Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Then We Are Not So Different, You and I” *

[This is a video from an Orthodow Special-Needs Camp, with the background music being one of my favorite songs, Abie Rotenberg's "Who am I"] This song lends it's line to my title and is related to today's post.

Tomorrow Ricki starts a new year of school, in the same institution, but in a new (and long-awaited) building. Since I have swimming this evening, I tried late in the afternoon to get Ricki to lay out clothes for tomorrow. Now she has PLENTY of clothing, as we went clothes shopping just a few days ago. (See how much her behavior has improved; said expedition did not generate any blog-worthy tales of woe….) HOWEVER she has already, in two days, gone through all five of her new blouses, and some are still in the unwashed laundry. I attempted to explain to my daughter that she would need to choose items from her clothing closet, or at the most, from the clothing currently in the dryer. (Her “light” colored laundry will not be washed until tomorrow, when I have enough to make a full load. But she does have some new items in the load presently in the dryer….)
Nevertheless, Ricki has her heart set on wearing a particular outfit. Frustrated that I was not acquiescing immediately to her request, she turned to me in annoyance:
“Mom, you are not listening. I want (to wear) the brown skirt, blue blouse, and brown vest. All my friends will see that I have a new blouse. Everyone will see that I look great. It will be stunning. All my friends will want to see it! Don’t you understand?!?"
Oh, I do. I bashfully admit that I am already pondering what I will wear tomorrow at the school’s new building’s open house, where I too will see many of my friends (fellow parents). And I also am hoping that “Everyone will see that I look great.” I just don’t talk about it…….
So, you see, there is not that much difference between my daughter and I, is there…?

*This is the main line in the refrain of Abie Rottenberg’s song “You and I”

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Kilo of Sugar

One day about a week and a half ago I was baking a cake, and suddenly realized that I had no sugar in the house. Looking at the clock, I noted that the neighborhood grocery was closing in any minute (if it hadn’t already), so I sent Ricki with instructions to go to the store PRONTO for some sugar before they closed.
She quickly left the house, but took forever to return. After a while, I assumed, correctly, that she had found our grocery closed, and went searching for an open store where she could purchase the kilo of sugar. The only problem with this is that I had not given her any cash, as we regularly charge purchases at our grocery, and I pay the bill about every 2 weeks.
It was as I assumed, and when Ricki returned, sugar in hand, I tried to figure out WHICH store she had obtained the sugar at, so that I could reimburse them for the purchase. I tried phoning a few of the more likely possibilities, but those efforts did not pan out. Then I have to admit, it slipped my mind, until yesterday.
Yesterday I passed a different nearby grocery, and asked the owner if a girl with Down syndrome had purchased a kilo of sugar the previous week with out paying. He answered in the negative.
So today, after my morning walk, I went checking at several groceries in the opposite direction, but I had no luck there either…..
As I neared home, Ricki called me on my cell phone, bitterly complaining at my prolonged absence, so I told her that I was downstairs, and she should come downstairs. On her arrival, I instructed her that she should SHOW me which grocery she had bought the sugar at the previous week. She did; it was the one I had stopped at yesterday. When I asked the owner why he had not admitted to the purchase, he said “You asked me about someone taking sugar without paying for it. She told me that her Mother would come in and pay….”
(BTW, I have mentioned to Ricki that if our grocer is closed, she has to return to me for money…. So I hope that this is the last incident of this type….)

The Clothes Closet

Lately I have let Ricki take a lot more responsibility concerning folding her own laundry and putting it away in her closet. Unfortunately, this invariably results in the closet becoming a big unsorted mess within short order. So every once in a while I go through the closet, refolding and arranging the clothing in a semblance of order.
Than, Saturday night (after straightening up in the living room), Ricki decided (again on her own), to “arrange” her closet. When she finished, she called me over with pride to show me her handiwork.
She had put the winter clothes on the shelf that is easiest to reach, and her everyday clothing way down at the bottom. Her bras (which were currently all in the wash or the yet-to-be-folded-laundry had not been assigned a place at all. The closet NEEDED some intervention on my part.
But I didn’t want to crush her pride at her own initiative, nor to give her the feeling that the job was “mine”.
So after a few well-accented “oohs and ahhs”, I pointed out to Ricki that it would be to her advantage to place what she needed most on the shelf which is easiest to reach. But I made it clear that SHE would decide which place on the shelf we would place each type of item. So as a team we rearranged the closet, me making a few general points, but encouraging her to decide the small details. It worked well, and today I see a more careful stance being taken by my daughter as she puts the laundry away. She now puts each item into the correct area, rather than chucking it in haphazardly (just to get the job over and done with…). GRIN

Ricki at Work….

