Sunday, November 21, 2010

Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional

Last month, on the way home from my nephew’s baptism party, my husband said, in a shocked tone, “That was the best family party we have ever been to.The kids were amazing and had so much fun! I wasn’t even stressed out or worried about the kids getting over stimulated. What just happened?”

Throughout the rest of our 3-hour car drive home, we discussed what had made this particular party so much fun. We also compared it to other parties that were not nearly so pleasant. Parties that ended in tears and meltdowns, parties that we had to leave because one of our kids was just too over stimulated to handle.Parties that I swore would be the last I attended because things had gone so poorly for Danny and/or Charlotte.

We realized this particular party in September had been so successful because we have some family members who are 100% committed to making family gatherings pleasant for my two SPD kids.

I'm over at Hartley's blog today, so click here to read more......

And if you are interested in reading my post about scooter board activities, click here.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Zumba, bacon and hubris



You've probably all heard of Zumba, the fitness craze that is sweeping the nation, somewhat like Jazzercize did back in the day. When I discovered that there are a number of Zumba classes offered in my smallish, rural-ish town, I thought, "Hey, maybe I should 'Join the Party,' as Zumba fanatics apparently say.

Actually, my first thought was, "What? This town is actually hip enough to have Zumba classes? Wow." I mean, not to belittle my town, but we don't even have a Target. Seriously. But I digress.

I went to the class for the first time last week and I attended another one this evening, and I have to say, I really like it. For those of you not in the know, Zumba is basically a dance aerobics class with really great music. The moves are a combination of Latin and, well, I don't know. But they are fun.

One caveat, though: if you are thinking of attending a class, you might not want to make bacon that evening for your kids. Because then, you would come to class reeking of the stuff, even though, you very conscientiously changed clothes before venturing out. Apparently, the stench got in your hair and possibly your blood system, so that when you sweat (and you WILL sweat, let me assure you) you will emit bacon fumes that will make concentrating on the moves extremely difficult. Not to mention how hungry you will be for a good BLT.

I wouldn't be surprised if women leaving the class headed over to Denny's for pancakes and extra bacon tonight.

I didn't seem to have too difficult of a time picking up the steps tonight. I think I really have a knack. I was doing all the cha cha cha, salsa and cumbia moves with no problem, smugly noticing the women around me who weren't catching on as quickly. I had found my groove. This Zumba stuff was for me! I was good.

I wasn't surprised really. I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I was the only white girl at many a quinceanara in high school and later my Latino ESL students taught me lots of great moves. I love Latin dancing.

So, I shimmied and danced and was sure that the teacher had noticed how great I was. I knew she must be wondering who I was and where I had come from. Where in the world had I learned those moves? she mused. What a natural, she thought. I was convinced she would pull me aside after class and insist that I take over for her, no training required.

I was that good.

Then, roused from my reverie, I looked around and realized that I was doing the totally wrong moves, and unfortunately, I caught a fleeting glimpse of myself in the thankfully small mirror. Let's just say I looked as if I had been possessed by an epileptic spirit who loves to gyrate her hips.

It's not actually a very attractive sight. Take my word.

This is why, what I am most grateful for, this Thanksgiving season, is that the lights in Zumba class are kept off. Oh, and that I never tried out for "So You Think You Can Dance."

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Check out the Spin Cycle for some great posts about gratitude

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Experts

A few months back, I received an email from Hartley Steiner. Hartley from Hartley's Life with 3 Boys. You know, Hartley, who is the award winning author of This is Gabriel Making Sense of School and who has dedicated her blog to SPD and autism awareness and supporting other special needs parents. Yes, this is Hartley, whose blog I have loved since the moment I discovered it. So, I was super excited to be receiving mail from her.

Imagine my surprise when she asked me to be a contributor to her blog. I was really touched and not a little worried that perhaps she had made a mistake. This worry only intensified when I discovered who her other contributors would be. Alysia from Defying Gravity, Caitlin from Welcome to Normal and Michelle from She's Always Write are all bloggers who I admire and respect.

Luckily, Hartley hasn't come to her senses and decided that I don't fit in with these super talented and intelligent women, because I love contributing to her blog!

Today is my first post over at HLW3B. You can check it out here:

Hartley's Life with 3 Boys

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I want to be when I grow up


Whenever I deliver Meals on Wheels I can't help but wonder what I will be like when I am elderly. I know some things are inevitable; no matter how well I care for myself, I am likely to suffer from some ill health when I age. Most of the people on my route are unable to drive anymore, and some of them cannot even walk. Others suffer from hearing loss, diabetes, and general decline in health.

I would like to think that I will not have these problems when I get older, but in all likelihood, my physical health will not be at the same level it is now, not even close. My mobility will probably decline and my worst fear about aging may come true: my vision may deteriorate so that I will no longer be able to read.

I know these things, but I still cling to the notion that aging doesn't have to be a miserable experience. I can be an upbeat, happy older person, if I want to, right? Well, I definitely have some great examples to emulate on my route.

There's Edith, who is very hard of hearing and is over 80 years old. She has some difficulty getting around, but she is always delighted to see my children. Edith greets us with a big smile and immediately heads to her pantry to retrieve several packets of McDonald's cookies for the kids. I'm disappointed on the days that Edith is not at home, because speaking with her always lifts my mood. She's got a fun, spunky, upbeat attitude that makes me wish I could pull up a chair and spend the morning with her.

I talked at length with a new woman on the route who reminded me of all I have to be grateful for. She, like most of the MOW people, has had a rough life. She can no longer walk and is missing at least one finger. She just lost her husband of 50 years last Spring, and wasn't even able to say goodbye to him, because she was in the hospital when he unexpectedly passed away. Still, rather than complain about her struggles and grief, she told me how grateful she was to have been married to a man whom she loved so much.

Another woman watched from her armchair as Charlotte did a little jig in her apartment. The woman commented on how now that she is older she can no longer dance. Instead of being wistful, though, she said how grateful she was that she used to be able to dance and how nice it was to be reminded of that time.

At each of these women's homes, I came away thinking, "That's how I want to be when I get older! I know it isn't easy, but they have all maintained a really positive attitude, and that is how I want to be when I get to be their age."

And that's when it hit me: if I want to be like these marvelous women when I am older, I need to emulate them now. It's not like the minute I am eligible for the senior's discount at McDonald's my personality will suddenly morph into that of a positive, grateful, pleasant person. If only that were the case.

If I can't be grateful now when my blessings in life are so abundantly clear, I probably don't stand a chance when I age; I'm totally going to be a crusty old woman who yells at cute little kids and kicks puppies.

Unless I change.

So, here's to me working to become more like Edith and the other fantastic women on my Meals on Wheels route. It'll be hard work, but the puppies will thank me.