Thursday, September 21, 2017

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Yes, I'm titling this post after a Nirvana song. No, I'm not going to talk about Nirvana, song lyrics, or Kurt Cobain.  I'm going to talk about deodorant.  Despite Cobain not realizing it when he titled his song, Teen Spirit is a brand of antiperspirant.  If you were a teen in the 1990s, you would remember the popularity of this particular brand.  I'm also going to talk about stink and armpits.  Let's dive in, shall we.

What is deodorant?

A deodorant is a substance that prevents odor.  People don't actually cause this odor.  We sweat and bacteria living on the surface of our skin break down our sweat.  The bacteria causes the odor that we smell.  This is why small prepubescent children smell different than adults because some bacteria are more attracted to our hormones that we also secrete.  In other words, they produce a different smell.  You can tell when a child is going through puberty by the change in body odor.

What is an antiperspirant?

It's a type of deodorant, but a very specific type.  It's used to block your pores from sweating.  The most common substance in an antiperspirant is aluminum.  There's a great deal of controversy over whether using aluminum to essentially stop up your pores causes cancer.  Specifically certain types of breast cancer.

Regardless of whether antiperspirant does or not, I get a little leery of changing an important body function because I'm trying to avoid the body funk.  Humans need to sweat in order to cool off their bodies.  And I live in the desert Southwest where it reaches high temperatures and it's real common for people to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  It's even written into our laws that businesses must provide free drinking water (even if it's just a fountain) to any person and that all land lords are required to have a cooling unit for their tenancy (heat isn't required).  So I want my pits to sweat.  I'd rather smell than die.

I don't want to smell even if I want to sweat...

I'm with you there.  It has landed me on a several month long journey to find something that works for me.  Something that allows me to sweat but not make my husband what to move away from me.  So here's how it works.  I'm avoiding the antiperspirants that block you from sweating and looking closely at how other deodorants work.  The vast majority of plain deodorants put a layer between your skin and the bacteria that eat your sweat.  And some also mask the smell with fragrance.



Deodorant #1 (not pictured):
The first deodorant I tried I made myself.  I used a combination of baking soda, which absorbs odor, coconut oil, which naturally kills bacteria, and essential oil, which masks the smell.

Verdict:
Well, my husband frowned about it, but after trying several others, he likes this one better.  The downside is that coconut oil has a low melting temperature.  This is great for being absorbed into your skin, but bad if you live in my climate.  I was having to keep my concoction in the refrigerator in order to keep it solid.  It's also bad if you are easily irritated by baking soda.  Thankfully, I am not.  So if you live in a colder climate and blessed without that baking soda irritation, then making your own probably will work well for you.

Deodorant #2: Crystal Body Deodorant
This particular brand uses mineral salts as it's main ingredient in it's products.  You can buy it in the mineral stick form that you wet, a spray, or a roll on.  I choose the roll on.  It's main ingredients are water, potassium alum (mineral salt), cellulose (plant material), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda for all you Americans), benzoic acid, and zinc gluconate.  I got the fragrance free version.

Verdict:
It doesn't work well.  My husband said I smelled.  And I was forced to reapply it multiple times a day (and night) which dried out my skin and thus irritated it.  That said many people have said they get good results for using mineral salts as a natural deodorant.  It just didn't work for me and whatever bacteria that I manage to attract.

Deodorant #3: Schmidt's Deodorant in a glass jar with plastic top
Schmidt's is becoming really popular and I've found this brand in several of my local health food stores.  The kind I got comes in a jar but you can also find it in a stick form.  I also once again chose fragrance-free.  You may be wondering why.  I figure if the fragrance-free version of these natural deodorants works well than the fragrance version probably will work well.  Fragrances can mask smelly odor, and I'm looking for something that will stop it in it's tracks without the need to mask.  I don't want something that will make me smell like a combo of body funk and lavender.  Ew!

The ingredients are: Shea butter, arrowroot powder, which similar to baking soda absorbs odor, baking soda, cacao seed butter, and vitamin E

Verdict:
Hubby has not complained yet, but that may be because he's given up on me.  I think it works great.  There's a little plastic scooper that you put the product on and then you rub it into your skin (which I find works best if you use your fingers like the label says).  The melting temperature is higher so I can leave the product where I keep all my other beauty stuff.  It's also not irritating because I don't have to constantly apply it, and it has lots of natural ingredients commonly found in lotions/butter creams.

