Thursday, February 27, 2014

Random Thoughts About Traveling / Blog Milestone

One week from today we will (or should be) in Seattle, Washington, boarding a ferry and ending up at our quaint boathouse in Sequim.  Or, so I hope... Due to my over-anxious and over-analytical mind, I have been fretting, worrying, and.... over-analyzing the details of our trip.  Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed every minute of this new pass time.  I am sure that not many people care about my tiny little thoughts, but I know my family and close friends will get a kick out this post. :) 1.  Realizing that in the event our family has to take a taxi, we CANNOT all fit in a taxi.  This is worse than rides at a theme park.  When you have more that four it really becomes a problem. 2.  Telling the kids they can each take their own suitcase (which they loved) and then realizing we would have to pay for that many bags.  Negative, we will cram as much as we can into two large suitcases, all the while, weighing them at the meat market to make sure they do not exceed 50 lbs.  What?  Doesn't everyone take their luggage to their local butcher shop for pre-boarding weight? 3.  Is it too late to call my doctor and get "something really strong" prescribed for my anxiety? 4.  I keep replaying the scene from "Home Alone".  You know, they are running through the airport because they are late for their flight. 5.  Then I play the next scene when the mom feels like she has forgotten something. 6.  Followed by, "KEVIN!!!!"  This panic has been heightened after my daughter locked herself in the car yesterday without my knowledge.  Don't worry, she is fine and I am just 10 years older than I was 24 hours ago! 7.    Then there is the issue of the ferry.  We have to take a ferry while in Seattle.  I am really not sure if my kids get motion sick.  We have never had an issue in the car but I guess we will first find that out on the plane.  Ugh...I really hope vomit is not in any part of our trip.  It tends to have a domino goes and they all go. 8.  I am just sure that even though we have spent a small fortune on winter gear, Washington will have its first major heat wave in the state's history.  We will need the flip flops and shorts that we always have on in South Texas.  However, we will only have our long polyester layer, followed by our insulated layer, followed by puffy coats, hats, gloves, scarves, and rain/snow boots. 9.  The boat house we are staying in is so cute, it looks like a postcard.... IT DOESN'T HAVE A TV - I think you understand my panic on that one. 10.  My biggest fear - When we arrive in Seattle at 10:30pm (12:30am our time), with cranky kids, and a lot of luggage (hopefully) we will head out to pick up our rental car (extended cab truck).  While we wait, we notice a very small car headed our way.  The guy gets out and hands the keys to my husband.  Yes, that is right...there has been a mistake.  Our pick up truck is now a Pinto and we have to fit 3 kids, 2 adults, and countless pieces of luggage in something only clowns would fit in. And that is just how we roll.... *** My blog has reached a new milestone.  I am excited to say that it has received 20,000 page views.  Now I know that is not a lot for many bloggers but I am thrilled with the number.  Thank you to those who read my posts!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Math Meltdown Turned Math Success!

Oh my, did we have a doozy today.  My oldest son was taking his math test and began to have some serious anxiety issues.  This is not uncommon for him, unfortunately it is something he struggles with on a daily basis.  Due to this and other struggles, we currently home school him.  I thank God often for giving me a teaching background. In preparation for this test, I had already looked over the problems and modified by eliminating the repetitive questions.  When he looks at a test he sees quantity and that gets him very anxious.  He begins to worry that he will never be able to finish.  Then he frantically worries that he is going to make a failing grade.  Side note...even with the anxiety and meltdowns he always makes an A.  That is one of the things that just blows my mind.  He is so talented in math but he panics that he is going to fail the tests.  When this happens, it is as if his logical thinking shuts off and he can't even add simple numbers.  It is so hard to watch as his mother. As expected, he was frustrated within the first 10 minutes.  His frustration turns into whining.  For children with Asperger's, parents cannot get upset and yell.  This goes against my natural instinct, for sure.  I am definitely a "passionate" person and often times it gets the best of me.  I try to distance myself from him (go to a different room, check my email, etc) to keep my stress and anxiety low.  However, most of the time he follows me and cries that he doesn't want to be by himself.  He has to get himself out of these fits and when he is in the middle of one there is no reasoning.  We have to wait it out... and it can be a very long wait. Today, I decided to call my mother in law for help.  She came and picked up our four year old daughter.  They were going to run errands and that would give me an opportunity to work one on one with our son.  The melt down finally ended and we were able to talk in a nice, quiet house.  When I finally got to the root of the anxiety, he admitted that he was scared of failing.  I reminded him that I would never let him fail a test.  I told him if he failed, I would re-teach him and he would have another opportunity to take the test.  I saw a wave of relief rush over him.  He realized it was going to be okay and he was not going to fail.  But, I can't get him to understand that until the meltdown is over and he is calm. I asked him if he would be willing to take the test one problem at a time using his dry erase board.  He agreed to that because he loves using his dry erase board and markers.  I kept the test on the other side of the room (out of his sight) and wrote only one problem on the board.  He worked the problem, showed me the answer, and then I wrote the answer in the book.  This kept him from getting anxious over seeing the entire test.  It reminds me of putting blinders on a horse so they don't see the other horses during a race. I also had him eat his lunch at the same time.   I knew eating would give him something else to focus on in between math problems.  Also, I read that chewing relieves frustration.  Each time he would finish a problem, I would take the dry erase board to the other side of the room, wipe it clean, and write down the next problem.  We finished in 20 minutes.  He was calm, happy, and made a...100. :) I think this is how I am going to handle his math test next week.  I may not even call it a test.  I will just have him work different problems on his dry erase board.  The point is that he knows how to work the problems, not calling it a test. The "test" took two hours total.  One hour and forty minutes to work through the melt down and twenty minutes to really do the work.  It was exhausting but we made it through and we have learned to call that a SUCCESS!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Frantically Trying to Go with the Flow

