A special type of weird

You know what kind of weird anxiety I worry about?

It’s only April and I’m already trying to fill out Christmas gift lists.
I’m doing a lot of travelling this year because of special things happening, either in my life or for others. But that does sap a bit of the crafting time. Much as I dislike it, people may get more store bought this year. I’ll compromise with buying from small local family stuff. Locals who make things.

Much better.
Thank you Dr. Blog.
*gets up from couch leaves shrink office.*

Harsh

If you don’t want to read anything that has the emotions of a mother pouring out of every crevice, then move along.

We’re three weeks into the new school year and we already know where our academic focus is going to be. It’s spelling. Yes I know, roll your eyes and whinge about how much you loathed spelling back in the day. Well my boy is with you.

Last week was the first practice test and he didn’t do so well. Rising to the challenge, I was determined to work with him each night to strengthen his mental focus. And I was daunted all week long. First he was ill, and taken out of school for a day. Yes this doesn’t seem like much to you but anything that throws off routine is cosmic dynamite to someone with autism. Secondly the cold hung on and made him irritable for at least a day afterwards, dispelling any focus or agreeable personality. Then I caught the cold and was comatose to all beings on Thursday. My husband took over spelling duties that night and did a wonderful job.

So with all of this going on, and still trying to work with him each night, there was almost no increase in score from the practice test to the first true test of the year. I looked at the test and found all of the words we had written over and over again, were the ones he had spelled incorrectly. I sat down with him with the full intention of going over each word and trying to find a road map that lead to these mistakes. He clammed up and pulled in right away and went teary eyed.

I turned the page over so that he couldn’t see it and turned him to talk face to face. I stressed that what was important was not a perfect score, but that he try. I told him that I felt something was going wrong.
“Aiden, we know you’re smart.”
“I don’t think I’m smart. I’m not smart. I’m not special.”

And my little world stood still for a second in a silent hum of a small heartbeat.

And when it recovered and resumed rolling, I worked very hard to speak very carefully. Fortunately his Dad came home at this point and I quickly pulled him into the conversation. We pointed out to him in all of the ways that he is indeed smart. The things that grab his interest and capture his focus. Those things he can go on about at length. What does camouflage mean? Can you tell me the planets in our solar system? What’s 10 plus 10? All things he can answer on the spot. But if I put a paper and pencil in front of him to spell a word, he crumples.

Slowly, we told him about Thomas Edison who tried over 200 times to invent the lightbulb – and because he never gave up – he succeeded. We told him about Abraham Lincoln who said “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” When his spirits started to buoy more obviously, we made a deal and offered him some compensations for the ‘hard work’ if he could prove himself. It’s a reward system, plain and simple. But it’s a simple balance that the child can understand. If he does well, he gets this. If he does REALLY well, he gets this. We promised to help him every step of the way but he had to promise to do his part by practicing and not stalling. My reward system doesn’t even go to a perfect score. I’m not looking for him to be perfect. I’m looking for him to believe in himself when he finds something difficult.

That’s all I have. I feel a little bit empty and befuddled.
I know I’m not the only mother to have these feelings.
But I feel like it.

Edit: Before I forget, one of the last things I did was to ask him to write each of the words he’d gotten wrong on his test – to take another try. He doubled his score and would have earned a reward. This tells me that he CAN do it. I just have to keep him convinced of his self worth until he naturally takes the helm.

Dawning autumn

There is something about the colder months of the year that inspire reflection. It’s something I really enjoy. The idea of drinking something that warms you from the core out, and to enjoy an good ponder at the same time is indulgent. With all of the smart technology and media being thrown at us, rebooting our inner capabilities seems not just luxurious but necessary.

We are only just seeing autumn on the horizon but just the thought of it fills me with peace.

RIP Robin Williams

It’s a sad day. A light has gone out in the world. Hell, a freaking disco ball has plummeted and shattered. He was that kinda light and that kinda cool.

Robin Williams was pronounced dead this morning and the speculation is suicide. A lot of people would say “What the hell? He’s Robin freaking Williams? Why did he commit suicide?” Because no matter who you are, you have demons. And Robin had healthy demons with passes to a 24 hour gym and fertility clinic. He was always in and out of drugs or alcohol rehab.

