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Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Cheshire Cat Moon

It's five in the morning and I'm on the road
when I see a spooky sight.
A Cheshire Cat Moon
smiles like a buffoon
and casts a luminous light.

No eyes can be seen.
Can't tell if he's mean
or simply awake just for me.
I'll have something to write
before Halloween night.
Perhaps that cat's smiling with glee.

It's five in the morning and I'm on the road
when I see a spooky sight.
A Cheshire Cat Moon
smiles though it's too soon
to be out on a Halloween night.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Leaning Tower of Laundry - Creative Genius or The Result of Reduced Field of Vision?

My children have the ability to extract a wide range of emotions from their worn out mother. Their daily quest to break me down often leaves me to wonder, "Should I draft a proposal for our own reality television show?"  The drama that we create and escalate rivals the escapades of some crazy reality series...minus the income! Seriously, these children look so angelic, yet are capable of rendering me speechless and feeling like my brain has been squeezed of every drop of "Love and Logic" parenting it could hold.  I love them immensely and feel proud to be their mother 95% of the time.  The other 5% leaves me ready to pull out my nose hairs one by one.  I am not too proud to admit that there are moments when it is a blessing that other people are unable to read my thoughts.  They would be shocked!  But here's the truth:  Most parents have moments like that.

I had an opportunity to take some of the wonderful "Love and Logic" classes and desperately want to believe in the concepts that were discussed.  I have even practiced the techniques ad nauseum.  Let me tell you, those techniques are excellent and do work, but my children fight them kicking and screaming along the way.  If you haven't heard of the program, here's a link for you.  It is well worth the classes and their resources are very helpful.  However, let me assure you that parenting is a human endeavor fraught with detours.  I have to admit that I take many detours and often revert to hard core military boot camp style parenting when all else fails.  Not every child is the same and in my case, all of them want to be "in charge."  So while you peruse the website for the "Love and Logic Parenting" techniques, let me share my adventures in what I call the "Laundry Pile Project."    
Love and Logic Institute, Inc.
2207 Jackson Street
Golden, CO 80401-2300
Phone: 303-278-7552
Toll Free: 800-338-4065
Fax: 800-455-7557

Last week after returning from the laundrymat for our weekly adventures in "Clothing Maintenance"  I encouraged everyone to please put away their own items.  Their drawers are all clearly marked with their names and the clothing item that belongs in said "drawer."  Funny that by the end of each week underwear ends up in the shirt drawer and dirty shirts become co-mingled with socks.  Anywho...each week we regroup items and categorize them for the week.  Yeah, I know...but I was raised by an Army Dad and an Immigrant European mother and organization was key to keeping a large family household organized. I do find comfort and security in actually knowing where to find things.  Makes sense to me.  My children are more of the free style fly by the seat of your pants variety. We're a work in progress.

So after the weekly rearranging of the drawers, I placed a fresh laundry bag in the same spot I always do at the beginning of the week.  Each day I remind the children to make sure their dirty clothes end up "INSIDE" the bag. You'd think this was a given.  They know and see that each week I close up the laundry bags to put them into the car for our trip to the laundrymat.  Yet inevitably, the clothes end up spilling over the sides by Day #3.  This past week, after one reminder, I decided to let things "fall where they may."  I waited as the first bag filled up.  That's when it all begin.  "The Leaning Tower of Laundry" begin to take shape.  First there were a few socks.  Then the pants were added.  Underwear began to topple over the pile.  I remained silent.  Surely someone would get tired of stepping over that mess and begin a new bag. Nothing!  Finally, that tower reached it's maximum capacity and tumbled over.  

The kids looked up at me with wide eyes as if to say, "Now what?"  Hmmmm. I wonder.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Hmmm.  Looks like that pile could use another bag."    I thought to myself, "Did they not see that coming?  Was their field of vision impaired in some way?  Perhaps they enjoyed the look they had created as they expertly stacked each piece of clothing to form a skyscraper of socks and undies."  Whatever the reason, it made me think about the creativity involved in their sculpture.  As I lay awake in bed last night, here are the random thoughts that I just had to get out of my system before I could doze off:

