So, I went to the dentist on Monday. What? You thought I was done going to the dentist? No, no, I said I was finished with my major dental work. Besides this was just a quick visit, so Mr. Dentist could check out my bite (after all, he put in about 82 crowns last year), drill down a few places, check on Stand-In-Dentist's work. Mr. Office Manager (from here on out, Mr. OM) assured me it would be a quick visit. I always ask how long the visit is expected to last, so I can plan for it. Since it was only going to take a few minutes, I opted to leave seven children home alone and take the other six with me. The dental staff has always been friendly and welcoming to my children. Mr. OM assured me it was fine to bring them along. I think he likes likes the way six kids in the waiting room break up the monotony of his day...
So, I took Ezra (16), Boaz (14), Enoch (8), Kalina (7), Modecai (6) and Hezekiah (4). We had a talk before we went, about giving up their seat for any adult (or patient) who comes, not to spread books and games all over the floor, keep their voices quiet, etc.
I ended up getting stuck in construction, and was ten minutes late for my visit. Arg....when I walked in and apologized to Mr. OM, he said, "No problem, Mr. Dentist just pulled in right behind you". Apparently he was on his lunch break. Whew. From my vantage point in the waiting room, I could see Mr. Dentist come in, take off his coat and put on his white smock (no easy feat, with one arm in the sling). Now this is the second time I've seen my dentist in "street clothes". You know, clothes not covered by his smock. And I find it a bit unnerving. I'm not sure why, other than my issue with needing to see people on in their proper context (Cub Scout people at Scouts, MOPs people at MOPs, doctor at the doctor's office). This overlapping and meeting of people willy-nilly out at grocery stores and parks, makes me a bit nervous. I know, I have issues.
Mrs. Assistant, calls me backs, gets me settled, and starts chatting with me. In walks Mr. Dentist, and Mrs Assistant says, "Doctor, Renee's under the impression this is a short visit today. She's got some of her children out in the waiting room, and rest at home". Excuse me? Under the impression? Any impression I've gotten has come straight out of Mr. OM's mouth...who in theory works quite closely with Mr. Dentist.
Mr. Dentist doesn't respond to that, and just asked how I'm feeling, etc. Then the Checking of My Bite, and the drilling commences. Oh, but not before he calls in...well, I'm not sure her official title, but we'll call her Mrs. X.
"Mrs. X, I'll need you in here to be my left arm".
Hmm...now Mr. OM assured me on the phone Mr. Dentist was back to work. In fact he told me he had done an endo (I've been there so much, they use the dental lingo with me...an endo is a root canal) last week. That now seems doubtful, since he apparently can't even do a little drilling with out the help of Mrs. X.
So, imagine this. I'm lying the dental chair, Mrs. Assistant at my left, Mr. Dentist at my right and Mrs. X, well, wedged between Mr. Dentist and and back of my chair. Mr. Dentist looks at my teeth, positions his little mirror in my mouth so he can see, then asks Mrs. X to hold the mirror while he does the drilling. And of course, Mrs. Assistant is holding the water and suction thingy. Yes, I have three people hovering around my head and all three have their hands in my mouth. And keep in mind, since this is just a visit to check my bite and I actually need to pay attention, I have no music. I'm not numbed up at all (he's just drilling on crowns) instead I'm having flashbacks to my very first dental visit at age six when the dentist drilled my tongue.
The visit is divided pretty evenly between drilling, and Mr. Dentist saying, "Open, close. Open, close. Open, close. Open slowly. Close. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Bite. Open, close". Punctuated with the occasional, "Articulating tape." and "Shim stock" thrown in. Just to keep us on our toes. Mr. OM comes in a couple of times to let me know how the kids are doing. At one point Mr. Dentist has everyone pull out of my mouth. "What do you feel now?" he asks. After closing my mouth and frowning, I reach up to pull a thin strip of foil off of my tongue. "Shim stock" I answer, handing it to Mr. Dentist. Good thing I know the proper dental lingo. "Sorry" he says. "Is there any more left in there?"
No, I think I swallowed that.
After surviving well over an hour of opening, closing and drilling, he declares me done. For now.
"There's still that last crown we haven't done yet..." he says.
"What crown? I thought we were done."
"No, there's still number five. It was part of the original plan, we just didn't get to it. We got too bogged down in the other teeth".
Mrs. Assistant, flipping through my chart, saves the day. "Actually, Doctor, number five wasn't part of the plan".
Looking himself, he realizes it is a "structurally compromised" tooth, that needs to be crowned eventually, but was not, in fact, part of the plan.
