Saturday, September 10, 2011

Who ya gonna call?!

So like I said, Max is terrified of the monsters that live in his heater vent. We tried everything to prove to him that monsters do not exist... Though having monsters literally staring down at him from his walls really wasn't helping our case. Max spent the last few months camped out on our floor. Not the best arrangement, especially when Joey would trip over him getting up for work in the wee hours. During one of my many calls to my mom, she had the idea of vacuuming up the monsters out of the vent. Immediately the Ghostbusters theme was playing in my head. I was skeptical, but desperate.

So Joey got out the shop vac, or Monster-Vac, as Max now knows it. We made Max watch Joey suck up the monsters. It took a lot of self control on Joey's part not to pretend to get his arm dragged into the vent by a monster. Who knows what consequences would result from that trauma. Max then had to watch Joey dump the canister in the dumpster. Joey came up with the idea that the Monster-Vac also turns the monsters into dust (you gotta be quick on your feet with logic when it comes to monsters). Luckily, the next day was trash day, so Max was sure to watch the garbage truck take the monsters. Max explained to me that the monsters would meet the same fate as in Toy Story 3.

Wouldn't you know it, he has slept in his room ever since. He even grabbed Joey's face in both hands and said, "Thanks, Daddy for getting rid of my monsters." Sort of broke my heart he was so traumatized by these monsters that seems so real to him. Sometimes I forget what it's like to be a kid and have your own sense of reality. Those monsters were definitely real to Max, and definitely gone to him now! I wonder what else the shop-vac can get rid of? bad attitudes? Tantrums? Maybe QVC has a spot for us.

Here's another thing we're trying around here: a chore chart. I found this pocket chart for a buck at Target! Ok... so it was one of those times when I saw something super cheap and thought, "What can I make out of this?"
I'll be honest, it's hard to think of real work for a 3 year old... who is easily distracted... and doesn't always follow directions...the first 3 times I say them. But that's exactly my goal- a tangible way for Max to learn responsibility and a tangible way for him to see what he's accomplished. I put visual cues on the card so he could decipher them, and put the chart at his level to give him some ownership of it. I didn't realize how warm of a response I would actually get. He was excited to move over each card, and as I was shutting his door at bedtime he asked to "move his cards" tomorrow. Of course, the honeymoon period has worn off somewhat, but it's SOOO much easier to tell him to move his cards than say over and over... and over... and over... to put his dirty clothes away. Oh, and the "pray" card never moves to the "done" side, I mean, you should always have a prayer in your heart, right? :)

I came up with this idea because I learned Max is much more receptive to visual cues rather than speech. We're learning how to communicate with him better, and I think it's making our house a little calmer. Oh, and I already bought another chart for Luke. Gotta put 'em to work young!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 usual.

So Luke turned 2... over a month ago. Here's a little post about my little 2 year old... ok, maybe not so little. He's actually kind of big for his age, especially in the cranial area.Luke is a great little talker. He loves to tell me the same "knock, knock" joke every morning which I'm still waiting to hear the punch line to. He has a lisp that is completely endearing. I don't know how cute it will be as a teenager, but for now, it makes every spit-filled word adorable. He wakes up every morning (well, almost every morning, unless it's earlier than 8:00am) with a big smile on his face and asks for Masth (Max) or Daddy. He then will run out to the living room to find Max and say, "Hi ya Masth!" over and over until Max acknowledges him... which can be a long time.He's a pretty active little boy, but I sure am glad he moves a whole lot slower than Max! He has some short, thick, inflexible little legs that don't allow for fence climbing or crib climbing. He usually laughs it off when he stumbles or bumps into things. In fact, he's pretty tough when it comes to wrestling or tackling his dad or brother. He's been known to run full speed (again, not really all that fast) into Max, knock Max down, and pin him until we pull him off. All the while, giggling.Luke has a big, kind heart. He really gets a kick out of sharing things... except with Max. He's actually pretty shy until he knows someone. He loves to grab my face with both hands and plant a big wet one on me... over and over, no matter how hard I try to escape. He loves his daddy too and loves to go bike rides and rides in "Daddy's truck"(I'll spare you what "truck" sounds like with his lisp, it's a little inappropriate). We never would have guessed Luke would love riding in the bike trailer or the car so much considering as a newborn he was in continuous cycle of screaming until he threw up in the car.
Luke certainly has his 2 year old moments when he is incredibly stubborn and throws fits like nobody's business, but more times than not, he's remorseful afterwards and just wants to get back to enjoying life... and food... lots and lots of food. I can't believe he's already 2, but I love that his personality is showing through more and more each day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Changes

