Posted: June 17th, 2016 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Minneapolis Schools, Misc., Out and About, Parenting, Stream of Consciousness | No Comments »
I just want to write.
Every night as my head hits the pillow, my eyes blink open and that thought flashes across my mind. I just want to write. But when? How? What do I even write about?
I’m in the deep end of the parenting pool, and I’m treading water like crazy. Everyone is so loud. Everyone needs me all of the time. Yesterday I actually told my kids that I was going to run away and never come back. And for a few minutes, I think I actually meant it. We aren’t far enough into summer for me to be losing my grip here. Don’t even get me started on the state of my house.
There is a lot of energy in my house. My almost 6-year old is without his best friend Monday-Thursday, and spends the day antagonizing everyone from dawn til dusk. There is not enough coffee in the world to enable me to start the day on the right foot with him. I do not do mornings well to begin with, and I dread getting up when I hear him downstairs at 6am. Which is in itself a problem- 6am?! It’s summer, we have nowhere to be in the mornings. Why must my kids get up at 6am?
My 2-year old just figured out how to climb out of his crib, so naps and bedtimes are a nightmare, and we are suddenly back into up-all-night sleep deprivation mode. I was completely spoiled by the ability to put him in his crib, let him snuggle in and be awake for awhile, and then fall asleep on his own. Now we are all rocking and shushing, and sitting in front of the crib and putting him back when he climbs out. Did I mention he is still nursing? He’s still nursing. We’ve been trying to wean for a good year at this point and although I think we are close, I’m completely over it.
My 7-year olds are (as usual) the easier of the four to keep entertained during the day, mostly because there are endless screenplays to read on the internet, and the yoga balls are in abundance. Easy if you ignore the fact that one of them likes to dump all of my jewelry out and drag it all over the house, and the other one won’t wear pants. Easy if you ignore the fact that we are all on constant lockdown because they are an elopement risk and my biggest fear is one of them leaving and me not being able to track them down and/or catch up to them. But they aren’t yelling at me at 6am, so that goes a long way.
We wrapped up all spring sports and activities! Newsflash: much to my surprise, I am not cut out to be a sports mom. I have zero patience for watching games, and even less patience for chasing my other kids around parks and fields while their sibling plays. I also really like not having things scheduled at night. Maybe it’s good none of them like hockey.
Speaking of sports moms, I got to witness another mom walk out onto the field during a game to yell at MY KID for throwing sand. Of course every other kid was also throwing sand at the time (this is T-Ball after all), mine just happened to throw sand at her kid. Asher’s Mom- Your face is seared into my brain.
We spent approximately 10% of our income on various car repairs and major appliance replacements in May. So that was fun. I’m never getting a new couch.
My 5-year old took it upon himself to open up a can of paint, and proceed to paint on our walls, and his bed frame when I allowed him to stay home while Yogi Dad was on a conference call (home, but not supervising). I guess I need to actually get the painting done this summer. Anyone like to paint?
We finally figured out what our upstairs ceiling was made of. The weird ceiling that when we bought the house we told the realtor we would eventually replace because it’s weird, and ugly? ASBESTOS. The ceiling is made from asbestos. Because OF COURSE IT IS. I guess we just paint over it and live with it, because we probably aren’t going to be replacing it anytime soon. Shouldn’t that have been in the truth in sale of housing documents? It feels like that might be important information.
Another important piece of information that we recently learned was the fact that the teacher hired from Spain to teach in my 5-year old’s brand new Spanish dual immersion program last year, was a gym teacher when he taught in Spain. Nothing against gym teachers, but I think we can all agree that this was a major oversight on the hiring team. He was not a general education teacher. He was not a dual immersion teacher. He was not a kindergarten teacher. I’m not sure how many times I asked what he taught, but it was never specifically stated, and the answer always led me to believe that he just taught a grade other than kindergarten. Of course, I didn’t learn this information until we had already pulled our kids from the school for next year, partially due to the fact that the Spanish immersion experience had been so poor. I am disappointed on so many levels. But mostly I fear that we wasted my son’s entire kindergarten year. We put a lot of faith in the district and our administrators that this was going to be great. We knew it would be hard starting a new program, but we trusted that it would work out. It was a total fail.
(Now I’m just sitting here angry. Think Lovely Thoughts!)
