Monday, December 5, 2016

Sort of Back

The internet is back at least.  But my house still has boxes all floating in it.  I had a semi-melt down over the dishwasher.  Usually I'm pretty laid back about hiccups, but when it comes to very hard deadlines and doing things mostly myself, I get stressed out.  I think the dishwasher was warm and the air in the house cool and between the two the door stuck.  I was literally on the phone with the home warranty talking about my dishwasher issue and *pop* I got it to come open.

Also the internet guy showed up at the same time.  He was supposed to be here tomorrow, but he must have been ahead of schedule because he said he drove around one house to see if that person was home and then my house to see if I was home.  I got blessed on that one because this morning me and Knee were down the street cleaning the other house so we can vacate.  Hence the hard deadlines. We had come home for lunch when the dishwasher fiasco started.  I was trouble shooting which means being on the phone....forever....and using mobile data.  I had finally thrown in the towel and called the home warranty people when internet dude showed up.

He had to fix the line and said our box outside was also ancient and he'll come by at some point later to replace that too.

I was expecting the handyman to come by but he's a bit fickle over times.  He's building us a shed, which explains all these various holiday decorations hanging out in my dining room.  It will be a nice shed.  So I'm whining.

And I'm covered in dust.  Surprisingly the living room was easy to clean.  My bedroom was awful.  The floor was a particular bit of nasty.  I suppose that happens when you have a big bed and small children who climb under it.  The boys' room was horrible on the walls.  They are boys and they touch everything!  And their hands aren't always clean.  Yuck.

The last bits I have to work on are getting that nasty shower to sparkle.  It's those anti-slip bumps which are difficult to get clean.  Then there's the tile and last to gross me out....the kitchen.  *dun dun duuunn* Then I will have to go rent a carpet shampooer.  All of this needs to be completed by Sunday.  I'm hoping.

So I will be more likely to issue forth posts next week.  Until then....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gift Giving the Minimal Way

It's the most materialistic time of the year!  And to complicate matters I have two children whose birthdays are like book ends around Christmas.  So what is a person to do?  Well I could be a grinch, but I won't.  Here are some ideas for anyone in order to reduce stuff.

1) Give the gift of experience-
I sound repetitive as I'm sure I had a list like this at one point on the blog, but it's a good one. Take a person somewhere.  Go to the movies or get tickets. Give a museum membership. Give gift cards to a favorite restaurant. I believe last year the kids were given movie theater gift cards.  They were definitely used.  And look, no stuff in my house as a result.

2) Give consumables-
Also one that I think I've mentioned.  Last year I baked a ton of cookies for HB's teachers.  They are so busy that they rarely have time to bake.  This year I'm also busy so I have no idea what I'm going to do.  Maybe I'll bring in some already made snacky goodies.  But you don't have to stop with chocolates or cookies.  Candles, lotions, body washes, foot scrubs, cologne, etc are all great consumable gift ideas.  One year someone gave me a soup, pre-mixed in a jar.  All I needed was water.  The soup was great.  Last year someone gave me a homemade body scrub.  Smelled great.

3) Give them something that they'll need-
This year it's shoes (if anyone wants to know).  I don't need any shoes myself, but Hubby needs a new pair of sneakers/trainers and so does HB.  And Knee would feel hurt again if he has to wear his brother's old shoes again.  If you're unsure of a person's size, a gift card to a local store works too.  Point is if it's obvious that there is something a person needs and will use that's the perfect gift.

4) And if all else fails-
And if we end up with toys this year, it's not the end of the world.  It's easy to part with old toys and gadgets and not hurt anyone's feelings.  My children do like variety and they are getting older.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Books about Teaching Gratitude and Not Greed

It's that time of year again.  I'm sure that you've already started hearing it ramp up.  "Mom, I want X."
"Please, Mom, can I have Y?"  It drives me nuts.

