Archive for the 'mykidsmom' Category

Where we are

Yesterday, Avi started his first day at his new School, Nu Vue Academy.  It is a therapudic school, for bright children who suffer from behaviorial and emotional disorders.  The first day went well.  His bus picks him up at our door at about 7:10 so he now needs to get up earlier than he ever has.  The good part of that is that I get to see him before I go to work.  I wake him up when I go downstairs in the morning and he gets dressed in his nu vue uniform (a nu vue polo shirt and kakie or blue shorts).  I made him breakfast and we got to spend a few minutes before I had to go to work.

mkm said that when the bus came, he was hesitant and very huggy with her (which is not normal for Avi), but he is allowed to be nervous on his first day.  We get a report back each day from them which we need to sign and return.  At the start of school they offer breakfast, but he ate at home, so he met another student and they played a game together which 6 months ago probably never would have happened.

They use a points system there as part of their behavior modification plan.  Each day is broken up into ten segments.  Each segment is a different task or lesson.  It could be math, or group therapy, lunch or gym, etc.  For each segment he can get two, one or zero points.  So the max is 20 points for the day.  They get green (I am not sure yet what this means) if they get 16 to 20 points and red if they get 15 or less.  Avi got 18 on his first day and we were so proud of him that mkm bought his the soundtrack from Camp Rock.

Later on in the year, they will be able to use the points to actually purchase things.  I don’t know what, but I am sure it will be fun for the kids.  So time will tell how Avi does, but we have confidence in him.

This week was also the start of camp for Noam and Shayna.  They are going to a day camp run by the local Yeshiva.  The came is very good and they attract kids from outside of the Orthodox community (such as us).  They have a beautiful in ground pool and they do all kinds of fun day camp activites.  Noam is in the older bunks and they used to go each week for a day trip on Thursdays.  This year, due to gas prices, they are bringing a lot of activities in rather than the kids going out, but they are having a wonderful time.

Noam, unfortunately is afraid of the water, and we are going to try a star chart to get him to go in the pool and learn to swim.  We’ll see if that works.  Star charts never worked for Avi, but Noam is a little easier, so maybe it will.

UPDATE.  mkm just called me.  She spoke to Noam’s counslor when she dropped him off today.  She said that Noam really likes one of the swimming instructors and he IS going in the pool.  They give him stickers when he does and when he participates, so maybe I dont need to do the star chart after all.  And get this.  Noam is teaching the boys in his bunk chess.  He learned how to play a few months ago.  He is not that good yet, but I am sure soon he will be better than me.  Adi (his counselor) said that yesterday he had 5 boys around the chess board for over 30 minutes!

Shayna is about 30% on her way to being pottie trained.  She has gone a couple of times by herself, and we are now taking her all the time.  She is still in diapers, but we hope to get her in pull-ups very soon.  She loves the pool and they wont take the kids in the big pool when they are in diapers.  Pull-ups are ok, so we are hoping that soon she will be in the big pool.  I took her to a friends house where they have a pool and she is so ready to swim.

So that is where we are.  We are going to Disney at the end of August, so I am sure I will be blogging about that as we get closer.  We will be travelling down on the Auto Train so there will be lots to talk about.

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What’s been going on

It has been a while since I have posted other than my song of the day. Things have become very difficult in our house and time has been at a minimum. Avi has been going downhill for weeks now. Last I wrote about this, we were waiting for a Psychiatric evaluation. Avi saw the psychiatrist and the first thing that has changed is his diagnosis. Although we have not been given a definite on this, everyone now believes that Avi is bipolar.

It is a good thing we took him off the ADHD drugs because bipolar kids on stimulants will often get very depressed and that is what was happening to Avi. He began to say things like “I wish I were never born” and “I don’t want to live with anyone and just be by myself all the time.” Well we took him off the Adderall and that all ended. In fact his therapist said that his sessions after we took him off the drugs were much better and she was able to get much more from him.

