The Sensory Processing Roller Coaster

My daughter is nearly 16 and we’ve known she has sensory processing disorder (SPD) since she was nine.  There were numerous calls from the school due to incidents until home school began, occupational therapy, counseling, and tons of work and frustration (for everyone).  Today she is able to function well, most days being pretty normal.

Then came driver education.

She could have taken it last summer, but we decided to wait for a few reasons.  DH took her driving in a parking lot last weekend to break the ice.  The first class was Monday.  It’s a small class and two other girls are home schooled as well.  She was deep in conversation with a young lady when I left.  Great start!

When she came out at the end of class and I saw her face, my spirit fell.  I know that face.  Once in the car heading home the tears silently started to roll down her cheeks.  We chatted and the next day after that got a bit better.

Then yesterday she was to drive for the first time.  I came to pick her up and she hadn’t left the parking space.  Her driving partner is a wonderful, encouraging young lady.  There’s no question that God brought her to the same class for my daughter.  The teacher was wonderful: patient, not upset, going over things which could be covered in a parked car.  The other young lady had driven first, so she didn’t miss her turn.

Today was just driving, no class, so we left a bit early and went to a large church parking lot.  She drove up and down the empty rows for twenty or thirty minutes, then we went to class.  Thank Heaven she drove with her teacher today!  On the streets and everything!

Living with a child who has SPD is tough.  Don’t ever down play what parents of SPD go through.  We want our kids to be able to forget they’ve ever heard of SPD and be able to do what everyone else does, and some days they can.  My daughter will never be rid of SPD.  It is her companion for life and will flare up when she least wants it to.

SPD makes her feel as if she “can’t do anything right”, and strips away any shred of self confidence.  It can take her from the top of the world to the depths of a pit.

I told her today that SPD is like a beast and she needs to whip it (figuratively, of course) and make it understand that she is the master.  The beast is not in control, she is.  (I hope.)

I wish she didn’t have to fight this daily battle, but she does.  I need to be there to pick her up when the Beast has knocked her down.  I need to cheer her on and help to believe in herself when the Beast is roaring in her ear that she can’t do anything.  The Beast wears me out as much as it does my daughter.



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Trudging Along

There is a gigantic bag of clothes in the living room waiting to go to Salvation Army.  I got (forced) my son to go through his dresser with me and pull out outgrown/unwanted clothing.  He had a stack of things handed down from a family friend which he didn’t want, and I wasn’t going to argue.  We still need to go through the closet.  That’s happening today.  Being my youngest, he’s still growing, and based on his father’s height, could have another 8 or 9 inches yet to gain, even though he’s passed me by an inch already.  That big growth spurt is just lying in wait for the most inconvenient time.

The girls didn’t have as much to give up, but my oldest had several long sleeve shirts which were just too short in the sleeve.  Because you need better quality (and more expensive) clothing to solve the sleeve issue, I’ve waited for the girls to mostly stop growing before leaving the department stores for cold weather wear.  DD1 and I hopped onto Land’s End Clearance and found a few shirts to fill the void we created.  I made sure to point out the original prices along the way.  She needs to start paying attention to the cost of things as she’ll be doing more of her own shopping soon.  I’ve always had good luck with Land’s End as far as the sleeves not shrinking on me, and gave the girls some shirts from them (bought on clearance) last year for Christmas.  If you have “monkey” arms like we girls do, you understand how annoying the shrinking sleeve is.

Today I also need to go through the coat closet.  Ugh.  I can’t wait to finish this clean out.  It’s clearly needed, but I don’t enjoy it any more than the kids do.

This month is just so busy.  DD2 starts driver ed on Monday (4 days a week), DD1 is volunteering 3 days a week, eye appointments for two of the kiddos are coming up, session 2 driver ed for my eldest is coming up, and next week is Vacation Bible School.  My eldest helps with the two and three year olds (there because their parents are working), and my youngest still attends.  Our VBS has classes through 8th grade.  I’ll be glad when August rolls around.  Oh wait.  That’s when the fair comes, and all of the 4H business ( and busy ness!).  Isn’t summer supposed to be relaxing?

