Fat Tuesday

I don’t follow Lenten traditions, but I do like pancakes. So I decided to get pancakes for lunch, and arbitrarily went to one of two places at a nearby intersection.

I ordered my combo plate and answered “sourdough” when they asked what kind of bread I wanted.

The plate showed up, and I was served two eggs over medium, bacon, some really unappealing hash browns, and two slices of sourdough toast.

That’s when I realized: when they asked about bread, they were including pancakes in the option.

But they brought me what I’d asked them to, so I ate some of it and then went across the street to the other place, where I went with the full-on decadent version of pancakes.

plate of pancakes with caramel sauce, bananas, and powdered sugar

Fat Tuesday, indeed.

Endings and Beginnings

Friday

Today was Baguette’s last day at the school she’s gone to for the past year and a half (almost). We fought hard to get her into that school, and in the end we succeeded. She spent last year in TK, and overall we were happy.

Pros: The special ed teacher was amazing. She really cared about Baguette–and all her kids–and went the extra mile (and then some) for them. The kids were welcoming to Baguette, and didn’t mind when she screamed, and kept reaching out to her even when she didn’t seem to respond. The parents were friendly and supportive and made sure that Baguette was invited to birthday parties. The office staff was delighted by her, and repeatedly told us how much progress they saw her making. The principal always said hi to her, and made sure she was included in the morale events he sponsored, and told us how much change he was seeing in her.

Cons: The TK teacher didn’t want Baguette in her class. It was obvious, and if we could tell, Baguette surely could. Seriously, I don’t think this teacher said a single positive thing about Baguette all year.

At the end of the year, they tried to get us to move her to a special day class in another school, instead of staying in the mainstream classroom. The original plan had been to give her two years, so we insisted on staying for kindergarten.

This year is kindergarten.

Pros: A new classroom teacher, and several of the children from her TK class.

Cons: A new special ed program and a new special ed teacher, neither of them a good fit. A new principal (she could be fine–I don’t know her–but it is change). A classroom teacher who didn’t seem resentful, but who didn’t connect with Baguette either.

The real problem was that Baguette wasn’t fully participating in the class, and wasn’t demonstrating mastery of the curriculum. I need to point out that I think the key word is demonstrating. Baguette is constantly learning, but she knows when she’s being tested, and she does not cooperate. It’s a challenge. But it doesn’t mean she isn’t learning what you’re teaching her.

The thing is, it was clear that the staffing changes at the school meant the school had changed. The parents and kids and office staff were still great, but the teachers and the assistant principal (who runs the IEP process) are going by the book, and their book doesn’t include Baguette.

You know who knows that? Baguette. She didn’t take to the new teachers. And like a lot of us, she performs better when she knows you want her around.

So we agreed to move her, and move her now, because hopefully there’s enough of the year left for her to adjust to a new classroom. If we like it, and she does well, we can keep her there next year. And if we don’t, we may be able to find another school for her. We’ll spend the spring looking at how to do that, so that we know what our options may be and how to make the most of them.

We’re sad about leaving that community, and we don’t really want to take this step–but since we’re taking it, we hope it will be a good one for Baguette.

Monday

So Long, 2016

I wrote 14 posts this year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still a blogger.

What can I say? It’s been a hell of a year. A lot of this is known to people; we all heard about the election, and no matter how you feel about the results, it was a big damn deal. We all know about the celebrities who died; Carrie Fisher’s passing hit me particularly hard.

For us, we’ve had a triathlon to train for (Mr. Sandwich) and support (Baguette and me), multiple IEP meetings, changes in leadership at Baguette’s school, lost teeth (the sixth came out this week), family drama that warrants assessment, and lice.

Oh, the lice.

We were supposed to travel to visit my dad and stepmom for Thanksgiving. But I had a bad cold, and based on much prior experience of making that trip sick, we decided not to. As it turned out, that was a wise decision. Because on the day we would have been driving, I discovered that Baguette and I had lice.

We called a service to come over to the house that night and comb all three of us, and scheduled the follow-up for the Monday after the holiday. But as it turned out, we couldn’t wait that long, so we also went to a lice-combing salon on Friday for an additional come-through.

There are, by the way, a lot of businesses providing this service in Los Angeles.

That was our hair; we also commenced on an astonishing amount of laundry, washing and drying on hot things that we often don’t even put in the dryer. We vacuumed and lint-rollered and bagged and froze and did everything we could think of to halt this in its tracks.

