reading · slice of life

I Wish You More

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a fantastic children’s picture book author. We’ve come to love many of her books, especially I Wish You More, in our house. (In case you missed Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s recent Modern Love essay in The New York Times, then you’ll want to read it now before you read the rest of this post. In fact, you should click on the link NOW because I don’t want to be the one to deliver bad news to you if you’re a fellow AKR fan. Warning: Have tissues nearby when you read her essay.)

In an effort to pay tribute to Rosenthal before cancer takes her from this Earth, Chronicle Books is encouraging their patrons to share what we wish for those we care for in the spirit of Rosenthal’s picture book (I Wish You More).

As soon as I finished the Chronicle Books piece, I rushed to my computer and printed the I WISH YOU MORE card. I knew exactly who I wanted to give it to and the message I wanted to send. However, it took me awhile to find the right words.

For those who don’t know, my daughter was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS, when she was 27 months old. In the almost four years since her diagnosis, she has learned to speak beautifully. While there are times when she still struggles to get her words out, those instances are fewer than they were in the past.

What you may not know is that 30-40% of kids who are diagnosed with CAS are later diagnosed with language-based learning disabilities. While I’ve been told a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia is usually not made second-grade (because one needs to see a child is two years behind grade-level), there are tests that can often show the writing is on the wall for having a language-based learning disability.

Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall for my kiddo. As a mother and a literacy specialist, it makes me sad. (It makes me lots of other things too, but I’m going with sad this morning.)

Today, my kiddo begins working with two new people. One is a school-based reading specialist who will pick her up with one other peer to provide assistance with things like rhyming. The other person is a private reading tutor we’ve hired to work with our daughter. She’ll be using the Orton-Gillingham sequence with her. It is our hope that with early support, we’ll be able to avoid a Dyslexia diagnosis once she’s in second grade.

Last night, before I retired to my bedroom, I left the little lady a card on her placemat. I made sure I was downstairs when she sat down for breakfast. (My husband usually gives her breakfast.) I asked her if she knew what it said. She read the first three words, but got stuck on the fourth word: wish. Rather than frustrate her by asking her to use her strategies to figure out the word wish, I read the card to her. Despite the lump in my throat, I held back tears and explained what my words meant.

I told her I know reading is hard for her.

I told her new people would be working with her today.

I told her she’d be missing class — twice — to work with these new people. (She balked and I gently reminded it will help her.)

I told her these people would help her learn new strategies to figure out tricky words, like wish, so she could be a more confident reader.

I told her she would learn how to become a brave reader.

I told her I’d be here to help at home.

After we finished our talk, she ate breakfast. I asked her if she wanted me to put the card in her backpack. She said yes.

Later, when I buckled her into her seat to go to school, I asked her, “What are you going to do with the card?” I figured she’d tell me she’d keep it in her backpack.

“I’m going to put it in my cubby,” she replied.

I smiled. I hope she looks at it when she gets frustrated. I hope she looks at it when she feels like it’s hard. I hope she looks at it and remembers to try things even when she’s afraid to say the wrong thing.

As a person who is trained to work with young readers and writers, it’s hard to step aside to let someone else help my kid. However, as my daughter’s developmental pediatrician told me, I’ve already done so much. If I do any more to help my daughter, I risk ruining our parent-child relationship. And I don’t want that. Therefore, today I am taking a step back and letting other people help her move forward. As a result, I’m wishing myself the courage to let go and see where this takes us.

UPDATED at 12:30 p.m.: About an hour after I hit publish on this post, I learned of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s passing.

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celebrations · holidays · Jewish

Oh today we’ll merry-merry be…

Today is Purim. It is a joyous holiday where Jews celebrate the defeat of Haman’s plot to annihalate the Jews of Persia. And while I was excited to attend our community’s Purim Carnival, I tossed and turned last night. What if a bomb threat was called into our JCC in the middle of the Carnival. What would be our plan to get out quickly and safely?
Luckily, our community’s Purim Carnival was joyous (& full of security). However, as I scrolled through Twitter this afternoon, I learned JCCs in Rochester, NY, Milwaukee, WI, Indianapolis, IN, & Vancouver, BC had a bomb threats on what should be a festive day. 
I long for the days when my greatest concern was whether or not we’d be able to find a close parking spot. Walking through the cold seems trivial now since there are real concerns. 
Nevertheless, people were not deterred. I saw more people I knew at our JCC for today’s Purim Carnival than I have in the past. That is a wonderful thing, right?