  1. Too bad I won't have anyone from Architect's Digest coming over to do a story on this amazing structure.
  2. I will definitely win no prizes from Home and Garden regarding this awesome decoration my children have created in the corner of their room.
  3. Hmmm. Wonder if this qualifies as a "Work of Art."  Will the Museum of Modern Art be interested in an exhibit featuring my children's "Leaning Tower of Laundry."  This can be accompanied by their "Brownies Squished into the Living Room Carpet" and "Shoe Collection Radomly Placed by Front Door."   Hey...stranger items of a biological nature have been displayed with significant fanfare and controversy all in the name of "Art."
  4. Maybe one of them will decide to study engineering or become a sculptor.
  5. Go to sleep, Mary.  Just list this as one of the many mysteries of motherhood that you didn't see coming. 
  6. I just have to write about this on my blog.
So the children did end up getting those clothes into bags and cleaning up that tower.  After all, they are pretty good kids.  I was happy it got done without all the usual drama.  And we had a little chuckle over how silly it was to let that pile get to a point where it fell over.  Hopefully next week will be better and we have learned it's better to start a new bag when the first one is full.  This was one of my better "Love and Logic" moments.  Looking forward to many more.  Like I said, we're all a work in progress - mom included.
Happy Wednesday!  Find a quiet moment for yourself.  You've earned it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Imagination of a Six-Year-Old Super Hero

Six-year-old Sebastien has the kind of imagination that leads to amazing creations.  I can't even predict where this gift will take him into the future, but I know that wonderful things happen when a child's (or adult's) imagination is nurtured and encouraged.  Sebastien is like some of the children I used to read about in children's books.  He has a zest for anything in motion, including himself.  His skills on the monkey bars and the backward flips he has demonstrated (with no formal gymnastics training to date) are legendary among family and friends.  It is no surprise that whenever we go to a park, whether outdoors or at the McDonald's play area, he inevitable becomes a magnet for other children who are fascinated by his creativity. 

Sebastien's latest inspirations come from favorite super heroes.  I remember when my own brothers ran around the house with "capes" fashioned from dish towels and safety pins.  Rubber band guns were designed using wood scraps and clothes pins.  The Big Wheels were the favored mode of transportation as we raced to catch the bad guys.  Life was filled with fun and it seemed like most of our time was spent outdoors.  Imagination was not only encouraged, but expected as a necessary supplement to the simple toys of our day. So when I see my own children creating, imagining, and designing their own forms of entertainment, I have to smile.  Technology cannot totally eliminate the human need and dare I say desire to come up with our own  forms of entertainment.

Sebastien has been known to use straws from McDonald's to make his version of "martial arts" equipment. (I can't bring myself to call them weapons)  He has created sparing sticks (I'm sure my children would cringe that I don't know the proper terms) and various tools to reach the toys that become trapped behind the cages that surround the play areas.  He has rescued quite a collection of Happy Meal toys.  Many times I have seen him with a ring of children around him as he demonstrated how to create toys or tools from the straws.  Parents often watch as everyone soon becomes engaged in a martial arts practice initiated by Sebastien.  I really do need to enroll him in some classes.  The boy has some awesome moves for someone so little.

So Sebastien's latest favorite super hero is Wolverine.  He is fascinated by the claws and will take just about anything to design his own. (Which is fine with me given that the Wolverine Toy claws cost $25.00 each at Target.) Yikes!  Here's where the imagination comes in quite handy!  Today, you will have access to Sebastien's exclusive list of how you too can have Wolverine Claws that are cost effective and fun to make.  Hope you get a chuckle out of this and take a moment to reflect on some of the things you or your own children have created.  I love seeing things through the eyes of my children.

I have to admit, there are moments when I wonder, "Does everything have to become Wolverine Claws?"  Then again, this moment in Sebastien's life will go by so fast.  I know I'll miss it when he outgrows this phase.  So here's the list of things that he has already used to design those claws.  It's fun to share with you and I hope it will make you smile.

 Wolverine Claws

French Fries
Ritz Crackers
Fish Sticks
Dry Spaghetti Noodles

Hope your Monday was awesome.  Have a wonderful week and remember to share a fun memory of your own childhood creations with your family!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Observations on A Walk Home from School

Last Monday I was without our vehicle for a short time due to last minute appointments. The lack of said vehicle occurred during peak pick up times from school. I decided to walk and pick up my two sons, Nathan and Sebastien.  I could picture their surprised faces glowing with excitement at the prospect of walking home.  Perhaps we could even stop at the park on the way back to play before picking up my daughter from middle school. It couldn't be that far away.  Many children from our apartment complex walk to school.  I congratulated myself on this spontaneous exercise activity and set out on my journey.

