Oct 272016
 

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me-a-compendium

When looking something to add to our school day, Me: A Compendium: A Fill-in Journal For Kids caught my attention.  It looked fun, the picture on the cover intrigued me, and the idea seemed silly enough to hold the attention of my kids.

George has several variations of books such as this one, he tends towards the artistic thinking.  Jack, however, does not have any such books.  He is usually a black and white thinker, taking to artistic things only if it suits his fancy.  I was not sure how he would react to this book, though was hoping for something unexpected that he could do during the day when he was bored.  It would also act as a journal of his life at this point in time.

Me: A Compendium was picked with Jack in mind.

When the book came, I called him into the living room, handing him the book without saying anything.  The look in his eye was one of excitement, “Is this for me?!”  Seems it was going to be a hit with my practical child.  (George was a bit jealous, till I reminded him that he already had two books like this.  He still wanted to ‘help’ fill in some of the pages.)

As with any new book, I encouraged Jack to get to know the book before doing anything with it.  Starting at the most obvious place, the cover, he asked why it was blank.  “That is for you to fill in.  You write your name in the blank rectangle, either only your first or any combination of your names you choose. This is your book.”

Turning it over to the back cover, the questions continue.  The child is asked for favorites, descriptions of various body parts, and other information about likes/dislikes.

me-compendium-book-2-collage

The biggest surprise, though, was the inside of the cover.   “Super Secret Stuff” was a hit with this 7 year old.  He did not even want me to tell George or Dad about it.  “Mom, it is secret!  That is what secret means; others do not know about it.”  We had not even cracked the cover yet and he was already smitten with the book and the notion of filling it in as he saw fit.

me-compendium-book-inside-cover

Several pages were filled in the first day.  One of them surprised me, “This is what I’ll be doing when I grow up…”  Up till this point, he has always wanted to be a construction worker, or a constructions worker who works part time as a policeman.  This was the first time he said he wanted to, solely, be a policeman, “to help keep people safe”.  Being safe is a common thing he worries about, so this was not so surprising.

“As long as you do not want to be the person the police are chasing, I think it is a great idea”, a comment of mine that resulted in the oh so cute, “Mooooommmm” with the accompanying eye roll.

me-compendium-book-collageThe second picture took a bit of interpretation on his part before I understood what was going on – playing Frisbee with Dad.  Again, not a surprise, as this was drawn at a time where my husband was busy and not able to play with them as much as he, and they, would have liked.

Knowing Jack is not a huge drawer, I was very surprised and pleased to see how quickly he wanted to pick up drawing utensil and get to work filling in the paper pages.  If this is what it takes for my fine-motor activity adverse kid to draw, I will buy these books all day long.

I have no doubt Me: A Compendium will last us quite a while.  The cover is hard back and the pages are a heavy paper.  The drawing and fill-in-the-blank prompts are diverse, helping keep it interesting through the whole book.

Since drawing in it the first time, Jack has asked several times where this book was, as he wanted to work on it more.  This fact alone makes it a five-star book in my opinion, especially as it is not a particular cartoon construction worker and his builders, nor an alien race that can morph into various vehicle forms to fight other bad mechanical alien here on Earth.  This is a book that makes him stop or slow down, think, and transfer those thoughts to something outside of himself.  There are no right or wrong answers, and no grades.  So, if your police car looks more like a lump of coal, that is okay. 😉

I thought I would give Jack a chance to share his thoughts, in his own words.  Here is what I got:

Me: Jack, what did you think of this book?

Jack: (glancing over, sees the book on the screen, and gives a sly, shy smile, goes back to building his Lego creation.)

Me: Well, what did you think?

Jack: I don’t know.  I haven’t finished it yet.  I can’t tell you what I think of it till I finish it.

Me: Well, up till now, what have been your thoughts?

Jack: (silence, but smiling.)

And there you have it.  He liked it but was unwilling to put it into words, the normally accepted form of communication for creatures of our species, yet a form that Jack often does not like to use.  Hey, at least he did not spell it out in the air, as he is inclined to do at times.  That would have been harder to transcribe.

********************

As I was writing this review, I had another thought, “This would be great for a kid in Foster Care.”

Why? It would help create a scrap book of sorts, a place to write things down and store memories at a time where other forms may not be available.  At times there are gaps in a child’s photographic history or “This is Me in Grade ___” papers from school are lost.  Giving them a sturdy place to record various facts from their life at this moment, a way to possibly even share them with the adults in their lives, is a great way to encourage emotional connects, a connection with their personal story, and a record of this time in their life.

