I haven’t done much dancing at all this year as any random movement is a bit scary with injured ankles but my boys have had the great joy of participating in the Dance Fever program throughout Term 3. To be quite honest they are not always the most graceful/coordinated children but the Dance Fever program available to primary schools all over the country takes those factors and more into account.
As well as learning a Hip Hop Show dance, Jive and Tango both boys have learned some of the social niceties associated with the world of ballroom dancing such as dancing with different partners, asking a partner to dance and thanking a partner for dancing with them. For the Year 2s and those around that age group the learning was appropriately scaffolded so that every child could achieve a measure of success. They had words and actions that went with each dance that helped them keep the right movements in their heads so they all were able to dance and have a really good time. The exuberance and happiness with which they greeted their Dance Fever instructors was great evidence of just how much benefit the program has.
The Year 4s and up got to take the program another step further by attending the Dance Fever Inter-School Challenge at Chandler Arena. Wow! Groovy music, lights, special effects, well dressed competitors and a wonderful excitement in the air. I have to admit that about 5 minutes into the event as I sat with a dear friend who just happened to be the mother of my boy’s dance partner, I had already become a “stage mother”. We were listening avidly for our couple’s number to be called for semi-finals and grand finals and in between time even held tentative discussions about matching outfits for next year!
By participating in this inter-school event my older boy learnt about preparing for an event with a partner which included organising some rehearsals outside of school hours. There may or may not have been a slight issue with him “dropping” his partner during the tango but I think it is probably prudent not to comment on that! We was delighted with their successes on the competition side of things but even more delighted with the poise and politeness shown on the dance floor. I was a very proud Mum to see my handsome boy holding himself so confidently, leading his partner out onto the floor and remaining very focussed on doing a fantastic job.
Much to our surprise and delight he and his partner made the grand final of the Year 5 Tango, the grand final of the Year 4 Jive (with a different partner) and the semi-final of the Year 5 Jive. I should also note here that at no time during the event was his dance partner dropped much to my relief!
I have been sick this week. After the boys both had gastro for a week followed by another couple of weeks with asthma, croup, runny noses and the rest, their germs were shared with me in great enough numbers for me to go downhill as well. So the greater part of the last week has been spent in or around the bed, I’ve been confined to base this week- until yesterday and I was feeling pretty miserable for a while before I had to give up some things and stay home.
However life goes on and I’ve found the best way to get some sorely needed organising done is in very small chunks. I had joined in with the Organising Junkie’s 52 weeks of Organising at the beginning of 2011 and I’ve totally fallen off the wagon with that but these small sessions are going to get our house back on track. My biggest challenges right now are the sheer volume of things in our house that need to be more organised so that we can all function with less stress. Even though I’m getting around quite happily now on my previously dodgy ankles I still don’t have the stamina to do huge amounts of organising/tidying/cleaning at once. We are using the timer and doing 10-15 minute sessions with me organising something, the boys clearing out something to help me organise (The bottom of my wardrobe) or the boys problem-solving for one of our big issues.
SHOES. There. That is one of the biggest issues we face. I’ve said it. When it is time to leave for school or go to the park or go anywhere there is always someone who can’t find shoes. They could be in any room of the house, often in the living room, in the backyard beside the trampoline, in my car or A’s car and very occasionally in the plastic crate we had designated for shoes in their bedroom. It clearly wasn’t working and it was causing great angst for everyone, especially when we were rushed.
So, with the help of Eric, I organised a Shoe Docking Station on the back veranda. I thought it was just going to be a place where the shoes were all kept together but being boys, we had to have a docking station and I’m pretty pleased with it.
It isn’t fancy. I’ve just used home made laminated computer labels and stuck them down on an old TV stand we had and there are now designated “parking spots for the important sets of shoes. So school shoes, sports shoes, sandals and thongs have their own spaces with one changeable parking spot to be used for tags for hockey in Winter and runners for Little Athletics in summer.
