Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Appointment

I have really struggled since my diagnosis in 2013.  The idea of dying and leaving my daughters behind just absolutely gutted me.  Before my surgery, the doctors were hopeful that it was contained to my appendix, in which case, the long term prognosis was very good.  If any of the cells get into the abdomen, though, it would be a very different story.  After my surgery, the pathology was unfortunately murky, and they were not able to tell me much about prognosis.  It's been very wait-and-see, with regular monitoring appointments.  In dealing with this uncertainty, I've had moments where I'm completely fine, and moments when I can't deal at all.  But when I think about the girls. . .that's the piece of it I just can't even contemplate.  I can't leave them.  I just can't.  They need me, and I need to be here for them.

So every time I have to go for a monitoring appointment, it is extremely stressful for me.  Will this be the moment when everything changes?  The weeks and days leading up to the appointment, the drive to a nearby city to see a specialist, that space in between the CT scan and the doctor delivering the news. . .it's just all really tough.

I am coming up on three years now.  It will be three years at Christmastime.  But I got sick of doing my appointments close to the holidays, because I felt like it cast a dark shadow over a time of year I love.  So I bumped the appointments, so they are no longer around the holidays.  It hasn't gotten any easier, these appointments, but at least they do not overshadow the most festive time of year.

Which is a long way of saying that I just had my monitoring appointment, and it went well.  There is no sign of a recurrence.  Or in my doctor's words, my "scans look good"  Every time she says it, I think she's saying my skin looks good.  So weird that I misheard her in that way.  But anyway, she also said this time that most recurrences are found in the first two years after this type of neoplasm.  They'll continue to monitor me for five years, and I won't be totally considered out of the woods until 10 years out.  It's the first time that I've really been able to exhale.  Maybe, just maybe, I can stop worrying about the "what ifs" and start living totally in the now.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

First Days of School and an ER Visit

I have mostly been doing okay with my impending medical appointment.  It really helped to write about it.  But honestly, that is not the only thing I've been having anxiety about.  The constant rushing around, the high cost of everything in America, the lack of family time, work stuff, the ordinary day-to-day stress of regular life. . .it has all felt oppressive lately.  I'm trying to step back a little bit and savor the moments, but it is tough.

Miss M had her first day of school this past week.  The school is an amazing fit.  She is a part of it, just like that.  It is everything that her school last year was not.  It's a bilingual school again, and she is cranky about having to do 50% of her time in Spanish, but I'm sure it's an effort after largely not having to speak it all summer.  She'll quickly settle in, I know, as her Spanish is good.  She has friends, and she comes home happy every day.  It's been perfectly seamless.

Before she went back to school, I had another week of vacation with the girls, which was lovely.  Unfortunately, SB fell at the playground and dislocated her elbow, which was high drama.  We had gone out to do a quick errand via public transportation, and then we got ice cream, and we were walking around and spotted a playground.  The girls begged to stop and play, and of course I let them.  I was sitting there in the sun, watching them play and truly just enjoying the moment.  As I watched Miss M, I heard a terrible noise come from SB, who had fallen while I wasn't paying attention to her.

I knew as soon as I heard the noise that it was bad.  She had tried to jump off a fairly low platform on the playground in order to reach the monkey bars, which had rings that dangled down.  She'd missed, and had landed with her arm underneath her and twisted backwards.  I ran over, and when I sort of lifted her torso off her arm, I could see that the bone was pushed out of place.  Where there should have been smooth lower arm skin, there was an extra fold.  I still cringe thinking about it.

I scooped her up and ran to the road nearby, which is a major thoroughfare.  I thought I'd be able to grab a cab, but after a few minutes, there were none in sight, so I ran over to a nearby hotel.  They kindly had their town car driver take us to the hospital, for which I will be eternally grateful.  Anyway, it all worked out fine.  The hospital had an amazing pediatric emergency room (which I didn't know existed--good to know!), and they were incredibly kind.  X-rays showed the arm wasn't broken.  They put it in a partial cast to immobilize it until we could see the ortho, and gave SB some morphine to make her comfortable.  It was all fine in the end.  Parenting!  It's not for the faint of heart.

When we followed up with the ortho a few days later, he concurred that the arm was not broken, and removed the cast.  Her arm was swollen to more than twice its normal size, and pretty bruised.  It's still pretty bruised, actually, but getting better.  Over the last week, the swelling has really come down, and it's bothering her less and less.  The ortho did want her in the sling until after Labor Day, but. . .SB had other ideas.  She has a crazy high pain threshold, so she just kept saying it didn't hurt.  Ah, my little wild woman.  Anyway, she's doing great, and I'm relieved it's not broken.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I--CAN'T--SLEEP!!!!!  And it's making me crazy.  It's been getting increasingly worse.  First, I was falling asleep fine, but then waking for long stretches in the middle of the night.  Now, I can't get to sleep at all.  I am trying to figure out what is bothering me, what problem, what stress, I am holding too near.  But I can't put my finger on it.  It's everything.  It's nothing in particular.  It's 1:23 am and I've been in bed for hours, and I've not yet gone to sleep.

I have my next big checkup soon, to see if the cancer has come back.  Part of me thinks it has not, and part of me thinks so.  And I can't bear to think about it, and mostly, about what it will mean for our dear girls, if it has.  I hope, I pray, that it will never come back.  But I live in the grey no man's land of uncertainty, with a history of a rare disease, and bereft of doctors who can or will say much about what might happen next.  (This is not for lack of trying.  I'm being seen at a world-renowned facility.  There just are not a lot of cases like mine.  And in that regard I am lucky, because they caught it early, which means there is reason to hope.).

I think this is why I've been so fixated on next career moves lately.  Because I yearn to plan forward, to be able to say that YES, I will be here tomorrow, and the months and years after that. . .which none of us REALLY has the ability to say with certainty, but we THINK we do, and I yearn for that illusion again, the one that you have when you are young and healthy and invincible, and you think the night will never come for you.  And maybe I'm totally fine, in which case I should be out there thinking about career things and living my life.  And maybe I'm not, in which case, I shouldn't worry about the future, and should just be sucking the marrow out of the moment.

Hmmm.....maybe I should be sucking the marrow out of the moment either way.  Food for thought.

