Posts Tagged ‘daily routine’

Spring fever

It’s been a weird week, and I think my spring fever has affected my brain.

My routine is off. The kids were off school Monday for Spring  Break (the more “pc” term for Easter holiday), then there was a two hour delay later in the week due to bad weather.

My spring fever is making me try new things– I applied for a teaching job at a local college.  I’ve worked on my talk that I’m giving in a couple of weeks.

The spring fever has led me to “nest.” I’ve been reusing / recycling things around my house to make my living room / office a better place to work.

By the way, I think I’ll really like the chocolate brown + robin’s egg blue, and I’m going to throw some orange accents around.  I read somewhere that deep brown is relaxing, the blue promotes serenity, and the orange will energize me.

Lord knows that I need all three desperately right now. At times during this past week, I’ve felt that I could fall asleep standing up.

My concentration hasn’t been all that great. Today I used a drop spreader to spread some granules on my front lawn.  (For you who are lawn and garden challenged, like me: a drop spreader is a push cart thingy that holds granules of lawn food, etc.  When the wheels turn, it “drops” the granules evenly on the grass.)  This time I used weed and feed,  killing the bad stuff (“weed…”) and fertilizing the good stuff (“… and feed”).  Our dandelions are out of this world, and I finally remembered to take care of this amidst all of the other stuff happening.

Somehow I missed the part about putting 5 feet between passes.  Instead, I spread the weed and feed like I was mowing the yard.  Not 5 feet, but 0 feet between passes. I used the whole bag, which was supposed to cover 5000 square feet of lawn, in half of my front yard.

My husband says we’ll have to mow twice as often this summer.  Since we pay Josh to mow, we could be in debt… all because of a $10 bag of weed and feed.

And  in between all of this, my kids have been very unusual.  No, seriously, more unusual than usual.

Philip got “star of the week” in music at school, and played a song while the school chorus sang it.  This is unusual, but it is pretty cool!

Josh worked again, and is loving his job.  Since he’s started his job, he has also been calmer.  He’s also been sleeping more. A good unusual.

And my daughter has started being more of a girly girl and less of a tomboy.  She’s growing her hair so she can have a pony tail.  Perhaps this isn’t unusual– maybe it’s a new usual.

Spring fever has hit. Everyone is growing, along with the grass (and hopefully NOT the dandelions).   And I don’t know if my brain will keep up.  Where’s that personal assistant?

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Chores, to-do’s, and more phone calls

I was out with my daughter at Daisies, and I received a phone call from my son.

“Hello?”

“Uh, Mom?”

“Yes, Philip?”

“I did my homework!”

“Great!  What’s next?”

“Uh, let’s see here…. hmmmm….. oh, chore!”

“Okay, I’ll tell you your chore when I get home.”

“What’s my chore?”

“I can’t tell you right now, I’m driving!  But I’ll be home.”

“But what’s my chore?”

Sigh.  “Ask Dad.”

“Okay.”

I hung up the phone.  5 minutes later…

“Hello?”

“I did my chore!”

“Ok, what’s next?”

“Um…. practice drum for 10 minutes.”

“Okay, practice your drum.  You don’t have to call back… I’ll see you at home.”

Click. 10 minutes pass.

Ring.  I ignore, because I’m driving!

One minute passes.  Ring.

Sigh. “Hi there.”

“I practiced my drum for 10 minutes!”

“Okay, what’s next?”

“Practice piano for 15 minutes!”

“Okay!  Go do it, then!”

Click.

And so on and so forth.

He was really self-motivated, I guess, because before he could play his X Box, he had to do all of his to do list, including homework, practicing, chores, packing up his backpack for the next day, etc.  A parent has to check off the to do list.  My husband was busy doing his mom’s taxes, so Philip called me.

As I said in a  previous post, I love hearing my kids’ voices on the phone.  I wonder if my mom still loves hearing mine.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.  And I’m proud that he is motivated to do his chores from his new to do list, and I’m happy that he is proud of himself, too.

I listened to my phone messages later.  Of course, one was from Philip.

“Mom? Mom? Humph.”

I saved it.

Write it down

I was going absolutely crazy with keeping the evening and morning routines going.  Getting the younger two kiddos to school on time was almost impossible and I was so stressed out when they walked in the building.

Not the way I want my morning to go.

I had asked my hubby to please please please help me get stuff ready the night before.  It seemed that when I went out for the evening (meetings, Zumba, etc.), the next morning was chaos.  Nothing changed.  I think dear hubby was very overwhelmed, too.

I finally took my own advice and made yet another schedule.  My husband and I brainstormed then decided where to hang a new schedule, what should be on it, how to make it not so overwhelming, etc.