This summer has brought some changes for us. First, and probably the biggest: we moved the boys into one room together. Inevitably, we knew they would end up together, but I dreaded the sleeping arrangements. I figured Luke would keep Max up, but Max was practically begging to have Luke in his room (there's strength in numbers when warding off monsters who live in heater vents). Turns out, Luke was less than excited about the move. He prefers his own space at night to wind down (so completely my son). Max was elated and slept great... for a couple nights. Now for some reason we're up at least twice a night; once to go potty, then a couple hours later to run in panicked to sleep on our floor. I can't figure out what is causing his anxiety in the middle of the night, but luckily, Luke sleeps through it all (wish I could too). We converted Luke's room into a toy room and it has been fabulous having all the toys contained in one room. The boys have so much more room to play, and I don't trip over toys during Max's middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks. I didn't take any pictures, because well, just picture Max's room... with a crib. Not that exciting :)

We changed up our garden with raised boxes this year and it has help tremendously! Our harvest has been bountiful. We even have broccoli and cantaloupe. Also, for some reason, we have more yellow zucchini than we know what to do with. We have worked out some kinks and I think our garden will bigger and even better next year!... Maybe minus yellow zucchini.
Ignore the grass in this picture. Apparently our gardening skills don't transfer well to our lawn. shhh don't tell Joey I said that.

We painted our house this summer too. It was a process to say the least picking out paint colors, but we are definitely pleased with the change. Although, painting a house, however small it is, is a HUGE pain. There are still parts we need to touch up, not to mention painting the dog-less dog house and the shed... maybe next year, I guess. Hey, it's Dayton, we can do that.
School starts in a few weeks for Max, but we'll see if we can squeeze in a few lake trips and day bike trips before then. (Maybe that will make the time pass more quickly ha!)
Here's a picture of the boys doing their favorite summer daily activity. I especially like their expressions. Luke usually just sits quietly, content to be chauffeured around in circles. Randomly, they like to hop out to "check the battery." Oh yeah, and Max doesn't have pants on, another daily summer occurrence.Hopefully, you've had a fun summer too. I'm not ready to let go of the summer weather and sunshine, but I'm more than ready for the fun fall will bring!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What is "normal"??

Do you ever find yourself watching one of those “health” shows that is basically a free freak show? The show consists of delving into the personal and private lives of people with mysterious and embarrassing diseases that no one would otherwise hear about. Sometimes I feel guilty that I’m getting entertainment from someone else’s pain. Anyway, during one such show, a mom of a girl with one of those taboo diseases said something like, “I wish my daughter had cancer. At least then, people would have actually heard of it.” That sounds terrible, but I really don’t think the mom wished her child had a horrible, painful, sometimes fatal disease. I think the mom was tired of painfully explaining the inexplicable to everyone about her child, reminding herself each time of her reality.

Now, let me say right now, I don’t wish cancer on my child either, and I know that our situation is way easier than a lot of kids, but I identified with this mom. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to explain to people why Max has gone to so many doctors or why he’s in the early childhood program. The thing is, it’s really hard to explain something you don’t understand. I sometimes wish there was one word to describe Max’s delays and behaviors that would say it all and I wouldn’t have to go into a long explanation. More than anything, I wish there wasn’t anything to explain.