I’ve been told that the fair commitment for 4H really isn’t a big deal, but we are not a packed schedule kind of family, so yes it is.  The week before the fair is the club meeting where the kids clean the booth and get it ready.  Then on Saturday is judging.  Then we have to work two shifts at the fair, then there is 4H night when we get reduced price ride bands, then Sunday morning you need to pick up your projects at 8am and help tear the display down.   I won’t be sad when our 4H days are finished, but am glad that DD2 has had the experience.

DD1 sent off her first college application yesterday.  I told her that she ought to get one turned in each week until finished, going in order of importance.  DH was not happy that his alma mater did not receive their application yet, but reality is that it may not be where DD1 chooses to go.  We also need to wait and see what scholarship aid comes.  The first choice school has automatic scholarships based on SAT score and GPA.  We could end up with a quarter of the cost right there.  DH’s alma mater does not have automatic scholarships, and is a couple of thousand more per year.  DH would really like all three kiddos at the same school for ease of schedule, driving, visits, delivery/pick-up, etc., but that may not happen.  Why is that important to him?  One year after DD1 begins, DD2 enters the collegiate world.  DD2’s senior year will see our son enter the ranks.

Monday I also need to get DD2 and DS working on typing skills.  They’re really looking forward to that (eyes rolling).  It is so necessary, and I’ve tried explaining that all of the papers ahead of them will go that much quicker.  We’ll see how it goes.


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Go With the Flow

A few days ago my middle let me know that her summer pant selection was lacking.  I looked through her drawer quickly then we headed to the store.  We are not a “clothes horse” mentality house.  The kids have enough pants to get through a week plus a day or two, so I knew to start with that she probably wasn’t exaggerating.  This is my biggest sensory challenged child, so shopping for clothes can be a real treat as she hates trying things on.  She rarely wants/agrees to go shopping for clothing.

The trip began a bit rough at the dressing room, but she found a couple of capris that fit the bill, then tried on a shirt that had grabbed our attention.  It was the perfect style for her, we were at WallyWorld so the prices weren’t awful, so we added it to the purchase stack.  I tend to let the kids get one or two new things each year anyway.  On our way to the registers her eye was caught by a short sleeve shirt with a peasant style neck line.  Back to the dressing room.  My girls have been raised to dress modestly and the neck line was just a bit too loose for her comfort, so we found a tank which would look okay underneath.  The trip ended with a set of inexpensive gold bangles to go with her burgundy top.  Prices were good so the bank was no where near broken.

On the way home was when the true value of the trip was revealed.  This had turned into a ‘back-to-school’ shopping trip, and DD2 told me how much fun it was to actually shop for school.  She’s been home schooled for the past 5 and a half years, and this upcoming school year will spend her mornings at an ISD veterinary program.  She’s a little nervous about being back in a classroom, and to discover that this shopping experience was fun and confidence boosting for her made it (in the words of an old MasterCard commercial) priceless.

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Frugal Endeavors

I’m a bit pleased with myself as I’m almost finished making a pair of laundry bags for DD1 from a set of old twin cotton sheets.  The bottom sheet was worn out, but the top was still decent.  I doubled the thickness of the flat sheet and divided it into two.  I’m making rounded bags which just need one big rectangle for the body, then the bottoms of the bags were cut from the corners of the fitted sheet as the corner fabric doesn’t wear as much as the middle.  I found that my quilting hoop was the perfect size to use as a template for the bottoms, and these are double thickness as well.  I still need to add handles and drawstrings, but they look pretty good.  To add strength and keep strings out the laundry, I used french seams (sew right sides out with a 1/4 inch seam, turn wrong sides out and sew again with a 1/3 inch seam).  That trick was picked up from DD2’s sewing teachers at 4H.

All of my kids’ sheets have given out at once as they got their beds around the same time.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I plan to cut the flannel sheets into strips and crochet them into rugs.  The girls shared a room until last fall, so they had matching flannels which adds up to plenty of fabric.  Another set of cotton sheets will be made up into laundry bags for DD2, and I have a set of white and one set of dark green for my son to choose from down the road.  I love to be able to re-purpose all of this salvageable fabric into needed items.  Making two bags instead of one will allow the kids to sort their laundry as they go.

