Monthly Archives: September 2005


Okay, yesterday I met with the occupational therapist at Gus’s kindergarten. Turned out to be a sort of general-information, get-acquainted thing. When he learned to walk and talk, is there any possibility of vision or hearing problems, allergies, whatever. Then she went up to meet him and he was very…himself. Little Mr. Sunshine has gotten progressively moodier and grouchier, but he may just be growing into his personality. When he’s in a Mood he glowers at the floor and hunches his shoulders, and Robert says he can very clearly remember doing exactly the same thing at that age.

Interesting side note: one of the main reasons it took Ignatz so long to get diagnosed is that I was always making excuses for him, the crowning one being: “Oh, it’s not a problem, I did that when I was a kid too.” So now it’s apparently Robert’s turn to say the same. Makes one wonder. Anyway, we are skeptical, but we’re agreeing for the time being to work with the therapist, just in case. We made a mistake with Ignatz, and we’d rather not repeat it.

Anyway. That was that. If Gus does see a therapist, it won’t be what you’re envisioning, lying on a couch and talking about the digger we wouldn’t let him have when he was two and how it scarred him emotionally so now he doesn’t think he can commit to a serious relationship with any plastic toy, ever. She’ll have a group of kids, and they’ll all troop off together for an hour or so on Wednesday mornings for some slightly-more-structured play. And it will happen within the kindergarten day, so it won’t be Yet Another Thing I Have To Remember, which is good, because I’m already past capacity. So okay. We’ll see.

I talked to Mom last night. She sounded much better, much more cheerful. She saw a doctor yesterday, and he thinks that the tumor in her back, while it’s not growing, is pressing on her spinal cord, which is why she’s losing some motor control in her legs. She’s taking, um, Dexamethecin (sp?) 3x/day to shrink the tumor back and return some sensory-whatever. But she still has to get a wheelchair, which she is cheerful about because it’s much easier than having Jerry half-carry her around all the time. And a hospital bed in the living-room, because she keeps scooching down on the couch and can’t really get herself back up.

The methadone was knocking her out, but they’ve adjusted the dosage, so now it’s controlling the pain but she’s staying alert, so that’s better. Her moods are evening out a bit, and she’s getting physical therapy and occupational therapy. She probably won’t get better enough to walk again, at least not to the point of not needing a wheelchair, but she is getting to a situation she can live with. That’s a relief. And if she can avoid any kind of infection while she’s still so weak, she probably won’t die anytime soon. All good news.

But it does mean we have to start worrying about money. As I understand it, she has to spend down her assets before she can qualify for disability, and then she has to be on disability for a whole year before she can get medicare, which is getting slashed by the stupid government anyway. And disability doesn’t have any kind of health insurance to it, and if you can afford health insurance you don’t qualify for disability. So if you’re too sick to work, you can’t have medical care for a year. What the hell? She has something called “COBRA” under which she can get health insurance for $600/month for 18 months after she quits working, so if the disability paperwork gets done in time, she should qualify for medicare about when the COBRA thing runs out. But still, that’s $10,800 she’ll have to pay for health insurance over the next 18 months, and the way things are working now, she gets her prescription or therapy or whatever and then her insurance decides what it will cover and what it will not, so it’s going to wind up costing quite a bit more. At the moment I don’t know what to do about this, but I’m thinking about it.


I’m losing my English. In my conversations with CJ, half the words we use are German now, because we don’t want to rummage around in our brains for an adequate phrase. Eltern means parents. Versammlung means assembly. Parent-assembly sounds like you bought a set of parents in a flatpack at Ikea and now have to put them together with nothing but an Allen wrench and a set of hieroglyphics.

Anyway. The parents of the new fifth graders all gathered in the assembly hall at the school and were talked at for three hours. Information on the tutors; a few charities the school is involved in; the school itself as a charity, i.e. please contribute money so we can buy instruments for the music classes and such; how gymnasium is different from elementary school and how to help the kids adjust; steps to take to resolve a problem between a child and a teacher; rules on choosing their second and third foreign languages – gack on this one. They are already taking English, next year they can add French or Latin, and the year after that they can add Italian or French if they already chose Latin, but if they already chose French they can’t choose Latin, only Italian – who makes rules like this? It makes no sense at all. Anyway.

Then we all trooped to the homerooms of our respective children and met all their teachers, who seem quite nice, and heard about oh, the ALF program, which sounds like an equivalent of DARE, the school library, more study tips, what to do about absences, et-fucking-cetera.

It’s a nice school, I will say that. But boy do people like to talk. My German is less than perfect, but I am advanced enough to be able to tell when someone is saying in 50 words what they could say in ten. And when you have to concentrate fiercely on every word, only to find at the end of the sentence that it was filler, you get annoyed. Three hours of Wall-of-German, and I was exhausted. I had a headache all day today.

