Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!


Sleepover: Joey's Turn

That's right. Joey is at Grandma's. By himself. Sleeping overnight.

I, of course, am beside myself.

Oh, and Andy isn't too happy, either. He wants his Joey!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kickin' and Takin'

I made some phone calls this morning that needed to be made. I got some stuff to the framers that needed to be framed. I got my dining room table cleared off and the potpourri out. I got the mantel cleared and arranged for fall. I made orange-glazed chicken for dinner. I guess the aliens really did get my brain jumpstarted. ;)

Andy was a doll in the framer's. As I explained that yes, I wanted them to frame a napkin with a crayon drawing of a bear on it (Joey's first clear picture of Little Bear), along with several other children's art pieces, a photo a friend gave me, a poster of dinosaurs, and a postage stamp, Andy wandered about the store... keeping his hands to himself. It was incredible. I was so proud of him. As we left, hand in hand, he looked up at me and said, very matter-of-factly:

"Mommy, let's pop into the toy store and look at some toys."

So we walked down the block to the little toy store, and bought a little dinosaur. Because who can resist such a little charmer?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Trouble brewing

Joey participated in a summer reading program, and for a treat, the school let families come to a picnic lunch with the kids today. Actually, there wasn't much special, you showed up, and ate a crummy school lunch with your kid. But Andy got to come, and I got to have extra minutes with my Joey, so we were all about it. Woo-hoo!

So the invitation said to come five minutes early and meet the children in their classroom to go to lunch. So we pack up Andy and Grandma, and off we go to Hugh Mercer. The parents are arriving in a staggered timing because the picnic is during "your child's regular lunch period", which is also staggered. Consequently, we managed to sneak into a parking place just as the first wave of parents were leaving. We present our IDs, get out passes, and go to Joey's classroom- but he isn't there. He now has lunch with the self-contained teacher rather than the autism teacher. Fortunately, Mrs. Huff is a wonderful lady, and she takes us around to Joey's new inclusion room.

Last year, we were very spoiled, and unfortunately, I was unable to take full advantage of it. Joey's kindergarden teacher, Mrs. S (they really do call her Mrs. S), is a gift from heaven- a truly talented teacher. Whenever you appeared in Mrs. S's room- announced or otherwise- she had a big smile and a welcome-come-in-and-join-us attitude. There were no bones about it- we were the moms and dads, important to our children and their education, and we were always welcome to come participate in the classroom. Spoiled. Rotten.

We appeared in the door of Mrs. A's room (I'll leave off the full name for right now), escorted by Mrs. Huff, and five minutes ahead of lunchtime, as the invitation stated; Mrs. Huff announced us. We were greeted with, "Well, we're still doing instruction. They have to meet him in the cafeteria!"

"Oh," I responded, taken aback. "We're sorry, we were told to go to his classroom." We retreated with Mrs. Huff continuing to apologize, and hotfooted it to the cafeteria.

Not impressed. For one, I'm a parent. I should be welcome to come witness my child's instruction time. For two, she should have addressed me, as I was standing there, if she wanted me to go to the cafeteria. For three, we were instructed to go to his classroom, and she should have been aware of that. All the other teachers were- all the other parents arrived in the cafeteria with their child's class.

So we are now in the cafeteria- where to wait? The tables each have signs on them to say which teacher sits there, and when. Mrs. A is not listed anywhere. We double-checked. We triple-checked. No sign of her. We finally ask, and apparently Mrs. A has been relegated to the "Quiet Table" due to shortage of room (? Don't they know each class that needs a table for lunch before school starts? Even Mrs. S has a table sign!) So we go to wait at that table, and here they come. Dexter and Joey are in the middle, but end up at the end because they both want to hug Andy. We get into the lunch line, and I help Andy and Joey (and mom helps Dexter) get their lunches, and we emerge to find... no-one we know. So we follow Dexter to the table. Where has the rest of the class gone?

Note that no-one has introduced themselves to us, nor really asked who we are. One lady asked if we "belonged to Joey and Dexter", and I later discovered this was the classroom aide. Joey's usual aide was out sick, and her sub was not there at the moment (I think she was taking another child somewhere- Joey technically does not have his own aide- and this is a different person from the classroom aide). Suddenly this same person appears and asks Dexter and Joey is they are going to join the class outside for the picnic, and again if we belong to "Joey and Dexter." I corrected her ("I'm Joey's mom") but I am not happy that the class was already out the door, and our guys had time to go to the entire other side of the cafeteria and sit down before anyone corralled them. Were they watching? What if Joey had decided to scoot out the door- especially with the change in routine?

We are still not introduced. We scurry after the boys, outside to a grassy spot around the corner. The teacher (I later learned this was the teacher) as two blankets and eight children. She spread one blanket, and Andy, Joey, and Dexter sit there; the other children, the teacher, and an aide sit on that one. The classroom aide sits in the grass between the two after kindly fetching a chair for my mom, who really can't sit on the ground. The teacher finally says something like, "I'm Mrs. A" before joining the rest of the class on the other blanket as a few other parents start to arrive (they had gone to the classroom, but had missed the class.) A few stray parents from other classes wandered out to the other huddled groups.

