And so the end of Summer Camp

And, as we were leaving? This quote from #1 Son:

It’s going to be a whole year before I come back

Honestly? You could have knocked me down with a feather.

He’s grown so much. His progress report has him so much improved from Week 1 to Week 6 that I could just burst with pride.

His teacher was full of praise for him

#1 Son is a child with a lot of love to give

She also noted that Math is his strongest subject, but that he needs to continue with daily reading aloud practice to maintain fluency.

You can imagine his joy with that πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I also got to go in to get him an hour early on Thursday to see what he had been doing, and to watch the children put on two plays.

He was in The Three Little Pigs and he played The Big Bad Wolf. And he did so, so well. He only got a little overexcited at the third “act” and did his bit over the narrator. But the other little pigs just rolled with it- so it was only the narrator herself I ended up feeling sorry for.

Then we were shown examples of their “Persuasive Writing”

And my son?

Where the other children had written statements and arguments about why they should be allowed a puppy? (Or at the very least a bunny?)

My little socialist is trying to persuade his teachers that they need a recess.

He was also the only kid in his class to receive a certificate for 100% attendance. Which I struggle to understand, but a. It’s a free programme and b. The sheer cost of summer vacations of any sort more than triples in August.

But it’s a programme run for kids with IEPs, so in my opinion it’s beneficial for them to attend the full 5 weeks (and change)

However I can see why it might not happen, and I’m pleased his perseverance was acknowledged.

And I very much hope all the teachers who have given up so much of their summer now have a very well-deserved break!!!!!

Two years

As of today we’ve been living out here, in Massachusetts, for two years!

I’d say I can’t believe it, but I can.

It still doesn’t feel quite like “home” but I’ll say it now feels more like home than not.

Apart from the people we left behind, I don’t honestly think I have any major regrets left.

There have been some very hard moments in the last 12 months. We had to deal with the first death in the family (on the hus-creature’s side) and some similarly hard news on my own and that was tough.

I suspect that if and when the next immediate family baby is born I will find that equally hard but at least that will be a good thing that has happened.

It’s the hard moments that really make you realise what you did once you emigrate.

We’ve been discussing longer term options once (please oh great Flying Spaghetti Monster) our green cards are confirmed, and it’s making me a bit antsy. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to my audience that I very much would like to move out of here as soon as is comfortably feasible.

We’ve definitely decided to stay in Melrose until TT finishes school, but then might move further into Massachusetts but we shall see.

I think it’s part of trying to handle the giant cloud of uncertainty that this process leaves over your life – planning for when it no longer will.

The children are flourishing here though. #1 Son had a birthday party yesterday that was “organised fun” and despite constant orders to

Pay attention

From the party organiser…


No the hus-creature wasn’t able to take them to one side and explain, which I find myself (probably unreasonably) annoyed by…


He was able to come home with a smile on his face and tell me that he had had fun.

We also celebrated 19 years together and 12 of them married last week.


It helps that there’s only 2 days difference I will admit πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


Due to difficulties with sitter availability we split the difference and the hus-creature took me out on a wonderful romantic dinner cruise on Thursday night ❀️πŸ₯°

We spent some quality 1 on 1 time together with food, and booze and fantabulous views and it was amazing.

I was very spoiled and felt very loved.

We are over halfway through #1 Son’s summer camp and he is still coming out with a smile on his face which is such a relief.

We’ve had some minor breakthroughs with eating but are back on the ups and downs there sadly.

(He has now decided he no longer likes peas).

Got about a month and a half to go til Second Grade, and I’m still praying he gets to keep last year’s teacher as a. She is completely amazing and b. A little bit of stability will do him good.

I’m attempting a doctor-recommended diet which we are describing as “Keto aligned” as when you tell the counter staff at Burger King that, they give you this for your lunch:

Which is surprisingly non-horrible. Basically in an attempt to get a handle on my pain I’m to give up:

  • All dairy 😰😰😰😰
  • Enriched processed food
  • All added sugar in everything (including natural sugars like honey, agave etc)

As those of you who know me in real life can probably guess, this has gone down like a lead balloon. He would also very strongly prefer that I go vegetarian, but I put my damn foot down there.