Me: A Compendium does not require batteries, is gender neutral, and easy to transport.  As the holiday season approaches, if you are considering being a part of a gift-giving effort, even if not for Foster Care specifically, this would be a great gift option to keep in mind.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Oct 012016
 

yard sale collage

Oh the wonderful world of saving money by shopping at yard sales.  You never know what you will find.  However, when you decide to have one, it is as amazing to see what you will find.  You start seeing items in your house which you are no longer needing.  The above photo are not of things gotten ride of, but of various finds, some bought some just enjoyed at that moment in time.

I have been working on cleaning out our house.  Sort of like Spring Cleaning, but in Autumn.  I also find the physics law to be true – an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by another force.  In other words, once you start looking for things to purge you will continue to find them (at increasing speeds) unless distracted by something else.  What are those something elses?

  • stopping to make a meal
  • checking your social media site
  • being asked by one of the kids to play a game
  • finding that old book you really loved
  • contemplating for too long as to whether you really need that pair of shoes half a size too small and not at all a flattering style for you
  • wondering if Aunt So-and-so would be mad at you for getting rid of that nice dress coat you have never worn but which she gave you … 15 years ago
  • coming across the book list for school last year, scanning it to see if you actually read all the books
  • the memory of your child having worn a particular outfit when they had first moved in with you/were born

The last one was particularly hard and hit me like a wall I did not know was there.  So many images came flooding back.  Pudgy, little Jack running through the house with a huge smile on his face and the side to side run he had.  Him enjoying an ice cream cone, chocolate spread across his face. George’s favorite shirt, one he always chose above the others. The pjs you bought just for him, knowing he would love them. The sadness when you finally admitted they no longer fit.

So why did I not keep those particular outfits? Because the outfits did not hold the memory, my mind did.  The kids will never be that size again. By the time they have kids, these clothes will either not be in fashion or be the wrong season or not fit their bodies correctly.  I have proof in the form of clothes from when my husband was about 5.  Still have the clothes, though they have never been worn by our kids.

After having a yard sale, a lot of items left the house.  I was amazed at how much.  Yet, there were still things left.  What to do? I gathered up what I thought was worth selling and posted it on our local online For Sale page.  The rest was booted to the curb with a FREE sign.  If it was in really shape it went straight to the trash, so the items at the curb were not in bad shape, just not worth selling.  Apparently someone needed most of the items as I only took three boxes back to the trash a few days later.

free sale by curb

Since that time I have continued to find items.  Some have been listed for sale, some put out by the curb for free, and other donated to a local thrift store that helps support a women’s shelter.  And you know what?  I am still finding items.

Another thing I have come to realize is that it is easier over time to let things go.  This morning, and yes it is only 7 a.m. right now, I went through items I had listed for sale and moved them to the donate pile.  In my mind the memories are still holding, but I know it is better to let them go. Let the stuff go and keep the memories.  Let them go help others who may be in a hard place in life. Let them go bless others who might be tight on money. Let them go bless others who might be like we were a few years ago suddenly needing a whole wardrobe for kids right now!

And so, boxes sit by the back door while the kids are amazingly still asleep.  (No complaining.  I have had enough of kids being up at 6 or before this past week. I AM NOT COMPLAINING.)  Later they will be moved to the trunk of my car for donating next week.  In the mean time we will have conversations yet again as to why we are getting rid of things.  I will again realize my husband was correct; we have too much stuff.  I will be reminded again of how easy it is to start not seeing things.

I will look around the house and realize how much more we still have, not ready to let go of certain items yet and appreciating the usefulness of others.  Another box will be picked up and filled with things I keep “just in case”, though that “just in case” has not happened in 5/8/10 years.  I will grab that extra binder and hole puncher, sit down and sort through papers that need organization beyond being put into a cloth bag.

For now, though, my momentum has been stopped.  I hear not-so-little voice coming down from my bedroom, where it seems everyone migrated last night.  I will grab the pancakes from the freezer (I doubled a batch last week) to start breakfast.  These are the moments to make memories … the little Spies behind me thinking they have pulled one over on me, yet wondering how it is that Mom always hears their very loud, giggling, ‘sneaking’.

Jul 152016
 

Kid Garden Helper

As the mother of two kids with ADHD, one hyperactive and the other inattentive, I can attest to many of the 28 Things Nobody Tells You About Having A Kid With ADHD.  It is more than having an active kid, and it takes parenting to a whole new level, especially when you add in early childhood trauma and other equally fun things.  Each of these hit me at the core, they really are true, deeply personally so many times.