We have this awesome toy that makes all kinds of noise. It plays songs, has sound effects, and talks. The awesome part of the toy is that it comes with three volume settings. The lowest is so quiet you can barely hear it. If you are a parent, you know how blessed that is. Sometimes, I think it would be nice if I could lift up the back of Max’s shirt and flip a switch on his back to “quiet” or maybe “calm”- just for a minute. Then I realize that doing that would be turning off Max’s personality. If we got rid of all Max’s issues, would he cease to be Max? I’d rather have Max than a “normal” kid.

We went to see a psychiatrist today. Even typing that word just seems wrong. Why should a three year old see a psychiatrist?! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be taking my preschooler to see a psychiatrist. Of course, I never dreamt I would take Max to any of the places we’ve been. Have you ever played that game seven degrees of separation? That’s kind of what our little trail of doctors is like. We are getting referred to a occupational therapist by the psychiatrist, who was referred by our neurologist, who we found through our pediatrician who kicked off this whole process. I’m willing to bet when we meet the occupational therapist, she’ll refer us to a behavioral therapist. We’ve had a diagnosis train too- from autism to anxiety disorder, back to autism, back to anxiety, then possibly a genetic disorder, then ADHD, and now an impulse control disorder as a possible diagnosis. And guess what? Only one of those is covered by insurance. I bet if my kid had cancer I wouldn’t have to fight with insurance as to whether it’s a “real” medical issue.

Sorry for the rant, but being frustrated is part of life, and I don’t think it should be a hidden part. Frustration is what makes us learn and grow. I know that there is something for our family to learn from all this. There is a reason Max acts the way he does, and there’s a reason we have to work hard at getting help. I keep thinking it has to be hard now because the pay off later is going to be really huge. His IEP team is already taking bets as to whether he turns out to be a world renowned doctor, lawyer, or painter. It’s just hard to picture what’s on the other side of the hill when we’re still climbing. It’s hard not to concentrate each tough little uphill step instead of the overall progress we’re making. …sorry for the whining, I guess that was my round-about way of giving an update on Max.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teacher Thank You's

Don't you just love when a spur of the moment thought turns into a good idea?

I realized on our way home from California on Sunday that Max only had 3 days of school left. I've had good intentions of getting his teachers and bus driver (all wonderful, sweet women) something to show how appreciative we are of all their help for a while, but time got away from me. I thought of cute cookie or candy bouquets and other expensive presents. With a limited budget and an even more limited time frame (why are short weeks always the busiest?), I realized that would be hard to get done. I glanced at my coupons on the way out the door and found a couple coupons for some candy bags. It was fate! I came home (with an extra bag for me and Luke) and made these tags for the bags.
I know they aren't super fancy, and mostly I blame that on my dying printer. But I'm kinda proud of my puns AND it was fast, cheap, and easy. If you can't tell, the York one says, "We 'mint' to say: Thank You". I remember when I was teaching, edible presents were the best and I usually ended up throwing away all the cutesy wrapping that parents probably took forever to make. At least I know my hard work won't go to waste!

His teacher, aide and bus driver really deserve a lot more, but from what I remember from teaching, a little pat on the back goes a long way. We're so thankful for all the help Max is getting at school. It's such a relief to be in a program with great help and great people! We can't wait for next year!

Here's a template if you want to make the ones pictured. Joey did inform me that my "u" on the York tag still has the beginning of an "r"... if that bugs you, feel free to change it. Oh, and I punched a couple holes in the tag and bag to tie with pretty ribbon. I punched the holes in the bag above the seal so they know I didn't poison them :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A little goes a long way

I heard on the radio today that the amount of new construction across the nation is still half what is considered "economically healthy." It was an insignificant statement made at the end of a news program. It might have been just a small blurb, but to me, it was significant. To me, it means my husband's chosen career field is not getting any more promising, and we are going to keep trudging through the same pattern of sporadic work we've had going on three years now. I don't say this to whine, in fact, I'm shocked to look back and see how long we've been able to hold on and make it. The only thing that can explain it is tithing. I know that there are real blessings from paying tithing. No, we didn't get any mysterious checks in the mail (doesn't mean I dream of that haha) or piles of money left on our door step. We have received odd jobs and deals that have made a big difference. It never fails that some work gets drummed up in the moment we need it.

