Today was a Ginger Rogers Day--one of those days when you feel like you do it all backwards in high heels. My schedule today would kill a mere man.
We started with the Expert Fair. This is a fifth grade event. Summer presented on painted turtles. She was a huge hit with the youngsters; her kindergarten teacher told me that the kindergarteners were drawing painted turtles in their journals after the fair.
The kid in the yellow shirt with the uncombed hair is, of course, Oscar de la Trouble.
So after that I ate a steak bomb so large that I did not eat anything else for the rest of the day and I still feel full and I'm not exaggerating.
Then we took Charlie to the eye doctor, which makes me super nervous every year because I'm afraid she's going to say he needs glasses. As I've mentioned before I am a glasses-wearing glasses lover who seriously loves glasses. Hooever. Charlie does not have enough ears to hold up the glasses. Fortunately, once again, the eye doctor, who I have loved since Charlie was hours old and she chased me down the hospital corridor calling "Charles's mom! Charles's mom!", says his eyes look fabulous and he does not need glasses. His vision is a tiny bit different in each eye, but not different enough to warrant glasses, and also, it is not changing over time. I think I'll stop worrying about this. Did I say that last year too? I'll stop.
I saw Charles at school when I went for the Expert Fair, and I saw that he was wearing his personal FM, which is finally working so nicely. I wanted to take a picture for you, but this is the one I got, and you can't see the ear piece. You can just see how happy he is with the snack choices.
Again, the fuzzy-headed yellow-shirted kid is also mine.
Next we ate at McDonald's, or I should say they ate, because I could not eat, because of the big steak bomb. I made a deal with them that we could eat at McDonald's if we sat somewhere where we couldn't see the TV that plays Spongebob 24/7 and we left our devices in the car. I cheated and kept my cell phone in my pocket, but I didn't look at it.
Then I took them to Hebrew school.
Then I went to Girl Scout first aid and CPR training that was three hours long. This is after I watched three hours of videos on the internet. Feel free to have your medical emergency in my presence. I will stabilize that wooden thing that is impaled in your eyeball and give you orange juice for your diabetic episode while helping you administer your own epi-pen and such. Because I am trained to do so. And now these tired feet in their high-heeled Chuck Taylors are going to back up the stairs and hit the hay.
1. If you had a niece as adorable as this one, wouldn't you store her in this convenient niece cubby?
2. Why are the dog biscuits at Trader Joe's the size of either my pinkie fingernail or the size of my whole hand, and nothing in between? And don't try to talk to me about the Chicken and Sweet Potato Flavor Dog Treats that are "Scored for Easy Breaking." They are scored for easy falling apart into dust on my kitchen floor, is what they are.
3. Why am I so, so bad at Words with Friends? I get it that my sister and my cousin and my new sister-in-law* and all of my old summer camp friends are wicked smart. I just didn't realize I was THIS dumb. (Below, some screenshots highlighting my typical score, which is, like, half of the score of the person I'm playing against, AT ALL TIMES.)
* My little brother, who is 39 years old, got married! I will make a post about it for you, the reader.
Charlie kept missing computer lab at school because he goes out for special reading help at that time. We decided he would go with another second grade class when they go after lunch, but that didn't work either. Everyone involved--Charlie, his teacher, the other second grade teacher, the computer lab teacher--kept forgetting. "I am working on my paragraph but everyone else is done with their paragraph so they get to play games!" Charlie despaired.
I love Charlie's teacher, Mrs. S., so much that I gave her a shout out on our holiday card. But this was not working. I emailed the computer lab teacher, who is actually a friend--her son is one of Charlie's pals. I asked her to put a reminder in her calendar to send for Charlie when that other class comes. She wrote back immediately, very upset that this problem was persisting.
However, when Charlie told me what was going on after school today, he was too distracted by his "sassy teen show" (my term for the repugnant Disney Channel fare he favors) to tell me the end of the story. Today, his teacher, the beloved Mrs. S., got fed up after Charlie missed computer lab again, and told the reading specialist that she had to change his time. She sent me an email this evening, so I sent another email to the computer lab teacher to let her know all is well. From now on Charlie will go to computer lab with his class. Yay!
This is also good because the one thing that the teachers said in Charlie's IEP meeting that even hinted at the fact that Charlie *might* not walk on water was that during reading, he's in a group of three, and he tends to get just a wee bit silly. So now he will be on his own. "I won't get distracted by Cameron," he says.
I am starting to worry more and more about third grade. There is actual content in third grade, and if he's out of the room as many as three times a day for his math, reading, speech, and OT help, when will he learn the content? Readers, do any of you have a kid with this much special ed? What do you do? I guess we will deal with that when we get there?
The bleary picture at the top of the post is from breakfast this morning. Summer goes to school early on Tuesdays for her Free the Children leadership group. I bribe the boys (and myself) to get out of bed faster with restaurant breakfast. We've been to McDonalds so much that we have all the toys and also possibly long term GI damage from the grease. So today we tried a neighborhood place with brioche French toast. SO GOOD, and not that much more expensive. I think we have ourselves a new haunt.