That may well be where this journey ends, but right now? No fucking way.

Tea with cashew milk is 80% tolerable I have discovered:

And one of the local sushi places does a DIY Poke Bowl for $17 which was surprisingly filling:

So all in all? I’m not at “wanting to stab things” level of anger and rage yet. Though mostly that’s down to the hus-creature who is embarking on this with me to support me. Have I mentioned how much I adore this man?

In closing? Two years has flown past.

From this:

To this:

The First Day of Summer Camp

Which is what we are calling the “Summer Learning Academy” which is a 6 week long, 4 day a week (except the week of Independence Day πŸ˜‚πŸ€£) for Elementary aged kiddos with IEPs.

#1 Son is enrolled and it started today.

Last year he was put on the fast track side for education. This year they will be focusing on the social side of it.


He’s actually got a specific slot every Tuesday for it, which is great!


That wasn’t too successful, as he resented having to redo Kindergarten work. Now today when I picked him up?

Came running out with a big smile 😍

Now, admittedly it’s only Day 1, and we’ve just had a pretty decent family vacation, but I’m taking that as a positive sign.

Also, given he read an entire story to his sister first thing this morning, and did a reasonable amount of additional reading in class today, he’s thrilled to be told he doesn’t have to do more today πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

So, since it’s being held 8-12 at the most local school, which is next to our usual playground, I’ve decided to let them both spend an hour or so (depending on weather) in said playground to burn off some energy.


You never know, it might help with the whole “herd of elephants” issue πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

And then he was 7

Yes today my pride and joy, the light of my life and my first born turned seven years old.

What a ride it has been.

The Birthday Boy with his (ice cream) cake ❀️

I couldn’t ever have predicted parenthood. Certainly not the journey we’ve had.

But, and I really feel the need to state this:

I would not change him for the world.

I’m so gosh-darned proud of my boy. He’s kind, funny, caring, intelligent and just all-around amazing.

Do I wish he didn’t have certain struggles? Yes, yes I do. But only because I worry about the world. He has such a beautiful soul, I don’t want anything to harm or mar it.

But, those struggles have helped me grow. Through him I’ve become a parent and he helps me become a better one. Day by day, week by week, month by month and year on year.

I know what is and isn’t important. It’s not about grades or accomplishments or academics. He will find his place in the world without those should that be necessary (though I don’t believe that it will).

I shall end with sharing the First Grade section of the school concert we went to last night. We stayed through Act 1, which was Grades K-2 and not only did he perform, he stayed through the whole thing.

Readers may remember last academic year’s Christmas concert, where they moved him into the first part of the performance because he just couldn’t handle it.

Not this year – he did it all. And if TT hadn’t been nearly an hour past her bedtime we might have stayed for the rest.

First Grade Concert – listen at your own peril πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

(For the relatives reading this, he’s in the second row from the front in a grey hoodie and camo pants)

I cried many happy tears last night.

I love you kiddo. Here’s to the next trip around the sun.

I am one very proud (and introspective πŸ€£πŸ˜‚) momma this evening.


I also turned 36 yesterday – but no one needed a blog post about that!!! πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£


The more things end

The more they stay the same.

Tonight was a hard night for me. Two of my favourite shows aired their season finales.

Star Butterfly Vs. The Forces of Evil

and Game of Thrones.

In. One. Day.

It’s just added to the list of shows that I love that are “done”.

  • Adventure Time
  • SvtFoE
  • GoT
  • Big Bang Theory

I find myself torn. On the one hand I don’t want to spoiler things for anyone. On the other hand, I want to say one thing.

I am unexpectedly happy with how both shows ended.

I know right? Complete and total shocker!

I don’t know what I’m going to do with my Sunday evenings for the moment though.

Anyway, a metric tonne has happened in the rest of 2019.

