Thursday, January 31, 2013

sensory bin - valentine theme

the moment you've all been waiting for...the valentine's day sensory bin! 

everything you see in this bin came from target's dollar spot, purchased last year just before valentine's day.  with the exception of two items: the red tweezers, which came from (learning resources brand) and the pink cookie cutters.  i cannot for the life of me remember from whence they came.  i believe i spent $10 or less on all this red and pink craziness. 

the base of the bin is filled with red plastic X's and O's and both red and pink plastic hearts.  they came in packs of 100 for $1.  i bought four packs.  you can never have too many plastic trinkets, i always say.  

the equipment for scooping, dumping, sorting, pretending to make and give valentines, consists of stackable heart-shaped measuring cups, two heart containers that open and close, and a simple red cup.

i provided tiny heart-shaped erasers and a heart-shaped ice cube tray for tweezer work.

the boys spent saturday night at meme and papa's house.  they came home sunday afternoon to find a revamped sensory bin.  it was a hit and they played with it for an hour or so. 

i had to explain to them what X's and O's mean.  :-)  and then i smothered them with hugs and kisses until they begged me to stop.

hopefully this sensory bin will give me many more opportunities to love on my two little valentines!

although i may have to trick them...

the person who can stack the most O's wins a kiss!

the person who can fill their container the fastest wins a hug!

the person who can sort out the pink hearts...fill their cup the fastest...and balance it on their head...and walk around the dining room table...wins a kiss AND and hug!

yup.  this mama's gonna get all kinds of lovin in the weeks to come.  happy valentine's day to me!

and to you, too! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

the magic word

i was chatting with a couple girlfriends last night.  we were all three sharing the difficulties we've been going through.  it would appear that no one is immune from the dirtiness of life.  i am thankful for authentic, same-during-the-good-times-AND-bad-times friendships.  because being able to share the burdens...well, it just makes this life a little bit easier.

and on that note, thank you for reading this blog.  really.  thank you for reading.  it helps me immensely just to write out my feelings.  but it helps even more to know people are reading.  and supporting.  and encouraging.  and praying.  and learning.  it makes this struggle with sensory processing disorder the tiniest bit easier.  

and, sometimes, the tiniest bit is just enough.

of course the heavy heart things i was sharing last night have to do with spd and how it affects our entire family.  i've been struggling with some aspects of the spd diagnosis that don't necessarily have to do with harrison, but more with jeremy and me.  after all, it's our own quirks (aka genetics) that have contributed to harrison's issues.  i don't want to write about the particulars because, frankly, i don't think it would be beneficial to do so.  just know that i recognize this mental struggle i have and i plan to seek some wise counsel about it.  i believe STAR has counselors/psychiatrists on staff that are there for this very purpose - helping families deal with all aspects of this disorder.

and on that note, jeremy and i have an appointment at STAR this evening at five o'clock to hear the results of harrison's evaluation.  both of us are prepared for what we might hear and are looking forward to getting started with therapy, but i'm sure there will still be tears.  there always are.

which leads me to the reason for this post.

last night, as i was talking about this current struggle i have, something harrison asked me the previous night popped into my head.  and i started explaining to the girls, "what did harrison say to me?  oh yeah..."  and then i remembered exactly what he said.  and then the tears came hard.  the kind of tears that make you stop breathing.  the kind of tears that make you scrunch up your eyes because the memory is so painful, so emotional, so rip-your-heart-out awful.  the kind of tears you hope you never have to cry.

as i was tucking harrison into bed the night before last, i was hugging him and he asked, "can we have a magic word for no hugs?"

he was asking for a way, a kind way, to let me know that he just doesn't want to be hugged.

in that moment, when he asked, i was fine with it.  i stopped hugging him, asked him if a kiss was okay, gave him a kiss, and told him we could talk about a magic word in the morning.

but last night, as i was remembering the moment, my heart hurt (still hurts) so much! 

my son doesn't want me to hug him.

there's no magic word for that.  

and here's what i've realized about words.  they make things real.  or maybe it's that they make you realize.

have you ever gone through something?  maybe something private?  maybe something painful?  and it's okay that you are going through it.  your heart might hurt some, but you're dealing with it.  but dare to tell someone about it.  and the instant you do, you finally recognize the weight of the situation.  you realize the depth of the pain.  your words have given life to what was inside your heart and now you are wearing your heart on your sleeve.  you can't hide it, stuff it, bury it, or ignore it anymore.  it's real. 

that's what happened with me.  the second i began to speak the words out loud...the words harrison asked...i recognized the deep aching sadness i feel.

my heart is heavy today.  i might post yummy recipes or fun craft ideas but that stuff is all surface.  sure, it makes our days around here a bit brighter, which is great, and i want to share those fun things with you.  but i wouldn't be authentic if i didn't share the dirt and the depth, too.

and, right now, this mama's insides feel like they are being torn out.  and i am desperately longing for a magic word to make it all better.

so, thank you for letting me share my struggles.  thank you for helping to carry this burden and making this journey just the tiniest bit easier.  because, today, that tiny bit is just enough.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

congo bars

these beauties are called congo bars.

they are delicious.

really delicious.

and they are dairy free, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free...they are pretty much everything-free.  except nut free.  if you are nut-free, then you're tough outta luck with this one.  bummer.

the original recipe can be found HERE.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup almond butter **
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8×8 pan or line with parchment paper.
2. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer.
3. Combine almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well with mixer.
5. Mix in chocolate chips and spread batter in greased 8×8 pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

**i have tried substituting peanut butter for the almond butter and they come out fine and taste really yummy both ways.

i actually let the boys eat these for breakfast.  being made mostly of almonds, these babies are full of protein!  i'm happy sending them off to school with some healthy protein and fat in their bellies!

and a couple chocolate chips always help to start the day out right, too!

with regard to sensory processing disorder, harrison eats very little - and i really do mean VERY LITTLE - that is healthy for him.  and it's not that he's a picky eater.  well, he is a picky eater.  but he's not just choosing to be finicky, as my grandma gladys would say.  who says finicky anymore?  the issue seems to be the texture of food.  mostly, he likes soft, chewy, easy-to-eat foods.  he might also be sensitive to certain tastes, although i haven't been able to narrow that down yet.

i used to be able to hide healthy things in his food.  no longer.  which brings us back to congo bars.  harrison might think they are a sweet treat (and they kind of are, what with the honey and chocolate chips).  BUT, again, they have a ton of brain and heart healthy fat and protein.  two things he just does not eat on regular basis.

so congo bars have become a dear friend here at the white house.  i'm sure they'd like to become your friend too! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

a real life conversation...

