Cleaning and cleaning some more

Spring Break is half over, and I might be too.  I’m whooped with a lot left on the to-do list.  The kids clothing is all gone through, and 4 grocery sacks of clothing has been delivered to the Salvation Army.  My son’s room is coming along, but it’s a huge chore to clean that pit.  Today we tackled the closet together.  At the end of the last school year, he had just stuffed the last of his school work into the corner of the closet and forgot about it.  I suppose that also speaks to how often I sit on him hard to clean.

One nightgown is made and tomorrow I ought to add ruffles to two dresses and a skirt for DD2.  Some day the kids will be done growing and I’ll be able to rest a little bit.  My son’s appetite still has me concerned.  I’m waiting for him to shoot up over night and need a whole new wardrobe.  The challenge is to find foods that will fill him up, not be complete junk, and not bankrupt us.  One thing we’ve found that he likes is a homemade oatmeal bar, and I had him help me make a batch yesterday.  I want him to learn how to make some things to help share the load.

Everyone keeps asking what we’re doing for spring break.  They don’t think cleaning is much of a break.  Oh well.  I took the kids to the library on Monday, and their dad took them out to target shoot in the woods that afternoon.  Today they got their bikes out and spent a couple of hours riding, and they’ve gotten some quality time in on the Wii.  It’s not all cleaning.

My middle had her sewing class last night, and I think it was good for her to have a small piece of the normal routine.  She went to the grocery store with me yesterday, my oldest went to deliver our clothing donation today, and I’ll take my son to the recycling center with me later this week.  I’m trying to keep some separation so they don’t drive each other nuts with too much togetherness.  So far, so good.  We’ll see if I survive the rest of the week.

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The Grand Trying On

Spring Break just began for my kids, and after stubbing my toes left and right while changing their sheets the other day, I told them that they all need to clean their rooms during break.  The girls are off to a good start, my son only did the one thing I specifically said had to be done today (putting all books back on their shelves).

Along with the cleaning, it’s time to go through their clothing and assess needs.  I did not expect to be nearly emptying DD2′s summer drawers.  She has no nightgowns that fit anymore, two shirts that I bought on clearance last year, and a couple pair of shorts.  This is a child who becomes attached to her clothing as well, so it was pretty emotional for her to see me walking out with an armful of clothing.  She’ll get over it, but today it’s difficult.

Fortunately, I have some fabric for the nightgowns which was purchased on clearance and stashed away.  We’ll go shopping for shirts and look at pants while there.  The problem with store bought pants is that most of them are too large in the waist for her.  We’ll just need to see what’s out there before we make decisions about sewing new ones.

I should have been prepared for this.  She grew four inches last year.  Fortunately, my oldest isn’t growing much anymore.  She’ll need one new nightgown, but that has to come after DD2′s are made.  DD2 also needs a new summer dress and last year’s needs a ruffle to add length.  I’m going to have to really push myself to sew in the evenings when I really just want to collapse and veg, because the list of projects is much longer than you see here.

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Just Another Rant

First, I didn’t fall off a cliff.  Life is pretty hectic lately.  My son’s appetite has grown enormously and I’ve started baking some breads for snacks and meals to try to help fill him up.  He’s only a pre-teen, so I’m a bit fearful of the coming years.

Now, the rant.  Our elementary school began a new field trip last year for the fifth graders to an excellent museum.  What’s my problem with it?

1. They charter a bus.  The school I went to growing up was just as far away and we went to this same museum – on a regular school bus and within regular school hours.

2. They’re leaving the school at 6:30 am (two hours before normal start of day) and returning around 5:30 pm (two hours after the normal end of the day)- on a Thursday.  My son will be cranky butt exhausted.

3. The trip is going to cost $4,000.  We just had a millage renewal vote, and the schools are always complaining about how much they lack in funding.