Oh lovely Colorado.  Those amazing curvy uphill sidewalks added a spicy twist to my exercise recipe.  I regretted bundling up against the cool, windy weather we had that day.  It wasn't long before I wanted to remove those layers of clothing and the thick knit hat.  Not only was I becoming quite warm, I also was carrying two extra jackets to bundle the boys.  You see, they had only taken light jackets and I was concerned they would be cold on the walk home. So I trudged on with the added weight of the cumbersome jackets.

Turns out that the short drive to school is actually a 2 mile trip.  Seems a lot longer when you have to walk.  I'm not accustomed to walking this far on a regular basis and have only recently returned to exercising.  Each step reminded me of long forgotten workouts from my younger days.  Back then a 2 mile walk seemed easy.  I remember running on the beach in North Carolina on the outer banks with my sisters and brothers.  Once a year each January we tried to go for a short visit. Even with the wind blowing on a chilly day by the water, I zipped along at a good pace.  I miss the energy I had back then.

But we can't dwell on the past. So I continued on until I reached the elementary school.  I had seriously underestimated my walk time and arrived to find that my sons were almost the last ones to get picked up.  Nathan was worried.  "Where were you?  Where's the car?"  I usually arrived extremely early to avoid the chaos of cars lined up in front of the school.  So my late arrival created legitimate concerns for my sons.  Sebastien was happy to see me, but not thrilled when I layered him up with another jacket and hat.  After a brief moment of explanations, we ventured away from school and began our travel home.

The weather cooperated on the walk and I was grateful for the sunshine.  The boys became animated as they told me about their day at school.  As I watched their expressions and actions, I was reminded how much we miss when we are in an enclosed box with wheels and sound proof windows.  I remembered my own experiences walking home from school with my friends when I was in the third and fourth grades. (When we lived close enough to walk to and from school.) I promised myself that we would plan more walks home from school even if there's snow on the ground.  The menu of sensory experiences is priceless.  Here are my observations from that walk:

1. Sebastien enjoyed getting off the sidewalk so he could walk in the colorful leaves of Fall. His shoes created a swishing sound as they slid through piles of leaves.

2. Nathan pointed out the trees and mountains that were visually stunning against the backdrop of the clear blue sky as we walked home.

3. The boys felt the breeze as it blew through their hair (hats came off shortly after our departure from the school), heard the leaves rustling, and felt the sun's warmth on their faces.

4. We saw birds, squirrels, and insects.

5.  We smelled the scent of pine needles, freshly cut grass, and flowers.

There are many places we go that are too far to walk.  However, we have also started to explore other modes of transportation with the children.  They recently experienced riding the city bus, which provided many new sensations for them.  I loved traveling by bus, strassenbahn, plane and train while living abroad.  Each mode of transportation has its own unique experiences.  But the joys of walking are often underestimated.  Some of my happiest and funniest memories are the result of walking and exploring.  It's fun to be able to share these moments with my family.

Have a wonderful week.  Hope you have an opportunity to get out and walk to enjoy the Fall weather. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Parent/Teacher Communication - A Letter on Hold