Another blessing I've noticed is money management. Like I said, we are FAR from perfect, but we have come a llllooonnnnggg way from when we were first married and even when we were single.

One small thing that has made a huge difference is a budget. I know that sounds too simple and obvious, but it's easier said than done. I used to live by the idea that if money was in my account it was available. Not so when you don't know when your next paycheck is coming! Knowing that my bills are covered and there's still a roof over my head goes a long way in calming my anxiety over money. I've heard that couples argue about money most, well when our budget is on the fridge for both of us to see, it pretty much eliminates any need for blame... of course, that means we have to stick to it! I adapted my budget from this website and laminated it so I can write on it with a wet erase marker and reuse it every week (Joey gets paid weekly). Here's my template

Another small thing is meal planning. Joey will tell you I am a sucker for eating out. Not only is it unhealthy (and tasty hee hee), it's also so expensive! Nothing helps me with the "I don't know what to make for dinner" blues, like having a meal plan. I plan out two weeks worth of dinners. I also keep track of the prices of ingredients so that I can get an accurate picture of how much my grocery bill will be. This is still a work in progress, but it's already paying off. My meals aren't really gourmet, but it beats blowing $20 at McDonalds! I'm keeping my meal plans on my computer so I can just cycle through them when I can't come up with any new dinner ideas. Here's a template if you want to print a blank one.

Sometimes it's hard for me not to be able to contribute financially to our family, but there are little things that I can do to reduce the income I spend. We are also working on improving our garden this year, so hopefully that little extra savings will come in handy. We've even gone as far as putting those big, ugly, multicolored Christmas lights on our apple tree to keep our little blossoms from freezing to ensure apple sauce, pie filling and other goodies come fall. Yeah, it's white trash looking, but... when in Rome...or Dayton, I should say...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Life's a Circus

Life has seemed a little circus-y lately. Some days I feel like a trapeze artist trying to balance everything and not fall! Most days I feel I have one of the worst jobs at the circus- cleaning up the elephant poo. More often than not, I feel like one of the lion tamers on one of those shows, "When Animals Attack," when the trained animals wait for the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their trainer's vulnerability. All in all, our circus can be quite entertaining. (just ask my parents when they try to skype with us!)

We took a trip recently to the real circus and I'm not so sure it was a hit. We managed to grab three free tickets for Max, Luke and their cousin Jake. (Thank goodness since a kid's ticket is $12!) There was way too many things going on at once for the kids to focus on the entertainment. I wonder just how much money the food vendors make at those things, going constantly up and down the aisles. We had to keep putting Jakey’s hand down as the snow cone and cotton candy guy came by. The little boys only showed interest when the scantly clad rope swinging ladies came out (I don't know what their official title is). I was more entertained by all the carni-folk who all seemed to have some sort of soap opera type lifestyle going on in the background of the circus culture.

Luke's favorite part of the circus?... snacks found in the diaper bag, of course. The most attention Max gave the three rings... This was before the circus started and I'm pretty sure an elephant was pooping. I'll let you come up with your own caption. Cotton candy was a big hit for Jake. Max squished it with enough hand sweat to make it nice and sticky then threw it on the floor.

This was what was going on the majority of the time. Luke has a mouthful of dropped popcorn from the row behind us and Joey was kind enough to let us share this giant communal lemonade to which I was the official drink supervisor.
Three popped balloon animals and one crabby momma later, we headed out just as the death-defying dirtbikes in a metal ball was getting started. The circus is just too long for 3 squirmy little boys... and me! I really hate crowds. Once we left the crazy circus, I let out a long sigh of relief. I guess it could be compared to life. We have to go out in the crazy world and deal with some real characters, but isn't it nice to come home to a safe (sometimes quiet) place? I think that is the main reason I want to stay home with my crazy circus animals, I want to make sure they have somewhere safe to retreat to so they know what is real and right, not just an act or illusion. So in a way, I guess the circus makes me grateful for being a mom!