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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The cast...

It occurred to me that I had failed to get this picture up for all of Kira's adoring fans to see.
THIS is the infamous GREEN cast. It is VERY GREEN.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Only 3 more weeks...

I've been neglectful to my online friends. I haven't posted too often on either of my blogs. I certainly haven't been visiting anybody else's blogs. I have little time and even less energy these days. Luckily, there is an end in sight. We only have 3 more weeks of this particular ordeal before we move on to the next phase.

Kira gets her cast off on November 17th. This is very exciting. If we're really lucky, she won't require another cast. The doctor said that it does happen on occassion where the hips are not quite secure enough to be completely removed from the cast, but he also says that it is very rare. If she does require a third cast, it will be lower on her chest and only go to her knees on both legs and it will only be for one month. I'm really praying hard that she won't require that third cast. I'm ready to hold her and snuggle her up without that big, bulky piece of fiberglass in my way. She's ready for a bubble bath. I promised her that we would have our very own bubble bath together -WITHOUT Marisa - when she comes home without that cast. She's very excited about that promise.

In the midst of all this Kira chaos, we are also packing up and moving. Moving is not fun even under the best of circumstances. Moving with a mostly immobile 4 yr old is just pure torture (on me). It must be done, though.

Oh yeah - and I have to somehow manage to create a couple of costumes by Friday because Halloween is coming and we must go out as goblins and goulies. Kira has decided that she wants to be a ghost, just like Casper. Marisa will be whatever I manage to scrounge together between now and then.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Simplification Continued

I'm sure by now that you have all gone through all the toys and eliminated a good deal of the toy chaos in your homes. After all, I inspired you all so much with my own process of eliminating our toys, right? Well, now that you've tamed the toys, it's time to corral the clothing. Today, we attack the closets.

Clothes overrun our home these days. It seems that no matter how much I get rid of, there is still way too much left over. I really need to consider just how much my children "need" when it comes to clothing. Seriously, does my 4 yr old child really NEED 20 different short sleeve t-shirts? I can't imagine why she would need so many, and yet I find it to be nearly impossible to get rid of them. I'm attached to her clothes for some strange reason. All I can figure is that it's a hold over from my days as a kid when I didn't have very much at all. I think I'm living vicariously through my child's closet. Of course, I realize that it's time to stop hoarding the clothes. I really need to pare down our collection and my next stop is the kids' closet.

The first step in clearing the closet is really quite easy. Start by taking everything out of the closet and dresser drawers. Put all the clothes in one big pile and prepare to sort. When starting this project, you really must be prepared to be brutal.

The next step is to sort the clothing based on size. If the item no longer fits, then ditch it. Now, if you have a younger sibling that you intend to save these outgrown items for, that's all well and good. But the outgrown clothing can hide somewhere else until they fit the next child in line. A box with a lid makes a wonderful storage spot for clothes that you intend to keep and use again. Use a permanent marker to write the size of the clothing on the outside of the box and then stash it away somewhere. Don't just leave them in the closet to wait until they can be worn again.

Once you've sorted out all the clothing by size and removed anything that doesn't fit, get those outgrown clothes out of your way. If you aren't going to keep them or pass them down to somebody you know, then take them to somebody that you know will use them. I recommend that you donate your outgrown clothes in good condition to your local Foster kids. Take the clothes to your local Child Protective Services office. There are always way too many children and never enough clothes, so your donation will be greatly appreciated. Foster children often come into the system with only what they are wearing. So, pack up what you're going to keep and put it away, then pack up what you're going to get rid of and put it in the car or by the door so you won't forget to - you know - get rid of it. You don't want those bags of donations to just sit around in that wonderfully clean closet, now do you?

Phase two of the sorting process will require you to take stock of what you've decided still fits. You can attempt to combine some of this step with the first step, but I find it to be much easier if I do these things in separate phases. How many pairs of jeans do you have for your child? Slacks? Short sleeve t-shirts? Long sleeve shirts? Socks? Panties? Okay, really, does your child need 20 short sleeve t-shirts and 15 pairs of jeans? Really? Think about it. How much of what you are looking at does your child actually wear? Which items does your child consistently avoid wearing because she doesn't like the way it looks or feels? This is the most difficult part for me because this is where I have to ditch perfectly serviceable clothing for no reason other than the fact that I have too much STUFF to deal with.