These are not just “yes, my little Jimmy/Jenny also annoys me sometimes … I can not even look at Facebook for an hour without him/her whining to me about something” or “I always have crayons and scrap paper with me for those times we have to wait.  Otherwise we would never get through that 30 minute wait time at the doctor’s office.”  If you are one of those people, please, do not even try to commiserate with me.  I know you mean well, but it only makes me practice biting my tongue more.  That really hurts after a while.  Besides, it only makes me feel like more a failure in this parenting arena.  I already feel that way really, really, often and do not want to feel that way more.  Please do not be surprised if I stop talking about my kids to you, or even if I stop talking to you altogether.

Here are some thoughts I had as I went through the list, you may want to open the article in another window as you read through below:

Signs and visuals have helped, but only go so far, which is why we have “underwear check” most days … to make sure it is on AND not backwards. (Point #2)

FYI – Yes, I know my kid’s shoes are on the wrong feet, but I am tired of telling him yet again to put them on right. So, please do not ask me if I knew they were on wrong. We got to where we were going on time (ish) and that was higher on my goals list for the day.  If they bother you, feel free to tell my child who put them on, not me. I learned a long time ago which is the right foot and do not need the extra practice, thank you very much.

#3 –  I used to think I was super patient and calm.  Then I was given my two kids to raise and learned what it meant to be prideful.  That was a tough lesson.  Now I am learning to say, “I was wrong for loosing my temper.” and “I’m sorry.”

#4 – If you do not think this is true, wait till you realize your kid has NO friends to invite him to birthday parties (while brother seems to go to them all the time) and you have to try and explain why. This is also why we invite whole families, when we do invite people for parties.

#5 – After talking with a friend who had two very well behaved kids and one very active kid, whom we love, I found out she was this way until they began parenting their active kid and had an “ah, ha” moment.  Yes, you may be a great parent, but it could also be that you just have easy kids.  Don’t judge.

#6 – Sensory issues surprised me, it is something like the chicken and the egg. In our case we tried addressing all the other items first to help reduce the ADHD behaviors.  When it became obvious there was ADHD involved, we then addressed the ADHD to help reduce all the other items. Neither will ever go away, so we are learning to live with both and “tolerate” some things that normal life brings, like having to do things you do not like to do.

#7 – “Oh, they are just boys.” That is true only up to a certain point. Even I tried to tell myself this for too long.  After a while you have to admit something else is happening.  Staying in denial can actual cause longer term harm to their brains; imagine hearing “no”, “stop that”, “why can’t you do xyz”, “sit still”, “focus”, etc all day long.  After a while it really starts to affect you physically and emotionally.

#8 – They might, but we did go a year giving them almost no (and I really do mean ‘almost none’) candy, sweets, etc.  We were those mean parents who told grandparents and friends that our kids could not eat those things at Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween (which we didn’t celebrate, so this was fairly easy), Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

#9 & #10 – very much YES! Yet I still relearn this point over and over.  I could give you example after example of success and failures here, but will not waste your time doing so.  Let’s just say that I am not kidding when I say I have to prepare for a trip to the (grocery store, church, post office, museum, restaurant, special event, etc.)  This included going over what are expected behaviors, what is planned, what might happen, who might be there, etc.  Though I have to make sure not to set expectations too high, as if they are not met we have a melt down.  Not pretty.

#12-#14 – Ah, medication. Everyone has an opinion. 🙂 Even I have changed my views on this, somewhat, after living life as a parent of two ADHD kids. (P.S. we really have a goal for at least one kid that goes like this – “Not Get Arrested”. Yup, setting the bar high over here.)

#15 – Yup, I already know people (even family) have already labeled at least one of my kids. Because of that I choose not to share about our daily life with them.

#18 – And even those within the school. Thankfully we are in position to find an alternative to those issues I less than love. Well, usually.

#20 – There are movies/video games I am ready to mark as “Banned!”in our home. I really do not feel like hearing about them for hours. Every day.

#21 – I used to wonder how our bathroom got so dirty so quickly, “Mom’s never did.” Then I started paying closer attention and realized it was not due mainly to my homemaking skills, but to the aiming skills of others. “Look where you point!” Is a common refrain in our house.

#22 – I really thought this was in our future. Instead we got help, home schooled, worked with public schoolteachers/adjusted IEPs, took more parenting classes, added in therapies, and sought resources. 1.5 years later I think be might avoid it.

#26 – Yes, this is something I deal with often.  I have to remember that we all have issues, some are just easier to hide than others.  It is easy to let the jealousy turn into anger toward the child.  This is something I have to keep my finger on, especially during the harder than normal times.

#27 – Surprisingly, even in church there are few who do this. I have made sure to tell them how much I appreciate their efforts.

