Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Being Dyslexic

There was an article out today about a teacher who has decided that dyslexia is just an excuse for middle class people who are poor readers to get special treatment. Since I am dyslexic, I did not take this well, and I thought I would explain some of what it is like to be dyslexic.
The first real sign of it is having trouble with left and right. I remember my mom sewing an “L” and an “R” on my gloves to help me. When I give directions you have about a 50-50 shot and me telling it all backwards. I’ve learned to point as I say it to make sure I’m saying the right one. If I am trying to follow directions I have to triple check myself so that I don’t turn the wrong way. That is probably the most frustrating part.
The next thing that happens can be really embarrassing, especially as an adult. Reading words or numbers out loud is terrifying to me. Something short circuits between the page and my mouth. Many people just think dyslexics see letters backwards, but it is a lot more than that. Letters can get jumbled, you can add letters where they don’t exists, or disappear all together. If I don’t follow along with my finger, entire lines will disappear on me. Some days are better than others. If I’m tired or feeling out of sorts then I don’t even try to read. It is just too frustrating. Now imagine all of that happening in your mind while you are trying to vocalize what you are reading. When I was in the ninth grade I had an English teacher that thought the best way to help me was to make me read out loud as often as possible. It was completely humiliating. I was a good student. I always made good grades, but my grade plummeted in her class. I wish I could go back and tell her the damage she did to me that year.
All of this applies to numbers too. Thankfully, I had math teachers who understood what I was going through and would just take off a couple of points if I reversed the answer. There were times that I would reverse a few things at the beginning of an algebra problem and from that point on the problem would be wrong. When I was in advance math classes my teacher took the time to work the problem as I had it written and if I did the work right, I got partial credit. I wish I could tell her how much that helped me.
Believe it or not there are actually benefits to being dyslexic. I have a partial photographic memory. When there is a word that I have trouble with, I close my eyes and picture the word. If I can make it three dimensional in my mind, then I can usually spell it. A good example of that it the word “flour”, I picture a flour canister with the word written on the side, and I haven’t misspelled it since the 5th grade. That one was hard on me because I memorized how to spell “flower” first, and my brain could not understand why you would spell it any other way.
I can read maps and other diagrams in a very special way. When I see a floor plan of a house I can visualize it as if I was walking through the home. Even with the left and right problem, I am never lost. I may have to point to tell you were to turn, but you will never get me lost. It is like I have a map in my mind. If I ever do get turned around it is probably because I haven’t been paying attention.
So, the next time you are reading something I have written and I have something completely misspelled, please remember that I literally can not see the error, and never ever ask me to read more than a sentence to you out loud to you.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Laundry means I love you

It is funny how family rituals get started. JD and I have a sweet one for bed time and I’m afraid if I don’t write about it, I’ll forget how it started, and then it will be more weird than sweet.
When bed time rolls around it is the child’s job to make you stay as long as they can thereby delaying sleep, and the parent’s job to find a reason to leave and still let the child know you love them. We make up little excuses that make it seem like we would sit with them all night, if only it weren’t for some little task that has to be taken care of. Rocky likes to use the line “It’s time for me to go check on…” and then name someone not in the room. I tend to put the blame on some chore that has been left undone. During JD’s nap I like to put in a load of laundry because it is something that can get done and not wake him up. I didn’t realize I had gotten into the habit until I was tucking JD in. I kissed him on the head and he looked up and said “You have to do laundry?”, and with that a tradition was born. Now every time I put JD into his bed be it nap time or bed time, I kiss his head and simply say “Laundry”. He smiles and I think he knows that when I say that I’m really saying “I love you!”
Years from now when he is grown and married and has kids of his own, I hope this comes back to him as a good memory and not some weird obsession with fabric softener.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Curl Up and Dye

Only my love of writing could bring me to share what I am about to tell you all. I have had a day of one embarrassment after another. I had to be at church at 8 last Saturday morning to help set up the OUTDOOR Preschool Easter Egg Hunt. If you weren’t aware of the weather in my area at that time, let me fill you in, it was cold. Not Atlanta cold, but freezing 29 degrees in windy April kind of cold. It snowed near me. It hasn’t snowed all winter, and it picked that day. I’m telling you this not because anything bad happened there, but to excuse the rest of my day. I was working with less sleep than I needed, and a think the cold may have killed a few brain cells.

