Friday, February 6, 2009

What Life is Like

I haven't posted in ages. I know the grandparents love the updated photos, so I generally try to include them in posts. Well, I haven't taken any recently; thus, no new posts. We also haven't really had any exciting new events taking place, so I worry that just posting about the "everyday" will be a bit boring. Ah well. It's my blog, right?

So I am officially an English tutor, and this part-time job keeps me surprisingly busy. The one student I "home school" requires me to come up with an entire course just for her. As any teacher knows, planning a course, writing tests, reading texts for the first time all take a lot of time. However, I find that I really do enjoy this job - such as it is. I get to teach just as I would in a classroom, and I don't have the piles of papers to grade afterwards! Win, win.

I'm also meeting once a week with two very sweet Korean girls who are boarding students at Salem. They are both very intelligent, but since English is not their native language, they are having obvious problems in their English and history classes. Anyway, one of the girls asked me to help perfect her English pronunciation. I am not at all trained for that job, but I did some research on common problems that Koreans have with speaking English, and we started to practice some of the sounds that are particularly difficult for Koreans to make. This practice generally involves me over-exaggerating the shape of my tongue and my mouth, so that she can see what my mouth is doing when making sounds. It's actually pretty hilarious. We spent a LONG time on the word "squirrel." She never really got it, but I did learn the Korean word for "squirrel." And it is actually much easier to say in Korean than it is in English.

Shawn's job is still going well, keeping him busy. We are actually very grateful for this, knowing that many companies like the one for which he works have not been able to survive the economic decline. Thankfully, they've had plenty to do, and the southern winter weather (such as it is) allows them to keep working.

As for Ben and Claire. Well, Ben's latest passion is for trains. He LOVES Thomas the Train and begs me to "play trains" with him all day long. Actually, he doesn't really beg. It's more like a command: "Mommy, you play trains with me, right this minute!" Imperious little stinker, isn't he? Actually, he says "right this mimit," so he gets away with the disrespect because he sounds so darn cute. He is still refusing his nap most days, but I just leave him in his crib anyway. He has become used to this situation and has now figured out a way to entertain himself for the duration. Yesterday this is what I heard through the door of his room:

"I'm going to eat my piggies for dinner. Yummy! (slurping noise) Those stinky toes are yummy to my tummy . . . ew, gross." (puking noise, followed by hysterical laughing).

Really, I have no idea where he gets this stuff.

He is getting closer and closer to really getting the whole potty thing. Yesterday, he actually told me he had to go to the bathroom and ended up with a dry diaper for most of the day. He still hasn't quite figured out when it's ok for him to take off his diaper (like when it's time to go on the potty) and when it isn't (like after he's pooped while in his crib). I've had more than one "finger-painting" clean up. It's hard to maintain one's sanity (and not cuss like a sailor) while cleaning up feces, so I'm really (really) looking forward to the day when he finally gets it.

Speaking of losing my salvation. Beyond poop clean up, not much drives me to crazy town like the daily struggle to get Claire dressed. If it's not her socks, it's the pants, the shirt, or her blasted hair bow. Tights drive her to histrionics, and we don't even attempt getting her to wear some type of shoe other than her CROCS. In light of this, Claire has finally started seeing an Occupational Therapist to help with some of her sensory integration issues. Her evaluation showed that she has some problems with the auditory, tactile, and vestibular (inner ear, balance stuff) senses. Mostly this therapy involves a lot of play, so she is really enjoying herself. We are hopeful that she can work through some of her fears and frustrations and can start enjoying more activities. I realize that this is totally not a PC thing to say, but one of my biggest fears for her is that after starting kindergarten next year, kids will quickly pick up on her little quirks and label her as the weird kid who walks on her toes. My heart breaks when I think of Claire sitting at a little desk wearing headphones because there is going to be a fire drill that day! Ok, it's a little funny too, but still.

Anyway, that's a brief (not really) picture of what life is like in the Black household right now.

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