All of this is to say … I love my children.  They are great people.  They have fun personalities, individual likes and dislikes, they love to help, and they are maturing.  If I were to dwell on all the points above and never on the other things, I think it would be hard to get out of bed each day.

Yes, all the above are a reality in my life at one point or another, but they do not define who we are inside.

 

Mar 162016
 

snow filled basketball hoop

This was written as a rant, after an episode.  It was not a horrible episode, though it was headed that way.  I was the mom who stepped down from the bleachers and walked over to the bench to do what was needed.  As an introvert, it takes a lot for me to do that. I am trying to step back more and let my kids learn on their own, though watching other adults fail, then get mad at my kids for said adults lack of observation, usually gets me over my introverted tendencies.

Parenting is an adventure. You are given responsibility of a crew with the goal if getting from point A to point Infinity. The catch, your crew were not given the choice of joining, and they do not always want to be there.  You gave to somehow convince them to follow you.

This wonderful opportunity for personal growth is made all the more adventurous when you add in kids from hard places.  Their brains are wired differently. That is a fact, not just a saying.  Trauma of any kind changes you, some more severely than others. Ever heard of PTSD?

The minds of children are especially prone to neuroligical changes that can not be undone.  The first 2 years of your life contain over 80% of your brain development.  Whether those years contained time in an ICU, surrounded by beeping machines and people you did not know, all the while not being held or touched enough; chronic sickness, resulting in going to the doctor a lot; stress in your parents’ lives resulting in less attention given to you; lots of yelling, fights, or even frequent moves; being in foster care or even private adoption (loss of main caregiver); not to mention drugs, abuse, and chronic neglect (not enough food, ignored, needs not met, etc.); trauma has a huge impact on the brain’s wiring.

In a neurotyipical child cause and effect are learned at a normal rate. Things ARE eventually learned.  However, those from hard places (histories involving trauma) have trouble with this connection. Studies show they are more likely to have ADD/ADHD, impulsiveness, end up in prison or be arrested, unemployed, drop out of school, etc.

And here is what gets me, all the effort to get foster parents, to promote adoption from foster care … I have yet to hear anything aimed at teachers, coaches, employers saying, “When you are in a place to influence these kids, here is what you will most likely see ….. and here is how to handle it …. ”

Not that people purposefully set out to keep these kids on a path to failure, they truly do not realize their brains process data and situations differently. And that makes me so sad. And mad. To the point of tears, which means I am beyond yelling mad.  It means I have to be hyper-vigilant around certain adults to make sure they do not cause my (young) kids to completely escalate and explode.  Again, they are not doing it on purpose. The methods they use, the way they respond works very well with their neurotyipical child.  It does the exact opposite for mine. Trust me, I tried and thought I was going crazy when it did not work.

In these situations I resemble an Army Apache helicopter parent. My scopes are set, ready to step in at any moment. However, it is usually to remove my child from the situation, rather than tell you that “little Johnny can’t help himself”.  Then we go off to a safe place while I spend the next 30 minutes to an hour undoing what just took the other adult under 5 minutes to create. Better for me to do that than let it escalate and have to spend a whole day ‘fixing’ it.

I am a big believer in self-control, personal responsibility, manners, and growing into a responsible, independent adult.  We are working on it. Doing better. Still a long way to go. So, while I understand most other kids that age can handle this situation without reacting this way, mine can’t.  So, please, just do not make it worse. Act like an adult and think, do not react off the cuff, it will do wonders for modeling it for my child.

Mar 022016
 

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We are back to routines for the most part, sort of. All kids are doing school at their respective locations, a load of laundry was done, lunch was cooked, and a new morning routine has been formed in my mind.

I did change things a bit:

  • During afternoon Quiet Time I took down some wallpaper.  This was aided by a kid who got up, thereby necessitating a restart of the timer. This is normally a morning activity before everyone wakes up. However I have a renewed urgency to get this HUGE project done.
  • While writing this Jack is writing his spelling words. Who says I gave to write everything at one time?
  • During math practice I expanded some seed starting pellets.
  • Jack’s computer time was used to order a pencil sharpener and switch laundry, via another computer.
  • Lunch time also found me unloading and reloading the dishwasher. (Okay, that is pretty standard.)
  • Jack’s read aloud time allowed me to clear off part of a counter.
  • We got behind on our composer studies. Thanks to a CD from an inter-library loan Franz Schubert has been playing in the house all day long. Could this be lending a hand toward me feeling calmer?
  • A shower did not get on the list for me this morning, I didn’t even get a coat on when I left the house.  So Jack gets half an hour of t.v. while I add this indulgence to my afternoon activities.

