Thursday, February 28, 2013

Messy Finger Painting

If you give a baby a yogurt cup...


She's going to dump it on the table and finger paint with.


 
 
Nice.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Kinesthetic

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!

Today's subject:

KINESTHETIC

That is the adjective form of the word, kinesthesia, which is defined below.

noun
1. the sensation of movement or strain in muscles, tendons, and joints; muscle sense.

It originates from the Greek words kinein-"to move" + aesthesis-"sensation".

It is most often referred to when discussing the learning styles of children. As in a child who learns best by doing is a kinesthetic learner.

If this concept reminds you of something that we've already discussed here, you're right. Kinesthesia is hand in hand related to proprioception. They are both part of the same sense and sometimes the phrases are used interchangeably, even though they have some technical differences. Proprioception actually helps your brain recognize and identify where you and all your body parts are in any given space. Kinesthesia refers to the actual movements created by the same muscles, joints, etc. So they are partners, really.

It should be no surprise then that kids who have proprioceptive issues might also find learning easier through kinesthetic means. What does this mean?

It means they need to move! And through movement their brains can process and remember and organize information. And of course different children's movement needs will vary from child to child and even day to day.

Check out this helpful video:




Our Kinesthetic Kiddo

Zak is definitely a kinesthetic learner. He is and always has been a hands on kid! He loves experiments, and makes projects out of everything.

He is much more successful at spelling when he bounces on the exercise ball or hula-hoops as he spells, which is huge, because for years I just thought he was a really poor speller, and that there may not be anything we could do about it. He's not about to win a spelling bee any time soon, but he can now incorporate correct spelling into his writing in general most of the time. Before, he spelled out a large number of words phonetically, even relatively easy words, despite the fact that he reads with ease. His improvement with this technique is wonderful!

There are several subjects at which Zak excels, but still needs frequent proprioceptive breaks to wake his system back up and help his mind focus, such as math. He generally focuses much better when the work involves some kind of manipulative, and he grasps concepts much faster this way.

Spatial concepts are challenging for him, such as bending shapes with his mind, or mentally fitting together geometric figures into a grid. These are areas that he truly needs a 3-D model to fold or cutouts to move around into the grid.

Perhaps surprising as a kinesthetic kid is how much he enjoys reading and how much he can retain even without movement breaks. From my research most kinesthetic learners aren't often tolerant of long reading segments, period. Even so, as much as he loves to read, he loves to share, and act out or show what he read even more. No doubt this contributes to his great retention skills by reiterating what he read with movement and speech. (Oy, lots and lots of speech! ;)

Helping a kinesthetic kiddo learn is a lot of fun and challenges me to be creative and come up with unusual ways to teach essential skills. And aside from the rogue science experiments, (secretly dissolving an egg's shell in vinegar in the closet!) the rest of the messes that make learning so much more impactful for him are worth it. Most of the time.

For some interesting tips and lists see this handy article below:
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/kinesthetic_learner/

Wishing you a very kinesthetic day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring Rushes In

Yesterday, I suddenly saw springtime. As I drove, it was everywhere.

The grass was green!

Azaleas were blooming everywhere!

Buds all over the trees!

Life was literally bursting forth in every direction. And so was my heart!

It was also springtime in my heart! I finally exhaled a breath of relief that I have been holding for years!

Our visit with Dr. N was truly a consolation. While Zak worked on his math in the waiting area, I sat on the edge of her couch and poured out my worries. Only a trickle at first (is she going to think I'm paranoid, obsessed, crazy?), then the more she asked questions and nodded with understanding, the less crazy I felt, the more relaxed I got, and at some point, I felt it. The blossom of hope opening just the slightest bit.

She knew what SPD was. She was very familiar with it's symptoms. She clearly connected how certain activities open up pathways for Zak's mind to accomplish what he is so very capable of. She didn't jump to any conclusions. She didn't diagnose. She listened, she heard, she offered support and further analysis, and after visiting with him for a few minutes to introduce herself to him she said he was a pretty cool kid. I wholeheartedly agree!

When we drove to her office that morning, the fog was so thick we couldn't even see the top of the bridge as we drove over the lake. It was so reflective of how I've felt about this as the years go by, like the fog just gets thicker and I can't seem to see anything except exactly where we are in any given moment.

