Saturday, December 1, 2012

Time flies!

Goodness, how did a month go by already?

Since my last post I have logged ten knitting/crochet projects totaling 1,640 yards of yarn (nearly a mile!), and made more progress on my sweater (which often gets set aside to complete something with a little quicker gratification).  There have also been a few projects started that weren't going to work out right so they were undone.  I don't consider that a waste of time, though - there is always something I can learn about using different yarn or needles, or whether it's really the kind of knitting I wanted to do.  Sometimes I'm so captivated by a knitted item I decide I must do it, without taking into consideration that it incorporates a style or method I really don't care for.  Here is one that I couldn't resist, even if it does get a bit fiddly: a Norwegian baby hat that I knitted for a new great niece.  DW has been a great model for some of my projects and she always shows things off to great advantage :-)

Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap

Both kids are doing all right, alternating between sailing along and struggling in rough seas depending on the day or issue.  Girlie will get to ride in the equine therapy program through December (which she loves) until they quit for the winter.  Boyo is busy with preparations for The Nutcracker and looking forward to starting basketball.  This will be the first time he has been involved in an organized school sport and we hope for the best.

My mother's live-in caregiver left unexpectedly so there was a bit of a flurry trying to decide how best to handle it, and several meetings and long emails/phone conversations with siblings.  At this point I think I'll call it 'so far, so good', and leave it at that.

We are preparing for an IEP meeting next week with Girlie's team and I'm sure a lot of the focus will be on how best to work on transitioning her toward high school (eep!) next fall.  That, and the holidays fast approaching with extra rehearsals, tech week, gift and charity knitting, and starting basketball practices is quite enough to be going with for the moment!  We'll concentrate on the good parts because, after all, time flies whether we're having fun or not!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dr. Switzer's method doesn't always work...

I've been so caught up in life and love and loss there just hasn't been time or motivation to write about it. In the same way I treat living with a chronic condition, going long periods of time during which I avoid medical intervention by telling my head to shut up and letting my body get on with taking care of itself*, I have just lived each day as it came and tried help everyone get through it as best we could.

A pair of socks I recently finished are full of processing and 'knitting through it'. The color reminds me of a great gift my daughter Carey gave me when she was eight or nine years old - a very wise show of her support when I was trying to quit smoking. The color reference is because there are green beans in the can - which Carey says are actually 'grean' - and it's the exact color as the green stripes in the socks.

My very own can of Fancy Whoop-Ass!

That can of Fancy Whoop-Ass is still in my cupboard and has served as a reminder many times that yes, I am accountable to other people in my life, but ultimately to myself.  Sometimes I have to think of taking out that can o' Whoop-Ass and using it to power through a situation; not to 'get over it', or get around it, but get through it. Any other route one takes is a risk because there is healing and learning that must happen, and it usually starts in the middle of the path. A crass symbol of that thought process, maybe, but very effective for me!
Sunrise Socks by WendyKnits in Lion Brand Sock-Ease

For those of you who haven't heard of Dr. Switzer, here is a favorite video.

This has been a great reference for me, along with my can of Whoop-Ass, but here is some important advice: Dr. Switzer's method does not work in the middle of a full-blown meltdown. Now we've come to the point where I have to admit to coming to that realization. Ages ago, you must be thinking, right? um... no. In fact it only became crystal clear today. Maybe I should have opened that can years ago when I wasn't figuring that lesson out!

*Not necessarily a recommended method of self-care, but one that works well for me as I tend to dwell on things too much. Surround me with chocolate and I'll think of chocolate - immerse me in medication and specialist appointments and I'll think more about being unwell and unfortunate and less about how to really be!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Little Reminders

Sometimes, life takes us in so many different directions that I end up not being in the right place to catch one of the endless balls in the air. Keeping a calendar helps, and sending myself text and email reminders has been a great technological advantage. Appointments, rehearsals, meetings, classes, work assignments - there are very few days when at least one of us doesn't have to be somewhere, or have a deadline to meet.

Pie safe, with a new lease on life!
There are other reminders that serve to keep us on our path, and help us remember what's important. Dearest recently 'rescued' the pie safe that I grew up with; cleaning, refurbishing, and tightening all the joints after it spent several years gathering dust and falling to pieces in my mother's garage. It's a piece of furniture that has always given me comfort, because it was there when I was too young to know about the very hard things in life. It came out of an old house when Dad was working in demolition, before I was born, and he just couldn't bear to toss it aside. Hard to believe that glass has survived all the roughhousing when us kids were growing up! My brother took it when my parents moved, and stripped the old black stain to reveal the warm oak color. He gave it to me when my big kids were little, and I felt as though I was welcoming an old friend.

Lately, with Carey and her family moving, there has been a flood of reminders wrapped up in the house next door. The house where Dearest and I decided we'd have children, first through fostering, and then adoption. Where Girlie came to us only weeks after we'd made the decision. Where we said 'hello' to a brand-new-born babe that we thought was going to be our own, and then - with only two hours notice - 'good-bye' six weeks later (I choose to believe his story has a happy ending, because with confidentiality laws I will never know for sure). Where Tall Boy and Carey finally came to live with us full time, then Boyo came - and through one thing and another we ended up with two more for a total of six children in that little house (four of them teenagers), for eight months! The pie safe was there then, but had to be moved a few years later due to a severe case of us bustin' out at the seams in that house. Considering there was one person in particular, not to mention any names (coughBoyocough), who literally climbed the walls, and a couple little people who threw things during meltdowns, the pie safe was no longer safe in my care in such a little house.

No matter how many times I thank him, Dearest can't completely know the importance of this gift. Just a piece of furniture? No. In fact, although the photo shows it empty, it never was. The pie safe has always been full of reminders of comfort, safety, and the assurance that we can endure. ♥

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Take a breath!

I kept thinking time was getting away from me, and mentally counting up the days since the last post - hard to believe I let three weeks go by!

So - we've been busy with horseback riding, extra rehearsals, performance at the fair, fundraising for the ballet academy's fall production, preparations for school, repairs (and some more repairs) to my van, a couple of home projects, a day trip north to visit family, checking on Mom more often while her caregiver was out of town, helping my oldest daughter and her family move out of the house next door :-(

Yes, the last item on the list was hard - still is - and has been an interesting thing to experience on many levels. I tried to ignore that it was happening right up 'til the first night they didn't sleep in their beds next door, just because there was no way I could get myself emotionally ready for it to be real.  It took the kids even longer; Girlie mentioned a couple times that she was waiting to give something to her niece and I had to remind her they really didn't live there any more. It's been most of the three weeks now, and I'm less often thinking along the lines of running next door to chat, and getting used to not hearing the squeak of the gate and fast little footsteps on my porch.