...about doritos.

the scene:  graham wanted to eat doritos.  he did not want to eat the quesadilla and apple slices i made for his lunch.  i told him he could have doritos AFTER he ate his quesadilla and apple slices.  he didn't think that was a very good idea.

graham:  mama, can i please have some doritos?

me:  nope.  you have to eat your lunch first.

graham:  but i'm not hungry for my lunch.  i'm hungry for doritos.

me:  no doritos until you eat your quesadilla and apples.  

graham:  (with tears welling in his eyes, bottom lip quivering, arms crossed over chest)  mama, you hurt my feelings.

i have one child who is completely non emotional.  i have one child who is completely over emotional.  can you guess which one graham is?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

valentine's activity

what do you get when mix a whitman's chocolate sampler...

with play-doh?

first, let your kiddos eat the chocolates.  try to convince them to share one with you.

next, make your own play-doh chocolates.

finally, refill the sampler.  
milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate - yummy!

graham chose to make valentine colored chocolates, which are fun too.

harrison wanted to use primary colors.  this is his creation, which he asked me to hold so he could photograph it himself.  

so, whitman's chocolate samplers + play-doh = a two ingredient good time!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

a lovely little stomach bug

well, a stomach virus hit our house wednesday night.  poor harrison woke me up at 11:30 saying his tummy hurt.  i should have known that a tummy ache = puke, but i realized too late.  jeremy and i bolted out of bed, tried to help and comfort harrison as best we could, tried to clean up the mess as best we could, got the situation under control, made a little bed for him on the floor next to our bed, got him a puke bowl just in case he might need it again, crawled back into bed, closed our eyes, were ready to drift off to sleep, when poor sweet harrison yakked his guts out again, all over the clean blankets we'd just arranged, and we had to start the whole process all over again.

i ended up putting a pillow and sleeping bag on the bathroom floor, inches from the toilet bowl.  i slept on the floor in the hallway outside the bathroom.  harrison proceeded to vomit almost every 30 minutes for the rest of the night.  i have absolutely no idea what time we were finally able to get to, and stay, asleep.  that virus was nasty!

he missed two days of school but is back to his normal self this morning.  and, so far, no one else in the family has caught it.  fingers crossed!  harrison's teacher, mrs. brown, said she only had 6 out of 12 students in class on friday.  something is definitely making it's way around the school.

yesterday was friday.  at preschool that equates to "sucker friday".  at the end of the preschool day all the kids line up outside the clinic to get a dumdum lollipop.  it's the highlight of their week.  harrison, because he is a preschool graduate, has continued to get suckers each friday.  before i took graham to school yesterday, harrison asked me "is it sucker friday?...can i have a sucker?"

i told him that, yes, i would bring home a sucker for him if i could remember to do so.  (he knows that i have a terrible memory and gives me a hard time about it frequently).  he then informed me, "mommy, you only have to remember two things today.  take care of me and get me a sucker.  you should be able to do that."

pushy little kid, isn't he?

so the boys are NOT going skiing today.  it's better to give everyone's body a rest, i think.  jeremy took them to the donut shop, which has become a fairly regular saturday morning event.  since having gone gluten free, one of the things i miss most is donuts.  the smell!  the taste!  give me a maple cake donut or give me death!  sigh.

it remains to be seen what the rest of the day will hold.  the weather is beautiful so i'm hoping we can get outside and soak up the sunshine and breathe in the fresh air!

well, the boys are back and they brought the donuts home to eat here!  oh, the rudeness!  i guess i'll go downstairs and eat breakfast with them.  nothing like a little glutenous torture to start my weekend out right. 

hope you have a fabulous weekend!  with lots of gluten-y, donut-y goodness!  and no stomach bugs!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

the fine line

after i published my post about our day at STAR yesterday i texted rach to let her know i'd written out all the details.  i knew she'd want to read about it.  after a few messages back and forth i had an oprah winfrey aha moment.  i realized there was another major thing that was incredibly stressful for me during the evaluation...

i was not allowed to answer the questions for harrison.

i was not allowed to prompt his response.

i was not allowed to give him choices from which to answer.

i was not allowed to repeat the question in a way he would better understand.

i was not allowed to speak for him. 

i had to sit quietly and wait.  wait and wait and wait.  until he could finally answer for himself.  and for question after question, during those silent seconds, i was mentally pulling the answers out of him, willing them to come.  helping harrison find his words - providing the words for him - is so deeply ingrained in me. 

it was stressful staying silent.

a long time ago, in this post, i mentioned that i would share the things rach revealed to us about our son.  i still haven't been able to write it.  mostly because it's...i don't know...some things are just easier to write about than others.  but one of the things that touched my heart the most was this: rach told me i do a great job of supporting harrison.  i asked her "does supporting mean enabling?  am i enabling him?"  i will never forget her response.  she told me that without the support he's received harrison would probably be a very angry, very frustrated little boy.  

because not being able to speak is hard.  it's angering and frustrating and tiring and stressful.

and, boy, did i learn that first hand.

so this really is a journey we are on together.  it's an adventure where harrison will, hopefully, be able to discover his own voice, find his own words, express his own feelings.  but in order for that to happen i'm going to have to quiet my voice, get more comfortable with the silence, more willing to wait out the long pauses, learn to support him in different ways.

it's a very thin line we are walking.  providing enough support versus providing too much.  most days i don't even notice the narrowness of the path.  we tread heel to toe and balance everything pretty well.  but days like yesterday, and back when rach was visiting, days when i really see the depth of the situation, make me feel like i've fallen off the tightrope and am hanging on by only my fingernails.

it's clear that therapy will not just be for harrison.  this will be a learning process for me, too.  for all of us.

this truly is an incredible journey.  i'm hoping, as we press on, the path will grow a bit wider.  just wide enough for us to walk hand in hand together.  just wide enough that we can allow our boys to run on up ahead without worry.  just wide enough that we're not afraid to fall.

just wide enough that we can look up and enjoy the view instead of having to concentrate so hard on where we place our feet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the STAR center - our evaluation experience

yesterday was the day we took harrison to the STAR center for the first time - for his evaluation.  although rachel already flew out and evaluated harrison, this second evaluation at STAR is just part of their intake process.  they were pleased with rachel's report but wanted to dig a bit deeper and cover all their bases before creating a treatment plan for him.  so let me tell you about the day.

first of all, graham spent the night at meme and papa's house monday night.  he woke up there and got to spend the entire day with meme and her sister, jenny.  meme and aunt jenny spoiled graham rotten, as usual.  it was such a blessing to be able to spend the day with harrison and not have one single worry about graham!

harrison had a good night sleep, woke up, ate a good breakfast, and we left at 8:30 am for our 9:00 appointment at STAR.  harrison was excited to finally see the STAR center and was looking forward to playing in the big gym he's heard so much about.  he commented, as we were driving, that maybe they call it STAR because the zip line goes up really high.  :-)

juliana met us in the waiting area with big smiles.  i think harrison was happy to see her but his face didn't reveal it.  my mister stoic.  juliana had a colleague with her who video taped everything.  i was glad she was there because harrison seemed a bit unsettled (dysregulated) by her presence and by the video camera.  i hoped this would allow for a really good picture of how harrison "performs" while being dysregulated as opposed to being so familiar with juliana and, possibly, getting a "better than normal" result.