Ideally, your child should have 5 complete outfits that all mix and match to create endless possibilities. I also recommend that your child have a few extra shirts. Here's my list of what I believe a child should have.

-- 5 pairs of jeans / pants / shorts (in the summer)
-- 5 to 7 short sleeve shirts
-- 5 to 7 long sleeve shirts
-- 2 or 3 dresses for girls
--10 pairs of socks (because they like to disappear)
--10 pairs of panties / underwear (because they often get dirty
-- 1 light weight jacket or sweater
-- 1 warm coat in the winter

I have this list, but I always find it so difficult to adhere to these guidelines. This stage of sorting is where I have to decide what stays and what goes. Now that you know what to keep, you need to ask yourself some key questions.

Start by sorting the pile of clothes that you've determine still fit. You should separate these into categories based on the list above. Once you have these items sorted into the above noted categories, decide which new pile you want to start with. Try to maintain a system to make it easier for you to remember what it is you're trying to do. For my purposes here, I will use the short sleeve shirts as a starting point.

Gather all the short sleeve shirts and sit down next to the pile. If you feel it is easier to do this in bits and pieces, then take the pile to a different room so you can concentrate on the task at hand instead of focusing on the bigger picture of ALL THOSE CLOTHES that need your attention. It's far better to take your time at this point in the process than to rush through it just to get it all done.

Start by picking up one shirt. Inspect the shirt for rips, tears, stains, or other issues that might eliminate that piece of clothing. If you find the clothing to be in good condition, ask yourself how your child feels about this particular shirt. Does she love love love it and always want to wear it? If so, place that in a new pile for clothes to be kept. If she only loves it a little, put it in the maybe pile. If she doesn't like it at all or rarely wants to wear it, put it in the donation pile. Continue this process for each shirt in the pile until you are done.

I do want to make one note of exception to the above method of elimination. If you happen upon a shirt that you know your child loves loves loves and said shirt has some sort of minor issue that can easily be fixed, then keep it. Set it aside so that you will remember to make whatever corrections need to be made before you return it to the closet.

Once you finish with the short sleeve shirts, move on to the long sleeve shirts and repeat the process. Continue this process until you work your way through the entire stack of clothing. It is likely to be a lengthy process, but the satisfaction of completing this process is well worth the time and energy that you will have invested.

The next step in the clothing simplification process is determining if you have enough or too much in each category of the finished piles. If you find that you only have 2 or 3 short sleeve shirts that your child loves loves loves, then recheck the donation pile and add 2 or 3 of those shirts that ranked a bit lower in the ranks. However, if you find that you still have 10 or 15 short sleeve shirts - all that rank in the loves loves loves it category - then you have a few hard decisions to make. Start be getting rid of the shirts that you don't particularly love and then go from there. If you can't decide what to ditch from the loves loves loves it ranks, then here's a suggestion. Hang them all back in the closet - with a twist. On each hanger, place a piece of paper or masking tape. When your child wears that item, take the tape off the hanger. In a few weeks, reevaluate the collection and get rid of anything that still has tape on the hanger. If the shirt was not worn in 5 or 6 weeks, then it isn't nearly as loved as you thought.

Once you finish with your child's closet, you can use this same system to tame your own wardrobe. Fewer options makes getting dressed so much easier for you and your children.

To maintain this new order, avoid the temptation of rushing out to buy new clothes for your child because their closet will now seem so bare. Also, continue to evaluate the status of every piece of clothing during future laundry sessions. It's far less complicated to maintain the closet inventory than it is to eliminate the overgrown mess.

Having taken the time to write this post - I must say one more thing.

I am SO GLAD that all my children's clothing is packed up in boxes right now because we're getting ready to move. Since the clothes are all packed up except for the barest minimum, I do not have to go sort through them. I get to just walk away now and forget all about this sorting process - well, at least until I unpack in a couple of weeks. In the mean time - all of my wonderful readers get to go do a bit of sorting. Have fun without me (and imagine me laughing my head off while you're sorting clothes and I'm not).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paint? Did you say paint?


This post brings me to the reality of a 4 yr old with an inherent love of painting. She is not satisfied by just any paint, either - it must be WET paint. Watercolor paints? No. Colorwonder paints? No. She want the true blue wet paint that comes out of the bottle in glops (is that even a word?) and is wet and squishy when you paint with it. It must be MESSY paint or it just isn't good enough.