Avi’s therapist consulted with our family doctor to get Avi on to a bipolar medication called Zyprexa which is an antipsychotic used today in the treatment of Bipolar disorder. We are a few days in and waiting to see if it has any effect.

The psychiatrist recommended to us that we look at a partial hospitalization program. This is basically an inpatient program where Avi comes home every night and is home on the weekends. We have an intake appointment at a good facility on Monday and if we are lucky, he will begin there the next day. This is a 6 to 8 week program and seems to be exactly what we need.

Today, mkm will be at our local school for and IEP meeting.  We already know that Avi is going to be placed out of district next year, which means that he will be going to a school for children with sepcial needs.  Luckily for us, there happens to be at least two very good schools in our area who specialize in helping children like Avi.  Hopefully he will be at one of them.

Its been a long road and every time we seem to move back one space, we do seem to move forward two, so I think that the end of the road is getting closer.  Sometimes it is hard to see that, but we just keep reminding ourselves that this is a very long process and that everyone who is involved is in this to get Avi well.

Car Trouble

With all the seriousness on my blog lately, I need to include some lightness.  What follows is a true story.

The Friday before the end of Passover I had parked my car like I always do near the edge of my town and then I walk to the train station to catch the train to NYC.  It was a cool morning so I wore my coat, but by the end of the day it had warmed up considerably, so on the way home, I carried my coat.  I took the train back to New Brunswick like I do all the time, and on this day I was lucky to catch a Rutgers bus that would take me near to my car.  Rutgers buses are free for anyone to use, so it was a nice ride since it was warm out.

I got off the bus and walked to my car.  As you may have guessed, I left the coat on the bus, and in the pocket of my coat were my keys.  My house and car keys were on that key chain.  Normally, I could just call my wife and she could come with the other key.  However, this being close to Shabbat she could not come and this was the only car key I had.  I had gotten the car when my grandfather passed away and only one key came with it.

So I left the car and walked home.  I decided it was pointless to think about it over the holiday.  I called the Rutgers bus dispatch and left a message about it and hoped that on Monday I would find my keys.

Monday came and my coat and keys were nowhere to be found at Rutgers.  OK, so I can get a locksmith to open my car and make keys.  The problem is that all car keys in America have transponder chips in them and you cannot just cut a key.  The keys have to be programmed to your car.  For my Ford car, if I had two keys, I could purchase a transponder blank, have it cut at a locksmith and the program it myself.  Since your car’s computer does not have a keyboard you program the key (at least in my Ford) by putting one key in and turning to position 3 (the position just before starting the engine).  Then you take it out within 5 seconds and put in key 2 and do the same thing.  When you take out the 2nd key it is in program mode.  Put in the new key and turn to position 3 within 10 seconds and it is programmed.  Sounds great, except I have no keys.

I called a locksmith and they will charge $300 for one key and $50 for a 2nd.  I call the Ford dealer and they will do it for $189 for two keys, but I have to have it towed to them.  Thank God for AAA.  So my wife calls AAA and they come within 15 minutes (a minor miracle!) with a flatbed.  They cannot use the flatbed because the car needs to be in neutral to get it on the flatbed and we cannot do that without the key!  Now mkm told AAA that we have no keys, but they don’t listen.  The only thing that can be done is to get a wheel lift tow truck (the old fashioned kind) but that has to pull right in front of the car and there is a car in front of mine.

Mkm cannot stay any longer, so she goes about her day and at 9:30 after my kids are asleep, I go over there.  Sure enough the other car is still in front of mine.  So I call the police and they look up the license and get a name.  The dispatcher said she cannot tell me the name, but she can tell me that on Friday, there was an ambulance call to the address where the car is registered.  Great, no one is around to move the car.  So she looks up the name in the white pages and find a phone number and tries to call the house.  No answer.  She gets back to me and says she will have an officer knock on the door to the house.  Of course she cannot tell me the house, but when the officer comes, I see where he goes, so now I know which house.

He knocked on the door, and later I found out that there was a high school girl at home and she told the officer that her step-dad would be back in an hour.  So I figure I would come back at 11 pm to deal with it.