  1. Our Green Card applications are moving forward which is nice. It’s complex and complicated but is happening.
  2. #1 Son has almost finished First Grade and is doing amazingly well. And there’s a chance that he could keep his current teacher into Second Grade – which would be awesome for him. He has also been signed up for the Summer Learning Academy again and that should really help keep his progress going. He is starting to read automatically and independently – only small things right now (signs etc) but it’s becoming muscle memory. He’s a sassy bugger too which I love. He has also lost three teeth – which his sister is now convinced is happening to her on a daily basis πŸ™„
  3. And speaking of his sister… TT is… well, she’s a bloody handful is what she is. She’s a boundary-pushing stroppy ball of not-hormones. Honest to god it’s like looking into the future at times. But she can also be so sweet and so caring. Again the difference between the two is so utterly marked. She continues to idolise her brother and can’t wait to “go to school” long may that continue πŸ€£πŸ˜‚
  4. The hus-creature just returned from his second business trip to Seattle, and I didn’t commit infanticide, nor burn the house down; so I consider that a big tick in the plus column.

That’s it for now. I’m going to make a better effort from now on. I’ve missed the blog!

Self improvement

Starts here.

Actually, it started last week when both the hus-creature and I joined a gym!

Yes I know, I can hear you all laughing hysterically. But it’s true.

Through ruthless calorie counting, and as close to a daily walk around beautiful Melrose as I can, I have managed to shift just over 20lb.

And I’m really proud of that. But I need to keep the momentum going. And I’m getting very familiar with my town now, and I needed to step it up a gear. So gym it was. You have 24/7 access and, after the first 30 day’s, can access any branch globally as part of your membership πŸ™€

So, yesterday I went for my induction session.


I feel that it should be noted that I had attended the gym pretty much daily last week barring Wednesday. I had signed the “I promise I won’t sue you if I hurt myself” disclaimer, and I remembered how most of the main machines worked so while I was waiting for them to book me in, off I went.


With the lovely Erik. Well he was very friendly and very good at his job.

I told him I hated him at least twenty times during the course of that hour, to which he merely laughed – the evil man!

But I did recant at the end of the session.

They seem positive that if I regularly attend (and I will) I should be able to reach my initial goal weight within a reasonable time frame – which I want to have done by next summer.

I will wear a pretty bikini goddammit

However I seem to have mildly overdone it πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I will also in part attribute this to going out on the town last night with my wonderful H πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

We danced, we laughed and we got very, very drunk πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ we were total dirty stop outs and didn’t get home til 1am!

Yes, I am rocking navy lipstick πŸ˜‰

It matched my dress. My TARDIS dress. No I won’t be wearing it as an everyday look, but I put full face on for the first time ever by myself

It all comes under the self care banner. I’ll never be a “girly girl” but I can enjoy the occasional benefit from it.

Oh and the hus-creature? He still needs to sort out his induction – but he threw his back out again this week. Hopefully he can sort it out next week.

Me, I won’t be going to the gym tomorrow. We have a stupidly full schedule and I can barely walk so…

It’s the differences that hurt

I started writing this post in late May this year. Mostly to quietly vent. I’m not sure if I ever intended to publish it. But I feel I should. It’s important to be honest, with myself as well as everyone else.


I’ve been ruminating on this post for a while, and I suspect that it will be a good few days in the writing before I hit the publish button to be honest.

We all know that I have my two kidlets:

And

And I love them both to death. I do. I would both die and kill for these two. I have been a mama lion for #1 Son over the last year or so, and will continue to be for as long as he needs or wants me to be. But, can I admit something?

I get so tired.

It’s so hard. So so hard. And half the time at least it’s just not his fault or anything to do with him as himself. He continues to be one of the kindest, funniest, sweetest boys that anyone would be lucky to know.

But it’s his condition. It’s his disability (and I bloody loathe that word).

He is not a standard child. And this world is set up for the standard. For the “normal”. And everyone else is left to sink or swim.

TT is growing up. Every day it seems she does something new.

And she is blowing right past him

I don’t mean like for like now, at almost six he still ahead of her, but at their comparative ages she’s miles ahead.

  • She plays with toys.
  • She has proper imaginative play.
  • She is capable of playing on her own.
  • She wants to play with her brother. She idolises him if truth be known.
  • Her language skills are amazing
  • She has concepts such as sharing down. Admittedly mostly when they benefit her but she’s got them.
  • Milestones such as crawling, walking etc she already blew past him with.

