Friday, August 18, 2017

Nicer / Meaner

The Big Boy Tiny Girl Behavioral Update:  
My children have gone through a switch in temperaments lately.   My son was inflexible (and he still is to a degree) while my daughter was easy going and rolled with changes with out much complaint.   Lately though they’ve been switching roles.

My son has been so kind and nice, especially to his sister.   He’s more willing to do things, even when he’s on the iPad, and he’s been overall a much more relaxed person.   My daughter hasn’t been handling things well at all.   Maybe it’s the new school and changes with her vision (which is slightly improved) and she’s also reacting by not listening and intentionally defying us repeatedly.

And I’ve been losing my temper as a result.    She hasn’t liked this but we’ve not liked her ignoring using despite repeated kind-worded requests.   Tonight I lost it at my daughter and yelled at her.    She claimed she didn’t hear me, even though she clearly did.  

My son remained calm throughout but a few minutes later he came to me with the children’s microphone and handed it to me saying, “here mom, you can use this if my sister doesn’t hear you next time.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Peanut Butter Crackers and Paint Update

Two quick topics tonight and then I’m going to bed.   First is peanut butter crackers.   My son is allergic to peanut butter or perhaps not allergic, but he has a poor reaction to it and gets all itchy and drools so it’s not worth it.   My husband doesn’t like nuts and couple that with most schools having a prohibition on peanut butter or peanut products in the children’s lunches and snacks and my daughter has very little exposure.   Which is a shame, because peanut butter is pretty good stuff.

I got her some peanut butter crackers though and told her about them this morning.   I forgot about them but she didn’t because as soon as she came in from school she said, “crackers!” and ran to the pantry.   I didn’t know what she was doing and by the time I checked on her she had a plate and was half-way through the packet of crackers.    I’m glad she likes them.   Maybe she and I can enjoy peanut butter even if the men in our family can’t.

Second topic: update on that gold spattered sharpie.   My husband and I had decided it was a forgone conclusion we were going to have to paint a whole wall to get the mess of sharpie covered up.   We had gotten the floor and some of the other areas cleaned up with acetone but the flat wall paint would come off with acetone almost as readily as the sharpie.   And then I accidentally discovered something.

I had an issue with the fireplace glass cover that required some adjusting.   Adjusting of the glass plate and removal of some white, protective material that had been visible at the top edge.    After doing some adjusting with a screwdriver and some removal of sticky material with an exact knife I got some adhesive remover I use with my daughter for getting the tape residue off her face after surgeries where her eyes are taped up with gunky sticky tape.

On a lark I wondered how sharpie would hold up to adhesive remover and guess what?  It melted.   It dissolved immediately.   It didn’t even touch the paint because it happened so fast.   What took my husband an hour working together to get the minor areas cleaned up—leaving the largest most horrific mess in plain sight—took me all of three minutes to completely remove.   And remove without a trace it was ever there.

I feel like I should post somewhere in all caps on some site to help other parents in similar messes from their exuberant children.   I keep looking at our cleanly painted wall in disbelief every time I walk by.

The Big Boy Update:  My son has been loving MineCraft.   He likes playing it on the large television in the basement and of late he likes to play with one of the neighbor friends.   He’ll come up and instead of asking how to do “multiplayer”, the traditional term, he wants to know how to start, “double player”.

The Tiny Girl Chronicles:  My daughter found “spikey” the other day.   This is one of those dryer balls but to her it’s a soothing device.   She had it in her class two years ago when she lost her sight and it brought her much comfort.   I found her two other spikey balls and she’s been hiding them all over the house in places only she can find and then bringing them out again when she needs them—including sleeping with them.

I forgot I ran:  Five miles.   It’s been so infrequent I don’t even remember to mention it here.   For the longest time it was a daily thing, listing what sort of exercise I did.   With an upcoming marathon I suppose I’d better get to training though.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Golden Sharpie

My son likes pens and pencils that are silver and gold.   There is a strong possibility this is connected to the silver and gold Power Rangers or maybe NinjaGo characters or Transformers.   Either way, he loves  metallic colors.

Last night we were working on some braille words and numbers with my daughter which is very interesting and worthy of a blog post or two because it’s another world from the reading we do as sighted people.    During the time my husband and I were working with her, my son was drawing with a gold sharpie on a piece of paper.   He had all these symbols he made up indicating powers of certain animals and forces of nature.   It was pretty impressive how many he did and how specific he was with what each meant.

He had gold all over his hands but I didn’t think much of it because it wasn’t long ago that my daughter got paint and marker all over her face in her attempts to draw and see what she was doing from one inch away from the paper.  Then at the end of his drawing he started wielding the pen as a sword at the table.    Again, thought nothing of it and we shuffled them off to bed.

Then, this morning I walked out into the living room to what looked like blood spatter trails across the wall paint and all over the floor.   Sharpie spatter.   Everywhere.   Did I mention Sharpie?  Yeah…apparently he was having more imaginary battles with the Sharpie and it was leaking through the back of the pen.