That afternoon we popped into Wal-mart to pick up a variety of last minute Easter type things. We had ended up going in two cars, our car and my visiting parent’s car. When we headed out to the parking lot I was dragging behind because I was putting up the cart, and trying to grab my sunglasses. When I did get out of the store I realized that since Rocky had dropped me off at the door, I had no idea where he parked. Just then I saw my father’s minivan backing out of a space. I decided to run up to it, hop in, and call Rocky to tell him I was riding home with them. There was only one problem. After tugging at the door of the passenger side of the moving van, I realized it was locked. Then I looked at my dad to get him to unlock it. He couldn’t do that because I was actually trying to open the car door of a complete stranger. I think I scared the poor woman to death. I don’t think I fit the profile of a car jacker, but in the heat of the moment anyone can look dangerous. I am grateful I don’t live in Texas, she might have shot me.

That night we had all sat down for dinner. My earlier actions were the butt of several jokes. After all, my parents were visiting and my father has a knack for not letting things go. He was merciful and we were all enjoying our wonderful ham dinner. JD got restless, as he often does at meal times. He was finding reasons to get up, goof off, and anything else other than eat his food. Suddenly he started looking at me funny and pointing at me saying “What’s that?” We thought he was joking around or asking about the food I was eating, but he became more insistent. Finally, he got up, walked around the table, and tried to get in my lap the whole time pointing and saying “No, that!” This would be the point where Rocky starts laughing. Without going into much detail, it would seem that I needed a tissue and JD was merely wondering what I had up my nose.

After dinner it was time to dye Easter eggs. We covered the table and laid everything out with plenty of paper towels. There was a long explanation about how the dye would turn other things colors too and we all had to be very careful. Guess who ended up with blue hands. That would be me. Just as I was placing an egg ever so gently into the blue dye, it slipped off the spoon and splashed into the dye. I looked like I had grabbed one of those dye packs they use to mark bank robbers and the money they steal. After some intense scrubbing I finally got all the blue off my hands and most of it out of the corners of my finger nails.

So that was my Saturday. I tried to car jack someone, had a bat in my belfry, and tried to turn myself into a smurf. I hope your Easter weekend went a little smoother.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why is the night unlike all other nights?

Usually as Easter approaches my mind is filled with important things such as what will I wear to church, does Nix have new white shoes, will I be able to find a ham to cook for lunch, and lets not forget those Easter Bunny baskets I have to put together. I hope you all know me well enough by now to know that I also set aside time to rejoice in the excitement of Reserection Sunday, and all that it means. I have to admit that with all that going on I rarely stop to think about the meaning behind this week. I'm talking about Passover. Jewish families all over the world are getting ready for their Passover Seder. Even though I am not Jewish (by religion or descent), Passover is still an important part of my religion as well as history in general. If you aren't fimilar with a seder it is a meal in which the elders of the family tell the children a story from history and answer questions about the past. A Passover seder tells the story of when God helped the Isrealites escape from Eygpt and their lives of slavery. This exodus marked the birth of the Jewish nation. It is tradtion to have the youngest person at the table to ask 4 important questions. All the questions start with "Why is the night unlike all other nights?" and then continue on to describe something that makes that dinner unusual. It starts with asking why you are only allowed to eat unleaven bread. The Jews left Eygpt in such a hurry that they didn't have time to wait on bread to rise, so they took it from the ovens still flat. You eat bread without yeast in it to remember their haste.Why are there only bitter herbs? To remind us of the bitterness of slavery.Why do you dip your herbs twice into salty water? First to turn tears into joy and the second time to ease the bitterness of loss and suffering.Why do we lean back in our chairs? During the time of slavery the slaves were required to eat standing up or, at best, sitting upright. Reclining in your chair to eat is a privilege of a free man.After these questions have been asked and answered, the children are encouraged to ask other questions they might have about their family's faith. There are 15 steps to a Passover Seder, each one rich in tradition and meaning. I often wonder if in the business to prepare the meal, Jews lose sight of the importance of this tradtion in the same way many Christians forget to enjoy the importance of Easter. It usually hits me about the time the paster stands up and says "He is risen!"He is risen indeed!I may not hold a jewish style seder in my home this year, but I am going to make a point of telling the story to the children and encourging any questions they have.

p.s. my spell check wasn't work, so please ignore any typos.

Funding the arts

written 3-13-07
Remember when you were a kid and every year your school would have the same old tired fundraiser? Well, the gift wrap is still being peddled each and every year, but that's not all they are pushing any more. This year Nix's school is having an art show to raise money for the art department. The art in the show is done by none other than your very own child. A company professionally frames your child's masterpiece, charges you $30 to buy it, and the art department gets some of that money for new crayons. I got this really cool invitaion. It has a spot that says "FEATURING" then my child's name and the picture she made. Who could turn that down? Part of me is really impressed at how clever they have been to find a different way to raise money, and another part of me feels like a sucker for paying $30 for my own daughter's refrigerator drawings. None the less, we are headed to Nix's very first art showing tonight. I'm sure it will not be her last.
She had a clever use of color, and the contrast in light and shadow is so well developed. Okay, so it isn't Van Gogh, but I'm okay with that. Afterall, Van Gogh was a loon who cut off his own ear, and I like Nix's ears right where they are.