Libraries. Dude. I finally updated my card and I’m newly obsessed with working on my To-Read list without feeding my Amazon addiction. The best thing so far is the audio books. I spend way too much time doing dishes every day, and listening to something I want to read is making those hours feel like less of a loss. Also: podcasts. I’m sorry I ever turned my nose up at the podcasters at the blogging conferences!
Ice Cream. This is the summer of ice cream. Northeast Minneapolis needs a good ice cream shop, it sounds like we have donuts figured out, but our ice cream options are lacking. In the meantime we are eating our weight in DQ.
Neighborhood pools- best invention ever.
My gardens are really coming along, there wasn’t much here when we bought the house, and we have since removed all of the shrubs and replaced with perennials, so it’s a work in progress. If I like it, I stick it in the dirt, so there isn’t much rhyme or reason to what is happening there, but now that things have had a year or two to establish, I can see where we need to move things around a bit.
Our summer is pretty well stocked with fun things to do. I hope the boys enjoy our daytrips and vacations. I hope that I can enjoy them and not just be constantly stressed. Cross your fingers for me?
Aaaannnd we’re back to negative, so I’m going to stop right there for now.
Posted: November 3rd, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Stream of Consciousness | No Comments »
It’s November. In Minnesota. And it’s 70 degrees out.
I’m staring at my backyard that is still covered with kid toys, and lawn tools, and an unfinished patio, and I can’t help but think we are playing with fire here. It’s going to actually be winter soon, and then those toys and lawn tools will be covered in snow, and that unfinished patio project will cease to just be an eyesore and turn into a major hazard for anyone trying to walk across the backyard. We need to get on this stuff, but the weather is not conducive to getting everything put away for the winter.
We need to rake! We need to mow! We need to put away the trampoline and the patio furniture! I need to put down grass seed! We need to fill in that damn hole before someone breaks a leg! But I’m over here ignoring all of it. I’m enjoying these days of having the windows open and the breeze blowing through. It makes up for the craziness of darkness at 5pm thanks to daylight savings time.
I never get used to the early darkness. By 6:00 I’m ready to tuck everyone into bed and sit on my ass. Instead I have an endless list of places to be: PTO, CPEO, SEAC, Site Council, Partners in Policymaking, and on and on and on. When did I become a joiner?
Winter is coming. It’s my favorite time of year. When everything gets covered in a quieting blanket of snow. When the air has that distinct winter snow smell that I can’t ever describe. When it’s OK to sit inside and be cozy, and churn out baked goods, and burn candles, and wear sweaters, and plan holiday meals and map out holiday traditions on the calendar.
Winter is coming. I hope it snows.
Posted: September 9th, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Parenting, Stream of Consciousness, Stuff I Like | Tags: Kitten | No Comments »
We told the boys they could have a kitten.
This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, except I have been saying for the past year that I am in no uncertain terms, done with pets. D.O.N.E. And then a friend with a pregnant cat offers up kittens, and half jokingly I asked Yogi Dad if we should get a kitten, only to be met with a very enthusiastic- Yes!
So, we are getting a kitten.
“Because all kids should have the experience of raising a pet.”
To prepare for this kitten, who is expected to come earthside sometime in late September/early October, we need to get the last of the carpet out of our house. I can’t have cats and carpet. More specifically, I can’t have Henry-Simon, and a new kitten, and carpet. I can barely have Henry-Simon and carpet as it is. He’s kind of a passive aggressive asshole that way. I’m anticipating some angst-y days after our little furball friend joins us. I have visions of him just giving up the cat box altogether to show his displeasure at the situation.
That said, I’m hoping Henry-Simon enjoys this new addition. He seems lonely without Audrey and Stanley. He needs someone to bum around with. He needs someone to get him up and moving instead of hiding under the bed all day long. He needs someone to boss around. Someone that isn’t me.
The major conversation around our house lately revolves around what to name this kitten. We get first choice of the girls, so I’ve been rallying for Gertie. I think it fits well with Audrey/Henry-Simon/Stanley. So far I’ve only convinced Lincoln that *this* is the name for our kitten. Wyatt and Judah have settled on Gnocchi, like the cat on Curious George.
It’s been almost 14 years since we’ve adopted a new pet. Where will she sleep? How will we contain her? What if she gets out and is eaten by the neighborhood fox or one of those gigantic blackbirds that are everywhere?! So many things going through my mind. I need new cat bowls, and a collar, and something to scratch on, and heaps of catnip to keep Henry-Simon content.