You will either understand and empathize with me or think I am a complete nut job after reading this post. I must be a glutton for self punishment and pressure.  I am constantly holding myself to a standard that only June Cleaver could attain.  Why?  I really have no idea.  Sometimes I think it is due to the fact that I stay home.  I feel that because I stopped working, my sole job is to make sure everything runs smoothly in our home.  But then I remember back to when I was working and I pretty much held my self to the same standard.  I was the mom who tried to work a full-time job (actually when you are a teacher it is more than full time) but maintain everything like a stay-at-home mom.  Why do I do this to myself? My husband would agree with that question.  He is constantly telling me to relax, that no one else is concerned with the details like I am.  He is right.  But I still can't help but freak out at all the small things. We have had quite a difficult two years.  Recently, our son's diagnosis of ADHD with anxiety was changed to Aspergers.  I am trying to deal with this new title and remind myself that it doesn't change who he is but that is not an easy task.  I plan to write a more in depth post on the diagnosis change soon. Sometimes I think that is why I fret over every little detail.  When things go well, it makes me feel like I am doing my job.  It makes me feel like I can give myself a pat on the back, a high five, or stamp of approval.  When everything else in life feels like it is going crazy, a well planned birthday party, successful new recipe, or a great project makes me feel better about the things that aren't so great.  It helps push me along to the next day. When you have a child who struggles it is very easy to constantly punish yourself.  You look at other families and things seem so easy.  I am sure they aren't, but they appear that way.  I often get the compliment that I am such a strong person and that I always have it together.  That is SO far from the truth.  There are definitely people in my life that expect panicked phone calls from me...on a weekly basis. :) I have got to learn to let go.  It is something I am constantly telling my son.... go with the flow, just enjoy life, chill...  It upsets me when I see those qualities in him because those are the same qualities that I posses and they cause me so much stress and grief.  I don't want him to have that type of stress. So how does an overly anxious, possible perfectionist, and moderately obsessive person learn to go with the flow?  I research that question often.  But maybe that is part of the problem...  Instead of letting my hair down, I am frantically researching how to not be so frantic! I think it may just be easier to go bake something or start a new project. :) If you have it figured out, let me know.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ugh...Do We Have to Practice Spelling Words?

Ugh....spelling words, I remember the feeling of torture when I had to practice spelling words.  I believe I have passed that trait onto my son.  Lets face it, for most of us, memorizing spelling words is not fun.  I am learning that on the parent side it feels even worse.  I have used practice tests, stair writing, rainbow writing, flashcards, small white boards, and the list goes on.  I could tell my oldest son was getting burnt out on these ideas so today I decided to break out the play dough. All of my kids love play dough.  Over the years, I have learned to ignore the mess on the floor and just enjoy the fact that it keeps them happy and busy for an extended period of time.  I am sure using play dough for spelling words is not a new idea.  But today was the first day it popped into my head. I would call it a success!  I gave my son a plastic place mat, new container of play dough, toothpick (for writing) and a plastic cup for rolling.  He is having a great time!  It is also a great little workout for fine motor skills.

I love the look of focus on his face.

It also kept little sister busy. :)  We also practice her letters in the play dough.

Annoyed that I keep taking her picture...