Isabelle asked her Zayde to make her a spider costume so she could be Sammy Spider (from the Jewish book series). He said yes. Good thing he did because, as you may remember from last week, I’m not exactly a creative visionary when it comes to dressing up!
fitness

Nine Months to Take It Off

Marc and Isabelle left for a birthday party moments after Ari went down for a nap. I figured I’d workout while Ari was napping. But Ari woke up before I even turned on my iPad to find a Pilates Anytime workout.
So we played. There were diaper changes and a feeding. After a couple of hours Ari looked tired enough to nap.
Once I thought Ari was asleep, I selected a reformer workout I wanted to do. I was six minutes into my warmup when cries erupted down the hall. 
I hit pause on my workout, lifted Ari out of his crib, and attempted to rock him back to sleep. No dice. So I brought him back, set him on the carpet with some toys, and attempted to workout.

Workout Selfie
Ari rolled everywhere possible in the room. Every time he rolled under or into a piece of furniture, I paused my workout video, dismounted the reformer, placed him in the center of the carpet, sat back down on the reformer, and resumed my workout. After seven or eight times of doing this, I gave up!
It took nine months to put the weight on and it’s definitely going to take at least nine months to take it off!

family

Parental Visit

I was awakened at 2:00 a.m. by Ari’s cries. My husband rocked him back to sleep. At 5:00 a.m., I heard Ari crying again. I trudged down the hall, scooped him up, and rocked him back to sleep. But he woke up as soon as I put him back in his crib so I l fed him. By the time I was finished, it was time for Isabelle to get up for school.

Needless to say, I was exhausted as a result of going to bed late and then being woken up twice last night. Luckily, my parents were in town this week. This afforded me with the chance to snooze until it was time to do Isabelle’s hair for school. And then I did something heavenly… thanks to my parents being here: I went back to sleep. 
I got out of bed again at 10:25 a.m.! I can’t remember the last time I saw that time on my night table’s clock! I worked for almost three hours and then left the house for an appointment. While I was out, my parents cared for Ari and Isabelle (once she returned home from school). I returned home to find two kids doing their thing under the watchful eye of my parents. Despite my fatigue, I remembered that I am lucky.

But now, they’re heading home. Unlike many of our neighbors and friends, we don’t have family nearby. I can’t call up my parents on a random afternoon and say, “Can you come over to help me?” Nope. We slog it out on our own (most of the time).

One day, I hope to live closer to my parents. For now, I’m thankful when they come to visit. At least tomorrow is a Saturday so my husband is around!

dress-up · Jewish · slice of life

Things I’m Pretty Sure of Today

It’s late and I’m falling back on a format I use when I’m short on time.

Isabelle wore a clown wig on her bus ride home in an effort to get into the Purim spirit. I have no idea where she got it!

Things I’m Pretty Sure of Today: Having your baby sleep through the night again is better than a new piece of jewelry; My heart filled with pride when Isabelle’s teacher lent me her drawing and writing book, which is filled with her Kid Writing; Isabelle is much more into Purim than I ever was as a kid; My father saved the day (yet again) by stepping in to help Isabelle with her Purim costume; I need to pull back from a project that got forced upon me. This became crystal clear when Isabelle walked into my office and said, “You’re working at your computer again?!!?”; I enjoyed going out for dessert with several Kindergarten moms tonight, but I was delighted to return home in time to put Ari to sleep.

 

slice-of-life_individual
Head over to https://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.
food

We have an eater!

We fed Ari oatmeal a little after he turned four months old. He was unimpressed. He didn’t even know what to do with the oatmeal when it was in his mouth.

We tried again — with oatmeal — a couple weeks later. Still no success.