We now have a simple schedule, hanging on the kitchen shelving unit, that is easy to follow.  It is really a to do list, since evenings are going crazy with new activities.Here’s what it looks like.  It’s amazing to me how much of a difference typing this and posting has made.  Making it a to do list allows our kiddos to adjust for evening activities, school delays, and unexpected things that come up.

daily routines by E. Givlerg activities, school delays, etc.

Recently, I started attending a Bible study based on the book Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food.  The idea is that we are all made to crave God,  but we fill that craving with food or other things that unhealthy for us.  (I can identify… stress and emotional eating is my downfall.)  We were challenged to write down our plans for eating– not simply keep a food diary, but plan the menu of meals and snacks, write it down, and shop accordingly.    I remembered that, last year when I lost 50+ pounds, menu planning and keeping a food diary were vital to my success.  Writing it down was very powerful.

I wonder what else I could accomplish just by writing it down.  Hmmm.  How about “breathe”? Or, “don’t wring any kid’s neck today.”  Or, “You are a sexy hot babe.” 🙂

Having a flexible plan and writing it down definitely lightens my load.  It also lightens, I remind myself, the loads of my kids and my family as a whole.

Things I’ve learned from the autism support classroom: Life with Velcro

Bottles "velcroed" to cabinet door

I am a “new uses for old things” junkie. I love finding simple solutions that don’t cost a lot.

When my son was in our local intermediate unit’s preschool, I discovered the wonder of velcro.  First, I saw it used for visual schedules.  For my post on how we use visual schedules, etc., click here.) Little icons, signifying each assigned activity or task, were stuck to a big piece of paper with velcro.  When the students were done with one activity, they would move the icon to a “done” column, where another half of velcro awaited, ready to secure the icon to the board. Wow, I thought.  Little squares of paper don’t get lost!   The little squares didn’t get lost! They were even more secure than magnets!

A paraprofessional told me that she didn’t know what they would do in the autism support classrooms without Velcro.  It was like magic.

I started looking for other ways to use this overlooked wonder! I don’t sew (too much work, LOL) so I use the sticky kind.Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Storing vanilla and other extracts on the inside of cabinet doors– now I refill the old bottles and recycle the new ones, since the old ones have the velcro on them.

Keeping erasers and markers on a dry erase board

Keeping notepads from disappearing by attaching them to the inside of yet another cabinet door

Notepads secured to inside of cabinet door

Securing my paper accordion files and photo box lids

Hanging pictures on the wall (I was so happy when I found the command picture hanging velcro-like strips!)

Keeping my son’s shoe inserts in his shoes (Industrial strength velcro! Who knew?)

I’ve heard of people using industrial strength velcro to hang heavy items on walls, but I haven’t tried that yet.

I wonder, when I look around some more, what else I will find that I learned from the autism support classroom…

Things that make my life easier: Wildtree

We had already tried the casein free diet, and were trying our best to stick to it, when a specialist recommended that we do the gluten free, as well.

I cried.

And so my son started the  gluten free / casein free, or gfcf diet, in 2005.   Gluten is a protein in grains such as wheat and barley, and casein is a protein found in milk products.

I began my journey into gfcf cooking, which often times simply flopped.  Happily, I’ve come a long way since then! (I still haven’t figured out how to make gf bread, despite bread machines, mixes, and cookbooks.)

Fast forward a few years.  I was at a local grocery store and saw gfcf chicken nuggets, bagels, donuts, fish sticks, cereal.

I cried again, only this time for joy!

Disclaimer: I am a representative for the company I will talk about next,  and I do make money from Wildtree.

Now, we have several special diets in the house.  GFCF, low sodium, low cholesterol– you get the picture.

Recently I tasted some products from Wildtree, an all natural food company that specializes in quick and easy, allergen friendly meals. Delicious!  And when I went through the product ingredients, my list of things everyone in my family could eat was much longer than the list of things that they couldn’t.  Same for my friend whose son is allergic to peanuts!

I jumped for joy, and then signed up to be a rep, mostly for the life time discount I get on the products, and also to try to make some income for the family.

Life have definitely gotten easier since I signed up to be a rep.   Especially since I can use the natural butter flavor oil for popcorn, in gf shortbread cookies (they taste soooo good), and other things that call for butter. (The butter flavor comes from coconuts.)

Here’s the a healthier, more streamlined, easier 2011!

Dealing with messes, or “How’s it hangin’?”: Hooks

Life in a household affected by autism can be really messy. My mom clipped a newspaper article for me way back in 2007.  Here’s an excerpt:

Someone should’ve mentioned that autism is messy! Wallpaper’s meant to be shredded, bathrooms are designed to be flooded, walls are bare in order to smear stuff on them, washable paint really isn’t, and more food will actually be crushed and dropped than eaten. (Excellent article by Sandy Sotzen. Read more here.)

