Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Secret Mission - Son's Bedroom Redo and a Window into living with Autism

Note:  I originally planned to blog our redo of our son Chich's room, but along the way found a more important message.  As many of you know our son Chich (Christian) is a person with Asperger's Syndrome (Autism).  He is bright, loving and a very talented artist.  We believe that while autism brings many challenges, there are an equal amount of gifts.  We all have worked hard to instill coping and social skills to allow him to live in a world that is foreign to his own sense of being.  So with his dislike of change and refusal to allow even a coat of paint (which we have been trying to do for 10 years), this was going to require a lot of effort and planning.

Michael and I are schemers.  Okay, I am a big schemer; Michael just goes along with my plans.  We have lived in our house for ten years and our younger son has refused to allow us to update his room.  There are only two rooms in our house that have not been repainted and redecorated - Chich's room and the office.  The office was in use the day we arrived as our online business was first priority, no time to redo.  Now Chich works from home and uses it full time and we still run our online business as well.  It will take a lot of planning and some fast action to ever redo the office.

So, Chich's room was a better target.  Let me just say how much work is involved with a room that hasn't been touched in ten years.  Our son does not like change or to get rid of anything.  Recently, he has begun to "get into" what he wears and changed his hair.  He has a great job that he loves.  He is growing up!  Just before he left, he agreed to go through his clothes with me and get rid of the ones he doesn't wear any longer.  He was brutal!  This has not been done since high school.  He got rid of four trash bags - more than I would have!  I knew the time had come.  Time to clean up his room and give him a new start. 

Chich said he wanted to go visit his brother for a few days, and I was delighted.  The wheels started turning (since I am currently home and not working this summer).  We put our son on the train and we were off!  Michael took Friday off from work to allow us enough days to do the big job.  We headed to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things and went home to clear out the room.

All of his belongings moved to the guest room
Thursday Evening - The clean out.  Everything was pulled from the room.  No time to sort it now, just group it and move on.  I gave up cleaning Chich's room when I went back to school full time (and working full time).  I figured if he wanted to live that way, I wasn't helping him by cleaning up after him.  After a few swamp outs through the years and some touch up cleaning, the room was out of control.  I told myself cleaning this out wasn't mean, but as an unhealthy environment it was necessary (mental gymnastics for justification). 

The dirty walls and HUGE hole to be patched
Friday - Cleaning and prepping.  We headed to Home Depot and Target to try to get a few pieces to replace those that were damaged and so old we didn't want them to return.  I had looked online and found a few; of course they do not have ANYTHING like those items in the store.  I won't worry about that right now.  Time to get the paint, blinds, and stuff to fix up the place.

First, was scraping the popcorn ceiling.  We wet it with a little water and it came off great! 

No more popcorn!  Down to the drywall.
Next came washing the walls.  Oh my!  That was a job: washing the walls, the closet organizer and the trims.  Michael had the fun job of patching a huge hole that an angry teenager not wanting to get up one school morning had kicked a few years ago (it had been strategically covered with a poster all this time).  This was a lot of patching those holes from posters and general teenage use.

Texturing added to the ceiling
By the evening we were ready to texture the ceiling and the patch areas.  What a messy job.  I was covered in it!  Showered and ready for the next part.  Paint.  Put the first coat on the walls and I am done.  Tomorrow is another day.

Paint on the walls and ceiling, nice and clean
Saturday - I am one sore woman!  No time for wimps, so back to painting.  We are on a tight timeline and Chich's return will mean the end off all production.  The ceiling soaked up a ton and I was worried that two gallons wouldn't be enough.  Whew!  Just made it!

Crown moulding.  This is Michael's thing.  I am happy to hold it in place, help you measure, even touch up the paint, but that is it.  It is funny after doing so many of these projects, we each have our niche.  I scrape the ceiling, paint, plan the arrangement (make scaled down drawings of room and furniture on graph paper), decorate and clean.  Michael sands and paints all trim, electrical, crown moulding and light fixtures.