What did I notice about this? For one, my child and his friend were separated from the other students in the class. Was this just because we were already there (whereas the couple of other families arrived shortly after we came outside)? Mrs. A seemed to have no interest in speaking with me whatsoever. Not a good sign. Sometime over the course of the lunch, she did thank everyone for coming, but didn't even know my name ("Thanks to Mrs. C, E's mom.... oh, and thanks to- uh- Joey's mom for coming. Oh, and Joey's Grandma.").

Even after the lunch is over, and we're marching the class to the computer lab, it is like we were dismissed-by-snub. Andy said his goodbyes, the classroom aide and the aide sub (who arrived as lunch was ending- probably lunch was her break time) said something, but the teacher? Not a word. She was "busy."

Instead of feeling like we were a part of the classroom and Joey's education, we felt like we were annoying this woman and in her way. Not impressed.

Now, I'm not going to stomp my feet over a single negative encounter. But the first impression was definitely not good. If I don't see a definite change in attitude and understanding in the next encounter, we are definitely going to have issues. If this person thinks I'm going to take being treated like this again, she's going to be in for a big- unpleasant- surprise.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Andy and I had some time before Joey came home, so we made some play dough today. Andy wanted red, so he dumped half a bottle of red dye into the batch. He stirred it himself. He helped knead it, and sprinkled the counter with flour. He pretended he was making pizza until Joey came home.

Joey is harder to make things with, but I got him to decide on red and squeeze the rest of the dye bottle into the pot, and stir it a couple of times. It was too hot for his hands to help knead, but he waited patiently and repeated lines from Blue's Clues in anticipation. I distracted him from the hot dough by cleaning, and then presented him with his new treasure.

Then I put some cookies in the oven, and settled for a peaceful play-dough afternoon. I put Mr. Rogers on the TV, so they were less tempted to abandon the kitchen to watch TV, yet if they decided to invade the livingroom, the show was appropriate and peaceful.

A boy appeared. His head was encased in red dough.

"Look! Mom! I have red hair!" Joey announced, glanced at the TV, said, "Hello, Mr. Rogers!" and retreated to the kitchen.

Apparently I laughed so hard, he decided it was the thing to do with playdough, and spent the next fifteen minutes with the play dough on his head (then they lost interest and we bagged it up for next time).

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I've been fiddling a lot with genealogy and scanning in a lot of family pics (did you notice?) I'm working on becoming a genealogist. Looking at the pictures and working with names has been a little surreal. Most of these photos are images that have been in my life all my life- faces of people I never knew, images of people I did know, and do know; frozen upon paper and caught in time.

The older photos, the ones of my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, they have a special quality of both familiar and strange. I look at those faces, and think f them- this is great-grandmother Heinz, This is great-grandmother Conway (actually, great-grandmother Phillips, she got remarried). The photos my mom knows and points out, set in the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s.

Then I have the names. My grandmother's parents were Bertram Evan Heinz and Elsie LaBlanche DuPler. Actually, Elsie LaBlanche DuPler Heinz, but I don't think of her that way, because in genealogy charts, you record women by their maiden name. Elsie LaBlanche DuPler has been tough to find. I' not sure when she arrived in Maryland, but I suspect her family is not there. I have photos of her mother and father, but I have no idea when the photo is taken, or where (though it is around the turn of the century).

Like my grandmother, Elsie LaBlanche DuPler was an artist; I have some of her work, including a line drawing for a magazine. I've been told she did some drawing for a magazine, but no one seems to agree which magazine. She was French, and her parents were born in France; the photo I have of them does indeed look like something out of Gigi. This French lady married into a family of German Methodist ministers (the kind that don't like comfortable furniture). She had five children, four girls and a boy. The last art I have evidence of her doing is in the 1920s- apparently being a mother took precedence over self-expression.

As I was flipping through the photos of great-grandmother Heinz, it really hit me that this was her- this was Elsie LaBlanche DuPler. It was kind of like looking into the Mirror of Erised. That is her. So many stories, so much research, so much delving into records and pasts trying in vain to find her. Yet there she is. She lived. She was.

I want my boys to understand their connection to the past. Understanding history is understanding the development of thought and understanding of the world. To progress with thought and understanding, to move truly forward, to choose to move forward, you have to have an idea of where you have been. There is also something about not letting people simply fade away, lost in an oblivion of time. To make lives have worth, to not forget. To realize the impact of people you never knew, never met, upon your own life. To know that Joey's impact, Andy's impact, upon our lives will echo, will continue, will be and have been.

New Shop

Just to make life interesting, I have now also opened a new shop over at zazzle. We'll see how it goes. Cafepress has a wider variety of products, but zazzle has some different products, and you can tweak the products a little.