As we drove home, the clouds were starting to lift. At home I told Victor everything, then lay down to nurse Kit and we both fell into a deep sleep for about two hours.

Later, as I drove alone to orchestra practice, I suddenly saw it, felt it, breathed it.

Spring has definitely arrived!


10-Thing Tuesday


10 Things I Love About Homeschooling!

1.) We can wear our pajamas! (No uniforms to buy and wash!)

2.) We get to sleep in almost everyday (compared to 6am for most of the kids we know!)

3.) Sometimes our schoolroom gets moved outside for the day. Zak can do word problems in the fort, while Grace practices reading on a blanket on the grass (while Kit mows the grass with her mouth!).

 She's 5 months old in this picture from so long (a year) ago, we start our kids on lawn maintenance young!

4.) We can take field trips anytime we want.

5.) Zak (10) and Grace (6) can do the same lesson together for science, history, geography, and a few others.

6.) They can sculpt with clay or putty while they listen to me explain about the pyramids, or glue cotton balls and glitter while we explore the asteroid belt.

7.) I know what my kids are eating all day (no mystery meat), and the pb&j never gets soggy.

8.) Zak can decide if he wants to bounce on the exercise ball, hula-hoop, or jump rope while he orally spells out his spelling words to me. He get's about 17-18 right out of twenty the first time consistently when we do it this way because his whole body is focused on each letter.

9.) Grace can copy three sentences, then practice subtraction or color a compass rose, then copy three more sentences instead of blanking out and melting down.

10.) We've never had tears on the first day of school, just kids and Mama bursting with excitement at all our new stuff for the year!





Zak tying Grace to the slide during "recess".


Our little damsel in distress!
(these were taken really fast through the screen of my kitchen window, quality isn't great, but they are still hilarious!)


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweet Sisters

Occasionally, on the rare mornings that Kit wakes up before Grace, Kit will make her way into the kids room, climb onto the bottom bunk and over Grace, and will snuggle with her on her pillow.

It is one of the very unusual few minutes that Kit will allow a blanket on herself.

They giggle and talk girl stuff.


It's adorable!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anxious Optimism

You can't wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.- Pat Schroeder


So I haven't really been able to write much this week. Though I did have a few other obligations earlier this week that took precedence, they are not why I haven't been writing. Instead of suffering from writer's block, I almost have the opposite problem.

It's as if I have a bottleneck of thoughts, emotions, and questions building up and backing up in my brain. I have a traffic jam in my head. (Maybe why it hurts more the last few days?) Then to compound that, my energy has been way, way low. And truth be told my spirits, too.

Probably the most pressing thing on my mental powers the last few days is an up-coming appointment. Zak and I are going to visit the Pediatric Psychologist for the first time Monday morning. Kit will see her at a later date.

I'm not really nervous about being there, but rather that I will suddenly loose all ability to recall information while we're there. I have ten years worth of questions, concerns, observations, that we somehow have to present in a matter of minutes. I want to bring up the most pressing concerns, ask the questions that can lead to the best direction, convey the most helpful observations to facilitate progress for all of us.

I know that we are not going to walk out with all the answers we need. I'm not looking for a diagnosis at this visit either, in fact I would not trust someone who gave one that fast. But there are so many unknowns that it makes me feel a little unhinged.

I'm scared of everything changing. I'm scared of nothing changing. I'm scared of being more of a contributor to the problems than part of the solution.

I'm worried about offending her if I don't agree. I'm worried about not being assertive enough, or not trusting my instincts. What if my instincts are wrong?

What if?

What if?

I'm so grateful to be taking the next step to helping my kids, and our whole family in the right direction. But what if the direction changes, or seemingly immovable roadblocks appear. Am I strong enough? Brave enough? Honest enough?

What if?

What if?

What if it goes great? What if we have a fantastic connection, and she listens really well, and is really supportive of us? What if we get help? And tools? And strategies!? What if our family learns how to work together to get everyone's needs met without tears, and fights, and so much mess? What if we start to have more great days than rough ones? What if we could start planning for months ahead, even years, instead of just weeks, days, and hours?

What if?