4. We went to this museum as a family two years ago, and my son was not overly impressed.  I’m not sure it will be worth the $20 we may have to pay (per student) for him to be bored again.

5. The kids have a choice of sack lunch or purchasing there.  Just have all of the kids take a lunch as is the norm for field trips.

6. There have been a number of trips for the fifth grade this year, and another coming up on Friday.

7.  We have a similar museum within an hour of the school – versus two and a half hours.

DH and I have told our son that he can choose not to go (we’ll call him in sick).  He’s leaning toward staying home.  He doesn’t want to get up at 5:30 am to go to a place he’s not excited about.  I hear someone asking, “But what about the bus ride with his friends?”  He has friends, but he’s pretty quiet and likely to stick to himself.  He’s actually much more at home with adults.

My opinion is that this trip is all about status.  It’s a good school overall, but it has too great a regard for feeding their own ego.

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The Rules are Changing

My daughter’s 4H group has been meeting at a local township hall for 75 years and the hall has been made available to our group for free all of those 75 years.  Recently, leadership at the hall changed.  This is the third year my daughter has participated in this group, and in that time I’ve never seen the kids leave the hall a mess.  Chairs and tables are always put away.  Pins and threads are picked up at the end of sewing class.  After a gardening event, all dirt was removed from the floors.  The kids pick up and sweep every time.

A few weeks ago we were told to take off our shoes before entering the main room as it had recently been deep cleaned.  We’ve complied with that request, and even had our last monthly meeting in the entry area to avoid annoying the hall management with any stray snow sludge.  Now we’re being bumped off the schedule every time someone with money in hand wants the hall at a time when we’re scheduled to be there.  Last night’s sewing class and next week’s sewing class were cancelled, as well as our April monthly meeting.  I’ve warned my daughter that we’ll need to work on her project at home as I think it likely that we won’t have many more opportunities to have sewing class.

Some might ask, “If you can sew and have a machine, why is she learning from someone else anyway?”.  My daughter learns more readily from other teachers in the area of sewing and other needle arts.  Going to class also gives her time to see friends.  They chat while they work, making it all the more enjoyable.

You might wonder why we don’t just offer to pay for our time in the hall.  We can’t afford it.  The group’s main source of income is a pop stand at the fairgrounds, open one week a year.  The money goes to pay for pizza twice a year for the kids, it sometimes helps to pay for group outings, and helps pay for ride tickets one night of the fair.  That accounts for half or less of the pop stand profits.  The rest of the money goes for charitable projects.  Last December the group made blankets for a local charity benefiting children, and we also sewed several pillowcases to donate to our local shelter house.  A local quilt shop donated some of the pillowcase material, and were tickled to see pictures of the kids sewing away and knowing that their shop’s donation kept moving forward.  We’ve also sent cards to our troops several times, donated money to the local animal shelter for dog food, planted flowers in the city, etc.  This is a non-profit organization.

A few times a year, instructors from the community will offer a one day class and they usually charge a fee, but our needlework instructors are volunteers whose children grew up and left the program several years ago.

Why on earth, after 75 years in agreement, would management suddenly be hostile toward us?  (Their communications with our current leader keep getting edgier.)  My guess is greed.  If the hot topic of their last township hall meeting was the lack of payment for the hall and we’re having our standing schedule knocked out from under us left and right for paying customers, there is no other conclusion to reach.  They want cash.  Forget 75 years of partnership.  Forget the fact that these kids are learning skills to use their whole lives and learning to use those skills to help others as they go.  You can’t put that on a balance sheet.  Screw the kids and fork over the cash.

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Sensory Processing Disorder is…

Yesterday I read an article about a child in Michigan who didn’t want a birthday party as he had no friends to invite.  His mom set about to create a Facebook page of birthday greetings as a surprise for him.  One commenter went off on the Mom’s efforts, essentially saying the child needed to deal with it and implying that sensory processing disorder was an empty label.

