Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kitty Litter Cabinet DIY

We have been having kitty litter problems.  We have 2 dogs and 2 cats.  The cats were being harassed by the large black dog despite our attempts to block him from the litter box. We finally ended up with a cat with a nasty urinary infection who would not use the litter box.  Don't use your imagination!  It was horrible.  We finally resorted to putting our litter box on a card table out of the dogs reach.  It is unsightly to say the least.  I am not even going to share a picture of it. I started to search for some kind of solution.  I landed on this Pet Studio MDF Litter Cabinet.
Picture from Amazon

I was unwilling to pay the $150 from amazon for this MDF solution.  Finally we found this metal file cabinet thing at the restore. 

The Giant Man Child cut a hole in the back. We also added some coating in the inside to help in clean up and seal some holes in the corner. The cabinet was only $30 and the spray brought this cabinet to under $50. 
The best part the cats are using it and the dogs can't quite figure it out. 

****edited to add - I am not calling this the Poop Cabana much to my sister's despair.  This is the Litter Palace.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Project Life Tuesday - Week 21

I am linking up with The Mom Creative Project Life Tuesday

It was a busy week 21 at our house.  We celebrated my youngest son's birthday. He turned 11 years old.

The bridge south of us collapsed on Thursday evening.  It was quite frightening as my husband was returning from the southern part of the state. Luckily he stopped for dinner at his Mom's house in Tacoma.  Otherwise he would of been close to crossing this bridge when it collapsed.  It is SO fortunate that no one was seriously hurt.  But what a mess this has created as it closed down the major north south route to Seattle.

We ended our week with a big bike ride. This was the longest ride we had been on as a family.  It was a lot of fun. The " good times" is a digital stamp from Ali Edwards.

Booking It - May 2013

I am linking up with Life as Mom Booking It May.  Check out what everyone else is reading.

Oh, it was a slow reading month.  I finished a Danielle Steel book which I am not going to review. Sometimes you just need an easy really non thinking read and this was it for me.   It wasn't half bad. 

I also read a memoir called "This Life in In Your Hands" by Melissa Coleman. Melissa or Lissa as she is called in the book is the daughter of one of the forefathers of the organic gardening/homesteading  movement. Here is the description from Amazon:

With urban farming and backyard chicken flocks becoming increasingly popular, Coleman has written this timely and honest portrait of her own childhood experience in Maine with her two homesteading parents during the turbulent 1970s. Inspired by the back-to-the-land lifestyle of Scott and Helen Nearing, Coleman's parents, Sue and Eliot, decided to create their own idyllic reality on 60 acres of land in Maine that was sold to them by the Nearing family for a token sum. While Coleman emphasizes the beauty of growing up in a family culture that valued the bounty of nature and freedom of expression, she does not hesitate to also expose farming's detrimental effect on family life—her own well-being as well as the accidental death of her younger sister

In some ways this was a little bit of a depressing read .  In her author notes, she says she writes about this time period in her life as her therapy.  She writes in the author notes," The losses my family experienced didn't happen because of our alternative lifestyle; these sorts of things can happen to anyone, anywhere. The reason they hit us so hard is that we didn't have a faith in something bigger than homesteading to guide us through life's difficult turns."  I found myself being quite critical of Melissa's parents.  It certainly doesn't glamorize the homesteading lifestyle as far as family life.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The State of Autism at Our House

My Son Age -2
I recently attend a parenting seminar for parents of children who have disabilities.  It was called, "Help and Hope."  The speaker talked about optimistic parenting.  The little voice in my head said, "Great another thing I have to do instead of my child.  I have to be happy and positive even when this thing can be so soul sucking at times."  I have a lot of voices in my head. It turns out the speaker spent quite a bit of time on perspective taking and taking care of yourself.   Which if you are parenting someone you love on the spectrum, you need to hear. It is so easy to see the trees instead of the forest.  I want to paint you the big picture of the past year for my son or give some perspective to last year.

This is one of things I question whether or not I should post. Like this could possibly jinx the roll my son has been on.

There is a lot about those in the spectrum in the early years.  But my son wasn't  diagnosed until the beginning of 8th grade.  During those years, the behavior was just classified as extreme ADHD/anxiety and we just handled the behaviors without much support. I find there isn't much out there that talks about the teenage years for those on the autistic spectrum.  This is community that is under represented and according to the statistics is just going to get larger. A few really great parent bloggers exist such as Karen at Confessions of an Asperger's Mom . There is also a great group on Facebook called Aspergers Confessions. I also find the Facebook group/page by Bill Nason, therapist called Autism Discussion Page to be very helpful.

So I want to share the state of Autism at our house- the home of a HFA teenager. I realize the spectrum (autistic) is wide.  This is how it looks for my son.