What if?

Okay, here we go. Our sleeves are rolled up, aprons on, hair tied back. Let's roll.

It's worth it.

We're worth it.

They are so worth it all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Sensory Overload

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
 
Today's Word:
 
Sensory Overload
 
Ever heard of "the straw that broke the camel's back"? Well, that camel probably had SPD and was already in "sensory overload" when that last straw was dropped on his back.  Sensory overload is a state of either gradual or acute bombardment to an individuals senses that causes them to be over-stimulated. This can occur to any one, sometimes. But for individuals with sensory problems, this is all too often a regular (sometimes daily) occurrence. 
 

Tuning Out

The average person's brain has been trained from in-utero to filter information it receives and to ignore information that the brain deems either non-threatening, not useful, or sometimes both. For example, the sound of a ceiling fan spinning. Everybody with normal hearing hears this sound. However, most people never notice it because their brain has trained itself to ignore it. It's not a threat, and the sound is not useful to the task at hand, so the brain classifies it so fast that a person will likely not ever realize that that sound is present.
 
The same situation occurs with your eyes. Every person can see the end of their nose, and not just when they cross their eyes to try and look at it. The tip of our nose is constantly in our field of vision, but from probably before we were born, our brain learned to ignore it and only "show" the visual information that is important.
 
Individuals with sensory challenges very often have difficulty with too much input, or too much of the wrong input and not enough of the beneficial. Some have difficulties with only a few sensitivities, sound, for example. This means that in situations where there is a lot of chaotic noise, say a monster truck rally, the individual with auditory sensitivities may have their hands over their ears the whole time, and may even be really agitated, crying, or jumpy, or punchy for a while after they leave. They are in overload.
 
Some people experience overload from all of their senses and it can build for days or weeks, causing the person to become more and more irritable, uncomfortable, perhaps even withdrawn.
 

Pain and No Gain

 
Overload feels terrible. I know. I'm in sensory overload a lot. I more often than not feel like a tightly wound spring by the end of the day, ready to explode on the next elbow, finger, or whine that enters my bubble of personal space. I am so tense so often that I regularly suffer from painful tension headaches that creep up my neck and up the back of my head. Then I'm in a state of even higher sensitivity, especially to light and sound. I have a lot of trouble keeping my temper in this state, and my voice will sound very irritated. It's not a pleasant place to be at all.
 
I was both surprised and not when I read over this list of symptoms of sensory overload. I exhibit almost every single one. Sigh...
 
It's very difficult for me not to get into overload. It would require quiet all the time, and everything being in it's place. And really soft lighting all the time. And not ever having to do anything I didn't want to. Not a chance with my brood of seekers. But I can find ways to soothe my system, and my brain, even when I can't shut out all of the stimuli around me.
 

5,4,3,2,1...

Imagine what life might be like for a child with sensory issues though. They are constantly being told what to do, what to wear, where to stand or sit, when to sleep, and who to talk to. We as adults have the luxury of knowing that a situation might just be too much for our senses to handle. But children often haven't developed this ability and even for those who have, will the adults in their life listen to them? Will they respect the child's limitations even if it means foregoing something enjoyable to them?
 
The adult world is much kinder to adults with sensory problems in general that it is to children, primarily because those adults have been allowed to avoid or limit triggers, and usually can choose their own surroundings and even schedules. Children most of the time have no such luxury. Thus their overload much more often continues to escalate until it enters full on meltdown.
 
This is a severe and involuntary reaction to a swamped sensory system. It's intense, and scary, and can also be very loud and painful, and that's just what the child might feel. Adults have meltdowns too. Sometimes they come more in the form of withdrawal and tears than thrashing or screaming or bolting. But no matter what, it HURTS. And it can take a long time for our systems to get back to "normal'. Normal for us, anyhow.
 
Even seekers like mine can overload, and then meltdown. It's really a challenge to find the right balance between just right and way too much. Especially when they are seemingly enjoying themselves.
 
For now, we keep on experimenting, trying to find techniques that can help everybody in our family to achive sensory balance.
 
Thanks for reading everybody. Anyone who's interested can go here to get more meltdown info.
 
Wishing us all a very balanced day.
 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Here Comes Trouble!

















