OK, first of all, let me say that the reason I keep this blog is mostly for me. I’m the “family historian” if you will, and so this is kind of like journaling for me, but without having to go to the effort of finding a pen that writes. It also helps me organize my thoughts, come up with new ideas (I actually came up with an idea for a series of scrapbook pages I want to do, after looking back over what I’ve written!), and just generally unload the stress that occasionaly pops up in life.
That being said, I know that other people read this blog. Friends, family, people who want to keep up with the antics of my four rambunctious children, or who want to know how I manage to get anything done around here at all. Sometimes, if I say something particularly interesting, funny, heart-wrenching, etc., I even get a comment or two. So I know regular readers are out there.
The ones that really intrigue me, though, are the people who come across my blog because of google searches. Perfect strangers who are looking for specific information, something that I’ve happened to mention at some point. It would be nice to think that people find me because they’re looking for parenting or homemaking tips, or because they want to know how other people homeschool (OK, I admit, I have had a few of those), or are just looking for some fantastic new insight. Apparently, though, that is not what my blog has to offer. No, people find me because I made one offhand reference to a “sandboni” during the Olympics. That’s right, folks. The search that is producing the most hits on my blog is people looking for information on a beach smoothing apparatus. Sure does put things in perspective, doesn’t it? Guess I’m not as interesting as I thought! (Sandbonis, however, are endlessly fascinating!) A dose of humility is good for the soul!
Well, it’s been a week since Moose was “diagnosed” with autism. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I have so many issues with how the appointment was handled, how the doctor treated Moose, and how she questioned me, that I’m not inclined to take anything she said too seriously. The confirmation I’ve received from both his therapists that this is *not* how the appointment was supposed to go at all also has me reluctant to trust her opinion. On the other hand, I do know he has some problems (speech being my greatest concern) that need to be dealt with, and I’m also now hyper-paranoid–every time he does something unusual, I freak out, wondering if that’s more “proof” that’s there’s something seriously wrong.
So, I’m not really sure where I’m at with things. I’m meeting with our caseworker and a representative from the school district in two weeks, to discuss transitioning him into their special ed Pre-K program. I did learn that the doctor was 100% wrong about sending him full days, everyday–they don’t even offer that for someone his age. For right now, at least, I guess I’m OK with him going part days–he’ll be getting more speech and occupational therapy, and I know that will be good. I hope I don’t *have* to bus him there, because I’m very uncomfortable with that. I’d much rather drive him myself. Actually, I’d rather he didn’t have to go to preschool at all, because I’m no big fan of preschool (neither of my older two went because I’m so opposed to it–well, that and the whole homeschooling thing, but that’s kind of a new development), but I guess I’m going to have to view it more as therapy than as school.
For now, though, I know I do *not* want to start calling support groups and doing research and ordering resources. Maybe this makes me a bad parent; maybe it suggests that I’m in denial. But even if this diagnosis of autism does “stick” with him, I don’t want that to become all we’re about. No offense to anyone who does choose to put their focus there, but I’ve seen parents who put all of their efforts into learning about causes (all the anti-vax folks), trying to raise awareness (mostly to not vax), using scare tactics, only hanging out with other families who have this diagnosis. Maybe that’s fine for them, but that’s not who we are. I have three other children, besides the fact that we are more than Moose’s diagnosis. I just want to keep living our lives the way we have been, while getting him the help he needs. I certainly don’t need a new group of friends who are dealing with the same things–I just need friends. People who knew us before this word changed our lives, and who won’t treat us any differently than they have been.
The Olympics are drawing to a close. I don’t know what we’re going to do with ourselves. In the last 16 days or so, we’ve lived the Olympics. We’ve watched it all. Anything that’s been on network TV, we’ve seen (it’s the first time I’ve really missed having cable!). We started our day every morning with “Today” in Beijing, and then on days when we didn’t have various appointments, we kept the TV on to see the morning/early afternoon coverage, breaking only for our Olympics school. We watched all the primetime stuff (and I do mean all–I planned all the grocery shopping and other errands for the last few weeks so that I was always home in time for the games). I even stayed up and watched some of the late night stuff.
The traditional favorites were, of course, enjoyed–gymnastics, swimming, diving, and volleyball. Turkey also added cycling to his list of favorites, and I discovered a new love of water polo. Heck, we even watched stuff we didn’t really like, including the entirety of both the men’s and women’s marathons (not necessarily by choice, but because we kept hoping they’d break in with something more interesting!) We saw many records set, and cheered on our team. We even turned into the NBC Nightly News and the Olympic Zone, because apparently we just weren’t getting enough of an Olympics fix without them!