Finally sick of the mess, and to my hubby’s chagrin, I hired someone to clean. (It was the massage therapist!  She cleans, she massages… and it wasn’t too good to be true! January special: three hours of cleaning and two hours of massage for a great price. WOW.)

She claimed to be very fast.  She seemed to think that she could clean my whole downstairs area in three hours. And also possibly get to the upstairs bathrooms. I just smiled.

It took her 1 1/2 hours just to do the family room.

So we’re not perfect.

My kids and I are visual people.  We need to see things to remember that we have them, so sometimes clutter is a serious problem.

The clutter keeps us from cleaning.  (That, and the fact that the kiddos make “covert” messes that we find days later.) I am slowly steadily clutter busting so that I can have a clean home.   Less stuff, less to clean, right?

So, I am very excited to share a solution that works for us.

Drumroll, please….

I’m hooked on hooks!  (I know, I know…) Here are some examples:

  • I hang my pots and pans on hooks on a pot rack.
  • Hubby installed a towel rack on the kitchen wall, and I attached S-hooks for hanging my cooking utensils.
  • I put sticky cup hooks  inside a cabinet door to hang measuring spoons, etc.
  • We installed hooks on the wall by our front door for  hanging our coats, bags, and back packs.

What makes this so great?

  • My kids can now unload the dishwasher and put away the measuring spoons and pots without jamming a drawer or losing patience with making sure the pots are stacked just so.
  • Re: cabinet door hooks: we can just close the door and avoid creating more visual clutter, but still see “everything” when the door is open.
  • When things are hung, we can see that those things are where they belong and not just in one of the  random piles that multiply like rabbits.
  • It is obvious where the coats and backpacks belong, and  the frustration of things falling in the over stuffed coat closet and taking up all the room for the back packs is minimized.
  • It takes away excuses.  Hanging coat on a hook takes 2 seconds. Finding an empty hanger, wrestling the coat onto it, and hanging the coat– just forget it.

I’m hooked on hooks.  I search for kitchen stuff with holes or loops hanging on hooks. I’ve attached key ring, ribbons, and even yarn onto thing so that they could be hung on a hook.

Hooray! Life is hectic enough without the little annoyances that tip me over the edge. Nothing like mom screaming, “Where is my whisk?!!!! (Yes, in my house, even my cooking utensils are not safe from grubby little hands!) Anyone seen Philip’s coat???? ”  Now I just scream, “Ok, where does that go? Well, then, put it there!”  At least we’ve begun to do away with the excuses, all while playing to the kids’ visual strengths.

Question: How do you deal with messes at your house?

Therapies, or “Wacky things we do that seem to be therapeutic”: Musical mayhem

So this is my first of these posts.  I’m going to swallow my pride and tell the world the wacky things we do to get our kids to do what they are supposed to do.

First off: my kids love music.

I mean LOOOOOVE music.

When Philip was 2 (pre-autism-diagnosis), I couldn’t get him to get dressed. When I say I couldn’t get him to get dressed, what I really mean is I couldn’t get him to get dressed or keep his clothes on.  Nor would he keep his shoes on.  Looking back, I’m not sure if it was a sensory thing or if it was defiance or a little of both.  I remember that he seemed as if he was in his own little world and just didn’t comprehend what he needed to do.  (Sound familiar?)

So I started to sing all the directions to the theme from “Elmo’s World.” For example, “La la lala, la la lala,  Shi-rrt on, la la lala la la lala, shiiirrrt on.” Then we we’d do pants, socks, and shoes. “La la la, la la la la…. that’s Phi-lip’s world!” It worked like a charm.  I even did “la la lala,  la la lala, seat belt on….” and so on and so forth.

When he grew out of the Elmo’s world phase, we graduated to cheers.  “Philip used his fork! Philip used his fork! Philip used his fork, because he’s a big boy! YEAH!”  We used to walk around with a drum, singing “Put on your socks, put on your socks, put on your socks now!” repeatedly until he did it. Then, when he’d do it, we sing, “Good job, good job! Good job, good job!  Good job, good job now!” I wish I could tell you the tune, but I made it up on the spot. Sometimes the whole family would be singing by the time Philip was dressed.

Imagine my excitement when I found out that there was a real music therapy office with awesome music therapists only 2 blocks away from our house.  We got Philip in as soon as there was an opening, and he’s now been in music therapy for 5 years.  It’s been amazing.  We’ve also found out that he has perfect pitch, taught himself keyboard, and has amazing rhythm.  I half jokingly say he gets it from me, since I do after all have a music degree! His music teacher at school says he’s a prodigy. (Proud mom smile.)

So next time you see a family doing something like singing a fork song in a restaurant, try to guess which one at the table is the musical genius!