juliana laid out the plan for the morning - completing a workbook, having a snack, playing some games and then playing in the gym.  harrison agreed and we got started.  she took us all back to a small plain room.  harrison sat on one side of a table and juliana sat opposite him.  she asked him to do some workbook pages - mazes of different levels, finding hidden pictures, tracing and handwriting.  then they moved on to cutting out a paper fish, taping on a string (fishing line) and "reeling" the fish onto a pencil (fishing pole).  then she gave harrison four-step instructions about how to fold a piece of paper into the shape of a dog.  he had to listen to all four steps and then fold the dog by himself.  he did fine with that.  lastly, juliana gave harrison another piece of paper and gave him four-step instructions regarding how to fold it into a fish shape.  he did fine with that as well.  she commented that he is the only kindergartener who has ever been able to complete the fish.  i don't know if she was referring to kindergarteners who have been to STAR for evaluation or typical kindergarteners.  i'm curious to find out.

they had a little snack break - which really wasn't a break, it was still part of the evaluation.  she asked harrison to pour some goldfish onto napkins for himself and for her.  she also asked him to pour water from a bottle into two plastic cups.  they both ate their snack.  he seemed to do fine with that.   he didn't stuff all the goldfish into his mouth at one time, which would be something he would do at home, so i may have to mention that to juliana when we meet to discuss the results.  (stuffing lots of food into one's mouth is not normal.  i believe it's an oral seeking activity, if i have my terminology correct.  harrison does it and so does jeremy.  chipmunk cheeks are common at our dinner table)

ok.  moving on. 

they moved out to the hallway to do some games with a ball - balancing the ball on a spoon while walking in a straight line, a circle and a figure eight.  kicking the ball with his right foot.  kicking the ball with his left foot.  all different kinds of ball kicking exercises.  he had to balance on one foot, then the other, then with eyes closed.  then they moved on to jumping tests - jumping out and in (like when doing jumping jacks), jumping side to side, forward and backward and in a triangle pattern.  lastly, jumping in place continuously for one minute.  he seemed to do okay with most of these.  some of the jumping was tricky for him.

we headed into the novel gym at this point.  man, do they have some fun stuff!  of course harrison's first choice was to do the zip line!  he climbed up and zipped down, landing in a ball pit.  he had to dig around in the balls to find different objects - stuffed penguin, lobster and dog.  juliana asked him to choose one stuffed animal to ride back down the zip line with him.  he climbed back up with the lobster in tow and had to figure out how to squeeze the lobster between his knees while holding onto the zip line with his hands and make it all the way down into the pit without dropping the lobster.  he did it!

they did some other fun play things - scooter boards, swinging, balancing on huge exercise balls.  she checked his core muscle strength a couple different ways.  all of this was great fun for him.

she took him into the messy room next.  while there she asked him to smell and identify a few different things.  grape, cinnamon and lemon.  he couldn't figure out the grape smell without her help, the cinnamon one was a bit tricky for him, too, but he was able to do it after she gave him a clue, and he got the lemon one right away.  next she got out shaving cream and spread it out onto a mat.  he was not about to touch that shaving cream!  she prompted him by suggesting a game where he drew something in the cream and she had to guess what it is.  he got one finger "dirty" with the foam and continually tried to wipe it off.  he didn't like the messy room all that much.  but he didn't SAY anything about it.  hopefully therapy will get him to a point where he feels comfortable expressing his feelings!  they cleaned up the foam and played with the rice and beans table for a while.  he did fine with that.  then we moved on to the rainbow room.

harrison really liked the rainbow room and talked about it for the rest of the day.  he described it best by saying it's a room full of hammocks!  basically, the "hammocks" are all different colors.  they are anchored to the walls, one on top of the other, so kids can climb up.  harrison climbed right to the top and peeked his head out over the edge, calling to us to find him.  he had fun in the rainbow room.

lastly, juliana took us to the light room.  the light room held a room-sized computerized machine that had three towers (in a triangular formation) of lights.  kids stand in the middle of the three towers and play a game similar to simon (remember that game?!) except they have to use their whole body to run, reach for, and hit each circle that lights up.  and every light that turns on makes a different sound.  harrison played two rounds, the first with jedi/star wars sounds and the second with more of a classical music sound.  he did great both times but the musical sounds made it easier to judge where the light was coming from because low notes associated with lights that were located lower on the towers and high notes were associated with lights that he had to reach up for.  it was pretty neat.  and afterward he broke out into a random happy dance!  he might not have TOLD us that he liked the light room, but he definitely SHOWED us!

one interesting note about the light room:  juliana mentioned that this same machine is designed for, and used by, professional athletes.  the colorado rockies have one, for example.  i guess it helps athletes with reaction times (and probably a wealth of other things) but STAR has been using it, gathering input, and doing research on how it helps their kids.

by this time it was 11:00 harrison had completed the first portion of the evaluation.  he and i left to eat some lunch, chill out for a while and get some fresh air.  we got back to STAR at 1:00 for his auditory testing.   

the auditory testing was hard work for him.

lanie was the name of the sweet woman who gave harrison his auditory test.  she was calm, kind and encouraging.  i think harrison felt comfortable with her, which is good.  but he certainly was not as comfortable with her as he was with juliana.

the first portion of the test involved wearing headphones, listening and repeating.  lanie scored harrison as he repeated each word or phrase.  he seemed to do well with this.  she even commented that she would assume harrison is a great reader because of how well he did during this section.  and, of course, she would be right!  as the test neared the end, though, it appeared that he had quite a bit of trouble - sometimes not even able to repeat anything at all.  or just guessing.  it was clear he was getting tired (he was yawning).  it was afternoon time, of course, but i also think it was just really hard work for him and he was getting worn out.

the test continued on without headphones.  harrison had to listen to lanie and either repeat what she said exactly or repeat it backwards or only repeat back the first syllable or the last syllable or answer a question about what she said.  he seemed to do okay with some (not all) of this.  the later testing involved lanie reading a very brief story and harrison had to answer questions, some of which included inferring the reasoning behind what took place in the story - hard, hard, hard for him.  

after he was all done i asked if i could put the headphones on and try to repeat some of the more difficult parts of the test.  lanie played a couple sections for me.  at one point i was asked to repeat back both words i heard.  then two words were spoken at the same time, one in each ear.  it was hard to repeat them both back.  i tried three times and did not get any correct!  next i had to pay attention to what i heard in my right ear.  then two different sentences were spoken at the same time, one in each ear.  it was easier to focus on one ear and i was able to repeat back the sentence without any trouble.