I’m excited for the boys to meet this new addition. I don’t know what I was thinking saying I was done with pets. As if that could ever be good.
Posted: May 31st, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Autism, Early Intervention, Living in the City, Minneapolis Schools, Parenting | Tags: acceleration 2020, ASP Program, Burroughs, Citywide autism program, Minneapolis Public Schools, Sheridan | 1 Comment »
If you are going to make big sweeping changes to how something is done, you need to communicate early (and often!) to the people those changes will be affecting. This seems like a simple rule, but it’s not always put into practice.
Over the past few months our district has been talking about upcoming changes to the autism program. I have zero issues with the current program, it’s been fabulous for the boys, and they are thriving. We are very happy in Minneapolis Public Schools. At the Monthly SEAC meetings I’ve attended, any discussion about the changes have made sense to me, and I have been comfortable with what is being rolled out. There has been very little push-back to the changes at the meetings I’ve been to.
If the changes are implemented well, this could be a great way of getting kids back into their classrooms, back into their community schools (vs being segregated into cluster schools), and more aligned with the federal settings.
I am not so naive as to believe there will not be stumbling blocks, or that the changes will be right for every single child, but I think the reasons for the changes are sound, and I think the changes are overall good, and I think this could really work.
I seem to be very alone in my opinions, at least I haven’t found many other parents who agree (or are willing to speak up on the matter). I am starting to think this is because the vast majority of parents do not know about the changes yet, and those who do are being informed by a very vocal group of parents who are absolutely outraged (Call the media! This is Criminal! This is detrimental to our kids!) vs by the people who should be sharing the information: the people who came up with the plan- the Special Education department.
You can not imagine how much this has made me question my sanity or intelligence. How can I, an educated mother of two autistic sons entering 1st grade, be so daft as to think these changes are OK, when everyone else is screaming for every advocate in the sate to take up the cause of putting an end to these changes? I’ve asked nearly everyone I know who has seen and heard the same information if I am missing something, and I have been assured I am not.
Am I just more level-headed? Maybe I can see past the knee-jerk reaction to freak out whenever something will affect the boys, and give it a chance? Maybe I am more trusting in my boy’s abilities? Maybe I am too trusting of the boy’s educators to want the best for them? Maybe I can see the good the changes will bring? Maybe I am right and they are wrong? Maybe we are both right?
What I want to know is this- what would the motivation be for a district to set up kids for such failure? Because that is what these parents are saying these changes amount to- nothing but detrimental, criminal level failure of our children, who will be no doubt ostracized in the process, and left on their own to fumble through. Apparently in this world, IEPs don’t exist, and neither do federal settings.
So far all I’m hearing is the token “it’s all about the budget”, but I hate to break it to you, in a school district EVERYTHING is about the budget.
There has to be more. I don’t think the district would do something to cause this much blowback, if they didn’t think the changes were good, and important, and that kids would be supported.
At this point I want to completely remove myself from the conversation. Those who are talking the loudest do not want to hear dissent. They are only interested in finding people who agree, or those who haven’t heard any information yet, because they can be easily swayed. And really, what could I possibly say? I have nothing to back myself up- there is nowhere to direct people to get information at this point.
Do you see what I mean about communicating early and often? The district has already lost on this, because they are letting a group of unhappy parents write the script. As we go into the last week of the school year, with the last SEAC meeting this Thursday, I just want to skip ahead to August, and have the changes in place.
Let’s get some information out there MPS. Stop letting this conversation be based on fear and negative propaganda.
Posted: January 27th, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Autism, Early Intervention, Speech, Therapy | 1 Comment »
It’s been just over 4 years since the word “autism” was brought into our life.
The boys have had many (MANY!) evaluations. They have logged countless hours of speech, and OT. They have graduated from an autism day treatment program, and they stand before me looking far different than they did on that December day, when Early Intervention came for a speech evaluation.
Today, after 3.5 years of speech and OT, the boys have “graduated” from Fraser.
This is most likely just a break from speech and OT, and a much needed one. We are now mentally in a place where this seems like the right thing, the best thing, and we are not afraid of scaling back to “just” school, and the services they get there. I couldn’t say that two years ago. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t say that a year ago!
