Too Much Sweetness


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How to make your own Votive hurricane lantern

Yes, this is not so much a ‘get organized’ post as a ‘have a daily do-able activity for the children’ post.
You will need:-
A jam jar
A tea light
An old wire hanger
Narrow gauge [easy to bend] wire
Wire cutters
Beads or chopped up drinking straws as a substitute and even more ‘green’ beads.

Thread the beads onto wire and secure each end so they don’t fall off.

Cut a length of wire long enough to go all the way around the rim of the jar and make a handle.

Thread the beads onto the long wire first and then secure around the rim and fashion a handle.

Pop the tealight inside and voila. Make sure you hang it in a safe place as is does get very hot which is why a longer handle is better. Hang far away from anything flammable.

Children need a lot of help with this one but motivation is pivotal. The motivation here has nothing to do with making a craft or creating something pretty and function. It’s all about the motive, namely, although you may not immediately recognize it, you have just made a ‘moth attractor.’ Now you may experience the true joy of sitting in the garden in the semi darkness with your moth attractor and children and a great many flying insects, some of which might be moths but I’m sure the majority of them are mosquitoes.

Parents are advised to sit on their hands as swatting “nature’s friends” is likely to prove counter productive. The lawyer in me would describe this activity as an “attractive nuisance.”

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Try This Tuesday

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Be mine

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

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A little late, but isn’t everything these days?

Now that my friends is a labour of love. The marathon is over until next year…..when is St. Patrick’s Day again?

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Ms. Nightingale's services are not required


“Agh! Agh! AGH!”

I fly to his side as he has surely impaled himself on a dagger.

I see vast quantities of tears, snot and drool, but it's definitely a blood free zone. Fooled again! I wait. I wait until the screams can turn into some words.

“It….is……badddd!” Great, and we're off to a swimming start.
“What's bad dear?”

He doesn't speak but raises a quivering finger tip to my nose without making contact. I feel my eyes cross.

“Oh dear, that is bad,” I lie.
“Bad! BaD! BAD!” he bellows.

I am still none the wiser. Sensitive, intuitive parents are so in tune with their children that they can get away without words. Other lesser mortals need every clue I can get. I notice that he holds a pair of nail clippers in his other hand. Aha! I reach for his hand and examine the offending finger again. His overly long, crud filled nails, have one little sliver adrift.

“Shall I nip that off for you?”

“NO! Don touch it!”

It was a silly offer. I know he has to do these things for himself, without assistance. He will master the skill or die in the process of learning.

“I am bad. I am bad. I am bad.”
“No you're not lovey, this is a tricky thing to do. It's so…….tiny.”

How frustrating it must be, to have such an eye for detail but the fine motor skills of a Sherman tank?

“It not tiny, it……….gigantic!” His fingers, or rather his finger tips, are only slightly less sensitive than the area above his shoulders, another ‘off limits’ space.

Nail and hair cutting can be a difficult arena for many a child, but once you dip into the murky waters of tactile defensiveness, the barrier is cordoned off with barbed wire.

The days when I would sneak into his room at night to try and snip a bit of this or trim a bit of that are long gone. That campaign was a failure, like so many others.

The only true solution is self help. I am relegated to the background, to the role of coach and cheerleader.

Maybe we’re both graduating?

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Dijon? Mais oui! [translation = therapy for free]

Now I am no gourmand, nor some sort of food snob, but when it comes to mustard, well…..…lets just say that I have certain standards that need to be maintained. It's not that I shun Coleman's [translation = lurid yellow English mustard that blows your socks off after just one whiff] it's just that there are other flavours and textures, such as the wholegrain mustards, that are all together superior.

There would, it appears, be other gloops, that call themselves mustard. In America these substances are known as mustard, but are in fact, merely neon yellow slime, masquerading as mustard. It only took me a few short weeks in the States to discover this deception foisted upon my fellows. Once I gained this knowledge was careful to ensure that the dreaded concoction should never pass over the threshold of this house.

But of course that was a few years ago now.

Out of nowhere, my son declares that he is a lover of mustard, to delight my fluttering heart. At last! Is there the remote possibility that we are edging closer to what might be described as ‘normal,’ or what might pass for normals if you don’t pay too much attention?

Spouse interjects himself. He explains that my eldest son recently had cause to come in close bodily contact with the substance, he witnessed the exposure first hand. Furthermore he adds, that some buddy at school, a peer, a preferred peer, also favours mustard. I harbour evil thoughts, but suppress them. I duly write 'yellow stuff' on the food shopping list.

In the supermarket, I find the aisle that sells slime in it's many and various American manifestations. I am not defeated, merely sanguine. I study the offerings with the dedication of a scholar, to find just the right one. The right one is difficult to determine. I decide to narrow my choice down to two options. My criteria? Flavour, brand, price, size, recyclable container or otherwise? Nope.

I buy both. One to challenge his fine motor 'twisting' skills, one to encourage his 'flip up the top' skills and both fulfill the goal of 'both hands work together to squeeze' skills.

Oh yes, this mustard business is hot stuff.

Now don’t tell my Mother as she’ll have my guts for garters! [translation = be seriously displeased]

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From Velcro to zipper

If I had known that bearing children would also mean investing in a truck load of Velcro, I would had bought shares in the company whilst they were still in vitro, but no-one warned me.

To be fair, not many people would have predicted this eventuality. Even now, one of my son’s has a serious dose of tactile defensiveness and supersonic hearing. Those two qualities are firm indicators that would guarantee that Velcro, with it's scratchy surfaces and noisy ripping sounds, would be banned.