lanie suggested that we have harrison repeat the sentence portion of the test.  she felt it should have been easier for him than it was given his performance on earlier portions of the test.  she thinks he either just hit a wall, was tired, or maybe didn't quite understand the instructions.  at this point they will score him just as he did, though.  i think that's the right call.

so that was our day.  we got home sometime after 3:00.  harrison was quiet during the drive home except to say that he wants to go back to STAR but next time he doesn't want to do any workbooks and he does want to take graham!  i was pleased to hear he would like to return.  it's nice to know he's excited about STAR.  he thinks it's fun!  he thinks it's special!  he feels privileged to go there!

and so do i.

when we got home i gave him a snack and turned on a video for him.  i took two tylenol, three advil, laid on the floor with my feet elevated, closed my eyes, concentrated on deep breathing, and tried to stretch out my back.  

the day was so stressful for me.

and not because they made it stressful.  everyone at STAR was - is - fantastic!  it's just the emotions that accompany a situation like this.  i felt as though i had run a marathon.  i felt like i had a huge adrenaline rush and then an equally huge adrenaline crash.  i felt absolutely exhausted.  

and it's not even the results that were bothering me.  because of rachel's evalutaion we already know quite a bit about our sweet boy and the help he needs.  so i'm actually excited to hear what they find at STAR!  i'm looking forward to hearing the results! 

so why, then, did i find myself tearing up, and hiding my emotional face from harrison, twice during the evaluation?  i realized it wasn't because i was sad.  it wasn't because i was stressed.  it wasn't because i was worried.  it was because i was so proud of my son! 

he did so well on so much of the testing.  he has so many strengths!  i wept for joy because of all the ways in which he excels.  i am so very thankful for them! 

and yet, even though i am able to see the good, it's hard to face harrison's weaknesses. 

it was stressful, even though i could see how well he did on some of the tests, to deal with needing to have him tested at all.

it was stressful watching him struggle to repeat words and phrases and sentences.

it was stressful being strong and being smiley and being brave and acting casual.

it's stressful telling harrison that STAR is just a cool place where he gets to play.

it's stressful knowing the truth.

it's stressful hiding the truth from my son.

and so i laid on the floor.  and i waited.  and i thought about it.  and i realized...

"the lord said to me, 'my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  therefore, i will boast about my weaknesses so christ's power may rest on me...i will delight in weakness...for when i am weak, then i am strong."

our weaknesses are our strengths.

and the stress in my neck and shoulders and back and mind melted away.  and i got up off the floor.  and i kissed harrison's head and said "you are so strong, buddy."  

and i wept for joy again.

because of his strengths and his weaknesses.

and because of my own.  

**edited to add that i submitted an adapted version of this post to be published on the spd blogger network.

a real life conversation

the scene: while shopping in my favorite store, target, with two boys who have crazy afternoon energy; one boy is hanging out of the shopping cart basket while the other boy is wiggling and jiggling the cart until i just could not take it anymore!

me:  harrison, would you please stop shaking the cart?  you are driving me crazy.

harrison:  mommy, that's what little kids are for!

let's all say it together now....lord help me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

DIY family tree art

i wanted to make a family tree picture for jeremy's grandmother.  actually, i didn't want to make it...i wanted to buy it.  i LOVE this family tree artwork from red envelope.  our friends, the norgren's, have one hanging in their home (a gift jason bought for leslie after they had their son.  what a thoughtful husband!) and i fell in love with it the moment i saw it.  but i just couldn't deal with the $79.95 price tag.  i perused and found loads of beautiful family tree artwork but nothing seemed quite right for grandma.  so, that left me figuring out a way to create something on my own. 

i took a trip to hobby lobby, the place where all good projects begin, and bought blue, brown, and four patterned papers in colors that coordinated with fabric i purchased to make some other things to decorate grandma's room.  i do think the family tree would look nice with leaves that are all the same color, but i wanted to make this one a bit give grandma something less bland and more interesting to look at.  also, i used the colors to differentiate between her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

after deciding on a leaf shape and size that worked, cutting out the leaves was quick and easy.  i did it in the time it took the boys to watch one curious george episode.  the difficult part was drawing a tree.  i have trouble with free-hand design so i scoured the internet for tree images.  i printed out one that looked about the right size for this project and i used it as a very loose guide while drawing my own.  i traced a line here and a branch there until i had a unique tree that worked for this family.

i wrote grandma's and grandpa's name (bob & joy) on the trunk, their children's names (sue, bob & jenny) and their spouses on the branches and put the grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the leaves, growing out of the correct branch line.

if there were fewer grandchildren and great-grandchildren i would have preferred to put sue, bob & jenny, along with their spouses, on leaves as well.  i tried it but felt it looked funny.  i just didn't have the space!  but, overall, i am very happy with how it turned out.  i hope it brings some cheer to grandma joy.

the silver 13x13 frame was on clearance at target for $11.98, regular price $16.99.  ikea has the same size frame for approximately $7, though.  total cost for this project was under $14 and took less than two hours (over a few days).  not too shabby for a unique and personalized wall-hanging! 

i think this would be an inexpensive, yet special, gift to make for other members of our family.  i want to make one for myself!  i'm sure you have someone in your family who would love one too!

Friday, January 18, 2013

being attentive

i'm always after graham to pay attention when i speak, to look me in the eyes and be respectful when i'm talking to him.  it's hard for a little boy to be attentive.

after purchasing we choose virtues, the very first virtue i taught the boys was "i am attentive.  i watch and listen carefully".  i figured if they learned how to be attentive, not just with their eyes and ears, but with their heart, then all the other virtues would be easier to teach.

for the most part, both boys do a fairly good job of being attentive.  when i'm speaking, i may have to remind them to look me in the eye.  and i may have to stop talking and wait for them to bring their focus back to me.  occasionally i've had to send one of them to their room until they are ready to pay attention and focus.  but, overall, they understand the concept of attentiveness and know it's important for them to try to "watch and listen carefully".

yesterday, i encountered a teachable moment with graham.  he's been going through a phase of saying "i hate...".  it could be anything from "i hate stop signs" to "i hate going to bed" to "i hate wearing a coat".  i don't have too much of an issue with it except when it comes to him hating a person (like his brother).  when he uses the phrase in that way i've been quick to correct him and we discuss how we are supposed to love everyone...yada yada yada.

so, yesterday morning, while waiting outside in the sunshiny parking lot for the teachers to open the preschool doors, one of his school friends pulled up into the parking space beside us.  graham asked, "whose car is that?"  i answered him and he responded with "i hate ____".

i gasped.

and then i asked him to look into my eyes and be attentive.  i told him it is very rude and disrespectful to say "i hate" when it comes to people.  i explained that saying that could really make someone feel sad.  i mentioned that god wants us to love all people and that we should try to be kind to everyone.