The absolute hardest thing for me, is leaving Lincoln’s amazing speech therapist. All of our therapists have been great, but Maureen has been with Lincoln since day 1. From early on, she was his “person”. It certainly wasn’t me or John. It was sometimes Grandma, but mostly Maureen. It took much longer for Lincoln to find his words, we were preparing ourselves for him to never talk. And it was really hard to imagine, considering Wyatt had started picking up sounds and words just a few months after starting ECSE.
But then, he started naming letters. And making more sounds. And then words. And then came the reading. Oh the READING! And now, we have a 6 year old who is constantly narrating life, navigating all of our adventures, and telling some very tall tales.
Today, as we walked from our car to the front door of Fraser, I remembered those first months, when they were not quite 3. The boys had to wear their backpack leashes just to get through the parking lot safely. I was an emotional mess at every session. Everything was overwhelming. Autism was scary.
I recognize that although they still have some issues in waiting rooms (Wyatt can’t walk by a reception desk without checking on the state of the computers), it’s really hard to leave the building without making a dash for the “big gym”, and they still have countless hurdles ahead of them…they have come a really long way. I have come a long way. Autism isn’t nearly as scary as it seemed in 2011.
Today feels really good.
Posted: January 24th, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Perfume, Stuff I Like | No Comments »
I’ve talked about my love of perfume on a few occasions. It’s still going strong, and I’m still working through my list of scents I need to smell. I’m actually adding to that list every week. There is always something new, always something new to fall in love with. A lot of them are niche, or hard to find in the Twin Cities, but there is always something.
A few months ago, I came across a brand new subscription service called Scentbird.
For $14.95 I get an 8ml vial of the designer perfume of my choice, delivered right to my door. Because I never seem to be able to get anywhere other than Target, and dragging kids to the mall sounds about as fun as twisting a rusty fork in my eyeball, this works perfectly for me.
The first month I ordered Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her- and I fell instantly in love. It’s like a sexy, spiced up version of Burberry Brit, which I wore for years. This month I ordered Bulgari Rose Essentielle, which I think I might like more than Stella. Which seems almost blasphemous, as Stella kind of made smelling like roses, hip again.
Each vial is supposed to last for 30 days. I honestly have the majority of each vial left, because I don’t use the same perfume every day, and I don’t wear perfume every day (just most days), so I feel like I’m definitely getting my monies worth out of this service.
I’ve done a few monthly subscriptions in the past, and this is by far my favorite, and the only one I have stuck with for more than a month. I’m five months in, and I can’t see myself stopping unless they discontinue the service. I really hope they don’t, this is my little indulgence. Even my lattes get sucked down by the boys- this is just for me!
Interested in switching up your scent? Please- click my affiliate link. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just really love this, and thought I would share.
Posted: December 20th, 2014 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Misc. | No Comments »
I’ve done it- I actually got my Christmas cards ordered, addressed, stamped, and MAILED…this year! BEFORE CHRISTMAS!
I actually had 4 different orders.
When you have such a hard time getting them out, you don’t buy 100 right out of the gate. You buy 50. And then 20. and then 10 (because there couldn’t possible be anyone else). and then you realize there are lots of anyone elses, and you buy 20 more. And then you get over it and start sending out regular cards without family photos.
This was the first rendition. It’s probably my favorite. Except for some reason the photos of Silas and Lincoln are switched here and look all weird. Oh well- they looked good on the actual cards.
It feels so good to be on top of things for a change, instead of dragging ass and not getting anything done. Christmas is pretty much going to rock this year.
Posted: August 29th, 2014 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Stuff I Like | 1 Comment »
A few months ago, I joined a book club.
I really needed an outlet that didn’t have anything to do with a) Autism, or b) parenting, and this was right up my alley. The books have been fun to read, the company has been great (we’ve only have one meeting, but still- awesome group!). The thing with reading, at least for me, is that once I start, I can’t stop. I start seeing books I want to read everywhere I go. It certainly doesn’t help that a certain member of the group insists on posting new lists every few days. (I kid, I kid- I love the lists!)
This is how I ended up reading Coming to my Senses, by Alyssa Harad.
Way back in 2007, I kind of stumbled upon the online perfume world. I fell. Hard. I was a review reading, decant buying, sample sniffing frag hag. I couldn’t get enough! And then I got pregnant, and promptly lost the ability to enjoy any of it. Over the next few years, my perfume addiction was traded in for a cloth diaper addiction. There have been a few purchases since having kids, but no late night scrolls through forums discussing the new releases or where to find a bottle of a discontinued signature scent*.
