Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Such A Year of Growth!

I send a status update to my son's team about three times a semester. It keeps us all aware of where the challenges are and supporting his growth. I just sent out the last one for this school year and I'm pondering what an amazing year of growth this has been. Not many kiddos start college at 14, but he did. And he succeeded. It took lots of caring and support and a ton of work on his part, but it happened.  I'm feeling a bit of a glow of a year with challenges well met.

Hello team,

Cameron has now completed his second semester of taking three courses at the Community College of Aurora (via concurrent enrollment) and one at Colorado Preparatory Academy. It’s been quite a dual freshman year in high school / college for him and he has learned a ton. The biggest challenge that I currently see him facing is an overconfidence in his ability to assess his own knowledge. He’s had the “I know this” self-evaluation result in anything from A’s to F’s throughout the semester, yet he is adamant in trusting that assessment without taking time to confirm it. I’d say that’s pretty typical for a fifteen year old and he’s learning in an atmosphere of warmth and caring with this team. Over the semester, there were several classes that he was in danger of failing, but you helped him figure out a successful path and grow. Multiple times I’ve heard him pondering and saying things like, “I was too cocky.” That he feels safe enough to eventually admit challenges and grow is a testament to your teaching.

He says, "When I was taking the chemistry exam, I really had a feeling that it was all connected like I hadn’t before the test. It was really nice. I’d gone over all the tests and quizzes right before and there were some things that I didn’t understand, but most things I managed to get pretty solid. During the exam, things weren’t in order. It was all over the place. It’s all connected. I considered things as a whole and got better at seeing the relationship between things.”
His course page says he got 79.78% in the class; I’m not sure if that rounds to a B. Either way, he has learned so much and has a solid start in understanding this science.

He says, “I should have kept the reviews. I would have gotten an A on the final if I’d had those. I still got an A in the class. Note to self keep all the reviews. I felt I understood everything before each test and I feel ready to move on to the next level.”
Although he did get a C on the final, he spent the entire semester near the the top of the class. He thrived on the intensive amount of graded homework and quizzes. By the time he got to each test, he knew the material solidly. It sounds like he also learned about the need for reviewing earlier material before a final. He got 1050/1100 points, a solid A.

He says, “Read rubrics more carefully and write and outline before you do the real thing. Also, try to do it a bit ahead of time so I can run it by Dad. I think the learning process was figuring out how to do these different kinds of papers."
This was another course in which he was struggling. He thought he’d done a good job on early papers and wound up with a C and a D. It was awesome to see our team-work bring him out of a frustration / helplessness spiral. He barely squeaked an A in this course (90.13%), but what an accomplishment! 

He says, “I liked taking my neighborhood walks and my martial arts counting as PE time.”
Although I seemed to need to remind him to submit his PE logs every week (when they popped up on my radar as overdue), he completed all the material in this course and I think the movement was highly beneficial.  He received over 100% in the class.

Thank you so much for helping Cameron succeed,

Rachel Miner

P.S. He was featured in a local newspaper for his work with the local chess club:
"Nearing 9 p.m. at Douglas County Libraries' Parker branch on April 18, some faint shouting could be heard coming from a conference room on the second floor. As the library announced it was closed, a group of kids, originally three that grew to a team of six, battled one teenager in the final game of chess for the evening. It ended in a draw as employees began to put away tables.
It's not uncommon to see this 15-year-old, Cameron Miner, take on an army of elementary-aged kids in chess just to bring him down. There's a sense of pride in defeating their mentor. It has to happen, just once, each week.
“It's one of the few games in which there's no luck,” Miner said. “You have to do it well, and it goes so far. There are so many levels of play and you can get so much better.”
Miner is the vice president of the Parker Chess Club, a group dedicated to teaching chess to anyone who walks in the door. He's just one of the club's members, who loves to compete and teach kids chess — and although sometimes he admits he underestimates his opponents, seeing his lessons pay off is special…"

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Self Care Gems

When I was setting out to write a blog post about self-care, I was surprised to realize that I already had! If you take this post on romantic "extras" and mostly just replace "romantic" with "self-care", it's perfect!