IMG_20160302_134332504

Today feels better, calmer.  Could it be because I have not had 3 boys (8, 6, & 6) behind my in the car for the last 1.5 hours?

Or because life still has a semblance of normal? 

Or because I know our new guy, who still needs a blog name, will be gone during George’s after school time. This will allow us to get his homework done and spend some QT together. He has so many big feelings going on inside, but doesn’t always know how to express them.  Also, new little guy doesn’t seem to understand leaving someone alone while they do homework. George has trouble staying on task as it is, having a new friend constantly telling you to come play does not help.

I also bought some school supplies between dropping kids off at school and coming home to start home school. Boy, things are expensive during off season and at a store in Small Town.  Saved me 40 minutes of driving, though, which was worth it.

The urge to drop a coat off at the dry cleaners was ignored. Once home, I checked the tag – wash gentle cycle with cold water. Perfect, no extra bill.  I feel like I’m handing out money left and right this week.

My car problems may be passed. Maybe. The mechanic cleared the error message to see if it would come back. So far so good. My husband is insisting the kids and I take his (smaller) car to visit family this weekend. He would rather my car give out near home instead if two hours away from anyone we know.  It is crowded enough with two kids in the back, 3 is going to be interesting. I’m thinking movies from the library and getting to our destination as soon as possible may be the only hope for my sanity. Supper will be in the car. Potty breaks? I have not figured that one out yet.

Jan 092016
 


Children at work cutting with scissorsWhat’s Going On Inside The Brain Of A Curious Child – Ah ha!  This is so Jack. 1,001 questions every day. I have learned to ignore some, as they are him thinking out loud, and answer others.  So many questions, it is often hard to stay on track.  He tends toward ADHD or autistic type behaviors (cumpulsion at times, trouble transitioning always), so that does not help with all the questions either.  He sure impressed our HVAC person with his knowledge (and questions) yesterday.  Perhaps there is something to curiosity and retaining knowledge.  I will have to keep that in mind when looking to teach some of the ‘boring’ subjects.

Rich Children And Poor Ones Are Raised Very Differently  – interesting read. The findings were not quite what I thought they would be.  I expected more of the “preschool is great, screen time is bad, spend time with your kids” rhetoric. Instead, they actually looked at the differences, both a young kids and as adults. Seems we all love our kids and want what is best for them, even if we try to achieve it in different ways.

We very much used to, and still at times do, parent out of fear – not that they will be shot, but that they will grow up lacking skills to learn; that they will be so far behind academically and skill wise that they will give up, that there would be no striving to gain knowledge.

From almost the first day they lived with us it was Enrichment 101 at our house, or so it felt. They were both about a year behind on many skills, this at a point where 1 year was a significant portion if their lived, so we focused on those needing the most work. We didn’t know how long they would be with us, so we made the most of the assumed limited time.

A few years later it was actually hard to realize that they had caught up in some areas, others were almost there, and the ones that were not would get there with maturity and time. Yes, consistent work still needed to be done, but we did not need to fear anymore. Now the goal is to relax some, but still provide tool to encourage learning.

This past month our home school routine has been more relaxed as I was focusing more time on the house. The result? Jack began understanding some math concepts he had been struggling with before.  It was like they needed to simmer for a time before becoming ingrained.

In public school, George finally latched on to the idea of adding. He went from not understanding at all over the summer and having nothing memorized, to now being able to subtract. There are other areas of struggle, especially where memorization is involved, but that is something with which he will always struggle. I am growing to acceptance of that reality. We still work hard to get him to fix these things in his memory, while knowing that Time has its place, too.

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Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out – A great reminder that we do not need to be Martha (as in Mary and Martha) about everything.  It is a great reminder and encouragement, as I often ‘fail’ to achieve the do-everything-perfect-mom which I have set for myself.  I have relaxed more, both in parenting and homemaking, but have a ways to go.

Here Are 7 Sky Watching Events In 2016 You Don’t Want To Miss – late Autumn through early Spring is my preferred sky watching time. Yes, it may be cold outside, but you do not have to be up late waiting for the sun to set.  Not only does it allow me to get some sleep, it also increases the likelihood that I say “Yes” to letting the kids observe the event.

 

Nov 122015
 

IMG_20140823_134908505

Up since 4 a.m.  Good Morning! Wish I had the coffee above to start my day.  Instead I had old work clothes and a cold room.  Maybe I will get some of the coffee tonight; we have several great mixes here at the house.

Found the Ghost in our house – a window that looked closed was actually open a smidge, causing a moaning sound as the wind passed between the upper and lower parts.  That was quickly corrected.