Maybe I'll try to meditate for a bit now, amongst the husband snores and sleeping child elbows.  Perhaps putting the fear into words has released me from its stranglehold.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Work, Work, Play

Things have been crazy again around here.  The girls stayed up in New England with T for a couple of weeks, while I had to come back here and work, work, work.  It was a long couple of weeks without them.  I thought I would try to accomplish a few projects around the house while they were gone, but it just didn't happen.  Instead, I worked.  This past week, I was in the office one night until nine and another until midnight.  Meanwhile, I was still being pressed to go on the business trip for two weeks (I'm not going!).  Sheer madness.

So as work craziness continues, I've been thinking about how best to manage career vs. family, professional life vs. personal.  There is the one job that I've had my eye on for a really long time, which MIGHT happen. . .but I'm still not convinced it's going to happen.  It's potentially worth holding out for, though, as the quality of life would likely be very good. There is another job that I've had my eye on that is right up my alley, but I think the hours would not be much of an improvement, and possibly would be worse.  Then, surprisingly, I got an email out of the blue about a third job I hadn't even contemplated--it's potentially interesting, and I'm still exploring it.

I've been procrastinating on actually submitting my materials on the second job, and after tinkering with my resume for hours tonight, I finally just decided not to apply.  My lack of enthusiasm in drafting my resume should tell me something.  It would be a fascinating job, and I would be really good at it. . .but it's just not what I need right now.  There are upsides to it (i.e., less moving around for my family--in my current field, moves are a necessary evil).  But, I. . .just can't.  I want to want it, because I know I would love it.  But my personal life needs something really different right now.

As for the third job. . .I'm still thinking.  There are upsides and there are downsides.

But for now, I'm on vacation with the girls--one final week of play before Miss M heads off to first grade, and SB to preschool.  It is so lovely to have them back home, and I'm thrilled to be able to spend time with them after the last few lonely, hectic weeks.

Monday, August 15, 2016

#Microblog Monday: Life Malnutrition

In recent weeks, life has slowed down a bit due to family vacations, and we've had a breather from our "regular" hamster-wheel routine of school/camp/commute/work/dinner/errands/kids activities/life/rinse-lather-repeat.  It's given me some space to step back and contemplate.  In short, with the slower pace of the last few weeks, I feel like I can breathe again.

This pace we are living at here in America is no good.  I have known it for a long while now, but this down time really made me realize that much as the body starts to eat into muscle while extremely calorie-starved, this life is eating away at my soul.  I am moving so fast trying to keep all of the balls in the air that I have pared the "me" parts of my life down to the bone.  There is nothing "extra" left, and I've realized that as I try to support my family financially, ensure that the kids are having the life I want for them, further my career, etc., etc., entire parts of me are being extinguished as I've moved into mere survival mode.

I'm trying to envision ways to find better balance, but it's incredibly hard.  I said "no" this week to a two week business trip that would have been a huge professional opportunity that could have led to other things--but would have meant missing Miss M's first day of school at her new school, and possibly also canceling my upcoming second week of vacation (which I wanted to take weeks ago, but was forced to push off because of other professional obligations).  Oh, and they only gave me two weeks' notice of the trip.

Was saying "no" a good idea?  Personally, yes; professionally no.  Is that "balance"?  I suppose that depends what happens from here. . .if I miss out on a professional opportunity that I'm currently seeking that would mean fewer hours, because I didn't take this trip, that would be a loss for all of us. . .but then there is the first day of school, which is something.  It MEANS something to be there in the morning and take her in.  It MEANS something to have this upcoming week of vacation together.  It MEANS something to be there at the end of the day to talk about how her day went, in person and not on FaceTime.  It MEANS something to tuck her in that first week.

The struggle continues.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Health Update

First, my appointment regarding the genetic testing went WELL.  So well.  I didn't test positive for any genetic mutations, and there were no mutations at all of unknown significance--which is a grey area that can happen, where they know a gene isn't normal, but they can't tell you the significance of that mutation, because they don't yet know the impact.  Everything they looked at was NORMAL.

This was a huge, huge, huge relief, because they told me at my initial pre-testing appointment that the transmission rate for all of these things was 50%, and I was terrified about what this could have meant for the girls.  And oh yeah, me, too.  But, all was normal.  Sheer, sheer, relief.

I could tell in my appointment that they were a bit surprised, given my family history, that they didn't find any mutations.  They told me that they did a much broader panel for me than they normally do for most people--they tested for a pile of things.  In short, in the end, they said that the appendix thing that happened to me was just shit luck, as opposed to having a genetic underpinning.  They'd like me to come back in 5-7 years to update them on family history, if I have a spare minute.  And they want me to eat healthy.  :)

I'm still nervous about health stuff.  I have my regular re-screening in a few weeks re: the appendix thing.  I will be very nervous.  But for now, in this moment, all is okay.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Yesterday at 4:30 they called to tell me that the genetics testing was back, and they moved my appointment up to this afternoon. It was so unexpected and my appointment was still so far away that I had not even worried about the results much yet.

I'm on my way to the appointment now, and I am worried. It didn't help th public transportation here is a mess right now, and I missed the train I had planned to take. I had to pay a small pile of extra money to take the high speed train so that I can make my appointment, which is outside the city.

I am hoping for the best, because the alternative would really, really suck.

Monday, July 11, 2016

#Microblog Monday: School Clothes?

We have been at uniform schools for the last few years.  I LOVE school uniforms.  It makes life so very easy on school mornings.  Once school ended this year, I discovered how very hard it is to get SB dressed, in particular.  I bought her a bunch of different summer clothes, and she basically refused to wear anything but ONE skort and ONE tank top (which thankfully came in a number of colors).  I'm dreading school shopping, but know I need to start, because September will be here before I know it!

Both of my girls prefer skirts and dresses.  I can't get either one to wear jeans.  I've been joking that their fashion sense generally comes down to:  a) is it pink; b) could you eat four helpings of Thanksgiving dinner in it comfortably?; and c) would a 65 year wear it to a Jersey casino?  If all three, then it is TOTALLY up their alley.

So now I'm trying to figure out where to shop and what to buy.

Where do you buy comfortable, affordable school clothes?