Milo 7 months - 6/12
It's a good thing - shouldn't that make it easy? No; in fact, I just realized the three weeks of not writing here was a way to delay the very last reality of it, which is putting it down in black and white. And I may have just stepped away from the computer for a bit to grab a tissue. Of course we still talk every day in some manner, but I don't have access to an immediate fix of hugs from the grandkids. And no more giggles and squeals from the yard.

All right, enough of the maudlin, let's move on to the practical. When Girlie's schedule came in the mail I noticed immediately that she'd been assigned a locker. In considering for a while it seemed like a plausible way to work on a new life skill in preparation for starting high school (!) next year. I had Girlie sit down at the table to practice with a combination lock and found she could only open it on the first try about 50% of the time. I don't even want to know how that would translate in a hallway full of kids with a time limit, so no locker for Girlie. It wasn't a problem; the school counselor had assigned it by mistake and Girlie can continue to keep her things in a cubby in the life skills classroom. The problem with the combination lock is due to her dyspraxia, which is a huge variable at any time. Girlie can sit in her room and do some beadwork in a quiet, relaxed environment, but when she is stressed or in a hurry she still has difficulty manipulating buttons on her clothes. If she must have a locker at any point, it will have to be with a keyed lock.

School got off to a great start; now it's time to get all we can out of the last sun-shiny weekend of summer with one more road trip before the real extra quiet time starts for me next week. Well, it will provide the perfect opportunity to learn how to use the knitting machine a friend gave me last week...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Well, really, the games are nearly over, and that's partly why I haven't written lately. This is the first year the kids have shown any interest in The Olympic Games so we've been watching for a while every evening, and the kids are watching some events in the morning, as well. Girlie has been interested in equestrian events - big surprise, huh? No; in fact, she is about all things 'horse' and has been enjoying riding again lately in the HeartStrides Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship program at Healing Hearts Ranch. We discovered in the two years since we'd been there that the ranch owner has become a Centered Riding instructor - a method that was developed by Sally Swift who happens to have been one of Dearest's relatives! I'd like to think she'd be pleased to know that she has reached out to help us, in another of those little ways in which we are all connected.

School starts in three weeks, but it hardly feels we've had time off because Boyo chose to continue with ballet and music lessons through the summer. Next week at The Southwest Washington Fair there will be a sneak peek of some of the dances being prepared for the October production of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Boyo spent last weekend working hard with the Wenatchee Youth Circus when they came to the Thousand Trails Campground in Chehalis. The kids do a lot of the set up - pounding stakes, raising awnings and apparatus - then he joined them as part of a performance!

With all the busy-ness going on, my knitting has taken a back seat, and I miss it! Ravelry puts on some fun events around the theme of the Olympic games (formerly known as Ravelympics; now known as The Ravellenic Games), wherein one is part of a virtual team and joins in with a knitting project named tongue-in-cheek for an Olympic event. Although I did earn a couple of 'medals' in the 2010 games, I'm not sure if I'll accomplish as much this year.  Oh, well - at least I finished my first pair of gloves a couple weeks ago.  So: on my mark, get set, keep going!  :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pictures Worth At Least 1,000 Words...

But I'll add a few more just to explain:  we've been anxiously awaiting a homecoming.  The Puppy Department of Guide Dogs of America called last week; Cyrus (formerly known here as The Pup) was working hard and learning, but indicated being a Guide Dog wasn't what would make him happy.  We were informed that he would be a Career Change dog, and wanted to come home!  Raising him from a 7.5 week old puppy really changed Girlie's life - maybe he figured he was supposed to be her dog all along :-)

Things lined up perfectly, and another Puppy Raiser from our area was vacationing near GDA in Sylmar, so Cyrus was able to hitch a ride home, enjoying the scenery along the way.

Stopped to see the Redwoods
Stopped for lunch along the coast

Welcome home hug ♥

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Needs Must

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" Leonard Nimoy as Spock in 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan', 1982.

Probably one of  Spock's most famous lines, right up there with "Live long and Prosper" and "Illogical".  Captain Kirk's shaky reply was, "Or the one."  It was obvious that Spock's self-sacrifice was the only way to save everyone else.

Moms get this.  It's what we do, right?  It's the hallmark of a good mom, right?  No. In fact, it can be a sign of impending doom before becoming a (hopefully only temporarily) broken mom.  Many women are raised with a 'needs must' attitude, and the belief that we must get the job done no matter what the cost to our personal health or emotional well-being.  Otherwise, we fear being thought of as selfish or inadequate if others perceive we are putting our own needs before those of our families.

Guess what? You are not going to be capable of giving your best help and support if you are at less than your best.  Worst-case scenario, a woman can allow herself to be driven to the point of emotional implosion and/or serious illness, no longer able to provide for herself or anyone else. Yes, it sounds dramatic, but just because we don't talk about it doesn't mean it isn't happening a lot more often than we think.

There is a balance.  We need to raise our children - especially our daughters - to listen to their needs in a productive way.  Not because we want them to lie around on the couch playing video games, but because a little solitary time weeding the garden or shooting a few hoops, reading, quiet time/meditation - or knitting! - is an effective way to regroup and gather one's energies after a class or meeting.  Teach them to know what that is, and how to value it as a tool of good self-care.

If caring only for others can leave us drained and unwell, and caring only for ourselves makes us selfish, it makes sense that striking a balance is the only way to be healthy and whole. What greater gift can we give our children?

One nice way to take care of oneself is with a hot water bottle to sooth away
the aches and pains of too much gardening or yard work! This is my slightly
tweaked version of the Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cosy by Alexis Layton,
a free pattern on Ravelry!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

For what it's worth...