My sewing list is so long that I’m trying to get back into the sewing groove, and these sheets are on my sewing desk chair so I figured I’d start with them.  The difficulty lies in the fact that I also need to help my son get his room cleaned up.  He has an awful time with staying organized, and I don’t mind helping a few times a year.  There’s also homeschool lesson planning to be done, and the house needs a thorough going-over, the kids all need to go through their clothes with me so we can determine what they need and what needs to come out, the kids need to learn more chores/life skills, DD1 begins volunteering next week and needs a ride to and from, driver’s ed is needed and no one offers it in our town anymore, so I have to decide where I’m willing to drive.  Of course there’s more, but this list gives enough of the picture.

In the beginning of the week, I had a really good balance of time allotment going, then on Thursday I slumped and got almost nothing productive done.  That seems to be my way.  I just keep running over the list of what I hope to accomplish and chip away at it, and some day I may get to a place where I’m caught up.

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Family Visit Dilemma

My BIL and youngest nephew will be visiting my mom in about a week.  We will be expected to visit on Saturday.  This weekend is the last of our vacation and we’re all tired.  DH and two of the kids went on a day trip today as DD2 isn’t feeling well.  She was tossing her cookies into a towel (then a bag after we could pull over) on the way home on Wednesday.  I had already declared that my knee needed the full day home Thursday to rest and be iced multiple times, so DH and the other two kidlets went to a local putt-putt golf course in the morning, then to a park in the afternoon while DD2 and I worked on recovering.  Even though I’ve been careful to avoid stairs and other rough walking situations, my knee is in a lot of pain.  My physical therapist told me just before our adventures began that she feels it needs surgery, so I have a doctor’s appointment this upcoming week.

So, point one, we’re all tired and six hours of driving will be the last thing any of us look forward to.  Point two, this is the nephew whom we love but don’t particularly like – he drives us crazy.  With my sister having gone on hospice last August, we’ve had a lot of family time since then.  BIL has visited mom about twice as much since sis died, and it is tacitly understood (by mom) that we will come to visit when they do.  Point three, BIL’s swearing is much less in check than when my sis was here.  She had a mouth which equaled his, but they both reigned it in for our sakes when visiting.  It makes DH, myself, and my kids uncomfortable.  Even watching the cursing, it could still be uncomfortable as they constantly take the Lord’s name in vain.  I never said anything, because God doesn’t mean much of anything to them and I knew they were already being considerate.

Point the fourth, and maybe the strongest for me:  this nephew will be spending the following week with grandma alone, and the fact will not be a secret.  My children, although good kids, have not been down for a visit without us in several years.  Dad loved their manners.  In contrast, I know from my parents own testimony, that sis’s boys always had about a day of transition to grandparent rules.  It will hurt my kiddos to know that the tradition only stopped for them.

I know that life isn’t fair.  Each person on this earth could give quite a list of things in their life that aren’t/weren’t fair.  My kids don’t need to feel as if their own grandmother doesn’t want them around or that the cousins are preferred.  I grew up knowing that my sister was favored, and have been told by Mom that sis’s eldest is her favorite grandchild.  My mom isn’t an awful person by any means, but she can be unthinking at times.  I don’t know what we’ll end up doing, but I’m pretty sure that if a car goes to grandma’s, DH will stay home.  Yes, my nephew is that difficult to be around.  I feel badly for my son every time he has to spend time with his cousin.  His face shows the results of constant picking each time he comes upstairs for a break.  When I told Mom that nephew can get under DS’s skin, she brushed it off.  The more I think about it, the more I think someone may have a ‘stomach bug’ that day.

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In Disney’s Defense

A family has had a horrific tragedy.  They are dealing with something no parent should ever face.  I can’t imagine having my child snatched and eaten by an alligator.  This morning I was shocked to hear reporters asking if Disney was remiss in their signage, thereby contributing to the horror.  Never mind that they’ve been open for decades and have had billions of visitors and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of such a tragedy happening on their property.  Apparently, you only know that Florida is rife with alligators if you grew up in the region.  Yes, that was almost a direct quote from one of the hosts.

