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December 2010
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February 2011

On pyromania, sweets, and self-realizations that should have hit me earlier

So my best friend and I took a chocolatiers class over the weekend (that's like Mouskateers but with chocolate, and no hats. Boo).  This is the friend who owns AJ's Moonlight Bakery, so you know, already with the mad skills in the kitchen.  And me who really likes cooking sugar.  We both wanted to expand our chocolate skills, especially tempering.  It is a fine and distinctive art, and it was a very instructive class.  Ooh, and they served wine during chocolate class!  Dude! 

Anyway, the whole tempering process basically involves melting chocolate then dropping the temperature down, agitating it to allow crystals to form, then bringing the temperature back up to a particular temperature so it will set in that nice crisp chocolate one finds on dipped berries and such.  It is all very precise and science like, which is ironic because I totally almost failed high school chemistry.  Squeezed out a C at the last minute (as I was wont to do).  I blame the math.  Except I always got percentages because those involved shoe sales and how to squeeze a C out of an F average. Thank you very much.

So we were practicing tempering and the teacher happen to make a comment about "like reheating metal". And I thought, as I sipped my wine, "Yes! This is like the annealing process when you're forging metal," because metalsmithing is another set of classes I've taken. Then for a while as I "agitated" (smeared with a spatula) chocolate and checked said chocolate's temperature I also entertained fond memories of heating a chunk of silver to white hot metal and bashing it therapeutically with a hammer against an anvil, which reminded me that I needed to practice some drums this week because my speed has gotten quite poorly and I really need to get it up if I ever want to play punk music and that's when it occurred to me...

All my hobbies involve fire and hitting things!  Geez, aggression much?


I think I'm gonna call my punk band The Angry Minivans.  I'll spit Sauvignon Blanc into the crowd, wear a ratty apron.  Don't push me, I'll bite the head off this truffle!

Activities and SPD

Combating Chance's constant energy and craving for social interaction can be exhausting.  He will come home from school, chill for an hour, and then, after being with his friends all day, still ask for a playdate.  Or he wants me and my aching joints to play on the floor with him.  He also gets bored.  He wants new and interesting diversions.  Because his little mind is going like a rabbit on speed. 

Do you remember the days when you got bored?!  I think the last time for me was 1988.  (I have a hazy memory of watching dust motes in the warm, warm sun. That's like an extended fantasy for me now.  Like mom porn!)  I am never bored anymore. Except when I'm at the park and I feel my eyes glaze over. I hate parks nowadays.

Anyway, we do what I think most families with SPD kids who are high-energy sensory seekers do, we schedule (or try to schedule) a lot of activites.  But at the same time, for my sanity's sake, I try not to have more than two outside activities going on at a time. We already do joint speech/OT on a on-going basis once a week.  We've considered adding in another pure OT session because this time of year is always a little rough. Besides straight therapy sessions we have found a few things over the past year that seem to really help with the SPD issues.  I thought I'd just post a little about these in case any other SPD families were looking for ideas.  For the record, Chance has high-energy and sensory-seeking behavior (craves touch) and he is oversensitive to sound, so we tailored activities for those needs.  He's also five, almost six-years-old. 

Soccer: Lots of running around, which is great. Expecting a whole lot of focus at an early age, not so much.  But Chance overall enjoyed it.

Swimming: This one was a huge plus! Full on sensory immersion, lots of muscle use.  Chance wanted to take a break from it over the summer (because he was, say it with me, "bored"! Crazy child) but he soon realized that he really likes swimming.  Especially with some competitive racing ideas dangled as a carrot. 

Gymnastics: This one was a mixed bag.  It's great muscle and joint work but the gym was really noisy. Chance had a hard time maintaining focus and following instructions.  He liked the activities but since we've stopped he hasn't asked to go back and I think it's because of the noise.  I think it's also important to find a gym that is used to dealing with boys. We tried one gym previously where I hated one of the teachers because he wanted all the little boys to act like the girls and that's JUST NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

Karate: We tried a trial class but ran into the same problem as gymnastics, the gym was larger and just too loud.  I think martial arts in a smaller setting would be fine.  We've also considered trying a less aggressive martial art, like judo.  And I hear that wushu is great, but I'm still hesitant about teaching any five-year-old how to punch and kick.  Or wrestle. They're all so prone to that anyway.  

