Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thy Leaves are So Unchanging

Sha-baam! It's Christmas time!

We put up the tree last night. It was very spontaneous in the way that it can be when you're simply taking the tree out of a box. But Owen introduced what I believe might be the greatest new tree trimming tradition EVER:

After the all the decorations were hung and the lights were glowing, he requested that we stand before the tree, join hands, take "tree" pose (yoga) and sing "O Christmas Tree." It turns out none of us know anything after the first two lines. Ah, that was definitely the best laugh I've had in a long time. 

Since we're now working backwards in time, I'll mention that I dipped my toe in the Black Friday craziness. (I also partook in Small Business Saturday, which I think is a very good idea.) No midnight shopping sprees, but I did make a stop at Old Navy early that morning because $10 jeans are too good to resist (especially when your children are already outgrowing their back-to-school jeans). We hit Target later in the day just for regular shopping and were still able to get a few of the good deals, which means that a lot of the waiting in line in the middle of the night shenanigans were probably unnecessary for many people, but hey, who am I to tell you how to get into the Christmas spirit?

And yes, before all that was Thanksgiving. It was lovely and low key. We hosted our traditional pumpkin pancake brunch (which was on hiatus last year while we were in NYC), which was very nice despite the absence of a few key family members. Then we saw The Muppets, which was wonderful.

Please, please go see The Muppets. I need it to do well so that the Muppets can once again be part of our everyday culture - and not just in a nostalgic way. I was skeptical, of course, after the cinematic atrocities committed since Jim Henson's death, but this movie is really sweet. The human stars were unnecessary, but they didn't detract from what is a really great film. I mean, really. Don't we all want to live in a world where Muppets can still be gainfully employed?

So yes, pumpkin pancakes, Muppets, shopping, Christmas tree, and tree pose. A lovely, lovely holiday weekend indeed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Falling is Like This

Oh, fall. You are so cozy and inviting and yet simultaneously foreboding due to the promise of a cold, dark winter that follows you.

I'm trying to enjoy fall and all the squash-inspired treats it provides. However, I'm also mentally preparing to throw myself into the Christmas spirit because that's the only part of winter that I really enjoy. I figure Christmas carols and peppermint mochas can carry me through the first 4 weeks of winter (not winter according to the calendar, but according to the weather) and then there's a small grace period post-Christmas where the snow is still sparkly and fresh and cuddling up next to the fire is delightful...

Then we descend into the depths of Minnesota winter when the sun vanishes and it actually hurts to go outside. That's when it's time for vacation. This winter promises a family beach vacation. My mom often helps subsidize educational travel for the boys, so I'm trying to justify Mexico as educational since Aidan has started taking Spanish afterschool. That's kinda legit, right? I mean, maybe the trip will inspire him to continue his studies...or at least he'll learn how to order virgin pina coladas.

I don't think we'll be able to take this trip until March, but I figure knowing it's coming will make January and February slightly easier to tolerate. Slightly.

All this impending winter gloom is not being helped by the continuing saga of Owen vs. 3rd grade. When we last left our hero, he had recovered from the school suspension and all the adults had sworn to figure this thing out. Flash forward to last Friday when our hero fell apart in the lunchroom, threw a couple milk cartons, and landed himself back in time out with the principal calling me to take him home.

What is it about 3rd grade that is so different from 2nd? I don't get it and I don't think he knows either, but whatever it is, it's ratcheting his anxiety up higher than we've ever seen. And although he still seems to like school, it would appear that he is just barely holding it together most of the time. And sometimes...he just can't hold it together anymore. It breaks my heart. It shouldn't be this hard for him.

While I think the school staff genuinely would like to find a way to make this stop, their motivations are of the keeping the peace variety vs. a concern for Owen. And so, as it happens when you have children, my husband and I are left having to be experts on things we've never claimed to be experts in: education? autism? anxiety? children?

The only part of this I feel expert in is Owen. And even then, I can't claim to understand the way his brain works well enough to know the solution. I can't read his mind, and that's pretty much what it feels like I'd need to do to get to the bottom of this.

But I can make decisions that put his best interest at the center rather than the policies and procedures of the school. And I can stand up for him when people forget that he's a brilliant little boy who is having a hard time and not a troublemaker. And I can always hold him and remind him to breathe when the world feels like too much. I'd like to believe that all of that combined with some patience, some more research, and the help of a new doctor we're meeting this week will lead us to an answer of some sort, because things can't continue on this way or else we might all have to run away to Mexico permanently.

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's a Living

I blinked and it was November. I blinked again and I was finishing week 2 of the new job! Pretty soon they're going to expect me to know stuff...gulp.

There have been up and down days in the last two weeks. I'm not good at not knowing what I'm doing. I can be paralyzed by my fear of looking stupid...which is stupid in itself, I realize, but we don't get to choose the fears that paralyze us. 

I'm learning a lot of new stuff. And I'm finding new ways to use the stuff I already know. And so far there's been a happy hour every week, so I'm getting to know my co-workers, who seem to be genuinely nice people.

I struggle with not being critical. I struggle with letting myself believe that this is going to work out. I struggle with the constant battle between loving work and loving what work provides. Because yes, this feels like work. It doesn't feel inspirational or entertaining or thrilling. It feels like work. And sometimes that's just what having a job feels like. I'm not totally comfortable with that yet, but I'm getting there.