Heartbreak Hotel

written 2-14-07
You may be expecting a nice little blog about love or some other Valentine's Day topic, but you won't get that from me. I have a bad history with the whole day of love thing. My sad story starts long before I met Rocky, so don't blame him. The few good ones I have had are because he became determined to turn things around for me. This is not one of those years, but again, not his fault. I'm really starting to think that Feb. 14th is worse for me than any Friday 13th ever could be. Now that I have told my sad tale, I'm moving on.Right now I'm wondering if Elvis is nature or nurture. I'm not exactly a big Elvis fan. I have one or two Elvis songs on my MP3 player. I don't own any Elvis pictures, teddy bears, shirts, etc. There is no Elvis on velvet at my house. I guess what I'm saying is, I have a healthy love for Elvis. The funny thing is, my kids are suddenly crazy about Elvis songs. Nix has about a half dozen of his songs on her MP3 player. JD keeps asking to hear "Rock-a-hula". Have I somehow unknowingly contributed to this, or is it because Nix was born in Memphis. Maybe there was something in the water there that I passed on to her in the womb. I knew the day would come where I would not understand my daughter's taste in music, but I thought it would be over a boy band, not Elvis.

An Apology

written 1-20-07

Brace yourself. I got an apology from my home owner's association. Sometime ago, I wrote about getting a letter about our yard. Rocky was having breathing trouble, and we went on vacation, so there was a good ten days that it went uncut. Never mind that the grass is slow growing and barely needed a trim. At the time I just vented on here and tried to let it go.This week I had the opportunity to talk to a member of a different HOA committe. I think we have more committes than a Baptist church during a remodel. Anyway, I told her what happened and she apoligized. Then I got an email from the head of the grounds committee and he apologized, and offered to help in the future.I found out that a single lady in our neighborhood had been diagnosed with cancer and had been trying to still keep up on the yard work during her treatment. After getting a few letters she finally swallowed her pride and told the board she was sick. Her yard was cut the rest of the summer by various neighbors. I don't know if it was good will or guilt that got the grass cut, but either way, the letters stopped. The odd thing is, I "what if'd" about that very thing in my blog. Maybe I'm psychotic, I mean psychic.It just goes to what I was saying back then. Is it really so hard to knock on a neighbor's door to see if they need help? If they turn out to be nasty, lazy people then write your letter, but if instead they are in need of some compassion, you may find yourself in a position to be a blessing in someone's life.

Tipping a bad waitress

written 1-11-07
Do you tip a bad waitress? I'm not talking about the one who accidently brought you Coke when you asked for Diet. I'm talking about the one who, in addition to the mixed up drinks, they mess up your order, leave one order out, bring cold food 10 minutes after the kitchen made it, makes insulting comments about people they work with, and have questionable cleanliness. Do you have trouble walking away from that table leaving behind an obvious sign of what you thought of her job performance? It occured to me the other day, while I watched a bag boy at Kroger put a bag of flour on top of a loaf of bread, that I don't speak up for myself when I should. Oh sure, I'm all mouth when it comes to friends and family, but when it comes to total strangers that I might not ever see again, I'm mum. Why is tipping now a requirement? I would love the opportunity to give people silent feedback on their jobs, but the one chance I get to do that, I wimp out. Having been a waiter himself, Rocky can not leave a table without tipping. In all our years together I have seen him do it maybe once. Tipping is suppose to be an option. I hate it when you go to a resturant and at the bottom is says it will be adding 15% tip to your ticket. This actually ties into something I was just reading about. The government wants to increase the minimum wage again, and thereby raised the cost of living, and the cost of many services across the nation. How does that tie in? Well, basically the government wants to tell companies that they have to give a big "tip" to their workers even the ones who don't deserve it. Shouldn't we all make what our market value is and not what the government thinks we should make. I'm sure the concept started out with good intent, as most government programs do, but somewhere things went wrong. They want to give our lowest wage earners a 41% raise. When was the last time you got that kind of raise. $7.25 to forget to put fries in my kid's Happy Meal, to put up a hazard sign up instead of moping a puddle, to throw a paper that lands in my bushes. If this increase does go through I may find myself able to resist tipping bad waitresses afterall.