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Things are, as they always are in America, hectic.  The girls have finished up school, and have been attending two different summer camps.  SB strongly prefers the camp at her preschool, because they don't make her nap.  She comes home dirty, happy, and gloriously exhausted.  Miss M has not yet attended that camp (her school got out later), and strongly prefers the camp that they have been at since she got out of school.  She has been crying and yelling when we raise the fact that her preferred camp got booked up for the next few weeks, so she will be attending the camp at SB's preschool (which is also for older kids).  SB, meanwhile, is delighted.  She loathes the camp they've been going to, as they make her nap.  The side effect of this is that she is up until 10pm every night.  It is remarkable how little sleep the child needs, and a source of much consternation.  I tried talking to the camp about the nap, but they are utterly inflexible about it.  I think it's weird that they have a rest time  for 4 year olds.  But, we managed to soldier through it, with none of horrible fallout that we had over the school year.  We are soooo looking forward to next week's camp, and are sure Miss M will love it once she's there.  She used to run ahead to get to SB's preschool when we dropped her off, so she had a few minutes to play before I dragged her out of there to take her to her own school.  It truly is a magical place.

We have to sign the contract this week for preschool for next year.  They've been blessedly silent about it until now, so we let it go as we watched to see how things were going to shake out with our international options.  I am in the running for a job in the Caribbean, but we still don't know how it will pan out.  Honestly, although it will be a really tight situation financially, I'm fine with staying another year.  It would be really great if we got to stay another year AND the job in the Caribbean came through for next year.  After (what would then be) two years of chaotic "first world" parenting, slow island pace sounds pretty amazing to me.  The only fly in this ointment is that the job may come through much sooner than expected, like by the end of the summer.  So basically, I'm in the running for a job with an undetermined availability date, as they haven't decided yet when they will fill the job.  And of course, they may still decide to go with another candidate, because that's life.

We had a fabulous Fourth of July.  We did a spur-of-the-moment overnight trip to the shore.  We had a wonderful couple of days hiking, playing in the bay, swimming in the hotel pool, getting ice cream along the boardwalk, eating fresh seafood, and visiting a really amazing sculpture/fairy garden.  It was really amazing to be out in the country.  I felt like I could finally. . .breathe.  Being in the country is definitely my happy place.  Except.  Three days after we got back, I developed the unmistakable tattoo of Lyme disease on my leg.  We did a 3.5 mile hike with the girls, and they did really amazing, and I never saw a tick on me. But the trailhead had huge signs warning of a serious tick problem/Lyme disease in the area, and I vaguely recall feeling something on my leg in the location where the rash eventually appeared, and scraping something small with my nail.  In hindsight, it was likely a tiny deer tick, and I likely knocked it off and left the head; I didn't think to look at the time, because I was busy with the chaos that is little kids.  Ticks have to be on your body for 24 hours to transmit the disease, but if you leave the head, it can continue to exude saliva and infect you, apparently.  Luckily, being from Northern New England, I'm familiar with the bulls-eye rash that is the signature of Lyme disease, and I went straight to urgent care for antibiotics the moment I saw it.  I never actually felt bad, so hopefully there will be no long-term effects.

What else?  The girls have three more weeks of summer camp, and then T and I have four weeks off between us.  We're taking the girls to New England for the month to spend time with family and friends.  They'll do two weeks with me and two weeks with T.  It's a huge bummer that we can't vacation as a family, but T doesn't have any time built up, since he's relatively new in his job, and I couldn't get more than two weeks off this summer because things are a little crazy at work.  Nevertheless, it will be good for the kids.  I'm a little nervous, because we are spending it all at family lake houses, and the idea of the girls around the water without me terrifies me.  But I'm trying not to be neurotic. . .easier said than done.

Oh, and my doctor had recommended cancer genetic testing based on my family history.  It took me six months to get the appointment, but I finally had it, and decided to move forward with the testing.  It is a little stressful, but once I learned that if I am a carrier, there is a 50% chance I could have passed it on to the girls, it was a no-brainer.  Hopefully, I will not be a carrier for any of the gene mutations, and that will be that.  They told me that one possibility is that they'll find a gene mutation that they do not yet know the significance of, which ends up being kind of a question mark.  Ergh.  Hopefully, it will all just be normal and unremarkable.

It looks like it's going to be another scorcher here.  I won't lie.  I LOVE the hot weather.  I'm looking forward to trying out the ginger melon popsicles I made last night, and visiting the local pool.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Crossroads. Again.

It is wonderful to have choices.

It is hard to have choices.

We are again fast coming to a point where we will need to make some decisions, and as I often do, I wish I could KNOW what the right decisions are.

I have enjoyed being back in the U.S., and have enjoyed my job, but my personal life has been chaotic and somewhat difficult.  The house is a bit messier than I would like and there is always laundry to fold and we are always running here, there, and everywhere.  I feel like we don't get enough of a chance to just BE, here in America.  In short, I miss our life overseas.

It has not at all been a smooth year for the girls.  We've had the nightmare that was SB's preschool experience, and the extremely huge, negative impact it had upon her.  We had the poor school fit for Miss M socially, although she has learned a ton educationally and we are pleased with that part of things.  Her teacher has mentioned that she is beyond her peers in terms of her exposure to things, or to put it another way, she has had a lot more life experiences.  That is where we see the Title I school really has been an issue--it's not skin color, or family income, or native language.  It's access to experiences that sets her apart.  That has made more of a difference than I ever imagined it could, even in kindergarten.  Another mother told me how stunned she was to hear my daughter talk about Jackson Pollock in class one day.  She has an insanely good memory, and she is interested in many things, and we take her to do a lot of different things, and she is just an awesome kid who contains a lot of knowledge that she's thrilled to share.  Which makes her stand out from her current peers.  Anyway, it's been a poor fit.

And then there is T. . .he kind of hates his job.  He would probably like it, but the people he works for are unpleasant and treat him rather poorly, and he is miserable.

So, it seems like it would be easy to head back overseas, right?  It's been hard for everyone here (well, except me, but I miss our life overseas), so we should just hit the road again, right?

But. . .

Miss M has been accepted into a great bilingual private school for next year.

We have everything worked out for SB to next year attend the fantastic, amazing, warm, caring preschool that we switched her to a few months ago, where she has THRIVED.

And T has just applied for a fantastic job at a museum that he would be perfect for, and it would be perfect for him.  That is not to say that he will get an interview, even--let alone the job.  But it is a kernel of hope for him, and he is convinced he can get himself the job if he can land an interview.

Which of course means that. . .

I am hearing whisperings of a fantastic job in a very interesting place overseas.  We'd have good weather and decent schools and a good salary and household help and low crime and little pollution and short commutes.  But it means starting over again.  I mean, we are going to start over again in the fall, anyway, in some respects.  But at least we know where the playground and the grocery store are.

