. I suspect it may be tied to his fine-motor skills improving significantly (to the point that he has graduated out of OT!), so the dexterity needed for art is no longer frustrating for him.

On Sunday, I headed out to San Francisco for a girls’ day with my friend Amber. She gets into the Museum of Modern Art free through her employer, so we decided to do that. (MOMA is normally super expensive, so I’ve never gone.) It was a lot of fun. There are certain types of modern art that are just not my area of interest, but there are other parts I really enjoy. The photography exhibits, for example, were fascinating. I actually got to see a Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph (Saigon Execution) that I had written about in one of my books, so that was quite cool. And there was a lot of interesting photography from as early as the 1800s right up until the present.

We had lunch at Burger Bar (our favorite!) afterward and then decided to see a movie—we saw Love and Friendship, which is based on a Jane Austen short story, “Lady Susan.” More than a decade ago, I took a Jane Austen class in graduate school, and we read all of Jane Austen’s works. (She died young, so her body of work isn’t huge—it’s manageable to read everything she wrote in the course of one semester.) I had forgotten about “Lady Susan” because it was just a novella, not a full-blown novel, but as I watched the movie elements of it came back to me. And, in typical Austen fashion, it was witty and funny and charming. I remember dreading taking that Jane Austen class because I knew she was a contemporary of the Bronte sisters, and I have never enjoyed the Brontes’ work—too much drama and woe-is-me sentiment for my taste. But I was surprised to find that Austen wasn’t at all Bronte-esque; rather, she was witty and sharp and funny. I ended up enjoying all of her work. I definitely recommend Love and Friendship for a fun, frothy, witty movie. It really was fun!

When I got home, Chris had just fed the boys dinner, and it was blazing hot even though the sun was going down. So, we decided to take our first swim of the season. The boys had a ball! Theo can still swim from last year—I figured he could, but he was a little less confident at first, until he realized that he can indeed still swim very well! And Sam is still so tiny that the two-year-old-sized PuddleJumpers life vest doesn’t fit him. Sigh…. All parents these days seem to love PuddleJumpers—they’re supposedly very good at not only helping the kid stay afloat, but also ensuring their head stays above water (as opposed to the old Water Wings, which helped their arms float but did nothing for their head). Last year, Sam was too tiny for PuddleJumpers, even though they’re sized for two-year-olds. But I had high hopes for this year, and I ordered him the smallest size. Nope! Still too tiny. The chest part fits okay—it’s a tiny bit big, but it stays in place. But his arms slide right out of the arm holes! They’re such skinny chicken arms that you can actually see straight through the arm holes, even with his arms in them!

I suppose it’s no big deal—it’s not like we’d ever put him in the pool without us anyway. But I had hoped the PuddleJumpers would allow him a slight bit more freedom. Maybe next year…. (He is starting swim lessons in July, but he’s still developmentally so young that I’m not expecting he’ll actually become a competent swimmer this year. More just establishing some foundations. Theo wasn’t a strong swimmer until he was about six, and developmentally Sam is closer to a two-year-old than a four-year-old. He might surprise me, but I’m expecting it’ll be a few years of lessons before he’s swimming on his own.)

Monday, we actually ended up going back into San Francisco—this time me, Chris, and the boys. It was so very hot in our neck of the woods that we longed for cooler temperatures. And normally that might mean a beach trip, but going to the beach on a warm Memorial Day is pretty much the most foolish thing we could attempt, given the horrendous traffic we’d face getting back! So instead, we took BART into SF (always a hit with the boys!), ate lunch at the Ferry Building (including oysters for me and Theo, and tasty ice cream for all!), played at a park across from the piers, and then came home. The weather was glorious over there—the perfectly warm but not hot, bright blue–sky day that makes you think, “Gee, I could live here!” (And then you remember the godawful cost of living, heinous traffic, and many foggy days, and you think, “Um…or I’ll just stay on the other side of the bay and come visit now and then.”)

I actually got my fill of BART this week—not only on Sunday and Monday, but also on the previous Wednesday, when I had to go give two hospital presentations on the other side of the bay. I normally drive to those, but this one happened to be at a hospital just a half-mile walk from a BART station. And I would’ve been leaving the hospital to come home at about 4:15pm—pretty much the worst time to try to travel back home. The 40-mile trip would’ve taken about three hours driving, but instead it took two hours, most of which was spent sitting on a train and reading my book. Very pleasant indeed!

Our fun weekend activities were much needed after a semi-stressful week in which we fired a bunch of people. Just kidding. Sort of. We’re not the firing type. But we did let Sam’s preschool know that he wouldn’t be returning after mid-June. And we did let Theo’s piano teacher go for at least the summer (if not permanently).