There are more, so many more, but these are the ones that stick in my head.

It’s almost daily that I will look at the hus-creature and say:

He was never like this.

Or

He never did this/that.

And I wonder if he has somehow been short changed by my just not knowing that he was non-standard.

How did I not know? Well for a premature child and a boy, he was hitting all the relevant milestones within the age-appropriate ranges.

We didn’t see a problem until he first started formal schooling.

I worry for him. I worry about him. If I, as his mother, can get upset and frustrated


And I do, believe me I do


Then how will the rest of the world cope? How will he cope with it?!?!?


And that is where I stopped. I couldn’t carry it on.

I think my pain, worry, fear is quite obvious no? But, I’m pleased to say, that things are once again on the upswing.

He’s had a few knocks since the start of the school year. For example he started leaving class again, particularly after we got back from England. However that was two weeks ago, and he’s getting better.

I still haven’t had to visit the new Principal (which is great) and he’s making great strides in his reading, writing and math.

I’m just so proud of this kid.

He’s a trooper. He’s my best boy. And I will continue to be the Mamasaurus that he needs me to be.

He got that star in his first week and we have also had another since.

Summer Days Out

So over the summer we had so many plans to have outings with the kids.

But the weather laughed at us! We’ve had glorious weeks and the weekends have been utterly shocking!


Very British in fact πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


So we decided to say sod it and the hus-creature took the day off work on Thursday (almost two weeks ago now, yes I know I know!) and we went up to the beach.

Which is a specific beach about 30 more minutes away that is spelt almost the same as #1 Son’s given name.

Oh it was amazing. We played, we built sandcastles, we splashed, we swam. TT proved to be a complete and total water baby. Yes, she was more than a little apprehensive on the first couple of tries but then she was racing into the waves shouting “more ocean” and I have never seen her grin more.

Actually it backfired on us spectacularly though! First when it came time to go get lunch. Cue a massive meltdown and I had to bodily drag her to the restaurant – as a result we were all leaking sand and sea water on the way there sigh.

The second time was when it came time to go home. She did not want to leave. At all.

Anyway, pictures:

TT playing on the beach. Please bear in mind the last time she was on the beach she was only just crawling πŸ’— also note #1 Son’s new “rock collection” (yes I still have it – it’s out on the balcony!)

Daddy-offspring bonding:

Gittish seagulls were everywhere – honest to god they had no fear. None. Attacking belongings and tourists alike. Gits.

#1 Son made a friend – one with similar issues to himself. He was a little older and showed him how to build tide pools and how to catch small Crustacea for it πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

Sadly there were no photos with me, the mother, because I didn’t take my phone into the ocean and the hus-creature doesn’t think to take them. Ever.

But it was an amazing day out. The kids had a blast and we will go back.

Then this last Saturday we went to a theme park just across the state line in New Hampshire.

I didn’t take many photos this time because we were focussed on having fun, but we took these:

TT went on her first rides. The Ferris wheel – which she liked a lot:

WHEEL!

And then she went on her first proper roller coaster. She loved it. There was much crying of “more ride more ride” but her brother was not impressed.

So we took them across to the newly-built water park bit – it was so newly built that only about a third of it was actually operational. Again, TT adored the water slides and was devastated she couldn’t go on the bigger ones.

#1 Son? Nope. He still can’t deal with water being splashed in his face. But they both had a blast. Prying TT away from the water was as bad as at the beach. Needed to bribe her with the promise of an ice cream πŸ€­πŸ˜¬πŸ™„


It worked though!


But honestly? Comparing the free (mostly) trip to the beach, and the over $100 tickets for the park? Not worth it. They are both still too young and short.

There are a few other options, including an indoor, climate controlled, water park so we will look into that.

Daddy and I both needed a stiff drink or two by the end of those days!

And, oddly enough? I didn’t need to go for a walk either day!

Summer update

Wow it’s been a while (again) hasn’t it?

The issue is that for us, summer rolls on and on and therefore nothing really changes on a daily or, even weekly, basis.