graham listened so carefully.  he really focused on my eyes and tuned in to what i was saying.  i was so impressed with his attentiveness and so proud of him for having a teachable heart.  in that moment, i thought wow! what a sweet boy!  he's making such great eye-contact!  he really seems to understand that his words can be used to help others or to hurt others!  he is being so receptive to what i'm telling him!  he's such a good kid!

i ended my lecture with "do you understand, graham?"

to which, he responded, "i can see myself in your sunglasses".

yup.  that's right. 

the entire time i was speaking...the entire time i was thinking about what a great listener he is...the entire time i was feeling proud of him as a son and proud of myself as a mom...he was checking himself out in the reflection of my sunglasses.

he wasn't paying attention at all. 

this thing called motherhood is so funny.  the instant you think you are doing something right a lightning bolt of reality touches down to reveal the truth.  and, boy, am i telling you...there's nothing better than a zap in the ass to focus my own attention back to where it should be. 

i don't think motherhood is about the momentary wins or losses.  it's more about the accumulation of moments...what they add up to.  it's more about repeating the lessons over and over and over again.  because, lord knows, my children don't pay attention the first few times.  but the tenth time?  well, a little something might start to sink in by then.  by the twentieth time?  maybe a little more.

some days i've been zapped by reality so much that i want to crawl in bed and never get out.  days that have been full of lightning bolt moments.  days that make me question whether they have ever heard one word i've said.  but then i remember, some moments might be complete and utter losses, but the only thing that matters is the final score.  and that gives me just enough strength to get out of bed and do better the next day.

motherhood isn't about giving up or giving in.  it's about staying the course.  it's about focusing on the finish line. 

in the end, when the moments are tallied, have i won more than i've lost? 

and here's the lesson for me -  i struggle to be attentive too.  how many times have i been caught checking myself out in a pair of sunglasses instead of watching and listening carefully to what god is trying to teach me?

too many times.

thankfully, though, god doesn't crawl in bed, pull the covers up and hibernate for eternity.  he continues to teach me.  he continues to use situations in my life to mold me.  he repeats lessons ten times, twenty times, as many times as it takes.

in the end, he doesn't even count the losses...

he already knows the moments of my life will add up to a win.

and that's what i need to pay attention to. 

and that's what the mommy in me needs to focus on too.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

crash into me - not just a dave matthews song; a realization about my son

imagine a five year old, 45 pound boy running with all his might toward you and crashing full force into you.  that's what harrison does to me.  a lot.  and i do not like it - it hurts!  sometimes he will crash into me from behind and catch me completely unaware.  those times are the worst because i'm not able to prepare for the blow. 

i've seen him do this to jeremy, too.  and to papa.  i know jer doesn't like it.  i think papa is more tolerant than we are.  either that or he is just too nice to say anything about it.  but jeremy and i have told harrison again and again that he needs to stop crashing into us!  it is not nice!

so far our pleas for him to stop have fallen on deaf ears.  he either forgets or he just doesn't care.

i've noticed an increase to this behavior, and more of a pattern to it, recently.  it seems to me that harrison crashes (into people) when he is excited.

everyday when i pick harrison up from school he runs at me - not toward me like the typical kindergartener, but at me like a bull in a bullring.  his purpose isn't to hug me, it's to tackle me.

i've noticed this behavior at other times, too.  when we tell him that he gets to go to meme and papa's house, for example.  or when meme and papa come to our house for a visit.  or when other people come over for a play date.  anytime he's really happy about something, he crashes into us.  it seems that excitement is an overwhelming emotion for him.  he has trouble processing it and expressing it in normal ways, perhaps by saying "i'm so excited!" or by jumping up and down.  so, instead, he crashes into people.  

now.  he is not being mean.  he has no negative intentions.  here's what i've learned...

harrison does not, cannot, understand why we don't like for him to crash into us.  he doesn't realize that he is hurting us because crashing into us doesn't hurt him at all.  it feels really good to him!

and, further, he's not doing it on purpose.  it's more of a natural instinct for him - and instant reaction.  whereas when i get excited i might say "yippee!", when he gets excited he crashes.  simple as that.

as i've been reading, i believe (although i could be wrong) this behavior falls into proprioceptive category.  one of our eight senses, the propricoception sense has to do with our joints and muscles and is responsible for giving and receiving pressure.  for example, how much pressure do you need to use to hold a pencil?  or how does it feel to receive the pressure from a hug?  can you judge how much pressure you need to throw a ball a certain distance?

in the instances when his body is trying to process an extreme emotion (what would typically be a normal emotion for most is extreme to him), it seems that harrison is completely ignorant about the appropriate amount of pressure to apply.  an extreme amount feels good to him.

i have to admit that this realization and learning the background behind the behavior has helped me considerably!  knowledge and understanding are truly beautiful things!  harrison may be ignorant about how much pressure is appropriate, but i was ignorant about his behavior.  

before, i would get so upset with harrison for hurting me and for disobeying me (because he knows he's not supposed to crash into me like that!).  now, i let him run as hard as he can and do my best to catch him.

and i find other ways throughout the day to roughhouse and get some crashing out.  both harrison and graham think it is to use a pillow as a battering ram in an attempt to knock me down.  they run at me with all their strength and i block them and knock them backward.  they land hard on their tooshies but continually get up and come back for more!

so one of harrison's little quirks = another eye-opening lesson for me.

we've discussed his crashing behavior with him.  we've explained that we understand it makes him feel really good but that it hurts us.  and we've explained that he is not ever allowed to crash into his brother or friends.  (although maybe we should sign him up for football.  defensive tackle anyone?)  so far, i believe this behavior, as with most of his behaviors, are only displayed with people harrison loves and feels comfortable with.  for the most part harrison does an incredible job of regulating his behavior while he's around others, which, i'm learning, is a testament to how smart he is.  his smarty-pants brain has developed lots of coping mechanisms to make up for his struggling sensory system.

i am so thankful for that.

and i am so thankful to god for revealing these things to me.  i consider each little realization a blessing.   

i am so curious to see how this crashing instinct, along with his chewing/oral seeking, will improve once we start therapy.  and i can't wait to share those results with you!