 
 








 
Oh, all the real trouble we can't capture in pictures because we are too busy saving her from her own crazy self!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Thank Goodness for "Hanitizer"!

Today was one of those days. Every day this week has been one of those days. Kit is one of those kids that when she is not crawling all over me, she's probably doing something that she shouldn't. One would think that by now our family would have figured out how to toddler proof our home, but alas, no. We are determined to assist in quenching her thirst for novelty by continuing to leave things where she can reach them, spill them, eat them, open them with her teeth...

Keeping up with Kit

Just today she managed to: Squeeze in squishing grapes all over the kitchen table/chair/floor/herself (1st change of clothes). Then proceeded to spread as many parts of several games as she could throughout the school nook/library which included at least two decks of cards, some poker chips, and the Cootie game with all 24 limbs and other accessories happily creating a mine field.

She then climbed on the couch, pulled off Grandpa's hat and smacked him on the head. Then she wrote on at least one library book with a pink pen. Threw fit when I took these away. Spilled a forgotten bowl of cereal all over table/chair/floor/self (2nd change of clothes but just the bottoms). Fit. 

Skip a few minutes (we'll come back to this later, but 3rd change of clothes occurs here). She pulled most of the laundry out of the basket across the kitchen floor. Climbed up on the couch and smacked Grandpa on the head and pulled his hair! Almost fell asleep, but it was a no-go. Climbed on Zak's desk and took down his jar of rocks and tried to explore them with her mouth. Fit. Changed the channel several times with the remote that she snuck into a corner of the couch after she smacked Grandpa on the head again. Fit.

Pulled Grace's hair. Pulled my hair. Insisted, as usual to accompany me to the bathroom where she pries open shampoo bottles with her teeth, dumps the hair accessories all over the floor after opening the box with her teeth, and throws a fit when I refuse to let her play with the toilet brush. Finally collapses for a short nap (on my lap of course, and on the recliner, not in the bathroom).

While I am trying to cook dinner she manages to dump Daddy's 32oz cup full of soda all over the table/chairs/floor remarkably staying dry herself. That was between trips to the couch to torture Grandpa. After dinner she had to push all the library books and movies that the big kids had so kindly stacked for tomorrow off onto the floor. Torture everybody on the couch the whole time we were watching Grandpa's favorite show.  Many fits. And, not last, and certainly not least, wrote on the screen of my phone with a black permanent marker.

Thankfully I don't have to freak out about this. I have "hanitizer"!

This is now where we revisit the minutes we skipped earlier. I noticed while sitting down for a couple minutes after cleaning up the cereal that things were much too quiet and Kit was nowhere in my vicinity. I quickly found her in the school nook/library, on her belly, coloring.

With orange permanent marker.

On the floor.

Sigh...





And on herself.




Regrettably, this is not the first time. Not even close! But since it's not, I knew precisely how to proceed.
 

Hanitizer saves the day, and floor.


First, secure the weapon, which in this case was the marker. When I asked out loud "now, where is the lid?" she pointed under the door. Sure enough.


Second, gather a washcloth and a container of hand sanitizer, or as Grace calls it, "hanitizer".


Third, squirt some hanitizer on a corner of the cloth. I clean the baby first because I'm not sure how long after the marker sets on the skin that this technique works as well.

Rub firmly over the marks. Not scrubbing, but firm pressure. I do not use this around or on the eyes or eyelids, or too close to the mouth either for obvious reasons. Today Kit's body art was displayed on just her arm and her feet. Continue to reapply more liquid and use a clean spot on the cloth until the marks are gone. Then promptly wash all areas where the sanitizer was applied with soap and warm water to help wash off excess alcohol so that it doesn't get absorbed into babies sensitive skin and busy little body.
 




After baby is clean, apply same method to the floor or other affected surface, which today also included a mirror. And then later this evening, my phone screen.
 
 
I have not had to try this on wood furniture with a thin or soft varnish, I don't know if it would damage the varnish. I have done this to our furniture with a thicker lacquer layer and it has worked beautifully.
 
 
I've also used it on counter tops, vinyl, and on imitation leather (but very lightly, and washed off with mild soap and water after). I have had success using it on my microfiber couch cushions when I catch it immediately and don't give it time to set.
 