This comment needs a complete response, not just a couple of lines.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is real.  SPD is difficult to define to someone who does not live with it, or live with someone who has it.  SPD is not something you outgrow.  You learn how to live with it.  SPD is different in each individual who has it.  People who have autism or ADHD often have SPD as well, but you can have SPD without being autistic or ADHD.

I am not a doctor or an expert in the field.  I am a Mom of a child with SPD, a person with sensory issues, the daughter of someone who had sensory issues, and the mother of two other children who have sensory issues to lesser degrees than my SPD child.  My child was abused by a teacher who could not cope with the SPD, and that teacher was backed up by a school which did not know how to cope with SPD, nor did they seem to wish to learn.  I am now a homeschool teacher of a child with SPD.  I attended all of my child’s occupational therapy sessions which helped her with her SPD.  I have read books by an SPD researcher and on every page found a moment of “That’s exactly it!”.

So what are sensory issues?  Again, it’s hard to define, but I’ll try to illustrate through examples.  If you told me I had to switch toothpaste brands, I would literally throw up trying to put the toothbrush in my mouth.  My stomach turns just thinking about it.  When winter skin hits, my legs bleed from scratching, and I keep scratching because I can’t stop.  (Yes, I use lotion twice a day and apply hydrocortizone when needed.)  My dad scratched with a comb because he kept his nails clipped to nothing so he wouldn’t bite them.  When I was a teenager, I was in tears because I needed to apply sunscreen, but the thought of touching the stuff was unbearable to me.  I knew it was an unreasonable fear, yet could not change the thinking.  I ended up making a stack of toilet paper, putting the sunscreen on that, then applying it and it was still very difficult.

For my daughter, one day the sound of the washing machine is unbearable – the next day it’s soothing.  SPD can give a child low self esteem as they feel they ‘can’t do anything right’.  That’s my daughter.  One time we were putt putt golfing.  She got a hole in one, then the next hole ended in throwing the golf club down, burst into tears, and yelled, “I can’t do anything!”.  She hasn’t read the books, research, or heard us repeat that fact about SPD, by the way.

When we were first learning about SPD and had only recently discovered that was what she was dealing with, her reactions often looked like poor behavior.  She would run to the end of a hallway, get behind a chair, or go under a table.  She might push a child’s desk away from hers (the school kept insisting on pushing her desk right up against another, even after she shared with the teacher that it was a distraction to her).  She lacked organization, leading to assignments being lost in her desk.  Frustration would lead to frequent tears at school.  She would spin to calm herself down – not that she consciously knew why she was spinning – then we’d get a call from the school worried about the spinning, although we had discussed it.  She didn’t get dizzy at that time.  That body imbalance was addressed in OT.  Smells that were barely noticed by others would nearly make her sick.

SPD can mean so many other things.  These are just examples.  It is difficult to make friends when you have SPD, especially if it has brought low self esteem along for the ride.  Many of our daughter’s classmates thought she was crazy.  We know this because one of the students told us so.  She was an object of gossip and teasing.  She had a couple of true blue friends.  I have never felt that it was the quantity that counted – just the quality.  This young man who didn’t want a birthday party as he had no one to invite was not asking for pity.  He was stating the facts.  His mom is likely trying to combat that low self esteem.  It is a scary monster.

I know of a teenage girl with SPD who has tried to commit suicide twice.  My daughter admitted to me a few years ago (she was 9 at the time) that she sometimes went to sleep hoping she would wake up in Heaven, and that she’d felt that way for a couple of years.  We have a stable family – this was a direct result of SPD’s low self esteem, and thankfully those feelings have receded with time and a lot of work.  Don’t blame this Mom’s efforts to bolster her son’s belief in himself until you put her shoes on.

Sensory Processing Disorder is real.  It is not a fun thing to live with – either in your own skin or in a close family member’s.