** updated to add i have submitted this post to the spd blogger network

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

my friend is in labor!

my day started at 3:15 am with a phone call from my pregnant friend/neighbor who's water broke!  she needed me to walk over and stay at her house until her mother in law could drive up from colorado springs.  i think i babbled something about brushing my teeth and then, somehow, managed to make it over to their house without falling back to sleep.  i am anxiously waiting for an update and can't wait to find out the sex of their baby!  harrison thinks it's going to be a boy.  graham thinks it's going to be a girl.

on a slightly different subject, i recently discovered graham is in a love triangle at preschool.  you see his buddy, cayden, likes a girl named luchen.  i have no idea how to spell her name but it's pronounced lu-can.  but luchen doesn't like cayden, she likes graham.  but graham doesn't like luchen, he hates girls.  isn't that just always the way it works out?

i was in a love triangle once.  except the boy i had a crush on liked another girl.  and she liked him back.  so i suppose it was less of a triangle and more of a wheel.  a third wheel.  when we were in elementary school i took my friend, christa, to meet andy, the cute boy with whom i was desperately in love.  we met at the school playground on a saturday morning, if memory serves.  which it rarely does so i just might be making up this entire story.  turns out, upon meeting, christa and andy developed feelings for each other that had absolutely nothing to do with me and i was left on the lonely merry-go-round of life while they walked off hand-in-hand toward the swings.

christa truly did her elementary-aged best to spare me humiliation and protect my feelings.  she always was a very good friend to me and i have lovely memories of all the times we spent together as kids.  and you know what the best part of this little snippet is?  christa and andy are married now! 

i'm telling you, if elementary love can make it then, surely, preschool romance stands a chance too.

sounds like there just might be hope for cayden and luchen!  but not so much for graham because i'm encouraging him to hate girls until he's 30.  maybe one day they'll get married, get pregnant, and call their neighbor at 3:15 am because she's gone into labor!

you never can tell what the future might bring.

right now i'll set aside looking too far in advance...

i'll settle for finally finding out if our new little friend is a boy or a girl!


Monday, January 14, 2013

good morning, monday! (the one where i discuss how pioneer woman and i are basically the same person)

our weekend was uneventful.  i got a migraine, which is always loads of fun.

today my house is a mess and my laundry pile is larger than normal and, guess what, i have absolutely no interest in tackling any of it.

i just read a book to the boys and set out a bunch of craft supplies so they can draw a picture that re-creates a scene from the book.  so it would appear that not only am i not interested in cleaning up the current messes, i'm in a mood to make more messes!  in the two minutes since i've begun this post 57 pieces of plastic drinking straws have accumulated all over my bedroom floor.

yes, we do crafts in the master bedroom.  and, yes, straws are very fun to cut with scissors - they make a popping noise and fly across the room.

one blog-worthy thing happened over the weekend.  jeremy took the boys up to his parent's house saturday afternoon to watch the broncos game.  by that time i was feeling pretty crummy so i elected to stay home.  remember last week when i told you harrison is trying to earn money by doing chores?  yes, well, my child came home from meme and papa's house with five dollars to add to his piggy bank.  he told me he helped meme around the house so she paid him money.  i asked him what chores he did to earn five dollars and he responded, "i helped meme make cookies".

all i can say is i wish someone would pay me five dollars to make cookies.

another noteworthy thing - i mentioned last friday that i made beef stew served over mashed potatoes and it was divine and jeremy raved about it and informed me that i am never again allowed to serve beef stew any other way.  i believe i also linked to the original pioneer woman recipe that i somewhat, kinda-sorta followed to make my beef stew.  well, TODAY, she (pioneer woman) posted a recipe for beef stew with mashed potatoes.  she calls it "sunday night stew".  i call it destiny.

you see, pioneer woman and i have a lot in common.  she grew up in bartlesville, oklahoma.  i lived there for ten years and it holds a very special place in my heart.  she got married there.  i got married there.  she has a bff named becky who attended the church where i worked and is married to my former dentist.   that's less then six degrees, people.  she has a brother named mike.  i knew mike.  he asked me to marry him many times.  pioneer woman and i could have been sisters in law.  that's way less than six degrees.  she writes a blog.  i write a blog.  she has kids.  i have kids.  she homeschools her kiddos.  i homeschooled my kiddo (until last week - ha!).  she loves her husband.  i love my husband.  you see how this is working?

and now it's obvious we must think alike, too.  i serve beef stew with mashed potatoes.  she serves beef stew with mashed potatoes.  clearly, great minds...

maybe, since we're so in tune with one another she'll somehow stumble upon my blog and float me a pair of smokin hot cowboy boots!  oh yes, please!  size 8.

this begs a question, though.  did everyone already know about the whole "beef stew with mashed potatoes"concept?  have i just been living under a rock my whole life?  here i thought i came up with a new idea but i guess it really is true that "there's nothing new under the sun"!

whatever the case, whether new or old, beef stew with mashed potatoes is a very delicious idea.  and now you don't have to just take my word for it.  it's pioneer woman approved!

i do believe that's all i have to share for today.

adios french toast!

or should i say later, mashed po-tater? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

sensory bin - winter theme change-up

the boys have gotten tired of the winter-themed sensory bin i told you about (pictured above).  two days ago, in fact, i put all the other toys away and opened up the sensory bin in the middle of the living room floor in an attempt to make it inviting.  no takers.  then i prompted the boys to play with it.  "play with the sensory bin", i said.  still no takers.  so i asked them if they wanted me to switch it out to a valentine's theme.  they seemed to like that idea.

but valentine's day is still more than a month away.  by the time the actual holiday rolls around they'll be tired of a valentine's theme, too.  so what is a girl to do?

this situation called for a winter-theme switcheroo!  i thought, maybe, a play on ICE would be fun for the boys. could i make the bin more icy?  here's what i came up with...

 again, please excuse photos with terrible, horrible, no good, very bad lighting.

i took out all remnants of the snowy theme - the pom-poms, styrofoam balls and sandwich bag "snow"balls.  i left in the sea glass and the large clear glass gems.  then i added in more sea glass, in two different shades of blue and more glass gems, also in shades of blue.  i replaced the 1/3rd cup measuring scoop with smaller tablespoon and teaspoon measures.  i included funnels, a strainer, and small medicine droppers.  which, when used with WATER, make for super fun squirters!

the water was cold/icy so the boys' sense of touch was definitely affected!  the solid bits of glass, some more smooth than others, mixed within the liquid was fun for them to investigate.  so far, i'd say the squirters are the favorite part of this bin.

it was surprising how much force harrison had to use in order to suck the water up, especially in the squirter that was designed to irrigate wisdom teeth.

harrison also enjoyed filling the funnels with gems and seeing if the water would go through.  he tried different experiments to stop up the funnels.

he used the measuring spoons to scrape all the "ice" to the middle of the bin to create a dam.  he commented on the different sounds of this bin.  the sound of the metal spoon clanging against the glass gems was loud.  it was a sharp contrast to the gentler sound of the water dripping through the funnels.

graham also enjoyed squirting.  he had a difficult time with the wisdom teeth squirter but he kept trying until he figured it out.

he had fun doing other things, too.  he made a stew (his words) by sorting out the small blue gems and putting them into one of the blue bowls.  he also made an ice cream cone (again, his words) by putting the clear gems into the biggest funnel.  he really loved using the strainer to scoop up the icy glass pieces.

the boys, collectively, spent more than two hours playing with this bin today.  they played both together and separately.  i had fun playing with it, too!

i only added a couple cups of water, which is easy to dump out after each use.  all in all, this was a very simple way to renew their interest in the bin and give them a new perspective on the winter theme! 

all glass gems and the blue bowls were purchased at the dollar tree
all sea glass was purchased at michael's
the white funnels were purchased at target dollar spot 
all other items were simply found around our house

catching up...again

1) the final Christmas Ornament Casualty Count was much lower than expected.  we had two more victims, for a total of only seven!  the last victim was one of my treasured peppermint wreathes that did not want to be super-glued back together, so the Kitchen Counter Trauma Center had to resort to using scotch tape.  i re-hung him, in all his scotch-taped glory, next to his peppermint friends and plan to keep them up until valentine's day.