Below, a photo of Lucy that I sent to our town paper for their pet column. They ran a caption describing her as a "Laborador," which caused Jeff and me to speculate about whether she is a union Laboradorer or a Boston resident Laboradorer, which would be very helpful for meeting quota on his job site. Give that dog a hard hat and some safety glasses and put her to work!
Here is a picture of Charlie getting his ear mold. I will have to do another post about the FM system because I'm suddenly sleepy and since Jeff is already asleep I can watch Downton Abbey but only if I go right now, because otherwise it will be too late and I have to lead the second grade nature walk early tomorrow morning.
This year after the annual awkward shuffle of getting the hearing loss consultant in to the school (because I always forget the secret code of conduct of who is supposed to do what*), I got an adorable email from the hearing loss consultant about how she and Charlie bonded about BC football. Then she wrote, "Have you thought about a personal FM system for Charlie?"
Charlie has something called a sound field system. The town gave it to him when he was in preschool. The teacher wears a microphone and there's a table-top speaker that sits behind Charlie's good ear that carries the teacher's amplified voice. The problem is, Charlie has to take this heavy tote bag with him to music, library, computer lab, and art. (In the echo chamber of the gym, there's pretty much no hope.) So the hearing loss consultant thought it would be easier if he had a slick bluetooth-style earpiece instead. I was like, "Heck yeah!"
There was one available in the school system. I just needed to get a recommendation from Charlie's audiologist, with whom we had an appointment scheduled for a few weeks out. Not good enough! Team Charlie wanted the recommendation ASAP so they could seize the device before anyone else. So I trucked the kids to Boston after school one day, and the very kind Lynn S. at Childrens Hospital tested Charlie's hearing (it's the same) and wrote the necessary letter. She also gave me two interesting bits of info:
1. When I mentioned my ongoing touch o' guilt about not using the bone-anchored hearing aid and therefore not stimulating the part of Charlie's brain that receives sound signals from his right ear, thus risking loss of function in that little bit of his brain, Lynn said Charlie's brain can always hear the sound of his own voice, so there IS a little sound reaching that part of his brain.
2. When we briefly discussed plastic surgery (and how not interested Charlie is at this time), Lynn mentioned that one of the surgeons at Childrens (who I have called Dr. Ken Doll in the past, which is kind of mean, but he's so conventionally handsome it's like he sprung from the minds of Pixar) has left and gone to Washington DC's children's hospital, and he is making the most beautiful new ears.
I sent the letter of recommendation to the pupil services office, but they lost it and then waited a month to ask for it again. Then one day I got an email with all these adorable pictures of Charlie with his new super spy ear piece. Everyone was so excited--the teacher (ski sweater) and speech therapist (bob hairdo) and even the prinicpal.
Except that the ear piece keeps falling out of his ear, and he's afraid someone is going to step on it.
So we went to a very nice man right in our town who makes ear molds. He squirted some foam into Charlie's ear and waited for it to harden, and then plucked it out and sent it to a lab in Colorado. In two weeks we will have a little soft plastic thingie shaped like the inside of Charlie's ear. We can stick it on the end of the little metal stick that goes in to the ear, and it will hold the device in place. Charlie will be able to hear the teacher's voice, no matter where he or the teacher is standing.
*Note to Future Jill: It's you. You have to contact her and ask her to cme. Even though the school system pays her and the school system wrote her in to the IEP. The teachers can't ask her to come--you have to.
Today is the one year anniversary of Lucy the Lab coming to live with us. We are so happy to have her. A couple of days ago that nor'easter dumped some snow on us. Oscar I made this snowman. Immediately after I snapped this photo, Lucy, who never actually does anything (good or bad), ate his arm, which I thought was hilarious but Oscar was traumatized.
Here in our Massachusetts town, the winds of Hurricane Sandy knocked down trees, which knocked out power. We were without power for four days, just like in the Snowpocalypse exactly one year ago. Oscar and I brought Halloween candy to the linemen who came all the way from Missouri to help us out. They seemed delighted with both Oscar and the candy, but thanks to their accents I felt like Marlin in Finding Nemo ("Look, you're really cute, but I can't understand what you're saying. Say the first thing again.").
We were able to trick-or-treat this year. Here are the boys in their grim reaper robes, sewn by their fabulous Nana. (Charlie's ski mask was the inspiration for the costumes, and Oscar's hatchet is made of glow sticks.)
OK that's not really fair. Here she is the day after Halloween getting a feather from the principal. Her teacher nominated her because she is respectful all the time.
Down in New Jersey, both my sisters and my mother lost power, and in New York, a tree fell on my brother's house. We're pretty sure my mother's little shore house is toast, but the area has been evacuated so we don't really know what happened. I feel so sad for all the people who lost everything in this huge storm. Readers, how are you helping? What ideas do you have to help from far away? For some reason I keep thinking about diapers. Imagine running out of diapers. Here is a web site that you can use to help families of children with special needs who have been affected by the hurricane: Family Voices Superstorm Sandy Relief Fund. They need diapers, special foods, and of course, batteries.