I haven't yet tried it on painted walls (miraculously), but I imagine it would clean those too.

 
 
Now, if only I could find as easy a way to get it out of one of our favorite dresses. ='(


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Spinning

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
 
Todays subject is:
 
SPINNING
 
When was the last time you spun? Did you do it accidentally or on purpose? Did you spin slow or fast? Were you dizzy? Does any of this matter?
 
Yes!
 
Spinning is a fast way to feed our vestibular system the input it needs. The average person occasionally enjoys a good spin, especially if you are spinning with a baby or toddler who is giggling up a storm. People with a well regulated vestibular system will also get dizzy after a relatively short period of time.
 
This is why dancers and gymnasts, and skaters learn to "spot", keeping their eye on a fixed point or object until the last possible moment and then bringing that spot back into focus as quickly as possible. Their heads and eyes actually remain still while the body rotates until, WHIP, they rotate their head around and right back to the spot. This allows them to spin without getting overly dizzy.
 

Over, Under, and Round and Round

There are individuals who cannot handle spinning AT ALL. In fact if they simply turn their head too quickly to look in any direction it will make them so dizzy they may feel sick to their stomach, or develop a headache. They have an extremely over sensitive vestibular sense.
 
On the opposite end, there are some individuals who can spin for very large amounts of time and never appear dizzy. They enjoy and seek out activities that allow them to spin for long periods as it often is very soothing to them. In these ones their vestibular sense may be very under responsive. Unfortunately, sometimes other body systems may still be a little sensitive to so much spinning and the result for some may be "sudden" vomiting, or other problems after elongated spinning spells, but not for all.
 
Then some are spinners with balance, and coordination, and the drive to spin but the ability to know when to stop. They also can spin for long periods without getting dizzy, but usually are able to stop on their own before their body gets overloaded. But they have to spin, they are driven to spin.
 

Why is spinning good? 

The benefits of spinning depends on several things. Most important is the why. Why do some individuals, usually children, spin? There is a variety of reasons.
 
Perhaps it is a soothing mechanism. Or maybe they spin in order to shut out other sensory input that is overwhelming them. For others, it simply helps restore balance to the brain somehow, and can help them to be more attentive and alert after a spinning session. Or it can help some to calm down, again possibly because it can provide assistance to prepare the brain to organize input. Don't forget that sometimes it's also just plain FUN!
 
What ever the reasons, some people, especially some kids, just need to be able to spin sometimes. And they might need help in finding a safe way to do it so that they aren't crashing into people and things. And at times families may not be able to provide it at the frequency that a child might need just by visiting the tire swing or other spinning toys at the playground. Maybe your little pumpkin NEEDS to spin, but you MUST finish the spaghetti.
 
This was a place that our family was in for a long time. While our kiddos needs to spin are not nearly  asintense as some kids, it was enough for us to feel like we needed to provide them with a permanent way to safely spin in a controlled manner.

...and Round, and Round... 

After a lot of research we decided to invest in a spinning toy, hopefully one that lasts for several years at least! It was a great investment. As you have seen in our pictures in other posts, they use it a lot! Usually everyday, several times a day.
 
When Kit (17 months) is especially fussy and clingy for no other apparent reason, I will tell her, "Why don't you go spin." And she will run to the spinner and lay down on her tummy on it with a big grin. She loves it! I or the big kids gently give it a spin. When her rotations start to slow down she'll look at us and we give it another spin. When she's done she just slides off backwards and stops herself with her feet. She's even figured out that if she pushes herself up on her arms so that her face and head are reaching toward the ceiling that she spins faster and longer! Smarty pants!
 
Zak (10) really likes it too, though one of his favorite spinning activities involves holding a car to the floor as he spins so that the car is driving around in big circles as he rotates. I admire the cleverness of this, but while he thrives on the noise it creates, it sends me quickly into overload. I usually have to shut that one down if I'm not in a position to just leave the kitchen while he spins. Sometimes their seeking really clashes with my sensitivities. :(

Grace (6) enjoys it also, but she does get dizzy, and so she doesn't use it as much or for as long. Her favorite position is on her back with her legs pulled up close and holding on to the handles while Zak spins her. Her giggles when they do this are so contagious!
 