So at last, I am released. An hour and forty-five minutes later. I walk out to the waiting room to see Hezekiah nearly asleep on the couch, Mordecai wedged in a corner between a lamp and a window and the three older boys and Kalina drawing and reading quietly. Piled in a corner is a our customary case of toothpaste samples, new toothbrushes and pencils for everyone, and piles of cheap plastic toys.
I have a lot of theories about learning. And it's become clear over my twelve years of parenting that many of them are sound. My children have picked up reading as easily and naturally as speaking, or riding a bike. Some earlier, some later. Some with a little more effort than others. But once my children can read, they've all become bookworms.
And I fully intended for math to be the same way for my children. They would learn about the lives of great mathematicians. They would learn the hows and why of their theories, not just memorize facts. Math would not be some far removed subject, relegated to textbooks, having no connection with the real world. My children's math education would be different.
Unfortunately for many years, the fact that I was, in actuality their math teacher, alluded me. I would have to be the one to teach all of that. And to teach it, I'd have to learn it.
And I really didn't (don't ?) want to learn any more math. Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children...
And so, math teacher I have become. I don't expect all of my children to be "mathy" (I'm certainly not). But they can all learn about and enjoy the fascinating side of math.
And so I've been seeking out fun math story books, and creating activities to go along with them. This Warlord's series is incredible. Beautiful illustrations and engaging story lines. Suggestions in the back of the books for activities. Here we have all the supplies to make a counting frame (precursor to the abacus) described in the book. I read the book aloud to my children, and had to break up fights over who was going to do this activity first. It's a wonderful concrete introduction to place value, without sounding too "mathy" or educational. Several of my older children expanded on the idea, and created a thousandth's place as well. A clear sign that they have mastered the concept.
Four year old Hezekiah enjoyed making one on his own. The little guys feel so proud to be able to count such high numbers.
I've learned a few things about these activities (from experience and Montessori blogs) and that is to have everything laid out that is needed for a particular project, and to have a sample provided. Yes, this takes time and energy on my part. But I've also found a direct correlation between the time I invest in these projects, and the energy and enjoyment of my children. I have yet to lay out a well planned project, and have my children ignore it. They may spend anywhere from ten minutes to ten days on a given project, depending on age, interest level and mastery.
And guess what, my children are learning to enjoy math.
A few of you guessed correctly that my children were working on Waldorf dolls. This has been such a great project, one that I would recommend to other families. We ordered the kits from Weir Dolls. We opted for the preformed heads (although, the children did have to cover them with the skin colored material and sew that on, which was a feat in and of itself). Six of my children (Keziah, Adalia, Judah, Tilly, Enoch and Kalina) have been busily working on their dolls. Ivy is the only one completely finished, though Enoch's is only lacking the hair.
I had a feeling that Enoch would enjoy this project, just to get his hands on my sewing machine and I was right. Judah is enthused about making his "soldier doll" something I'm pretty sure Rudolf Steiner would not approve of. Oh well. I find it remarkable that any 11 year old American boy would choose to spend his time sewing a doll. And lest you readers who don't know us in person get the wrong idea, my boys are anything but effeminate. They're just well rounded.
Each child got to select the skin, hair and eye color. Adalia, loving all things Japanese, went for the Asian look in skin and hair coloring.
I can't wait until they're all finished and I can get a group photo.
Ivy was so much more cooperative than my children...
Have you ever, say, accidentally taken the wrong child to the dentist? You know, like when you made appointments back in November, and you didn't have your new calendar yet, so you just wrote the date down, knowing you were taking seven children to the dentist one day, and six on the next visit. Then when the receptionist called to confirm the appointment, you ask which children are coming in the next day. Then you scribble them down (quickly because you're in the middle of homeschooling). And when you arrive for the appointment, she says, "Okay, so you have...(and she lists the children on the schedule) and you have no choice but to admit you brought in the wrong child, because you do not, in fact, have Jubilee. Then you're not sure who you brought instead, so you have to ask for the schedule, and figure out who's notsuppose to be there. You discover that, in your haste (and messy hanwriting), you have mixed up Judah and Jubilee, so you apologize, knowing it's an innocent mistake, but also knowing the receptionist now thinks you have too many children to keep track of.
Please, someone out there tell me this has happened to you.
I know you are. Keep reading to hear about Avi's latest exploits.
Meet Avi, aka Princess County. She is a three year old bundle of hyperactive energy. Oops, hyperactive isn't very PC these days, is it? Okay, she's a three year old bundle of high energy and determination. Is that better?