2) other christmas are photos of the handprint ornaments i referred to in this post (that the boys made and gave to each set of grandparents for christmas).

i was a little bit sad i didn't have the boys make extra ornaments to hang on our own tree but then on christmas morning, graham surprised us by giving us a snowman handprint ornament that he had made at preschool.  it made me so happy!

and here are a couple pictures of the boys on christmas morning...

i love how sweet the boys look.  i hate that we have absolutely zero natural light in our home!  it makes for terribly unnatural colored pictures!!  sigh.

3) skiing - papa, jer and the boys have gone skiing in eldora the past two saturdays.  it's very close to home and very inexpensive.  also, they offer a special "lower mountain" pass which is at discounted rate but only allows you to ski on the green (and a couple blue) runs.  it's perfect for papa & jer at this time while they are still teaching the boys.  i cannot emphasize enough how thrilled we all are that the boys love to ski and that it has been such a therapeutic activity for harrison.  we consider it a huge blessing!  they are not skiing tomorrow as the weather is going to be kuh-old!  instead, we will be at home watching the broncos freeze their tails off!  (and cheering for a win!)

4) harrison's first few days of kindergarten have been good!  he wanted to go back yesterday and again today - and i consider that a great sign!  it is, however, absolutely excruciating trying to get details from him.  yesterday when i picked him up i kept asking questions - basic "tell me about your morning" type questions - and after barely getting any responses out of him he finally said, "can we please stop talking about this?"  double sigh.

5) i finally got to sit down and pow-wow with mrs. brown, harrison's new teacher.  she seems like a lovely person and a loving teacher.  i get the impression harrison is fitting right in and is definitely at, or above, the academic level of his peers.  even in handwriting!  even better news is that the way the curriculum is designed is perfect for encouraging and teaching appropriate peer conversation/interaction.  students are paired up with a different buddy each week - an easy way for harrison to get to know his classmates and a low-pressure way to interact with them!  i'm feeling very at peace with our decision to send him there.

6) i had a serendipitous surprise last week.  when our neighbors came over for dinner i made beef stew.  somehow i got it in my head that it would be better to make mashed potatoes instead of putting chunks of potato in the stew.  i had a memory of jeremy ordering beef stew, served over mashed potatoes, at a restaurant and, that way, at least my boys would eat the mashed potatoes...because there's no way they would touch the potato chunks.  so, i made mashed potatoes.  then shortly before our friends arrived i realized it wasn't beef stew jeremy had ordered at the restaurant, it was pot roast.  i mean, of course it was pot roast!  because who puts beef stew over mashed potatoes?!  well, i am here to tell you that jeremy has ordered me to serve beef stew over mashed potatoes from this day forward.  and this particular recipe for beef stew was a big win with his incredibly discriminating taste buds!  he raved about it.  i hacked this pioneer woman recipe and made it my own.  i'll share my version another time.  but i won't be sharing beautiful pioneer woman photos because a) how in the world does she find time to take photos while cooking?  i can barely find time to cook! and b) we've already discussed my home's lighting issues.

7)  it seems as though i have so much more to mention, but am drawing a blank at the moment.  so i'll leave you with another real life conversation, which may or may not have occurred in this very house...

the scene:  a couple is in the kitchen in the morning.  hurriedly sipping coffee, packing snacks into backpacks, rinsing dishes.  the wife is wearing black yoga pants and a long sleeve t-shirt, no makeup, hair in ponytail.

husband:  baby, you look so cute this morning.

wife:  i sure married the right man!

husband:  why's that?

wife:  because you think i look cute in sweats.  actually, i think every time you tell me i look cute i've been wearing sweats.

husband:  that's because you never wear anything else.

hope you have a fantastic weekend!  go broncos!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


i mentioned that harrison is interested in doing "chores and stuff" to earn money so he can buy a new lego set.  two days ago he volunteered to make my bed.  i was elated.

here is our bed as i usually make it...

i think i took this photo back in november.  i have no idea why.  whatever my original intent, it is now serving it's purpose as a comparison to harrison's bed-making job...

please notice there is a graham-er boy hiding in the "fort", which is a beautiful change for the traditional throw blanket.  but my favorite is the pillow arrangement...

actually, this is pretty similar to how i typically pile them up.  not too shabby!

he is now fifty cents richer.  pennies closer to owning a red airplane lego!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the kindergarten drop off

i walk through my life with a deep understanding that everything happens for a reason.  i've told you that many times before.  so when things happen - or don't happen - my instant assumption is that that's just the way god meant it to be.  and my instant question is "i wonder why?...what is this supposed to teach me?"

now.  i'm not trying to be boastful or prideful or any of those things.  i'm just trying to get across the concept that i have a theistic, rose-colored worldview.  meaning, i believe god is in control and i believe he works out everything for our good.  this does NOT mean that i have an easy life or that i don't struggle with things or that i don't sometimes become depressed or weary during tough times.  i do.  of course i do.  and this does NOT mean that i don't worry.  because i do.  all the time.

but even though i worry somewhere inside me is a deep well of knowledge that everything will work out just as it's supposed to.

that understanding is the silent soundtrack of my life.  it's constantly at play in the background.  

it's just...i can't imagine living life with a different worldview.  i know there are people out there who think god is out to get them.  or maybe that god doesn't care about them.  or maybe that god doesn't exist.  or that bad stuff just happens for no reason.  or that good stuff just happens for no reason.  or that situations can simply be considered coincidences.  or that they are in control of their own destiny.

i don't know how they do it.

sure, they might consider me weak or silly or ignorant...but i'd rather be all those things than feel alone in this world.  i'd rather be labeled almost anything than to feel as though there's no such thing as a deeper meaning to it all.  

this morning was no exception.

i took harrison to kindergarten.

of course you know that this morning, of all mornings, the boys did not wake up early.  it's okay...they woke up on their own eventually with plenty of time to spare.

of course you know that this morning, of all mornings, i could not find my car keys.  it's okay...i found them eventually and we still made it to school on time.

of course you know that this morning, of all mornings, harrison's new school was beginning the day in a different way - out of the norm - with an all-school assembly.  the students did not line up outside as usual, they did not go to their classrooms as usual.  instead, they all went into the gym.  it was loud and chaotic and totally, completely not the way i wanted harrison's first day to be.  it's okay...thankfully, we did find mrs. brown, harrison's new teacher and she was able to take him by the hand and sit with him.  he seemed okay.