A has raised the issue of spiders so we are going to practice precautionary shoe thumping. What I really like already is that I can pop outside and know straight away what is missing so they can hunt for exactly what they need. I’ve put some photos in but be warned. It isn’t “pretty” but the boys like it and it is functional and that’s what counts for my family right now.
Thanks to a very generous friend who has negotiated her way through peak hour traffic to pick me up last Thursday and the Thursday, I’ve been able to re-join Weight Watchers and start again. I know that quite a few people who know me well will be saying to themselves, “Here she goes again. What will be different this time?”
Well, there are quite a few differences already. I’ve got a Chronic Condition Health Care plan set in place by my wonderful GP which will give me access to an exercise physiologist (a cross between a personal trainer and a physiotherapist). My GP will be keeping a closer eye on things and the nurse who is part of the practice will keep up with me too.
I am still seeing my wonderful physio as my ankles continue to heal and he and I have been discussing possible exercise options for now while my ankles are still quite wobbly and weak and later when I can do more weight bearing exercise.
I’ve been to the gym and was quietly pedalling the recumbent bike as I had been instructed by the physio when the trainer asked if I would like to join in a weights circuit with three other ladies. After a bit of encouragement from him, I did join in and much to my amazement, I was able to complete a 45 minute circuit with very few modifications. It was the most amazing feeling to do that successfully.
I’ve got a great circle of friends who are “in the loop” about my efforts and are encouraging me every step of the way. Eric is right behind me cheering me on and Daniel, who still lacks tact and diplomacy at almost 8, has asked whether my big belly (which he illustrates by holding his arms out wide) to going to shrink up to the size of his belly. Probably a bit extreme but he is being positive in his own way.
One of my friends is going to join the same Weight Watchers meeting as me so I will be meeting up with her each week. I can’t say how glad I am about this. Not only will I get a free pampering session and she a 3 month movie pass due to a membership promotion but I will look forward to seeing someone each week who is truly on my side and has much the same dry sense of humour as myself.
However the number 1 things are weighing in each week (which involves fronting up the the very formidable Carol) and staying for the meeting. I certainly won’t paraphrase the meeting content here because if you want that you should really go to Weight Watchers yourself. But when we recieve information, we all process it in different ways and take away our own responses and hopefully, action plans.
This week was all about monitoring hunger signals. We discussed the difference between being so hungry that you would eat almost anything to having eaten so much that you feel like your clothes would burst. Ideally we should aim for something in between. That is going to happen for different people in different ways but for me hunger signals are controlled when I eat small amounts often during the day, keep moving and maintain my water intake. Please excuse me for a moment while I uncap my trusty water bottle and take a big swig.
Ah, that’s better.
We have discussed many mantras and saying that we can use to keep our goals in mind and to stay on track. It was recommended that we have a saying that describes ourselves at a healthy weight in the present tense and includes some tings we can do or have achieved. Mine is:
I am slim, fit and focussed.
Then I thought more about what would help me to monitor my hunger signals and indeed, lots of other signals from my body and I came up with this:
What do I really need right now?
Some of the answers to that question in the last few days have been:
salad instead of chips
baked fish instead of crumbed fish
more water instead of more coffee
one small dessert that I really liked instead of just eating dessert whenever it was offered whether I really liked it or not
doing my physio stretches
walking a few more steps
keeping up with my pain relief so I could keep up with moving more and healing faster
not staying up for the end of the movie/tv show but going to bed when I needed to
taking a nap during the day when I needed it
doing something pleasurable during the day
talking to people who woud help me with making good choices
I’m still trying to resign myself to spending the Easter holidays at home *every single day* and in the meantime I’ve been doing every Easter activity I can do with the boys that involves sitting down and producing something worthwhile.
So far we have blown out eggs and attempted to dye them with crepe paper with wildly varying results (more of that in another post). We also made rudimentary egg baskets/nests with plastic bowls and feathers. They were nothing like the ones on the site that I got the idea from but the boys did them all by themselves and are very pleased with them.