Over shabbas (Friday PM – Sat PM) my oldest son was here with his family; we had a beautiful visit. But inevitably, there comes the aftermath--- the cleanup!
I asked Ricki to clear the leftovers and the dishes from the table (which she did VERY niely with minimal grumbles). Then, as I was washing the dishes, I heard Ricki stacking the chairs in the living room, and collecting all the strewn toys. (Yes, dear DIL had collected most of them, but apparently she had missed several…) All of this work was being done by Ricki on her own initiative, and without having been asked. Now isn’t that nice?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Dead Sea

[image: Generic photo of the Dead sea/]

On Thursday Ricki and I had a real treat: we traveled with one of my married sons (and his eldest daughter) for a short swim in the Dead Sea. Now I have SEEN the Dead Sea before, but as luck would have it, had never SWAM there. So I was looking forward to the trip.

Ricki behaved very well on the trip down, taking the long car ride in stride. She even enjoyed all the “incidental teaching” that I managed to fit in as we passed various sites on the way, including an explanation of the airport control tower, and a review of much of her studies on the Negev area (which she had studied in grade school). All was well until we reached the water. I had packed light, and never having been in the Dead Sea, figured that any rock crystals in the water would be smooth, as rocks in lakes tend to be. WHAT A MISTAKE! The walk into the water was VERY painful, but after a ways, I sat on my backside and managed to progress that way out to where the water was deep enough to float. Ricki did the same, but she was protesting VERY VOCALLY all the way. (I asked my son later if he had heard Ricki on the distant “men”’s part of the beach, and he had….) Once out, she grabbed my arm, afraid to try and float on her back (her experiences with floating in the pool are all on her tummy, which she obviously could not do in the Dead Sea’s highly salty water….). Her reaction probably scared her 6-year-old niece, who refused to even try entering the water. After a while we went back to shore. All the other women there (who probably wanted some QUIET!...) pitched in. One loaned us her slippers to walk back over the crystals to the beach, and another tried to calm Ricki down as she noted the two miniscule scratches on her legs from the salt.

Afterwards we ate lunch in a park. I managed to twist my left leg royally there, jumping down a height I should have known better than to attempt. (This has wiped out nearly all walking for me for the last two days.) [At least I redeemed myself with both Ricki and my granddaughter by buying them popsicles.]

Of course the funny thing was Ricki’s ascertation on the way home that she had had a FANTASTIC time. Go figure…..
PS. Yes, I enjoyed experiencing the unique buoyancy of the Dead Sea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Green Light

I was several houses from the corner, when I noticed that the "walk" sign was green. Now I hate the red ones, as I have to walk around in circles to keep the aerobic counter going. So I ran! Now I am not surprised that I could, or that I made it (thank G-d, I've noted that milestone already)... But it was effortless and FUN!!!! The joys of losing weight!

A Tale of Education and Lemon Juice

Since Ricki is home on vacation, I have a better opportunity to give her some consistent, intensive behavioral guidance. In simpler language, it means that I have an easier opportunity to apply “consequences” for bad behavior. [She is home the whole day, and she needs favors from me to keep herself truly occupied. That means that if she wants special activities (which stem off boredom), she needs to behave.]
So I decided that it is time for me to start dealing in a much stricter manner with her “chutzpah”. Whenever she doesn’t get her way, she will usually either call me “cheeky”, or make aggressive motions. Up till now I have largely ignored such behavior, realizing that many teens mouth off to their parents. However, she has lately been doing this so consistently that this pattern of behavior will surely hurt her later on in life if not curbed. She will need to know that people in authority can yes expect her to listen to them (in general), and will not tolerate her calling them names.
So yesterday morning, after Ricki told me to “shut up”, I waited patiently. I waited until I went out to run a few errands, an activity Ricki assumed that she would be joining me in. (As with most women, Ricki LOVES shopping….) But when I left, I went on my own, explaining to her that I was not taking her because she told me to “shut up”. She accepted that fairly well.
Later in the day, however, she was truly exasperated when I refused to make her a (diet) frozen yogurt due to her having consumed (and knowing that I did not allow) THREE soy burgers (and G-d knows how many slices of bread with them….). A few minutes later she emerged from the kitchen with two bottles of prepared iced drinks to take on our visit that afternoon to a lung specialist. (We needed to check if she has underlying lung damage after her pneumonia..*) One had diet juice, for me, the other (and here she crowed out in a strong “only-I-am-getting-this” tone) Is LEMON drink for me.
Well, we do have lemon diet syrup, but since she obviously felt that it was something “special”, I suspected highly that she had prepared for herself a bottle of unsweetened lemon juice from the new unopened bottle on the table.
“Ricki, is that “lemon-mint?” (the diet syrup)
“It’s ‘preserved lemon’,” she answered, “for ME!”
I explained that it has no sugar, and is bitter, and now that it is open, needs to go into the fridge. Each bit of information was registered, and she answered to each sentence “I KKNNOOWW!!”, while she simultaneously rushed to add sugar to her drink…..
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that for a split second I considered letting her take her special “Lemon drink” as it was, but gee, even I’m not THAT mean…..

