Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer camp; very affordable therapy time

Since the school district dumped Shea's summer school or ESY (Extended School Year), we decided to try something new.

Vashon Youth and Family Services do Chautauqua Kids program at the elementary school cafeteria. It is a nice big open space with an air hockey table, games, art projects, bike riding club and a different field trip each week. Off island even!

The program directors and teen mentors take the kids swimming 2 times a week and stick to a loose but structured day. Lots of variety, lots of supervision but not much hovering.

This was about self sufficiency and independence and doing for yourself. Sure there was help near by but Shea just got into the habit of taking care of stuff himself. A huge step for us.

This is mainly for kids whose parents work and the times are from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM. For $180 a week, it could be perhaps the most affordable day care set up around.

And, I am so glad we tried it! I considered it intensive social and behavior therapy and WOW! did it work.

We were tentative at first but Shea zoomed and soared with the structured fluidity, friend making, playing with the big kids and generally just having a great time.

The program directors were extremely sensitive to Shea's allergies and his speech issues. I just feel like I struck gold. So much so that I signed him up for several more weeks and ended the summer fully in love with the program.

When school got out in June, I was nervous about 1st grade. I thought it could go either way and was poised to worry. But now, after all the growth and talking and socializing and resolving issues this summer, I feel that Shea is really ready to go for 1st grade and give it his darndest!

Thanks VYFS and Chautauqua Kids! You made our summer!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Going comfortably gray and interviewing at 46

Initially as an austerity measure I stopped coloring my hair. Plus the reality of all those chemicals grew nightmarish. Why was I paying big buck for organic produce when I was smearing god knows what toxins on my head!?

Not that I am saying no one should. I loved my hot red head hair-do for years and faithfully dumped hundreds of dollars on it every 6 weeks or so. But those red hot days are far behind and for me it just seemed "been there, done that".

So I quit cold turkey, ignored the ghastly roots for a good year then got a happening short hair cut and decided I liked the gray. Right now it is, how they say, salt & pepper and sometimes it shimmers like threads of silver and I think, "Not bad. Gray hair doesn't have to equal geezer."

But as I go out into the job market after 10 years, I briefly wondered if I should try and do a bit of "youth-ercising". Does that mean covering up the gray?

I just don't want to go there again. I did buy new interview duds and even briefly toyed with the idea of a little makeup (gasp) but the hair-do is staying gray. I have decided it is a badge of honor and proof of all those lessons learned.

At 46, I feel I am squeaking right in there before full blown age discrimination sets in (or perhaps I show my naivety).

I tentatively begin the "informational interview" circuit and generally people are really amazingly generous with their time and contacts. All you have to do is ask nicely and perhaps buy them a coffee. I humbly try to impress, thank them profusely as I optimistically think about the seeds sown.

I scour job listings, brush up and re-write my resume, try and bang out a stand out cover letter and start sending them out.

Much to my surprise! I got a bite!

Thankfully I manage to not be as nervous at the interview as I have been in the past. Maybe it is the acquired life skills or just being able to read people better or the fact that I have nudged up against much bigger issues over the years but somehow it puts an 1/2 hour sit and chit into a more appropriate perspective.

As I look across the conference table at what would be my new supervisor, I see a sweet young gal a good 15+ years my junior. She looks at me with warmth and interest, not yet "chewed up and spit out", not having acquired that crusty veneer of cynicism.

I really like that about youth and I realize that I would like to work with this girl. So I did my darndest to "connect" and ended up getting called back for a 2nd interview which was more relaxed and friendly and informal.

It sort of feels right but I don't want to jinx it and only wait to see if I get the final nod.
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