21 April 2015


Initially, I'd planned for today to be a heavy brainpower and low body power day.  I was going to rework the boys' earn points, set up chore lists, work on my control journal... that kind of thing.  But I decided, after almost tripping (again) over things in the boys' room that today was going to focus on cleaning that up instead.  I know, I know.  "It's their room.  They should be the ones responsible for cleaning it."  And it's true, up to a point.  But when it gets to the point it was at, trying to get them to clean it is almost worse than having a root canal.  So I've set it up so that, even though it's clean, there's still things for them to do.  All the toys aren't in the correct bins, and several are just in an extra bin.  And since I'm trying to be more on top of everything from this point forward, I'm going to make sure that it stays that way.  Especially since we're supposed to have workmen come in and put new energy efficient windows in, so I'll need to move their bed as it is.

Now I'm at a starting point where I can start to look around me and decide what needs to go where.  There are still several boxes that haven't been unpacked from the move, and several things that will need a permanent home that doesn't have one yet.  Tomorrow is supposed to be bedroom day, but after everything I did today, I don't think it's a necessity.  Instead, I think I'll try to get some of the brain work done and, if the mood to be productive strikes, work on some of the boxes.

I'm making steps forward.  That's what matters. Little by little, making steps forward.

20 April 2015

Trying to get back on track... again

I was tired of the mess and tired of the stress, so I decided it was about time to do something about it.

Yes, what I really wanted to do was lay in bed and play on the computer for hours on end, but every time I did it, I got bored or I felt guilty.  So I figured it was time to try to turn things around again.  Or at least try to.  I've stumbled so many times in the past, and I'm really hoping that this time maybe, just maybe, I'll get the routines to stick.

I'm trying to start (relatively) small.  I'm starting with a focus on cleaning.  I've started back with the baby steps of FlyLady Baby Steps and (somewhat) ignoring the daily missions.  I am working on cleaning a different room a day like I used to do, with a little wiggle room in case something comes up to make a particular day harder than others.  Every night, I'm straightening up the kitchen, getting the dishes in the dishwasher and making sure my sink is shining.  I'm trying to keep up with the little declutters during the day, as well as begging Rich and the boys to take care of their things so I don't have to do as much.  I'm trying to do a load of laundry a day so I'm not overwhelmed with all the laundry to fold.  And each day, I'm trying to add a little more.

I bought a planner at the end of last year/beginning of this year that seems to be working well for me.  It's dated, but not yeared (basically, it has all the dates but none of the days of the week listed in it).  There are several lines for each day, 2 days to a page.  It gives me room to make notes, keep track what I need to do and feel a bit more on top of things.  It's probably not going to be the only thing I use - I'm still using Cozi and I'm actually hoping to have a control journal one of these days.  But it's a start for me.

I think a lot of this is coming out of a group therapy study that Teddy and I are a part of.  It's for people with depression and their 9 to 17 year old child.  Part of it is trying to find ways to help eliminate stress and some of it is trying to find ways to help our kids not have to worry about depression - ours or theirs.  Tonight is week 3 and I'm trying to let the lessons into my brain.  I think it's working, because I'm feeling better about some things.  Partly, I'm sure, because of the changes I'm trying to make.

I'm trying to make sure that the changes I make aren't only related to the apartment.  I'm trying to drink more water and less soda.  It's easiest when I don't have it in the house, though days when I have to pick the boys up from school is a little harder, since I'll stop and grab something to eat and drink while I wait for them.But even if I get myself down to one soda a day, it's a good start.  I'm also wearing my WiiFit meter constantly.  I haven't started back with exercise yet, though I really need to.  That, I'm hoping, will be next week.  I just don't want to over do things, y'know?  When I feel like I have a handle on the cleaning, then I'll feel like I can add more to it in the form of exercise.

It's little steps, little things.  And I'm hoping that if I can make my environment nicer, then I can make my brain easier to deal with and become nicer myself.  Often, I feel like I'm the screaming mom, the nagging mom, the annoying mom.  I feel like I'm angry so much of the time and that I don't know how to be happy.  But I know it isn't true, so I'm trying to make steps to change that part of me.  Maybe then, I can ask my family to help our rather than yelling and screaming for them to.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to do a little better job of keeping up with my blog, but no promises.  Today, I happen to have the time on the computer to be able to do it.  So I'm writing.  Even if it feels like the same thing I always write, at least I'm writing.  Who knows?  Maybe tomorrow I'll have more time and I'll be able to write something else.  I don't know.  All I do know is that I'm ready for the me I want to be.