Our school allowed us to really immerse ourselves in the Olympic spirit, and we covered almost every subject you could imagine studying about the Olympics, China, and sports. We learned a Bible verse and talked about working your hardest, playing fair, and sportsmanship. We learned a lot of geography in mapping the torch route, and in studying one country from each continent (save Antarctica, obviously), and added in history and government with our country studies. We used counting our team’s medals to learn math, including counting by fives. We learned more about our favorite sports, and then talked about events we’d never even heard of before. In studying China, we learned about everything from architecture to fashion to history. We had music appreciation and art (we colored a lot of pictures!) We even studied a bit of foreign language, learning a smattering of Chinese, and even some Latin. We read stories from around the world, and compared and contrasted the world’s flags. We snuck in a bit of physical education with our family olympics, and craft time with making medals. We even had fun with cooking–one night we made Chinese food for dinner, and then all ate with chopsticks (Turkey was surprisingly proficient in that area!), and we made an Olympics cake, complete with the Olympic rings made from M&Ms (brown is the new black!).
Yep, we’ve really enjoyed our Olympics experience. It’s hard to say what we liked best, because we liked it all. I just don’t know what we’re going to do tomorrow!
Today was Moose’s appointment with the developmental pediatrician. It was not at all what I was expecting. First of all, I was under the impression that in addition to the doctor, there would be a variety of therapists like at our home visit. No, just the doctor. That’s OK I guess–no duplication of efforts there. Anyway, I thought there would be more play based observation, which there wasn’t. Really, most of the appointment involved her asking me questions from a screening tool, and then recording my answers to get a diagnosis. I didn’t entirely trust this tool–there were times I felt like she didn’t understand my answers, and other times when I felt like she was trying to prompt to answer what she felt was accurate. I hope it all came out the way it should have.
She had already been over the reports from the three therapists who had observed him, so she had an idea going in what she was looking for, I guess. She also observed Moose, but there wasn’t a whole lot for him to do–we were in a typical doctor’s examination room. Not too exciting for a not quite three year old. She also did a brief physical exam at the end of the appointment–not sure what the point of that was, but she seemed satisfied.
Anyway, after going over the screening tool, she gave Moose the diagnosis of mild autism. She said that with therapy, in the future the diagnosis might be “downgraded” to PDD, but for now, it is what it is. Her recommendation is that we send him to the preschool program through the special ed branch of our school district, and, while she wasn’t sure if they even offer it, she thought full day would be best. I have several problems with that, beginning with the fact that he isn’t even three yet, and still needs a good long nap, but whatever. I have to call the district, and they’ll tell me if they even offer full day for someone his age, which they very well may not…we’ll just have to see.
Here’s what bothered me about all this, aside from the diagnosis itself, which has me quite down. First of all, she was a half hour late for our appointment. First appointment of the morning, you don’t expect that, but she got stuck in traffic or something…didn’t really get us off on the right foot, and she wasn’t even apologetic, which I didn’t appreciate. Her manner was a bit brusque, too, which wasn’t helpful to me, as I was upset, but this appointment wasn’t about me, so I can get over that. I didn’t like her basing her observations of Moose on only what she saw of him in an exam room for an hour, though. There was nothing for him to do, and all she could do was point out him opening and closing the doors on the cabinet. Yes, a repetitive behavior that can be a red flag, but he doesn’t stuff stuff like that to that extent at home, or in other environments where there is something else to do. He was bored, plain and simple. She also pointed out how he didn’t want to come to her and interact. Again, I get that that can be a red flag, but that’s not how he usually is with people. From the first day the therapists came into our home, he has been sitting in their laps, playing with them, and being generally sociable. And he didn’t know them from Adam, although he is getting to know them now. Isn’t it possible that he just didn’t like her? I didn’t really; why should he?
And the other thing that gets me is that all three therapists that observed him reassured me that they didn’t think he was exhibiting traits of autism, that it wasn’t something I should be worrying about. All three of them saw him on different days, in different moods, and yet they all told me this, without knowing the others had said it. How can they all be wrong? I know that they’re not doctors like the woman we saw today–they’re “just” therapists. But this is their specialty, and I don’t think they’d just tell me what I want to hear, so what’s up with that?
I don’t know. I really wasn’t expecting this diagnosis going in. In my gut, I thought she’d say PDD, which is on the autism spectrum, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for a full-blown autism diagnosis. It’s good that it’s mild, and I guess I have no choice but to put him in the preschool, for at least part of the time, and do all of the therapies that are being recommended. But I really don’t think she got a good sample of what his normal, daily behavior is, and I really wish there was some kind of option for a second opinion or something. I suppose that I sound like I’m in denial; maybe I am. But if he’s going to be labeled with something this serious, I’d like a little more reassurance that it’s an accurate label. I find this whole thing very troublesome.