This is the letter I wanted to send, but restrained myself.  I'm not sure what training is offered to teachers regarding how to communicate with parents, but the interaction I experienced was lacking in many ways.  I know there are many great teachers out there who have to deal with a variety of challenging behaviors too.  I still hold some hope that the parent/teacher conference coming up next week will help me resolve some concerns I have regarding communication issues.  Would love to hear how you resolved your concerns and the results following a meeting with a teacher.
October 09, 2013
Dear Ms. Teacher:
I wish to follow up with you regarding our conversation on the phone yesterday.  Isabella Rodriguez is one of your sixth grade students and I am her mother, Mary Rodriguez.  On Monday I received an automated call from XYZ Middle School that my daughter had been marked “absent” on your attendance record.  The call came after school hours.  I checked with my daughter to make sure she hadn’t missed attendance check for your class.  She assured me that she was indeed in class and on time.  I told my daughter I would check with the attendance secretary on Tuesday.
I went to school on Tuesday before noon and spoke with Ms.LMNOP, Attendance Secretary.  She checked and informed me that Isabella had been marked absent, but that she would check with you regarding Isabella’s attendance.  I informed Ms. LMNOP that Isabella was at school and I wanted to make sure her record was cleared.  She said she sent an email to you and advised me to check back with her later.  I did call back and was informed that she had not heard back from you yet, so I was given your voice mail.  I left a message but did not hear back.
I called back again this morning, Wednesday, and inquired into Isabella’s attendance status for Monday.  Ms. LMNOP informed me that it had not yet been changed.  I explained that I would like to hear back from Ms. Teacher by the end of the school day.  She agreed to place another call to you to follow up.  I also encouraged my daughter, Isabella Rodriguez, to talk with you and ask you to please call me so I can be assured of her change in attendance status. 
I do appreciate that you called me around noon today.  I am concerned about our conversation and would like to clarify some points so there are no misunderstandings. 
1.      I heard you say to me in our phone conversation that you were unable to reach me due to your responsibilities with the track team on Monday and Tuesday.
2.      I am concerned that you felt a need to make excuses versus respectfully apologizing for the oversight and kindly agreeing to take care of the matter to ensure Isabella’s attendance was properly noted for Monday.
3.      I know how busy a teacher can get. I was also a teacher and I understand the pressures associated with balancing work, family, and extracurricular activities.
4.      It was upsetting to me that your tone, according to my perception, was one that indicated I was the one disturbing your schedule.
5.      The school and the District were very specific about the level of concern regarding a student’s absence from school. This is noted in the Parent/Student Handbook.  I take my children’s participation and attendance seriously. I also felt it necessary to come to school
in person to make an attempt to correct the error in Isabella’s attendance record in a timely manner.  I feel that the same courtesy should be extended to parents.
6.      My daughter did speak with you and you informed her that correcting her attendance would have to wait until the end of the day because you have meetings all day.  She felt like she was bothering you and that you didn’t apologize to her for the error.  Students can feel when they are being brushed off.  Respect should go both ways. 
My concerns go beyond what occurred with my daughter.  Here are some thoughts I would like you to consider:
·         What if your error in attendance created a crisis for a family?
·         What if a parent received the call and really believed their child was absent?
·         What if that child couldn’t convince his parents that he really was at school?
·         What if that child was disciplined in a manner that was inappropriate for the situation?
·        What if the error never got corrected and the parent ended up getting a call from the  court system?
Perhaps that is a bit dramatic.  It could occur.  I just happen to believe my child and always check the facts.  Not every child will have a parent advocate for him/her.  I would have been ok with the error if I felt that you cared.  That is the whole point of writing this to you.  It could have been avoided.  Sometimes it’s hard to know how to communicate with parents.  I get that.  I have had many challenging parents to work with the age group I taught.  So in the interest of being your advocate too, here’s how I wished our conversation had gone this afternoon:
 The first thing that would have gotten us off to a better start would have been if you didn’t call me “Isabella” and knew my name.  There are several ways you could have found out who I was, including asking my child, “What’s your mom’s name?”
Ms. Teacher:  “Hello Ms. Rodriguez.  This is Ms. Teacher, Isabella’s third period teacher.  I want to let you know that I received your message. Thank you for taking time to make sure we correct this for Isabella.”
Ms. Rodriguez: “Thank You so much for returning the call.  I know how busy you are.”
Ms. Teacher:  “I apologize for the error. Looks like Isabella’s name was close to another child who happened to be absent on Monday.  I will personally make sure Ms. LMNOP corrects the attendance record.  I know how important this is to you and to Isabella.”
Ms. Rodriguez:  “Thank You for taking time to call me and to correct this situation.  I appreciate your time.  If you ever have any concerns about Isabella, I hope you will call me.  Have a good day.”
Ms.Teacher:  “Thank You for being a concerned parent.  Have a nice day too.”
Ms. Rodriguez:  “Thank You.  Good-bye.”
Ms. Teacher, I know you have a challenging job.  I appreciate all you are doing to make sure my child receives a good education while in your class.  However, making excuses and minimizing my concerns was not an acceptable interaction.  I hope that in the future, you will call on me if there are any concerns regarding Isabella's attendance and participation in class.   
Respectfully Submitted,

Mary Varville-Rodriguez
Mom of Isabella


Mini-Memorable Moments are Priceless

This week I was gifted with an opportunity to connect with a total stranger.  Yet he came into my life just when I needed him.  Wednesday was a stressful day for me.  One of Isabella's teachers accidentally marked her absent on Monday.  The efficient school system that is District 11 provided an automated call to inform me that my daughter had missed a class and that I needed to call back.  I knew that my child was in school all day, but I checked with her in case she had been tardy.  Perhaps there had been a substitute teacher who might have missed her during attendance.  Isabella assured me that she had been on time and in every class.