I'm not the only person in my family who actually got choked up when I reported that Girlie came downstairs, after getting ready to go to youth group, with her hair completely brushed and dried and a very modest amount of carefully applied makeup on. Makeup! Including a tiny bit of mascara! She looked like any other 14-year-old girl-next-door. Who would have thought I'd ever place so much importance on wearing makeup? Naturally it isn't the makeup I care about, per se, it's the typicality of the situation that caught me by surprise. Girlie is growing up, and she has come a long way, Baby!  :-)

A beautiful smile can reveal interesting things in an x-ray. Boyo is going full speed ahead in orthodontia - the consult was today and braces will be on in one week! There were some aspects I could identify as problematic even without explanation from the orthodontist, so I'm glad we're not losing any time. Yes, he's anxious, and so am I (about how he'll deal with it, not about the orthodontia), but trying not to let on. Of course Girlie has been in one phase or another of her extensive orthodontia for nearly five years, so I hope that will help lessen the anxiety a bit for Boyo, in addition to knowing that his case will take about a third the length of time.

My mom is going to celebrate her 80th birthday this month. I didn't think that would be possible.

My Tall Boy is going to have a birthday this month.  I didn't think that would be possible - twice.

Dearest is going to have a birthday this month.  I've helped him celebrate eighteen of them - there have been times I wished we'd met earlier in our lives, but we would have been different people with different contributions; who can say whether we would have fallen in love?

Worth is subjective, but these things fit very nicely with the way I've been feeling lately.  Is it possible I've gone overboard about makeup, braces, and a few birthdays?  No. In fact, I think pretty much everything is holy now.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wait... What Break?

Wow, last week was busy! Work meetings, music lessons, marching practice, ballet rehearsals, parade, recital... and a bunny?  Yes - Girlie and I fell in love with this fellow at the parade and he had to come home with us. He is a four-month-old Lionhead mix crossed with a Flemish Giant, so is likely to end up somewhere between medium and large (I think he has 'medium' covered already).

Calm and comfortable bunny!
Basking in our moment of sunshine

I named him Albus as he instantly reminded me of Dumbledore as portrayed by Richard Harris.

Boyo did a great job marching in his first parade and the ballet recital was excellent; the ballet academy has grown and accomplished so much in three years! Rehearsals for the fall production start next week, as do the tumbling classes, and Boyo informed me today he wants to continue his piano and trumpet lessons through the summer.

Girlie was excited to find out today that she will get to do some horseback riding again this summer! It's been a while, but the ranch has added a new intermediate program that sounds perfect for her. Therapeutic riding has amazing effects on people with cognitive, physical, or neurological challenges - so much so that some insurance companies are finally starting to recognize the value of hippotherapy!

Too busy to knit? No - in fact I have several projects going (of course) and am currently knitting my first pair of gloves (along with a test knit for a designer friend, a pair of stranded mittens, Boyo's socks...). This is a custom kettle-dyed black tonal merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn that I over-dyed to have the red and blue flecking. I'm really happy with how the project is looking!

'Most Basic Gloves' pattern by Nicole Elizabeth
Yes, we're busy, and sometimes it feels like a bit more activity than I'd prefer, but I'm savoring the moments while these kiddos are happy. What more could a parent ask for?  :-)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ready.... BREAK!

The second week of June is typically pretty busy around here, as it is the last week of school and the week before recital. Might sound "same ol', same ol'", but no - in fact, this week we have more going on than we do in some entire months of the rest of the year!

Boyo has marching band practice every day, leading up to the local annual parade Saturday morning, and extra rehearsals and class photos for the ballet recital Saturday afternoon. Since the parade happens in the morning he will miss the dress rehearsal in the performance venue, but hopefully get oriented to the stage when we take him in a few minutes early for 'call'.

There are field trips this week, my regular monthly meetings with agendas beforehand and meeting minutes after; and a new, exciting project that I'm working on for a friend's non-profit organization. Girlie has a terrible cold, and some of us are struggling against terrible attitudes - and I'll admit I'm the first person I need to take strongly in hand, here!

Blogging will be taking a back seat for a while - likely at the very back of the bus - but I'd like to leave you with something.  A dear friend (thank you, Ione!) posted a link to an amazing video, which I'll share:

...and here is another that mentioned the same wondrous premise forty years ago.

We ARE all connected. So can I borrow some of your energy to get us through the next week? ;-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Catch 22

Yep, that title is a good fit!

Girlie has been taking social skills classes at an autism learning center for a few years, now. Her progress has been amazing, and when I think of how she has matured, and how much her behavior has changed, it's easy to feel some confidence for her future success. However, it's important to keep in mind that when she takes a social skills class at an autism learning center with a group of her peers, she is with a group of her peers. That means the kids whose example she may follow are probably having similar behaviors and reactions.

It's important, albeit tricky sometimes, to ensure that children on the spectrum can join in supervised activities with neurotypical kids but away from school so they can observe typical kids doing what typical kids do. The reason I think it's important to do this away from a school setting is because most of the school day is pretty structured and the expectations are considerably different than they are in a less formal environment, where a kiddo with challenges in social behavior may be at loose ends, not knowing what is expected or which type of behavior to emulate. Those parents who have their kids involved in Scouts or church-affiliated youth groups are ahead of the game. In our rural area it can be hard to find options with which our family is a good fit.

Middle school is such a proving ground, and the stakes are very high; failures can be spectacular even for neurotypical kids. Of course this means siblings of kids on the spectrum can have more challenges, too, possibly creating further tension to an already strained relationship.

Now is a good time to spend more time talking, trying to imagine scenarios (which is a good exercise for our very literal kiddos, anyway), predicting what expected behaviors might look like, and problem-solving possible stumbling blocks.

Lyrics popped into my head when I began that last paragraph, from Funkytown by Lipps, Inc. It occurred to me how appropriate the whole song is from the standpoint of kids on the spectrum or with other challenges, and how they do have to find a place where they fit. If you've had enough coffee, you might even enjoy watching a blast-from-the-past video.  :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dark Days

Over half-way through spring, and the end of the school year is in sight - happy days, right? No, in fact, the end of the school year brings some difficult times (cue dramatic music)... state-mandated testing. Not only has it become the focus for the teachers, as they now have to teach to curricula aimed at the tests without allowance for variation in teaching styles or methods; there is such frequent mention to the kids about the importance of testing that it raises the stress ante out of proportion. How sad. It becomes especially difficult for the kiddos who struggle to maintain their academic level, and missing class time due to testing creates problems with finishing current assignments, so grades drop due to late assignments.

A word to the wise:  stay in contact with the teachers and counselors. Girlie is really sad about taking such a dramatic hit to her math grade after struggling all year to stay at grade level, and this is the first time she has really indicated caring about grades at all.

