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Spring Flowers and Crafts

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things post-wedding, but it’s not easy.  Last weekend my sister and I hosted a baby shower for our other sister, along with the help of a very good friend, my mother, and a cousin.  There’s a saying that many hands make light work, and I surely put that to the test!

Coming up I have Easter and Connor’s birthday to prepare for, so I’ll be busy with crafts and planning yet again.  Once I make it past April 15th, I think I’m free to relax and maybe pursue some of my own interests…more on that at a later date.

I intend to bring my readers up to speed on all the crafts, paper goods, and food that went into my beautiful wedding, but I want to have some really good pictures of all these things.  And, well, my crappy cell phone pictures just aren’t going to do it!  So, I’m going to wait on all the wedding details until I have my beautiful photographer’s pictures in hand.

Today I’m going to show you a simple, quick to complete but long-lasting craft to do.

The Spring Tulip Wreath:

springtulipwreath

What You’ll need:

21 bunches (or bushes) of artificial tulips

wire cutter

12′ vine wreath

hot glue and gun

pink ribbon

I purchased seven bunches of three different colors: light pink, dark pink, and mixed.

One bunch of artificial tulips

One bunch of artificial tulips

First, you’ll want to use your wire cutters to snip each tulip from the bunch.

Cut each tulip from the main stem

Cut each tulip from the main stem

You’ll want to leave each tulip’s stem as long as possible to weave into the vine wreath.  (Please ignore the fact that I still have my Valentine’s Day tablecloth on in March.  I’ve been busy, dang it!)

Next you’ll want to start weaving your tulips into the vine wreath.  And when I say “weaving” I really mean jam it in there until it’s secure, leaving about 3-4 inches resting on top of the wreath.

Slid the stem in between the branches of the wreath

Slid the stem in between the branches of the wreath

They should look like this as you layer the tulips around the wreath:

Make sure to vary your colors

Make sure to vary your colors

Work all the way around the wreath until full, and none of the vines are visible when looking straight down onto the wreath.

completedwreath

To be certain that all of the tulips are secure, we’re going to glue the stems on the back.  So flip over your wreath and start wrapping any stray stems into the vines.

Push stems under vines until they are secure

Push stems under vines until they are secure

Now we glue.  I placed roughly a dime’s size of hot glue on each stem, holding it in place.

Once that is done, simply loop some ribbon through the top of the wreath (I used a slip knot) and tie with a bow at the top.  You make want to use thicker ribbon that what I selected (mine was on sale for $.99 so beggars can’t be choosers).

wreathandribbon

And you are done!

The cost of this craft was roughly $50.  The wreath was $8, the tulips were about $40, and the ribbon was $.99.  If you can find cheaper flowers, I urge you to do so.  I used Micheal’s because of a floral sale, as well as some coupons I had.  Here’s a link to their weekly ad, featuring a coupon and their floral sale.

Still I think it’s a pretty good deal.  On Etsy, artificial tulip wreaths are selling for $90+.  I can’t imagine doing this with real tulips, as I think it would be astronomically expensive.  But if you are able to do so, please send me a picture! I’d love to see it!

If you have any questions about this craft, or tips on other crafts, please drop me a line!

An ending and a beginning

Weddings are often put at the end of movies, at the end of plays, at the end of books, as if this single event was the culmination of a lifetime.  There’s always a feeling of “ta da!” like some magician was pulling back the curtain to reveal a happily married couple and end scene.

But we know better, don’t we.  Or at least we learned this lesson along the way.

With my first marriage and it’s wedding, so much time, effort, and emotion was built into the wedding that there was a feeling after it ended of “now what?”  Every little girl dreams of her big fairytale wedding and I’d had mine.  And what was I supposed to do now?  We hadn’t talked too much about the marriage part.  It was just assumed that things would go on as before.  But that never really works, does it?  Things change, people change, and we weren’t really prepared for that as a couple.

The second time around the wedding was so much more about putting a stamp on a paper and celebrating our relationship, than it was about some giant event.  Our wedding was extremely personal.  It was exactly how we wanted it to be.  My flu-ridden son slept between us both on our wedding night and the night of our reception.  We walked our three dogs before dropping them off at my parent’s house.  We rushed to get them as soon as the party was over.  The day after the reception we did laundry, cleaned, and went to a family birthday party.