18 December 2014

Where I'm From - Writer's Workshop

I am from a brand new metal lunch box with it's matching thermos inside, from a Fisher Price School Barn with traceable words and a stand-alone chalkboard that waited for me to "teach" in the middle of my room.
I am from the single-wide trailer on hundreds of acres of land, with frozen pipes and thin walls but love enough to fill it.
I am from the man made pond belonging to my neighbor and the rock from which I watched it, crying my lonely tears and telling all my secrets to the wind.
I am from large family Christmas' and bodies that would never be tall, from Priscilla and Teddy and my crazy Aunt Laura.
I am from the quick tempered and equally quick to love.
From a melting pot of countries, Poland, Ireland, England, Germany, who make me what I am and someone who can do whatever she puts her mind to.
I am from the Catholic Church, First Communions and Mass on Sunday, to a seeker that refuses to believe that there is one true way.
I’m from a small town that both confined and released all that I am, from fresh made bread that I would watch impatiently to rise and Christmas Cookies laid out on open paper bags to give them a chance to cool.
From the sister born to soon but who fought for every breath, the family afraid of birds, and the couple married in the backyard right after her graduation.
I am from races on Sunday, wood fires burning in winter, boxes of washed out pictures and keys belonging to things I no longer recognize. From the petals of a rose put inside a McChicken Box and hidden in my locker, mix tapes that include my own voice and a heavy metal ID bracelet given as a reminder that I had something worth coming back to. From dreams that fell by the wayside and hopes that never quite worked out, to the promise of a brighter tomorrow whenever I look in my sons' faces.  So much has made me into who I am, and I would never change a thing.

This was written for the first prompt in this week's Writer's Workshop over at Mama's Losin' It!  The prompt is:

1. Complete the “Where I’m From” poem. (template here)

15 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Okay, so there's still a few weeks left until 2014 is a thing of the past.  And honestly, I'm not really "resolving" to do and not do these things.  It's more like goals that I'm hoping to make happen over the next year.  And some of them, I'm hoping to start before the year is over.

Yeah, I'm rambling.  I figure why not jump back into my blog in typical "Amber" style.

Anyway, it's Monday, I feel like making a list and this is the one I'm going to make.  So here we go!

  1. Update my blog at least 3 times a week - I'd love to update it daily, but that's asking the impossible.  Yeah, Pete's in school now (and has been for a few months) and, in theory, that should mean I have more time on my hands.  Instead, I feel more brain frazzled than before.  So 3 times a week, and trying for more actual updates than memes that only require me to write one or two things.  That sounds plausible - at least until the end of January when I forget and my blog goes dormant once more.
  2. Take more pictures - I realized how badly I'd fallen down on the job this year when I really had to scrape to find enough pictures for our yearly calendars.  (The best gift we've ever come up with, year after year.)  You'd think with a digital camera, a smart phone and a tablet with a camera that I would have had MORE pictures.  Nope.  So this year, that's gotta change.  I don't want another year of just finding pictures of the back of the kids' heads everywhere.
  3. Actually review some books - I love to read.  Always have.  And I love sharing what I've read.  But for some reason, I have this mental block about actually DOING it.  I've even got my reading blog out there that should be the perfect vehicle for it.  But do I ever make time to sit down and do my reviews?  Nope.  Instead, I end up sitting at the computer playing game after game of Bingo and feeling like I'm doing nothing with my life.  So this one kinda goes with the blogging thing.
  4. Make up a cleaning schedule and STICK TO IT - We moved to a new apartment at the end of October and I refuse to let it get to the state the old apartment was.  So far, I've been doing a (semi) decent job of not letting things get too bad.  But I don't ever want to get to that point either.  So I'm going to try some FLYing, some of my own stuff, remembering the use the white board to update chores that need to be done and by who.  Because I can do this!
  5. Have all the boxes unpacked by summer - Ideally, I'd love to have them unpacked before the first of the year, but I'm trying to be a realist here.  I may want to get my house in perfect shape, looking great and having a place for everything, but life happens and I'm naturally indolent.  I can only push myself so far with things.  So by summer... yeah, that's possible.
There are more things that I want to resolve, I'm sure.  Less time on the computer.  More time with my family.  More exercise and more focusing on me.  But it's good to start small and add rather than overwhelm myself now and set myself up for failure.