Today, I gave in to the pleas for paint and doled out paper and paint and brushes with a hefty dose of distraction for myself so I could avoid the frustration of watching as she glopped all over herself and her paper. Sometimes you just have to look away while your child enjoys her favorite activity. If you try to watch, you will lose whatever sanity you might have had when you started. It just won't work.

Well, when I finally declared the end to painting, I came to do the requisite cleaning. What I found, was a Kira who was elbow deep in paint. Yes, my dear friends, she had paint from the tips of her fingers all the way up to her elbows. Now because I was intentionally ignoring this event, I have no idea how said paint managed to cover both arms so thoroughly, but I do have a sneaky suspicion. I think my little artiste decided that her paper was no longer worthy of her artistic expression and such expression would be better served if expressed onto her very own arms. Yes, I think she painted herself. Of course, I didn't ask because I honestly just don't want to know. I am comfortable in my blissful ignorance and paint washes off.

Or does it?


Seems in my state of blissful ignorance I managed to give her the fabric paint instead of the washable paint. Well, I guess I "knew" this was fabric paint that I was giving her because it was in the little squeeze bottles. I gave her those squeeze bottles because I felt she would enjoy that experience a bit more than just dabbing her brush into puddles of paint. Squeeze bottles also keep the original colors "clean" because there's no mixing of the colors when you're dabbing your brush.

Guess what!!! Fabric paint does not easily wash off of arms. In fact, fabric paint is really quite difficult to remove from the delicate skin of a little girl who so happily painted herself without concern of how she was going to get that paint off. After all, it isn't like I can just plop her into a bubble bath for two hours and wait for the paint to soak off, now is it.

Imagine my frustration for a moment when I came to realize that I was now stuck with this work of art until the paint simply decided to wear off all on its own. Yeah - not a very good moment for me.

As a last resort I decided to coat her arms with lotion and see if that would help the paint come off with a little scrubbing from the washcloth. Much to my amazement, the paint started slipping right off of her arms and - according to her - it didn't hurt at all.

The lesson for today --- When you find your child covered in paint and don't know what to do, apply a heavy layer of lotion and a heavy dose of laughter, because it is really quite funny (after you get all that thick paint off...).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Simple Life

There are some changes taking place here in my world. Randall and I have decided that we want to return to a more simple way of living. We want less chaos and less stuff. So, in honor of our new plans, I'm going to make a few posts that discuss simplifying your life - and mine.

Today I'm going to talk about toys. Yes, every parent knows quite a lot about toys. We see them in the stores. We see them on TV. We see them in our floor. Toys are the one constant of childhood. Every child loves toys. The problem, of course, is that toys often take over our homes and our lives. Trying to tame the toys is an ongoing battle - at least in this house where toys are everywhere. In an effort to simplify my life, here is what I am doing (and recommend that you should do also, if you long for simplicity) to tame the toys.

First, I have gone through the mountains and mountains of toys and **gasp** tossed them out. Now, mind you, I did this when my children were not at home. They did not witness this ruthless display of elimination. The toys that were broken - TRASH! The toys that were forgotten - CHARITY! The toys that just were outgrown - CHARITY! The toys that were never played with (even when they were new, and trust me, there were far too many of those) - CHARITY! I managed to cut our toy supply down to a mere two boxes worth of toys (not including the Legos - those are in their own box...). Guess what! The kids never even noticed that most of their toys were no longer here. Really, that is a true indication that my kids just had way too many toys. Okay - I admit it. They still have way too many toys, but it isn't nearly as overwhelming now as it was just a short week ago. The toys that still live here are only those that are the most loved and the most played with.

Second, I will be setting up a toy storage center and a system of sorting the toys that will make it easier for the girls to find what they want to play with AND to put things away when they are done. My one major goal for the toys is to teach my girls to put their toys away on their own. Yes, I know that I have been very lax on this particular issue. Up until now they were never really expected to put those many toys away. Well, the rules are going to change (just as soon as I get my system set up). Toys will no longer be allowed to wander the house all day and night unattended. Toys have to go home when they are done playing. I know this will take some time to become second nature, but we'll get there.

Third, and this is the biggest, we just aren't going to buy more toys. Well - at least not very many and certainly not without a great deal of thought about whether they will actually play with them or not. Even with the holidays coming, our toy collection will not grow uncontrollably. I've spoken to all the Grandma's and anybody else who might be buying gifts for my kids. They know that our girls have accumulated way too much stuff. They know that this holiday season really needs to be less focused on STUFF and more focused on making life special. As for me, I've decided to buy Christmas toys sparingly and carefully. Whatever I buy will compliment whatever they already have.