I get back at 11 and the car is still there.  At about 11:15 I notice someone walking up the walk at the house in question.  I quickly get out of my car and called to the person.  It turns out to be the teenager, who never called her step dad earlier.  She had just thought he would be home.  So she said she would call and he tolder her he would leave the hospital (where his wife was at the time).

About 15 minutes later, he comes home and walks over.  He then tells me that the car battery is dead and that he is trying to give it away to charity.  I ask him if he can just let it roll forward as far as possible as we are on a slight hill.  He did that and then I called AAA.

AAA came with the wheel lift truck but unfortunately I was very close to the curb.  It took the guy quite soem time to get my wheels in the lift.  Then he asked me to open the car and release the parking break.  How many times did I tell the AAA people that I could not open the car!  Anyway, he took this plastic wedge thing and pried open my door a tiny bit at the top.  He took a long curved rod and put it through the crack and used it to push the door unlock button.  He broke into the car in less than 30 seconds!  Unreal.

Anyway, he towed it to the Ford dealer and then the next day I had two new keys for my car.

What an ordeal!

Whats been going on

Its been almost two weeks since my last full posting, and now I have so much to say, I have been putting it off because I just don’t know where to start. I think the easiest way is chronologically, so I will pick up where I left off and tell you about our Passover holiday.

Friday night the 18th we all went to one of the mom’s houses for Shabbat dinner. Dinner was to be at about 6:30 but for many reasons we did not actually eat until closer to 8:00. Dinner was fine but we needed to get a lot of the food back to our house for the rest of the holiday so a nice old-fashion wagon came in handy. We got home by 11 pm and thank God the kids went to sleep.

I think we made it to Synagogue just about when it ended. We went to the other mom’s house for lunch and that was actually kind of nice. It was a nice day so the kids played outside and we all got a chance to relax. One of the many kids was a bit sick but she just stayed asleep on a couch. By about 3:30 the moms moseyed back to our house to begin to get food in the oven and set the table for the Seder. I brought a few of the kids back at about 5, and helped to finish getting ready.

Normally dinner is during the Seder. On the other hand, the Seder cannot start until after sundown, so we would have to feed our kids very late if we did that (not to mention the hungry adults!) So we decided to have dinner first and then start the Seder on time. At the point where dinner would be we would have dessert.

I wont go into details of the Seder itself, except to say it was lively and I think everyone had a good time. Of course we did the whole thing over the 2nd day and I think everyone had fun then too.

Will we do this cooperative Seder again? I don’t know, but it did make for some fun times despite the difficulties of getting ready. Next year we may try again and we will have learned from our past mistakes.

When Nothing Seems To Go Right

Did you ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right?  They don’t happen too often, but when they do, it makes for a very trying day.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I knew something was up when I was running late for everything in the morning.  Things seemed to go ok after that, but then I got a call from mkm telling me that she forgot to leave the key for the cleaning lady.

WHAM!

That totally put a kink in the day.  If you have been reading about our passover prep, you know that we have this all laid out day by day.  The house was to be cleaned so we can start changing over to Passover tonight.  This means that I would have to stay up late to clean the refrigerator last night and make sure that we will be able to do the change over.

Then if that weren’t enough, we have a Cub Scout pack meeting last night.  The previous cubmaster had planned this one and we were going to have a police detective come and speak to the boys.  Well, turns out she could not make it and no one got the message.  So there I was with about 15 boys with no program and an hour to kill.

The good thing is that these days end.  You usually figure it all out and then go on.  Our cleaning lady is now coming today at 4:30 (when mkm will be home) and after talking with the boys we had relay races and they had a good time.

Today, everything is back on track.  I actually got an early train today as the earlier train was in the station as I got there.  We got free pizza for lunch at work because someone in my office won an NCAA basketball tournament and the house should be totally clean when I get home.

Things always seem to snap back into place.