Then we made goo – the old classic with corn-flour and water. This has kept both boys happy for over half an hour so far and Daniel is still very happily pottering downstairs with a big messy baking tray of goo after trying to see just how much goo he could plaster over his big brother – as you do! Eric has gone off to take more photos to document the process and I’m planning on showing them this clip from the Myth Busters show which examines whether or not it is possible to walk on goo.
Since my tumble down the stairs resulting in two injured ankles, I have learned many things – how to use crutches, how to go up and down stairs on crutches, the best way of calling a cab and the best sort of socks to wear when you have to wear them under splints 24/7 for SIX weeks – only three to go!
how to make a cup of coffee (very important for his mother’s survival)
how to make a toasted sandwich (necessary for his survival)
how to change the shelves in the oven and turn it on
which things I need on my trolley when I go from place to place
He has also walked to the local chemist by himself when I was stranded at home and really needed prickly heat powder to put on under the aforementioned socks. As the days go on he is using his school diary to keep track of the pick-up arrangements for each afternoon which is very useful given that the arrangements are different every single day!
I wish I could say something similar for Daniel but he’s just not into trying new things without a lot of help. His main interest in my injuries is the fact that I have much more time than usual for reading stories to him and listening to him read to me. So he is learning in a more indirect way from what has happened. To be fair, he has filled a few water bottles for me and he quite enjoys getting me a Berocca each morning.
All of this has really made me think about the times at which we begin to teach life skills to our children. I think about it more, when I’m stranded somewhere at home needing something done and I wonder whether I can ask one of the boys to do it. Will they be able? Will they be willing? I’ve got a long mental list of things they do know how to do already but I’ve been thinking about how to move them on and some more things I could teach them.
Given that Eric is 10, I’d like to teach him to do simple ironing, start a load of washing choosing water level and temperature, do some vacuuming and where to access the electricity box and water in an emergency. For Daniel my ambitions include stacking dishwasher, hanging out small washing on clothes airer, folding things and taking simple phone messages. That’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure there are many more things.
I’d like my boys to get into very familiar routines for mornings, after school and evenings so that the jobs we wanted them to do and homework requirements etc were all just happening instead of coaxed out of them step by step each day. That means of course that I need to have better routines for myself and I do recognise that. I’d like them to develop their problem solving skills so they can see that there is often more than one solution to something that is bothering or perplexing them. I’d like to help them develop their emotional resilience while also leaving them secure in the knowledge that it is ok for a boy to cry.
Eric and I are going to a funeral on Thursday and it will be his first one. His teacher’s mum passed away last week. Other students from his class are likely to attend with their parents so he is feeling some safety in numbers. A friend and I had a conversation with Eric and her daughter this afternoon about the sorts of things that happen at a funeral and why they are important. We talked about what it means to the family left behind to see that their community supports them. Both children now have some concept of what they will see, hear and perhaps feel. Dh and I decided that it was important for him to attend a funeral now for someone he didn’t know well because there will come a time when he has to attend a funeral for someone he does know well. When that time comes it may be a bit less overwhelming because he knows the sorts of things that will happen.
Now is the time for us to be mindful of the learning opportunities that are out there in everyday life for our children and to make the most of them even if it does take longer to get things done and they may not be done as well as we would have done them.
You may have noticed that I didn’t put on Eric’s list that he knew how to make toast with honey. To explain I give you (as accurately as I can remember) our conversation on the Sunday morning before last.
“I’m going to make you a coffee Mum. Would you like something for breakfast?”
I take frantic mental inventory – what can he make and bring into bedroom without spilling it? I think that rules out cereal so I settle on toast with jam. He disappears.
“There’s no jam anywhere Mum. Can I put something else on?”
“Um, yes. How about some honey?”
At this point the kettle stopped boiling ages ago, he’s been to the fridge several times but no smoke alarms have gone off. Then he appears again.
“I’ve sort of made a mistake.”
“I sort of put the margarine and honey on but I forgot to put the bread in the toaster. Should I put it in now?”
