Monthly Archives: February 2013

Details, details

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realMaddy is getting older. Our challenges are changing – the ground always feels as though it’s shifting underneath us. No matter how much we will it to stop moving, it just keeps shifting, ever so slightly. It shifts so slowly, that the changes are almost imperceptible… until one day… they’re not. One day you wake up and look at your partner and think, “Wow, how could we have been missing this?”

We had one of those moments a couple of weeks ago. Eric and I were exchanging our current thoughts on Maddy and we suddenly realized that we’d each come to the exact same conclusion independently. Let me back up a bit to give you some context.

We do split shifts in our house. Eric is on morning Maddy shift. I’m on evening Maddy shift. Night Maddy shift rotates. This has been working for us. It’s too much to be a part of all of the shifts. It doesn’t give us enough time to recharge our batteries, and we get short with Maddy and with each other. Split shift makes for a happier home. Split shift also means that I have no idea what morning looks like, and Eric has no idea what evening looks like.

We independently trouble shoot our own shift. We sometimes throw suggestions out to one another, but we know that only the person on-shift really knows what is working and what is not. For months now we’ve been trying to create a routine for each of our shifts, knowing that the structure a routine provides is good for all kids, but particularly good for kids who have the challenges Maddy does. We tried… and tried… and tried. We failed… and failed… and failed. Or, we thought we were.

What we didn’t realize, is that in all of that failing, we were actually succeeding. We just didn’t know it yet. Our failing was that our routine looked something like this:

Home from daycare
Snack
Attempted play
Dinner
Attempted play
Bath
Brush teeth
PJ’s
Books
Sleep

Our ultimate success was discovering that the kind of routine Maddy craves actually looks something like this:

On the way home from daycare I repeat for 10 minutes: “We’re going home for juice, pretzels, and TV. We’re going home for juice, pretzels, and TV. We’re going home for juice, pretzels, and TV.” If I stop saying those words the crying will start. If I start saying them again, usually the crying will stop.

Once inside the house, without putting Maddy down, I immediately get a small juice box with a straw and place it on the same spot of the same coffee table. I place Maddy in front of the juice box. I do not touch the juice box. I repeat, I do not touch the juice box. When Maddy squeezes juice all over herself, I tell her, “It’s okay, just juice” while I clean it up. I repeat those words until I’m done cleaning it up. She will stand while she drinks her juice. While she’s drinking her juice, I let Loki out.

When she is ready, she will ask for the TV to be on. It has to be one of four things on the TV. Once the TV is on, she will ask for the fire to be on. I turn the fire on.

Next we sit on the same spot of the same couch with some pretzels. Always pretzels. I press ‘pause’ and ‘play’ on the TV at Maddy’s command – likely a few dozen times or more. The fire will also be turned on and off at her command. Maddy will not touch her pretzels for about a half hour – but I cannot touch them. During this time Loki must be on his bed. If he leaves his bed, chaos will ensue.

After 45 minutes, Maddy will want to sit on my lap. She sits the same way every time. I must not move. I must not touch her. Maddy will ask for her clothes to come off. The clothes must be removed in the order she requests (socks are always first).

When Maddy is ready, she will request a book – the same book – everyday. We read ‘Pete the Cat‘ ten times in a row.

Once Maddy is done reading, I start to ask her questions:

“Do you want squeezes?”
“Do you want mommy to do your joints?”
“Do you want rocking?”
“Do you want rubbing?”
“Do you want ka-boom?”

If her routine has been followed without any slight changes, she will be regulated enough to pick a sensory activity.

Now, both Eric and I managed to figure this out – her morning routine, though completely different from her evening routine, is just as detailed. We have found something that helps a bit with her crying. But, as any parent knows, life is just not that predictable.

Sometimes, it takes me a few minutes to find the remote control, or the book is missing, or we only have apple juice and Maddy wanted orange juice. Sometimes Eric lies in a different position on the couch because his back hurts, or Loki needs to be let out earlier than normal. Sometimes someone is blocking the driveway and we need to do another tour around the block. Sometimes we run out of pretzels. Sometimes it’s too warm to have the fire on. Sometimes Loki moves. Sometimes the phone rings. Sometimes someone is at the door. Sometimes life happens. When life happens, crying starts. Uncontrollable, inconsolable crying.