Two more weeks passed and we gave puréed avocado to our five-month-old boy. He spit it out — again.

But Isabelle loved avocado. And she devoured food at four months. How can Ari dislike eating? I wondered. 

Different kids. Stop comparing them, I reminded myself.
We waited another week. More avocado went in… and got spit out.

Maybe we should try a different food.

Marc suggested carrots. Rather than roast and purée a batch of carrots, I took the easy route and bought jars of Earth’s Best carrots.

Tonight we tried the carrots. And, by golly, he liked them!

Ari liked the carrots so much that he grabbed the spoon every time it approached his mouth!
OT · slice of life · speech

When the end isn’t in sight.

Getting a few minutes of “peace” with a heating pad on my shoulder.

We are approaching the four-year anniversary of clinical speech therapy. I say we because I’ve been the one driving, observing, and following-through with Isabelle’s at-home practice. And while I used to think the end was in sight for speech therapy, we’ve recently learned it isn’t as close as we originally anticipated.

Tuesday afternoons have been the day we typically devote to OT, PT, and speech for Isabelle. This afternoon, when I picked her up early from school, she seemed more indignant about leaving than usual. And quite frankly, I couldn’t blame her. I’m exhausted from all of this therapy too. I wish I could just be fun-mommy rather than mommy-speech, mommy-ot, and mommy-pt. But that’s not in the cards for us… at least not yet.

This afternoon, I had physical therapy on my shoulder (Yes, my shoulder… again!) while Isabelle had speech. I was closing out my session with pendulum exercises in the main gym when Isabelle and her speech therapist came looking for me.

“How’d she do today?” I asked her speech therapist.

“Well, she was a little sassy at first, but she pulled herself together and did great.”

I looked at Isabelle and said, “Remember, if you want to earn a week off, you have to do your work and listen to your therapists.”

“I know,” she said begrudgingly.

After I got the debrief of the session, I hustled Isabelle to the bathroom. Then we returned to the gym where my physical therapist wrapped my shoulder with an ice pack while I listened to Isabelle read aloud from her just-right books. Within a minute of her finishing, her physical therapist found us. It was time for her second of three appointments today.

“She’s not in the n-i-c-e-s-t mood today,” I warned her physical therapist.

Her physical therapist nodded knowingly. I’m sorry, I mouthed.

I don’t want to be here any more than Isabelle wants to be here. Unfortunately, this is the hand we were dealt.

I was about to go into full pity-party mode when I glanced around the gym. There were people who could barely walk who were trying to regain their ability to put one foot in front of the other again. There was a man being assisted by two women to stand up from a wheelchair. I took a deep breath and remembered to have some perspective. We won’t be here every Tuesday for the rest of our lives. Eventually, this will pass.

medical

Bloodwork 

I cringed when I found out my daughter needed bloodwork. Like most kids, she detests needles. I mentally prepared myself, but ultimately passed the task of telling her to my husband. Marc delivers news like this all of the time. Plus, I figured if I was going to be the one taking her to get the. Looks drawn, then he should be the one to break the bad news. (Co-parenting at its best!)
So this morning, after I did Isabelle’s hair, I said, “I’m going to pick you up at carpool today.”
“How come?” 
“Go down and ask Daddy after you tell him what you want for breakfast.”
A few minutes later, when I changed Ari out of his pj’s, I heard the quiver in her little voice followed by a lot of questions. Oh dear, I thought. This afternoon is going to be horrendous.
I dreaded picking Isabelle up all day. I knew she’d be nervous. However, she was surprisingly calm in the car. She even seemed totally ready when we walked up to the lab.
“Why’s it dark in there?” I asked as I opened the door.
A phlebotomist was sitting there — in the dark waiting room — as I entered.
“We closed a few minutes ago,” she said.
Noooooooo! I could’ve pulled Isabelle out of school early. She was mentally prepared and now this wasn’t going to happen. Shooty-shoot-shoot! (Okay, those last words were edited from the curse words I actually repeated in my head.)
I thought quickly and realized I could get her back in the car and drive another 15 minutes to a still-opened lab. 
And that’s exactly what we did.
Once at the new lab, we waited about ten minutes until we were called. I reminded Isabelle, “if you’d stay calm, then it won’t hurt as much.” I thought my words would fall on deaf ears, but — much to my surprise — she stayed calm as the phlebotomist checked for the best vein. I held Isabelle’s free arm down while a second phlebotomist held the arm getting the butterfly needle still. Then the main phlebotomist drew Isabelle’s blood. Unlike her mama, Isabelle watched the whole thing and stayed calm the entire time. I was amazed and thrilled! (She’s had two other blood tests in her life and they didn’t go this well. Seeing her hold it together filled me with relief.)
Naturally, a special treat — sure to ruin her appetite before dinner — was in order. We drove to the nearest bakery where she selected a chocolate cake pop. 
Now I hope the results of the bloodwork will be be as good as she was during the blood test today.