The next deodorant I want to try is from a company called Meow Meow Tweet, but so far I'm liking the Schmidt's and may try one of their fragrance versions.

So there you go.  It wasn't so disgusting was it.  Also none of these products were given to me for review.  I bought them trying to find a good solution to my body odor issue.  If you stuck around this long I wanted to introduce you to the very addictive Darci on youtube.  She's a mother of 10! and is into minimizing her life with simple products.  Here's two videos below: One is about beauty products and the other about armpits (don't worry it's not that painful).





Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Autism is Not

A few weeks ago, my son's therapist, who is also on the spectrum, mentioned that she's seen a shift in dialogue on the internet.  In the past people used to say "retarded" as a barb to mean that someone is stupid or unintelligent.  She said she witnessed someone saying autism in the same manner.  As in "you're so autistic."  Naturally it bothered her.  She's autistic and clearly she's not stupid.

I'm not really surprised. People use language like that all the time. Retarded is a medical term, but it's been turned into a nasty word so much so that I'm sure someone is going to tell me to stop using it even though in this context I'm not using it derogatorily.

I fear that using the word "autism" may be headed in the same direction as using "gay" is. In one context, using "gay" is fine and in another you're essentially telling a person that the they are too effeminate.

The problem, though, is that I can see that people truly believe that being autistic means you are stupid or have a lower IQ.  So let me clarify this for you...

Being autistic is like being neurotypical.  It doesn't necessarily mean that your IQ is any higher or any lower than the average.  Autistics aren't necessarily savants or have intellectual disabilities.  It's not even classified as an intellectual disability even though IQ tests are weird for people on the spectrum, but that's because they aren't designed for people on the spectrum either.

Likewise I ended up correcting an autistic person over twitter who characterized being autistic as having a "mental disability" or a mental disorder.  A mental disability is depression or schizophrenia.

Autism is a developmental disorder.  Basically it means you have it from birth and you develop skills at a slower rate.  That's it.  You aren't insane and you aren't unintelligent.  It's something else which is why it has it's own characteristics which fall into a spectrum disorder.

Most recently I read someone saying that people with autism have a low EQ or emotional quotent.  That's not true either.  Autistics aren't vegetables.  They feel things.  They also recognize when someone else is feeling something too, but they may not be able to identify what that is.  They may not also be able to respond with typical emotions either.

Let me give you an example: My son gets in trouble at school.  He gets called out by the teacher in class.  He is feeling scared because he's not sure exactly what the teacher will do (send him out of the classroom or move his clip etc).  He's also embarrassed because his classmates realize that he's messed up (again).  So how does he react?  Does he lower his head?  Cower under his desk?  Cry?

Nope. My son looks you in the face and smiles.

His teachers take that to mean that he is proud of his mistake or doesn't care, and he gets chastised more for it.  They don't bother to ask him how he feels and make assumptions of him even though they know that he's autistic (that's the frustrating part and the one I want people to walk away from here).

He is reacting.  He does care.  He's not a robot.  He feels things acutely.  So if you know someone who is autistic and they don't react or react differently than you'd expect: TALK TO THEM!

I know my son well enough to tell when he's upset, angry, happy, scared, etc.  But that's because I've lived with him since birth and just know him that well.  I don't however assume that I can guess the same thing of other autistics.  Most autistics that I know will be happy to tell you what they feel because they are tired of being misread or told that they don't feel at all.  They want you to know and they welcome telling you because you're probably the first person whose bothered to ask them instead of assuming.  It isn't considered rude or impolite.

So there you go. Spread the word. #autismawareness

Friday, September 1, 2017

Karma is not the Synonymous with Justice



Lately I've been a pickier about the words I use.  In the past I through around words like "fortunate" and "lucky" willy nilly.  They are common every day lexicon, but they do have inherent meanings.  And those meanings don't bring me closer to God.