I am starting to feel the crunch.  I don't think we will finish before we have to bring Chich home.  There is always so much hurry up and wait with these types of projects along with the unexpected along the way.  It seemed that everything we planned was taking three times as long as we thought. 

Sunday - Well, here we are.  Michael was called into work, so all work has stopped.  Why?  Because we are at the point of Michael needing to do his stuff before I can load the room.  So, I am using this time to sort, prepare, assemble and straighten the rest of the house.  Best laid plans, right?

Our evening was full and we didn't get to bed until 12:30 am!  We ended the evening by cleaning the carpet.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Gaming Cabinet
Monday - Michael is back at work.  By afternoon, the crown moulding was finished and painted, blinds up, trim painted and all areas touched up.  Now it was time to start bringing in Chich's stuff and create the room.  All of his furniture had to be trashed.  It was worn, broken and tired from the many years of boy abuse.  This was the stuff we had put in when our boys were little!  To keep the cost down, we moved three bookcases from the fabric room and a cabinet from the workshop.  We drilled holes in the back for cords and such since we would use it as a media cabinet.  The end tables were new from Target.  These were solid and look great in the space.

Decluttered closet

We brought Chich home from the train station.  He was hungry, tired and his feet hurt (problem with his shoes).  Now here is where you other parents with children with autism will be nodding your head in agreement.

Chich didn't want to go see the room.  He saw his old TV in the dining room (we could not take it out, too big), so he knew something was up.  Chich does not like change, new things or letting go of items.  I have tried to balance my need for neatness and streamlined living with his need for consistency and items.  Life is change, so it would not help him to live in a bubble, but I do understand his needs and bend quite a bit.

New bookcases, blinds, curtains and crown moulding
I convinced him (begrudgingly) to come see the new space.  He stood in the doorway and pronounced he hated it.  "It isn't my room, how dare you."  I am not put off by this; this is not my first rodeo.  I explained that these were all his things and that I did not remove them (only the trash).  He then expressed that he was sad not to have the old furniture (albeit broken and not serving their original purpose) because it is what he has always had.  He was emotionally attached to it.  I get it.

In our family, you are allowed to express your opinions, but you must support it with details.  So, instead of Chich saying, "I hate it," examples and descriptions are required.  He said the furniture was too boxy.  I get that, I explained that I blended the squareness of the nightstands with the curves of the lamps and lampshades (all to mimic the design in the bedding).  He did say he liked the bed and was happy to have sheets that would stay on his thick mattress.  My argument that the room is a healthy place to sleep and live now free of dust and dirt were dismissed.  The longer he stood looking in the space, the more irritated he became. I relented and he returned to the office to have some dinner and work.

The bed and nightstands
Now some of you may think we are mean to do all this to his room without his knowledge and while he was gone.  I have learned with Chich that it is much harder and painful for him to live through the culling process, the movement and upheaval of furniture and disruption to his routine.  Whenever we moved when the kids were little (which we did often), I would have their bedroom finished and set up as quickly as possible.  If their things were set up (their beds and toys) it would lesson the trauma and comfort them in some way.  Their routines were always important to me.  I do not dismiss Chich's feelings, but as a mom I want to help him understand the need for updates, cleaning and order.  He has to live in a world where this is common occurrence and is expected.  Yes, he hates it now, as he has every time I have changed anything in our home (or my hair or appearance).  But over time he adjusts.

I love my son.  I am proud of him and have lived through years of struggles and disappointments.  Dropping out of college in his junior year, only to land his dream job one month later disrupts my sense of world balance.  As a mom, we all want our children to be independent, successful and happy.  I could give in and allow him to avoid difficult situations and dismiss it as necessary due to his Autism.  I can't.  I won't.  What I will do is help him understand that his feelings are valid, but we must learn the ways to navigate through the world and develop skills to do so.  Being a jerk, not allowed.  Doing something in a different way or retreating from irritating envirnoments, totally okay.  But mostly, trying to get him to talk about it and diffuse his constant stress.  Normal transitional activities (having a job, talking with someone, going to new places) have speed bumps we must acknowledge the steps and discuss.  Talking through situations and possible solutions allow him to map his responses which give him the "practice" needed before actually doing something.  This is something we have done since he was little and continue today.

