Category Archives: kids

Teachers Matter

I live in a state that is currently in the middle of a teacher walkout. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had some wonderful teachers in my life and I believe they can make all the difference. These are the people who shape the leadership for generations. These are the people who help teach our kids to think, to act, to understand our history, our system. They teach our kids how to work together – something a whole lot of adults could stand to learn. They make learning exciting so they want to continue to learn for the rest of their lives. Or at least, the good ones do. Yes, as in every profession, there are the occasional people who are not as involved, not as excited but truly, teachers don’t make enough for people you don’t love the profession to do it.

Many years ago, I had a particular teacher who just made everything work. At the time I was in a special program so it wasn’t really run like your standard classes. I was in fourth grade, not dealing with the best situation at home, and Mrs. VanWert was the best thing I could ever have asked for that year. We did a project on Mesopotamia that year and part of it was giving a report in front of the class – this project was all the subjects in one – history, art, English, science. Maybe not math but I could have forgotten something. I was partnered with a girl named Sandy and we kicked butt to win the special cassette single of Walk Like An Egyptian (man, now I feel old). We built a sarcophagus out of cardboard, offering jars and totem statues from clay and paint, and instead of doing a report, we wrote a script… two hapless archaeologists one of whom, me, fell into the sarcophagus and totally freaked out at the skeleton inside. I really loved that school, that class. It gave me something to look forward to, when I wasn’t tumbling headlong into my books or fighting evil wizards with my weird white staff (not really a stick but the guts out of a drapery rod that I found on the beach).

In high school (six years and 3000 miles later), I learned that not all teachers are there to be supportive or kind but they can still be motivators. I might not have worked so hard at my writing if Mr. Nick hadn’t pretty well told me I would never succeed. Of course, he didn’t think very much of me to begin with but there’s no accounting for taste, is there? It was a good lesson to learn and one that thankfully would never be repeated even though that year was the last year I cared one whit about school (not any teacher’s fault but the loss of my mom, my depression, and the beginning of a pretty steep spiral that would end a few years later with severe panic attacks and not leaving my house for a year except with my husband).

Teachers matter. Even the bad ones. We should treat them better and pay them what they’re worth. They should make enough to entice more people to the profession. They shouldn’t be paying out of pocket for classroom supplies. They should be supported and celebrated not having to walk in the cold and the rain just to be treated OK, not even adequately, just OK. One of my teacher friends seems to be feeling a bit guilty and selfish for being out on the line and not in the classroom and that’s just not right. It’s not selfish to want to be able to at least survive on your salary after all those years preparing for your career. You shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

In a completely unrelated bit – I’m catching up on Star Wars Rebels and a thing happened and I made a sound and maybe got a little weepy and my Alfred pup got up in my face with his silly grin, trying to lick my face and stop that. Silly, adorable punk. If you’re a Star Wars fan, Rebels is worth watching. The series format gives you a lot of room for mythology, story, and character growth. Plus, Jedi wolves. Seriously, amazing Jedi wolves.


Leave a comment

Filed under education, kids, Life

Merry Christmas!

Merry Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Blessed Everything! I really do adore this time of year. Love it. This year has been more difficult than most for me but that doesn’t change my love for it. Besides, only the best part of it remains – all that squealy, happiness, the giddy laughter of children who discover wishes fulfilled that they didn’t even think to make yet.

I didn’t get all the things done I wanted to and that’s ok. I can try again next year. Hopefully, by then, I’ll have my immune system under control and not find myself laid up for 1/3 of my decorating time. I did get two things made. They aren’t great, certainly not worthy of pictures, but at least they’re finished and really, the shiny blue ditto pillow isn’t awful but I did have a fabric related stitchery issue and Oogie Boogie looks too happy but that’s also ok.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. I’m not going to be online today – I’m going to be having fun with my kids and my family. I’ll be missing some people who should be here also but I’m doing my best to not be maudlin. I’ll be back later in the week with all the end of year stuff, goals and things of that nature.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fun, kids, Life

It’s Coming!

This is one of my favorite ornaments. I used to keep it on my desk all year long – now I have the scene ornament from Wrath of Khan there and Spock is back on my tree.

