Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First day of first grade

Today was the first day of school and my daughter started in her new gifted-kids program. Luckily, her "boyfriend" and a few of her friends are in her class so it wasn't too weird that most of her friends from last year aren't in her class. I'm not sure what I think about this whole "gifted program" thing. I'm glad she will be challenged and although I think she's very smart and creative I don't actually think she's so above and beyond her peers that she should be in a different type of educational setting than them. I heard two teachers talking about the kids in this program and one of the newer ones said, "Yes, but you know these are not normal kids. You're dealing with a very special group of kids who are in this program." That made me cringe. I don't want my child elevated from her peers for intellectual capacity any more than if she were exceptionally athletic or artistically talented. She just learns in a different way - it is not a value judgment.

Still, her teacher seems very nice and good with kids and I was happy to overhear her talking to the kids and thinking she relates to them a lot like I do which is always nice. She talks to them like people - she doesn't talk down to them or like they're "children".

Meanwhile, back at the urban ranch, I actually had a few hours to "get stuff done". Meaning, I was able to start the big de-clutter of our house and get some stuff done for my non-profit. I also started out on a good note because I am once again going to try to lose twenty pounds. I have finally gotten to the point where I am happy with the way I look (amazing since twenty years ago I was still struggling quite heavily with anorexia) but I also know that it would be better for my joints not to have any extra weight on them with the rheumatoid arthritis.

Also, with fall and winter looming, I am facing the possibility of a repeat of last year health-wise. I did pretty well until December then it all fell apart and I was pretty much sick the whole time until the end of June. I think I had three consecutive weeks in May where I wasn't sick but that was it in that seven month period. I actually hit a couple times in that period where I started to feel a little hopeless.

So, I'm going into the year with the aspiration to try new things to take care of myself so that maybe I will not get sick quite so much. At least I was only antibiotics twice last year. The year before (when I was taking both Enbrel and methotrexate) I was on antibiotics four times. This year I'm only taking Enbrel and my vitamin D levels are not so depleted so I'm hoping that helps. And I will actually be more proactive about getting the flu shot. I let that slide last year and ended up getting both the swine flu and the seasonal flu (not to mention the ear infections and sinus infections and cold and two stomach viruses and a horrible bronchitis). Sigh.

I can't take echinacea or any of those herbal remedies that some people claim boost the immune system because that kind of stuff can actually be deadly with autoimmune disorders. So this year I'm going for antioxidants. I'm going to take lots of vitamin C and eat lots of spicy foods. Also, in my attempt to lose weight without actually dieting I've switched our carb-type foods to high fiber (ie: whole grain pastas and breads instead of the white flour variety). We'll see if that helps at all. I did really well today with the whole huge salad for lunch and veggies for snacks thing, but I did lose that momentum when I bought donuts after school as a "first day of school treat". Oh well. I also have a bit of heartburn because for lunch I added Mama Lils Kick Butt Peppers to my salad and at dinner I made a spaghetti sauce that was so spicy from the chili peppers and cayenne pepper I had to put yogurt in it so it wouldn't burn my mouth too much to eat it. Needless to say my Louisiana-born hubby loved it.

I had an uncharacteristic experience this afternoon while I was out running errands. I'm pretty bitter about bums who panhandle and try to con money out of people because I spent too many years around people like that as a teen and I know all the sob stories and cons to get money for drugs and booze and to get folks to take care of them so they can just fuck around and be leeches. That's why I've spent so much time and energy working with non-profits that actually help the homeless, so as to actually help people who are struggling and want a hand-up, not a hand-out. Anyway, I was going to buy some vitamins from the health food store and this older guy strikes up a conversation with me. He was good looking (for an old guy) and clean and carrying some old but well-kept luggage. I thought maybe he was a fisherman on leave. But after a few minutes he went into his "I hate to ask but ..." schpeel. I don't give out money under any circumstances no matter how straight the person looks because I don't want to be the dollar that ends up killing the person when they overdose on something on accident.

But for some reason I said, "I don't have any cash, but I'll buy you lunch." He seemed taken aback and I said, "Come on, there's a Mexican place around the corner that's really good. Do you like Mexican?" So, I bought him a big lunch and stayed and talked for a few minutes. At one point he said, "I don't suppose I could have some bus money ...?" and I said, "No. Don't push your luck," then quickly changed the subject. He didn't tell me whatever story it was for the day why he was down and out. In fact, I'm not sure he even has a made-up story. But my experience is that those guys always have a few stories up their sleeves.

He did tell me some of his plans though. One was to move to Victoria and try to get work there because he saw on the internet there are a lot of jobs in the work he does, unlike here. But he said he was kind of scared too because it's a smaller town and smaller towns can be really insular and not want outsiders. But I said maybe he needed the insular nature of small town? I also gave him some suggestions of actual decent programs he should check out that might help him get back on his feet. Something more productive than an emergency overnight shelter where you sleep curled up around your stuff hoping it won't get stolen and get kicked out on the street at 6am with the doors locked behind you. So, who knows. He said that I had no idea how nice it was to have a hot meal and I hope he wasn't just snowing me, that it really was something nice for him. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could see if he really does follow through and check out some of the services I told him about or if he tries to go to Victoria and how that goes.

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