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The End of Scouts

This is the last month of life as a Webelos II for my son.  For me, it’s running him to two meetings a week because it’s the last month of Webelos II.  I’m thankful I’m not one of the leaders, but I do wish they’d planned ahead a bit more.  They’re squeezing in two more badges before the Crossing Over and we’re supposed to be visiting Boy Scout troops left and right.  DH and I decided last fall, after our son attending two separate Boy Scout outings, that he will not be continuing beyond the Arrow of Light.

DS was torn as to whether or not he wanted to keep going, yet we’ve had to push him hard to get him to do the work for his Webelos badges.  I refuse to push him to complete merit badges, and I know he won’t take the initiative on his own, so what’s the point?  The group he would likely choose is a “high adventure” troop which goes on a weekend outing once a month.  Fun for the scouts, expensive for the parents.  It would keep him and one of us out of church once a month – parent participation is expected.  Summer camp attendance is expected, and a needed thing to advance.  I don’t want to be perpetually selling things to fund raise to go on these adventures.

What I would fear happening is too much money being eaten up be these experiences, worthy though they may be, then the family vacation impossible due to lack of funds.  We only have a couple of years left when we can all travel together as it is.  Our oldest is a Freshman in high school and summer jobs do not give time off for travel.

We plan to increase the amount of outdoor opportunities as a family to help ease any disappointment (which we expect to be minimal).  I bought a tripod for cooking over an open fire, and we have a tent to try camping.  The local nature center has some good trails and we can look for wildlife and their tracks/sounds, identify plants and trees, etc.  Many of our family vacations include the outdoors and some hiking.

Some people may feel we should leave the decision up to our son rather than simply saying this is the end, but we know our son.  If things change down the road, we may reconsider, but for now his interests in the outdoors and outdoor skills can be pursued without badges and expensive trips.


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Catching Up

I’ve been recently shown how much I’ve dropped the ball on teaching my children how to take care of a home.  An intestinal bug of some kind laid me flat for about a week and the house got nastier and nastier.  I pulled the kids in to help with dinner – stirring and such so I could sit down or run to the restroom.  The oldest two got pulled in for dishwasher duty.  Now the dishwasher is a job in the rotation and I’m newly motivated to teach the kids how to do housework.  None of it is hard, but it helps to have someone show you how to do it somewhere along the way.  Also, if I want it done my way I’d better be willing to walk them through it.

They’re all old enough to do the work.  I just have a hard time teaching the work, and then  giving over the control.

Being sick also gave me new empathy with a couple of people I know.  I always empathized, but this illness gave me a small concrete taste of their worlds.  I was trying to keep the house running, keep home school running, and get kids to and from public school while dodging the restroom and being so weak that walking up the stairs made my leg muscles shake.  That was piddle squat compared to a friend who dealt with massive kidney pain for four months while keeping a house going and working full time while awaiting surgery, then recovering.  That feeling of helplessness was not fun, but it was only a small bit of what someone I know is going through after a bad car accident in which multiple bones were broken and the recovery is still massive two months later.

God did not let me wallow in self pity, which I’m really really good at by the way, but rather turned the situation to show me how much I have to be thankful for.

This weekend I got hit with my first kidney stone.  It was not fun, but again I was reminded that it was good timing – Saturday morning when DH could take me to the ER and it also waited until after the Pine Wood Derby.  I would’ve felt awful if the stone had ruined his night.  We’re also blessed that the kids are old enough that we could head out the door and know they were okay for a short while until yet another blessing arrived – my mother-in-law who is now across town and willingly came to stay with the kids while I was at the doctor’s.

This entry is not about how great I am to be able to see the rosy side of everything.  I’m a good pessimist too and can throw a heavy duty pity party at the drop of a hat.  This entry is just a reminder that it’s okay to be a little bit of a Pollyanna and see the glads instead of the bads.  We’re never so full of knowledge that we can’t learn something, or see things from a different angle.  The more I practice seeing the positives in situations, the easier it becomes to find them.

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