Neither Chris nor I is a confrontational person, and being that I am the slightly more willing to be confrontational one among us, I usually get to handle the unpleasant bits. But this time I dissolved into tears and said, “I’m not doing both! It’s bad enough that I have to fire the preschool—you get to do the piano teacher!” And so it went down.

In case you’re curious why…well, it’s two long stories. I think I’ve mentioned my preschool concerns on here, but that was all cemented on Tuesday of this past week. I’ve been having an ongoing Booger War with Sam’s preschool where I insist that a runny nose alone doesn’t mean he’s sick—if he has no other symptoms than a runny nose and perhaps watery eyes, it’s most likely just part and parcel of Down syndrome. (Click here to read one source on this—I could cite at least a half dozen other credible sources on this issue. It’s very common in the DS population.) So Tuesday morning, Sam’s nose was 100% clear. I didn’t wipe it a single time—he was perfectly, 100% fine. I dropped him at school, and then Theo and I drove up to Sacramento for his second MIND Institute appointment. Meanwhile, Chris had commuted two hours into work…only to get a phone call from Sam’s school saying, “You need to come pick him up. His nose is running.” And so Chris had to jump on a bus back to BART and commute two hours back home to pick up Sam…who, by the time he arrived, had no sign of a runny nose, and whose nose didn’t run at all the entire rest of the day. The school does outdoor play first thing in the morning, and it was a breezy, cool morning, so I would almost guarantee that his nose started to run because it was cool and windy out in the yard, and then it cleared up shortly after they went inside—but after they had already called Chris to come get him.

Enough already. I cannot spend every moment of every day worrying that the kid’s nose is going to run, because guess what? If it’s winter/spring, it’s probably going to run. It…just…does. And apparently I can tell them this until I’m blue in the face, and it will still be an issue. So much of an issue that I really, really want to make this into a shirt and have Sam wear it every day:

2016-05-24 10.10.40

Here the Booger King is, eating lunch with Daddy, who had to leave work for this. Do you see any signs of illness on this kid?! (And clearly he's hungry!)
Here the Booger King is, eating lunch with Daddy, who had to leave work for this. Do you see any signs of illness on this kid?! (And clearly he’s hungry!)

If I wanted him to stay there, I’d get a doctor’s note to back me up. But we were thinking of changing anyway, so we’ll just go ahead and change, and I will talk to the director at the new school, explain the situation, and say, “If you’d like me to get a doctor’s note to verify this at some point, please just let me know.”

Anyway, I was rather stressed about telling the school he was leaving, because he’s very well liked there, and I know they’re low on enrollment so every kid counts…but as it turns out, the director seemed rather relieved. Or at the very least, matter-of-fact. I haven’t yet talked to Sam’s teacher, but the director (who is the one who had the Booger Phobia in the first place) didn’t seem at all fazed. Onward and upward, I suppose. It will certainly be nice to be able to walk him to school come fall!

And as for the piano teacher…well, that’s a very long story. She overstepped her bounds a few times, which had me rather irritated, but the bigger reason is that we don’t have the time or the money for piano lessons over the summer. I have drastically reduced my workload for the summer months due to Sam’s communication program, so our income will be very tight. Putting piano on hold is one way we can make up for that. And we’re actually very busy over the summer already, so it would’ve been hard to keep up a consistent lesson schedule. We’ll probably start up again in the fall, though perhaps with a different teacher. Theo really likes her, but he isn’t progressing anywhere near what I think he could. I’m not looking for him to be a concert pianist (really, I just think this is a fun, worthwhile activity for him that he seems to enjoy as much as he enjoys anything), but he’s been playing the same basic songs (Old MacDonald, Twinkle Twinkle, etc.) for well over six months, and I think another piano teacher might push him to move on to more challenging pieces, which would be good for him.

Anyway! This blog has gotten quite long, so I shall sign off. But before I do, here’s another video of Sam “reading,” this time from one of our favorite books, Hippos Go Berserk. It’s got a counting element to it, and he likes to practice the numbers. But you’ll also hear him fill in some words from the story, which is really fun for us to hear!

And, in case you missed it, I had another blog post midweek. Not my most cheerful one ever, but I was frustrated and needed to get it off my chest. Social media has been so cranky lately, with people arguing over politics and disability advocacy and the gorilla story out of Ohio that I just…oh, I don’t know. The angriness bugs me. So I addressed it a bit in this post, about a certain movie being released in a week. But if you haven’t seen or read Me Before You and you don’t want it spoiled for you, then don’t read it. There is a spoiler in it, to some extent.

Enjoy the end of May and the end of your holiday weekend! Stay cool!

 

 

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