I’m not as laid up as I was but I’m still taking it a little easy because as awesome as the cortisone shot makes my knee feel, I don’t want to do more damage just because it’s feeling SO much better. Plus it’s Thursday which is now my headachy tired day. At least we can get both of them out of the way together and maybe have fun with the rest of Christmas break.

Christmas is one of my favorite things – most of my favorite memories are of either Christmas or Halloween and in both cases, it’s due either to my mom or my kids. With today being Yule, the holiday season is fresh in my thoughts and, given this year, I’m extra reflective.

When I was little, Christmas was all about the magic. When my kids were little, Christmas was all about the magic. There were a few dark Christmases for me there, between the loss of my mom and the birth of my first kid that I honestly don’t remember much about except how I was probably in trouble for something as that seemed to be my usual then. I don’t think about that time in my life very much.

One of the best parts of having children has been passing along the things my mom used to do for me to make everything magic. I don’t know that I’ve been successful but I hope so. The presents are great fun – I love to find the perfect thing for someone – that thing I know will make them squeal. I may never find that thing for my youngest kid but he always seems happy at the end of the day. I know I’ll never find that thing for some people who just can’t be that happy. And some people I struggle with because I can find them neat stuff that they’ll really enjoy but I can’t ever match the thing I gave them that was the Most Absolutely Perfect Thing. This year, I’m pretty sure I’ve got the oldest kid squealing, the husband picked out his squeal and is already squealy(lol), and I may have even managed the brother (and I cannot wait because he’s never squealy). And three times I’ve found The Perfect Thing for one of my parents which only serves to make me sad.

My love language is generally presents or food or a combination thereof. I cannot express my love for you better than my pecan pie or homemade marshmallows. I enjoy it even more when the presents are things I have made specifically for the people involved. This year, I didn’t manage to get much made. Ok, nothing so far but I have two things I’m hoping to get finished in the next 48 hours. Neither are squeal-worthy I don’t think but both will be enjoyed thoroughly.

My favorite presents from my childhood weren’t always the squeal-inducing ones though. Some took time and loss to appreciate in full. I think my absolute favorite is a necklace my mom designed for me with my very favorite stone (which very few people know of, let alone make jewelry out of) – it will likely always be my favorite. I don’t know that I squealed but I definitely gasped. I squealed at my computer and my motorcycle jacket. I loved my black velvet peasant skirt (enough that I still wear it 24 years later). I squealed at my telephone (the kind you could see through) and my ice skates. I cherish my handmade Little House on the Prairie dollhouse. My dad wasn’t really a part of my Christmas memories until I had kids of my own – mostly because he gave my mom everything she wanted in their divorce and that included ALL Christmases. He did a damn fine job as an adult though – one year it was a painting that reminded him of my mom, another it was my countertop dishwasher that saved me years of frustration.

I really hope that someday my kids can look back on their Christmases past with as much fondness as I do.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fun, kids, Life

So far behind

I know there are things I usually have done by now that I am nowhere near finished with. It’s driving me a little bit nuts. The weather is being a bit weird and my body is feeling it in very weird and new to me ways. I did figure out what to make the kids this year but they’re the only ones getting mama-made presents. I just don’t have it in me this year to do more and that’s okay. Hopefully, I can still manage a straight (ish) line with my sewing machine lol. I won’t post anything about it until after Christmas as the youngest child lurks here quite often.

I’m working on the yearly wrap up and next year’s goals and stuff and there’s not a lot of good in this year and I will be so glad to see it go. Last years goals didn’t even come close to being met. There was a lot that was out of my control but I really could have done better. 2018 has no choice but to be better than 2017. Except, I’ve said that every year for a few years and each year has shown me how much worse it can get so maybe this year I’ll say something different come New Year’s.


Leave a comment

Filed under Crafting, kids, Life

Just a smattering of days

That’s all I have left of quiet until August. I become accustomed to being by myself for the majority of days during the school year. I come to enjoy it – the freedom to get stuff done without the constant Mama Mama Mama. I adore my kids and, even better, I do actually like them. I’m just never really ready for the end of school. Tuesday shall be watch all the scary movies day because one child is too young and the other is too squicked out by scary.