The recent eclipse brought some concern; at least, all the discussion about it did. Imagine hearing phrases such as, "ring of fire" and "moon obscuring the sun" if you are the kind of person who doesn't realize that questions can be asked of others when one is anxious. As it turned out, we saw very little evidence that it happened at all, since it was so rainy and overcast here.

Something with great potential has happened, but it's too soon to get my hopes up: since Girlie has shown some interest in cooking and food preparation, she has become willing to dish up her own dinner and agrees to have at least a few bites of what is prepared (without argument, because she is serving herself!) before fixing her own alternative meal. This could mean I can make anything for dinner, without regard to the potential for tantrums, and not have to prepare a completely separate meal for Girlie. In my wildest fantasies I can imagine never again witnessing a screaming, fist-pounding, hair-pulling, face-hitting meltdown at the dinner table. It's only been a week since the last one, though, so the visual is still pretty vivid. 

It's well documented that folks with chronic health issues, especially inflammatory and/or auto-immune conditions, are prone to occasional difficulties with depression, which can lead to a withdrawal from social activities and involvement. These problems can be exacerbated by stress, but that's all I'm going to say about that.

A final note: I think we're past the worst of the pollen that has been so tough on Girlie this year. We live in a pretty heavily-treed area so I don't know if it is the fir or the maple that affects her the most, and I think they run about the same time frame. Here is what two days of accumulation looks like on the car - no wonder Girlie could hardly breathe through the congestion! Bad timing, considering the testing at school, since she finds it much more difficult to sleep and concentrate, but I think we're over the hump in a lot of ways at our house.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

You Just Never Know!

It never fails; about the time I think nothing changes, something changes.

Girlie is starting to get interested in food preparation and cooking. I've wanted this to happen for a long time, albeit with a few reservations due to our propensity for dyspraxia-related mishaps. Still, there is no shortage of cleaning supplies in this house!

Last week while I was gone Girlie asked Dearest to help her make noodles (meaning, 'boil some pasta'), and the household was buzzing with excitement when I came home. Most recently, she turned down a chance to go swimming and asked if she could make brownies. That was much more involved because, not only was there a list of ingredients, Girlie had to figure out how to halve them because we only wanted a small pan rather than the huge quantity the recipe makes. She even managed to get the brownies out of the oven safely. How better to celebrate such a huge accomplishment than with warm brownies and milk?

Just as a reminder that Mother Nature makes her own rules, we had a hard frost last week and lost the tomato plants in spite of having them covered. I'm not sure, but one of my hardy fuchsias may have succumbed, as well. Today, Boyo offered to go to the nursery and get replacement tomatoes, so Dearest fixed him up with money, the plant markers (as we had four different varieties) and a way to carry the plants the half mile safely home. Girlie decided she wanted to go along, and took some of her own money to buy more pansies. It's a great feeling when the kids do something just a bit out of my comfort zone and we all celebrate their success!
A timely find!

I'm pretty excited about a book I recently found on the fundraiser cart at the learning center where Girlie takes her social skills classes. I knew from the first page that this book will be invaluable.

When the weather is mild I love to be outside, and lately I've had a few quiet opportunities to sit outside knitting and listening to audiobooks. I've wondered if there is a limit to what I'm willing to knit, but no - in fact - I haven't found it yet. To that end, I have to say that my mp3 player is an important part of my life, and I'm willing to put forth some effort into keeping it safe and the earbud cords untangled.

'Untangled' is a great free pattern available on Ravelry!
What's next? You just never know!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nothing New Under the Sun?

Seriously, nothing noteworthy has happened in two weeks? No, in fact; plenty has happened: some was more of the same, but not all of it.

The adjustment period immediately after The Pup left was eased by the first guest-pup, and then a few days later, Girlie took charge of another guest-pup. I think after he leaves this evening, we'll take a break and give her time to really adjust without the distraction of another dog.

Recently we have had highs and lows with both kiddos: public recognition of a piece written for a state-wide competition and being chosen for a lead role in a fall production have been countered with the stress of end-of-year school testing, falling behind in homework, and new challenges in math. One of the signs of stress we see most often with Girlie is wakefulness in the evening, and we can hear her quietly puttering around in her room 'til long after she should be asleep. Boyo is the opposite: he can usually fall asleep just fine, but if he has something on his mind he'll be in the kitchen rummaging for breakfast an hour before it's time to get up.

Dearest and I find the best way to deal with stress, this time of year, is to get Girlie out in the garden and throw Boyo in the pool. Girlie wants to plant things - she doesn't even really care what she plants - and will pull up leftover or volunteer perrenials or tree seedlings and put them in pots all over the yard. Boyo needs something safe to keep him busy, and the more physical activity, the better. He wants to swim every chance he gets! Money talks with that boy, and he's pretty happy to be taking over Grandma's lawn chores this year.

Ready to plant (Girlie has some pansies this year)

Waiting to receive (see the pots of miscellany?)

The best part at this moment is not whether anything is new under the sun, but that there is sun. I think I'll take my coffee and knitting outside and see if that goldfinch comes by again this morning...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goodbye, Hello...

The Pup left yesterday. He's off to college, and then hopefully a good job. :-) Considering he left for training at a somewhat younger-than-usual age due to his precocious behavior, we're hopeful that he will fulfill his amazing potential and develop into a skilled Guide Dog. At the same time, we also know he's dealing with the "teenage" behavior you might expect from a Labrador, and hasn't quite mastered his inner goofball, so...

In the meantime, we have a house guest for a couple of days to keep our mind off missing The Pup too much. This little girl is in training, too, and Girlie has become a great puppy-sitter. We know she is missing her pal, but she can't dwell on it too much if she is fending off a wet nose, answering an urgent whine, or working on basic manners for a younger pup.

As another example of excellent timing, all the library books Girlie placed on hold last week were available today, so even when her young charge goes home tomorrow there will Unicorns and Warriors to think about.

We are so glad that things came together as well as they did so that Girlie was able to take The Pup to school for a presentation last week, and that we had an impromptu family picnic on Sunday that we could say was a Going Away Party.

A side note, for those of you familiar with dyspraxia: training an animal is an excellent way to increase one's awareness of what one's hands (and the rest of the body, but especially the hands) are doing. It's been interesting to see Girlie realize every movement she makes affects what the dog does, and sometimes with undesired results. The difference has been that the dog is not being judgmental (which is how Girlie often perceives my behavior/body language) and there is never the added burden of speech from the dog.