You know that scene at the end of “The Wizard of Oz,” where Dorothy is getting ready to go home, and the Tin Man says something to the effect of “now I know I have a heart, because I can feel it breaking?” That’s how I feel right now.
Obviously today’s appointment did not go well–it was about the worst result I could have expected, and now my heart is breaking.
So, tomorrow is Moose’s big appointment at the diagnostic center. Already, my heart is in my throat. Part of me wonders if I will ever feel “normal” again, because ever since I called Early Intervention (thus admitting that there was a problem), I’ve been feeling slightly off center.
I’m so worried about what they’re going to tell me. What if the diagnosis is more than the sensory issues the therapists have been preparing me for? Obviously worrying about autism here. Yes, I know that the “official” diagnosis won’t change who Moose is, won’t change how much we love him, should actually help him get the help he needs, but still….there’s something daunting about having a label placed on him that may follow him his whole life. I know I shouldn’t worry about the future, have no business even thinking about what future years will hold for him, but I can’t help but think ahead to whether or not he’ll be able to have a career, a family, be independent, depending on the diagnosis. Which I know is ridiculous, because, again, whatever word they put to it won’t change who he is or the path he’s on. I know that I should just be grateful that whatever we’re dealing with isn’t life-threatening, doesn’t affect his health, shouldn’t affect his happiness. But my mommy heart is still heavy…
I have to confess, I’m having a difficult time balancing all I need to do. Let’s face it, taking care of four small children and the house was challenge enough, but adding in homeschool and Moose’s therapy, and I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed.
Maybe I just need to give myself more time to adjust. I guess it doesn’t help that Moose started therapy the same week we started our trial run of school (at least I’ll have next week to regroup and take a new look at my schedule, after the Olympics are over, but before our official first day of school!). This week is especially challenging, because Moose has three hours of therapy, plus the big diagnostic appointment I’m dreading, which could last up to three (or more, I suppose!) hours. Most weeks, he’ll probably only have two hours of therapy, three at the most, and no going to the hospital, so that’s good.
And our Olympics school is taking up more time than I was anticipating–I’ve found more stuff to add to my lessons, and the children are asking more questions and taking this more seriously than I was expecting, so what I thought would probably take about half an hour each day is actually taking an hour or more most days. I’m not complaining, because they love learning, and because we’ll be spending at least that much time on “real” school, so I may as well get used to it, but I just guessed I would be easing into it more gradually…
Anyway, I’m reaching “something’s gotta give” territory here, I think. I’ve managed to keep up with washing (but not folding) the laundry, and as we have to eat, I’ve been on top of meal planning and cooking. I’m not letting the children run rampant (much), so I guess I’m still taking care of the Mommy thing, and the bills have to be paid on time, so the financial manager is still in. The housework, sadly, has suffered. My kitchen floor is long due for a mopping, but I really plan to do that this week, the carpets need a good vacuuming, and while I’ve been cleaning the kitchen, I haven’t been doing it well. At least the bathrooms are (mostly) clean–a little toothpaste in the sink, but who doesn’t have that? So, clearly, I know what I need to work on as I’m taking on these new roles and responsibilities.
I’m guessing things will improve some next week once the Olympics are over. Any spare time I’ve managed to find has been spent glued to the TV, either in the morning with the children, after dinner as a family, or at late night with Ryan (if he doesn’t fall asleep from boredom first!). Heck, I’ve even been planning my grocery shopping and other errands based on what event is on when, and who is doing what interviews on which NBC show–nothing is safe: Today Show, NBC Nightly News, the Olympic Zone–I’m riveted to it all!
So, once the Olympics are done, and I get used to both homeschooling and Moose’s various appointments, I hope I’ll get back on track, and figure out how to get it all done. In the meantime, if you stop by, please avert your eyes from the sticky spots on the floor and the lint on the carpet!
Turkey and Bunny are amusing to me. Today was our first really involved day with our “practice school,” otherwise known as our Olympics unit. We did have a short lesson on Friday, but it mostly involved them listening and looking at the map and some pictures. Today we got fancy and had some counting, quizzing, and coloring, too!