We’ll have fun this summer. We’ll play in the pool, hatch and catch a ton of Pokemon, hopefully, try new foods, and (for me) lose some more weight. We’ll make things and build things and learn things. We’ll have a grand old time together – we very nearly always do. They already know I’ll be working – both with the freelance and with my books – so I’m not so worried about that. I’ll get stuff done but I am going to miss the quiet and the freedom I have during the school year.

I say quiet but I don’t actually mean quiet as there is always noise in my house as I cannot abide silence. But it’s noise that doesn’t require any action on my part – no responses required at all in fact – so it feels like quiet anyway.


Leave a comment

Filed under kids, Life, Parenting

Busy Girl

Today was IEP day for my youngest kidlet. It went well, as it usually does, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a twist of nerves and flooded with research in the days leading up to it. There’s a lot going on with him and, even though he is getting better at speaking neurotypical, he’s not there just yet. There are still things he needs a little bit of help with. I’m fortunate to be in a district willing to work with me, even when my ideas maybe aren’t the most orthodox ones. I know a lot of other parents have had problems working within the system, even specifically this system, and I am so grateful that I have had such a comparatively easy road for both kids.

I’ve also been helping my stepmom go through my dad’s things. Some things hit me harder than others. I was doing pretty well with the whole thing until I started looking through his slides. He was a phenomenal photographer who had such an amazing artistic eye for framing and focus. I may be looking into what it will take to do something interesting with some of those – maybe pairing his art with mine. I wish I’d seen some of these images before – I’d have suggested this project directly to him. But it’s a long way off and there’s a lot I’ve got to do before I can do a project like what I’m thinking about.

There’s one image in particular that I’m just struck by. We were in Spokane, WA then, I think I might be four in the picture. I’m wearing a bright red winter coat and it is the only real color in the image. I’m feeding the ducks and swans in Riverfront Park with the pavilion and the clocktower in the background. There is no one else in the picture. Not the old lady with the bag of breadcrumbs. Not a single soul on the grass on the other side of the river. No one on the bridge. I cannot remember a time when there weren’t people milling about everywhere there. It was always one of our favorite places to go on his weekends, puttering around with those birds. Oh, how I loved those swans. It’s a striking image and I really want to do something interesting with it. But I suppose I need to get a print first as it is only a slide.

I’m not getting a lot of usable writing done – it’s all a little too maudlin right now – so I’m doing more editing. I’m polishing up a few things to get ready to send out. I think being in this weird zone is actually making the editing easier because I’m not being drawn to five or six other projects I want to write also.

Dad’s Nikon is a lot different than my Pentax but I think I’m going to dust them off, load them up, and teach the kids how to take proper pictures this summer. If I knew how to do developing, I might just do the whole shebang but I’ll settle for lighting, color, and composition matched with shutter speed, exposure lengths, and that sort of thing. I think it’ll be a nice thing to be able to pass that along. Plus, we’ll maybe figure out if the cameras have any appreciable difference in quality.



Filed under Autism, Books, kids, Life, Memories

Best Misheard Lyrics

At the bus stop this morning, one of my mom friends and I were talking and I’m not sure exactly the evolution of the conversation but we got on the subject of misheard lyrics that reminded me of my favorite misheard lyric ever.

To set the stage, we have never censored much music, we have had lots of discussions about when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to use certain words (in some case, that is never) but we do give a lot of leeway where music is concerned. Also, music is very nearly always on when we are in the car.

My oldest son was about three and we were driving around. It happened that we were listening to a little Cypress Hill. Suddenly, we realize that the boy is singing. I was a little concerned for about half a second. The words he was singing were not exactly the words of the song. I turned down the volume just a little bit so my husband could hear the rousing rendition of “Kids in the Barn.”

I’m pretty sure it was more than a few years before he realized he’d been singing it wrong. It’s one of those moments where I really wish we’d had a video camera. That would be one for the highlight reels.

What are your favorite misheard lyrics?