Anyway, sorry I wasted all your time on that, because the point is mainly that after all the other parents were gone, we talked to Kilian’s main teacher, Mr. Lanzinger, who is a really nice guy, and yeah, he’s already noticed the ADD. He says Kilian is well smart enough to survive gymnasium, so we don’t have to worry about him flunking out (whew!), but that his behavior could well isolate him from the rest of the class and make him a target for bullying. Not whew. So of course we’ll have to talk with Kilian, a lot, and help him organize his workspace, and supervise him closely and give him routines and make sure he follows them and so on. So of course I was full of resolve when we left, but also full of fatigue, which has carried over to today, and the thought of all the work I will have to do just wears me out before I even start.

I know it sounds easy, “just” set a routine, just “make” him stick to it. But if I have learned anything from my nearly eleven years as a mother, it is that I am uniquely unqualified for this particular task. Oh I know there’s no one else to do it, so I just have to, but that’s been true for eleven years, and I haven’t succeeded yet.

I wish other people didn’t make it look so easy.

meander meander meander

Stream of consciousness blah blah blah, killing time until I can reasonably go to bed. I have recently gotten (yes, my British friends, gotten. It’s a real word. Deal with it.) around to noticing that other Mamabloggers name their children in code: Busy Boy, Busy Girl, the Preschooler Formerly Known as Busy Baby (Busymom); Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Crouching mommy, hidden laundry); Bumblebee and Sweet Potato. This gets me wondering if I should be attempting to conceal the identity of the Demon Spawn, since I frequently name the town where we live, and anybody who lives around here knows about the American and her grouchy husband and weirdly-named offspring. But I can’t possibly come up with anything as witty as the other Mamas have – can’t even rely on their nicknames, as I use them interchangeably – they are both, by turns, Peanut, Boo-boo, Scooter, and whatever else pops into my head. One exception: Firstborn is exclusively Ignatz, and Secondbord is exclusively Sniglet, but you can’t be expected to remember which is which, can you? The sainted husband would naturally be something like He Who Must Be Humored, but I bet that’s already been used by someone else.

Why, oh why can’t I come up with things that are still funny and apt after some time has passed? Other people do it.

By the way, Tony says there is no excuse for not writing every day. If I link his name, he will hear it, come read this, and realize that if this is the best I can come up with, well, there’s my excuse.


Okay, they lost this time. To Straubing, the same team they beat so spectacularly last weekend. This time we were in Straubing, a 2-hour bus ride away. Nice town, incidentally. Anyway, last week’s win was bigger than this week’s loss, so I’m not too upset. The team is still doing pretty well.

I saw Pride and Prejudice yesterday (Friday). I can’t decide whether I liked it or not – it’s my favorite novel, so I was always going to be nitpicky about it, but I think the movie lacks the flair of Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility – well, there you go. This one wasn’t directed by Ang Lee, that might be part of the problem. There are other directors I’d expect a good job from as well, but I’ve never heard of Joe Wright. Not to sure about Deborah Moggach’s screenplay, I guess. The cinematography made me dizzy and the music was intrusive. But since it is my favorite novel ever, I will probably see the movie a couple-three more times, so I’ll be able to give a more positive review later. Much later, actually, since I think this was a Special Preview and I won’t be able to see it again until November.

I talked to Mom again tonight. She sounds better, more alert, less tired and weak. But the news is not good. She’s off the Vicodin for pain, and onto Methadone, which seems to be controlling it better, but only controlling it. She’s not healing. She seems to be losing motor control a bit, she can’t pick her feet up when she wants to, so I guess a wheelchair is in her near future. She also can’t tell when she’s standing upright, so there’s some loss of equilibrium as well – don’t know how much of this is general deterioration and how much is a side effect of the Methadone and Neurontin. Anyway, she now has a local doctor, has seen him once and will see him again Tuesday afternoon. I guess I’d better talk to him when I’m there. She also says she wants me to pack up a lot of stuff and help her get rid of it. If I’d known that was in the cards I would probably have planned to stay longer, but I really do want to get back in time for Gus’s fifth birthday.

Well, I guess I’d better plan another trip in the spring. The last time I called her was Monday, to tell her I had my tickets, and that time she was talking about me coming in October, and I told her my brother’s family was thinking about coming up for Christmas, and she mentioned that Kilian was the only person close to her that she was not going to get to see. Which sounds to me like she’s rather planning on dying soon. If she’d said something before we bought the tickets, I would have arranged it, but I don’t know if I can do that now, on such short notice. So I think it would be better to take him in the Spring, during his Easter holiday. I don’t really know if she’ll hold out that long.

