Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Shoes

The coveted traveling shoes.

Future garage band?

I went to a party last night hosted by my friend Shannon. She asked us to bring two cans of food for the Food Pantry and clothing, shoes, jewelry, purses or other accessories to "swap". If you wanted to take an item home, you donated $1 per item towards the Food Pantry. All leftover items are being donated to Haven House, our local shelter for women. While it is unfortunate that I live in a world where many people still do not have enough to eat and many women do not feel safe in their own homes, I am grateful that I live in a town with a Food Pantry, a Haven House, and many people like Shannon, who work very hard to keep these services available.

My friend Alana made off with a fabulous pair of shoes donated by Chris' kindergarten teacher, Jennifer. Jennifer bought them for a trip to Las Vegas but couldn't actually wear them and ended up carrying them around the casino (I'm sure she looked really hot anyway!). These shoes were the envy of the party. Everyone wanted a pair. Except me, because my foot still hurts from trying on high heels when Alana and I were at Value Village in Anchorage a couple of weeks ago. Alana offered to loan them out to anyone who needed them for a night, a weekend or a special trip. I got the idea this morning to call us the Sisterhood of the Traveling Shoes.

This blog isn't really about shoes. It's about friends and how important it is to have them. I'm waiting for a phone call right now from Lisa, one of my oldest friends. I don't mean she's old, I mean I've known her since I was 12. Lisa and I met in at Girl Scouts. I met my friend Kelly, who is living in Belgium now, when I was in third grade. She used to be really mean to me. On the first day of school she drew a line down the center of the desk we shared and said, "this is my side, this is your side" If my pencil so much as poked it's tip over the line she would push it back and say, "you're on my side of the desk!" One day I finally asked in a tiny voice "Why are you so mean to me?" She gasped and asked incredulously, "Have I been mean to you? Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!" We became best friends in third grade and have been good friends ever since. I guess that proves the theory that some bullies are just friends waiting to be befriended.

In the past 6 months, I have been so overwhelmed with being the mother of four children, one of them a newly adopted toddler from an orphange in Vietnam, that I have not really had the time or energy to be a very good friend. I gave myself permission to act as if I had a newborn baby and didn't do much more than I had to. This past week I found myself wondering about old friends I hadn't heard from for a long time and fired off emails asking for confirmation that I was still loved and needed. The replies were a resounding yes. One friend commented that I have always been good at surrounding myself with a great support system. That is quite true. I have always been blessed with a wonderful support system, everywhere that I have ever lived.

Sharon, Alana and me in Anchorage.

Alana and Suzanne at the clothing swap/canned food drive.

Alana meets Maya and me for lunch.

This week marked the 6 month anniversary of Maya joining our family. She is behaving just like our social worker said she would at 6 months. Not that she had a reservations about letting us know what she wanted and didn't want. Now she even tells us where to go and expresses her wants and needs in a very LOUD manner. She goes from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds, and her volume goes from 0 to 10 in about 1 second. She tells us to "STAY!" and holds her hand up, palm out, just like we learned to do when went to puppy obedience school with our first dog 12 years ago. When she wants something she shouts louder and louder as if we didn't hear her the first time. If she doesn't get her way she stamps her tiny little foot and growls at us. Fortunately, I can usually redirect her by asking if she would like to go to her room.

On Wednesday we met with the special needs preschool teacher at our local elementary school. Maya joined right in with the other kids in pretend play. We met with the speech therapist who will take over when Maya turns 3. Susan, our occupational therapist from Birth 2 Three met us there to help Maya's transition to the new preschool. She has been acting as the liason between Birth 2 Three and the school district. I can't say enough good things about Susan. On December 12th we meet with the teacher and Robin from district office again for the Eligibility Meeting. You would think that a 34 month old child who only eats pureed food and has the speech pattern of an 18 month old would have no trouble qualifying for services but there are many children with special needs more urgent than hers.

For quite some time now I suspected that Maya's feeding difficulty is a multifaceted problem. I think I have now identified all the factors involved. The root of the problem, I think, is an oral neuromotor delay from being bottle propped for the first year, then fed only pureed foods for the second year and a half. The next layer comes from being a picky eater. On top of that, add a very small appetite and an even smaller attention span (she would rather play than eat). Finally, add a generous amount of control issues and you've got Maya. The only layer I've been able to do anything about is my reaction to her control issues. Some days I do better than others. Funny thing about her control issues is that they bring out all my control issues.

I never even knew I had control issues. I pretty much let my other three children run all over me, never forcing them to help out, take naps or go to bed on time. I don't know if I'm just getting too old or if I have too many children now to let them run my life. Of course I still totally organize around my kids, but I refuse to let my home be a turned into a three ring circus. Even as I say this, I look around and see a home that is much messier than a three ring circus. Granted, there are no piles of large animal droppings, but it's pretty dismal in the tidiness department. I hate to admit there's even peanut shell crumbs inbedded in the couch and the carpet after Chris and I watched Toy Story together yesterday while Maya napped and Riley went to "power skating clinic" with his friend, Bradley. I remember remarking to Chris that peanuts in the shell should only be eaten at the circus or baseball stadiums. They sure were yummy!

It's raining and blowing outside. It's gray and cold and ugly. The days are short and so is my temper. I get pleasure from the small things in life, like eating peanuts while watching movies with my kids, and swapping shoes with my girlfriends. May it always be so.

These are NOT the traveling shoes. Alana bought these at Value Village.


Stevens Family said...

Great story about the shoes! I'm having fun catching up with old friends on Facebook these days (means I have a bad habit of moving away from all my friends ever few years).

I hear ya on the 6 month home mark. I have little miss bossy pants and she's such a riot.

Kelshel said...

Hey, I'm Kelly the ex-bully. I tell my children that story all the time - especially now that poor Claudia is dealing with bullies herself!!! Maybe I'll have her try your strategy.

You didn't mention the size of the shoes. They are fantastic!

USCGbrown said...

Hi Matt and Irene, How is Alaska? We are loving California. Your family is sure beautiful. It is nice to keep up with you all. Love you, Laura and Josh Brown

Fuson's in Alaska said...

As always, love your blog... mine is so boring. LOVE the shoes!!! Wish my feet were smaller!!!