For all of that, I couldn’t see the blackness in anything that was brought to the stage or screen. He was living laughter and someone you would believe could never die. He was immortal.

So here’s the lesson for today… if you, or anyone you know has depression, there is help and there is no shame in seeking it. Do not let your light go out.

As for you Mr. Williams, you are probably making one hell of an entrance right now. Keep my grandparents laughing and with a little luck, one day I’ll see you perform myself.

Random memory

While on my walk this morning I saw some flowers that reminded me of my Grandparent’s back patio, in days when I was young.

My Grampy’s house had two stunning features; the view from the front, and the garden in the back. It was at the top of a hill and on a sunny day you could see straight across the harbour if you stood on the front porch. Their back garden was long and narrow, running the length of the house instead of something boxy. At certain times of the year, there was an avalanche of white flowers coming off of the patio roof. I have no idea what those flowers were but whenever they were in season, my brother and I would call them ‘snow’. Mainly because we didn’t see snow that often so the picturesque beauty of tiny white clusters cascading in bubbling mounds was enough to make us winterly wistful. 

Ding Dong! The Octopus is Dead!

Yeah I got some funny looks for that on facebook as well. And it goes without saying that there is a story behind it. Because yeah – just a little obscure for this shade of reality.

So it’s spring. Or at least, the weeds are in full bloom with the ‘cultured’ plants right behind them. I say ‘cultured’ because really, weeds are plants we didn’t send an invitation to the garden party to. They have the same basic functions and parts as the other plants – stems, leaves, flowers, etc – and the yearning to grow and propagate. I’m not sure if there is a classification that defines them. I should find that out one day. Because really, mint is voracious when it comes to taking up space, but isn’t classified as a weed. And I’ve been trying forever to get poppies to grow but they ARE classified as a weed. What gives?

Anyways, this is the first time I’ve seen the garden go from winter to spring in this house. Last year we spent May moving INTO the house and getting stuff set up. By the time I could turn attention to the garden it was summer and I was reviewing everything that had already been established for some years. That’s the way it is at a new place. The garden belonged to the previous owner for the year after she was gone – because I didn’t know what was coming up through the soil. Well, we’ve been here a year now. And things have to change.

For starters, the front garden is a miss matched diagonal mess of a burial mound crowned with a deflated yucca collection. THAT was the ‘octopus’. It looked like an octopus had crawled on top of a Victorian burial mound, and collapsed there. I had tried to go and pry it out to find that the ‘tentacles’ were constantly getting in the way and it was deeply entrenched in its mourning state. Thankfully I have a husband with some stubborn muscle. As it turns out is was a colony of cephalopods and some had even died out at the base, probably from lack of light getting through. To that end – huzzah! The octopus is out of the garden and is awaiting it’s fate next to the compost heap.

As for the burial mound itself, I gauged a line with stones I’d found underneath all of the random foliage, to estimate a straight path instead of a diagonal one. This gave me an indication of plants that had to be relocated. Lavender, succulents, tulips and a hosta were relocated to the back yard. I had full intentions of taking a full wheelbarrow full of that burial mound dirt to the backyard as well – but as it turns out, I’m not that strong. I could only manage a one third full barrow, but it will be enough to get started. I want to put down soil to level out the divets around my raised vegetable garden, then paper and mulch down the area so that weeds don’t creep up on the beds.

So yeah, that took a while. And I still have 2 evergreen plants to remove (1 is dead and 1 is in the way) and a goat’s beard plant to relocate. Another day maybe. For the moment all of the soil in the front bed has been turned over and the grass has been pulled.

As for the backyard – huh, well.
In the vegetable bed, the lettuce is coming up but the beets are not. The sage and thyme have made it through winter and come back with a vengeance. I bought new rosemary and basil but I’m keeping them inside until I’m sure that the nights won’t kill them. I also bought a mint plant. I’m keeping that inside so it doesn’t take over. My neighbor has oregano growing in her driveway. Yup – stole some and planted it. I bought a new tomato plant because all of my seeds from last year’s tomatoes did not germinate as I had expected. Onions and garlics are still going from last year, and that’s fine.