How did we miss Maddy’s intense need for such detailed routine? How did we miss it for so long? It’s all in the shifting of the ground. It just shifts, ever so slightly, until it cracks. But, the crack is obvious. The crack is so obvious, it just glares at us, and we wonder how we couldn’t see the hairline fracture that existed before.

Now we see the crack, so we need to learn how to adapt to the crack. How do we provide the structure Maddy needs in order to feel safe in the world, without encouraging this rigidity? We have no idea, but we’re damn well going to learn.

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Hip, hip, hooray! It’s Valentine’s Day!

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I’ve been following along Amber Price’s ‘Learn to Sew’ series on Facebook. Although I haven’t had much time to make most of the items, they are on my to do list. Even with not making the projects, I’m loving being part of the Facebook group – connecting with others who want to learn to sew, and learning from more experienced sewers. There are a lot of great projects coming out of the series!

I did get my act together to make an adorable three-tiered ruffle skirt for Maddy to wear on Valentine’s Day. In perpetual motion, with a blueberry faced model, here it is:

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I made the skirt very short…

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So that I could throw this cute little onesie underneath:

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I like nothing more than a little surprise bum peeking out of a skirt 🙂

Despite the fact that Maddy had a good day with Grandma & Grandpa, we had a challenging day in our house today – both morning and night. This morning it took me over an hour to calm Maddy down/stop her crying to get her dressed for the day. The crying ensued again as soon as Eric walked in the door tonight. But, I gotta say, when Maddy agreed to model the skirt tonight, it made the challenges melt away – if only for a moment.

If you’re looking for other Valentine’s Day projects you can try: this, this, and this.

 

Baby poncho!

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Wow! I’ve been working on this bad boy since August.

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It is definitely the most complex project I’ve knitted so far. It’s the first time I’ve done something with multiple pieces that had to be sewn together. I also sewed both snaps and decorative buttons on it – another first for me.

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Maddy really liked the decorative buttons – she’ll probably end up yanking one of them off, but they’re super easy to put on so that’s okay. Maddy is often quite challenging to get dressed (the whole tactile defensiveness thing), but not only did she say yes when I asked her if she wanted to try this on – she didn’t want to take it off. That’s a success in my books!

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The only major snag I had with this project was having to ‘pick up and knit’ stitches. I was super nervous about messing this up, as I had never done it before,  but it really wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I learned how from this YouTube video, and was successful on my first try. Hoorah!

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I learned a very important lesson on this project. I need to give myself way more time than I think I need to finish up a time-sensitive project. Weeks go by without having a moment to pick up my knitting needles – but Maddy keeps growing in those weeks. I made this in an 18 month size, hoping she’d get to wear it last fall and this spring. Planning fail. It fits, but we’ll probably only get one season out of it.

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Want to give this poncho a whirl? You can find the pattern in Bernat’s ‘Colour me Cute’ book.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, for “crayon” out loud!

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I decided to whip up these multi-coloured crayons this afternoon for Maddy’s daycare class. Although they celebrate Valentine’s day, it’s a non-food item kinda celebration. I found this idea on pinterest and thought it was perfect. You can see the picture that inspired this here.

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The only change I made was to keep them in the oven for 22 minutes (because they weren’t fully melted at 15 minutes). Don’t worry if when you pull them out of the oven this is what you see:

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Because when you flip them over:

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Ta-da!  We made a whole stack, one for each toddler. It took a total of 128 crayons that I picked up at Dollarama for $5. I used a silicone heart-shaped muffin mould that I picked up last year at Bulk Barn.

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Maddy was very intrigued as I was making these, constantly digging her hands in the bowl of broken crayons, looking at me with a grin on her face and saying, “Mine!” I think she’s going to like colouring with them too!

 

I will try again tomorrow

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courage

My heart is so heavy tonight.

Eric and I just endured another night of non-stop screaming and crying.

I hate this so much. I hate watching someone whom I love with every inch of my being hurt so much. I hate that she won’t let us comfort her. I hate that she can’t be comforted. I hate that she’s so unhappy so much of the time. I hate that I can’t fix this. I just hate it.

I want to wake up one day and have a little girl who smiles. I want her to feel safe in this world. More than anything, I want her to be happy.