It was exhausting. It was not a vacation. It was not a break. But ultimately, we were successful–although we now are completely fixated on checking our heads on a regular (and probably unnecessarily frequent) basis.

We delayed our trip, planning to visit the week after Christmas. And then I got bronchitis. So we didn’t go. But we did have Christmas dinner with Mr. Sandwich’s parents, as planned. That was nice for a bit, and then discretion is the better part of valor, and also of family harmony on Christmas.

Now we are two weeks into Baguette’s three-week winter break from school. In case you were wondering, three weeks is too long. It’s not that I don’t love and value the time with her–it’s that we don’t have any other care for her, which means we have to take more days off from work, and it means that her routine is significantly disrupted in ways that are very difficult for her. And with my bronchitis that first week of the break, we didn’t do a great job of creating a different routine. We’re getting into one now, but that still doesn’t keep us from having rough days.

Long story short? I am ready for a new year. So Happy New Year to all of you!

And know that while I may not be able to stay up the whole time (among other things, Baguette got me up at around 4:00 this morning), I am definitely feeling this:

Happy Halloween, 2016

Baguette has never been that into trick-or-treating. From her perspective, Halloween is when you knock on your neighbor’s door, and they answer it–but then they don’t let you in. What’s the point of that?

It’s always been a struggle. Not because it particularly matters to us whether she wants to, but because we want her to understand what it is, and see if she can find a way to make it fun for herself. There would be a parade at her day care that she had to be wrangled through–the teachers made those costumes–and then in the evening we’d try to get her out into the neighborhood.

Each year, it was harder than you’d think. There was the time she refused to wear layers (shirt and tights were fine, but not the elephant part of the costume). After many tears, she decided to wear all of her Elmo clothing. It worked. The next year, she rejected the costume we’d bought her AND the one from day care, finally settling on my shirt worn backward. The year after that, we laid out every costume and clothing item we could think of, and she chose soccer ball fleece PJs–although once she was done with her abbreviated neighborhood circuit, she added Anna’s ball gown from Frozen.

This year, we looked at the restrictions required by the school and settled on gray leggings, gray t-shirt, and elephant headgear (we bought two headbands with ears and a hat). But yesterday I pointed out that she’d spent the week saying “I am a fire fighter” and “I am a doctor,” following a LOT of viewings of Elmo’s World DVDs. And I remembered that at some point, someone had given her a doctor costume. So I unwrapped it, and she instantly fell in love with the idea. She wore it all afternoon, and tried to sleep in it, and put it back on enthusiastically for this morning’s parade at school.

Small girl in scrubs costume running

Paging Dr. Baguette

She was still wearing it when Mr. Sandwich picked her up, and didn’t take it off until they were in the store looking at fire fighter costumes. They brought one home, but its velcro fasteners proved unacceptable. Out of all of the costumes we’d spread across the couch, which one did she pick?

The elephant-ear headband.

So we headed out with our elephant for trick-or-treating, but it turned out that Baguette had no interest in that–she just wanted to go for a walk around the block.

The whole point is to have fun, and for the first time, Halloween was really fun for her.

I couldn’t be happier.

Summer Recap

I haven’t posted in a while. Or much this year at all. Turns out, life’s exhausting.

Baguette finished TK in June, and we promptly left for a week’s vacation in Santa Barbara. Where I drank a lot of coffee, we went to the zoo manymanymany times, and she lost a tooth! We don’t usually go that early, but it turned out that there was a week-long gap between the end of school and the start of summer camp.

label on coffee dispenser reading "Obama Blend: an optimistic blend of Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaiian"

small girl sitting on small statue of elephant, with a hat on its head

Naturally, she was sick for the first few days of summer camp.

Then, after not-a-week of camp, she started summer school. This was by virtue of a revision to her IEP. In theory, fine. In practice? We weren’t so sure.

The challenge was that summer school only ran until about 12:45. That’s far short of the end of the workday. Neither of us works nearby, and it would be really hard to drop her off mid-day anyhow.

That meant Baguette would need to take the school bus from summer school to camp.

This was not her actual bus.

This was not her actual bus.

We had severe doubts about this. It just didn’t seem like something that would work. She’d never been on a bus of any kind, and she’d never been in a vehicle without one of us or a grandparent (and, let’s face it, that mostly means us).

The first couple of days were rough, as they worked out the details of the route. The ride was too long, and Baguette would arrive at camp screaming and crying. But she never balked at getting on the bus, and we started packing Dr. Seuss books so that she’d have some entertainment.