I hope to find myself feeling less crowded and less overwhelmed very soon. There are many more steps in our journey to simplicity. And honestly, I need SIMPLE these days. However, it's far too much to cover or accomplish in one day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kira Update Again

We're back home after the second surgery. Kira did so much better this time. We told her ahead of time what she needed to do in order for us to go home, and she did everything as soon as she was able. So we got home today around 2:00 and she is resting much more soundly here, as I'm sure we all will. Hospitals are not fun places to be, even when the staff is absolutely amazing like they are at Scottish Rite here in Atlanta.

I'll have to take some pictures this week of her new cast. Just a hint - it's GREEN - very bright GREEN. I think it might even glow in the dark.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Topic of Discussion

Over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly obvious to me that there is an important topic of discussion that is often overlooked within the family realm. I know I'm somewhat sensitive about this right now, and even recognize my own failings in discussing this with my own children.

"What topic is this?", you ask. Handicaps and disabilities in others.

Kira, as I'm sure you know, travels in a wheelchair whenever we go out. On our many outings I've noticed a distressing lack of respect from the general population. Adults and children alike stare openly at the marvel of a 4 year old child in a cast and wheelchair. Prior to this experience, I had been blessedly oblivious to this open display of plain ole rudeness. Quite frankly, it never occurred to me that this would be an issue that I would encounter. My kids have grown up around disabled adults, as did I, so wheelchairs and other obvious displays of disabilities have always been a part of our lives. It's nothing new, so I never realized how unusual the prospect might be for others.

Now, granted, it does not bother me so much when a young child is staring at my child sitting in a wheelchair. I understand the novelty and the unexpected nature of such a discovery. Children are naturally curious and rarely find themselves confronted with the realities of their own weaknesses. So when a child to come face to face with another child in such an obviously limiting situation, it's to be expected that they might find themselves being overly observant.

From one parent to another, I would like to encourage you to discuss with your children the reality of disabilities in other children and the proper protocol that should be observed when coming in contact with those children. Below is a list of issues that I feel you should discuss with your child.

-- Explain to your child that it is perfectly okay to talk to a child that has an obvious disability. They won't break and their disability is most likely not contagious.

-- Teach your child not to stare at a disabled person. Talk to him about the different types of disabilities and what may cause them. Make sure he understands that there are people in the world with disabilities and how disconcerting it is for them to be constantly stared at (or approached with blatantly rude questions).

-- Teach your child that while it is okay to be friendly and play, it is not okay to mess with whatever equipment the child may have to assist him with his disability. For example, playing with the wheelchair is not okay. Playing with the child is.

-- Set a good example. This is my sincerest complaint. As a parent, I know that the people coming in contact with me are curious about why my child is in this glaringly obvious cast and being pushed along in a wheelchair. As a stranger, I feel very affronted and insulted by "well meaning" individuals who approach me and beg for information regarding my child's situation. Quite frankly, if you (the stranger) needed to know what my family's issues were - then you would already know. No matter how you disguise it, asking me what happened is rude and disrespectful. If I volunteer the information, then I've opened the floor for further discussion, but to just walk up to me in a restaurant or other public area and start drilling me about my child and her injuries is unacceptable. (Okay - rant over.)

-- Teach your child about service animals. A dog that is in the service of a person is not for petting and playing. Make sure your child understands that these animals should not be approached and/or petted (unless invited by the owner) because it distracts the animal from the job they are trying to do. This is true whether the owner be an adult or a child.

One last thing --- if you happen across a child with a disability, take a moment to say hi to the parent(s) if they seem to be approachable. It is very difficult to go out in public with a disabled child knowing what type of environment you are entering. People either openly stare or openly avoid looking at you. Take a moment to be kind. Trust me when I say - it is HARD trying to maintain "normal" with a disabled child. Everything is much more complicated, even just getting in and out of the car. Make it worth the time and effort by extending a bit of friendship.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy Sunday

I hope you are having a wonderful day. I just wanted to say hi and let you know that I am still here. Kira's second surgery will be this Friday - October 10th - so I might not be around too much this week. I'll get back to regular postings soon, I hope. Loves...