It can really be hard to know how much to share on a blog like this. This blog is first and foremost a place to record the daily happenings in our family. A good thing. And yet, it's not a "journal". I periodically get this blog printed in book form, so my children can enjoy it, and we'll have it in years to come. Therefore, I am not sharing things like specific struggles with my children, or the other things I might record in something more private. And yet, I try to keep it real for you out there, reading this. I certainly don't want to come off as " the perfect, large, homeschooling" family. We are far from that. And yet, I have a large number of readers, most of whom are strangers, and I want to encourage other mothers out there...and yet, my children deserve their privacy too. Especially my adopted children.
Each adopted child has a story about how they came to be in our family, and as far as Mordecai and Avi are concerned, they're not even old enough to know their story, much less decide how much they want to share with others. Because of that, I don't write much on my blog about their "special needs". But suffice it to say, they were both "special needs" adoptions for a reason.
Tuesday was our regular MOPs day. Things were going well. The speaker topic was, Shattering the Myth of the Perfect Mother. After the speaker was finished, we sat in our discussion groups, talking about various aspects of the topic. Among those, pressures we feel from others in our mothering, and how our children's behavior reflects on us. And just as we were discussing that, I got word that I needed to come get Avi. She was being kicked out of childcare. She had "lost her gym privileges" and was currently in a stand off with a grown man who was working in her class. Yes my friends, my three year old got kicked out of her MOPs class. The details aren't important. She was acting horrendously, and needed to be removed. This was definitely a first for me. That pretty much shattered any residual feelings I had about my superior parenting skills.
So there you have it. Concrete proof that we are not the perfect parents.
You guys totally made my day. Thanks so much for playing along. Man, after some of those estimates, I don't even feel like my 65.5 hours in the dental chair are worth mentioning.
So, Koe, you are the winner, coming within a half an hour of the time. What, did you call my dentist or something, and get the inside scoop? Send me an email, and I'll hook you up with your prize.
For the rest of you, Koe has been a blog reader for a while now, and this last December, we met at the Bethany Christian Services Christmas party. It was a complete surprise to see each other there. She introduced her self, and it took me about five seconds to place her...the unusual name had lodged in my brain.
You guys are awesome, thanks for helping me make a truly miserable situation, a little more bearable :)
Friday afternoon, I officially completed my treatment plan with my dentist (that was my announcement, by the way). From now on, I am a normal patient, who goes in for cleaning and exams only. In fact, I plan to call the office this morning to make my appointment. Whoo-hoo!
I walked into my new dentist's office for the first time in December of 2007, and thus commenced one of the most painful arduous years of my life. And as Adalia (12) says, "Well, mom, hopefully this is the worst dental year you ever have!"
I have burned through more bottles of Vicoden and Percocet than I can remember (and yes, I know they're highly addictive, and no, I don't find my consumption of them the least bit amusing- for a woman who literally went years without taking so much as a tylenol, I find this highly disturbing).
I've made a handful of "emergency" trips into the dentist, when things have gone bad. Including seven o'clock one Friday night. There was the time I had to take several small children with me and leave them alone in the waiting room. I've had root canals on the morning of family camping trips, and nine hour long sedation appointments. And who could forget my surprise birthday visit? My teeth have proven to be unique in every way: extra canals, s-shaped roots, and canals so long, they weren't entirely visible on the x-rays.
I'm thinking of writing a book about my experiences, and calling it A Year of Dentistry. I mean, if these people can sell their book, why not me? I'll simply compile the thirty or so blog entries I have referring to my dental visits, and pair them with photos of my beautiful children.
Here's what the back cover will say:
From failed root canals to forgotten retractor cord, from vomiting during procedures to teeth that won't stop bleeding, join one dental patient as she navigates the world of modern dentistry.
Catchy, don't you think? I'll even give a complimentary (autographed!) copy to my dentist, for his waiting room.
Okay, now for the giveaway. I have personally assembled a Dental Hygiene Kit, for one lucky reader. Included will be: a new toothbrush, several toothpaste samples, floss, a child's toothbrush, a free drink at Starbucks, some chocolate, and a hand sewn, terribly imperfect pencil roll (come on, you didn't think I was going to give away just dental supplies, did you?).
To join in my giveaway, simply leave a comment, guessing the number of hours I spent in the dental chair in 2008. I'll pick the closest guess (or several guesses) for my giveaway. Due to logistical issues, I only plan to send the package to places in the US, but the rest of you feel free to join in. Come on, I know you don't really want the new toothbrush, but humor a gal, would you? If it weren't for the prospect of blogging about all these visits, I don't think I would have survived.
