Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Visit To The Farm

Pufferfish and I went to this free "living history" farm the other day. I'm trying to ease her back into Tot School now that the big kids are in school,  so this week we were learning a little about farms. Does she look like a farm girl here? (Scroll down for some funny Pufferfish-isms!)


Me: "Look, Pufferfish, there's a sheep!"
Pufferfish: "Hi, sheep! You're not coming home with me!"

One of the sheep had a green line painted on his wool, for some reason.
Me: "Why do you think he has that green line on him?"
Pufferfish: "I think somebody thought he was a piece of paper, and painted on him!"

Me: "Did you hear that cow?
Pufferfish: "Yep!"
Me: "What did the cow say?"
Pufferfish: "She said, I love you!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sorry, False Alarm... And Other News!

So. Last time I wrote, I was in a panic because I thought I was going to be homeless, and separated from the kids, in less than a week. But, as always seems to happen around here, things went back to normal.
The day after I wrote, I was still being told that we were losing the house and that I'd need to find somewhere else to live.
But then, suddenly, nobody was talking about it anymore!
I was afraid to bring it up or ask. Finallny, after a few days, I dared to ask Jimmy, "So, are we still leaving in a few days?"
He said, "No, we're staying here for now... for at least a month."
What have we learned here, kids?
1. Don't panic or get worried until you actually experience something bad happen! No need to go crazy and lose sleep over something that may or may not happen.
2. On the other hand, be prepared for the worst. I am going to start at least organizing my stuff and getting my car ready, so I can live in it if need be!

Anyways.... here we all are, right?
Today is the first day of school for Little Bear and Rafael. Yesterday Little Bear went with her grandma to her school for Meet The Teacher Day. Meanwhile, I took Rafael to his Meet The  Teacher Day!
Rafael and Little Bear are both in first grade, and both very similar in personality, but they experience school very differently. Little Bear did great in school last year. She started out behind the class because we moved here from a ghetto town with a crappy school system, but she quickly caught up. Her teacher loved her, and she enjoyed school.
Rafael, on the other hand, had a teacher who was older, and more old-school in her ways. Rafael is a hyperactive little dude who has trouble sitting still and focusing, and will often yell out in class, including sometimes saying "inappropriate" things. His teacher had a gripe against him all school year. She didn't really believe in working with a child, using positive reinforcement and what not. She was more into just punishing. As a result, Rafael lost his snack privileges at least once a week (because apparently snacking is a privilege, not a right), lost a lot of recesses, got yelled at a lot, and got multiple angry notes sent home. He hated school! So this year, he was really nervous about starting second grade, and didn't want to even visit the school for Meet The Teacher. I had to promise him that we were only going to stop in  so he'd know where his classroom was and who was in his class, and that I wasn't  leaving him there. I also had to promise to let him bring the stuffed pig that he'd won from Enchanted Castle the day before. I guess he hoped the pig would protect him from the forces of evil!
I was really hoping he'd have a better teacher this year!
And it seems like we were in luck! Rafael's new teacher is young, new to the school, and very friendly. She let the kids pick out their own desks, telling them to find one that "feels like the right desk for you." It was very sweet! I mentioned to her that Rafael had had a hard year last year, and that he sometimes had trouble with sitting and listening and focusing, but that he was a really good kid. She tussled his hair and said, "Well, thats just something we can work on, right?" As we left the school, Rafael was ecstatic! He said he loved his new teacher, and he was excited that some of his friends were in his class!

Rafael sitting in the desk that feels right.
When we got home, I asked Little Bear about her Meet The Teacher Day. She seemed sort of quiet and less than enthusiastic. I asked her who her new teacher was, and she said an unfamiliar name.
When I asked if that was good or bad, Little Bear looked pointedly at me and said somberly, "Last year, she was down the hall from my class, and we could always hear her yelling! We would all look at each other and say, `I hope I'm never in her class!'"
Poor Little Bear. But I tried to explain to her that, since she doesn't usually get in trouble at school, she probably won't be one of the kids getting yelled at.
She seemed a little happier today when she got ready for school! Last night Diana took her for a mani-pedi at Sweet And Sassy, and also dyed bright pink highlights into her hair. Doesn't she look like a little rock star?

So now its just me and Pufferfish.
Pufferfish really wanted to go to school! As soon as she got home from helping drop off the big kids, she ran to me and said, "Can I do my school work?" We really didn't do any Tot School things all summer, because the focus was mostly on keeping Little Bear and Rafael busy so they didn't climb the walls and kill each other! So today I pulled out my basket of Pufferfish's "school work," and we spent an hour just doing file folder games and workbooks! She cranked through the things that were too hard for her back in May.
We're working on getting her into actual preschool, but its expensive! Even the park district costs about $120 per month. It doesn't sound like much, but it is money nobody here has. In the mean time, I'm gonna have to start getting new Tot School stuff together. I'm gonna sign her up for the drop-off story and craft program at the library, too, and I can at least tell her thats preschool!
Anyway... thats whats up with me... so how about you?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is This The End Of The Road?