Now, none of this was terribly surprising to me, but it was still funny to see how very different the two of them are in their approaches to learning. For example, I gave them each a box of crayons to color pictures of the Olympic torch. Bunny dumped her box of crayons everywhere, and, as far as I could tell, mostly just grabbed them at random (except for the pink, which, of course, had to be the first color she used). She also colored quickly, even though she was trying to stay inside the lines. Turkey, on the other hand, took one crayon out of his box at a time, and put it back before he got the next color. He picked his colors very deliberately, and colored very slowly and purposefully.
Their approach to something as simple as a coloring assignment showcased their different personalities quite well. Bunny is very impulsive, rarely thinks things through, and works quickly, sometimes sacrificing the quality of the end result. Part of this may be because she’s 16 months younger than Turkey, but I really think it’s mostly just who she is. Turkey, on the other hand, is rather fastidious, very exact and orderly. This is how he has always been–he hates getting dirty, likes to know exactly when things are going to happen, and follows the letter (although not always the spirit!) of the law.
Funny how easy it is to spot differences in children when they’re doing schoolwork!
Thought I’d take a departure from my usual lists of things to write about what I like best about my house.
Upstairs Laundry Room–First of all, after living in three different apartments, I’m still just grateful to have my own washer and dryer! And, ever since my vicarage-induced fear of basements, the idea of having to go down into one almost daily has terrified me. I love that the machines are upstairs, where most of the stuff I wash is located. I also love that it’s right next to the playroom, so I don’t have to wonder what my children are up to when I’m doing one of the at least ten loads of laundry that need to be washed every week.
Upstairs Playroom–I suppose if we had a finished playroom in the basement, that could be on the list as well (basement phobia aside). The point is, I like having a place for our toys that’s not in the main living area of the house. It helps at least contain the clutter when the bulk of the toys are upstairs.
Open Kitchen/Living Room–It’s so nice to be able to be a part of what’s going on in the main area of the house when I’m cooking, cleaning, or doing something at the table like clipping coupons.
Kitchen Faucet–Silly thing to like, I know, but it pulls out from the fixture to become the dish sprayer. Genius!
Pantry–Big enough to hold everything I want it to, and also keep the trash can and the craft bin out of the way. I applaud the person who decided that kitchens deserved closets, too!
Kitchen Island–(Can you tell I love my kitchen?!?) I love the extra work space and cabinet space. But what I really love about the island is that it allows me to work at the counter without turning my back on the rest of the kitchen/my children/the TV/the door (I’m weird about having my back to the door). I can see what’s going on, and still prepare my meals–the best of both worlds!
Blankets–We have a stack of blankets in the corner (when the children haven’t draped them all over) of our living room. They don’t match each other or anything else–we have fleece and chenille, character blankets and quilts, animal and sports themed blankets. But I love knowing that if someone is chilly when watching a movie, or just wants to snuggle in a blanky because it’s soft, they can just grab a blanket off the pile.
Game Cabinet–I love this for two reasons. One, I love the armoire itself. It’s pretty, I like the color of the wood, and it matches the rest of the furniture. Two, I love that it’s filled with all kinds of games. Games for kids and games for adults, family games, group games, and, of course, my favorite, our collection of Ticket to Ride games. The place to go if you’re looking for some fun!
TV–Just in case the fun we’re looking for is a little more passive than games, I’m happy that we have a nice TV (and a nice collections of DVDs to go with it!) where we can veg out together, watch movies, the news, the Olympics (can you tell I can’t wait?)–whatever strikes our fancy.
Living Room Picture–We bought this picture of Jesus as a toddler helping Joseph in his carpentry shop as a wedding gift to each other. It is one of the few things that has been with us on all our moves, and displayed proudly in all our homes. My favorite thing about it is the shadow cast behind toddler Jesus, not in the shape of a child, but the shape of a cross. Very cool.
Mission Theme–I didn’t even realize at first that our house had a theme, decor-wise. Then, one day it hit me–we have a lot of mission furniture, and the other decorations, especially in the living room, also kind of fit the theme. Maybe I have decorating talent I wasn’t even aware of!
Master Bathroom–Maybe it’s because my parent’s house didn’t have a master bedroom/bathroom, but it’s still a novelty to me that we have a bathroom connected our bedroom. I also love the garden style tub and separate shower–it’s as close to a spa as I’ll ever get.
Walk-in Closets–The three bedrooms we use as such all have walk-in closets. It’s so nice to have the extra space for all our stuff–we’ve even put our dressers for two of the bedrooms in the closets! It’s almost decadent!
Bookshelves–I love our bookshelves, not for themselves, because they’re the cheap, put-it-together-yourself from Target kind, but for the massive number of books we have on them. I still use the library a lot, but I love knowing that I can find a book from pretty much any genre right here in my own home if I so desire.
