I haven’t posted in a while… no real reason.  Life got a little crazy lately.  I don’t know that it’s that life “got” a little crazy, I just… haven’t posted.

Sam is officially legally blind.  What that means… is that he’ll be able to access services through the state to get equipment to make it easier for him to see.  Is he actually blind?  No.  He can see to walk around, to see trees on the side of the road.  He can live his life, and if you aren’t paying close attention – you’d never know.  But he can’t see well enough to read, or put together legos, or write.  Is that something that could be fixed with glasses?  Will it get better?  I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, and nobody else seems to either.  He’s still way too traumatized to sit through a visual exam, and he’s young enough that the doctors won’t rule out (or guarantee, for that matter) that his eyes won’t just fix themselves.   If I had to guess, I’d say that his vision is probably better than we think, and that getting glasses will help.  But guessing doesn’t help, and until he’s able to participate in an appointment with an eye doctor, this is the situation we’re in.  Or maybe I’m just being overly optimistic, and I should accept the disability and adjust accordingly.

There are certainly deficits in what he can see.   But I don’t know how profound it is – the low vision doctor says he needs 6X magnification and the contrast has to be really pronounced.  It’s not that I can hand him a worksheet and expect that he can see it and fill it out.  But I can point out the foliage on the tree outside, and he can describe it to me. I can hand him my phone and send him out walking to go pokemon hunting and feel like he’s safe and capable of navigating the walk.

His taste buds are starting, so, so, slowly, to heal.   Just this week, we’ve added in cinnamon toast, apple cake, taco meat and rice, and shepherd’s pie.  That’s… phenomenal.   We’re not 100% yet, he still won’t really touch dairy, or red sauce, or chocolate.  And of course, fruits and vegetables are off the table still.  But they’re starting to come back, and last night, he said (after telling me a few times that he wasn’t going to go trick or treating because he can’t eat any of the candy) that he would go out with us on Halloween, because that way, when the taste buds heal entirely, he’ll be able to eat the stash.  He’s got a little hope now, that things are getting better.

Homeschooling is going better.  It depends entirely on the day.  Some days, I feel really optimistic and in control, and some days, I feel like a dismal failure.  We’re doing a lot of audio books and documentaries and reading out loud.  I’ve got a math curriculum and we’re working through that.  Until we get the equipment to help with the reading, there just isn’t much more I can do.  We’re starting an election unit after the high holidays, and then moving into a history of Thanksgiving.  I’ve set up playdates a few days a week after school, so that he still gets opportunities to see his friends.


We’re settling in.  The first few weeks of school are underway, and so far, this seems like a much easier year than last year.

Jessie LOVES eighth grade.  She’s waking up on her own, getting her homework done right away and loving all of her classes.  She started a new discussion group at the synagogue last night, and it was happiest I’ve seen her at the synagogue in years.   She had such a rough time last year, with the bat mitzvah.  On a side note – the bat mitzvah had the exact opposite impact on her – I was hoping it would really cement her relationship with the synagogue and her Jewish identity.  Instead, she walked away thinking that she didn’t want to go back to the synagogue ever again, had no interest in ever reading Torah or being actively involved in services at all.  She agreed to take the class conditionally, but walked away loving it.  She’s taking Model UN, of course, on Wednesdays, and then maybe yearbook or knitting.  She’d also like to me to investigate singing lessons (not signing lessons, which I inadvertently spent some time searching for as well).

Julie is rocking first grade.  When she’s there.  She still hates getting up in the morning, and begs most mornings to stay home.  I’m trying hard to keep the faith – she does LIKE school, and she’s happy to be there.  But every single morning – she wakes up crying and trying to stay home.   But she’s happy while she’s there, and she was so proud of herself yesterday afternoon.  She BROUGHT HOME HOMEWORK.  Granted it’s first grade homework, so she had a bunch of work sheets (each of which took all of three minutes for her to complete), and it wasn’t due until Friday.  She finished all of it yesterday.

I think I’ll probably end up homeschooling Julie.  Not certain of it, because things might change.  Maybe she’ll continue to love and adore school… but if this goes well with Sam, then I think I’ll want to do the same thing with Julianna.  With Jessie – I’m not as certain.  She’s older, for one thing, and she really LOVES school.   We’re tentatively planning on South High for her next year.   It’s a big urban high school, which terrifies me a little, but we’ll see.

Homeschooling with Sammy – it’s going… well.  I think.  I’m going to be an eclectic homeschooler (which you’d predict, I think).  And this year in particular is going to be a little haphazard.  We’re still trying to get a grip on what he can see, and what is the best way for him to learn.  Right now, we’re reading out loud, all the time, and when we aren’t reading, he’s audiobooking (which I’m now using as a verb).  We’re working through a math curriculum and then we’re just reading.  Big appointment next week with the low vision doctor, and I think we’ll get some answers there about what he can see, what kind of technology is out there that he can use, and what he’ll qualify for.