As grief tends to do, I know there will be times when it may pop up unexpectedly and take Girlie by surprise. We'll deal with it as best we can, but in the meantime Girlie is doing better than we hoped, and we are so proud of how much she has matured during The Year With The Pup.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

An Interesting Reaction...

...but what does it mean? (Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas)

We are still having real difficulties with morning behavior in our house. Boyo is a morning person and launches himself from bed. He gets things done in a loud, busy way, and can't seem to stop his mouth from making comments guaranteed to annoy any older sister. Girlie is a slow starter and always has been, and it doesn't take much input for things to break down - it's not uncommon for there to be screaming, crying meltdowns at our house at 6:30 in the morning, and she is still sometimes yelling and crying on her way out to the bus.

We had a talk again one day last week. The upshot was that Dearest and I had outlined a couple scenarios and she could choose how she would handle things: she could be completely left alone with no reminders, in which case she would most likely not be ready for the bus and Dearest would drive her to school; or she could get up half an hour earlier (5:30!) to give herself more time. Girlie chose a different path, and said she would keep things the same but have a 'restart' the next morning.

Wednesday went pretty smoothly, and Dearest was surprised at how well Girlie kept things together. Thursday, however, was a different story. When Dearest described to me what happened, I told him what I thought was the catalyst. When Girlie got home from school and we discussed it, she described to me exactly what I had imagined and told Dearest. An innocent question from him completely confused her, and that was enough to put things right back to square one! Girlie agreed that she could have handled it better and said she'd apologize to her dad.

Dearest and I had a talk, too, and I explained further what I thought had gone wrong. He needs to learn more about Girlie's style of literal thinking, for one thing. The part that was so amazing, for me, was that I had seen the problem so exactly from Girlie's perspective. Wonderful, and helpful, and kinda scary, in a way! Hopefully, this new understanding will lead to more peaceful mornings.

Everyone knows I love to knit socks; they are an easy and portable project. Recently I decided to knit a pair of tube socks and learned a bit about the construction, and why many knitters (and wearers) don't favor them. The pattern I found was from a 1941 "Knit For Defense" pamphlet, and hosted by Sarah (the designer of the Mini-Mania scarf I've been working on) on her Exchanging Fire blog. The socks are knitted in a spiral rib pattern, which means the fabric will draw in to the contours of the heel and ankle. I used a completely round star toe (not what was called for in the pattern) so there would be no direction in which the toe fabric would bunch or be uncomfortable. Anyway, Girlie chose the sparkly blue yarn, they were quick to knit, and I'll be interested in knowing how practical and durable they are in the long run.

Spiral Sock No S-111, knitted with Berroco Sox Metallic

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunny Days!

We managed to get away to Hansville for a couple days and it went pretty well. Boyo sometimes has a hard time with anxiety when we're this far out of our routine, which is reflected in his behavior, but it wasn't too bad. I finished the wool vest for Dearest after stopping at my favorite yarn shop to buy buttons, and treated myself to a skein of alpaca/silk blend yarn and a pattern to go with it.

The proprietor of my favorite yarn store really knows her buttons - these are perfect!
We had some sun, and Dearest and kiddos had plenty of beach time, which included finding several agates (Girlie found an unusually large one, which are rare)...

Girie found a large agate this time, and Boyo found two small 'red' agates
...and even the fossilized tooth of a woolly mammoth, as confirmed by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture!
A view of the chewing surface of the tooth

This image from Wikipedia compares the jaw of a mammoth and that of an Indian elephant. Hardly any change over thousands of years of evolution, so apparently the design works.

We also went to Port Gamble so the kids could see the shell museum, and of course we were able to do a lot of eagle watching on this trip, and even had a rare glimpse of a pod of harbor porpoise!

It's been a busy week, and we're finishing it up with a little more spring cleaning. Dearest is even washing the windows - let the sun shine in!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break

Spring break had an... interesting start.  After the last appointment/class/obligation before we could officially declare the start of spring break, the battery in my van failed utterly, leaving me stranded with the kiddos in Olympia.  Could have been worse - Dearest was scheduled to get off work within a few minutes, so he was able to come and save the day, get the van started, and we all got home.  The battery was replaced forthwith, but I can't help feeling a little anxious, as the last three trips or events I have looked forward to have been canceled - one due to a failed ignition coil en route - and I don't want to miss another trip to Hansville!

There is hustle and bustle going on right now: a bit of spring cleaning, reorganizing, and planning.  There is also a lot of 'wet' outside, so that will limit some of what we had planned to do, as it's generally not considered wise to use power tools in the rain. Olympia set a rainfall record for March 29 with 1.98 inches, and our year-to-date is 7.79 inches; more than two inches above normal.

Speaking of an increase in numbers, a USA Today article states the CDC released a report that the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the US is up to 1 in 88 children, which is up 78% from 2002.  This leaves me, like many other folks, with a lot of questions - number one being: Why?  There is also the little matter of funding and coverage for therapies, which is still lacking in spite of the clear and obvious need.

Time to get going on my part of the list of things to do today, but I'll leave you with a little hint of hope for the future :-)

Raindrops on the Flowering Pear buds

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Fever!

We all have it. And it's about time! We had more periods of severe (for us) weather than usual this winter, and spring has finally begun showing up in the buds on my ornamental pear and other flowering trees, the daffodils in full bloom, the decreasing number of birds at our feeders, and the repetitive THWACK! and Sproing! noise of a basketball being dribbled and bounced off the rim in the driveway. Today was beautiful, and I was able to take this shot of tiny purple anenome flowers amongst the relatively giant daffodils. I have to admit I'm pretty impressed with the photo considering grandson Milo, who is now four-and-a-half months old and getting very grabby, 'helped' me take it.

Dearest spent a lot of time turning over the raised beds, and Girlie will be out carefully checking on her 'baby' trees and the volunteer snapdragons she lovingly took out of the vegetable garden last fall and planted in pots. I ponied up for new garden gloves (Costco has packs of SIX PAIRS of nitrile coated gloves for $7.99 - about what you'd pay for two pairs in a hardware store) because I can't stand it when the dirt starts getting caked on the inside of the fingertips. I'm not a habitual gardener, but I do love cleaning out my few bulb and peony planters in the spring, with an earbud playing an audiobook in one ear and birds singing courtship songs in the other.