It felt as if our wedding had just been some huge family party that everyone came to, like a confirmation or high school graduation.  And then life resumed.

Perhaps it was because there was no fairy tale this time.

Fairy tales are typically about single, starry-eyed young men and women looking for an epic love.  They’re typically not about divorcees with a child looking for a stable committed relationship, drama free.  Most of the single parents in fairy tales are tragically widowed fathers who end up  marrying a beautiful but cruel woman.

There really aren’t any fairy tales to describe the situation I was in.  Single working mother of autistic child seeks understanding, patient, practical man.  Not exactly the plot of a romance novel.

All this made it easier to see the wedding as just a stamp on a paper, as not an ending but a beginning.

There’s no epic-ness about our relationship.  No hills and valleys.  No drama.  No vase throwing, no screaming.  Our love is a simple country song.  We watch tv together, we take turns making lunches, we talk in embarrassing voices to our three dogs.  And I love him.  And I know that I love my husband more when he’s carrying my sleeping son up the stairs than when we’re sipping wine over a candle-lit dinner.  And I think that really says it all.

Chores and Procrastination

Well my wedding is less than two weeks away now and there is a list a mile long of things that still need to be done.  I am, of course, not doing them.

The thing about getting married for the second time is that it is a lot more difficult to plan, prepare, complete the millions of tasks when you have a child.  Though there are many supposed moral reasons why people should wait to have kids until after marriage, I think the real reason is that it’s damn hard to get anything done when you have kids!

Seriously!  I can barely get the dishes done on daily basis because of Connor!

So when Connor was sick for three weeks straight and missed 10 days of school, my wedding planning got derailed.  Thankfully I have my faithful minions (aka my family and friends) who are kindly helping in whatever capacity they can.  Or that I will let them.  (I do feel strangely reluctant to burden anyone with work when I know how impossible it is to get things done with little ones clinging to you as you try to move the wet clothes from the washing machine to the dryer…or maybe that’s just my house?)

Now that Connor is back at school I should be tackling the dozen or so items left to get done in the next 10 days.

Instead, I’ve spent my morning researching and creating a picture chore chart for Connor.  Yay!…?

The other thing about getting married for the second time is that you don’t get to stop being a parent, your child still needs all of your attention (and your special needs child needs all of your attention and then some).  Since I’ve set the tentative goal of mainstreaming Connor one or two days per week for next fall, we are really focusing on doing whatever we can to prepare him for a mainstream preschool classroom.  That means he’s socializing more with typical developing peers, we’re making him use more and more of his language at home, and we’re trying to create an environment of responsibility.  Part of that means Connor has to complete certain tasks each day (mostly without complaining).

To get him used to the idea of responsibility and having to do things he doesn’t necessarily enjoy, we instituted a chore chart.  I made a worksheet of chores with bubbles next to it to be checked off.  And while Connor enjoyed getting check marks, it didn’t really appear to be making an impact.  So I’m taking another approach.

Choice boards worked really well for us in the past when we were developing Connor’s language skills.  He was able to look at the pictures and either point or pick them up to communicate his needs, while still focusing on developing the words these pictures represented.  I’m hoping that using a pictorial chore chart will have a similar effect.

With a little research I was able to find these from Over the Big Moon:

Picture Chore Charts for Preschoolers

The author provides blank versions so you can add your own clipart/images and text.  Obviously I’m not going to have Connor read 15 minutes every day (since he can’t sit still for 15 minutes) but I am going to have him brush his teeth!

To customize your own charts visit here: http://www.overthebigmoon.com/pre-k-chore-charts-free-printable/

I’ll post an update once I get the charts on the wall and we can see how Connor is progressing!

Until then, I guess I’ll get to some wedding chores before my actual wedding is here…maybe.

 

Not taking no for an answer

I really don’t like being told no.  I mean nobody does, but I really really hate it.  It makes me want whatever I’m requesting even more!

Can I eat all my trick or treat candy? No.  Oh yeah?  Well I’m going to eat as much Halloween candy as possible before I even get home!

Can I go on that spring break trip to Mexico? No.  Well fine! I’m just going to Havasu instead!

Can I finish my finals and term papers for my masters while on bed-rest at 8 mos pregnant? No. Wanna bet? Just watch me! Done!