In conclusion, spinning can be a great way for some kids to meet their sensory needs. These were two of the videos that we found helpful in deciding which type of apparatus to purchase, in case you're interested.
 

 


I really wonder how many acrobats, flying trapeze artists, and maybe even ice skaters and plenty more athletes have sensory seeking tendencies. There are no greater jumpers, crashers, and wrestlers than trampoliners, football players, and, well, wrestlers! I see a lot of similarities in what really seems to get through to my kids brains in those activities. (Though mine are not allowed to play football. It's REALLY bad for kids brains to be banged around inside their skull, period!)

Okie dokie! Anyone up for Ring Around the Rosie?
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

10-Thing Tuesday

Stress makes me very grumpy.

And we have had a freight train of stress around here for the last month! So I've not been the most companionable individual of late. And since Murphy's Law seems to rule the roost lately, I'm convinced that it will probably get worse before it gets better.

So I have decided to try to preemptively take action to try and keep from having a stroke or complete mental break. One if the ways I do that is to make lists.

Not just any lists, but positive, forward moving, motivating lists. Specifically giving myself the assignment of starting off with a requirement of ten bullet points. Then if I think of more as I go along I can continue, but at least ten.

The most common time for me to utilize this technique is either after Vic and I argue, or when our stubborn strong personalities are feeling more divisive than unifying.

But I also employ it when I've had an especially rough day/week/month with the kids and I'm feeling like I really don't even like these people, even though they are MY people!

It can really help me readjust my perspective, and start to appreciate all the gems that adorn my life!

There are so many things to appreciate, and I shouldn't just wait until I'm burnout or angry to count my blessings. If it makes me feel good when I'm upset, maybe if I practice it when I'm not, it might help keep me from freaking out at all. Or at least less.

So, at least twice a month, I'm going to make a 10 Things List. I encourage everyone to give it a try! Bringing down those stress hormones is good for everybody!

Here is today's:

10 Things I Love About My Sensory Seekers

1.) When they are happy, they are gut bustingly gleeful! It's impossible not to smile when they are happy.

2.) Everything with them is an adventure just waiting to happen.

3.) They LOVE bear hugs, blowing raspberries, and tickle/wrestling fests!

4.) They see life differently, with less fear than me for the most part.

5.) They like surprises!

6.) They are inventors.

7.) They are determined!

8.) They notice things I don't, like how awesomely oranges squish between your fingers and squirt out the juice.

9.) They don't notice things I do, like my hair not being washed for three days, they still tell me I'm pretty :)

10.) They LOVE us just the way we are, unconditionally!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Communication Vacation...

Scene: Victor and I are siting at the kitchen table. Who knows where the kids are? Probably doing something that is going to make me have to remind myself to breathe. Wherever they are, the main thing is - they are not currently in here, and we are milking that!




Me: I'm worn out! I would like it if we could schedule one night a week that I don't have to cook, nor be in any way responsible for preparing food.

Vic: Okay. What night do you want to not cook nor in anyway be responsible for preparing food?

Me: Fridays!!

Vic: No problem. Fridays it is.

Me: Great!

Vic: Uh, you know today isn't Friday, right?

Me: It's not?

Vic: No, it's Monday.

Me: Huh. Well, I'm not cooking tonight either.

Vic: Okay. Thanks for telling me.

Me: No problem.


Bon Appetit!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Not-so-Great Expectations

I don't know how many times a day I think 'what's wrong with me, why can't I just buckle down and keep up with things?'

But you know what?

I just can't. I can't and neither can my kids.

Maybe it's because I have three still very young kids. Maybe it's because two of them are sensory seekers who have to touch and experience everything and are very easily distracted. Maybe it's because we homeschool so we are always together, all the time, most of it at home. Maybe I just really don't work at it as hard as other moms. I really don't have an exact answer.

Some days the big kids can focus, and smoothly work through their tasks without constant reminders. But a lot of days, they can't, and it's incredibly frustrating for me and for them. I haven't figured out yet what is working so well on the good days and how we can achieve a measure of that on the not so great ones.