My son is about 3 weeks from wrapping up his school year.  This year he has spent in a different educational setting. What is so different about it? It is a school that only takes kids with behavior problems. The school is out of my sons district and he takes a 30 minute bus ride to. It is a smaller school which as you can imagine is extremely restrictive. There are less than 40 full time students He is in a classroom of 9- 11 kids with a teacher and two aides.  They are doing a full High School Curriculum without any special academic accommodations. All the students in his class are in 9th and 10th grade. Despite my misgivings, it has been good.  He is thriving.  His social skills have improved.  He is less anxious and less frustrated which has lead to better behavior. He is a very young 9th grader in High School.

What a difference a year makes and the right educational setting. Middle School was rough and that would be understating it.  I want to say, up front, the staff at Middle School were generally outstanding and did everything they could to help my son be successful in this environment. This school year has allowed my son to heal from all the Middle School drama. Drama that was mainly self created. The drama of being suspended and constantly overwhelmed in a large busy school. Did I mention there is puberty too? For me as a parent, it has allowed me to breathe because I wasn't on call constantly.   I wasn't waiting for the call that I knew with certainty was coming. I wasn't constantly having to advocate and explain his behaviors. I understand that many of these negative behaviors still exist but the approach to resolving them is quite different.  I believe that approach is working for my son.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that I don't generally think restrictive environments are all that great for Aspergers.  I certainly don't think Asperger's is a behavior problem but when not managed correctly it becomes a behavior problem. I am not even sure I like the word "managed" but understood and accommodated doesn't really cut it either. This leads me to say the demands that are placed on kids on the spectrum in large Middle School and High School environments aren't that great either. There is so much talk about including special populations but what if inclusion sometimes is counterproductive.  Not to mention that inclusion is sometimes done without much thought for neural typical kids or special need kids. Sometimes well intention inclusion comes at a cost to both populations.  I do know that a child in a environment that is too overwhelming can't learn academically and they suffer both socially and emotionally regardless if it is the most restrictive or most inclusive environment. . I still don't know what the middle ground is between too large of environment and one that is too restrictive?  Finding the sweet spot seems elusive.

Previous Post about  my son and Aspergers
What is in a Label?
Elephant in the Room ( Asperger's Diagnosis)
Lost in Transition (placement meeting for new school)
End of 8th Grade
The Choices We Make (first day of  new school)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Birthday Bike Ride

Kids acting goofy along Whatcom Lake
Chuck wanted to go for a bike ride for his birthday.  Yesterday, we biked North Whatcom Lake  Hertz Trail which is an easy 3.1 trail(one way).  According to my Husbands calculations, we biked about 7 miles. It is mainly flat and wide.  It was the first time attempting a bike ride of this length and first time on the trail.  As an added bonus, there were quite a few geocaches along the trail. There were a couple of little waterfalls as well.
It turned out to be a perfect afternoon for this type of adventure. We saw lots of dog walkers and bikes along the trail.
me on a bike

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bridge Collaspe

My husband was doing some training in the southern part of the state and was heading home yesterday afternoon.  Luckily he stopped at his Mom's house for dinner in the Tacoma area  and to sit out the rush hour traffic. Because he would of probably of been close to crossing this bridge.  Yes, the bridge that collapsed last evening.  Thankfully no one was seriously injured. However this will probably jam up traffic for months because this is the main highway from our part of the state to Seattle.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Birthday Pics and a MineCraft Banner

Thought I would share a few pictures of Charlie's Birthday. 

I made a MineCraft banner for his birthday.  It turned out OK.  He was really surprised. For those not in the know, MineCraft is a computer game that the kids like to play.  Don't ask me to explain it! The creature at each end is a creeper.

Here is a close-up of the letters I used graph paper for the letters.
I got some of my idea or inspiration from the blog Gravity of Motion's MineCraft Party

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Project Life Tuesday - Week 20

I am linking up The Mom Creative Project Life Tuesday. I had trouble getting my Mojo to pull this weeks spread together being a single parent this week.  This is coming too you on Wednesday.

We had a busy week 20.  We spent Mother's Day Weekend at Nonna's house and celebrated our two May Birthdays and Mother's Day.  The end of the week had my Husband traveling to a major match in St George, Utah.  I am using two of my husband's pictures in the layout.  More information about how we created the bulldogs can be found here.
The above picture just cracks me up.  Of course, I am in the back seat but the dog is in the passenger seat. The journaling is below:
Our dog is a DORK! Tigger has decided that he does want to get into the car. The other day we decided to take him for a ride without the dog crate. He decided to sit in the front seat - too funny.

Project Life Cobalt Edition- Journal Cards
Photo Protectors G and A
Recollections Journal Cards from Look Here series

Other people Gardens

Thought I would share Nonna's garden set up.  Her garden is all containers because of her slopping lot and the main sun area taken up by a deck.  Mother's day weekend we worked with her to get it all planted in the metal containers. I think it is so cute.  Can't wait to take a picture of it filled in later in the growing season. I forgot to take a picture of the little area they are using to grow corn and squash. 

