Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Sunday, October 21, 2018

To Sweet Adelines International in St. Louis and Back Again

There was so much excitement going into this competition. We were singing so well and we were going for gold. I arrived Tuesday and had a glorious time catching up with my Mission Valley friends (who are still this level of family).

Singing in the airport with Skyline sisters 

In the Mission Valley make-up room feeling super gleeful with dear friends!

Thursday we competed and it was so beautiful!!!
Make-up and costume ready!

5 minutes of fresh air! (The arch was right across the street from our hotel.)

With a bunch of the 13 newbies before boarding the buses
Performing! (Fourth in, back row)
My best friend said her daughter was "enraptured"!

Friday was intense rehearsals (and some of these pics are probably from other day's brief breaks between rehearsals too):

We wrote love-notes, just sweet warm fuzzies to each of the chorus members. One morning we came in and found a bag with our name on it...

... filled with kind and encouraging words.

Saturday we did the show package:
Such a full and awesome performance!

Hanging out in the waiting room before we got to sing
And then… we came in 4th. Sniff. Fourth in the whole world is still pretty awesome! (I have lots of scoring questions which I’m sure will get answered at next week’s chorus rehearsal.) For now, I’m in awe of the beauty of the music that we made because it definitely took an awesome leap with this week of intensive together time. This chorus is huge! And, this chorus is full of love.

"On the way" to the airport I stopped by the zoo. One of my students recently moved from St. Louis to Denver and he told me that the one thing I simply had to do was go to the zoo. So… I pushed my giant suitcase and all my luggage round the St. Louis zoo Sunday morning and got some seriously odd looks from the animals. But, success! I’ve got proof :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The "Chick" is 15! How Time Has Flown!

Once upon a time, we visited a herd of reindeer.

The babies were so cute and...

... the velvet antlers so soft and...

the experience so fun AND I was 18 weeks pregnant.

Five months, plus 15 years later and lots of awesome living... we have my "chick"! How can it have been that long?!?!

Why does he like to be called my chick? It all comes back to the tale of "The Little Red Hen." In that classic, none of the barn animals will help the little red hen to gather the wheat, grind the grain, mix the dough, or bake the bread. But, they all are interested in helping her eat the bread. She declines their help in the eating because they didn't help in the making and shares the bread only with her chicks. Thus, we have my child's refrain that he is my chick and needn't help because he's my sweet, little chick (and he got me that plush chick). Hmmm, well, even though he's several inches taller than me (and usually does help), today he's allowed to be my chick and revel in pampering. Here's to my precious boy who has grown into a funny, creative, brilliant person with quite the sense of humor :)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Aspen Besotted

(Click twice. Oh, the sparkle... it's hard to capture though.)

We just got back from a whirlwind 24 hours of visiting the fall colors in the mountains. The Aspens bursting into gold was so enchanting! I'm besotted.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

College kid! Hooray!

We've got week one of college down! Right now, Cameron is insecure about all the challenges of coordinating five class, but he's tackling it with his usual rhino-charge intensity. He especially likes his chemistry teacher who focuses on teaching tools and not memorizing minutia. I've done tons of prep-work with the special-ed office and... so far, so good! It seems like he's being perceived as a dedicated student and that's great! We'll see how things go when the first tests come, but he's started off with intensity and success.

I'm adding my "notes to teachers" that I created so all his college teachers had some context. With his permission, I'm also including the intro that Cameron just wrote for his English class. It's a great picture of where my awesome child is at right now.

Notes to Teachers
Cameron M.

Key passage from his IEP:
“Cameron is typical for a student that has both Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism diagnoses. He is socially and emotionally young and makes social errors that his typical peers do not, but younger children do. He is highly sensory seeking and doesn’t realize how intense his constant self-movement can come across. He is usually cautious and quiet as much as possible in new situations and it takes a huge toll on him. He comes home exhausted. He tries to engage with others and then pretends he’s not not interested whenever he doesn’t succeed. It’s like he’s half exuberant puppy and half cynical teen and that’s a hard combo to make suave!”