She decided she loved the bus. She started telling her aide that she wanted to ride the bus, long before it was time to leave for the day.

After four weeks, summer school was over, and it was back to all day at camp. No bus. Baguette was disappointed, but she rallied.

And after another three weeks, it was time to start kindergarten. So here we are, in kindergarten. We’re still trying to figure things out, primarily because there has been a lot of change–new special ed teacher, new principal, new classroom, and more.

Fingers crossed.

School bus photo by dfirecopy, via Flickr. Public domain.

Role-Playing

Princess Anna has left the building.

Small girl in purple cloak walking away

She’s got a sister to catch.

Small girl in purple cloak running

Baguette has been watching Frozen again. She’s quoting a lot and singing more of the songs, she’s wearing costumes based on what is happening on screen, and she’s acting out scenes (mostly the sequence where Anna leaves Arendelle to go after Elsa and gets lost in the snow. I play the role of the horse).

Today, she decided that, like Anna and Elsa, she was going to take her cloak out into the world and have an adventure.

You go, Baguette. That cloak is washable.

Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out

You know how some people have a junk drawer? For the past several years, we’ve had a junk room.

That wasn’t the plan. It was supposed to be my office, for the freelancing business I was going to have on the side. But that’s not now things turned out.

To begin with, I don’t freelance. I have a business license and no business, which means that every year I get to tell the City of Los Angeles that I am happy to pay them a percentage of $0. Add to that the fact that we have no time and no energy, and that means that on the rare occasions that we clean up, we wind up making stacks of things and then saying, “Just put that in the office.”

What that meant was that we had a room so full of stuff that we wouldn’t let Baguette go in there. We went in as little as possible, and then felt guilty just looking at the closed door. Our house is not that big, which means that removing a room from use drastically reduces our available space.

So last week, Mr. Sandwich and I took two days off of work. We sorted and threw out and recycled. We made a trip a day to Goodwill. And, based on a tip from a co-worker, we made multiple trips to Office Depot to deposit papers in the locked shredding bins that will be disposed of by Iron Mountain.

We pushed on through the weekend, and are continuing throughout the house. But this room was by far the worst, and that meant it was the place to start. So what did that process look like?

Thursday
1-Thursday2

Friday
2-Friday2

Saturday
3-Saturday2

Sunday
4-Sunday2

Monday
5-Monday2

We’re exhausted. But we feel much better.

My Top 4 July 4ths

Counting up:

4) The year I went to Battery Point to see the Tall Ships. I think I may have spent the day alone, with the exception of the homeless woman for whom I bought breakfast, but it was a really nice day. Hot, mind you. But the ships were worth the heat and humidity.

3) Manhattan rooftop parties. A friend from college and I started out at a party on a balcony overlooking the Roosevelt Island tramway. You know, the one Spider-Man rescues Mary Jane Watson from in the first Tobey Maguire movie. Then we went to an actual rooftop to see fireworks over the East River. The only problem? We couldn’t see the fireworks. Between the humidity and the smoke, there very quickly was no visibility. All we could see was a colorful glow through the fog or smog or vog or whatever it was. Booms and red-glowing mist? It was like watching a psychedelic war zone.

2) Grilling. I lived in Austin, and my parents lived in San Antonio. This particular Fourth, they were on a cruise. So my brother, who was house-sitting, and his best friend decided to have a cookout. I decided to join them, because the air conditioning in my apartment was nominal at best. It was a Thursday, which meant I worked Friday–so I drove down Thursday morning, helped get ready for dinner–the guys grilled everything but the fries–watched area fireworks from the upstairs window, and drove back up to Austin before work the next morning. Nothing had changed about my air conditioning, so that evening I drove back to San Antonio and spent the weekend indoors.

1) Pop goes the question! Mr. Sandwich and I were long-distance for all three years that we dated, with him in Los Angeles and me in New Jersey. There were a lot of plane flights back and forth, which meant a lot of frequent flier miles. I planned a trip out and discovered that I had enough miles for a business class seat–which definitely beat paying for coach. What beat the business class seat? It turned out that this was the weekend Mr. Sandwich had chosen to propose. I inadvertently ruined his plans, I said yes, we went to celebrate with friends, one of my bridesmaids took me to try on wedding gowns at a shop FAR outside my budget, and in the airport on the way back, I realized that all of those wedding magazines now applied to me. Flying business class did not even come close. I really don’t see what could.

multicolored fireworks in midair

Photo by dider.camus. Public Domain.