So when I spoke to someone today about moving Connor from his special education preschool into a mainstream preschool just two days a week next fall, I didn’t like hearing them say no.  It mad me mad.  I mean it mad me really really mad.  Like I wanted to pull all the research out of my pocket and show them how great mainstream education is for high functioning autistic children.  (I didn’t actually have it in my pocket so that’s kinda why I’m blogging at 11 pm on a Monday.  I’m writing, taking notes, and researching.  And I’m really good at research, like it’s kinda my superpower.  I now have enough sources to write an academic paper on the subject.  Booyah.)

Telling me that my son can’t do something, telling me that he is limited, that he may get lost in that setting, pushed all the wrong buttons.

Sure Connor isn’t ready at this very moment to be in a mainstream preschool class.  The biggest obstacle is his speech delay.  In the past six months we have seen Connor’s speech improve tremendously, breathtakingly! But he’s still not at a level of typical development for a three-year old.  And that’s ok.  It’s a process that may take years to fully catch him up.  I’m willing to wait.

What I’m not willing to do is sit on the sidelines to wait.  I’m going to push him.  I’m going to put Connor into environments that drive him to increase his communication.  Existing solely in a world of special education, Connor is never going to be pushed to exceed those around him.  He will not be asked to stretch beyond the goals set forth for him that year by adults.  And as much effect as adult interactions can have, kids want to interact with kids.  Playing and talking and having fun with another child can be the greatest motivator to grow.

A recent study in particular (in Norway) found that children with autism who interacted with their typical developing peers in a mainstream preschool setting saw a significant increase in their IQ over two years. A second study published by Autism in 2011 found that 31 % of the autistic students observed, who interacted with their typical developing peers, saw such a significant increase after just 8 months as to qualify them as typical developing.

These studies with these types of returns convince me even more that Connor needs to be pushed into a classroom with typical developing peers.  Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.  He may not see the same significant increases in IQ or developmental abilities, but I think any increase is worth the risk.

And I’m not taking no for an answer.

Overload

I have been running at level 6 on a scale of 5.  My brain seems to focus and my emotions feel fried.

There are too many balls in the air for even this practiced juggler to catch!

A wedding and a baby shower are in the works.  Each event alone requires seemingly hundreds of decisions.  And inevitably, as in my last post, when there are events, there are little dramas.

Some dramas are bigger than others, potentially life changing.  To deal with the fall out of my invitation decisions, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of friendship as an adult, particularly the nature of friendship for a stay-at-home mom to an autistic child.  Being the parent of special needs child means belonging to a very isolating world.  Our children keep us busy running from one therapy to the next, juggling meetings and reports and paperwork until there doesn’t seem much room for anything else.  For me and Connor, I keep trying to add to our already busy schedule.  I want to keep moving Connor forward towards our ultimate goal of mainstreaming.  I need to keep pushing him, keep trying new activities, new therapies, new ideas until we strike upon something that works for him.  And although this is best for Connor, it doesn’t really allow me to develop friendships with the other parents.

Most other parents of special needs children are dealing with the same issues, and the same potential social explosions from their own children.  Play dates have to be carefully coordinated and can be easily cancelled if a child’s behaviors are out of control that day.  Sure I have time to myself during the day, but who else does?  My Pilates classes are filled with retirees!

So time to seek out activities that will make me joyful!  I’ve signed up to volunteer with a few programs, as well as subscribe to a book club.  But not immediately since I’m in the midst of planning a shower and a wedding as well as parenting my autistic child!  And round and round we go until I feel just about to explode!

To top it all off my great-uncle passed away.  Nearly 90 and suffering excruciating pain due to cancer, he is much better off in the arms of our Lord than he was dwelling here on earth.  And though it’s hard to develop a close relationship with a man who devoted his life to serving the Lord, as well as his brothers and sisters, he was still a man I loved and respected.  He baptized me, he blessed me, he carried God’s love to me throughout my entire life.  And I miss him.  I will miss him.  I will miss him.  I will miss him until I join with him again one day in God’s presence.

So today while my flu infected son naps, I take a little time to just let myself feel everything and I don’t try to stop the tears.

A Question of Kindness

When planning a wedding there is bound to be some drama. Feelings will be hurt, words that were said cannot be unsaid, and friendships are tested. I just had no idea that this time around the pain would be largely mine.