I went to the school in person on Tuesday before noon.  The attendance secretary checked and informed me that Isabella had been marked absent from her Social Studies class by her teacher.  No substitute was in on Monday, but there was a substitute on Tuesday morning.  The attendance secretary reassured me that she would leave another email and a voice message for the teacher.  When I called back that afternoon, there was still no word from the teacher.  I left a voice message too. 

By Wednesday morning I still had not heard from the teacher, so I called the attendance secretary again.  I let her know I had not yet heard from the teacher and was concerned because I did not want an unexcused absence to remain on Isabella's record.  She recommended that I leave another voice mail for the teacher.  I said I would, but that if I didn't hear back from the teacher by the end of the day I would like to schedule time to meet with the principal.  Here's my concern:  The district expects parents to inform the school of a child's absence in a timely manner or risk being reported to social services.  If I take the time out of my schedule to determine the cause of a marked absence, then I expect the same courtesy in return.

I understand how busy a teacher can get.  I have been in a teaching position too.  What I know is that if there were an error on my part or as the result of an oversight from my team, the last thing a parent wants to hear are excuses!  Well, that is exactly what I got when the teacher finally called me back Wednesday afternoon.  I heard that she was busy with the track team on Monday and Tuesday and was in meetings all day on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.  She said Isabella's name was next to another child who was absent on Monday.  She never apologized or empathized with me or my child.  I expressed that I simply wanted my daughter's attendance record corrected.     

I wrote a letter as a follow up but never sent it.  I didn't want Isabella to experience any repercussions if the teacher decided to become offended.  So I'll wait and see if future issues arise.  Perhaps she was just having a busy and stressful week. At any rate, parent/teacher conferences are due next week, so hopefully I can communicate with the teacher so that she actually remembers who my child is next time we talk. (She called me Isabella on the phone.)

My conversation with the teacher left me in a little bit of a funk.  I know...get over it.  But I do expect teachers to at least accept accountability for their oversights.  Lord knows I've had many conversations with parents over the past 25+ years of working with children.  Even if the issue was a missing pacifier or a bottle cap, I took that parent's concerns seriously and made sure they knew I would do whatever I could to make sure it didn't happen again.  It means a lot to know a teacher cares about your child!

An Unexpected Meeting  

So funky me went to grab a bite to eat at KFC (which I hadn't done in probably over a year) and went to find a table.  As I walked past two gentlemen, one of them flashed me a huge smile and said, "Hi.  How are you doing today?  Isn't it a beautiful day outside?"  I had to respond.  I noticed that the young man had either physical and/or cognitive challenges and no apparent internal editor.  But on that particular day, I was grateful that he was so open and friendly.  I said, "Yes.  It is a beautiful day."   He stood up, walked over to my table, extended his hand, and said, "Hi. My name is Joshua."  I responded with a handshake and said, "Hi Joshua.  My name is Mary."  Joshua continued to grin at me and responded, "I bet I know your middle name."  I said back, "O.K  What's my middle name?"  He said, "Louise!"  "No, not Louise", I answered.  He thought for a moment.  I told him, "I'll give you a hint. It begins with a B." 

Joshua said, "Beth. Is it Beth?"  "No, not Beth."    He took a sip from his fountain drink.  At this point I noticed two older ladies watching our exchange.  They smiled.  Joshua said to me, "Is it Bernice?"  I responded, "No. Not Bernice.  But you're getting closer."  Another gentleman who was perhaps a guardian or relative said, "Josh.  It's time to get going."   Joshua turned to me one last time and said, "Bernadette!"  I laughed and smiled and told him, "O my gosh. Yes!  You guessed right!"  He had a hugh smile on his face.   The two older ladies laughed out loud.  We all got such tremendous joy out of this conversation.  It was so simple and pure and spontaneous.  It pulled me right out of my funk.  On his way out the door, Joshua said good bye and I let him know that I appreciated how he came up to me to talk.  I smiled and encouraged him to have a nice day too.