What I do know is that I wouldn't ask my kids to do things that they are not capable of. But I expect that of myself everyday. And everyday I fail to meet those unrealistic expectations.

I hate it when my house is out of control, because I feel like it is a reflection of my mind and emotions.

 
I am NOT a neat-freak nor a germophobe. I leave things on the counters, table, and couch too. I don't always put my clothes where they are supposed to go. And, I don't always wash my dishes every day, much less after every meal. So, I certainly feel like we ALL contribute to our chaos. No one single person or age group is to blame, though some do make more messes more often than others.

I feel so much calmer when things are tidy though. But the reality is my kids have certain needs right now, and so does my father-in-law, and my husband, and so do I. So having the toys shoveled onto the play rug, and having piles of books and papers all over most surfaces, and having the bathroom be wiped instead of scrubbed and mopped is going to have to be enough right now. Because they helped, and worked hard and that's the best that they can do right now. It's the best WE can do, for now.


 





Kit wiping up the water she dumped on the floor.



Some days are great, and we get the house looking beautiful! Others we just weather the storm, and go to sleep without washing the dishes.
 
Maybe there is something wrong with me. But there is also a lot right with me and my messy, giggly family. And that is what I want my kids to grow up feeling. That whatever challenges they may have, there is a whole lot more to them that's right.
 
Of course I also want them to know how to properly sweep, and scrub a bathtub, and eventually change sheets on their own, so we continue to try, doing what we CAN everyday. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Naked Day




Today was a naked day for Kitty Bitty.

Well, not all day. There was a solid chunk between 1 and 5 where she wasn't constantly pulling on her clothes and trying to pull off her diaper. She only yelled at me a few times then in protest of her clothing. And several more times in protest of my insistence of wearing a bra and shirt which clearly interfere with her desire to have me at her beck-and-sip.

She would nurse ALL day if I allowed her. Every time she crawls into my lap she tries to pull my shirt up or down, whichever provides easiest access to the goods. She especially likes to try to have a little milk with her cookie or graham cracker! Yeah...Eww! I discourage these particular sip sessions, though we will otherwise likely continue nursing as long as we are both happy.

She has crossed a HUGE nursing bridge though. She now falls asleep better and faster with Daddy holding her in the recliner than she does either nursing or just sitting with me! I'm only a little brokenhearted about it.

The truth is it's quite freeing to not be able to be in the room as she falls asleep most of the time. It permits me to do other, non-disturbing things, like fold laundry (boring but necessary), sometimes clean the kitchen (if I'm really quiet), or indulge in reading, studying, or blogging (now that's what I'm talkin' about!). So therefore I'm not all that beat up about her new Daddy-time. 

Back to Naked Day

 
At any rate, Kit spent major portions of the day in just a diaper, and trying to escape from that, especially during diaper changes. She has started throwing some nasty fits during her diaper changes. :(
 
She did finally settle on an article of clothing she would tolerate though. 
 
 
 
 
Grace's dance skirt.
 
And of course she was adorable in it. And full of all kinds of mischief!



"Look what that baby did, Mama!"

After all, toilet paper off the roll is all the rage with the under-three set! Especially when executed in the most stylish outfit of the season. 

Thanks Kit, for bringing our household into baby-vogue, EVERYDAY!




Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordy Wednesday

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
 
Today's subject is:
 
 
Carly
 
Please allow me to introduce to you a little girl who feels everything we do and more, and to her family, who never stopped listening...and finally heard - her.
 
 



 
Please...
Never stop believing in our children!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Little Engine That Could(n't)

We have not told Zak that we believe he has Sensory Processing Disorder.

I thought it would be difficult not to tell him when we started introducing things like a weighted blanket. But it's actually not been difficult at all. Most things, like the spinner and exercise ball he just thinks are awesome toys, which they are. And when we talked to him about a blanket that might help him fall asleep better he was all for it. He didn't care that much about how it works, he was just excited to have something that might help.

Same thing when we addressed his chewing issues. He had been asking for a "chew toy" for a while anyway.

So we haven't really had to tell him yet.

We do plan to tell him though. We are waiting, however, hoping that we might get an actual diagnosis first. Realizing, though, that that could be a long way off, if ever, we have felt it important to help him have a better understanding of his own behaviors and challenges.