I'm just not sure.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Forward Planning

I am back home again, and it is wonderful to be back with my family.  I had a very nice trip, and it was frankly good to see the sun.  It has been so grey and dreary here for weeks, and it is raining yet again.  But even though there is no sun, my world is joyful because I can hug my girls.  It's so good to be back!

While I was gone, I thought a lot about what I want to do next.  There is one overseas job that I am still particularly interested in, but right now there is no opening.  For months, I have heard rumors that a position might be opening up, but it hasn't happened to date. Frankly, our window of opportunity is narrowing for that one, because we need to start making commitments for next year, regarding a lease and school for the girls.  We've signed a contract now for Miss M's school.  The more financial commitments we make, the harder it would be for us to leave.

Setting aside my interest in that one job, I've decided to apply for a teaching fellowship.  There is a particular project I'd like to work on while teaching, and it would give me a somewhat flexible schedule.  It would only be for one year, but would give me some breathing room for that year.  It would mean that we would be here in this city for two more years.  I'm still mulling over whether that is the right decision (as I've written before, our lives feel much less chaotic overseas), but it feels manageable and interesting, and who knows where it might lead.

On top of that, I'm contemplating opening a small business.  It sounds insane, in light of what feels like already overwhelming commitments, but it would only be about ten hours a week, I could do it at night after the girls are in bed and/or early mornings before they wake, and most importantly, it would give me a creative outlet.  I feel like that would bring more balance into my life, in a weird way.  Plus, it has the potential to bring in a little extra income that would defray the costs of some of the extras we'd like for the girls.  I'm still looking at the feasibility of it all, but hope to move quickly.  There is little associated cost, so it's completely low risk.  And I'm excited about it.

The great thing about my trip abroad was that it gave me two solid weeks of quiet mornings and nights to really think about what is working, what is not, and how we might improve things.  I feel like we have some solid plans forward, and I'm excited to see how things play out.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Challenge of "Balance"

Greetings from Central America!  I've been traveling for the last week, and have a few more days to go.  It is a huge pain to be gone for so long, and I miss the girls like crazy.  SB cried big fat tears every time I talked to her the first 3-4 days, begging me to come home immediately.  It made me feel terrible.  I can't wait to get back.

From a professional perspective, it has been a good experience to get down here and see all that is going on, and to meet people I usually only talk with on the phone or via email.  It is good to see things with my own eyes, and to connect with local people.  Nothing beats that in person connection.

Now I am mulling over what to do with that information--how to turn it into something and move things forward.  It is long-term, big picture stuff, and I am far from having all of the answers.  But I can see what is possible, and that is exciting.

I am also thinking about how to balance career and family.  I feel like we really struggle in America.  Mother's Day brought forth articles about balancing, like this one and this one.  What I was left with is the feeling that American mothers have to make choices.  I have heard lots of women say that "you can have it all--you just can't have it all at the same time."  And maybe that's my problem--I want to have it all at once.  But it's not working.

The new U.S. ambassador to Mexico, the first woman to ever hold this position, recently had this to say in an interview with her alumni mag:

"With work-life balance, I tell people that you can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once. There are different times in your life when you emphasize different things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There were times when my kids did have to come first and they needed me, and there were other times when they didn’t understand why I couldn’t do the field trips and the baking brownies and all the rest of it. But when they stood on the stage with Hillary Clinton, they thought that was pretty damn cool and probably worth it."

I want to do field trips and bake brownies.  I also want to have a meaningful, productive work life.    Those are two different parts of who I am.  Now I am pondering ways to make that happen.  We debated her words a bit in my office.  A non-parent was a bit put off by the line about missed field trips and baking brownies, and thought it sounded harsh.  I said it made me feel a bit less alone and guilty for the things I don't make.  But I'm still wondering, were those sacrifices indeed worth it for her kids?  A missed field trip isn't the end of the world, but an accompanied field trip also means something.  The perfect mix is unknowable, though, making it a hard path to carve.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

School Blessings and Other Things

We are so very, very fortunate.  Miss M was awarded a place in the private school, and almost a full scholarship.  I was really shocked by the scholarship, and feel so blessed.  We decided that we had to accept the spot.  It is an amazing opportunity for her, and with the scholarship the tuition is financially manageable for us.  We had to take advantage of the opportunity.  We are really excited for her, and so very proud of her.  I feel like she's found her tribe.

We talked with SB's school, as well, and there is some chance that they will be able to swing a partial scholarship for her.  We are crossing our fingers and all of our other parts, and hoping this works out, as well.  We will have to take on a not-insubstantial amount of additional work to make it financially viable even with a scholarship, but she continues to do beautifully there, and we think it is critical that she stays where she is.  She is literally a different person.  If you had told me three months ago that a school change alone would have made this much of a difference in my child, I would not have believed you.  It upsets me greatly to think about what was going on in her previous classroom that a school change has made such a difference.

A big part of the change is obviously that she is now being treated well.  It's clear that she was considered and called a problem at her old school.  But one of the other important differences is the amount of playground time.  Given her energy level, it is just an imperative.  If we move her back to public school, we're back to 30 minutes a day, which just doesn't work for her, at least not yet.  Hopefully with another year in her current school, she will mature to the point where she is ready for a more sedentary classroom.  Sigh.  What happened to childhood?!  Anyway, we hope, hope, pray things work out with her current school.

As a backup plan, I've also enrolled them in public school.  Just in case.  Because I am so leary of the other shoe falling and something not working out.  Which is slightly neurotic and crazy, I know, but it's been that kind of year.  I need plans B, C, and D for my own peace of mind.

Honestly, I am living in a state of low anxiety all of the time these days.  It is really unhealthy.  There has just been so much stress.  And I'm headed off on a multi-country business trip, which is not helping things.  I just feel like a rat on a little wheel, with so much to do all of the time and so many things to work out and balance.  Now that things look like they are shaping up for the girls and school next year, I am also starting to hear back on positions that might be available overseas.  Ah, well.  Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up in the air at the craziness of it all!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Another Glimmer of Hope

I can't remember if I've written about it, but around Christmastime we decided that Miss M's school, while educationally sound, was not socially the best fit for her.  She is naturally a leader and very outgoing, and she is somehow. . .less than herself at her current school.  I can't put my finger on it exactly.  It's nothing specific--no mean behavior or anything like that.  It's just not her tribe, and she just is not happy.