Listened to several Market Place Money and TED Radio Hour pod casts.  Really enjoyed, though that is not the best word, the episode called “Headspace”.  As someone who has had multiple friends and family members deal with depression, I appreciated the further delving into some of the science surrounding it.  Here it is if you find yourself with some extra time to listen.


Finished painting walls and ceiling with primer in 300+ square foot room and stairway.  I got a lot of painting done in those first 2 hours of my day. 🙂

Unloaded dishwasher. Reloaded it (with dirty dishes from last night) and ran the new load.

Dropped car off at mechanics for brake repairs.

Dropped husband off at work and son off at school.

Got a call that there is an issue with my car and it will have to stay in the shop till the part come in tomorrow.  I would not feel bad about this, except it is literally stuck on the lift of the mechanic.  Who is a friend and whom I know has other cars waiting to have work completed.  Of course, my husband’s car was supposed to go in after mine, but it can wait another few days.

Made a from scratch lunch. (Contrary to the picture below, there was no wine involved in this meal.)

Measuring items for cooking

Then within a 5 minute stretch:

Lunch finished.

Sold a book online.  Found issue with book before sending it. (Small issue, but one I want to correct before selling it.)  Got flustered and canceled the order.  Then realized I should not have done that and got flustered even further.  {sigh}  I do not always like learning opportunities.

Got a call about a (foster) kid who needs a place to go, someone right between George and Jack’s ages.  Due to issues, this kid would need their own room I suspect.  Our extra room at the moment needs painting, a door, and electricity restored to it. We are not the place for this kid.  I was in no way tempted to say yes.  We would have caused more trauma than help in this case.

unpainted stairway collage

I sent my husband back to work with his car, found George a ride home from school and have a plan to engage Jack’s mind while I tackle the garage.

My big goal for the day is to finish priming the garage.  It is about 40% done.  All that is left are the flat surfaces, which go fairly quick once I get going.

This is not the way I saw today going at all, but sometimes you just have to roll with it.  (Painting pun unintended.)

And the day is not yet over.

With only one car, we had to rearrange some activities that were to take place tonight.  It also will change tomorrow’s plans a bit, as my husband is taking the day off of work.

Being down to one car is not something about which I will be complaining.

  • We have a roof on the house that does not leak and a garage to keep the wind from finding its way under the kitchen door.
  • Most of the drafts in the house have been blocked, which is great as it is gusting something awful outside.
  • My car works, apart from the fact that the brakes are currently locked up while on a lift in the mechanic’s shop.
  • Even with the added cost of parts, we will be able to afford the repairs on the car.
  • I have friends who are willing to help with getting my kid home.
  • Jack is in a great mood today which allows me to focus on painting. (This is a HUGE thanksgiving, as this time last year it was very different.  Those were the days where a good day meant no call or note home from school and only yelling at me, no hitting me or others, for the hours he was here.)
  • We have food in the house with which to cook.

I could keep going, but have already been on here long enough.  Before my afternoon completely disappears I am going to grab a bit of chocolate and get back to painting.  You never know what tomorrow may hold, but I am going to try my best to make the most of today.

Oct 282015
 

Today has been a nice boring day.  At home.  It started off with me waking up on my own versus kids yelling at each other.  Perhaps that had something to do with it?  Either way, I was okay with a day that included school, laundry, painting and dishes.

2 hours this afternoon spent on the Mega Project, this time edging around the room above the garage left me feeling like I made good progress.  I might even get in another hour tonight if I have energy.  I have the ceilings in two rooms to do then I can go back and use the roller on the walls in all the rooms and stairways.

store flash cards math

School work completed with a great attitude; so much so that we were able to add in a few extra things.  Jack was happy that “we did not have to do math today!”  Of course, he finished 2 lessons on MathSeeds just so he could see the theme of the next map.

If you tell him that he just did school work, I think I will have to ban you from reading the blog. 😉

A few days ago the camping equipment was put away and the space freed up in the kitchen.  No worries, it did not stay empty long.  I brought up the totes of clothes as switching them out while in a stack in the basement was not going well.  It actually was going no where very, very quickly.  So now, maybe some progress will be made.  As it is, we seem to be in the limbo stage, with some summer clothes out and some winter ones making their way into the wardrobes.

Tonight, after the kids are in bed, I am going to check out the deals on Schoola.com.  Jack needs more pants.  We tried getting some while in Big Town earlier this week.  He does not usually do well in these stores.  I am not sure if he is visually overwhelmed or if the abundance of places to play “Hide and Seek” is just too much.  Either way, I really would rather make shopping easy and fun, while knowing the items will be of good quality and reasonably priced.