But, this book!
This book brought all of that back. It was like taking a trip down memory lane (although I admit she was much more hardcore than I ever was). I absolutely devoured this book. And then I promptly started trying to figure out what perfumes she was talking about in the book (she does not name them all), and then entered my fragrance wardrobe to Basenotes.
After six years of making babies, my nose is in perfect working order. I’m wearing a new scent every day, and I’m loving it. Well, except that Tarentella. That was a scrubber, right up there with Chanel No. 5 (I know. Blasphemy!). This book snapped me out of my mom funk- it gave me back a little piece of me, before kids. And I’m so thankful I stumbled back into this little world.
*Sensi- if you have a bottle of Armani Sensi wallowing at the bottom of a drawer, I’m your girl!
Posted: May 6th, 2014 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Parenting | Tags: Behavior, Judah, Three | No Comments »
I’ve been saying it for a long time. Judah is by far, our hardest kid. He meets his milestones. He has conversations at a level far above that at which he should. He is polite. He is helpful. He is a loving cuddle bug who wants to be with me all. the. time.
I asked for a Mama’s Boy, and I got one.
But, 5% of the time (maybe 10% on a really bad week), he is so difficult, it makes both of us rethink this parenting gig altogether. The thing that works to put the kibosh on his particularly bad behaviors (shouting the F word at John for the duration of his well-visit comes to mind) is just not giving the behavior any attention.
Not a raised eyebrow. Not a dirty look. Certainly not a verbal acknowledgement, time-out or other punishment. The second he knows he’s raised your blood pressure, even just a little bit, it’s like gas on the fire, and he’s going to keep going and going and going, and the bad behaviors start to snowball.
It’s really really HARD to ignore him when he gets into one of these cycles. It took us a long time to figure this out, it was hard to stick to long enough to see results, but it’s what works for him.
With the birth of El Blanco Pequito, the past two months have brought extra help to our house, an extra set of eyes on him, and probably most problematic as it pertains to this: an extra set of eyes on us and our skills as parents. I won’t lie, it’s harder to stick to your guns when grandma is right there expecting some sort of punishment to be doled out.
So, we’ve had a few really difficult weeks, some really terrible behaviors that have reared their ugly head that we thought were long since buried. We’ve snapped on multiple occasions, and the bad behavior fire is roaring. We completely abandoned our policy of ignorance, in an attempt to look like we were “doing something”.
Acknowledging the bad behaviors got us probably the most stressful 2 weeks of parenting so far, culminating in the above mentioned well-visit.
So, after many tears, lots of yelling, and talking to multiple professionals, we are back to our original plan.
Aside from a few attempts at getting us to waiver (“Mom? What does…MUCK mean?”), things have been pretty calm the past few days.
This is far from the last parenting hurdle we will ever face, but it has taught us one thing- we know our kids. We know what makes them tick, we need to have faith in ourselves and our decisions, and not change tactics because we happen to have an audience.
Posted: April 29th, 2014 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Birth, C-Section | Tags: Birth, Family, Kids, Mom stuff, Silas | 1 Comment »
(Let’s pretend I didn’t just completely neglect this space for the better part of the past year and jump right into the here and now, shall we?)
This kid joined our family:
7 pounds, 11 ounces
At first he looked like this:
All nice and pink*, and
perfectly happy not impressed to be on the outside.
I got to keep him with me in the OR:
Is it bad that the only thing I could think of when I finally got to hold him was that his crying was probably distracting the doctors from doing their jobs and they were probably going to kick him out if he didn’t quiet down? Yeah, those were my loving thoughts in the moments after he was born.
Also: he looks like a blonde Wyatt!
I finally felt like a human being:
Those really crappy months of hyperemesis with the constant nausea, and the vomiting, and the IV poles, and the drugs?
Let’s cuddle cute fat baby!
And order dinner.**
And this is you now:
Well, three weeks ago this was you. You have fatter cheeks now.
And this is what a house with 4 boys looks like:
We are so happy you joined us.
*And bloated from the copious amounts of fluids they pumped into me to keep my blood pressure from tanking during my c-section.
**I will have one of everything and I will inhale it.