Which only makes me want to take it more! :)

Note from Jacob:  He tried toothpicks, butter knife, and fork as writing utensils with the play dough.  He said the toothpick worked best. :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Inexpensive Valentine Snack for Class

Is it really possible that Valentine's Day is this Friday?  I feel like it was just Christmas.  I have completely procrastinated this year.  Last year, I had so many cute ideas and plans for the fun day.  This year I bought a candy and card set to assemble for my son's kindergarten class.  By assemble, I mean sign his name and stick the candy to the card.  I just couldn't seem to get into it.  Until yesterday... I stopped to talk to my son's teacher after school.  I asked her if there was anything she needed for Friday.  She was planning a small celebration for the class and I figured all of the extra items had already been reserved by other parents.  Much to my surprise, there was still plenty for the taking.  I could tell she truly needed some extra snacks and treats brought in for the students.  As soon as I got home, I called my mom.  The two of us put our heads together to see what we could come up with on such short notice. My mom made a run to the dollar store and put together little treat bags and juice boxes.  I decided they needed something salty to go with all the sweets.  I like the idea of snack bags with goldfish crackers.  I found a couple of cute notes and printables on Pinterest but was having a horrible time getting anything to print.  I decided it would be quicker to just make my own.  Also, I figured if I had to make it myself I might as well share it in printable form. Feel free to print or share. :)  They are nothing fancy but I thought they turned out pretty cute.
(Sorry, it is blurry.  My camera lens needs to be repaired.  It obviously focused on the woodgrain below and not the words on the printable.)

* After clicking (click here to print...), you will be sent to a Google Doc page.  It may look different.  You must  select "file", then select "download".  The image will download to your computer (should appear normal)and then you can print from there.

You could really make them much cuter by adding ribbons and cute baggies.  My mom said she picked up decorative baggies so I will use those for the finished snacks.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Going to Washington with 45 Pairs of Underwear!!!

Our calm, mild, small family of five is traveling to Washington for Spring Break. Let me restate that... Our loud, crazy, and full of energy family of five is flying to Washington in less than a month!!!  We are beyond excited to see great friends and experience scenery and activities like never before.  The kids have limited flying experience and have never been to any state west of Texas.  This is going to be quite the adventure. We found an adorable resort (view here) with real tree houses and boat houses for extended stays.  The tree house was adorable but we went with the boat house for more size.  It is a renovated boat house that is now secured on piers.  When the tide comes in, the water flows under the house.  It is so cool! I have been buying and buying and buying winter gear.  Snow boots, fleece pants, long johns, hats, gloves, etc.  all which has to be packed for the plane.  We have never taken a family vacation that involved flying, we always drive.  This "little" detail has put a definite challenge on my pack list.  Also, the resort does not have a washer and dryer.  Not that I want to do laundry on vacation, but with a family of five it is pretty much a necessity. Here is why.... If I don't do laundry,  each person will need 4 prs. of jeans, 2 prs. of fleece pants, and 8 long sleeve shirts, as well as, other items for layering.  That is a total of 20 prs. of jeans, 10 prs. of fleece pants, and 40 long sleeve shirts!!!! If I don't do laundry, each person will need 9 prs. of socks plus 9 pairs of underwear.  That is a total of 45 prs. of socks (90 individual socks) and 45 prs. of underwear!!!! Is it just me or does this seems RIDICULOUS!  These numbers are outrageous!  Not to mention what kind of luggage is going to hold all this! If you are a seasoned traveler of large families and small children please send me your suggestions.  I am all ears!

Monday, February 3, 2014


During a day when I am having a hard time keeping my head up and my shoulders back, I am reminded of one very important detail. While in the car this afternoon, my son asked, "Mommy, why does it look like the car is all of the road and out of the lane?"  It took me a minute to figure out what he was asking.  No, he was not stating that my driving was that bad.  :)  I realized from his seat and looking out the windshield, it looked as if the car was out of the lane.  I remember having that same thought as a child.  It always appeared that the car was too big for the lane (when seated inside the vehicle). I told him, "Oh, it is all in your perspective."  That small sentence hit me like a brick.  I had been having a very rough day and I needed to be reminded to keep things in perspective (insert God and a random discussion about the size of a car and lane).  As I gathered my thoughts, I continued explaining how the car looks so much bigger when you are inside.  But when you are outside or looking at the car in front of you, it fits perfectly in the lane.  I told him it was his perspective that made it look different.  I explained when you change your perspective, the issue appears differently. This seemed so simple to him, after all, he was just asking about the lane and the car.  Little did he know, that I needed the same conversation in order to change my current perspective.  It it similar to looking at a building up close or a mile away.  Up close, the building seems huge but move a mile away and you can cover the building with the palm of your hand.  I have to remind myself of this when life seems a bit too hard.  It all has to do with perspective. Easier said than done, but necessary to continue driving to your destination.
I thought this was a great picture to demonstrate perspective.  This is my family on the beach this past summer.  My cousin took the picture from our condo on the 22nd floor plus she had her camera zoomed in all the way.  Look how tiny we look!  Also, look how massive the water appears.  God controls waters bigger than we can imagine plus he takes the time to hold even the smallest of things in the palm of his hand.  It kind of put things in perspective... :)

"Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren't you far more valuable to Him then they are?"  Matthew 6:26