*( the doctor’s first impression is her lungs are OK. We are going to do a sleep study to try and determine why she sits when sleeping as of late.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Is Becoming Passé

What? Passé?
People doing double-takes or even almost not recognizing me is beginning to become Passé. Well, almost. Ricki’s pediatrician has probably wanted to ask me for ages, but he is always SSSSOOO busy. But I was there in an empty office a few days ago (to get an out-of-date referral renewed). As I was leaving he said “UUHH , by the way, you HAVE lost a lot of weight recently…..haven’t you???”
And last night I was at the pool (I usually go only on Wednesdays, but I was making up a missed session), and an acquaintance saw me.
“Rickismom, HOW much did you loose?!?!?” And as I answered (so far 59 kilos), she said to the other women there, “You have NO idea of how she USED to look….!”
As much as I enjoy the accolades, I am beginning to tire of them. I think I feel good enough about my new lifestyle as not to need all the attention. I don’t mind the attention, but sometimes I get tired of all the questions that come after. Sometimes…..

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The On-Going "Eyeglasses Saga" (installment #12)

I checked back, and realize that the last "installment " of the "eyeglasses saga" was NOT 7 or 8, but more like #eleven! So this one is number twelve...[for the last installment of the on-going "eyeglasses saga", see HERE (or type "eyeglasses" in the search box above...]
On my return from the US, I discovered that Ricki’s glasses (which she had actually managed to hold on to for about two months) had disappeared. (Why was I not surprised?? LOL) In all fairness to Ricki, their loss may not have been entirely her fault. Her older sister explained that the spectacles went missing on a day that her class took a trip to the beach. Thus perhaps someone else may have been the careless party, or at least, Ricki was “watching” her glasses in an unfamiliar setting.
Anyway, I dug out the “spare” pair (I ought to buy in bulk….), and Ricki was happy to wear them.
A week later, I took Ricki to her eye doctor for her annual checkup. She needs a slightly different number, so we went and ordered two pairs. But what was really cool was what happened when I mentioned to the doctor that over this last year we have averaged about one new pair a month. The doctor finished checking Ricki, and then she said to read a line of numbers, which Ricki did with aplomb. Then the doctor removed the lenses, and asked Ricki to read the lines.
“I can’t,” Ricki said, her assurance shaken, “I can’t see the numbers.”

Ricki was impressed. Even the doctor said that she needs the glasses.

[image: sunglasses]

Then today at noon, as we went to pick up the new eyewear, I noticed Ricki eyeing my prescription sunglasses.
“Ricki, if you don’t lose these new glasses for a year, next summer I will buy YOU sunglasses.”
I mean, if that works, I will be getting off VERY cheaply!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Trip

Today I took a trip with Ricki, along with several women. Some of them don’t know me, but a few know me a bit, and a few know me pretty well. But none of them have seen me in the last year at least.
I expected that they would be surprised by my weight loss, but at first no one noticed. Then one of the women who doesn’t know me asked me my name , and when I said it one of those who knows me slightly turned and did a double take. “Rickismom, I didn’t recognize you!!!!” ( GRIN…..)
* * * *
Among other activities, we did a short hike through an ancient water way, a stone tunnel with water up to waist deep. Ricki was fairly scared, and went quite slowly. But larer as we were on the bus home, I asked Ricki what part of the trip she enjoyed the most (I half expected her to answer “Lunch”). She promptly replied that the water-hike was the best part. And then she added “I was scared, but I did it!!!!”

Often we are encouraged by the ill-informed not to challenge our special-needs children, lest they fail. I maintain that people with Down syndrome, like most others in life, enjoy that occasional success at something challenging.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Stairs / The Anxious Daughter

I guess the mountains did it. Ever since I have been losing significant amounts of weight, I have been waiting for the day when I can climb the three flights of steps to my apartment, with groceries, without needing to stop and rest in the middle. And while I have progressed from the climb being a very strenuous multi-stop trek, I have still found need to pause.
Today and Yesterday I made it up, groceries and all, in a single go! I suspect its all those steps on the mountain trails that did the trick…GRIN

* * * * * * *

Well, we all know of mothers who stay awake waiting for their kids to arrive home. In our house, I am afraid that it is RICKI who often waits up for me!
I had Ricki all ready for bed when I left the house at 8:45 to go to my weekly swimming session. (Others were also home.)Well, as often happens, on my arrival home I was greeted by Ricki popping out of bed with a sigh of relief that I have returned. But rather than complaining that I had dared leave, she actually asked me very sweetly if I had enjoyed the pool!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The "Fanatic" and the Fan

My married daughter would surely call our downstairs neighbor a fanatic. He will not look you in the face if you have to speak with him ( he would only look at women in his family), and he would certainly prefer that you (if female) not pass him anything.
This behavior doesn't bother me; I understand his mind set and don't take it personally.
BUT when I was struggling up the stairs of our building with a heavy metal-base fan last week, he noticed, and immediately offered to carry it up for me.
See? His not staring at women is HIS stingency, but it doesn't affect his obligation to do chesed (acts of kindness). A good balance, to my mind.
(And yes, I definately accepted his offer to transport the fan.....)

I'm Back...?

Well, I am back in Israel (for over a week already), and I hope to get back to slightly more frequent blogging as well.
Ricki was thrilled at my return, and on seeing my photos, decided that she also wants to go (again) to America. I promised her that if she loses to a normal weight, I will take her. I mean, if she would loose weight, it would certainly be worth the price.....