“Um, no, that will be fine, you can just bring it in to me the way it is.”
As it turned out, he probably could have put the bread in the toaster quite easily because he eventually appeared with barely lukewarm coffee and two slices of stale bread with a tiny smear of margarine down the centre of each and about 1 teaspoon of honey altogether between two pieces.
“Thank-you gorgeous, it was so nice of you to make me some breakfast!”
“That’s ok Mum, nothing to it” and he struts away, chest out feeling very proud of himself.
We might still be learning but I’ve got very good material to work with!
The camera worked for long enough this afternoon to get a shot of my very unattractive ankles in socks and splints. They look a bit powdery because I need to put on prickly heat powder before the socks so I don’t get driven mad with itching and it certainly makes me glad not to be in plaster.
Today hasn’t been a good day. I’ve been down, teary and tired all day. It was a combination of things. I was still pathetically exhausted after my trip to hydrotherapy yesterday, today was bit of an anti-climax because I wasn’t going anywhere and I’m not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Hydrotherapy will only continue once it is approved by Work Cover as I already had had the five automatically allowed physio sessions while in hospital. It is really my only prospect of getting out of the house because we will be reimbursed for the cab fare. I’m not able to drive yet and I don’t know how long it will be before I get behind the wheel. If I was to get taken somewhere like a shopping centre I would have to hire a wheelchair and then have someone to push it. The potential “someones” are either a bit old to be pushing me in a wheel chair or they have small children to deal with. We can’t afford to spend any money on cabs that will not be reimbursed as my work prospects are going to be limited once again and for who knows how long.
Dh is working full time 5 days a week and may be doing overtime on Saturday and of course the boys are at school. They will be off on holidays at the end of next week but we will still be housebound because it is too far from here to get to any public transport and we cannot afford cabs. The book club girls took me out last night for coffee and book discussion but I came away from that realizing that everyone is still really busy and the fact that I am out of action doesn’t change that. So while plenty of people have asked, “What can I do to help?”, I’ve really only been able to ask for people to bring the boys home from school and even that was quite difficult to organise. Life goes on as normal for everyone else which means they don’t have time to stop for visits or cups of tea. Everyone balances multiple roles and has a busy schedule including me when I’m not on crutches. So I can hardly ask someone to pick me up and cart me around in a wheelchair and no one really has spare time to spend here with me. I think all of that hit home for me this afternoon and I felt really black.
The flood of phone calls and text messages that happened while I was in hospital has dried up to almost nothing. I’m lucky if I get two texts in a day and no one has time for phone calls these days. There isn’t really much to say either because I don’t know when things will improve with my ankles and there is nothing happening here at home.
I also realised that I wouldn’t be able to get to Weight Watchers tomorrow night as I had planned because the boys have hockey training. I cannot ask them to miss it as they missed out already last week while I was in hospital and it is on every Thursday so with great sadness I changed my Weight Watchers subscription to “on-line only” even though I need it and the meetings especially now more than I ever have before. My weight has made this whole injury thing even more complicated and I really can’t see things improving while I am so sedentary and while I am relying on everyone else to supply me with food.
Dh really is doing all he can. In fact he has been quite legendary since I’ve been home. He sets up the lounge room each night ready for me the next day with the TV left on stand-by, the remotes all put where I can reach them and most importantly, makes sure that the floors throughout the house are almost completely free of clutter. We are both terrified of what could happen if a crutch slipped on something that shouldn’t be there and went out from under me. He gets the bathroom ready for me to take a shower each night with the transfer bench half in and half out of the bath and everything where I can reach it. Then he puts on my socks and splints for me afterwards in the lounge. I get a coffee made for me in the morning before they leave and yesterday he left a ham and cheese sandwich in the fridge and the sandwich toaster out on the bench. I was so glad to find that when I got home from hydro!