To make it even better, Schoola is currently offering several deals, my favorite of which is  the free shipping that is being offered for a limited time.  However, there are several more offers.

If you do the math above, you could potentially get $60 worth of clothing plus shipping for free if this is your first time ordering through them.  Now you have no excuse not to have your wardrobe as well as your kids’ (or other kid in your life) caught up for the season.

Clothes shopping without having to even turn on the car?  Sounds great.  Clothes shopping while drinking my favorite warm drink and snuggling under a warm blanket?  Sounds wonderful!

Update: I bought 4 pairs of pants for $13.08 in the time it would have taken me to get everyone unbuckled and into the store.  This does not even count the fact that the nearest store, that has clothes that won’t drain my bank account, is about 30 minutes away.   I paid about a $1 more per pair of pants than I would at garage sales or half-off days at the thrift store.  However, I did not spend $8 in gas and over an hour of driving to purchase them.  Also, Enya is playing in the background, my feet are up on the foot stool and I have a cup of homemade cappuccino sitting next to me.  So worth the extra $4-$5.  (For the record, Schoola says that I saved $36.92.  I never would have paid that much to cloth my active, life loving boys.  Just saying.) 

first schoola used clothes order collage

As I looked out the window today, I realized that I need to put the garden to bed for winter really soon.  The rainy weather we are having did not help the forlorn look by any means.  There are still tomatoes growing, which is what kept me from doing this before.  However, I do not see it lasting much longer and it is better to end this year’s gardening adventure on a good note.

The strawberry patch is overrun with weeds and radish plants that have gone to seed.  I’m not sure how this will turn out, but we’ll see.  If I get to it, then wonderful.  If not, then I have just created a larger job for myself next Spring.

There is still a small pile of wood chips that need to be relocated before the ground freezes, though I do not see that happening for a few weeks.  However, it is going to happen soon and I really want these put in their intended destination.

toddler bedToday I talked to two different friends, both of whom are on the journey to become foster parents.  I find it a bit odd that two different friends of mine, who do not know each other and who live in different states, are at the beginning-ish stages of their journey to become foster/adoptive parents.  The reason(s) that compelled all 3 of us to do this are different, our expectations are different, even our experiences at the beginning are different.  There are some similarities, but each of us is unique.

A misconception I had when I was, let’s say, younger was that all foster parents fit into a box.  They were XYZ kinds of people.  That could not be further from the truth.  I have seen first hand how the variety of homes can work for the best for different kids.  While a kid may thrive in one home, they will struggle in another.  While one home will struggle with a certain kid, they will find another a joy to have.

After going down this road these past several years, it is not necessarily something I push or even suggest for people to do.  It is hard, personally as well as on your relationships.  There are struggles.  Yes, there are also joys, but … it is hard.  If someone makes the decision to go on this journey I want it to be something they have chosen to do, not something I convinced them would be a good idea.  Having said that, I hope I can at least make it a bit easier and answer questions, provide support and being a sounding board.

That is exactly what happened this morning, before we could even start school.  My friend called to work through some feelings she had after a meeting with the agency and get reassurance about a decision being the correct best a logical one.  Of course she did not say it that way, but sometimes you just need to say things out loud and have someone who has been there tell you that you are not crazy.  I can be that person. Give me about 10 minutes and I can leave you feeling as if you have it all under control and know what you are doing.  I’ll even add in a few screaming kids in the background of added effect.  🙂

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Sep 162015
 

birds eye view of garden june 2015(This post was started in June)

Saying “no” is not easy.  We grow so accustomed to our lives that it feels like there are things we just can not live without, or rather things that would not function if we were not involved.  We can not imagine not doing XYZ, because we have always done it.  Saying “no” means stepping back and taking an honest look at life, yourself and the assumptions you have made.

Things are better now than they were this past Fall/Winter, but they are still tough.  I can feel the stress start to creep in, the feeling of things being on the verge of crumbling in one big mess.  I take a deep breath and remember to just do the next thing, not to try to fix or do everything right now.

I told my MOPS group that I could not volunteer again for the upcoming year.  I loved helping in this group, but knew that my home, my kids, and my true calling came first.  Also, I was much better at getting to know new moms one-on-one, rather than as a leader.  I volunteered on the Steering Committee because I knew that I could do the job, not because it was really where I shine.  It was time for someone else to have the opportunity to step up.