Yes, I push him.  I push myself.  I push my students.  What have I received in return?  A greater understanding of different viewpoints.  Patience (thank you God), lots of patience.  A lot of resistance, and sometimes full blown fits, screaming and fights.  There have been great bouts of sadness when I realize there are some things that will always be difficult (near impossible). But mostly, it has been an appreciation of small victories.  Although our family progress isn't on the normal age timeline, it is a constant forward motion and milestones are achieved.

So, Chich has a new room and his response was not what we see on those home decorating show reveals.  No screams of excitement or big hugs and thanks yous.  I am cool with that.  It was just another opportunity to move forward, which we will continue to do every day.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Woven! A new A-OK 5 yard quilt pattern from Quiltin' Tia


Happy 4th of July!


I was lucky enough to go on TWO vacations last month.  Both were to visit family and friends and I had a wonderful time.  It was great to go home and catch up with everyone - something I haven't had the opportunity to do since going back to school.  The best memories are just hanging out.  I had missed them all so very much!  Now that I am home it is time to play catch up - you all know what I mean.  Doctor's appointments, paying bills, shopping, etc.  I also did not stick to my eating plan (hey, I was on vacation), so now I am returning to lose the 9 pounds I gained.  I am not complaining - I am blessed to have gone and blessed to be able to take care of things upon return.  I have made my to do list and plan on getting most of it done today so I can relax with Michael and celebrate the holiday. 

We are almost done reworking our website.  I hope you like it.  Currently, you need to click through a transfer page when you go to our address www.quiltintia.com.  When it is complete, that will be gone.  Just part of the process of the redo!

My wish is that you all are able to take some time this weekend to celebrate.  For me, celebrating is doing what I want to do - so I bet there will be a bit of quilting somewhere in the next few days.  :)


New Pattern!

Before I left I finished up a new A-OK pattern.  I am ready to share it with you and hope you like it.  I love quilts that give an optical illusion (without much effort) and this one is great.  By playing with the light and dark fabric placement, the quilt gives a basketweave design.  To me it looks very masculine and would make a great quilt for that guy in your life that isn't "quilty." 

The pattern uses the A-OK method of choosing 5 one yard cuts to make the quilt.  It finishes 62" x 73" - big enough for a man sized quilt!  The blocks are super simple and sew up quickly.  Just choose a large scale print you love, then find a medium scale print that works with it.  Lastly, pull a light, a medium and a dark.  Have fun with it!  Remember, those fabrics you choose this way will make ANY of the A-OK quilts.  Are you thinking 5 one yard cuts when you go to the fabric store yet?  It has really changed the way I look at fabrics!

The pattern can be ordered through our website.  

All Thimbleberries fabrics are 30% off. 


Enjoy your week and be sure to find some time for you!

Tia (Susan) 

Super Healthy Fruit Smoothie

Berries are good for you and provide great health benefits.  I am not good about eating them on their own, so I have one of these smoothies every day, usually in the afternoon.  You can add any supplements you take (powders or juices), you won't taste them as much!  I add maca powder for hormone balance (truly, this is some good stuff). I have a little bullet blender that lets me use my cup as the container.  Since I am back on my plan, this is a main staple for me!

  • 10 whole organic strawberries (Trader Joe's has them in the frozen section, we stock up)
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries (again, Trader Joe's is great)
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk (or any other creamy substsitute you like - Chich likes Soy Ice Cream)

Blend until smooth - enjoy!

Quiltin' Tia Quiltworks
815 Jane Lane

Weatherford, TX  76085