My husband and I spent a good bit of time with acetone and q-tips getting what we could off some of the surfaces, complaining how the gold massacre of the living room went on and on.   Unfortunately we’re going to have to repaint some.   Strict rules have been implemented so that ink-based implements are no longer allowed to be wielded as weapons.

The Big Boy Update:  My son went shopping with our sitter and picked out t-shirts for him and his sister.   He selected one that said, “Snaccident: when you accidentally eat all the bacon”.   For him, fitting.

The Tiny Girl Chronicles:  Our sitter had a day with my daughter a while back.   They did some painting in her garage.   Some really great paintings on real canvas.   My husband picked one of his favorites and had it framed.   My daughter liked it so much she’s decided she wants all her artwork framed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Anniversary Present

My anniversary with my husband is in a few months.   He’s decided a good present would be a pinball machine.   And actually, that sounds like a great present if you’re asking me, which he was I suppose.   But we have a problem if we do decide to go that route which is where to put it.  

We have one machine already which is fun (although I rarely play it).   He’s been working on updating our arcade machine to have ten-thousand video games—all old, using various emulators to make them run on a little tiny thing called a Raspberry Pie computer that fits in the palm of your hand.   But that’s not where we’re running into space constraints.

So what we’re looking at is rearranging our mechanical room to serve multiple purposes.  The first will be a location for a pinball machine (or second one in our case) and other things as yet to be determined. I also suggested we change half of it into a workshop for him so he can do the tinkering he likes to do.

Today we started.   This was great for me because I like getting rid of things, moving things to other locations if they’re infrequently used and just organizing the space overall.   This was less than comfortable for my husband because I was messing with his stuff in a faster than he was prepared for fashion.   But I don’t move slowly when I’m organizing.

We made progress and hopefully by next week we’ll have a workspace and cleared space for future additions.   Then maybe we’ll decide if a pinball machine is really what we (he?) wants for an anniversary present.

The Big Boy Update:  My husband is a very laid-back, mellow guy which apparently didn’t suit my son because he said today, “dad, you’re getting boring.  I want you to be more excited.”

The Tiny Girl Chronicles:  We lost my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal for about a week.   Last night my daughter came out of the bedroom after lights out and called down to me, “good news, I found Hermione.  She was under my pillow the whole time.”

Monday, August 14, 2017


We got homework for the first time today for either of the children.   Montessori philosophy is that time out of school should be spent on other things such as building social or other skills and so neither of my children have ever had anything brought home as an assignment they were required to do.

Today we got this little stack of red cards with a hole punched in them and hooked together with a ring clip.    And there were instructions.   This was the start of the Rainbow Wall work (insert “yay!” here).  Each week students would have another color of sight words to learn, with this week being the red cards.   The words are very common and should be easy to recognize—and there were only a few.   We had ‘a’, ‘to’, ‘in’, ‘is’, ‘the’ and ‘that’.

You’re supposed to practice at home (they also practice at school) to learn them.   But there’s a catch.   You get tested at the end of the week, hopefully not in front of your peers, to see if you’ve learned the words.   If you have, you get your name up on the Rainbow Wall (insert “woo!” here).   If you haven’t you work on the set for the next week as well.

But wait, there’s more!  If you master the words for your test, you get special privileges for the next week.   There was a large list of them to accommodate a lot of students doing well.   So there’s incentive, which is good.

But dang, people, that’s pressure.   What if my child can’t master the words and then gets upset because she’s not on the Rainbow Wall and all her friends are getting special privileges and as parents we feel badly because we’re not drilling enough at night?   GAH.

Okay, I’m not worried and neither will my daughter, knowing her.  But it is an entirely different model from what we’ve experienced in Montessori.

But let’s get back to my daughter.   “Sight Words”—did you catch that?   Yeah, we’re not doing that.   What we get to do are, “Touch Words”?   I don’t know the name for the same thing but in braille but you get my point.   The list of words came home for my daughter just like they did for the other students only hers had the addition of the words braille at the top of each card.   It was really nifty looking.   This was something manually done just for her.

So I sat down to practice with my daughter tonight.  The ensuing screaming and resisting until she started to be successful and then didn’t want to stop I can cover later, but I do want to talk about how it’s different from practicing words with a sighted child.

My son and I used to practice his letters while he was eating.   It was the perfect time to get him interested.   With braille you have to use your hands to do the reading itself, and that means your hands can’t be doing other things like eating.    And they need to be clean.   If you’re reading cooking instructions and add the eggs and flour and get some on you you have to clean and dry your hands so you can go back to the raised paper medium you’re reading from to find out the next step.

It was something I hadn’t thought about before.   Especially the whole clean hands thing—that’s going to be a fun challenge with my daughter, I’m sure.

The Big Boy Update:  My son went to his first Parkour class tonight.  He loved it.   He came home bouncing around.   He was ready to go at nine o’clock this morning.   He’s going to teach his sister some of the moves I think; I know she’ll like that.