However, as it turned out, it soon became the case that PECS with their Velcro backing, ruled the world, or our little corner of it. As long as I didn't rip them off willy nilly, just kept them on the board, all would be well. Rearranging PECS, adding new ones, removing out moded ones, became a clandestine activity for me. During the wee small hours when everyone slumbered, I would lurk in the kitchen, setting up the PEC board for the next day.

Velcro exists in other areas too, such as shoe closures, an essential tool for any child who has yet to graduate to shoe laces. This is a common enough issue for most young people, but if your fine motor skills are a bit dodgy, it could be a number of years until you can master this feat. Since zips are also a bilateral nightmare boys often transition to them via a Vecro fly in their trousers.

I suspect that most parents feel that raising Frederick or Gemina, is more of a marathon than a sprint. They look forward to the distant time when their child becomes independent and no longer their responsibility. Some older parents and grandparents, also know that the 'responsibility' does not end until they themselves are pushing up the daisies, and probably not even then. Whilst I rant and rave about my children's capabilities and shortcomings, not infrequently, I have cause to note that the 'spectrum' is just that, a range of [?]………..possibilites.

We attended the charity bash [translation = benefit] a uniquely American experience, for “Parents Helping Parents [PHP]” Since we are in California, people were dressed accordingly, casual, which includes shoes and shirt, as well as a considerable number of posh frocks. [ translation = fancy dresses] For the purpose of clarity, I should point out that no-one was in costume. [translation = fancy dress] The parents of special needs children enjoyed the company of like minded people, if they had baby sitters. Everyone looks “‘normal'” but you can never really tell can you?

The bidding process started for some very worthy prize in the auction after dinner. I continued to chat to my pal in quiet tones. The wine had flowed and there was a great deal of hub bub. My hands operated in conjunction, to help me get my message across. A rogue alien hand, rested on my arm to warn me “careful! Someone will think that you're bidding with all that waving around.” My hands dropped to my lap, as I wouldn't wish to be mid-understood.

I nipped out to the loo at an opportune moment. Down the far end of the corridor [translation = hall] a middle aged man knelt on the carpet in front of a teenage boy. The men’s restroom was close by. As I went closer, the hub bub of the banqueting hall subsided and his words become audible, “you're doing a great job, almost there, you can do it. Pull it up a little bit more. If you hold it in your right hand it will be easier. Left hand holds the fabric. Yeah you're almost there, just a little bit more. Here let me hold the top, that buckle is in the way huh?”

He stood up and hugged him. He talked to the boy's shoulder as I brushed past, “you're the greatest guy, do you know that?”

You see what you want to see.

p.s. “Parents Helping Parents [PHP]” is a fabulous organisation that was started by a couple of mums with special needs kids, at their kitchen table.

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Perfection is nothing

Autism comes in many forms. We experience two forms. This is one tiny fragment, of one relatively small, autistic child. His teacher reports of multiple meltdowns during the day. The source of his frustration? The inability to execute the perfect 'q.' I am in part to blame for this error, as he has been taught to write a 'q' with a sharp tail rather than a soft, loose monkey tail. [translation = continental error or calligraphic error?] Horror and consternation have ensued due to this mis-direction on my part. Once home we start his last outstanding piece of home work, to write out his full name, which fortunately is 'Q' free.
“Why der no Q? It sounds like dah Q?” It does. [translation = mac Q wen phonetically] Two hours later after negotiating with the screamer, I would willingly swap [translation = trade] the 'q' sound in our family name for the real thing. The paper is worn thin from his furious rubbings with the eraser. [translation = rubber, sorry about that but it's true.] He has growled at the paper, spat on it, screwed it up in a ball, torn it to fragments and generally violently abused it. None of the letters that he has formed have reached the required standard, which means that they are punished by obliteration. I wait for a call from the Child Protective services as everyone else in a 50 mile radius, is also aurally abused, as he howls in protest.
I suspect that he must have a permanent bruise on the back of his skull from hurling himself backwards in the chair, same spot every time, about 15 times in as many minutes.

Now this is a leap of faith I know, but believe me when I tell you that I haven't inflicted 20 ‘time outs’ on him, honestly I haven't. [translation = curious American term referring to the practice of isolating child for as many minutes as they have years] Instead I have taken a flailing 5 year old to his room to lie on his bed, where he can calm down and consider the lump on the back of his head, compare the pain he experienced, by comparison to the agony of a wiggly down-stroke on one letter. Thus far, the message has not penetrated, he has not connected the dots, or if you prefer, has failed to accept 'less than perfect.' For him 'less than perfect' equates to failure. Since failure is unacceptable, we have reached an impasse.

I have genuinely praised his efforts, real sincerity. It is a lovely capital Q. [translation = upper case] Rarely have I seen finer. The lower case 'q' is also delightful. I am not concerned with it's tail, it is more than good enough for someone of his fragile years, but will he accept that? I think of the library book that I have read to him daily so that now it is overdue and we'll have a whopping great fine. [ref 1]

I push my sketch to one side on the table but it catches his eye.
“What it is?”
“Oh it's just a rough design for the bowl I'm making.”
“I can see it?”
“Oh course.” [translation = sure]
“Dat is dah most beautiful one I am ever seeing! You are de artist!”
“No, it's just a rough sketch, so I know where to put what.” I watch his eyes as his index finger traces the lines on the paper, eyes like saucers, as any youngster is, when faced with evidence of older children's work. I grab it from under his arm, scream at it, rip it from the book, screw it up in a ball and hurl it across the room, “I hate it, it's stupid, it's no good!” He looks at me open mouthed.
Well it was just too good an opportunity to miss really, and cheap at the price. Thank you
[Ref 1] Ish by Peter H Reynolds – for all the little perfectionists out there.

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