The points are the same with the tiniest of tweaks. Allow me to do some wee substitutions:
Wanting to do self-care actions isn't the challenge for most people thought, it's figuring out how to make that happen over a lifetime.
It's fun!
It's work!
It's worth it!
Happy people know it's fun to enjoy these self-care moments and they also know that it doesn't just happen, it takes work to make them happen. Finally, it's worth it. This person is the one you live with every day. If you want the best possible joy in your life, it's worth the investment in self-care practices.

(Feel free to read the original post if you think tips would be helpful to you; the tips are also the same with the tiniest tweaks: find out what makes you feel cared for, always be collecting, schedule.)

So, since I've already written about both the why's and how's of self-care in that round-about way, on to some of the gems of self-care that I've found!

Qi Gong
There are so many options and I've loved almost every one of them. Qi Gong is a soothing movement practice that feels wonderful! I've done classes, but my current practice is only about 30 seconds long because I do it when I let the dog out in the morning. I step onto the deck and and breath in as I sweep my hands up to my heart and then breath out as I flip them up and reach to the sky. Then I breath in bringing them back toward my heart and out as I sweep them down toward my feet again. I usually get in about two rounds and, when the dog comes running back for breakfast, I move them in a small circle at heart level and picture surrounding myself with my current word of the year (kindness). Then I look around and think or say, "Good morning, beautiful world." Ahhhhh, feels awesome and so nurturing. Youtube has tons of options if you want to play with Qi Gong.

Whenever I have an emotion that is looping and I'm having a hard time thinking, this is my favorite technique. I just talk through the feelings while tapping and I find myself soothed and able to process more clearly. I do a tiny bit every day though because it just feels so good!

I loved doing Feldenkrais classes when I lived in Santa Cruz, but my new favorite way of enjoying this movement / awareness therapy is through audio recordings. I especially love the Embodied Learning series by Elizabeth Beringer. This is another one that you can find lots of Youtube videos available though to check out first. I never fail to feel the full-body cozies after taking time to do Feldenkrais.

And... lots more!
While those are the more unusual gems that I've found, I also adore:
Epsom salt baths with whatever oils hit the spot
Sauna glee (I've got this little, pocket one.)
Walking in nature (I miss the ocean and redwoods, but the Colorado pines have grown on me.)
Massages (Lowen or four-handed are my favorites, but I do something at least once a month.)
Poetry (I've got a half dozen memorized of my most deeply held favorites and cherish many others.)
Stretches / foam rolling  (wherever it feels good)
And sometimes my usual pleasure in singing, baking, or photo-booking can be solidly in the self-care category too.

If you have come across unusual self-care gems, I'd love to hear about them.

Paraphrasing my prior article again:
It's worth it! Nourishing your relationship with self-care "extras" is worth the investment. I get a bit enthusiastic about this topic because I have so much fun with these extras! A relationship with yourself nourished by these extras sparkles and gives you the full delight of a life that is fueled for your enjoyment of living. If that is the kind of life you want, self-care "extras" are not really extra.

(Disclaimer: There are practitioners that make extravagant claims about what Qi Gong, Feldenkrais, and Tapping do. I'm simply stating that they feel glorious to me and make me feel nurtured.)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Snow Day Plus Cinnamon

When outside looks like this...

... and work calls a snow day and you've been curious about this...

... this might happen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Teary Ponders

Andrew has been working late and so I had a chance to finish a YouTube series on poetry. I had multiple teary episodes as I experienced the beautiful poetry. As just a hint, imagine a friend dear to you and watch three minutes, time stamp 19:35 - 22:15 :

After pondering the beautiful poetry, I was feeling primed to complete something I'd saved to do. It was a New Year's exercise from a lady thriving for years with inoperable, stage four cancer ( ). Since, I was already in a pondering mood and teary, I decided to answer the seven questions she suggested.