When we made the decision, it was really late to be considering private school options, and ooof, the tuition around here.  We didn't think it would really be feasible to both find and pay for a private school, but we found a school for Miss M that we thought would be perfect for her, and we set about scrambling to meet application deadlines.  This school's tuition is really high, but, they have scholarships available, and we thought "why not try," so we did.  I obsessed over whether she should have taken a muffin on her way out the door to her interview (argh! she was more interested in the muffin than saying goodbye!), and then we basically forgot about it.  She got wait listed, and that was kind of that.

Except, they then asked us to come in and meet with them, and at the meeting, they told us how much they loved her, what a leader she was, how much spark they thought she had.  And we told them how loved she was, and how much we agreed.  And then we reiterated that we could not possibly pay full tuition, and they assured us that a scholarship was a possibility.  They also said they thought they were going to have a spot in the class for her.

And then nothing.

So I emailed on Friday, because we are trying to sort out next year.

And I heard back today.  They **might** have a spot for her.  They are trying to work out the scholarship.  And they need some things from me.  Which of course I am providing.

It has become so complicated since we applied.  If Miss M gets into this school, and we can afford it, it will be an amazing opportunity for her.

But, if Miss M doesn't enroll in our local school, SB will lose her slot there for next year, which is tied to having an enrolled sibling at the school.

SB's private preschool is really ideal for her, and I would love, love, love to have her stay there next year.  But it is insanely expensive.  They have invited us to apply for a scholarship, which was so incredibly kind.  It really would be ideal.  But it is pretty much impossible for me to imagine that we would get enough aid to put two kids in private school.  And I feel guilty taking aid.  We have so much, compared to so many.  But so little compared to many in this city, I suppose.  And if it turns out that we can afford to have only one attend private, who do we choose?  It's an impossible question, which really depends on who needs it more.  In truth, they both need an amazing year.  This one was tough.  Here's hoping we can find a way to make it all work out.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My children have an uncanny knack for embarrassing me lately.  As much as we discuss that the world is a big place with lots of different people, and as many times as we have the discussion that sometimes it hurts feelings to have someone point out how a person is different. . .my children are still little, and sometimes apparently just can't help themselves from being inquisitive.

So, while in an elevator last week with a woman in a motorized wheelchair, Miss M asked me quite loudly why the woman was in that type of chair.  In fact, it was quite an advanced motorized wheelchair, and a type Miss M had surely not seen before, so I understand why she asked about it.  It intrigued her.  But I'm never sure quite what to say in the situation.  My standard lines are "because that's how god made her," (even though we are not particularly religious--she attended Catholic school, so it is familiar concept to her), and "she's like grandpa" (because her grandfather has a significant birth defect, and she's familiar with the concept of people being born different--which is also where I found the "because that's how god made her" line, as it's one I've heard him use).  In this case, in response to uncomfortable followup questions, I think I also said "because she needs a bit of extra help," and Miss M of course followed up with "what does the chair do." The woman and her companion were obviously a bit uncomfortable, but when the elevator doors mercifully opened, the woman said "it goes really fast," and grinned and sped off.  It was a nice moment, and a good opportunity for us to (again) discuss that it would be better if she asked me her questions about a person's differences outside of the presence of the person.

Which she promptly forgot.

Today, while at the grocery store, there was an African-American man with uneven pigmentation on his hands.  Parts of his hands had almost no pigmentation, and parts of his hands were dark brown.  It was fairly distinctive, and immediately drew Miss M's attention.  "Why are his hands like that?" she asked, within earshot.  "Because that's the way god made him," I replied. But before I could pat myself on the back for the smooth transition away from the subject, she said "I think he used to be white."  I was mortified.  The man thankfully started laughing, and turned to tell the woman next to him what she had said.  I think we were out of earshot before she made the next comment.  "Maybe he's just dirty," she said.   Dear lord!  It was a hot mess of childhood innocence.  We had a conversation about skin color and melanin on the way to the car.  I'm actually surprised it had not come up before, given that her school, this city, and our friends are very diverse.

So, I continue to search for the perfect lines to use when my children blurt out uncomfortable questions about strangers.  I'm mostly focused on making the other person less uncomfortable.  What do you say to manage such a situation?  And what conversation can I have with my children that will stay with them so that they hold their questions until a more appropriate time?

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Road Not Taken

One of the things that I have noticed about living abroad is that changes with friends and family at home seem all the more stark to me when I return.  What might seem to others to be a slow, imperceptible decline feels shockingly huge and abrupt to me.  And now that I am in my 40's, middle age I suppose, I am seeing and feeling the sadness and bitterness of lives not having turned out the way one hoped and planned.

I feel so young, and so blessed in many ways.  I have tried to live my life in a way that I am constantly doing meaningful things and seizing opportunities.  As much as the day-to-day gets me down sometimes, I still feel pretty good about my life, my lovely girls, my husband, my career, my choices.  I am lucky.  I am blessed.  I also push myself to keep going, to stretch beyond my limits, and to take advantage of opportunities, because I have always felt like if you don't, you wither, stagnate, grow bored and listless.

I am struck by how many people I know have reached a point where maybe they did not end up in a place that they sought out:  that stagnation point.  It's been such a long, slow slide for them that maybe they are surprised that they are where they are.  To me, it's jarring to have seen the before, been away for the middle bit, and now returning to see this.  There is just a hopelessness, a sadness, where before there was a joy of life.  And I'm seeing it enough, across enough people that don't really know each other or have relationships with each other, that I think it's something that is not uncommon.

I guess this is midlife, and I guess this is what is behind the so-called "crisis."  You've driven along a road, and it turned out that it didn't go where you expected, and you feel like you've driven so far for so long that it would be impossible to go back and start over and take another route.  Hence, hopelessness, depression, fear.

I say, screw that.  Life is too short.  As long as you are breathing, you can start over, try again, live, thrive, achieve, enjoy.  The alternative is just too damn sad.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Path Forward

The school move seems to be everything we've been needing for many months, and possibly all school year.  SB continues to be a completely different person--happy and confident.  She likes school.  She has fun.  Her behavior at home is a complete 180 from her behavior when she was in her old school.  She has been my fantastic little ray of sunshine again.  Everything, finally, is working.

I am hoping, praying that somehow we can come up with a way to pay for the school for next year, if indeed we remain in this city (more on that in a moment).  It is an amazing, amazing little program. It's unbelievable how expensive private preschool tuition is in the city, and right now we just can't see how we would pay for it.  But it is such a perfect fit.  It is everything she needs.  This is the constant tension of living in America, for us:  balancing the best fit vs. the expense.  Balancing the investment of time vs. the reward from doing so.