What an unexpected blessing.  I'm always amazed how God knows just when to send a little sunshine into your life.  I hope you too experience a joyful interaction with someone in an unexpected way.  When someone has an obvious developmental or medical challenge, don't discount the value of what they have to offer.  We can learn something from individuals who have faced adversity and continue to smile. 

Have a wonderful Monday and a week filled with mini-memorable moments.  They are priceless!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Adventures from Sunday Mass - and Inspiration from Six-Year-Old Sebastien

Going to church when your children are young is not always peaceful, heavenly bliss.  There are moanings, groanings,negotiations,and pleadings from the children,"Why do we have to go?  But what if we get hungry?  Can we have donuts after mass?"  You get the picture.  To make matters even more challenging, sometimes the people who surround you at mass do not always share your views regarding reverence and respect.  For example:  Half way through the homily at mass yesterday (the homily is the portion of mass where the priest explains the gospel reading and offers inspiration for how you can apply the concepts into your daily life experiences - this is the part I really love to hear whenever possible) a parent with her two young sons entered church and stood right behind us.  Since we were seated in the last pew, we could feel their presence looming over us like one of the dementors from a Harry Potter movie. I know, I know. That's not nice Ms.Mary. But seriously, how would you feel if you had people towering over you when you were trying to pay attention to the sermon?   I figured they were going to wait until the priest was finished with his story then take a seat. I assumed incorrectly.

What transpired was an example of what not to do when you enter a church.  Especially if you are already "tardy to the party."  The mom proceeded to talk to her two sons and point out where friends were seated. I waited patiently hoping she would interpret some non-verbal cues I provided for her convenience. A simple head turn in her direction would surely indicate that I was able to hear her conversation.  I didn't sigh loudly in protest.  I didn't make facial expressions or body gestures to voice my concerns.  I simply turned in her direction....five if to become privy to their conversation.  Sadly, the woman did not respond by hushing herself or her children.

I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to families with small children,  I myself have had to make more than one hasty retreat to the "crying room" when my children became too noisy during mass.  To be perfectly honest, there are moments when I still struggle to maintain order with my three. Sebastien is very active and has a hard time sitting still.  His imagination often takes over.  He becomes intrigued by those cute little pencils that are placed in each seat for visitors or members to fill in the collection envelopes.  Did you know that three tiny pencils strategically placed between your knuckles become Wolverine Claws?  When this happens, Nathan, age eight, feels responsible for correcting his brother's behavior even through I've advised him that this is my job as the parent.  Isabella, age eleven, rolls her eyes and throws a sympathetic glance in my direction.

Anywho... back to our errant family.  I finally decided that the best approach for our three dementors had to be delivered in "direct" form.  So I channeled my mother, who is excellent at keeping rowdy church people in check, and turned to the women behind me one more time.  I kindly and calmly asked her if she and her boys would like to take a seat and pointed to one two pews away...plenty of room for all of them with minimal disruption to the individuals who were already seated.  She declined.  At that point I said, "I'm trying to teach my children to be quiet in church. Shhh."  It was polite. It was direct. It made my point.They remained quiet for the rest of mass. They left before distribution of communion.  What?????!!!!

Who knows why they chose to come late,stand instead of sit,or leave early. I'm always happy when anyone chooses to come to mass. It's a boost for the week. It energizes me and helps me refocus on my goals. It's a way to become closer to God and to my family.  It's a legitimate way to torture my children with moments of mandatory silence. (Just kidding. They need Jesus!)  It's hard to know when to speak up sometimes.  We don't want to offend people, but at the same time....shouldn't we hold each other accountable?  There have been times others have had to correct my children.  It's not always easy, but I know it's important for them to learn to be respectful.  I hope the woman with her two boys returns to church next week so I can say hello and tell them, "So good to see you again."  You never know what other people are going through.  Perhaps something you say or do can make a difference.   