Year 2018

1. What’s something amazing you discovered about yourself?
I can grieve gently. I grieved for the friends and life I left in the Santa Cruz mountains, but I didn’t get depressed. I just let myself feel those feeling with compassion and without dwelling. I didn’t know I could do that.

2. What’s the most important thing you learned this year?
That I had a pattern of holding myself to unrealistic standards and judging myself not good enough. I wasn’t a good enough Jew, nurse, mom. I hadn’t realized that while having generally good self-talk, I’d been repeatedly cruel and unfair to myself in these big categories.  It’s been so liberating to realize and focus on both being just and practicing self-kindness.

3. What accomplishment or experience are you the most proud of?
That’s really hard to answer because there were many successes this year. I am proud of nurturing Cameron to thrive as a freshman starting dual high school / college at the age of 14. I’ve used my skills coordinating a team of therapists and teachers to help him gain the confidence to grow even more. He’s still a teen with lots of grumbly and prickly ways, but he is growing and he feels loved and cherished every day and that’s a serious accomplishment.

4. What’s one perspective shift you could make that would lead to more love in your life and in the lives of others?
In general, I’ve found that gentleness is a wonderful thing. Treating myself and others with gentleness is not a lack of drive, interest, or energy; it is a powerful, soft strength.

5. What are you ready to release in 2018?
As many teen-battles as I can figure out how to! This week, it was the folding-laundry battle from which I resigned waving the white flag.

6. What are you ready to experience in 2019?
Consistent self-kindness

7. How will you challenge yourself (push yourself out of your comfort zone) to achieve what you desire in the new year?
I would like to gain more confidence in my barbershop singing skills. I have a glorious time singing for hours around the house, but there’s so much detail and control and thoughtfulness in singing well with a chorus. I’ve been at it for three years and still feel like quite the novice. I’d like to make enough of the details automatic through practice that I can participate at a higher level with relaxation… and feel confident that that higher level will stick.

So, here's to teary ponders. It has been quite the evening for reflection. May your new year be filled with "love, laughter, and hugs".

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Latest Update


Hello everyone,

The big news this week is that Andrew published a blog post coming out publicly as being bi:
That doesn’t change anything for us, but it was a big deal for him and a decision he’s been wrestling with for quite awhile.

Good things:
I’m still working on Italy plans… our favorite option doesn’t allow kids under 18 unless you do a private tour: 

Having a great time with Greek myths and my upper-elementary class of six boys. It’s also fun to have weekly video-chats with the teacher of all the other classes and the Literature At Our House coordinator.
(One day I taught from Boom and the industrial-strength WiFi made my online class so smooth! Kinda wish I could have that regularly!)

Fun brunch guests… they’ve been spending a bunch of time in Hawaii and brought me Hawaiian chocolate!

Here’s to lovely time with friends and family,


PS. I do daily gratitude practices, but I think I’m going do this for fun… here goes:

1. Pine… I’m really getting to enjoy the odor of the pines around my home.
2. My iPhone. The podcasts, the maps, the connection is so valuable to me.
3. Forest green. One of my wedding colors and one that always makes me feel soothed and smile-y.
4. Melted, JalapeƱo Monterey Jack cheese. It makes such a decadent taste that I love!
5. My husband’s voice. It feels so loving :)
6. The deer all curled up on siesta around our house. They make me smile.
8. Atlas Shrugged
9. Home (wherever that may be)
10. Hawaiian chocolate
11. Thanksgiving / Hanukah / Christmas combo
12. Warm fuzzies
13. Singing
14. Doggie getting a tummy rub from my son
15. Autumn
16. Softness
19. Weekend snuggles
20. So many! Family, friends, chorus, neighbors…
21. Wonderful Day
22. Count of Monte Cristo
23. Havdala
24. Self-kindness
26. Music
27. Earplugs
28. Brunch with friends and Andrew sharing a fencing demo
29. All of them… especially my husband
30. Nurturing 

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!