but here's the most interest thing...

before christmas break and then again this week, i desperately tried to get in touch with mrs. brown in an effort to ask her questions about the school day, get some insight, so i could prepare harrison for what to expect.  that didn't happen.  i was never able to reach her.  yes, i felt anxious about this.  very anxious.  but, last night and again this morning before school i had a deep peace that god was orchestrating this situation so that i would trust in him.  so that i wouldn't trust in mrs. brown and her abilities, but trust god and his abilities.  so that i would turn to him with my concerns instead of anyone else.

do you remember how the same thing happened when we dropped harrison off at ski school?  i wasn't able to speak to his instructor before hand.  i had to leave him and trust.  sure, there were tears.  trusting, especially where my children are concerned, is hard for me.  but it all worked out for the best.

well, this morning mrs. brown told me she has been trying and trying to call me.  she showed me the phone number she had and asked if it was correct.  of course it was.  she said she's tried many times, even this morning before school, and every time my phone gives her the fast, busy signal.


i wasn't able to get in touch with her.  she wasn't able to get in touch with me.  i've received plenty of other calls and they all came through okay.

i have to ask...i wonder why?  what is this situation supposed to teach me?

and i laugh.  and i cry.

because, really, it all comes back to the exact same thing.

again and again, god is trying to tell me "i got this", "i'm in control", "i know what i'm doing", "i love harrison more than you do", "i want what's best for him"...


how do i know that's what he's trying to teach me?  i can't explain it.  i just know.  it's just this deep feeling in my heart, in my being.  

this morning, just like the first day of ski school, there were tears.  BUT this time there was peace too. 

so maybe, hopefully, i'm growing a little bit. 

i think about how others would view this same experience.  would they think i'm crazy for even considering a reason for a busy signal?  i mean, it's just a busy signal!  would they think i'm silly for looking for a deeper meaning behind this situation?  maybe.  

it's possible that i am off my rocker.  i feel crazy most of the time.  in fact, sometimes i think the looney bin would be a lovely, even spa-like, place to visit for a while!  a nice get-away!  :-)

so call me crazy.  call me what you will.

because there's a god who called me "little lamb" and who called harrison "ottley".  and his ways are higher - maybe even crazier - than our ways.

and i'm choosing to trust in that. 

a real life conversation

this post could also be titled "everything my children know they learned from curious george"

the scene: i was still lying in bed when graham crawled in next to me and cuddled up.  he began to tell me about the curious george episode he just finished watching...

graham: mama, do you know how to make syrup?

me: no, graham, i have no idea.

graham: first you tap a tree.  well you put a hole in a tree and hammer in a tap.  then you let grey stuff drip out and cook it for a long time.  and guess what, there's a secret trick!

me:  what's that?

graham: when you cook it you put butter in the syrup so it doesn't boil over.

me: oh wow!


me:  so what kind of tree do you need to tap to make syrup?

graham:  a brown one.

me: a maple tree.

graham:  or a Log Cabin tree.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

harrison's new school

my intent to do a "school morning practice run" of getting up, dressed, fed and out the door by 8:00 am was an epic fail.  i set out the boys clothes last night and told them they had to get dressed before they could go downstairs to watch cartoons.  well, that didn't happen.  i set my alarm for 6:30 so i could get myself ready before going downstairs to start breakfast.  well, that didn't happen either.

what did happen is this: the boys woke up at an ungodly hour and snuck down to the basement.  my alarm went off at a later, but still ungodly, hour and i snoozed it.  at 7:42 am, while i was indeed still lying in my warm, cozy bed, i had an epiphany.

getting up, dressed, fed and out the door by 8:00 am is overrated.

sadly, i am going to have to figure out a way to deal with it anyway.  that's just one of the joys of being an adult.

so, graham goes back to preschool tomorrow morning.  and harrison starts a new school.  i am feeling a combination of emotions - sadness (i'll miss them), happiness (i know they'll have fun and i'll actually have a moment to be alone), concern (how will harrison do?).  overall, though, i am excited to start this semester.  it will be full of new adventures for harrison (kindergarten and STAR therapy) both of which will be very beneficial for him.  

i haven't shared all the details about the decision to quit homeschooling yet.  but because i feel the need to justify my actions to the world, i'll do my best to fill you in.

the summarized version is that we never wanted to homeschool long term.  our goal was always to homeschool for this year and figure out first grade later.  but when all this sensory processing stuff started our first questions were: is it okay that we are homeschooling? it detrimental to harrison?  the answers (from three different therapists) were all similar: no, it's not hurting him...he would not learn the things he is "missing" from simply being near or observing other children...yet, it is so good for him to socialize with his peers...if your desire is to put him in traditional first grade, the transition from being at home all day to being at school all day will be a difficult one. 

while those conversations were taking place a neighbor "just happened" to mention that her daughter is in a morning kindergarten class with just ten other kids.  i put "just happened" in quotes because you know i don't believe anything "just happens".  so her comment got my wheels spinning - a morning program, a very small class, i think we should go check out this school!

harrison and i went together to tour the school.  the principal was welcoming and other staff members were so warm and sweet to harrison.  we only briefly met the kindergarten teacher but we got to observe her class for quite a bit.  harrison liked what he saw.  jeremy and i discussed, at length, the options.  then we stopped discussing it and just prayed about it.  ultimately, we asked harrison what he wanted to do.  we gave him a choice:  do school at home or go to public school?

he chose to go to public school.  he WANTED to be at the school with other kids.  his reason?  "it will be more fun". 

now,  do i believe that five year olds can, or should, be the decision-maker in situations like this?  no.  absolutely not.  jeremy and i believe it is our job as parents to do what's best for our children, even if that means our children are unhappy with our choice.  the tricky thing about this situation, though, is that i honestly thought harrison would choose to stay at home.  he is not your typical social butterfly.  far from it.  so the fact that he WANTS to be with other kids is a 

we need to support his choice!  in fact, we need to encourage it!  we need to jump on it and harness it and monopolize it!  ha! 

i joke (a little bit), but in all seriousness, what we are finding is that if harrison expresses an interest in something we really need to capture his desires and manipulate them in such a way that helps him grow and develop.  he loves to ski?  well, then, we will take him skiing every single weekend.  it has been an AMAZINGLY therapeutic activity for him.  and he has no idea that it's therapeutic, he just thinks he's having a blast!  he wants to go to public school?  well, then, we will use this desire to the best of our abilities, too!

what it comes down to is this: we believe sending him to public school is what's best for harrison at this time.

and that's all the justification we need. 

so, tomorrow is a new day...a new adventure.  yes, i'm nervous about it.  i wouldn't be me if i didn't worry.  and i'm sure they'll be some bumps in the road.  every road has a few unexpected dips and turns.  but...

at least we are headed in the right direction.

and i cannot wait to see where this paths leads.