I'll announce the winner (and post a photo of the prize) tomorrow.
If you've been following my blog for long, you know I go to the dentist a lot. Like several times a month. All in an attempt to repair a mouth full of very damaged teeth. And you also probably know, that after a friendly argument with my favorite dentist, I agreed to take lorazepam (a muscle relaxer) to help keep my very tiny jaw open, during visits. I only have two complaints about taking the lorazepam 1) it requires me to have a ride to and from the dentist and 2) it's traditionally used to treat patients with dental anxiety. And despite my dental visits from you-know-where, I have yet to develop dental anxiety. I just hate to think that someone might confuse me with one-of-those patients.
And if I'm going to be completely honest (and why not, I am telling you all about my latest dental visit) I'd have to say I actually have a third complaint about lorazepam: it effectively removes my filter. You know, that thing in your brain that stops those thoughts before they come out of your mouth. Oh it's true. And the problem is, I don't realize the problem with the things I'm saying until later. Much later.
I take two lorazepam an hour before dental visits. It relaxes my jaw enough for my dentist to get in my mouth and work. I don't feel a bit different when I take it...but oh, the things I say. Anyone remember my crow bar comment? Then there was the time after Mr. Receptionist assisted with the root canal, and Mrs. Asssistant asked how it went. "Oh, he was great," I said with enthusiasm, "he didn't even get me down the neck. You always spray me down the neck with the water!" Hmm...in hindsight, that didn't seem like such a nice thing to say. Then there was the time I informed Mr. Dentist that he had the Midas Touch...he ended up root canalling every tooth of mine he touched. See, these are all thoughts that go through my head, that I would normally keep to myself...or come home and blog. But not things I would normally say out loud. Thank you lorazepam.
And so yesterday's appointment. Remember my dentist tore a tendon and needed surgery? Well, as it turns out, all of his dentist friends have been coming into the office to help. How nice. When Mr. Receptionist called to see if I wanted to come in Friday afternoon, I questioned him three different times to make sure that Mr. Dentist would be present. "Yes, he'll oversee everything. Fill-In-Dentist will just be his hands." I agreed to come in. I'm ready to be done with this dental work already.
Mr. Dentist didn't look any too good when I saw him. It was then that I realized the last appointment of the day on a Friday afternoon was perhaps not the best time to have work done. Not when Mr. Dentist is recovering from surgery. And obviously very tired.
How to describe Fill-In-Dentist? *sigh* he may very well be a friend of Mr. Dentist, and perhaps even a good dentist at that, but oh was he rough. He would just jam his fingers into my mouth, with no regard for the fact that there was a human attached. Seriously, he would not even say, "can you open your mouth?" he would just ram his fingers in. Now, he was seating two crowns, so there was a lot of down time, when he was just drilling away on the crown (outside of my mouth) while I lay there. Then, with no warning, I'd feel him shove his hands in my mouth. It was horrible. I felt like I was being assaulted. Let's just say I now love (yes, love) Mr. Dentist twice as much as I did before yesterday's appointment. Never again am I going to let another dentist put his gloved hands in my mouth. In fact, when my dentist retires, I'm going with him.
And did I mention one of the tools exploded during the procedure? Literally went boom, and up in smoke. Oh yes. Thankfully it was not in my mouth at the moment.
Oh, and about not wearing my filter? At one point Fill-In-Dentist asked Mr. Dentist when these two teeth had been root canaled. "In October and November, respectively. Her teeth don't like to die at the same time."
Me: Actually, my teeth just don't like you.
Ouch. I really said that. I can't help it, I wasn't wearing my filter.
Oh, and the other thing lorazepam does is affect my memory. Really, it's one of the side affects, it has amnesiac qualities. Dentists consider this a bonus, since patients with dental anxiety often don't remember their visits.
Well, I arrived home at 6 PM. I went to the bathroom, found Chuck, put my purse away. Then decided I'd better lay down. I was tired. I looked for my ipod, and couldn't find it. I searched my pockets, my purse. Not more than ten minutes had elapsed since I entered the house. Fearing I had left it at the dentist's office, I called, but they were already gone. I grabbed a different ipod, then crashed on the couch. I woke up on said couch at 12:30 AM. I didn't even stir with all the kids playing, getting ready for bed, etc. I dragged myself off to bed, and didn't stir until my alarm went off at 6 AM. It was as I was making my morning coffee that I found my ipod. In the kitchen, where I had put it. Oops.
Oh well. All's well that ends well.
And speaking of ending well, be sure to check in on Monday for an Exciting Announcement and Giveaway!!!