Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
|Me and My Sailor, Christmas Day, 2019|
When we went on a Very Merry Christmas Cruise over Christmas in 2019, My Sailor had concerns. What would we do about presents? What about a tree? What about all of the expectations of extended family?
We don't have to use her inhaler much at all, since it's viral induced asthma.
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
If you've followed my blog for any length of time (ye brave, ye few), you'll know a few things to be true.
You probably know... I am a wall flower in large groups of people, when I am not the host. I do my best work and socializing one on one. Bring me into a situation with over 5 people, and I'm likely to keep sipping at a beverage to avoid conversation.
You probably also know that ... my daughter doesn't like to talk to just anyone. She has her 'people'. She has always had her 'people'. What makes someone one of her 'people' is a complete mystery to me, but I've always respected it. As she's gotten older, her circle of chosen people has gotten bigger, but if you're not in it, you won't get more than a nod or a shake of the head. Maybe you'll get a 'yeah' or a 'no'. Maybe.
You also know that... The Impossible Girl also has a stuttering impediment and some speech fluency issues. She'll have a few lucky days where you'd never know but there are also days where every other word is a visible battle to get out. She answers questions with, "I don't know" when she can't find the words to answer them, or she'll get so tangled up that she gives up and starts crying. While most kids stutter for a few weeks or months as they grow, this has been ongoing for years and isn't getting better. While speech therapy has significantly improved the fluency, at this stage it's very likely the stuttering will be a life long thing. At least, it's best to be prepared for that outcome.
You also know that... I spent significant time of my life doing theater, so speaking in public doesn't bother me. But to her - it's a really big deal, every single day. I ached to know how hard it can be for her. I can help her with it, but I can't fix it for her. And that sucks.
To ease the ache in my heart when I hear her struggling, I
wanted to needed to find a way to see things differently. Could this even have an upside? Can I see this as a super power?
|ETSY Maker's Shop Link|
nd then, I got my answer...
We were shopping for a gift for a friend of hers when she mentioned that a classmate (we'll call her A) also had a birthday recently. The Impossible Girl wanted to get a gift for her classmate as well. In the interest of cultivating thoughtfulness, I told her that was a great idea. She picked out a unicorn hooded towel for her friend, and a Paw Patrol hooded towel for A.
It turned out that hooded towel was a hit with A.
Now, that may not seem like a big deal until you realize that A and The Impossible Girl knew OF each other at school, but their interactions were pretty limited. They knew of each other, but basically traveled in different social circles.
So how did The Impossible Girl know that a Paw Patrol towel would be a great gift for this girl she barely interacted with?
I tested the theory out later that day. We roasted marshmellows over candle flames on the deck and I started the test-
Me: "Hey. Let's play a game. You close your eyes and I'm going to take something off the table. Then you have to tell me what I took off." On the table were a pair of bamboo skewers, 3 candles, 1 napkin, the lid to the 3 wicked candle, a bottle of water, and 2 small plates.
So we played. I'd take something off the table and she'd have to tell me what it was.
She was wrong once out of SIX rounds. ONCE! She got zero prompting from me.
|Etsy Shop Link|
I'm finding new ways to encourage that memory and cultivate her observational skills. So she may not speak the same way we expected, but she has a super power.
Monday, June 14, 2021
Breathing Among the Trees - The Preschool Adventure Among the Trees that Grew Us (The Day the World Paused 463)
|The Impossible Girl the morning of her first day of Preschool at Magnolia Forest School|
When looking for preschools, my options were limited. It was basically the Co-Op preschool (which require volunteer hours which would have gone further into killing my career) or keep doing what we were doing and hoping for the best.
|At the first day of drop off|
Now, when I started telling people about Forest Preschool they largely didn't get the concept. Most of my friends were enrolling their kids in Spanish or French Immersive Preschools, or some academically advanced version.
When they found out The Impossible Girl wasn't focusing on learning to sing her ABCs, they were stunned.
Kids out playing in the woods all day? Even in the rain and the snow? Don't they get cold and sick? Don't they get dirty? Won't they wander off and get lost? Won't they fall from trees and get hurt? Won't they poke someone's eye out with a stick?
I could go into my long winded answers to those, but I'll just drop their FAQ here and just go into detail on a couple of my favorite questions.
My short answers to the ones above are: Yes. Yes. Not really. Yes. No. Maybe, but it's not common. No.
Family and friends were stunned to learn that The Impossible Girl wasn't learning to recite the alphabet or learn a second language or some other academic feat. She was just 'playing'? How would she learn? What do you mean she isn't enrolled in other extra curriculars outside of school?!
Forest Preschool seemed so 'out of the box' and unusual, but let's think about it. Why is that? Why is it odd to think of kids 'wasting their time' playing in nature?
When did we forget that being out in nature and moving is more normal and natural to our bodies (including our brains) than being stuck in a chair behind a desk?
When did we decide that book learning was the only kind that makes a person a valued member of the planet? Some of the greatest geniuses of all time often found their fame through creative thinking. Both are valuable.