Sounds like all is right with the world, yes? No. In fact, Girlie will be saying good-bye to The Pup at the end of April after all. He is going back to California early because he is large and smart and needs expert schooling - he has the makings of an exceptional guide dog, but his 'teenage rebellion' is hard to handle in a family setting. Reportedly, at least one of his litter mates is in the same situation. Guide dogs are bred to have initiative, and to show 'intelligent disobedience'. Consider this - if something unexpected is in the road and the blind handler tells the dog to go forward, the dog has to be smart enough to force the handler into a different, safer path. (Not all dogs will do that; some are dropped from the program because they don't have enough initiative to disobey when necessary.) But when that dog is a young upstart with a sassy attitude, he learns very quickly that he can try to boss some of his family members around, and it's clear that he needs a real job before he gets in trouble. 

Our coordinator came to talk with Girlie today and show her a few more tricks to handle The Pup for the next several weeks before he goes. She also asked Girlie to continue with the program even after The Pup leaves, by helping handle the coordinator's new puppy-in-training while she's leading the classes (it's great how the promise of puppy cuddles can take some of the sting out of a problem!). The Pup will still be here to help Girlie celebrate her 14th birthday next month, and they'll get to go on one more training outing together with the group. Girlie will be fine, in the long run, but I'm stocking up on Kleenex because she is already tearing up at random times when she thinks about him leaving. Thankfully it will happen at a time of year when there are so many other things that Girlie loves capturing her attention.

Spring fever affects my knitting, too - who wants to think about winter knits when it's finally warm enough to take my sweater off? I fell in love with this Mini Mania Scarf pattern and decided to knit it as a table runner with all my left over sock yarn. I've never knitted linen stitch before and I absolutely love it; it's repetitive and soothing (that means 'boring' to many knitters), but very fun to see the color development. I always want to keep knitting to see what will happen when I add the next yarn!

300 stitches wide, about 1.5 inches of fabric so far, using 7 different sock yarns.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


1. falterstrugglestallslow down, run into trouble, come unstuck (informal), be in difficulties, hit a bad patch 

Writing is not coming easily these days, because I'm feeling everything we're going through is just more of the same. Life in general is like that - we're just trying to be consistent in the way we're dealing with the current issues; some days it seems more of a grind, and I know that attitude comes across in my writing.

We're in the birthday season, which brings with it more adolescent behavior challenges, and we're approaching spring break. Next week we have half days, and both kids will need to be kept busy with something other than screen time. Dearest has vacation time during spring break and we have plans both for at home and a little trip!

Winter Flounder

If there is a question or topic I can address I'll be happy to do the research. I expect the next two weeks will provide something in the way of inspiration, as well. At the moment, the sun shining in the window over my shoulder is the best reason I can think of not to be writing - Happy Spring!  :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Disappointment, Not a Disaster...

Recently I realized how stuck Girlie can get on the subject of Lost Things (caps used for emphasis because it's a Very Big Deal!). Everyone misplaces things, so this is just a normal event, right? No; in fact, Girlie works herself up to a full-blown meltdown when something is 'lost', and is unable to think rationally.

Twice last week Girlie had major episodes of anxiety because of misplaced items. First, she was convinced that someone threw away a stack of her cards she had set aside to give to a friend. I called to her attention the only other people in the house are family members who are fully aware of how important her Bella Sara cards are, and asked her if she thought anyone would do that. Her logical brain told her it was unlikely, but her irrational self kept taking control. Instead, Girlie kept stating where she had put them, and because the cards weren't there they must be 'gone forever'. Since we were trying to leave the house, I told her the cards were definitely still in the house and we would find them, so it was a disappointment that she couldn't give them to her friend that day, but not a disaster because the cards would be found and she could deliver them next time.

The next incident was in regard to The Pup's leash. This is also a simple thing, since we know we can't leave it somewhere the dog is not, because we have to use it to take him anywhere. Again, Girlie is imagining impossible scenarios: we left it at the training event (not possible, since we had to use it to bring the dog home), or that he ate it (yes, she was serious). I pointed out that even if he could have eaten several feet of leather in addition to all the hardware and the plastic disposal bag dispenser and left no clues, there would definitely be evidence outside. If she couldn't find the leash in time to leave for social skills, The Pup would have to stay home this time; again, a disappointment, but not a disaster.

Both of the items were found in the general area of where she thought she'd left them. My role in these cases is to keep coaching, calmly reminding her to look under things and move other things aside. This isn't something that will be resolved immediately, because Girlie is usually distracted and has a very hard time with the concept of 'a place for everything and everything in its place'. We're going to be working on that for a while, I expect.

None of this seems like a very big deal unless we fast-forward a few years and imagine a different scenario: what if Girlie is in college and can't find a text book for a few days? Even if it's in her tiny dorm room, if she is unable to calm herself and look for it, she will have to deal with what she perceives as a disaster all by herself, possibly missing days of class because she wouldn't know what else to do. These situations may seem like a minor annoyance in most cases, but they serve as a reminder that it isn't enough just to make sure Girlie is doing grade-level math, or keeping up in language arts. We have to make sure she can successfully manage the things neurotypical folks might take for granted.

There is a great article on the subject here. I don't agree that the educational system is failing to prepare our kids (what are families doing about teaching these skills?); but it would be nice if more opportunities could be found in school to teach lifeskills - even a task as simple as giving a child a map of the school and asking him or her to deliver something to a specific classroom in a different building or hall would be a very useful exercise.

In any case, helping Girlie learn to calm down and realize a misplaced item is no more than an inconvenience will go a long way toward helping her to think rationally in the event of a more urgent situation - it's a disappointment, not a disaster.

Here is a great example of a knitting mishap that can be pretty upsetting to knitters. After all, there are many hours of labor in a hand-knitted pair of socks! I figure my time was well spent, even if the socks were to get thrown away, but why not just learn to darn them? So that's what I'll do. It's a disappointment, not a disaster. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

You Wouldn't Think It...

It may surprise you to know how very, very powerful I am. Apparently I'm even in control of time, and use it solely for the purpose of making Girlie miserable.  :-(

Honestly, no matter how - or how many times - I explain it, she just isn't understanding that if she does not get out of bed when her alarm sounds, she will run out of time and have to rush to get ready for school. She can't get past being angry about it, and thinks it's my fault if she hasn't finished her breakfast.

Dearest and I have tried to explain the concept of the passage of time in every way we can think of, so I'm hoping to find a new idea. Oh, I think I just got one - really, just in that moment when I finished typing the sentence!