We've talked about it, and we think it might be time for us to go back overseas.  I really like my job here.  I'm enjoying the work (well, I have one passive aggressive boss, but nothing is perfect).  But the hours are long, the commute is long, the best schools are expensive. . .versus going back overseas, where my contract includes school tuition and housing, access to top schools (it's often easier to get in as an expat than it would be to top schools in America), often a better commute, higher salary, etc.

On the one hand, it finally feels like we are settling in and things are working here.  The kids are becoming reasonably happy.  T is actually okay with his job, and looking to expand his opportunities.  But I think over recent months the costs of being here have also become really apparent to us.  Americans don't have very good quality of life.  We've become a society about things, rather than about family, and too many people spend the bulk of their time pursuing higher salary and more things.  We obviously don't intentionally choose to do so, but with the high cost of everything, T has taken on some extra projects to afford the "extras" like summer camp (which we actually need so we can keep our jobs).  And with the expectations inherent in the professional world about how much people work here, in order to be perceived as being successful at my job, I have to put in more hours than I otherwise might, and certainly more than I was working before we moved back to the U.S. last summer.

So, we're reviewing options.  If there is a window of opportunity to move this summer, we would take it.  The girls have to change schools anyway.  We've only arranged summer camp for half the summer.  Our lease is up in June.  It feels possible.  I've considered at a few jobs in Europe and Asia, but they don't feel like the right opportunities.  I'm keeping my eyes out, and trying to figure out what will be best for our family.

It's interesting.  When we moved back, we thought it would be for a long stretch.  But this was our first time living in the U.S. with little kids and two working parents, and we've discovered it is not what we were looking for at all.  It's kind of a weird thing to realize about your own country.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Most Wonderful Week

This week was. . .amazing.  I can't believe we had so many weeks and months of angst and teeth-knashing about whether to switch SB's school.  She has done beautifully in her new school this week, and is so very happy.  I know it's still early days, but it's like someone flipped a light switch.  I have my child back, and she is burning bright.

They had to pull her off me the morning of the first full day and I won't lie:  I shed a few tears.  But I knew she was good--behind her words of protest, there was a little smile.  She may have been a little apprehensive, but she was in really, REALLY good hands.  We got a great report at the end of the first day from the teacher, and she looked VERY happy and engaged, from all of the pictures that I saw.  And she was so exhausted from all of the running around and playing hard that she slept, really slept, at a real bedtime.  It was just. . .amazing.

But I knew that it was a good match when I got home from work that first night, and I asked her how it went.  She said "Mommy, I had a good day.  I made a new friend."  Not "I was bad today."  Not "I didn't get a snack because I didn't sleep."  Not "I was on yellow."  No outbursts.  No negative behavior.  Just "I had a good day."  And it's been that way every day.  New friends.  New adventures.  New projects.  Art that she is thrilled to share.  Stories about the class hamster and kids who push her on the tire swing.

She skipped away from me the subsequent mornings and slipped in with the group, busying herself with activities and forgetting about me before I'd even left the room.  She doesn't say "I don't want to go to school" every morning and every night.  She isn't upset when I tell her it is a school day.  Again, I know it's early days, but she hated her old school from day one.  This is just really, really different.

I can finally exhale.  This is her childhood, as it was meant to be.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Bit of Peace

This morning was really hard.  My girls are very close, and their classrooms were across the hall from each other.  Their teachers aides are sisters.  They LOVED being at the same school.  When Miss M woke up this morning, she cried big round tears when she remembered that she and SB would not be going to the same school any longer.  SB was, is apprehensive about going to a new school, adamant that she will return to her former school.  She loathes change.  She is so thoroughly her father's child.

It was hard to walk into that building this morning, to put on a smile and say good morning to the principal whose leadership I have lost all faith in.  And of course, I had to walk in the building with not just Miss M, but SB, too, because I had nothing else that I could do with her when it was time to drop off Miss M.  Miss M's teacher hugged me when she saw me, and the girls' aides circled around us and made a big fuss over SB.  It was so kind, and so sad.  I am really disappointed in how this all turned out.  This just isn't what I want.

But it's not about me, and it's not about what I want.  It's about making sure that my kids are happy and healthy.  We visited SB's new school today, too, to drop off paperwork.  She instantly loved the head of the school, and ran into her office today when we got there.  We got the financial stuff squared away (they will prorate), and everything is all set for her to start.  We are wading in slowly, so she'll do an hour tomorrow, and then start on Wednesday.  When we visited today, she was delighted to see that they already had her name in a cubby.  She flashed a huge grin, then clapped her hand over her mouth.  They had a picture of her, too, and her name printed onto a school bag to take home her school things at the end of the week.  They had a picture of her in the classroom already, and they gave us a laminated copy of pictures of all of the kids in the class, her included, with all of the kids first names.  She carried it around all afternoon, and proudly showed it off to her big sister and her father when they got home.

They let us see the classroom today, too.  The classroom at her old school is huge and bright and beautiful, but there were so many limitations on everything.  "Don't touch" was her old teacher's unofficial motto.  When her new teacher showed us the dramatic play center at her new school today, SB quite forlornly told us that only a certain student (the teacher's favorite, whose mother regularly volunteers in the classroom) got to do dramatic play every day, and the teacher didn't let SB.  I think her new teacher was a little taken aback, and quickly reassured her that she could do it every day.  She can also paint. . .every day.  There is an easel with tempura paints all set up in the classroom, and the kids are free to use it.  She looooooves to paint, so I think that will be huge.  And there are hours a day of playground time, too.  But not just regular old playground. . .they had a tent set up, and props, so the kids could do dramatic play outside, too.  I think it's going to be really good for her.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Playing Chess

I still haven't sorted out the financial piece regarding the preschool.  The school's been closed for spring break, so I'm hoping to get that squared away tomorrow.  They sent me reams of paperwork, which I need to sit down and complete before tomorrow.  Unfortunately, although I haven't worked in a week, I also have not accomplished anything--we have been the house of sick:  both kids were terribly ill this week, one with a random virus and the other with the flu.  It's been exhausting, and I haven't slept through the night in forever.

On the bright side, SB, who has been in pull-ups at night for the last year, up and decided she was too big to wear them any more.  I was worried, because she had woken up dry exactly never.  I mean, NEVER.  But she insisted she could do it, so I let her try, and. . .she's woken up dry for the last 4 nights in a row.  I am amazed.  It literally was like she just had to put her mind to it.  We've limited liquids after dinner, but otherwise made no changes.  It's pretty remarkable to think that she could do it if she just tried hard enough.  I totally thought it was developmental.  Huh.