If you are in the PNW and want to check out some awesome vegetable gardens check out Coupon Mom and Mavis's garden at 100dollarsamonth.  They will inspire you to get out and garden with whatever space you have.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How does my Garden Grow?

Redneck Pea trellis made with found objects
With almost 2 weeks of absolutely beautiful May weather, I got most of my garden planted.  Now we are back to our typical rainy gloomy May. So here is a little tour.

2 blue berry bushes by the Hot Tub
I have two raised beds.  The main bed is behind the hot tub.  It has more bush peas and tomatoes. I need to get some tomato cages.

The one below has Rhubarb, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Leeks, Strawberries, and Sunflowers. Seriously, the rhubarb might eat you.  That thing is HUGE!
Lastly, I turned this wheelbarrow into a planter for my bush zucchini. I pounded some holes into the bottom.  This is a new edition.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Right Now

I have the above song stuck in my head by Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers. I guess I am rocking out in my mind at least.
on DSC's of JACK FM facebook page

The above describes my sleep last night.

This is what on my sidewalk outside.  Not sure if it is the starting line or finish line.  Wouldn't be great if all days ended with a finish line with cheerleaders.

Today I attended my son's 3 Year Evaluation through the School District.  It went OK.  It is hard to have surprises when this is, like, your Child's 4th time having a 3 year evaluation.  It is good to see how things are going, though.

What is for dinner?  Breakfast for Dinner or Reservations

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bull Dog Drawings

Bull Dog and Puppy
We did some guided drawing this morning.  We got the instructions from SmART Class.  I was surprised how well they turned out.
My Bull Dog

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Project Life Tuesday - Week 19

I am linking up with The Mom Creative Project Life Tuesday.

When May starts the weeks till summer start to whiz by.  This past week was no exception.  It was my husband's 41st Birthday last week. We celebrated with his favorite meal and carrot cake.  We also placed our first geocache which hasn't published yet.  I can't wait to share more about it but until it publishes all you get is a picture of me hiding behind a leaf.  Our youngest is into riding the track behind our house.  I have included a travel blurb for Neptune that was in the school newsletter that my oldest wrote.

Design G Photo Protector
Project Life: Cobalt Edition
Ali Edwards Digital Stamp - "Today Rocks"

I also found a silverware caddy to hold my supplies.  This version came from Fred Meyer's. I like to put my album in different places.  Since it is so easy to pull together I often put it together while watching TV.  So all I have to grab is my cutter and this caddy and I am good to go.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sneak Peek at Peace Arch Sculpture Exhibition

We visited Peace Arch Park this past week.  We saw they were in the process of installing various sculptures for the 16th Annual Peace Arch Park International Sculpture Exhibition.  The sculpture below is at the rest room area in the port on the North Bound Side. 
North Side
South Side
It is covered in pennies both US and Canadian.  Obliviously US pennies for Abraham Lincoln and Canadian Pennies for Queen Elizabeth.

The North Side has the Queen and the South Side Abraham Lincoln.  It is called "Two Sides of the Same Coin" by William Frymire of Kamloops, BC.  This is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quilts of Valor

At the library on Sunday, we noticed these incredible red, white, and blue quilts hanging from the ceiling. Our local library is showcasing 15 Whatcom County Quilts for the organization Quilts of Valor.  These quilts are going to be given to returning service members at Joint Base Lewis McChord and Naval Air Station Whidbey. The quilts are stunning. I took a couple pictures of those that I thought were interesting. The quilts are going to be on display the whole month of May at the Ferndale Library.

This one is my favorite

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Clutter Busting Day 5

I am linking up with Money Saving Mom Clutter Busting  Challenge Linky Party. Well, I have fallen behind posting pictures of my clutter busting activities.  My Goodwill pile is growing and growing. Day 5 included 5 cookbooks. Now I can actually place the cookbooks in my cupboard . This stack also included a book and some flash cards.

The most unusual thing that I have clutter busted was a park bench.  We broke down this busted down park bench.

The wood has been recycled into the wood pile.  I think the back with some clean up can be turned into some garden art to hang on the fence. This was a family affair because it took me, my husband, and child to break it all down.  While not completely gone.  It is less of an eyesore.

Project Life Tuesday - Week 18

I am linking up with The Mom Creative for Project Life Tuesday.

Part of my week was a "Merry Little Chase".  I recapped it in my email to my sister, The Polyester Princess. Here is the text below.

My heart rate is already up.  The dogs led me on a merry chase this morning.  My little rabbit friend decided to pop up while we were waiting for the bus.  Niki almost had the poor thing in her mouth.  The darn rabbit ran into the retention fence and Tigger slipped his gentle leader.  Oh good times.  He had me running down to the other retention pond and through the woods. It was a good thing I had my running shoes on because I sure don't own a running body.
I must consume much more coffee though I am already wired
love ya
like a can of spam

Supplies Used
Design G Photo Protector
Recollections Journal Card
Ali Edward :Good Times" Digital Stamp