Julie has created a small company for foot massages.  She’s been an accomplished foot massager for a while now, and has recently decided to step it up a notch.  She now does full blown pedicures, with foot soaks.  The best part is that she’s taken to calling me to schedule my appointments (by using the landline to call my cell).   She also likes when I call her to schedule the appointments.  Last night, I got a call, from my home number, and it was Julie.  She wanted to let me know about a discount program that she was offering for frequent customers, I could get a card that would enable me to get foot massages for free.

Flasback to the J Cafe that Jessie had created when she was younger…

I’m not a good cook.  I’m not a terrible cook either, I’m an apathetic cook.  Which is why there are certain things I make that are phenomenally good.  For example – pancakes.  Granted, I have made them almost every day since the accident.  But they are the simplest things to make – you literally just add water.  I don’t bother to measure, I just dump some powder into a cereal bowl, run enough water in to mix it up and then fry them in butter.

Sam thinks I’m magic.,Every Friday, I make Shabbat dinner.  We’ve done it for years, but it’s taken on a special meaning for us since the accident.  It’s the day that everyone looks forward to – the crowded table, the candles, the laughing, the fighting for your turn in the conversation… it’s what we do.  And I really always kind of make the same thing.   Chicken.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been making it two ways, I take a big package of chicken breast, and half of it gets shaken and baked, and the other half, I dump into a baking pan with a bottle of bbq sauce.

Jessie asked earlier this week for roasted chicken.  Like, a whole chicken.

Since I’m an apathetic cook – I didn’t give it much thought until this afternoon when I was at the store.  My only real experience with these things is the  Thanksgiving turkey – and that’s a 20lb disaster that takes most of the day to cook.  I found a guy who was wearing a white coat (presumably a butcher of some sort), and asked him if I was insane to think about roasting a chicken for Friday night dinner at four o’clock.  He assured me that I was not, and handed me two chickens, one four pounds, one five, and sent me on my way.   Two hours, he claimed.

I came home and hit pre-heat, and turned to my helpful friends at google.  The wasn’t a clear consensus – I read it could take four or five hours, or maybe just an hour and a half.  Martha Stewart claimed that an hour and a half would be good – and I think the longer time frame was when you were adding the pounds together, i.e. a nine pound chicken instead of a four and a five pound chicken.

So I lugged out the roasting pan, and cut off the plastic.  I fished out the yucky stuff (with tongs, because I’m classy), and then I rinsed them out.  Martha suggested that I rub butter all over them, and season them under the skin, but all of that seemed…. complicated and I was mildly concerned that the butter would burn, so I just sprinkled a bunch of adobe seasoning on the top and shoved them in.

It’s the first week of school.  I specifically didn’t start homeschooling this week, because I wanted focus on getting the girls into a good routine.

The first day was rough.  Not for Jessie or Julie – both of them were delighted to go back to school, psyched about their new lunch boxes and new school supplies and happy to get up early, get dressed and bounced out the door.  Jessie didn’t want to take the bus on the first day, because she wanted to be at the school to help welcome the new scared 6th graders.  Marc dropped Julianna and I off at Flagg Street, drove Jessie back to school, and then came back to get us.

At Flagg, on the first day, parents always walk their kids to school.  Julie doesn’t like me to walk her to class, it’s always easier for her to have me drop her off quick, in the car pool lane, and then she bops out to class.  If I walk her there, she has TIME to get misty and think about the fact that she’s going to be at school all day without me.  But on the first day, I insist.  Mainly because I don’t want her to be the only one without a mom there, and partly because  I like to see everyone.  It’s tradition, and I’ve been doing it since Jessie was six years old.

This year was different, and a little bit tough.  I have peer groups with each kid – I know the eighth grade parents, the fourth grade parents, and the first grade ones.  I smile winningly at parents of kids in other grades, but the ones who match up with mine – they’re my peeps.  On some level, at least.  And this year, I don’t have a fourth grader.

Anyway – this week is about the girls.

Julie asked, last night before bed, if she really had to get up and go to school tomorrow.

I do think she likes school.  She certainly adores her teacher, and she loves learning.  She soaks up knowledge, just soaks it all in.  She struggles sometimes with the social complexities of first grade, but that’s part of the process. But because I’m homeschooling her brother, and becoming steeped in that whole culture, there’s a part of me that wonders if she’ll be homeschooling eventually as well.  She’s got a playdate this afternoon, and I’m trying to sign her up for girl scouts or art class or some sort of THING for after school.

Jessie is growing up.  I mean, of course, she is.  That’s the whole point, right?  But she just is…. it’s not just the height (although I had no idea how disconcerting it was going to be to have my baby taller than I am).  It’s the general sense of … completeness.  Does that make sense?  She’s just grown – she feeds herself, dresses herself, figures out what she needs, how to get it, has her own likes and dislikes and opinions and presents them in a coherent and friendly manner.  Unless she’s got five blisters (which is what happened on Tuesday – and she sobbed like a two year old for most of the night).