I field questions like, "How will she learn to stand in a line or sit still?" These are things life teaches us. She doesn't need a special lesson on it. She experiences it at the grocery store, or in the car while we're driving from place to place. She sits still when she's hungry and wants to eat or someone is telling a story of interest, or her legs are tired, or she wants to scoot her way up a tree, etc.
Another favorite one I heard a lot over our years was, "Does she bounce off the walls at home because she doesn't understand boundaries?" Um.. nope. Not at all. She has found ways to manage her energy and an understanding of her emotions that rivals some adults, thanks to her time in the woods.
Yup, she gets dirty and occasionally gets a scrape or a bruise. It turns out kids are pretty good at risk assessment when they get to make up the game and aren't forced to do things a certain way. When they can explore and find their own way, they grow. I read something in The Last Lecture that has stuck with me. It's something I follow as I help adults build self-esteem and confidence:
"He knew there was really only one way to teach kids how to develop [self-esteem]: You give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process."
It works the same way with adults when I'm teaching them to do something new. She knows when to ask for help, and these wonderful adults in her life have helped her grow by leaps and bounds. She is confident with what she can do in her body.
The kids learn quickly that boundaries aren't there 'because an adult said so'. They are there for safety. The kids haven't gone all Mogli or Lord of the Flies.
But I don't want to talk about the kids. They kids are amazing, don't get me wrong. The Impossible Girl has made some awesome friends. The adults that make these kids lives amazing are the real rock stars.
Serious rock stars.
When this pandemic slammed things shut - these adults showed up for these kids in big, personal ways. From one of the founders going full digital with online 1/2 hour lessons (which helped organize our day in BIG ways) to PHYSICALLY SHOWING UP when I messaged them 'hey, we are in your area kinda - want to go outside and meet us?' We got to spend some one on one time with four of her teachers. Each one came without a single qualm. The school was open by donations only. THEY COULD HAVE SAID NO. They could have been too busy. Instead, they OFFERED to meet us or do video chats with the kids if they needed it. And let me tell you, pandemic+depolyment+Just us= WE NEEDED IT!
|A socially distanced play date with a favorite teacher on the spur of the moment.|
|Virtual Preschool - art classes, yoga, and this one "find your quiet place"|
|Another socially distance beach meet up with one of the Founders of the school|
If you know me in person, I treat the advice of professionals I respect like a cattle prod. More experienced people know more than me and I want to learn from them.
One of the things her teachers have taught me early on was "Be a Sports Caster, not a Referee" (Here's how it works for me.). Through their actions and the way they treat the kids, they reinforced what it means to actually 'hold space' for someone. I've learned how to let my daughter come to me and discovered this mutual ground of respect. One of the gifts I've found of being adopted is that my parents got to know me as a person, without expecting a 'mini me' from me. It's a gift I want to share, and this team of professionals have reinforced. Getting to know these humans who have chosen to be teachers has not only changed the Impossible Girl's life for the better, but mine as well.
We still have weeks of summer camp before we leave our space in Magnolia for another family. We've watched the school grow from a tiny group of kids in a group camp site, to a fully fleshed-out outdoor home for a diverse group of kids. Now? They have several campuses and a waiting list.
The talents of these special people will change and shape families for years to come.
And I for one am glad we took the chance on this unconventional route.
Any future kids will be sure to learn to breath among the trees as we have.
|Final School Picture - Fall of 2021|
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
I'm going to start with a 2020 Winter Recap. Right now, that's easy to write. Scroll down if you want to see how the title comes into play.
Speech Therapy has been an enlightening experience for both of us. There are motor issues that take some training. We work on it much like I work with clients to train their bodies to do things they didn't think were possible. Only in The Impossible Girl's case, it's learning to get her tongue to touch behind her teeth for a proper "el" sound, or learning to break down works and elongate the "S" sound in words like "Stop" or "spoon". We have a long way to go, but there is lots of progress too. It's a 'big picture' kind of thing. I'm glad we have a President who battles stuttering now. It's something we can share with her as she gets older as proof that it shouldn't hold her back (while we work on strategies to get around it at the same time). I know most 5 year old kids don't look at the President as a role model, but maybe someday it will come in handy.
|Waiting at the outpatient Surgery center. Due to Covid, no overnight observations are allowed.|
|Reading a new book while she waits to get taken back|
|Recovery room watching cartoons|
What is Central Sleep Apnea?
To sum up all that Google will tell you - it's a condition that occurs when your brain stops telling your lungs to do their job while you're sleeping. Her case is mild, but I've learned a lot in the process. Central Sleep Apnea is rare. 1-4% of children have sleep apnea to begin with - so it's not common. Less than 1% of the general population in the US have Central Sleep Apnea, so it's very rare in children without another severe illness. For now, she'll be getting a ring to wear on her thumb when she sleeps. It sends an alert to my phone if she desaturates for an extended period of time, and gives us more information to see if she grows out of this rarity, or if it'll require more earnest treatment.
So since I last blogged a LOT has happened - and absolutely nothing has happened as well. Buckle up and I'll see if I can make it make sense.