#1 Son finished his summer camps. The reading one keeps trying to coax us into a fall programme for a mere $199 but given how disruptive he was for a good period of the first one, I really can’t justify that.

The Summer Learning Academy was much more successful, and I really hope we can build on it from August 29 when he starts 1st Grade.

Don’t know who his teacher is yet, nor have the supplies lists been issued, so I await that with bated breath.

He is signed up for Education Stations (basically after school club) for one day a week – pending cashing of cheque as I let that little bit of house admin slip past me!

Which will give him a little socialisation outside of school hours with his peers. I’m hopeful about it. It coincides with knitting group as daddy needs to pick him up so that seemed smart.

The wonderful A has agreed to pick him up from school for the rest of the week for the foreseeable. Yes, I will get my MA licence – I’ve just been terrified. I’m actually considering learning to ride a bicycle instead. I mean, it’s good exercise, but it’s mostly because driving here scares the beejeebus outta me!

As for me? Well I’ve lost almost 20lb and can fit into dresses I was wearing four years ago! Admittedly those are merely a (U.K.) size 16 but hey it’s progress in the correct direction.

I have finally gone to the dark side of men’s sandals but goddamnit they are comfortable. And they don’t look too bad with the dress – which is actually loose in this picture as it’s (U.K.) 18 but I felt good.

I’ve been baking more and it’s nice to find my zen.

These are the stages of a butterscotch pie – so good. I will be baking that one again!

Next up this week is homemade lemon curd.

TT continues to amaze and amuse. Her language is coming on in leaps and bounds. She is such a determined funny little person. She seems to finally have accepted that daytime clothing is a good thing. Occasionally she even lets me brush her hair!!!

She has also rediscovered her love of baths and even occasionally asks for a hair washing!

We still haven’t made it up to the damn beach as every free weekend we’ve had, the weather has been shite.


Not unlike Old England really πŸ˜‚πŸ€£


So the current plan is for the hus-creature to take a midweek day off and we will either head up to the beach or to the local indoor water park we’ve found.

In less than a month we are heading back to the U.K. for about a week for the wedding of my gorgeous sister in law and her handsome soon-to-be husband and I cannot wait. I’ve missed them so much.

We will be crashing with my parents, so I get to see everyone which is awesome.

My best friend lives within short driving distance of mom and dad too, so we are going to pop and see them too before we head back. I need my bestie cuddles too.

It’s not long enough, but we can’t keep #1 Son out of school for longer than a week (including jet lag recovery time).

He has a doctor’s appointment today for a Polio shot (he’s going to hate me!) and an IEP update. He’s decided he wants his daddy to take him. Am I a little miffed? Well not really – it’s lovely that he feels able to state a preference for the parent he wants. Daddy is more practical and won’t weep so I get it. I’ll stay home with TT to keep her out of the way, and the boys will go for ice cream after, to deal with any residual trauma.

I have a checkup with my own doctor on the 27th for blood pressure things – maybe I can also get some anxiety meds but we will see.

I also have my six month post operative check up on the 22nd. Since I’ve lost 20lb (and there’s still a little time to shift more) since they last saw me, I’m hopeful I won’t get too big a lecture on not having completely broken up with dairy πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I shall sign off now. There might be changes in post formats to try and encapsulate more stuff “as it happens” rather than trying to wait for enough to write an epic.

I leave you with a recent collage of my offspring. Because I’m bloody proud of them πŸ’—

The Second week of camp(s)

So Wednesday this last week was Independence Day. And because his teacher (not unreasonably) had booked a little extra annual leave – well it’s not really annual leave when you’re not supposed to be working is it – #1 Son was only in “summer learning Academy” camp for two days this week.

Monday was fine. He had a great day and everything was brilliant. You see, they send home daily worksheets of the things that he’s been doing; and I’ve seen such an improvement in them that it reassures me that this was definitely the right thing to do for him.