I had to tell Olaf’s parents that I could not continue to watch him over the summer.  This was a bit easier, as they had more options with school being out to find other arrangements.  He still comes over some, but not several times a week.  We’ll see what the new school year brings, but I think I am going to have to continue to say “no” to this one.  With Jack being home school and beginning 1st grade, I am looking to set more of a routine than I did last semester.  Watching another kid for several morning a week really sort of limits what we can do.  This was one “no” that made me really sad, as I was doing it because I knew it was helping out a friend, not because of the money.  Jack and Olaf also get along really well and I know they miss seeing each other.

Unlike the past 8 years, I started no garden plants at home. Zilch. I was trying to keep the house above freezing.  Getting the basement picked up enough to start plants was not exactly high on the list.  I gave myself grace to buy plants this year.  You know what?  I still somehow ended up with:

  • over 10 tomato plants
  • 26 pepper plants
  • 80 onion sets
  • tons of radishes
  • 3 cabbage plants (though I don’t think they will do anything)
  • Zinnias and marigolds
  • several handfuls of green bean plants
  • a zucchini plant
  • 3 unknown vine-ing plants
  • 4 or 5 cucumbers
  • and berry bushes/plants of various varieties.

I will say that I think it worked out okay this year.

school year 2015 2016 collage

Fast forward 3 months and I am in a slightly better place.  There are still a lot of things I have stopped doing, for now, but have picked back up a few.  I am also weighing whether I want to begin doing some things again in a few months when life calms down even more, hopefully.

As it turns out, Olaf does come two half days a week.  He goes to preschool in the mornings, so Jack and I are able to get his school work done before Olaf comes.  Usually.  Sometimes we are finishing as they are walking in the door.

The house remodel/work is nearing completion.  Not fully there, but oh so close.  My husband is finally able to see what I saw in my mind when we started this adventure.  The finishing touches on the drywall should be completed next week.  Then painting, finishing electrical work and install light fixtures, install a small HVAC system for the  new room, flooring, and finally trim and doors.  Yes, I know it is still not an extremely short list, but it is all quick stuff and some can be done simultaneously.

I have continued to say “no” to the produce stand.  A few people have asked me if I was planning to do it, to which I reply, “I have thought it was time to begin it several times lately, but was reminded that it was not time just yet.”  I was doing yard work outside today when someone stopped by looking for a particular item.  I did not have what she was looking for but told her I would see if I could find someone who did.  Seems roma tomatoes were not very popular to plant with gardeners in our are this year.  In talking with her, though, I mentioned I had hot peppers (that were planted to have something in that spot besides weeds) if she wanted them.  I would give them to her just so they could be used and not wasted.  And that, Dear Readers, is the extent of me ‘selling’ produce.

I also have not canned up any items.  There have been several bags of tomato soup added to the freezer, but nothing canned.  Thanks to previous years’ efforts I am still well stocked on most items and should be able to make it through to the next canning year.  I did relent and purchase commercially made spaghetti sauce.  I think pizza sauce will be the next thing I run out of and have to go buy.

There are more areas in life which have been affected by this attitude, the feeling that I have more say in my life.  It is a nice feeling to have when the expectations of others begin to feel more important than what you know is best for your family.  It is a nice feeling to have, to be able to clear things off your plate so you have room to enjoy the what is left.

nature center lounge

When my blog took an unexpected vacation, thanks to an error in a line of code, I was left examining the roll blogging plays in my life.  I felt a loss of the memories I have shared on here these past few years, ones that I have not journaled about.  This blog was begun at a point when taking time to hand write daily events seemed too overwhelming. It also provided a mental break for me, challenging me to keep growing while also being able to share a love of mine.  Was I ready to give it up at the drop of a hat?  Should I give it up?  Why not?  What if I did?  What creative outlet could I use instead, which would be realistic at this time?

These are questions I ask myself from time to time, but never faced with such a high likelihood of it actually happening.  This time, the questions felt very real, not just something out of the air to think through and debate.  I would rather have been thinking through which library books to get for Jack, new methods to help George get the next math step, or any other of the many decisions I could have been doing at that point.  These questions, however uncomfortable I felt thinking through them, had to be examined.  I was not willing to just keep going because that is what I have been doing for the past few years.

The thankfulness and relief I felt when the customer service representative told me the code had been fixed and that all should be back to the way it was, answered for me all the questions I had been asking myself.  It was a much different feeling from the relief I felt when I realized I would not have to be staying up for a few hours several evenings one week canning spaghetti sauce.

As I continue through the next few months, finishing up the work on the house, settling in to a home school routine, and going through daily life I am going to continue evaluating things as they come up.  It is so easy to let little things get added to your plate.  Before you know it, you have no room for the things you really want.