Passover prep part 2

When I last discussed this monumental process, the three moms had just decided on menus. One might think that this is easy, and in some years it is not that hard. You have two Seders. You make a lot of food and eat it both nights. In many ways we are doing that, with minor changes. However, this year a wrench is thrown into the gears because Passover begins Saturday night right after Shabbat. This means that we cannot do any preparation at all the entire day before, but our houses have to be “kosher for Passover” before Shabbat. So the 2 Seder menus just went up to three menus, including Friday night Shabbat dinner.

The three families will each dinner on Friday at one house, lunch Saturday afternoon at another and then all descend upon our house for the first Seder on Saturday night. One final wrench is that you really cannot start the Seder until after sundown on Saturday night with is around 8:15. Way too late for dinner with kids. So we are introducing an innovation, and eating the meal before the Seder and at the “meal” during the Seder we will have dessert. Here is a PDF of our basic menu.

passover-2008-menus

Yesterday Marsha and the moms met again to discuss shopping and what we will need.  As we are all hosting these Seders together we are sharing the costs.  For example, we know that we need a minimum of 15 dozen eggs.  Eggs are a major staple of passover cooking and thank God the holiday is only one week long.  We will be making 200 Matza balls.  That equals 5 1/2 dozen eggs right there.  You get the idea.  By the end of this week much of the shopping will be done.

To bring us to today, on Sunday mkm and I defrosted and cleaned the large freezer in the basement and we are now emptying out our main freezer in the kitchen and relocating the food downstairs.  Half of the large freezer will be dedicated to passover foods while the rest holds are every day stuff.  We also cleaned out mkm’s grandmothers fridge which is also downstairs to hold the every day fridge stuff that needs relocating.  Tonight we will remove everything from the kitchen fridge and freezer, the pantry and the counters so the woman who cleans our house every other week will do a more thorough cleaning in the kitchen on Wednesday.  Thursday night, the dads will convene at our house to bring upstairs all the Passover supplies (pots, pans, dishes etc.) and put away all the every day stuff.

This then brings us to this coming Shabbat.  Cooking is going to occur Saturday night and Sunday, and I will post part three of Passover prep on Monday.

Passover Prep

Everything you always wanted to know about Passover prep but were afraid to ask.

Now that would make a great title for a book. Maybe I’ll write it someday. As I’ve said, Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday (and not even because my Hebrew name is Pesah!) despite the fact that it is a lot of work getting ready. It may not take a village, but it does take the equivalent of a recking crew to get everything done. Especially this year.

Lets start at the beginning. Passover food entered the stores starting the first week in March. The first thing we do is try very had to ignore this fact when we walk into the local supermarket. Of course, they make that hard, because at the local Stop & Shop, the food is right by the entrance. So while we are still buying flour and fillings for Hamentashen, the store is trying to get us to think about Passover. They don’t scare us!

About a week after Purim, when we have either consumed or gotten rid of all the junk food that comes in the purim baskets, mkm starts to make lists. Every year at the end of Passover, we make a list of all the non-perishable food items we have left for the next year. Each year right after Purim, mkm spends days trying to find said list.

After a few days of searching, she gives up and goes into the basement and recreates the list. Then she can start shopping. Thankfully we choose to pass over the Passover pizza and Passover pancake mixes and just by the necessities (Matza, Matza Meal, Matza Cake Meal, Matza crackers, Matza, Matza, Matza and Matza). In the New York area, the supermarkets use the Matza as a loss leader, and if you spend $50 on a shopping order, you get a free five pound package. So far we are up to two of them.

That gets us to where we are today. As I said, this year is a bit different as we are doing our seders with mostly friends rather than mostly family. Two other families in our town will be joining us for seders this year (plus some parents, sisters, uncles, aunts and other assorted people). There will be at a minimum 21 people at each seder. That number will likely increase a bit for each night.

Last Thursday, mkm had a lunch meeting (read power meeting!) with the two other moms at the local Panera. As far as I can tell they spent about 2 1/2 hours planning out the whole pre-passover process, and in upcoming postings, I will share our plans.

In the meantime, here is a funny youtube video. This is the British version of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.”

Enjoy!