< Upheaval: December 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Five year reflection

You know how sometimes you get asked that question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Do you ever look back to see if you are in the right place? Does your life line up with what you dreamed and hoped five or ten years ago?

Five years ago, Daniel and I had just bought our first house. We had been married almost nine months. We had no kids, but we had a sweet, sweet dog Tux.

Five years ago, I was a pre-k teacher. I had just finished a Master's degree.

Five years ago, I was in pretty decent shape. For real.

Fast forward to now. I have two happy, funny kids. I have a marriage that has lasted five years, and we are still growing and learning more about each other. I have a new business that is the heart of what I want my life's purpose to be. I have awesome friends and wonderful family supporting me through all of this. I am superbly blessed.

If, by God's grace, I am granted another five years on this earth, I hope I'll spend it with Daniel, Korenna, and Dillon. I hope there will be other children for us. I hope my school will grow and be a great resource in our community. I hope my family will have continued health and happiness.

But I am not promised even ONE tomorrow.

So tonight, before I tuck myself in to sleep, I'll count the blessings of today, and say "Thank you."

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All wrapped up in Christmas

"Every kid learns differently."

"Teach them in their 'learning language.'"

"There are different modalities for reaching kids. Try, then try again."

That is all stuff I know. From my background in early childhood to the challenge of teaching those with learning disabilities, I know this.

One of primary ways kids with autism learn is visual/spatial. These are kids who can do a 300 piece puzzle at age 5. They can reconstruct Lego buildings they have seen once. They memorize words and signs at a very early age.

Not me.

I am not visual/spatial.

At all.

This becomes painfully obvious around Christmas time when my joy in giving is replaced with utter anxiety of having to wrap all the gifts.

I hate wrapping gifts. The paper is always too big or too small or too thick. I have been known to do the "Tootsie Roll" with gifts, but I cannot even tell you how ugly it looks under my tree. I have "patched" places on wrapped gifts with OTHER kinds of wrapping paper.

To deal with this issue, I do several things to reduce my stress:

1) I wrap a few gifts a day. (I have tried doing them all at once, but that is usually followed by a couple of miserable days in bed, where I dream about tape and paper and sticker labels.)

2) I try to buy rectangular gifts. Clothes? Nope. Not unless in comes in a cube. Football? No way. Books? Yep. Decorative boxes? You know it. If it is a weird shaped gift, I wrap it "as is." So if you see a suspicious gift with your name on it that is shaped like a teapot, guess what? It is most likely a teapot.

3) I lay out everything in an assembly line and make my children watch television while I tackle my daily quota. I can wrap four gifts in the length of one cartoon off the DVR (22 minutes). They don't look great, but they are covered.

4) I use the same two rolls of paper for all gifts. Christmas or not.

5) I use tape. (GASP! I KNOW!!! Fancy people use glue sticks or adhesive strips, but not me. Tape. Scotch, if I have it. Masking or duct if I don't.)

6) I chop at paper. If one end of the gift has too much paper, I will chop it off and then fold the paper around the choppy part. This is not only efficient, but it relieves stress.

7) I don't even try to do ribbons. Puh-leeze.

8) I put sticker labels on the gifts and write on them with a Sharpie. No crafty printed cards or "gift adornments" for me.

9) Finally, I drink. A lot. While I am wrapping. So there are several days in December when you probably don't want to try to have a conversation with me. Cause it isn't that I am drinking alcohol. But I am sucking down sweet tea and Coke like there is no tomorrow, and the sugar buzz drives ME crazy, so it probably drives other people crazy.

Those are my handy tips with dealing with a visual/spatial deficit. Of course, there are always gift bags. But those will be recycled from my last baby shower and my name will be marked out.