A dear friend of mine is married to a man whose behavior at events (and in any social setting really) has been inappropriate to say the least. He is not an ideal wedding guest. For this and a variety of other reasons, my fiance did not want this man to attend our wedding. I cannot say that I blame him, nor did my feelings truly differ. The question then became what was I to do about it?

There was no longer an issue of this man attending. Even if I had longed for him to be there, my fiance did not want that. That’s really what it comes down to: do I choose the feelings of a friend or the feelings of my fiance? If I didn’t put the feelings of my fiance first then there wouldn’t really be any point in us getting married. We have compromised to make this wedding as small as possible while still including a vast array of friends and family, I could not begrudge him this request, especially since in my heart I felt the same way.

So what to do about it? Here were my options:

1. Not invite the couple

2. Talk to my friend and explain

I would love to be the kind of person who could just not invite them. I would love to take the path of least resistance, the path of passive aggression. But it’s not in my nature to do that.

I know first hand that passive aggression is just as, if not more, hurtful that confrontation. The questions of why? the confusion, the wounded feelings are not something I wanted to impart to my friend. This woman has been a dear dear friend to me and has supported me through exceptionally tough times. My decision regarding her spouse’s attendance had nothing to do with her and everything to do with him. The least I could do was tell her that.

I was thus left with the only option left: confrontation.

I feel like many people assume confrontation means fighting or yelling, when in reality it’s just a straightforward expression of feelings and thoughts. There will most likely be hurt feelings but both sides will have been honest. I worried then about the words I would choose. I worried that I would fatally wound our friendship. I worried that I might never get a chance to speak another word to this woman who I loved so very much. Just the thought of hurting my friend made my stomach turn and my heart beat faster. I knew the risks I was taking by confronting her about the issue and I still had no choice but to go ahead.

After we had dinner one night I explained my position, emphasizing as much as possible my love and respect for my friend, my desire to keep our friendship alive, my hope that she would still attend but coupled with my understanding that she might choose not to do so.

I guess that what a big part of this came down to: I wanted to give her the choice. She could attend or not attend. She could maintain our friendship or not. She could choose to stand my her husband just as I was choosing to stand by my fiance.

Nothing about that conversation felt good. My heart ached, my body rebelled and tears involuntarily welled in my eyes. It broke my heart to break hers.

Since that day I have questioned and requestioned my actions. I have been attacked by friends who sought to defend our friend. I have felt abandoned by other in the wake of one of the toughest moral decisions I’ve had to make. And even though I have played and replayed and examined ever possible angle, I don’t know that I would have done anything differently.

It comes down to a question of kindness. Was it kinder for me to be honest? Would it have been kinder to exclude the couple all together? Should I truly have been kinder to my fiance than my friend?

As always when I am faced by these types of decisions, I ask my self what would Christ have me do? What is the Christian thing to do in this situation?

I’ve been struggling to come up with an answer. I have prayed and reflected. I have discussed it with my fiance and my therapist. I have borne the ache in my chest that I have lost my friend and I truly don’t know what the Christian thing to do was. I loved as best I could and caused pain as little as possible. That will have to be enough for now.

Don’t Kill the DJ

To say I obsess and I worry is a bit of an understatement.  When I get started on a project it often becomes all-consuming.  I mull it over as I’m walking the dogs, make notes while waiting during Connor’s therapy, rehearse parts of it in the shower.  It, whatever the project is, is always on my mind.

Planning the playlist for my DIY wedding is no exception.

We are not hiring a DJ, it’s not in the budget.  So I’m making a playlist.  And obsessing about it.

It’s on my phone now, so I can listen to it in the car and edit it.

I scour websites daily for advice on the best slow songs, the most requested dance songs, the best ratio of slow songs to fast songs.  I’ve read every article on the best playlists of 2012 I could find.  And even though I think I’ve finally finished editing and compiling it, I’m extremely nervous.

So here’s my strategy:

Start the dancing with fast, fun songs that are pretty universally known, from a variety of decades. 

I am doing roughly 15 fast songs to a set of 3 slow songs

I’m ending the night with songs that might be more favored by a younger crowd (ie more hip hop and some old school B.I.G. and Tupac).

Here are my problems:

Should I have more slow songs?

Is the entire list, equalling 3.5 hours of music, to long?

There are 3 songs with curse words in them, should I eliminate those all together?

Thoughts, comments, suggestions, all welcome.  Seriously, any help would be appreciated!  I don’t want anyone to be complaining about the dj.