Despite my best efforts to steer my children away from advertising that is designed to make them beg, they still do.  So I've decided to put on my big girl skirts and do my job.  That is parent my children and steer them away from greed without being confrontational and mean.

Thus I read them moral stories about gratitude for what they have and remind them when they are getting greedy.  Here are some books that you may consider reading to your child as we get closer to Thanksgiving, a time of gratitude, and attempt to navigate the Season of Giving.

Note: I'm not affiliated with Amazon.  I don't get a kickback.  It's just easier to link to their website.  Please feel free to look locally for used copies of these books or do what I do, borrow them from the library.

Just So Thankful- Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer
I really liked this book because Little Critter is surrounded by his family.  A new kid moves into the neighborhood and he has lots of money but his family isn't there.  When Little Critter is invited to a sleep over, he marvels at all the new kid has and is unsure his friend would want to come to his house.  His friend then sleeps over at Little Critter's house and shows that he enjoys spending time with Little Critter's family.  Puts people over stuff.

There's also another book in the series Being Thankful that discusses being thankful for what you have.  I haven't read that book, but the reviews are okay.  The most common complaint is that Little Critter calls his sister dumb and nothing happens as a result.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
This book is about a poor kid who is obsessed with wanting the latest trendy shoes.  He manages to find a pair in a used store but they are too small.  Realizing that his gifted but- not- trendy shoes are adequate and fit him better, he ends up giving up his trendy shoes to a friend who has a smaller foot size and whose shoes are being held together by tape. 

Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This is an excellent book if you are trying to get your children to declutter.  It starts of with Mama Bear realizing that the family is overwhelmed with too many things in the house.  She has all the bears go through their belongings, weed out things they don't need, and sort them into piles.  Then the bears load up those items and donate them to three different organizations: 1) an older bear retirement home, 2) a children's hospital, and 3) a charity shop that helps other bears in need.

Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This has been something I've been discussing with the boys on and off every time I hear "I want. I want. Please can I have it."  My local library didn't have a copy so I had to interlibrary loan one.  We read it tonight and the boys were riveted.  It might have been that it was eye opening for them because of my impressions of the two bear cubs throwing fits about wanting things.  After I finished reading the story, HB said to me "Well, how do you get rid of the gimmies, Mom?"  So I told him the easiest thing to do is to simply stop asking for things and to appreciate what it is that you do have.

The book is basically about the cubs begging for things, whining, and throwing fits.  In the end, the grandparents suggest to the parents that the cubs can choose one thing before going into the store. If the cubs start up with the gimmies then they don't get their one thing.  We already do that in my house, but the point is to remind my children when they sound like they have a case of the gimmies.

The Berenstain's also wrote another book called Count their Blessings where the bears are whining and their parents remind them of what they do have instead of what they don't.  I haven't read the book, but reviewers remark that at the end the parents discuss what they are planning to give the cubs for Christmas, which seems contrary to the overall message.  But I'm sure if you want to skip that part of the book, you can.

So do you have any great children's books about cultivating gratitude and not greed?  I'm thinking there's a great Charlie and Lola book out there, but I can't remember the title. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hello, Friends

Yes, I've been quiet. I've watched the election like everyone else but haven't commented on it.  As I said my main focus was on the defeat of recreational cannabis, which happened.  I think my state was the only one that said "no, thank you."  There were a couple of states who said "yes, please" and some who legalized euthanasia.  Sadly.

But that doesn't matter because we bought a house.  We signed all the paper work on the day of the election and everything thing was filed that Thursday.  That's why I haven't posted much of anything. I've been a bit busy.

And things will continue that way because this move is going to be a slow one.

But I thought that I would let you know of what was happening.  HB has another doctor's appointment this afternoon.  There's a guy fixing the roof of the rental since it started leaking.  And I'm making phone calls, washing clothes, and sorting my belongings today.  This evening there will be more sealing of grout.  We finished one coat on the flooring and have started a second coat.  We haven't started the bathroom walls yet, but that's minor since you can't move much stuff in (like washer and dryer and boxes) until the floors are sealed.