Filed under kids, music

2016 in Review

It’s been a year. Which is probably the best thing that can be said for it. Sure, there have been some ups but overall, there’s a shadow over this year for me that just won’t let the light shine down on it.

Like many people, I lost several of my idols this year. I went through a bit of a downswing early in the year with my depression and that had some slightly more lasting effects than usual. There were some upheavals with my career, my house, and some stresses in the family that are likely mostly par for the course, maybe. We lost our OldDog who was a good dog and maybe the smartest dog I’ve ever known.

But there were good things too.

Eldercynne Rising came out. I love this universe and am so glad I get to play in it – the Arachwie are by far my favorite of my created peoples, even more so than the Jaffine.

I got my Alfred. I am a cat person. I am not a dog person. Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals but dogs are not really my cuppa. We’ve always had dogs because my husband and children are definitely dog people. I am an Alfred people. I’ve never had dog that I really really adored until now. I don’t even mind that he smells like dog! No one has ever been happier to see me in my life – and I’m including my children.

I’ve lost 50 pounds (thanks, Pokemon Go and MyFitnessPal). An old friend reminded me that people can be totally awesome for no reason whatsoever (thanks, Becky – you are awesome and totally made my kid’s Christmas!). My kids have been doing great in school and everything. Several times this year, I’ve managed to people without making an ass of myself. I have only had three little panic attacks this ENTIRE year and none of them were debilitating enough to do much more than give me a headache.

All right, so there was maybe more good than bad, or at least, bigger good than bad. It just feels like there has been so much loss this year. This Christmas was harder for me than usual. Everything has made me think of my mother and how much she would have enjoyed my children. I don’t have words to properly explain it. I blame Brad Garrett and his singing Frankenstein’s Monster because that’s where all my weepy started this year.


Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Anxiety, kids, Life


I have no problem at all with my aging – in fact, I look forward to most of it – but I struggle a great deal with my kids getting older. In a few short hours, my baby will hit the double digits. I no longer have an elementary school aged child! My older child is learning to drive and my baby is headed for middle school. So why on earth do I not have gray hair yet?!? I have a few, yes, but not enough to do anything fun with!

Time is weird and I don’t like it. Time needs to slow down before I get whiplash! It doesn’t feel like that long ago that my baby came into this world, all 10 pounds 6 of him and now he’s about to be 10. If you listened to him though, you’d think he was about to be 30. He has his whole life plotted out – I really hope he meets a girl who agrees to go along with it – two kids, a farm (in the middle of a city), and a pretty wife. Apparently, they’re all going to stay with my husband and I while he builds their house. He never fails to amuse me.

I love my kids but I am increasingly ready for school to be back in session. I know my teacher friends aren’t quite there yet but my boys do so much better with each other when they aren’t together all the time. That is the one downside of having such a big age gap.


Leave a comment

Filed under kids, Life, Parenting

All the Acronyms

My life is full of acronyms: ASD, IEP, IDEA, SPD, and they’re all quite useful, if you know how to work within the system. Unfortunately not everyone does and the system makes it as difficult as possible to get anything done. I am constantly surprised by how easy I’ve had it. I’ve never had a contentious IEP meeting. We’ve had some teachers who weren’t suited to dealing with my kids but honestly, super easy go of things and I am so very grateful for that.

But apparently my situation is more unusual than it should be. I’ve heard horror stories at my support groups (online and real life) about schools that refuse to do what they’re supposed to do. My kids have it easy because I know the vernacular, the law, and how to talk to people and because I don’t work a standard job, I have the availability to be at meetings, to pester with phone calls, and touch base with email. It makes me wonder how many kids slip through the cracks because their parents do have jobs and can’t be on top of the school all the time or fight tooth and nail to get the evaluations and services their kids need.

The system should not be so difficult to navigate and the plan should not be so difficult to enforce as it can be. Yes, budgets must be taken into account and parents need to be reasonable too but not at the cost of the child’s education. We are losing some bright minds along the way by treating them like problem children or behavior issues rather than people and that’s got to stop. I don’t have any answers or solutions but it all makes me so sad to see.


Leave a comment

Filed under Autism, kids, Life, Parenting