And now on to the core subject of this post (the rambling is due to the sleep deprivation):  We just received our school lottery results for next year.  We did fairly poorly this year.  Last year we had really good lottery numbers and got into a couple of schools, but this year, not so much.  It's not even just that we didn't get in anywhere; we also have high lottery numbers on the wait lists, unlike last year.  In other words, there is little hope we'll get in anywhere decent.  Now we have to make hard choices.  Miss M could continue at the current bilingual school, but I've lost all faith in the administration after our experiences with SB.  Plus, it's been a weird year socially for Miss M.  Part of it is that her class is boy-heavy, and she'd been in an all-girls school before this.  She is bothered by how "poorly behaved" the boys are.  I say it with quotes, because I think from her description that the boys are acting like normal 5-6 year old boys, and she just doesn't know what that's like.  But she finds it distracting.  Plus, she's. . .I don't know how to say it. . .Mature? for her age?  She's a kid who's lived on three continents and had a wide array of life experiences that have given her an unusual perspective for a six year old.  I didn't think that would matter in kindergarten, but I think I was wrong.

But anyway, we didn't get into another bilingual school.  To be fair, I only lotteried for a few really great schools that I thought we'd leave our current school for, because the lottery stuff was all due before all of this stuff happened with SB.  At that point, I thought we could make it through the year.  The teacher she'd have next year is pretty amazing.  Sigh.  The only realistic option is for us to enroll Miss M in our local school that we have a right to attend (it's a very good school, but not bilingual, and it's overcrowded).  SB will likely get a spot there, as well, because they give siblings preference.

There are two flies in this ointment:  One, it means we would pull both of them from bilingual school.  They both have great Spanish, and multiple teachers at the school (not SB's, obviously, but others who know them both and know that we've been thinking about leaving) have implored us to ensure they stay in bilingual schools.  And two, in order to ensure that SB gets a spot anywhere at all in public preschool, we'd have to ensure that Miss M actually attends our local school.  SB only gets the preference if Miss M actually attends.

Although I'm not holding out much hope that Miss M or SB will get into a bilingual school from a wait list, we applied to one private bilinguals school for Miss M when it became clear that socially her current school was a weird fit.  This private school is very expensive, and we would need some grace for it to all work out there, but it's really a perfect school for her.  It really felt like her tribe.  She was wait listed, but after she was wait listed, the director set up an appointment with us, and told us how much they liked her, and that if a spot opened up, it is almost certainly hers.  They had no available spaces this year, but know that one of their current students may be leaving.  They won't know for sure for another couple of months, though.  They've told us what a "leader" they feel she is, and encouraged us to "hang in there" and wait for them.  There is the slimmest of chances that the planets will align for this to happen, but if it did, SB would lose her spot at our most realistic public preschool slot.  There is also the slimmest of chances that Miss M could get into a good public school bilingual program, and the most likely scenario with those would be that even sibling preference would not help SB, because competition for those schools is so fierce.

If either of those last scenarios were to happen, we'd have two options for SB:  hold out for one of the schools where we are wait listed, or go private.  As much as I'd love to, we can't swing two private school tuitions.  It would be $60,000 or so for one year, and that's just not in the cards.  As for the schools where we are wait listed, for SB our most promising options are unfortunately Montessori.  I like Montessori, but I don't think it's the right program for SB.  I applied because. . .well, some less than ideal options are better than no options.  The schools do Montessori well, but my concern is that SB needs external structure.  Internally, she doesn't have a whole lot of self-discipline.  I think it would probably be a disaster, and this really needs to be a year where she grows in a lot of ways.

It's so hard to know.  SB did very well at her preschool in South America.  It's hard to know how much of what we are experiencing is her age, how much of it is her personality/inflexibility, how much of it is how she's been treated while at school and how she has internalized that, how much of it is how we are parenting her at home. . .but we are in a hard space.  She is really down on herself, and I feel like we have to put an end to this negative spiral and get her back to a positive place.  That's going to be key.

So we are moving the pieces around the board, trying to figure out the best way forward.  So far, I don't like any of our moves.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Amazing Visit

We visited the potential new school yesterday, and it was. . .pretty close to perfect.  There was giant, beautiful playground space--creative, hand-built stuff that is SO MUCH FUN.  The kids play outside for a couple of hours a day.  There are two certified teachers in each classroom.   There are animals:  bunnies, dogs, birds.  They have a science lab.  It is bright, beautiful space.  They seem very nurturing and child-focused, and were so very focused on and concerned about our child's well-being.  And they were so very, very kind to us.  I can't tell you how much I valued their concern for our daughter, and for what she's experienced this year.

We haven't worked out all of the financial details (indeed, they sent me a contract for the full year's tuition, which I pray is NOT what they want me to pay!), but that's the only thing that remains.  I'm a bit worried about that part.  It wouldn't be rationale to ask me to pay the entire tuition with two months left in the school year, right?  I have irrational angst that somehow they are going to ask me to do that.  But this is the only thing we have to sort out, and I'm hopeful that we can make this work.

Honestly, I am allowing myself the tinniest glimmer of hope that we have found a solution that is going to let SB be herself, be happy, feel supported and cared for.  I slept well last night for the first time in many months.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

School Drama

Well, hello there!

Life in America continues to be incredibly busy.  More on that another time.  Today, I need to talk about school.  Specifically, SB's school situation.  As I wrote last time, she's had a tough year. We've been limping along, trying to make it to the end of the school year at her current school, because the PK-4 teacher is pretty great.  But increasingly, it became clear that we just. . .can't stay.

SB's teacher has been increasingly hostile to us.  We've tried to keep it super positive, asking her in parent teacher conferences to be our partner and to work with us.  It fell on deaf ears.  She would promise to work with us, and then the very next day, it was back to the same old stuff.  She insisted SB nap, for example, and the child hasn't needed to nap in more than a year.  If SB didn't nap, she received the message that she was "naughty."  The teacher claimed that there wasn't anything she was saying or doing to make SB think that, but the persistent, pervasive message came from somewhere.  SB is really starting to internalize that she is a "bad" kid.  Some of the lines she regurgitated at home also clearly came from things some adult at school told her, as it wasn't her vocabulary.  I've been astounded that a major American school system could have professionals who are so. . .unprofessional.