I began to realize that I was talking about forces when really I meant a single Being.  So lately I've been trying to substitute words like "fortunate" and "lucky" with the word "blessed" or "thankful". 

Karma is another word that has religious connotations but that in every day speech has been lost.  Justice is what most people mean.  Knowing that when one has been wronged that God's Justice will ultimately prevail.  Karma doesn't mean that at all.  Karma implies that there has to be some sort of balancing force in the universe.  And it has very little to do with God.

Maybe I'm being a little over zealous, a bit too scrupulous, but I find simply changing these every day words has made a difference.  Growing up in Mississippi I heard them all the time.  Now in Tucson, most people say "lucky."  No, I'm not "lucky."  There's no such thing as luck.  I'm blessed.  Blessed by God.  And it's this slight change back to my roots that keeps God more center, and more at the forefront of my life.

Every little bit helps right?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Taylor Swift's New Song: An Anthem to Righteous Anger

Taylor Swift recently released a song entitled "Look What You Just Made Me Do."  The song is a bit repetitive and I didn't really like it at first.  But several online youtubers have analyzed its accompanying video, and I've watch several renditions stripped of all the electronic overtones.  Now I'm starting to understand it better (other than I really wish it was more grammatically correct and used "anybody").

It's Taylor taking back her voice.  In the song she illustrates all the crap that's been lobbed at her from everything to at one point pulling her music off Spotify to the tapped phone conversation with Kanye West.  She felt that she is being misrepresented in the media and she's a little angry.  And she pokes fun of those caricatures of herself.

I'm not sure if she's truly justified in her anger.  I'm not there.  But I recognize that because she is a celebrity most of the media reports about her are going to be biased.  It's just the way media is these days unfortunately. They enjoy all that "drama drama." If what Taylor herself is saying is true, than I would think her new song is an anthem to righteous anger.  An injustice has been done.



I don't know what it's like to be in the spot light.  I've never had that kind of ambition.  I really crave my anonymity.  I'm actually probably a little over protective about it.  But her song has struck a cord with people.  Many youtubers who are not normally fans of her work have critiqued the video as being well done.  I think we can all relate to being mischaracterized by the people in our lives.

For me personally I get mischaracterized as some sort of hateful Catholic and some sort of over bearing mother I'm sure.  I'm a weird psuedo-ludite who forbids the school from posting pictures of my children on the web.  I'm the women who expects teachers to follow my son's IEP to the letter even if they don't like that.  I'm the Catholic who thinks fraternal correction is important even if in some cases it may alienate friends and family.  And yeah, I get angry that people think I'm over bearing and mean.

I'm sure there are those who misconstrue what you say.  I'm sure that there are those who think the worst of you rather than the best because it's so easy to do.  Drama is far easier than earnest listening.  Taylor Swift, in her usual way, has taken some aspect of her life and made it completely relateable to other people.  Whether you are a celebrity or a unnamed blogger we have all been there.  And yes, it's okay to get angry and say "I don't like you" for it.

Well done, Ms. Swift, well done.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Atypical Review

I haven't watched the entire series but I've watched 5 out of 8 episodes.

Atypical is about an 18 year old high school senior who is interested in dating and his family.  The show is not for families with young children.  It's a show more for older teenagers and adults because there is adult language and adult topics.

Pros:
I like the family dynamics. It's real and raw. Sam, the character at the center of the show, has a younger sister.  She has to deal with the fall out of having an older autistic brother.  Sam's father, we also discover, had a harder time dealing with Sam's diagnosis.  But he's trying.  Sam's mother is over protective.

Sam has friends who care about him.  They are neurotypicals but have their own quarks.  And they try to help Sam.

The support group that Sam's mother goes to is an exaggeration of some aspects of the autism community.  They expect to use people first language (which really is up to the individual person because some prefer being called autistic) for example.

Sam is a well shaped character.  He shows some aspects of what it's like to live on the spectrum such as sensory sensitivity, confusion over why he's being bullied but knowing that he is, and not understanding idiomatic language.