So here is Six-Year-Old Sebastien's Inspiration from Sunday Mass:  I had to tell him to settle down and be respectful.  He was quite restless at church yesterday.   "Sebastien, please calm down.  We need to be quiet.  This is Jesus's house."  Sebastien responded, "Well then, where's his room?"  Never a dull moment with these children!

Have a Wonderful Monday filled with lots of Inspirations! Find something fun to share with others today!  Thanks for taking time to read this post and for allowing me share what I love to do.. write!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Assumptions Interfere with Realities - A Lesson from Nathan's Doctor's Appointment

I mentioned in earlier blogs that my son Nathan requires frequent medical monitoring for "Nephrotic Syndrome."  He was diagnosed right before school started when we went to a new doctor for school physicals.  The condition necessitates treatment with a medication called Prednisone, which is a steroid.  As with many medications, the Prednisone has an added side effect of increased blood pressure.  So we added Captopril,which is a blood pressure medication. The medications can be hard on the stomach, so Renitadine is also part of Nathan's routine.

We have been going to the same clinic for over two months now.  At the end of each visit with Nathan's doctor, we go to the front desk to make an appointment for the following week.  The same person assists us each time and provides us with a copy of Nathan's appointment schedule so I can give a copy to the school.  For the past three weeks, the scheduler has commented about Nathan's frequent visits and wonders why he keeps returning.  I explained that he requires follow-up for his high blood pressure.  Last week I explained that the HBP is the result of another medication he takes. 

This week the appointment scheduler said, "Oh Nathan.  What are we going to do with you?  Maybe we need to have you eat some oatmeal or cheerios every morning."    Now I could have come unglued at this point for a few very righteous reasons:
  1. My child's medical condition was really none of her business.
  2. She was being very unprofessional in addressing my child and making recommendations.
  3. This person had no medical authority or understanding of my child's medical needs or the side effects of the medications.
  4. The comments were way beyond her scope of responsibilities.

However, that's not me.  Unless you have severely maligned my child or my family with inappropriate actions, responses, or gestures, I prefer to use these moments as "teachable opportunities."   Perhaps it's the teacher in me.  But I chose to explain my son's condition so she could understand why we keep returning.  I didn't have to do this.  HIPPAA regulations back me up regarding medical privacy.  However, not everyone recognizes that certain comments might also be considered an invasion of privacy.

I calmly explained that the medication Nathan takes causes the High Blood Pressure.  She responded, "Isn't there anything else he can take or something else they can do?"  Again, I held my breath and calmly stated, "No.  This is what we need to do right now."  She smiled, handed me the new appointment schedule for next week, and said, "Hope you feel better, Nathan.  We'll see you next week."  I thanked her, smiled, and responded, "We look forward to seeing you next week too.  Thanks for your help." 

Every day we are called upon to make choices regarding how we will respond, communicate, and share our experiences with our fellow humans.  In this situation, I felt so much better when I was able to teach instead of elevate my own blood pressure via altercation with the scheduler.  Sometimes we just have to take the time to communicate.  The style of communication might allow others to recognize that assumptions can interfere with realities.  There are so many elements that can occur in someone's life.  It's not up to me to judge.  It's up to me to provide whatever comfort I can and move on from there.

Here are some links regarding "Nephrotic Syndrome."

For More Information

American Kidney Fund
6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 1010
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 1-800-638-8299 or 301-881-3052
Internet: click to view disclaimer page

American Society of Pediatric Nephrology
3400 Research Forest Drive, Suite B7
The Woodlands, TX 77381
Phone: 281-419-0052
Fax: 281-419-0082
Internet: click to view disclaimer page

National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 1-800-622-9010 or 212-889-2210
Fax: 212-689-9261
Internet: click to view disclaimer page

You may also find additional information about this topic by visiting Medline Plus at

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" Variation on a Theme

I have always enjoyed making up songs for the children I have taught over the years as well as for my own children.  Not sure how or why I came up with this version, but wanted to share it.  Hope it makes you smile or at least have a good laugh.  My children thought this was pretty ridiculous, but loved it anyway.  I enjoy finding new ways to introduce vocabulary using familiar tunes.   

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
(A Variation)

Radiate, Radiate Miniature Reflector of Light
How I Contemplate the Essence of Your Existence
Skyward North of Planet Earth
Reminiscent of an Infant's Birth
Radiate, Radiate Miniature Reflector of Light
How I Contemplate the Essence of Your Existence.