15 August 2014

Looking at the World Through a Different Filter

For a long time, we just thought that Pete was a difficult child.  He would throw temper tantrums if he was interrupted doing what he wanted to do.  He would run around, climbing on everything like a monkey.  He laughed at inappropriate times.  He was very picky about the foods he ate.  He never wanted to get dressed, sometimes running outside in our apartment complex naked.  He licked and bit a wide variety of things he shouldn't have.  He still sucked his thumb.

Because of his behavior, he was told that he wouldn't be able to come back to the Parents' Day Out that he'd been going to after his fourth year.  It just wasn't a good fit for him any more.  I tried the Regional Intervention Program. It gave me plenty of tools for dealing with him when he was driving me nuts, but he was still throwing fits when we graduated. He'd done a little better at the new PDO he went to the year before kindergarten, but he still had times when he would act out, or get out of control.  I wasn't sure where to go next, and the thought of him entering kindergarten scared me to death.

When we went for his 5 year Well Check Up, the doctor noticed that he was having some problems with his fine motor skills and suggested we have him evaluated in Pediatric Rehab.  So appointments were made, then rescheduled.  I took Pete in for an hour long evaluation.  I mentioned, along with the fine motor skills, some of the other behaviors that concerned me - the dislike of wearing clothing, the way he would chew on things that weren't food, how he'd get out of control sometimes and it was hard to get him calmed down.  After the evaluation was done, the therapist told me that, while she couldn't say for certain until all the scores were added up, she was pretty sure that Peter had Sensory Processing Disorder and they would most likely see him for therapy.

As we started therapy, I started to read up more on SPD.  What did it mean?  How did it effect Pete?  Where did it come from?  What I found out is that SPD is very controversial in the medical community.  The APA doesn't want doctors using it as a diagnosis because there is still so much unknown about it, and the symptoms of SPD were most often found in children that had other issues as well, such as autism, aspergers or ADHD. But there were a lot of therapies and tools out there to help children, regardless of what the diagnosis ended up being, to get the sensory input they need.

Pete is a sensory seeker. (Though he doesn't fit all the items on that list, he does fit some of them.) He always wants to snuggle with me or his dad or his brother. He needs that closeness whenever he's doing something. He has the TV loud a lot of the time. He crashes into things because he says it "feels good".  He has to have something in his mouth, especially when he's upset.

The problem, of course, is that SPD isn't an official diagnosis.  So in trying to get help for him at school, we're trying to figure out how to make his case fit so he'll get the help he needs.  I'm very lucky that his teacher is someone I know well and more than willing to work with me on things that will help him.  I'm also meeting with the school to see what we can do to get an IEP or a 504 in the works for him.   I'm very lucky that we are part of an excellent school with caring staff and teachers.

It amazes me, though, how much it's making me look at Peter differently.  No.  Not look at Pete differently, but at the way he sees the world.  His teacher noticed that every time they are walking in the hall, he has to touch the wall.  It's a byproduct of not having a good handle on the spatial world around him.  Today, I realized that he has an aversion to heat.  He needs bath or shower water several degrees cooler than any of the rest of my family.  If I have to wash Plo, he wants to have him out of the dryer long enough to be "cool" before he'll take him (or he'll get upset with me because I dared make Plo warm).  He lets his food cool almost completely before eating it.  Ice cream and ice pops are favorites.  Hot chocolate is not.  I've noticed that when he and Teddy fight, it's most often because Pete is getting too close, not accepting Teddy's personal space.  And that could be that desire for touch. (Or it could be that he's using his Little Brother powers to annoy the Big Brother.)  He doesn't like socks with his shoes.  Certain pieces of clothing that I think are comfortable are too scratchy.   The world is a very different place for my youngest, and I'm just learning to see how different.

It's hard, sometimes, to change from getting frustrated because I think Pete's just being difficult to realizing that it could be part of his sensory issues.  For so long, it was just Pete being Pete, always making things difficult.  And sometimes, I suspect he still is.  (Especially when he tries to tell me he doesn't know how to put on clothes and/or shoes I've seen him don 30 times before without any help.)  But I'm trying to teach myself to stop and look at the world with Pete's senses first before overreacting.  That maybe, just maybe, there's a pattern here and I can decode it to make life just a little easier for my sensitive boy.