The Tiny Girl Chronicles:  My daughter desperately wants to “do flips”.   She wants to take a gymnastics class very much.   There is a free gymnastics class for the blind at one of the local gyms but it’s during her school day now so we’ll see if we can find another alternative.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I don’t know if there’s a product that does this, but it would be nice.   We do laundry a lot because we have children and children make a lot of dirty laundry.   At nighttime when we’re off peak I go into the laundry room, open the door to the washing machine and dump everything in.   Then I go to the kitchen and get the dirty white cloths bin full of cloths we use for everything from napkins to dish drying to cleaning up hazardous waste spills of red juice.   I put those on top of the clothes and then I get ready to run the load.

Now let me say first off that I’m lazy.   I don’t color separate because the children grow so fast and make such a mess on their clothes they’re worn out or ruined before they would be dulled by mixing colors and whites.   But I am willing to combat color bleed it a little with products.

I put in the detergent.   Then I add the fabric softener to a second spot.   Then I add in color-safe bleach to a third spot and then I add into the main area some OxyClean.   And for good measure I put in a Color Catcher sheet.    Then I start the load.

I’m sure there are reasons from cycle administration of products to incompatibility with products impacting shelf life, but I would pay a premium price if I could dump one thing in and be done.   The LaundrAll product.

The Big Boy Update:  My son likes to wear his headphones even when he’s not using his iPad.  Sometimes he’ll wear them around for half a day or more.   A friend commented the other night, “I think those headphones are attached to him.”   We didn’t know he’d been listening until about a minute later when he turned around with a devious grin and said, “my headphones are attached to me.”

The Tiny Girl Chronicles:  We’re going to be losing our sitter in a week as she heads back to college.   The children have had fun doing all sorts of things with her, today even making chocolate chip cookies at her house.    As Morgan dropped them off for dinner tonight my daughter told her goodbye several times.   She shut the door and then reopened it saying, “see ya later alligator.  After awhile crocodile.  Bye-bye best friend.”

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Family Movie Night

A lot of families we know have family movie night from time to time.   Usually it’s on the weekend so the children can stay up later.   We’ve done this in the past.   I remember watching Frozen with the children a little over two years ago.   But then we had to stop.   It’s hard to have family movie night when one of the members of the family won’t enjoy it because they can’t see it.

That’s not to say we don’t do things as a family, but there are a lot of things that aren’t challenging when you can’t see.   Board games are out.   Card games, same thing.   Craft or experiment activities are fun but they have to be of the kind that don’t require “seeing” what the result is.   For instance, we did an acid test experiment a while back with litmus paper.   My son loved it.  My daughter didn’t hate it, quite the contrary, she had a good time helping come up with things to test, but it wasn’t that engaging to her and when we were done she wanted to know what we could do with her now.

That’s not to say our situation is unique; there are families with children who are significantly different in age who might not enjoy the same movie together.    But it was something we had once and lost.   It’s something people with children commonly do that we can’t.   Or can we?

Before my daughter had her cataract removed and the subsequent hematoma and additional retina detachment, she could look at her iPad and watch movies.    We tried her with the iPad and us with the movie on the television simultaneously streamed, but she wasn’t interested and switched to playing games a few minutes in.

Now there’s been a change though—she listens to things.   She didn’t like doing this before because she wanted to use the residual vision any time she could, so trying to see something on the television above the fireplace or in a chair right up against the screen in the bonus room was okay, but frustrating because she couldn’t get in the whole picture.   It was frustrating for everyone else too because her body was in front of the screen and we couldn’t see.  

We tried to get her to just listen but she resisted.   Only now she doesn’t have a choice and she’s starting to get used to it.   She will lie down, commonly in the fetal position, and very quietly listen to what’s on.   So I asked tonight when we were having dinner if anyone wanted to have family movie night tonight.   My daughter was the first to say yes, followed by my son.   As I was about to ask my husband what movie we might consider suggesting my son yelled out, “Big Hero 6” followed by my daughter replying with an enthusiastic, “yes!”

So that was settled.    My children are now watching (and listening) to the movie.   I know, I know, it’s not family movie night if I’m down here typing away on the computer, but I’ll get there before the movie is over.  

The Big Boy Update:  The children went to the pool with our sitter today.   I asked my son if he had fun at the pool while we were eating dinner.   He stopped, pulled up his shirt and pointed and said, “this nipple stings.   It still stings.”   Then he went back to his meal as though that explained everything.

The Tiny Girl Chronicles:  It was time to get my daughter’s hair cut.   She didn’t want to but her bangs were interfering with her line of questionable sight and so it had to be done.   I decided to distract her so she would sit still for the hair cut.   I gave her bubble gum.    On the way in I popped my gum, knowing she wanted to know how to do it.   When we got to the salon she asked me how to blow a bubble and I gave her some instructions.   For the entire haircut she was working on making a bubble.   She hasn’t succeeded yet but knowing her, she’ll keep on trying until she does.