Drums:  We are just starting lessons and we'll see how they go. So far Chance is pretty psyched that he gets to hit things.  And counterintuitively, kids that are very sensitive to sound are usually OK with making their own noise.  A very loud noise of their own making helps them focus.

Science & Art: I try to do activities at home with Chance because of that active mind thing he's got going. Craft projects, science projects, etc.  The problem is this takes an awful lot of organization and energy on my part. I'm usually stocked on art supplies but I'm always a little short on energy.  Or brain power.  And the problem with science projects is there is always waiting involved.  (What? The volcano has to dry?!)  So I was going to try a Science Camp this spring and see how that goes.

What about the rest of you? What kind of activities do you like for your kids, SPD or otherwise?

            - wg



30 Days of Truth - Day 06

Day 06 - Something you hope you never have to do

I'm just refusing to do this one on principle. I'm a parent. I think this one is pretty obvious for most parents and one of the things you don't do is talk about it or write it down!  It is not just superstition, we don't do this because it can send oneself into anxiety palpitations. Seriously.  Who the fuck made up this list?

So I had to take my car into the shop, or rather, the dealership, for it's "annual service" which is just plain ridiculous because in six years I've driven it 34,000 miles.  Yeah, I don't go anywhere or do anything fabulous.  I am grandma chic, turbo-charged.  However, oil changes and all that so in it goes.  The car drives like a dream but last year the five-year warranty ran out so guess what they found this year?!  Yeah, a big ol' leak and a cracked plastic cap that costs like $400 bucks.  (I can live with cracked plastic, thanks. The oil leak, not so much. Oh, the leak cost way more than $400. I just couldn't believe the price tag for plastic these days.)  Anywho, me being SO fabulous and on the go to fabulous locations like kindergarten and Target they gave me a loaner.  It is an AUTOMATIC.  Watching me drive down the street must have been hilarious as my foot insisted that the brake pedal was really the clutch.  I also don't know what the hell to do with my hands.  This is why people start texting in the car, isn't it?

So something I hope I never have to do, from the deep down bottom of my heart, is be without a manual transmission.

Thank you for your future adherence in this matter.            



Craft fallibility, big time

Oh my god, people, I have issues!  I seriously cannot work a sewing machine.  It is really sad.  I couldn't figure out why half my crafts would turn out fine and the others would be hot messes.  Well, it turns out that I can HAND sew just fine. I can embroider. I can hem. I can build other shit with my hands.  But work a sewing machine?  Here's the kicker... every time I'm hand sewing something I think to myself, "You really should be doing this on the sewing machine. It'll be so much faster."  BUT IT'S NOT!  Because I spend so much time screwing up and ripping out stitches and screwing up and pawing through the manual and screwing up and ripping out little tiny stitches that it takes HOURS!!

You know, I took sewing class in high school and I don't remember a goddamn thing about tension and needle sizes. Literally, it was like a news flash. But give me a pedal-push Singer and I'm fine. And a fucking prairie dress.

This is the other project I worked on this week.  I took two pre-pregnancy, too short t-shirts and combined them into one, having been totally inspired by this guy's awesome shirts.  Except he isn't doing women's wear yet.  *sigh*  And my shirt doesn't even come close to his awesomeness (I'm aware of my limitations) but I like the colors.  I'm totally ordering his patches, though, to fix my favorite jeans.  Shut up. I know I have to use the machine for that.

Tea dyed shirt 004

The first t-shirt was white that I dyed with tea to get this color.  It has a cool mottled effect that this picture isn't picking up.  Then I fought the machine to sew the bottom onto the top and sewed on the patch (which was inspired by another shirt I saw).  I also used a combo of sharpie and fabric pen to color the neckline, add some faded circle graphics, and write along the back. I used the sharpie so that when I washed it some of the ink would migrate and add to the mottled effect.  I think I'm going to distress this a bit more by writing other lines on it and adding more stitching. As soon as I figure out how to put the darning plate on the sewing machine.    

Damnit, at least I'm trying.

Hygiene schmygiene

I present to you... SOCKTOPUSSY!!

Socktopus 002

... stuffed with panties!

Because really, two things that end up in landfills are socks and undies.  And you know, some of those things were good to me, they were comfy and we had a deep and committed relationship, and I don't think I should throw it all away because a little hole appears in the heel or maybe fabric runs up my butt.  So I took some of my favorite pairs of socks (and panties) and turned them into a cuddly toy.  