OK guys.
This may be the end of Slow Down, Gym Shoe.
Lets review the facts.
1. Jimmy's unemployment got cut.
2. Jimmy and Diana can't afford the rent here,
3. They say we're all moving out by the end of the month.
4. Diana will be going one place, Jimmy will go another place, the kids may or may not go with one of them or the older kids may go with their dad, etc.
5. I've been told that I'm on my own.

So... no more Little Bear. No more Pufferfish. No more family.
Just me. Homeless. Again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Here's To The Kids Who Are Different...

Hi everyone! I thought I'd post this because I know that many of my readers have kids with special needs or uniquenesses of some sort.
Most of you know I have Aspergers and ADHD, but when I was a little kid, nobody really knew that. In the eighties people weren't big on diagnosing kids unless they had pretty extreme disabilities and disrupted others, If you were just quietly suffering by yourself,  they mostly left you alone.
I had a miserable time in school! I was a good-hearted kid who tried hard to follow the rules. But I just didn't fit in. I had odd habits and mannerisms, lacked social skills, was horribly disorganized, couldn't pay attention for the life of me, and got teased and tormented by the other kids. My mom was usually angry with me for not trying harder. She was convinced that I just didn't care enough to fit in. Kids were supposed to watch each other, and try to act like each other. Since I didn't, obviously was just stubborn.
At some point, though, a clipping of this poem appeared on the side of the refrigerator at our house. I don't remember how old I was... Old enough that I understood that I didn't fit in, and that my mom had kept the clipping because it described me. It was one of the rare reminders that maybe my mom did understand that I wasn't just trying to go against the grain.
I went to visit my parents yesterday, and I noticed the clipping, wrinkled and yellowed, still taped to the side of the refrigerator. I wanted to share it with you all. Maybe you can print it out and tape it to your own refrigerators, for your own kids to see.
Here it is...

Here's To The Kids Who Are Different

Here's to the kids who are different,

The kids who don't always get A's,

The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers,

And noses that go on for days...

Here's to the kids who are different,

The kids they call crazy or dumb,

The kids who don't fit, with the guts and the grit,

Who dance to a different drum...

Here's to the kids who are different,

The kids with the mischievous streak,

For when they have grown, as history's shown,

It's their difference that makes them unique.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Memorable Moments Of Summer!

I've barely had time to write in this blog lately... not a lot of free time in the summer, with all of the wild ones around! But I thought I'd update you with t havea few memorable moments from the last few weeks. Lets see, what have we been up to?

Little Bear trying to teach Lily to swim!

Playdate with friends...

Communing with nature...

Getting a new pet guinea pig (which, added to the three turtles and three dogs, brings us to an amazing total of seven pets!)

The backyard got flooded twice!

Just hanging around...

And enjoying each other's company!


I wish this summer could lasf forever!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Look What I've Been Doing?

Jimmy's parents have a store at this flea markety thing in the city. It is totally cool. It is mostly Hispanic people who own stores there and who shop there, so going there you sort of feel like you've walked into Mexico. There's always Spanish music blasting in the different booths, and the smell of Mexican food from the food court. You can also buy a lot of very inexpensive, Made-In-Mexico products that you won't find in normal stores.
A few years ago Monkeyboy saw this video game system there, called Superjoy. It was the kind that doesn't have a box and cartridges. It just consists of two controllers. You plug them into the TV, and wala, up comes a list of about 7,500 video games that are pre-loaded into the system. (I'm not exactly exaggerating here. The game lists 7,500 games. But most of them seem to be different versions of about 50 games.) The games are old, classic, arcade-style.
Including... the original Super Mario Brothers! I'm talking about the 1986 version that came packaged with the Nintendo system! My brother and I got that for Christmas when I was about eight. Before that, we had ColecoVision, and also played a lot of Atari with our teenaged uncle. But all of our friends were getting Nintendos... and when we got it, we played it nonstop! We only had the two games that came with the system, so we played Super Mario over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...
So, anyway, Monkeyboy got SuperJoy from the flea market several years ago. He played it a few times, and forgot about it.
Then, just recently, he found it packed away in the attic, and plugged it in downstairs. In the room I sleep in! Now, everyone is addicted to it, including me! I play it with Little Bear just about every morning as soon as we wake up. She is amazed that I already know all of the "secrets" of the game, like how to get the invisible "one up" mushrooms that give you extra lives, and where to find the secret warp zones that let you skip levels. I've never been able to play any of the newer 3-D games. They confuse me! But this one is great!
SuperJoy has other old Nintendo games like Excite Bike, and Tetris. And it even has even older games that I used to play on ColecoVision, like Popeye and Donkey Kong! I could play those 7,500 games all day long!
So... thats one of the places you can find me these days...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Through the eyes of Little Bear and Pufferfish...

This is what happens when almost-7-year-old Little Bear and 3-year-old Pufferfish get ahold of my camera!

                                                                A piece of our newest dog, Kodiak 

Rafael, deep in thought

Monkeyboy and his friend in the basement
Some random kid
Weird picture of Kody

I have no clue what Jimmy is doing in this picture!