What if we draw the clock face and approach it with a math concept, showing the time as chunks? So, if the alarm goes off at 6:00 and Girlie doesn't get up 'til Dearest calls her again at 6:05, I draw the wedge of time as a triangle from the center of the clock to 6:00 and 6:05, to show her that five minutes are completely gone. That only leaves her with twenty; if she doesn't get up 'til the second time he calls at 6:10, she's down to fifteen, etc.

All right, we have a game plan, so I'll let you know how that works out. Just let me grab my cape...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Working Through It

After days of math misery and a session of after-school help, we've made it through the latest rough patch. Boyo is doing all right for the moment, and so is Girlie. In fact, the midterm reports that came home the other day looked great!

We'll be in the midst of birthday season, shortly, and Dearest and I aren't sure where that will lead us. A time for fun and celebrating, right? So one might hope, but we never know - in fact, the expectations leading up to the day can result in a crash of epic proportions so we try to keep things as low-key as possible. 

It can be difficult to achieve a celebratory feel that is satisfying to a child when the usual birthday party agenda doesn't fit the family. Fortunately, spring break falls between their birthdays and we try to have some very special combined event - this year it may be a trip to the zoo and the beach, since Dearest will be on vacation for the whole week! :-)

I'll leave you with a cartoon that ticks all the boxes for me: knitting, math jokes, and clever word-play. Have a great weekend!

Frazz Comic Strip - 2/25/12

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In The Now

Life is never really 'status quo' for very long, especially when we have children with challenges. Our environment is dynamic, and affected by so many things throughout the day.  Lately, in spite of some conflicts, we are experiencing a notable lack of drama here. I tell folks I'm not superstitious, but truthfully I almost hate to draw attention to our state of being, other than to offer up thanks to the powers that be.

This week, I can say we had a great week of school, an uneventful field trip (the best kind!), attended a fun birthday party, and spent some time in decent weather rollerskating in the driveway. What's not to love about that?

One of my favorite entertaining groups is Audiobody. You may remember them as the group that provided musical accompaniment for the Coke and Mentos videos. The eepybird videos are are fun to watch, but Audiobody are a blast, too.  Anyway, I thought I'd provide an audio-only link to "In the Now", just as a reminder that it's where we all are. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Peer Abuse

I have a friend whose daughter is involved in a group called The Phoenix Project, which seeks to raise awareness and empower youth to rise above peer abuse.  They refer to bullying as 'peer abuse' to better describe what it actually is.

Unfortunately, children with challenges are much more likely to be victims of bullying, or peer abuse, than neurotypical kids (as are kids who are gay, transgender, or questioning). An added challenge for our kiddos with Asperger's is that they sometimes don't know how to report aggressive or threatening behavior.

While we are teaching our kids expected social behavior, we must also teach tolerance so our kids know that differences don't matter in the grand scheme of things; it is the ways in which we are alike that are far more important.  All humans have the same basic needs - aside from water, food, and shelter, we need to feel a sense of acceptance and community.

Pay extra attention to your child's behavior, and watch for signs of stress. Ask questions about how he or she feels at school (or anywhere they regularly are away from home, such as on the bus or in extracurricular activities and sports), and whether they have concerns about anyone else. Ask them if they know what to do if they see an act of peer abuse, and make sure they know what it is. Truly, a life may depend on it.

Another Lion Brand yarn free e-card

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cogitations and Observations

Recently a friend posted a link to an article about the controversy of whether cursive writing should still be taught in schools. There are some experts who would like to call attention to the role of handwriting in the overall learning process, while others would as soon see kids move on to keyboarding as soon as possible in keeping with the 'technological age'. I believe that writing isn't just about writing, and I'm glad to see there are experts to explain why.

I have nothing scientific on which to base my opinions, but I do have theories about why it's critical that students who are physically able to write should write, at least part of the time. I think there is an important connection made between the pencil and the brain that shouldn't be overlooked. Girlie has struggled with writing from the very beginning. She is dyspraxic, and the act of writing requires so much concentration there is little left over for anything else - such as remembering the question she is supposed to be answering. In the last two years she has made incredible progress with the help of her occupational therapist and, I'd like to think, some methods we thought of and put in practice.

When Girlie started third grade she had a 1:1 paraeducator, and with the increase in curriculum and writing requirements it was decided that most of her work would be scribed. At that point, the IEP team decided to increase the amount of keyboarding instruction in the hope that she would be able to do more of her work independently. Besides the physical difficulty with writing, the area in which she struggled the most was math, so that by the time she completed fifth grade she was working at about a mid-fourth grade level. Dearest and I asked to have her enrolled in summer school followed by an extra math session (which made it a short summer for her; she had only about three weeks of summer vacation) and she gained nearly a year of math skills!

When Girlie was in sixth grade, something that I'd been thinking about kept coming to surface, but I didn't know how to articulate what I was thinking, and hadn't read anything about it. We noticed that if she watched us write her math, she could sometimes verbalize what should be done, but only with prompts and rarely by just looking at the problem in the book.  If we left her alone to do the writing on a shortened assignment by herself, she either didn't do it at all or did most of it wrong.

I decided to start reading every math problem to Girlie and tell her what to write to set up the problem. It seemed as though two things happened: when she was told exactly what to write one step at a time (e.g. "Write the number 42. Now write the number 3 underneath it. Now multiply; what is 3 times 2? OK, write 6."), she didn't struggle as much or get caught up in the physically challenging act of writing. The other thing that appeared to be happening is that the math, traveling up through the pencil and into her brain, started to make sense. During the sixth grade year she moved from special ed math to grade level math with a 'booster' class. This year, she is in a regular seventh grade math class and rarely has her assignments modified. When she has math homework, she usually completes it independently.

From my own perspective, I notice the connection between the paper and my brain in my professional life when I take meeting minutes. Over the years I've noticed more and more people use a laptop to take minutes during the meeting, and I kept wondering: does it automatically simplify and streamline the transcription process? No - in fact, I sometimes have a very difficult time remembering contextual details if I missed anything, because I find I can type almost mindlessly and not pay attention! Conversely, when I'm handwriting the notes what ends up on paper is very terse and probably wouldn't make much sense to others, but when I transcribe from my notes I have complete - often word for word - recall.

Some kinesthetic connection is being made, and I'm certain that not everyone learns that way, but it's clear that Girlie needs to write to understand, at least in math. We could look at it this way: it won't be a detriment to anyone to keep teaching handwriting - both printing and cursive - in school. On the other hand, it might impede learning for those who would otherwise perform better in other subjects if they learn more efficiently by writing. Just my two cents... :-)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Everything Old Is... Still Old.