Somehow, making an octopus seemed less intimidating than a monkey.

Before you get all EEWWW! and GERMS! just know that everything is washed and washable.  Geez.  In the old days people would have saved up all their fabric scraps to stuff into pillows and mattresses, and then you would have been sleeping on someone's panties!  Think about that. 

Besides this socktopus is for our home, made out of our home's goods.

However, I bet if someone started selling socktopussies stuffed with panties there'd be a niche market for that somewhere.             - wg

Jeopardy question: How to turn the science fair into a life lesson

Also accepted: How to scare the bejeebus out of your children with education.


Me, typing on the computer and peering at the Science Fair Handbook (capital letters, please):  "So are you sure you want to do the science fair?"

Chance: "Uh-huh."

Me: "Remember, they're not letting anyone do volcanoes this year."  (Volcanoes... THE reason to do science fairs.)

Chance, swishing saliva around his mouth: "Yes, I want to do it."

Me, more typing and peering: "OK, so let's look at some project ideas."

Chance: swish swish swish gurgle gurgle gurgle

Me: "We could do something with plants? Or how about magnets?"

Chance: "Mmmm." swish swish gurgle

Me: "Well let me look up this other site and see..."

Chance, leaning over, then sitting up. Swishing has ceased.

Me: "Did you just SPIT on the carpet?!?"

Chance: "Uhhh..." Frantic cleaning follows.

Me, watching the frantic cleaning. "I know... why don't we do a science project about SPIT?" <sarcasm> <heavy>

Chance, grin splitting wide: "OK!!"

Obviously someone doesn't believe me about the germ factor. Prepare to have your mind blown, little dude.  (I hope.)                 - wg

30 Days of Truth - Day 5 (on resolutions)

I'm not one for resolutions. I think they're kind of a setup and for those of use who can't turn off the "what have you achieved" voice in our heads anyway they're also redundant. I'm more of a believer in the continuously revolving emotional ambush resolutions, thanks.  But since it's the beginning of the year and I've had some changes on my mind I thought I'd tie it in with the next 30 Days of Truth.

Day 05 - Something you hope to do in your life

As I've mentioned before, for the last three years we've been trying to get pregnant. Keen is diabetic and just got diagnosed and healthy this last year so we figured the first couple of years were probably kind of a bust. And it wasn't all him because I was completely stressed out when Chance's SPD was first diagnosed and I'm sure that contributed. Every new year brings the thought, "It'll happen THIS year!", although every year that idea waned a little bit.  Then I had a miscarriage in August and we got pretty excited because it meant I could get pregnant. 

But this November I had another hormone test.  According to my latest hormone levels it will probably be very difficult to get pregnant.  I am 39 and perimenopausal. 

Then I started having pregnancy symptoms again. The month we weren't trying because I was emotional wrung out.  And then, just like in August, the symptoms stopped and I suspect I had another miscarriage, even though the tests came out negative.  It's just really hard to fake some of those pregnancy symptoms, especially the messy, painful ones like I tend to have, not to mention the 10 day period.

I am even more emotionally wrung out now, moving towards acceptance.  These last two almost-pregnancies reminded me how sick I get when I'm pregnant.  How much older I am now.  I could keep trying for a few more months. My end date has always been my 40th birthday.  But I'm not sure I want to keep trying... and keep having miscarriages because my eggs are too old to be viable.  Three years is a long time and almost pregnant sucks pretty bad. 

I think I'm ready to do other things.   

My general internalized goals have beent the same since I've been young.  I want to write.  I want to be published.  I want to live a creative life.  Even though you tell yourself not to, you quietly put a lot of things on hold when you're trying to get pregnant.  There are things you don't do.  There are things you hold back.  There is medicine you don't take.  There's a lot of little things I want to do that don't have anything to do with the big goals but will probably be emotionally healthier for me as a person.  I want to take cold medicine when I have a cold.  I want to take zumba and pretend I can sculpt my abs.  Book a flight without calculating how many months I "might" be.  Maybe learn how to play roller derby.  Work on other goals.  Stop denying myself "just in case".

I still feel like our family isn't done yet, but maybe one of the things I need to do is just be open.  Maybe our family will grow in other ways.

It's a new year and funny thing... pushing yourself and letting go feel an awful lot the same.

             - the weirdgirl