Cons:
The affair Sam's mother has doesn't seem to make sense with the plot.  Sam's mother is beginning to realize that she's not as much needed so she starts having an affair?  The other scenes where she gets in the face of department store sales woman and how she despises Sam's therapist for helping Sam be more independent make sense.  But the affair seems to be taking the show in a direction away from light heartedness and yet realness of autism and more into a mom drama.

Likewise I'm not sure why we need to know so much about the therapist's relationship as a sub-plot. It may help for Sam to have an example of dating (although living with your boyfriend isn't a good one).  But other than that I don't really see the relevance. 

There's a bit of confusion for me with Sam about money.  In the first episode Sam is seen riding a public bus back from therapy.  Don't buses require you to use money or a bus pass?  And then later on we see that Sam's sister has to give him his lunch money every day.  So my question is this: is Sam having a difficult time with money or not?  What's the difficulty?  At school, my children don't have to deal with money for lunch.  They have lunch cards and you can deposit money electronically through an online website.  There's no need for checks or cash.  Furthermore if Sam has an IEP, which I assume that he does, why isn't his mother insisting that his lunch money be handled by the lunch staff or the office staff per an IEP?  Why is it that Sam's younger sister has to do this for him instead of the school staff?  I just have difficulty believing that this isn't possible.  And I have difficulty believing that Sam's overprotective mother hasn't been forcing the hand of the school to make some sort of accommodation.  It's just poor writing.

The other thing that I noticed is this: Sam's mother is a hair dresser, Sam's father is an EMT, Sam gets therapy but he does have a part time job at an electronic store. Okay. How do they afford a large house in the suburbs?  We've seen shots of the exterior of the house and the interior of the house and it's a nice two story house.  It's more realistic to depict Sam's family as being lower middle class to working poor given what kinds of income his mother and father probably make.  Instead we see them living in a house that would be a bit out of their income range and it's not really explained why.  Sam's sister does say that the downstairs toilet is messed up and she's in need of a scholarship in order to attend a top private school.  So we know that they do have money constraints.  It just doesn't show up in how they live, which is a large house in the suburbs.

It also bothers me that we don't see anyone else on the spectrum.  Just in my daily life I've met many people who are autistic of various age groups before and since my son's diagnosis.  The other thing is I don't like the use of high-functioning versus low-functioning.  It's a weird distinction.  I would say compared to Sam, my son is far more higher functioning.  At age 7 he's already working on social skills that Sam is only just now seeming to understand.  Likewise you can have a very social autistic who doesn't speak and would be classified as low-functioning.  You can also have children who are called autistic but have other disorders to contend with.  It's more like a pin wheel of color and it's confusing (if not pigeon holing) to say that autistics fit into groups of high versus low functioning.  It would make more sense to say things like verbal versus non-verbal or very sensory sensitive versus not so much. 

What I would like to see:
Other characters on the spectrum because being autistic is just as diverse as being neurotypical.

More of Sam: I feel like there are too many sub-plots related to other characters who are not Sam and yet Sam is the focus of the show.  It's confusing.

More of the school: Sam is a senior yet we barely see any of the school staff during the show.  In one scene Sam hides in the chemistry lab and a friend can't find him.  So the friend calls Sam's sister.  Why isn't the friend alerting the school staff especially if Sam is a potential flight risk?  It doesn't really show if the school is inept or actually really awesome about dealing with Sam's disability.

More of Sam's work: So far we've seen Sam interact with his close friend and co-worker and there's one scene with his boss.  What about his interactions with other co-workers or clients?  How is working at the tech store good for Sam?  We are told that Sam actually studied the store before he landed the job.  So did that contribute to him landing the job there?  I'm so puzzled about Sam's job.

More about therapy for Sam: We know that Sam has had a lot of therapy in the past. And now he essentially speaks to a psychologist.  Can we learn about his past therapy and more about replacement behaviors?

Does Sam have a community for support?: We know that Sam's mom attends a support group for parents, but there are likewise support groups or just groups in general for those on the spectrum.  Has Sam explored them?  Does he have autistic friends?

The show has a lot of potential and it's headed in sort of the right direction, but it could use some improving.  Overall I would say it's good and worth watching with the potential to become great.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Day One of the Job Search aka Back to School

Hi again. So today is the first day back for school.  I'm sure people in other parts of the country are scratching their head and saying "isn't that early."  Not really. There were schools who started last week.