However Tuesday? Tuesday was not so good. The wonderful H’s daughter did the pick up run as H herself was I think feeling under the weather due to impending dental torture and it just wasn’t a good day. The report I got back was that he had not done anything and had really gotten grumpy with the teacher. What I got out of him (and I’m actually impressed he told me) was that:

They had been learning about dolphins again and he had already learned about dolphins 10, 20, 100 days before in real school and he did not need to learn about them again.

He also claimed that he had tried to tell the teacher this and that she just hadn’t listened to him and didn’t understand him. Now I’m a tad sceptical about this as I’m fairly sure this teacher knows what she’s doing (as they seem to have a lot of experience with neuro-atypical children) but he felt that she wasn’t listening and he ran out. Of the classroom. First time he’s done that actually in a good few months. I can’t say I was impressed with the behaviour but I am impressed that he at least told me the truth. We then had a nice talk about it and I try to explain (as I have done many times before) that he’s got to learn the simple stuff before he can learn the more exciting stuff.

I also tried to explain that the teacher didn’t necessarily have a good clear indication of which children had already learned about dolphins versus which children had not as these are kids who come from across the town and across the different primary schools that may even be cross district but I doubt that actually, as it does all seem to be the Melrose schools rather than some of the others that they seem to have around here.

Not sure exactly how much of it sunk in but he cheered up a bit and we had a better day the following day. Hopefully this means a better week this week as he is back at camp Monday to Thursday this week.

Another potential issue is that his current therapist is leaving the practice where we’ve been taking him since last year sometime I forget exactly how long and is going into private practice. I panicked a bit when the hus-creature told me this because quite frankly I can’t go through the changes again. However she did say that she will continue to take our insurance so hopefully we could just knows him across when she leaves in August. I can’t I just can’t go through explaining it all the new therapist, getting him to see the new therapist, building up that report again it’s just not going to be good. So hopefully we’ll have a clear indication this week what she plans on doing about her current clients.

I mean I can’t blame her, there is so much more money in private practice, but we’ve been through this before. Still, at least this one was able to be honest with us about it and not just leave us in the lurch.

Wednesday was pretty uneventful really. I recently made a new friend – another friend who previously only lived in my computer and is now part of my real life.

We are currently educating each other on films. Apparently if you’ve never seen “The Princess Bride” you must forever be shunned in this country. So he has educated me (and to a lesser extent the hus-creature – who is normally playing video games and rolling his eyes whilst we watch films and act like children πŸ˜‚) on:

  1. The Princess Bride
  2. Red Line

I have introduced him to:

  1. Labyrinth

I also have The Dark Crystal and Leon on my side of the list πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

It seems to be becoming a somewhat weekly thing, and it’s nice to have another friend who lives in-state.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful until Saturday when #1 Son had Reading summer camp.

Which apparently went a bit better than the week before. Which is great. He’s still so bad at focussing, but he’s coming on in leaps and bounds so I’m confident he will be at the level he needs to be at come end of August.

The new principal of his school has been elected, and it is Candidate A – who has the PhD in Education Administration and the neatly trimmed beard.

While I think I personally would have preferred candidate B – who was keen and had not yet had a principal-ship I knew A would get it, and from the talks they both gave, both have a style that ought to benefit my son, so we will attend whatever “Meet And Greets” are held and go from there.

TT has been her usual happy self and there have been some wonderful days:

And me? I’ve taken my mental health in my own hands. I have been walking in the evenings. Usually a minimum of 2km a day. It started because I needed to return books to the library and it’s just slightly too far away to easily take the kids.

And then I rediscovered PokΓ©mon Go (look it up and if you have a Smartphone go get it) and for the last week or so I have been simply “following the pokΓ©stops”.

See, one of the benefits to living in this country is that everything is on the grid system so you can pretty much wander in a circle except it’s not really, and you will eventually find yourself back home after doing either a giant loop or maybe a lollipop/balloon shape on the map.

I mean yes, I do also have Google Maps which I use to cross check, but more often than not I simply find myself back on Main Street after about 45-60 minutes of rambling and then I just toddle home.

And the scenery is beautiful:

And I’m learning the local geography, am getting my heart rate up and am not getting bored. All bonuses really.

And catching Snorlax πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

No, really, I did – and without the stampede!