Aiden’s garden: peas, carrots, poppies, sweet peas, and green beans are all in various stages of germination. I’ve put each one into a planter on the ground or inside of a basket ring. This way when the plants come up he can easily identify them as his and feel some pride. In the same section, I’ve planted two blueberry saplings. I don’t expect them to bear fruit this year. They’re too small. But I hope to get them large enough that by next year there will be a decent harvest. The raspberry bushes are going full steam into leafing and that’s par for the course.

In the flower garden, where we plan to put a path where last year’s artificial pond had been, I’ve added foxtail, Chinese lantern, a rose, all of the lavenders and another plant that is supposed to attract butterflies. I can’t really plant the other side until I’ve dug out the stump of the willow tree. But that’s another day. Maybe hydrangea and peony can go there.

OK, that’s enough garden talk.

 

I hurt all over. Hooray.

I am now a red belt in taekwondo. 

Hooray. 

I should be more happy about this but it’s highlighted how poor my stamina is. I’m having problems keeping up with some cardio activities. And the closer I get to black belt, the more intense it will get. So – to that end – this is the year I focus on my cardio. 

Today was my second day going out in the morning for a route around my neighborhood. And it was worse than the first time. Although to be fair, this is the first time I ever felt the lactic acid build up and then be released in a  second wind. I never noticed it before in my muscles because I was too busy listening to instructions or focusing on keeping up in class. This is the first time I’m examining how my body feels because there’s noone there but me. And I do realize that focusing on the pain and hurt while you’re out is not the best thing to do, it’s a newbie runner thing. Well that’s exactly what I am. A newbie. In fact if there was anything lower on the scale to newbie – that’s where I’d be. And it’s probably a comfy couch.

This isn’t all based on my martial arts training. I’m getting older and at this point, my body is doing to start it’s decline into old age. No I haven’t hit 40 yet. Not for a few more years. But it’s still there and it’s not going away. I can deny it and go soft, and docile. Or I can  work on maintaining my body so that I don’t need a walker when I’m 60. That’s the plan. To not need a walker. To not need arthritis pills. To be able to live with my family. 

And that’s why I’m doing this. I have to keep giving myself these pep talks. There are people I know who can’t walk, or find it very difficult to. The fact that I can wiggle my toes is not to be taken for granted. So I’ll continue to go out, like a herd of stampeding snails, until I resemble something more along the line of a loping hippo. Gazelles can’t be too far behind hippos – right?

Fancy new toy…. and stuff

Huh, weeks fly by when you’re busy redoing it kitchen, or so it would see.

The kitchen is 90% done. And it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Truly, we only have 2 cabinets and the oven hood left to purchase but with the weather turning nicer, we’re turning our minds to projects outside. And some of those projects NEED to be done. Like the garage roof. We were in the middle of stripping it in October when cold weather hit,…. and stayed. The garage has had nothing to protect it from the winter elements other than wood and tarp. The felt curled and flew off in a matter of weeks. We sort of need to look into correcting that problem or just removing the garage entirely – and that would honestly be a waste. There’s still ability and life in that building. 

The winter has been brutal this year. Not just colder than normal, but longer as well. I normally don’t consider gardening season open until the Victoria Day weekend, but even that may be too soon this year. The cold is lingering and is making the idea of gardening a difficult adventure. 

On the subject of gardening, I am proud of one thing. I wove a leaf corral out of branches. *proud grin* It kept me from buying chicken wire, I recycled the branches, and I’m using the leaves for my composting once they start their magic. Every time that my son and I go for a walk to the comic book store, I come back with a hand full of fallen branches and sticks to add to the structure. It actually turned out quite well and was rather fun to build.

And now to the title announcement – I have a new laptop. YAY! *happy snoopy dance* We’re still getting acquainted but I’m rather excited at the new piece of tech.

Stuff about me

Today is my birthday. So I’m going to try and pull together some random facts about me. I dunno why, but I love these kinds of lists.