Bedding–I love the bedding we have. I’m specifically referring to our fall/winter bedding, because we just have a light blanket for the summer. But our heavy comforter is the prettiest shade of indigo, and has matching shams and Euro shams, which I am a total sucker for–just love them. Makes it seem like a hotel. And the high thread count sheets–I’ll never go back to cheap-o sheets again. For that matter, I also love the bedding in our guest room–also has high thread count sheets, and I think the plaid comforter is very nice.
Back Door–I like having an actual door in kitchen. Not a sliding door, but a regular old six panel door. I am grateful not to have to worry about having blinds or curtains across a sliding door.
Photo Groupings–I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to arrange the special photos I had framed. I moved them around a bit, but for now, I think I have them way I want them. Two black and white and three color groupings in the den (including one of our wedding photos, and one of the children’s first birthday portraits), as well as a Christmas-themed grouping in the living room. I love having pictures of family and happy times to look at!
Christmas Decorations–They’re only out for four to six weeks of the year, but I love the decorations we’ve put together–our house definitely looks prettiest in December!
Americana Wall–My theme wall in the kitchen. If we ever finish painting (it’s looking doubtful), all the kitchen walls will be red, and the valance and one curtain we have are navy blue. Right next to the window with the blue curtain is my wall grouping of Americana “stuff.” Rustic looking flags, stars, Uncle Sam, a “liberty” sign–you get the idea. I’ve been collecting the stuff in that grouping (and it’s not that huge–less than ten things) since before we got married. I really like what I’ve accumulated and the way I’ve arranged it, although I am looking for one last piece to balance it out. I’ll know it if I ever see it–I’m waiting for something of a very specific size and shape!
Den Table–My in-laws gave us this neat table for our first Christmas in this house. It’s a skinny table (What do you call that? A cocktail table maybe? A console table?) in our mission style. What makes it special, though, is that they mod-podged pictures of our house at the various stages of the building process (and a cool picture of the first snow after we moved in!) on to the top. Such a thoughtful gift, and such special memories.
Rocking Chair–Also a gift from my in-laws, this is something of a family heirloom. They wrote on the underside of the chair who it belonged to and when they gave it to us. I enjoyed rocking Ladybug in this chair when she was tiny, and now it’s going to be the “teacher chair” in our schoolroom.
Schoolroom–I have to brag on myself a bit, here. I love the way our schoolroom (also known as the guest room) has come together. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on it, but I really think it looks quite school-y, and is quickly becoming a favorite room in the house for everyone!
My Family–I would be remiss if I left out my family, since they are in the house most of the time. It wouldn’t be my home without my family in it, and they are the best thing I’ve got going!
OK, perhaps not an ode. Although, I probably could come up with a vacuum cleaner haiku…but that’s another task for another day…
Seriously though, what it is about the act of vacuuming that lends such an air of order to a house?Obviously, part of it is the picking up. Because, before you can vacuum, you have to pick up the various toys, books, shoes and blankets that seem to congregate on the floor no matter how often you tell your children to put them away. And a picked up floor does make a very noticeable impression.
Aside from that, though, vacuuming is a actually a less noticeable job than many other household tasks. Take mopping, for example. If you have a big spill, or an irritating sticky spot on a vinyl floor, or even if your floor has just lost it’s shine, an appointment with a mop makes a huge, instantly viewable difference. The spill is taken care of, the sticky is gone, and the shine is back, almost immediately. Vacuuming, on the other hand, takes care of the stuff you can’t really see (for the most part). All the dust and crumbs and dirt you don’t even know are there are picked up by the vacuum, and since you didn’t really know it was there in the first place, you don’t really notice it’s absence after the fact, either.
Maybe it’s the nice vacuum-lines left in the carpet. Kind of like mowing the lawn. Even if you can’t tell that stuff was picked up by the vacuum, seeing those lines lets you know that a vacuum had been here, and recently. It always bums me out to walk across the freshly vacuumed carpet, and leave footprints in the vacuum tracks, because the freshness is gone once I do that, even if I’m still in the process of vacuuming. I’m just weird that way; I can admit it.
There’s always a certain smell in the air after the vacuum has been run, too. Not sure what it is, exactly, but it’s clean, and again, let’s you know that housework has been done here. And if you have happened to have used that carpet powder stuff anytime within, oh, say the last three years of your vacuum’s existence, that pleasant smell comes out, too.
Whatever it is about the act of vacuuming, it is one way to make an immediate and effective impression of order and cleanliness in the house (even if your children do dump all their toys back out five minutes later!)