The kids got up okay.  The straggler this year was not HB.  It was Knee.  It's like they've role reversed.  While HBs behavior has improved tremendously over the summer, Knee has turned to excessive whining.  *suffering sigh*

We walked over to school and ran into the resource teacher for HB.  She explained that this year they plan on doing a seperate morning activity with her sensory sensitive students and one in the afternoon.  The morning one would be a circle activity and sensory related thing to start the day on a good foot.  Then they'll be returned to their classroom.  And in the afternoon when I'm to pick him up from her where they'll do a review of the day and give awards for good behavior.  I think it sounds fantastic.  She told him to meet her in room 3.

Well we walked Knee over to his classroom and got him settled.  Then we went over to HB's classroom teacher and got him straightened out.  In the process I realized that I had accidentally dropped paper work.  HB simply walked out the door and left.  So Hubby and I went frantically around the school looking for him.

He ended up going to room 3 instead of waiting for us to say good-bye or anything.  Needless to say we talked to him about needing to communicate with people and not simply taking off.  He was fine, but it was a bit heart pounding for a few minutes.  He did apologize.

Hubby went on to work and I walked home to do some light cleaning.  Then I drove over to one of the closest job resource centers in my area.  It's run by a non-profit.

You see I haven't had to do job interviews or put together a resume in nearly 10 years.  So as you can imagine, I'm a little rusty.  I'm so rusty that I feel fortunate that I still have hard copies of my old resumes because I'm pretty sure the digital copies won't work on current computer software.  There there's the process of job searching and online applications.  It's a more and more common thing for it to be all electronic.

So the volunteer there was extremely helpful.  He's retired from the federal government and worked in the HR department.  He set me to the task of writing a first draft of a resume and making an online account for job searches.  He also told me that if I needed to I could do mock interviews with him or other volunteers as well.

I spent about 2.5 hours there working on getting back into the swing of things.  So we'll see.  Hopefully I can start sending in job applications tomorrow.

So how are things with you?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Divorce

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Luke 16:18

Considering the sheer number of couples in the country who have filed, I'm sure you've come across this at some point in your life.  Maybe it's family member, a friend, or a co-worker. They saddle themselves up to you and say "I'm getting a divorce." It's awkward. What exactly do you say to that?

I told my friend a week ago. "Oh, I'm sorry." and her response was "Don't be." Well, I really can't be overjoyed. The friend in question is a non-Catholic married to a Catholic who procured a special dispensation for the marriage.  So it's a valid one. I don't know what his side of the story is, but she was miserable. There was no affair, no abuse, no serious reason to avoid seeking help. But they didn't work on it and fell apart as far as I can tell. So no I can't feel anything but sorry.  It's sad.

In that same vein, I ran into an awkward situation in which a divorcee is getting remarried. He's a non-Catholic Christian and like a deer in the headlights I had no idea how to react. My thoughts were "he's divorced. Should I be celebrating this?" Instead he flashed a ring looking for some sort of approval or something and all I could muster up was "Oh, okay." and nod my head. If he were Catholic it would be slam dunk, no annulment therefore can't remarried. I'm sure many of you have run into those moments yourselves. In his case, he went through a pseudo-annulment process for his particular denomination, but does this make his marriage invalid? I can't tell you.

I actually sent a direct message to an online priest who I trust his opinion and asked for help. What if they ask me to the wedding?  What do I do? His advice was to treat it as a case of annulment and since the couple in question isn't Catholic, this isn't a strong case of no-annulment=still married.  I'll probably go a step further and see if I can speak to one of my parish priests about the matter. I have a feeling that he will tell me the same thing.  This isn't a case of a "gay wedding" invite.  This isn't a case of a "no-annulment" Catholic. So we have to weigh it differently.

I wish life was less messy and that these things were clearer. I wish black was black and white was white. I wish that when people made vows they took them seriously. I wish I didn't have to go seeking spiritual advice for what to do about situations that others place me in rather than seeking spiritual advice for more personal decisions.  But here we are. Life is messy and I'm sure Jesus understands.