But not necessarily outdated.  I've been in 'research mode' for a few days, following up on an article written in 2010 by Maia Szalavitz.  I'm always careful to note the date of studies and articles, and attempt to find the most accurate and relevant information - so that means the latest news, right?  No; in fact, some of the books and articles I've been perusing go back several years and are still as useful as they were to begin with.

Anyway, that particular article has inspired me to try a new idea for an old challenge.  One of the problems we struggle with is Girlie's messy bedroom.  I won't imply that it's messy only because of her Asperger's, but it makes for a more complicated issue when she 'loses' something nearly every day, and is so distracted by the overwhelming clutter in her room she can't complete whatever task she was doing when she walked in.

Today, I took photos of specific areas - the usual 'trouble spots' - of Girlie's room (desk, dresser, bench at the foot of her bed, behind the door, floor in front of closet).  I'm hoping that if we are not in her room and she is focusing on the photo of only one area, we can talk about what should be in that particular space, and why it would be a good idea to tidy it. I plan to ask her to choose which photographed area she would like to work on, and then take a photo when she gets it straightened up.  We can then compare the before and after photos and find out which she likes better, and talk about how it makes her feel when she is in her room. I am under no illusions that she will prefer the 'after' just because I know I would - but in discussing it, one of us is bound to come to a better understanding.

Now, an update: mornings are going a little better this week since we had a family discussion about the need for everyone to make sure the important things are getting done in plenty of time before the bus comes.  It has helped a lot that Dearest is no longer rushing to get ready for work, himself.  Just goes to show that it pays to review the old rules occasionally and remind ourselves that they work when we observe them!

Yes, in fact, I do have this sign posted our dining area :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!

This is a busy week for us, as Boyo is preparing for a ballet recital on Saturday - that means rehearsal every day except Wednesday.  Dearest changed schedules this week, so we're in adjustment mode for that, as well.

After last week, we had a talk with Girlie about our difficult mornings.  I have it on good authority we are not the only family that has trouble getting a kiddo on the spectrum moving in the morning, but we must have some improvement.  The rules we had established gradually fell by the wayside until Girlie would still be sitting at the breakfast table without socks on when the bus showed up, after spending much of the previous half hour in a nasty, vicious mood, then heading out to the bus crying because she'd been hurried.

Because of Dearest's schedule changing, he won't be rushing to get ready for work, so that should help keep the situation more calm in the morning.  We talked with Girlie about our expectations in the evening before bedtime, too.  I'm not holding my breath, but I am feeling optimistic.  Of course, I always do :-)

Boyo worked on math all weekend.  After missing out on a chance to stay after school to play floor hockey last week due to a failing grade in one class, and being told he will be staying after school for homework help in math this week, he's making an effort.  In exchanging a few emails with teachers, it seems Boyo is having trouble keeping things organized and turning in assignments in a few of his classes, and his grades are beginning to reflect the problem.  One thing in his favor is that the grades provide some motivation for him, unlike with Girlie, who either couldn't see the connection or couldn't be bothered to care.

So, we have some specific things to work on this week, places to go, people to see, the arts to appreciate.  I have a couple of requested items on the needles at the moment, one of which is a dog sweater.  Better get busy!*

Another great ecard from Lion Brand!
*Just so you know, I can never think of that phrase in the same way since I learned it is always the code phrase when training guide dog pups to relieve on command :-)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Better Luck Next Time...

We had a bit of a disappointment today - our van had engine trouble about thirty minutes into the trip.  Fortunately, we were able to exit the freeway and get to a phone book so Dearest could call a mechanic.  After finding one that would be able to diagnose the problem, we limped back down I-5 to Lacey where the rock stars at Hawk's Prairie Automotive had us up and running in less than three hours!

Unfortunately, it was too late to continue on to Hansville.  One would imagine hanging around a repair shop for hours with both kids and The Pup was crazy, right?  But no - in fact, everyone was great, especially under the circumstances!  Thankfully we had video games with us; I wouldn't like to speculate on how it would have been otherwise.  We were able to whisper about game progress and what was on the television (a twenty-four hour news channel, which served to remind Dearest and I why we don't watch the news), and knit. You didn't think I'd miss an opportunity like that, did you? :-)

I made some progress on my Little Exuviae sock, a free pattern
by Lara Neel. I'm knitting it in Kraemer Sterling Silk & Silver
(ooh, sparkly!)
Anyway, we ended up spending a quiet evening at home during which the kids continued to get along with each other and play their card game again.  In spite of missing another opportunity to go to Hansville, we all recognized things could have been much worse.  Dearest and I were pleased with the way things turned out, and so proud of the kiddos.  We'll try again soon; maybe next weekend.  Wish us luck!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Next Best Thing... a real vacation is spending the day in Hansville.  We haven't been able to go up since Thanksgiving because our last scheduled trip was postponed due to the January weather.  This is the view out the living room window at Grandpa's house overlooking Admiralty Inlet.  I've been lucky enough to see harbor porpoises on a couple of occasions, and because the house is elevated, the bald eagles fly past at eye level.  We can watch huge container ships and cruise lines go through, or spot sea lions in the water, deer calmly walking through the yard on the other side of the house, or raccoons walking down the path next to the hedge.  At the lower left, you can just see a bit of the tram deck - the funicular takes us down the 85 foot bluff right to the beach for agate and shell hunting.

We always come back better for having been to Hansville.  Hope you all have a great weekend, too!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Looking Ahead

February always makes me aware of what is coming, perhaps more than any other month.  Everywhere I look - whether through a window or actually outside - I can see leaf buds, bulbs coming up, more bird species showing up at the feeder, the chickens laying more eggs, the dogs blowing their coats and starting to look sleek...

I am so thankful to have these signs of growth and newness to look forward to because, frankly, sometimes we feel a bit stuck in a rut.  We have our down times, and I'm feeling a bit suffocated by the absolute misery of sixth grade math and growing pains at the moment.

I'm looking ahead to spring birthdays for three of the kids (because even the grown-ups with little ones aren't too old for a birthday surprise from Mom), the sun being up when the kids catch the bus at 6:35, maybe even a little spring cleaning.  Well, maybe that's going a bit too far; I got a little carried away in my enthusiasm.  I'll just go check on my flower beds...

Dwarf Iris, February 2011