The Day the Easter Bunny Killed Santa

written 12-15-06

This Christmas is going to be different for us this year. I'm not one to push the idea of Santa. Kids are going to believe on their own and I don't want them looking back on things thinking that I lied to them. I answered all questions as vaguely and honestly as possible. Nix knew that we paid for gifts from Santa and that is why different kids got different price ranges of presents. She wrote him a letter of thanks and left milk and cookies out. She wanted to get him a present to put under the tree . (Yes, my kid is really that good). This year all of that is changed and I blame the Easter Bunny. Nix came face to face with the mall Bunny this year, and that set her on a line of questions. Was the real bunny giant? Where did he live? How does he get around? Then came the big one. She said "I want the truth, is the Easter Bunny real or pretend?" I couldn't lie. I leveled with her and she was okay with it. Then a couple of days later she lost a tooth, and she realized the tooth fairy wasn't real either. It was a good week before she came to me about Santa. She has handled it really well, and hasn't told any of her believing friends. JD has noticed Santa, but he doesn't really get what Santa is all about. So, for this year, we have no one in the house that is excited about Santa. I guess there is always next year.

Is the force with you?

written 11-10-06
During my daily surf of the world's news, I ran across a video of a couple dressed up like Jedis along with a wookie apparently marching outside the U.N. offices in England. As you can imagine, I had to know what they were doing. It turns out that we just had International Tolerance Day which is sponsered by the U.N. These three people had come to ask that they change international to intergalatic. I kept watching hoping to see the men in white coats with nets come and drag them away. Sadly, that never happened, but something else interesting did. As the man was stating his case he mentioned that according to the last census report there were 390,000 people in England who listed their religion as "Jedi Knight" making it the fourth largest religion in England and as such should be recognized as an offical religion. Having already gathered that this guy was off his rocker, I didn't put much stock in it. Afterall, he had also claimed to have met his better half while attending the Jedi Academy on one of the moons of Pulto. (Please don't get me started on the whole "not a planet" debate, that is a whole different blog). As it turns out, his numbers were right. In addition to the 390,000 in England, there were 20,000 in Canada, 53,000 in New Zealand, and 70,000 in Australia. It is actually 4th in England, but even crazier is that in New Zealand it is second only to Christianity. That is a total of 533,000 people! Even if the majority did it as a prank, that still leaves people out there who have based their religion on a work of confessed science fiction. Come to think of it, in a way, so have Scientologists, but according to the numbers I'm seeing, there are less of them than Jedi Knights. It 's times like this I think to myself WWYD (what would Yoda do). I think he might say "Lost their marbles have they. Unfortunate it is."

Is it safe to blog?

written 9-29-06
Blogging may be the only thing it is safe for me to do now.The day started with JD having croup. Then on the way to take Nix to school I got a flat tire. Rocky came to my rescue and it was then time to take JD to the doctor. The doctor confirmed what I thought and put JD on steroids. Then he tells me, "Oh, that will make him hyper". JD hyper, great. What he should have said is that it would give him endless energy while at the same time making him beyond grumpy, as well as giving him a need to sit in my lap and yell all afternoon. Somehow with all this I still managed to get stuff together for the "Treat the Troops" packing today. Six dozen homemade cookies, magazines, and various "add water" foods. Where that may sound like a lot, it was a mere drop in the bucket to what was being sent out today. I would have loved to stay and help but I had the croupy kid and sister with me.When I got home I notice a piece of trim that has been coming off the garage door was finally about to fall off. Being the "can do" gal I am, I grabbed a hammer. The good news is I fixed the trim. The bad news is I hit my thumb in the process. I've decided it would be safer to not do anything else today. I can't take any more. I even left out the part of my day that invovled poop and a running faucet (be glad). Also, JD has decided to go potty standing up like a big boy. Do you know what happens when a little boy sneezes while tinkling? I'll leave you to ponder that one


written 9-19-06
I was reading about hypochondria today and now I think I have it. Just a little medical humor, but I did have a moment of that today. I was having a very yummy salad from California Pizza Kitchen today when I realized it had fresh spinach in it. Normally I would love a salad with fresh spinach, but since there is a big e coli threat right now, it got me worried. Now I have indigestion and my first thought was "I have e coli!". This is silly on so many levels. First of all, I have indigestion about 5 days a week. Second, eatting salad as a meal always gives me some level of indigestion. So, why is it my mind jumped to a gross virus that hasn't even shown up anywhere near where I live? Of course, if it turns out that I do have the e coli virus I'll be sure to say "I told you so" to all those who doubted me. I'd like to end by reminding you all that it is not hypochondria if you are really sick. Now I'm going to take two Tums and put on my strechy pants.

Hold on to your hats

I've been away for awhile because I discovered Myspace and have been blogging over there. I realized that by making my page ultra-private, I have denied web friends the pleasure of my musings. Well, no more. I am about to start the copy and paste process, and there will be a ton of new things to read here.