Robert contends that there is a strong psychosomatic element in the pain she’s suffering now. This is not at all helpful. Of course, he is being very nice in affording the ticket and assuring me that I can be gone and he won’t be overwhelmed and generally not making me feel guilty about leaving for two weeks right in the middle of anything, so I must be grateful for that. Don’t be shocked, it may sound like common courtesy but believe me, it’s not all that common.

I spend a lot of time lately reminding myself not to worry. Worrying will not help. What will help is going out there, and I’m doing that. I’m writing packing lists and making plans and doing what I can, and worrying will just make me wrinkly and give me coldsores. So stop it.

Word of the Day

momtax n., The bite of my sons’ sandwiches/candy bars/ice cream/whatever to which I am automatically and eternally entitled by virtue of the cooking, cleaning, monitoring and general support services I perform daily, not to mention the four hours of labor per child, ten and four years ago respectively.*

*yes, I know that constitutes an easy labor. If yours was worse, you may levy a correspondingly higher tax. Two bites, perhaps, or even three.

la-la-la, dum-de-dum

Hey, I’m on a roll. Look at all these blog entries! So I sort of feel I should keep it up, and I’ve decided I will not be deterred by nothing much having happened in the last day or so. Today I did no homework at all, and precious little workwork, but I did fold six loads of laundry. Yeah. Six. Pretty much every towel and item of clothing in the house, yes. I do this, I do a laundry blitz and get all caught up, and then I don’t need to check the status of the laundry for a few days, which somehow stretches to a few weeks – i.e., if I don’t check every two days or so, I forget to check at all, until we all find ourselves borrowing socks from eachother and drying off with Kleenex after a shower, and then I think wait! I bet there’s a bunch of stuff in the basement! And lo there is, and I have to do six loads of laundry in two days and then I feel all oppressed. But now my jobs are so stressful and keeping up with the kids’ schedules is so demanding, that I feel really good when all I have to do is laundry. Never thought I’d be wishing I was Just a Housewife again, especially since I was such a crappy one.

I wrote to my teacher about, um, stuff that’s going on, so he applied for an extension for my database course. He even said if I wanted to take a break for a few weeks that was okay, but I said no thanks, if I do that I’ll forget everything I’ve learned so far.

Other news: in the last 24 hours, um, nope. Don’t think so.

first soccer training

Gus had his first soccer practice today. Robert made a little video clip of it with the digital camera, and I will see if I can figure out how to make it accessible to you, either sticking it in here somewhere, or providing a link where you can download it. Robert says it shouldn’t be too difficult (um, hello, who is the webmaster here?) but in fact he is probably right. But however easy it should be, I just don’t have the brain space for a new thing right now.

But the training was good, and it was an excellent decision to put Gus in soccer in Buchbach instead of Dorfen. Robert’s brother coaches the teenagers on the same pitch on the same day, so Gus gets to see him, and a cousin teaches the slightly-more-advanced little guys, so might be Gus’s coach in a year or two, and the guy who coached Robert is still there, sort of supervising the coaches and helping out from time to time. And Oma and Opa are there, and it is an excellent arrangement. Gus is a really moody guy, increasingly so over the last few months, I don’t know what’s going on there. But apparently Bavarians are generally crabby, so no one seems fazed by it but me.

My brother Nate has gone South to help with the mess left by the hurricane. I talked to his wife last night, and she says his company asked for volunteers to go down there. They’re covering his salary while he’s gone, and paying him overtime because he’ll be working 14-hour days, which is splendid of them. He’s going to be helping to assess the damage and advise on reconstruction, I think she said. I am tremendously proud of him for helping out, glad the family is represented, and wishing I could do something similar, even without pay, since my salary here makes us more comfortable, but we don’t really depend on it. I’ve tried to figure out a way to get down there, but it’s just too much right now, too hard, too impractical at both ends – leaving my life here for however long, but also there – I don’t know anybody, so I’d just be consuming resources and occupying space that is badly needed by other people. The people who are down there helping out are heroes, though.

Shel and I also talked about Mom. Shel is generally pretty cheerful and optimistic, so I rather expected her to put a good face on it, but she says she thinks it’s not going well, and she’s worried. She had also just talked to Mom, and Mom told her to tell me to come in October and not wait for the birthday/Thanksgiving thing. As it is, Nate will be on the Gulf Coast then, or just newly returned home, so it’s not a great time for them to have guests either. So I booked a flight for Seattle today. I’ll be gone October 6th to the 21st, but I should still be blogging, I think. I have to take my computer and try to keep up with my database course, so I’ll need to be online anyway, somehow. Not sure how Mom’s internet connection will work, not sure if I can find a WLAN hotspot anyway. Now I rather wish I had a slightly better knowledge of how that works, since I won’t be able to depend on Robert to figure it out for me. Well, something will have to work out, I suppose.

Last thing: it’s COLD! Ack! Beautifully sunny today, but the wind was chilly. I haven’t been able to get warm for days.