Especially at this time of year, we are so thankful for our family.
I never finished blogging last year's vacation.
People visit P.E.I. from all over the planet because of one fictional red-haired girl: Anne of Green Gables. I am an Anne Fan from way back, so I was thrilled with all the Anneiana. And you know what? The rest of my family were total sports about it!
I used that picture already in Part Une, but since it might be the best picture anyone has ever taken of anyone, here it is again.
Author Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in the house pictured below. Staffed by friendly ladies today, the house contains period furnishings and some memorabilia.
Here's the room where she was born (Lucy Maud, not Anne. It's hard to remember that Anne isn't real.)
This is the real Green Gables, a relative's home that L.M. Montgomery visited. It is now a Provincial park.
This is the Lake of Shining Waters. Just in case you are not one of us, I will explain that Anne looked at things and places that everyone else took for granted and saw beauty and magic and drama and romance. She renamed everything she saw accordingly. This was just the wettest part of someone's front yard, but to Anne, it was the Lake of Shining Waters.
The house here by said lake is where L.M. Montgomery got married. While we visited, we took "Matthew's Carriage Ride," named for Matthew Cuthbert, an achingly lovely Green Gables character.
It was among the memorabilia in this house--I believe it is called Silver Bush--that I found a story about L.M. Montgomery's mother. One day when the author was just a toddler, a friend knocked on Mrs. Montgomery's door. "Oh do come in, I'm so glad you're here," she said. Here is where I think she's going to say the Edwardian equivalent of "If I have to pretend to act out Disney's The Little Mermaid one more time, I will have to crack open this bottle of Smirnoff Ice even thoug it's only ten a.m." But no! Mom says, "Little Maud is just so delightful, it would be such a shame if I had no one to share her with."
The house where L.M. Montgomery grew up no longer stands. We went to the home site and met a pretty special lady, which I wrote about here.
There's a faux Avonlea town that they charge a bit too much money for. We went there on a hot day and enjoyed dressing up in costumes, square dancing with Anne characters brought to life, and meeting an author who wrote a book about real children who may have inspired Anne: British Home Children. These were poor kids sent from England to Canada and other colonies to do farm work. Many of them were not in fact orphans and were separated from their families forever. As if what the Brits did to the Acadians wasn't wretched enough.
But look at how adorable Gilbert Blythe is. My souvenir from the trip was a pink t-shirt that says I (heart) Gilbert. (Even though I might be old enough to be his mom.)
The final stamp on our Anne passports: Summer and I got to see a musical called Anne and Gilbert, about the lives of Avonlea's favorite young couple once they go off to college. We had to buy the soundtrack, and now everyone knows all the words to the viciously catchy "You're Island Through and Through." Listen if you dare! We love this soundtrack like Gilbert loves to pull Anne's braids. We just can't stop ourselves.
Of course, P.E.I. isn't just Anne--it's also potatoes. We visited the Potato Hall of Fame and Museum, where we ate tasty potato fudge. Below: giant potato, and one of the many tiny coffins containing examples of the various potato blights.
There's also a pleasant enough capital city called Charlottetown, where there are costumed characters impersonating the delegates who came there from each province to form Canada as we know it today. This is the Minister of Agriculture. He didn't break character.
Hidden around Charlottetown are little bronze statues of Eckhart the mouse, a storybook and television character. There's a scavenger hunt all over town for the kids.
P.E.I. is also home to Cows Ice Cream, Canada's answer to Ben & Jerry's.
And home, apparently, to the Proudest Girl in Canada, a World War II poster girl who, according to the date on her tombstone, is not dead yet?
On our way off the island, we got caught in a traffic jam because there was a factory on fire and there aren't really any alternate routes to anywhere. Just before we crossed over the bridge I paid half price for some expired lobster flavored potato chips, which everyone except for me thought was totally disgusting. (I thought they were finger-lickin' good.)
We stopped back on Campobello and had much better weather to hike out to Head Harbour light. Our lighthouse tour guide was a high school student who commuted each day to Maine to go to school since there is no high school on the island. She told us that the border agents stopped her for a random search one day; her teacher enjoyed the tardy note provided by U.S. Customs.
It's really cool. You can only go out there at low tide, and you must climb up and down slippery, rickety, rusty old staircases.
That's an old fishing weir in the water.
There was a very nice man painting the lighthouse; he crawled inside to identify all the shorebirds for us. The lighthouse has been saved by a group of volunteers who bought it and are rehabbing it. I guess we don't really need lighthouses anymore now that we have GPS, but I'm glad someone still cares about them.
The end! Or, en francais... Fin!
Can't get enough of our Canad-ian Vacat-ian? Here's the complete set:
O Canada, Part Une: This post was highlighted on the BlogHer publishing network!
O Canada, Part Deux: In which we lose our Tim Horton's virginity.
O Canada, Part Trois: Science! And Mounties!
O Canada, Part Quatre: Red sand and glass bottles and fox fur coats, oh my.
O Canada, Part Cinq: This post.