I live and have grown up in the northern part of the country.  The only alligators here live in zoos, yet I and my family grew up knowing that Florida has alligators, poisonous snakes, and hurricanes.  The East Coast has hurricanes.  The Pacific Rim has earthquakes and tsunamis.  The oceans contain sharks and jelly fish.  The Southwest has rattle snakes and scorpions.  From Texas upward is a place called Tornado Alley.  The mountains have rattle snakes, copperheads, bears, and can have dangerous thunderstorms pop up with little to no warning.  The plains have rattle snakes and bison which can trample you without blinking.  Cougars (mountain lions, whatever label you have for them) have returned to pretty much the whole country.  Bears have been reclaiming territory.  Moose can be deadly.

My point is that not every danger has to be labeled specifically.  Sometimes we just need to be aware of our surroundings.  I don’t know if this particular family knew about the gators or not, nor am I laying guilt on their doorstep.  It happened and it’s awful.  The Happiest Place on Earth did not want this type of tragedy to occur and are no doubt having brain storm sessions to improve prevention.  Alligators are wild creatures and don’t read signs and rule books.  The news and whoever else needs to stop looking for a scape goat.

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School’s Finally Ending

The school year ends tomorrow…finally!  DD2 finished home school two weeks ago, so we’ve been relaxing a little, but the other two are in public and are at the mercy of the district’s schedule.  DD2 still has to get up and play the part of going to school, but she’s really been watching documentaries and working on fair projects.  The latest is knitted dishcloths.  We chose that project to expand her beginner knowledge of knitting, and she’s making a set of four total. has been a wonderful help to her and she’s even gotten her siblings interested in knitting.

I’ve been working on some sewing projects.  Waterbed sheets should have been made a couple of months ago, but just got completed Sunday.  I found flat sheets on clearance several years ago and stocked up.  Getting enough flat sheets (and pillowcases) for four total sets of waterbed sheets cost $90.  The lowest I’ve found one set of ready-made sheets is $95, so it’s definitely been worth it to make them myself.  I’ve also been working on extending the life of some clothes which have old elastic, but other than that have a lot of life left.

The end of the school year always brings a time crunch of errands, but at least the kids are old enough now that it’s not crucial to have everything done before school is out.  They’re all old enough to be home alone, and I never put my oldest in charge.  If you’ve ever read the cartoon Fox Trot, there was a series where Peter (the oldest) was left in charge while the parents got away for a weekend.  The younger two were bossed like slaves and eventually locked in the basement.  Yeah, I could see a similar situation developing here.  Besides that, my girls are only 15 months apart and DD1 being “in charge” of DD2 would not go over well.  Thankfully they’re good kids and can be trusted to behave.

Our vacation plans are pretty loose this year, as mentioned in my last post.  We have our general plans in place and DH made reservations, but I’m feeling a bit lost.  The kids and I will pack during the day on Friday and we’ll only be gone a couple of nights.  Being a planner, and having taken several vacations which took careful planning in order to pack wisely, I’m feeling a bit un-anchored.  We’ll be gone three nights, home one, possibly gone one, home one, then off again for two or three nights.  The home stops are so I can go to physical therapy, and when we head back out we’ll be going to different spots in the state.  We’ll have a great time as we always do (being able to laugh even when things are going wrong helps a lot!), it will just be a little hectic.

I was talking with my mom the other day and she was saying that she was concerned about DD1 heading to college in a year as she’s “been so sheltered”, and hopefully we’d prepare her.  I assured her that this next year was going to bring a series of chats during one-on-one time, and pointed out that some of DD1’s “sheltering” was by her own choosing.  She’s in a huge high school, but has carefully chosen her friends and has never gone on a date.

Later when relating the conversation to DH, I stopped and said, “Wait a minute!  This is the same Mom who never talked to me about ANYTHING!”  Including my period, even after a friend started hers at my house and I didn’t know how to help her with the sanitary pad so Mom had to (I was twelve).  I didn’t date in high school either (and my graduating class was 80 people).  DH and I saw each other in group situations, but he told me years later that the guys all thought I was too focused on college to want to date.  Based on Mom’s fears for my eldest, I should have been completely messed up in many ways by the time I graduated from college.  It makes me shake my head and chuckle a bit.

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