We made an appointment maybe six or eight weeks ago with a well-regarded behavioral pediatrician, to talk through some of the things that have been going on.  One of the things we've learned this year is that SB has more than ordinary difficulty with change.  She also has some self-regulation issues, in addition to being very high energy, and can be inflexible.  These things are just part of who our lovely, rambunctious, sweet girl is, and things we've been working with her on at home.  But the teacher has been so unwilling to work with us, and SB has been so unhappy about being at school that we felt like we needed professional advice to help us sort through whether it would be better to withdraw her from school now, or to let her ride out the school year, given her personality.  Or maybe put another way, to help us sort through what was the lesser evil.  And this, of course, is all setting aside whether we could even find a spot for her at this point in the year.

To be honest, I expected the doctor to tell us that given her personality, it was better not to change schools at this point in the year.  I mean, that's a major change with two months in the school year, and then she would have to make another major change for summer break.  But when we met with the doctor, he was taken aback by some of the things we told him.  I won't get into detail here, because some of the things that have happened are so specific as to be googleable, but he basically said that he'd never heard anything like one of the things that had happened, in particular.  He said he came into the meeting prepared to suggest that we consider hiring someone to come into the classroom to work with the classroom teacher on additional skills that might be useful to her (who knew that was even possible), but that what we were telling him was too far beyond that point.  He recommended we take her out of the school now.

That was a week or so ago.  He gave us a list of schools that he thought might be a good fit for SB.  Some of them we immediately ruled out, as they were half day programs (with two working parents, not doable), or otherwise didn't work, location-wise.  Some had no slots.  I toured one yesterday morning, and felt like it would be a poor fit.  Finally, mid-day yesterday, I connected with a school that I think would be a very good match.  It is insanely expensive, but at this point, that is almost an irrelevant consideration.  We can't put a price tag on SB's wellbeing.

As I was emailing the school director about a meeting time for today, my phone rang.  It was SB's school.  The woman calling was the acting principal.  She hemmed and hawed, and I literally had no idea what she was talking about.  I had to tell her several times that I didn't understand why she was calling, because she was being so vague and circular.  Finally, I got the story out of her, and it dawned on me that she was being very careful for liability reasons:  SB's teacher was seen hitting her, and they had initiated a police investigation.

Shockingly, they declined to remove the teacher from the classroom during the investigation.  They said that the police had talked to some witnesses, and no one could corroborate the hitting, and they had already spoken to SB, and she had denied that it had happened.  This call was at about 4pm.   T had already picked the kids up from school by the time the acting principal called me.  They didn't mention one word to him.  I cannot even imagine what they were thinking, on so many levels.  I get that teachers have rights, but their first job is to protect children.

The principal also asked me if SB had said anything at home, and I burst into tears.  A week or so ago, she told me that her teacher had hit her.  It was in passing, and I could get no more details out of her, so I just thought it was one of those things that kids randomly say.  She often complains about children who won't play with her, or another child hitting her, and I just. . .let it go.  I feel terrible.

I told the woman this, and I also told her that SB won't be returning to the school.  I told her that SB's teacher has no place teaching preschool (it's only her second year as a preschool teacher).  I told her that we have had issues all year, and we are done.  It's not the first time that I've expressed my dissatisfaction to the school administration.  They have seemed really ill-equipped to address substantive issues, unfortunately.  She seemed at a loss for words, and mumbled something about doing what they could to help us find another spot for her.

Hopefully, our appointment today at the private preschool will go well.  Hopefully, it will be a good match.  Hopefully, we can make a positive change for SB.

Honestly, I never imagined that moving back to America would involve this kind of drama.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Random Update

I can't believe I haven't posted an update since  October.  I mean, I CAN believe it, because life in America is SO BUSY.  But I can't believe I've let it go so long.

So. . .a quick update, before I run off to cook dinner for tonight (it's 5:30 am, but the only chance I'll have to make sure everyone eats a decent dinner), shower, get the kids ready for school, start our 90 minute home-school drop off-work commute, and then pack in a full day of work.

The kids are good, although they still miss our old life in South America, and talk frequently about how they'd like to return.  SB continues to dislike school, and in particular her teacher, who has to be the least nurturing preschool teacher in the history of preschool.  The teacher is loathed by pretty much all of the parents (albeit for different reasons--for us, it's because she has no idea how to deal with a high energy kid, and totally can't deal).  All of us agree that she should not be teaching preschool.  But I can't pull her out of school because a) our nanny returned home about two months ago, after it became clear that her personal problems back in her home country were overwhelming her; b) I can't find a new preschool in this area at this point in the year, because preschool slots are like gold around here; and c) if I pull her out now, I would lose her spot in the school for next year, and the teacher she'd have next year totally rocks.  So we are dealing with it, for now, and it is getting s smidge better.  But still. . .she has told the school that they are not nice, she prefers her teachers in our old city, and she'd like to return there.  They were not amused, although I was. It may not be polite, but at least the kid has no trouble expressing herself.

Miss M turned six on Saturday.  She is wonderful and lovely and hilarious.  However, it's been a mixed bag for her here, too.  She misses her posse of girlfriends from her old school, and often talks about how she would like to return.  She refers to our time in our old city as her "happiest place ever," which makes me sad.  I know it's only been four months, really, and we have to give it time for her to make friends and fit in, but still. . .I wish she were really happy here.  Plus, this city is really transient, and with the use of the school lottery, school populations are really unstable, with constant coming and going, so there will not necessarily be any continuity in her classroom next year.  And she's had a long term sub for most of the year (who she loved--awesome teacher!), although her "regular" teacher has just returned.  It's been a bit chaotic.  More soon on our plans for next year--a subject of much angst.

And then there is me.  Work is great--love my job (most of the time), and am working (waaaaay too much!) on stuff that I find really interesting.  But unfortunately, I went in for my annual checkup of the tumor situation I had two years ago, and the doctor said that I should have had more aggressive surgery two years ago.  I am freaked out beyond belief, and worried about what this means, and if the c-word will return, and if I will live to see my kids grow up.  And I'm facing more surgery.  At this point, it's to be on the safe side (there is no evidence anything is wrong), but it's also partially exploratory, and if they find anything, they will likely pour chemo directly into my abdomen during the surgery (the only known treatment that has a shot of working with this condition).  So, I will wake up from surgery not knowing how it went or how much they will have had to have done.  Which freaks me out, frankly. But I suppose it's better than needing two surgeries.  I'm having a hard time dealing, and I tabled the entire thing until after the holidays.  Which is now.  

So that is what is up with us.  More soon!