As for the boys, the novelty has well and truly worn off. They are usually very put out when I ask them for anything or to do something for them because it takes them away from their all important computer games. And of course, their projects and activities must always come first. Eric was very impatient for me to get to the computer and help him fix a flyer he was making this evening and kept coming out to ask me when I’d be there despite the fact that I didn’t have my splints back on. The flyer was about him offering his services as a cross country coach for the the other kids at school but that’s another story!
My parents came to help out today but even that is a mixed blessing. While I truly love that our bathroom got cleaned and the sheets on my bed were changed I didn’t need to be told that I must not apply for any job until I am off crutches, that knitting is waste of money (again!) and that I really must do something about my weight. (If I didn’t already know the last one it was brought home to me when I had to crawl up our back stairs on the night of my fall!). I know they mean well and they are really the only ones that are in a position to offer us any help but some moral support and encouragement would be nice once in a while.
That is the end of my whining for now. There are some good things happening. Unlimited time to knit, stitch, read and watch TV. Time to read lots of stories to Daniel. I get to sleep in because there is nothing to get up for and I would be in the way during morning rush hour anyway. I have a couple of projects to tackle – writing and researching some pieces for the school magazine and doing the “end of season” achievement cards and certificates for Little Athletics. The latter is an enormous but tedious job but I certainly don’t have the excuse of not enough time to do it.
It’s awful to say this but I am dreading today (I’m writing this after midnight which shows how ell my sleeping pattern is going). I’m going to miss a couple of my regular Thursday activities, my ankles will still hurt and I will still have the long day on my own. But I guess I just have to take a deep breath and think “this too shall pass”.
I began my great mealing/recipe project a few weeks ago and it is travelling along nicely. Yesterday I took the next step of organising my new Recipe Binder. It isn’t flash because there’s no spare money for flash binder and dividers around here. I bought a lever arch file, some flouro plastic dividers with an index page at the front and a box of 100 plastic sleeves. I LOVE plastic sleeves – just needed to say that!
I simply wrote out my categories on the index page, slipped some recipes into plastic sleeves and I was done. The recipes are either from Mum which means they arrived by e-mail or I’ve typed them out. If it came by e-mail I’ve just printed the e-mail – not time to muck around! For all the others, because I’m doing Weight Watchers, I either get them from the Weight Watchers website or I type them into the Recipe Builder in E-Tools which then works out the points for the recipe and enables the recipe to be put into my Pro Points Tracker. This gives them some uniformity as they all have the same sort of formatting on the site.
They are all in individual plastic sleeves so they can go to kitchen and back again easily and I’m adding recipes as I do them and they are “successful”. Two new ones are being added tonight from this weekend – Sweet and Sour Braised Steak (Slow Cooker) and Banana and Malteaser Muffins.
I’m getting back into the good routine I used to have of planning the meals for the upcoming week on the Saturday, making a shopping list and doing the weekly shop by Sunday. I’ve also baked today to school lunches (so I’m feeling particularly accomplished!)
Now for Laura’s questions this week:
Questions to ponder:
1. Let’s talk stuff! What have you tossed out this week?
I have tossed coffee cups, lots of paper and quite a few odds and ends from back deck (when I was preparing the Valentine’s Night Dinner). This included our hermit crab gear – the last hermit crab died over 2 years ago!
2. Have you ever regretted something you’ve gotten rid of? Why?
The only things I regret getting rid of are the books I had as a child because I would have dearly loved to pass them on to my boys and my niece (she would probably appreciate the “Little House” series and possibly “Nancy Drew” more than the boys would!). I’ve got one large volume of Frances Hodgson Burnett with three of her books in it that Eric has read from cover to cover and loved. It may be time for my niece to borrow it!
3. How tempted are you to rush out and pick up pretty organizing containers first?
I’m tempted but money is an issue so I’m forcing myself to wait. I’ve saved the link to this bookcase type thing from Ikea which I would like to use in our entry way horizontally as part of a launch pad but I have to work out where to put the cupboard that is there presently as well as save up for it. Simply having more clear spaces is helping me to be more organised!