1. I was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas.
2. I spent 6 years in Savannah, Georgia earning 2 degrees.
3. I am a natural redhead.
4. I am a Christmas fanatic and start my planning in March.
5. I play Christmas carols in June, but at least have the courtesy to close my office door so that no one else has to hear it if they don’t want to.
6. I tend to pick a DIY project and mass produce them for people. One year it was sock monkeys. Everyone got a sock monkey. Everyone.
7. I can’t pick a favourite colour. I just can’t. The spectrum is such an amazing thing and to ask me to narrow it down to one is such a cruel thing to do. But if I HAVE to pick… it’s aquamarine.
8. Similarly, I find it hard to chose a favourite food. Mom’s Sunday dinner usually ranks right up at the top though. Roast lamb, potatoes, brussel sprouts, carrots, and popovers. YUM!
9. Now that I think about it, I also love my brother’s crawfish salad. Not crawdad salad. Or crayfish. It’s crawfish. Bahamian rock lobster is called crawfish. Don’t make us angry.
10. I love veggies but I have a hard time with fruits. Most of the stuff that people love (cherries, strawberries, etc) I find too tart. But I love me some roasted veggies!
11. I’m an Aries. Mock me at your peril.
12. Scottish decent. Yes I rock the Merida look.
13. Not afraid of the number 13. It was my Grampy’s lucky number and its negative connotation only applies if you’re a member of the Night’s Templar in France, a few hundred years ago.
14. I’m a brown belt in Taekwondo, and continuing in training.
15. I co-host a podcast. Knit 1 Geek 2.
16. Although I’m a happily married woman, I seem to lose all common sense when it comes to Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston.
17. My husband is actually trying to arrange for me to meet one of these gentlemen, so that he can see me go into fangirl mode.
18. I used to play the piano and the alto saxophone.
19. I’m learning to use the spinning wheel.
20. I have an affinity for wolves and large exotic cats.
21. I’m a small person, so I tend to have little dog syndrome. As in, I don’t realize that I’m little. I’m 7 feet tall on a normal day.
22. I kinda cherish nicknames. They have a history to them. 
23. Despite being an artist, I’m not very good with make up. I keep seeing the eyeshadow pods as finger paints. 
24. When I get a new addiction, I dive in really deep until I hit my head on the bottom. Then I come up for air and find a healthy balance. 
25. I don’t normally pay for MMORPG because I lose interest somewhere around the 2 month mark. But I do occasionally need to kill a few brain cells, so I just stick with the free options. Puzzle Pirates is a fave.
26. I love to bake.
27. I try to be organized in my life. It just doesn’t always work out that way. But I do try. Ring binders, highlighters, and post it notes are things that make me very happy.
28. This is the year I’m going to try and work on my cardio. I’m rather flexible, and reasonably strong for my size. But my cardio sucks. So this year I’m going to try and change that. Something’s gotta change unless I want to be out of breath for my black belt curriculum.
29. I tend to listen to stand up comedy more than music.
30. I love mythology and folklore. 
31. My dream job would be illustrating children’s books at home all day.
32. I tend to live the hobbit life, where good food and good friends rank above wealth and treasures.
33. I become ridiculously excited when I can eat something I have grown in my garden.
34. I wish I owned an apple tree.
35. I’m a proud knitter. When I was a child, I thought I could knit myself a cocoon and become a  butterfly person. Ah the power of cartoons.
36. I collect ornate, small, wooden boxes and I tell people that I keep souls in them. I don’t care if it’s creepy.
37. I kinda want to make a book out of some of the random things that my six year old says.

Reno Day… What day is it?

*counts on fingers* OK today is Reno Day 9. That means it’s been a full week and one day since the first cupboards came down.

At this point, the kitchen subfloor is complete. All of the appliances have been moved back in and are hooked up. I did go and pick up the sink of mondo doom but it requires the countertops of both adjacent units to be in to help support the weight. That put a kink in the plan. So for the moment, we’ve re-installed the old sink so that we will have running water again. Half of the cupboard contents are still in the living room but tucked behind the couches in a very hasty game of hide and seek. Almost everything is covered in dust and I’m doing my best to get to all of the surfaces eventually. My vacuum cleaner is going drama queen on me and doesn’t want to do its job but I will sort that out one way or another.

We have old curtains covering the doors for the kitchen. We’ll be sanding in there and it just makes sense to contain as much of the dust as possible. The goal for today is to remove what is left of the wallpaper, sand, and mud. If all that goes well we may do some cutting in with paint, but I’m not counting such chickens just yet. I do expect us to get some painting going tomorrow. We’ve promised the Elfling that he can paint with us.

That means that little by little over the next week, the new floor will go down and I think at that point we will see a real transformation. I’m excited for this.