Notes for teachers:

  • Keeping in mind that Cameron is socially young will help with positively processing a comment like “That doesn’t make sense. The thing works this way.” If you picture this as a ten-year-old looking up, the response tends to be feeling engaged and helpful. But, with a student that is 5’ 9” and has a deep voice, the same question can unintentionally come across as rude or defiant. He is working on questioning politely and using expressions like, “I don’t understand.”
  • As is typical with Autistic students, he often sees things as black and white. It is hard for him to take the perspective that two answers can be equally right. If this occurs in discussion situations, he is not trying to be defiant; he actually doesn’t understand how it’s possible. He is also growing in his perspective taking skills. If he does get stuck on one perspective being correct in a class, he has consistently been fine with teachers just acknowledging that that is his point of view.
  • As a teen who has so often stood out, he is reluctant to ask for help when he doesn’t understand. At the same time, he has an advanced vocabulary and can come across as deliberately provocative when asking questions (even when adults are forewarned), because it seems hard to imagine that his social awareness / intent is not at the same maturity level as his verbal skills. 
  • Please contact Rachel Miner early with any questions or concerns. With parent facilitation of understanding between student and teacher, Cameron has consistently been a straight A student. His tests indicate he is fully academically ready to be a student at CCA. However, he is socially/emotionally young and may need some understanding and accommodations to succeed as he begins his college career. (email:  phone: )

Cameron M. posted Aug 28, 2018 12:12 PM

My name is Cameron M. I live in Parker Colorado. I am 14 and doing high school at the same time as this. Clearly this is a major shortcut and a big difficulty spike as I went from the very forgiving junior high which didn't take overly much time and was relatively easy to 4 community college classes and a PE class. At least I don't have a job or children to take up more time. My current academic idea is to go into some form of engineering, although I don't currently know which one.
As for my identity groups the first is my atheism. I am actually one of the few that was raised that way although my parents weren't so. This means a lot to me because it means that I have no need to (in my view) spend years worth of time (over the course of a life) speaking to the air in hope that in doing such I shall be better off after death. It also allows me to confront my own mortality and generally think more logically.
As for my second identity group I am male. This makes me more competitive in physical matters and provides me with a strong incentive to be reasonably fit. It also makes me also makes me strongly detest the modern feminist movement as I perceive it to be an attempt to be sexist against men and to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of making women victims, equal to men, and worthy of preferential treatment at the same time. I want to clarify that this opinion doesn't apply to the versions of feminism from the late 18th century to the 1960's as in those times women actually had it worse off then men and campaigning for true equality has always been a worthy cause.
My third identity group is that I have autism however this doesn't seriously impair me just makes my brain work differently. However this made me deliberately be a royal jerk for most of elementary school and generally while I was younger. Since I did this all my elementary school teachers and especially students will see me like a jerk for their entire lives. This does give me benefits though. The major ones I know of is that the national park service seems to think that having autism makes me entitled to visit their parks for free even though it isn't an impairment in my case and that some scientists thought that studying my brain was worth giving me a few hundred bucks which greatly increases the piggy bank of a kid without substantial pay or payments.
The fourth identity group(which is more of a subculture) is that I am an avid reader of fantasy novels and enjoy discussing various in book issues. This makes me enjoy reading more than most and consider it an enhancing pursuit. It also makes me better at reading in general making a reading assignment ideal for me. This pursuit also gives me essay ideas and supports my debate skills.
The fifth and finial identity group(which is more of an age group) is that I am a teenager. This causes me to eat a lot be argumentative and entails a surliness that is unique to this age group. It also means that I don't have the freedoms of an adult but must work extremely hard to gain those skills while gradually gaining more and more autonomy until I can function independently.  I must also deal with my body changing and find what works in order to maintain me while always being ready for change. 
This has been my introductory discussion please reply for an interesting conversation and to provide constructive feedback and questions which I will answer.   

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Parenting Power of…. the Plunger!