slice of life

Sunday Mornings

Selfie with a Stuffed Animal
Anyone who read the acknowledgments of Craft Moves (People read those, right?!!?) may remember my husband spends most of his Sundays with our daughter. First, they eat breakfast at a local diner. Then, they run errands and do the grocery shopping. Whenever she’s in the mood, they’ll visit a park, playground, or Sky Zone.

Now that Ari is here, they still do spend most Sunday mornings together. However, I no longer spend my Sunday mornings writing. Instead, my Sunday mornings are filled with feedings, diaper changes, and playing with my little guy on the carpet. 

Until a couple of weeks ago, I was unable to embrace my new Sunday morning routine. I was constantly stressed that I didn’t have any time to write. However, Ari has finally begun napping in his crib (rather than on me). Now I know I’ll get some work time when he naps. It is no where near the amount of time I need, but it’s enough for me not to be stressed-out by Sunday nights. 

Someday, Ari will join Isabelle and Marc for Sunday outings. But for now, I’m going with the flow on Sunday mornings. (Catch me a year from now when WELCOME TO WRITIBGG WORKSHOP’s deadline is looming. It will be interesting to see how well I’m handling Sunday mornings.)

Reading a Book

Eating a Book

art

The Human Body in Art

“Can we go upstairs?” Isabelle asked.

I looked at my watch. We had plenty of time to explore the gallery before heading home. 

“Sure!”

Isabelle bounded up the museum stairs and pulled opened the glass door to the gallery. I encouraged her to stop since the Philip Pearlstein exhibit was a new installation. I read some key parts of the exhibition overview, which made mention of the “human body,” aloud to her before she bolted off into the gallery. 

First, I noticed some of Pearlstein’s wartime watercolors. Instead of focusing on the battle scenes, I encouraged Isabelle to look at the way he used his watercolors. A moment later, Isabelle took off. I looked up and no longer saw paintings of war. Instead I saw paintings of nude men and women. (Well, I was warned of that overview, wasn’t I?!!?)

Before I could say something smart, Isabelle called out, “Look! They’re naked!” 

“They sure are,” I replied. 

I had a decision to make:

  1. I could go with the flow and let Isabelle take the lead and ask questions. 
  2. I could deem the exhibit inappropriate and leave.

I picked option one. After all, there’s a lot of nudity in art.

Today’s gallery experience with Isabelle brought me back to the field trips I took my fifth graders on when I was a classroom teacher. I remember them pointing and giggling — early in every school year — when they’d pass a nude statue or painting. Seeing as I took my students to about four – six art museums each school year, I always noticed how they’d stop snickering at the nudity by each year’s end. While we never examined the nude paintings with our museum educators, we always managed to walk by them. The repeated exposure took the awkwardness out of these art museum trips. 

I’m okay with my decision to stay. Once Isabelle saw three or four nude paintings, she no longer commented on the lack of clothes. Instead, she wanted to know what kind of paint Pearlstein used and focused on the background colors in some of the photos. 

So, yeah, my kid landed up in a gallery of nude paintings today. Not exactly how I intended to spend the time with her after her art class finished, but perhaps this first exposure to nude art will make her next encounter with it less awkward.