We take things as they come most of the time. For example, drawing attention to how good it feels when he swings or spins, and encouraging him to do it at certain times when he is having trouble concentrating or making excessive noise.

Other times, we initiate a conversation with him. Like when we were at dinner once and we talked about senses. He loves cool factoids (like father, like son), so he enjoyed learning about the two lesser known senses. He also insisted that really there must be eight, otherwise they wouldn't call it our "sense of humor!" Pretty convincing argument, really.

Our big conversation happened though one day when I was working on my blog. He knows I have it and that I write about him and his sisters, though he hasn't expressed much interest in reading most of my entries. He saw the title, and reading it out loud, said, "I don't get it. It's not funny."

"It's not supposed to be funny."

"I still don't get it. What does sensory mean?"

"It means information through your senses, like sight and touch."

"Oh. That's a weird name for your blog. Why did you call it that?"

"Well, because everyone understands the information they get from their senses a little differently..."

In continuing to explain to him the different difficulties that some people have with the way their brains process information I used the illustration of engines. A brilliant occupational therapist came up with this simple way to help kids understand better what's going on with their brains and bodies.

I explained to him that some people are over-sensitive. Their engine is running too fast! They are always feeling scared or tense because they have trouble getting their engine to slow down.

Others have an engine that's too slow. They may not be able to play easily, might have trouble with school, or may not be able to respond to real dangers because they are under-sensitive.

Then I said that there are some who's engines just never seem to be able to go into idle. That while it may not always be racing, it still never wants to pull into Park and just run quietly, steadily, but that it always wants to be in Drive!

"Just like me!" he sat up really excited!

"Yep. Exactly like you. Even when you're really tired, you still have trouble getting your engine into Park, huh?"

"Yeah!"

"Can you think of anybody else around here that has an engine like that?"

"Kit does! She never likes to slow down either!"

"You are so right! When you have an engine like that it's called 'seeking'. Your brain and body are always looking for ways to get more information from your senses. Do you like things that move fast?"

"Uh-huh"

"How about having the volume up loud, and things that make a lot of noise?"

"Yeah, even though it drives you NUTS!"

"Mmm-hmmm! And wrestling? And chewing on stuff?"

"I can't help it!"

"I know. That's why I started looking up more information about it, and why we got things for you to chew on, and why we tell you to go outside and do the monkey bars a certain number of times, and to swing."

Then I showed him the video that I included in my first Wordy Wednesday post. Periodically, throughout the video he would laugh and say "that's what I do!".

"Cool," he said after the video, "so that's why you named it that?"

"Yeah, but it's about a lot of other things too."

"That's cool...Hey, where's Daddy? I wanna wrestle. Heh heh heh..."

And so now he knows what he needs to know right now. I am definitely relieved, because I was really lost as to how to go about it. As usual though, Zak just kind of showed me what he needed, and I helped him get it.

Not as scary as I anticipated. Not scary at all in fact!

Honestly it was liberating! I can say I am truly satisfied, and I believe he is too. Especially now that all my little engines are tucked in (except Kit, don't tuck Kit!) and sweetly dreaming as fast and as loud as they want.

Vroom, vroom!



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rock-a-Cry, Baby!

Plenty to throw,
No one to clean it up but me.
So much to scream about,
Too many feelings to hurt if i do.
Too many tears,
Steaming!
Screaming!
From the inside-in.

Drive away,
Park farther.
Find the rock and turn up the volume.
More!
Heart, beat faster.
Catch up to it,
The drums,
Electric riffs.
Pulse and rhythm become one.

Close my eyes,
Let the ballads play.
Let them cry out in song,
That which is trapped inside, me.
Let it rain,
Let it pour,
Until the flames extinguish.

Sweeter than wine,
No buyers remorse,
Just good speakers and melancholy,
even in a minivan,
No dress code,
No calories,
Love that rock-n-roll therapy!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Break Me Off a Piece of That...




...KIT KAT BABY!



"I keep going in circles. I should get better directions!"
 



"Quick! Mom's right behind me!"
"Get the cookies! Get the cookies!"






"Here Koda, you can snuggle with my teddy!"
  
At least it's not in our bed, right?!