Long ago, I was about the same age my son is now: a wise fourteen. One would think I had some intelligence. I got excellent grades in honors / Advanced-Placement (AP) classes and did all the well-rounded things too like participate in clubs and do community service. Yet, somehow I took up the plunger one evening and my brain went on vacation. The shower water was on to warm-up and I had a towel round me while waiting and… I picked up the plunger. Somehow, I thought it would be fun / wise / sane to plunge the bathroom mirror. The entire 6 foot by 4 foot thing came off the wall at my head and I screamed as I dropped the plunger and threw up my hands. My father came bursting in to my rescue, helped guide the precarious mirror to the counter, noted the lack of blood / damage, and kindly didn’t mention the lack of towel. (It took me several years to admit that the little mirror clamps hadn’t just broken because I was experiencing an overwhelming combination of fear, shock, and abject embarrassment!)

So… what does this have to do with parenting. There are times when I can’t imagine the depths of insanity that must be present for my child to have taken a certain action and then… I remember the plunger. I simply cannot explain where my usually sensible-self went for those thirty seconds and if I could have been that loopy, perhaps I can be a wee bit understanding of my child. It doesn’t change that there are consequences for actions and I can definitely still lose my cool. But, the parenting-power of the plunger is that I can have some compassion for the most egregious actions. After all, if I could plunge the bathroom mirror at fourteen, my child might actually just need some more kindness and support and time. When I start to think he’s just completely crazy, I can summon the parenting power of… the plunger!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Snap Shot of Awesome

Eighteen years ago today, I married the love of my life (after three years of being engaged).

We just got home from an incredible dinner at Flemings. We experienced a perfect meal complete with our first tomahawk steak and the kind of conversation we've perfected over the last couple decades. We chatted about what we did well and what what we messed-up over the past year and what we wanted for the future.

It was delightful. I'm still full and happy and all tingles :) I'm also quite content with my summer job at Lindamood-Bell where I'm appreciated and making a difference.

Last week, Andrew took an ambulance trip to the ER where he spent eight hours with mysterious chest pain.

Aside from that freaky incident which is mostly resolved, he's been blissfully happy both in Colorado and at Boom.

Cameron has been at camp in California for the last week and is coming home tomorrow. He traveled alone. He starts his freshman year of simultaneous high school and college in six weeks (at fourteen years old).

Overall, life is pretty awesome.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Finished Lindamood-Bell Orientation And...

... it was lots of fun! I earned my star pin today and a thumbs up to start teaching. These two weeks have been challenging to absorb all the new information and help Cameron through his last two weeks of 8th grade at the same time. 

One especially fun thing was to watch these robins feeding their young ones throughout the day (just outside our classroom windows)!

Lots of rabbits visited too!

Before I left this morning for the last day of orientation, the sun was lovely on the porch.

Overall, I feel ready! There will still be lots of refining to do, but I think working here is going to be fun and after this three day weekend... I won't be homeschooling at the same time!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Sea Ranch Loveliness

I'm just back from Sea Ranch and still feeling the soul-nurturing wonder of this place. I've written about it before as the "best memory of my life". 

The place is called Sea Ranch.  It's on the Northern California coast and it is here where my love for the ocean began.  I still find standing on a cliff by the ocean deeply self-nurturing.  It's such a complete sensory experience and so joyful to me that I feel like I literally soak it in.  I love the sounds of giant waves pounding the rocks while the sea gulls give their eery calls above.  I love the feel of the cool spray, the trembling earth, the wind, the sun.  I love the sights of the deep, deep blue Pacific, the bent cypress trees, the colorful tide pools, and the sunsets that streak the waters with rippling gold.  I love the salty smells and the wood smoke and the musty pine when traveling through a thicket.  I can put myself so completely in this place that I yearn for it when I've been away for a long time. There is nothing like this kind of ocean setting to sooth my soul; it gives me such inner happiness just to experience this particular aspect of nature. 

These are just some of the pictures of this recent trip. It's a truly glorious spot for soul-smiles.