Oh, and without going into too much of the drama from yesterday.  I want to remind parents of children in school or religious education to 1)disclose disabilities/health conditions to anyone who is responsible for the care of your children and 2)tell them any accommodations that need to be made for that child ahead of any problems.  Let's be honest here, parents.  You know your child has issues and whatnot.  Your teacher is not a mind reader.  We need to know their health issues and what to do in the event of.

So for example, last year I disclosed HB's disability.  And gave the teacher my number and said if there was any problems whatsoever to immediately call me.  I turned my phone on vibrate during Mass in anticipation of having to remove him from the classroom.  Nothing happened.  This year I told the teacher that I was teaching two doors down from her and to come get me if there's any trouble.  So far nothing.

But if your child is epileptic, has diabetes, or ADHD, etc. we need to know and we need to know ahead of time what we should do to be accommodating or handle things in the classroom.  Keep in mind, though, that all RE teachers are volunteers and not all have teaching backgrounds or first aid training.

If your child has a severe health problem, there is no shame in homeschooling.  Let me repeat that bit again.  If your child has a severe health problem (or disability), there is no shame in homeschooling.  It may prove to be better for your child's happiness.  I know in HB's case I would homeschool him if he ever felt overwhelmed in RE because that would be in his best interest.  School's a different story because they provide him services that I cannot, which is why going to a religious school is not feasible for him.  And there's no shame in homeschooling or going to public school.  It is what is best for your child and your family.

Okay, public service announcement over.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Election Fatigue and Cannabis

We're getting close to election Tuesday and for a month now I've had election fatigue.  I've made my choice. I've already mailed in my early ballot and every day I hear more and more about only two particular candidates both of which I think we could do without.

If you are wondering what my affiliation is, I'm an independent.  I'm a moderate, center right, if you really want to be specific.

And neither of the major parties nor their candidates really appeal to me.

Of course the news hammers away at things about the candidates about their benign campaign rallies to latest wikileaks scandal.  I'm so sick of it.

Instead what I try to concern myself with is what's on the ballot on the back page.  The part where my fair state wishes to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.  My husband supports this and I don't.

My husband leans more left of center.  I would peg him along the lines of a libertarian in terms of politics.  He has a "live and let live" attitude that drives me batty.

We've had rows over this particular bit of legislation.

He thinks because I'm concerned about getting high for moral reasons that that is the crux of my argument.

It's not.

I've tried to reason with him so, dear reader, I will spell out my argument to anyone else who thinks legalizing recreational use of cannabis is a good idea.

1) Cannabis has been regulated since the 19th century in the US.  It was not regulated in the 1960s because of right-leaning hippie haters.  Cannabis was used for medical use and was largely unregulated until people who ingested these tonics in very bad quantities.  People started using it recreationally as a cheap alternative to booze much later and again people were concerned about it's use.

2) I'm not opposed to cannabis for medical purposes.  I've ingested codeine, a narcotic, for medical purposes.  It'd be hypocritical to take something which can get you high and deny it to some else for medical reasons too.

3) But I do oppose for recreational purposes.  Just like I oppose cigarette smoking.  I believe that people do use them poorly around others, but social pressure makes smoking largely a thing of the past.  (Don't get me started on e cigarettes though.  That's a topic for another time.) Second hand smoking causes cancer.  Forcing your children to live in a house filled with cigarette smoke or a car filled with cigarette smoke is poor parenting in my opinion.  Fortunately most parents keep their cigs out of reach and smoke outdoors.  There are some places where cigarette smoking is illegal.  Outside of government or public buildings for example.  In Canada, in Ontario, you could not smoke in a car with a child younger than age 16.

4) The current regulation does nothing to protect children from harm.  It simply states that if you are 21 and older, you can grow your own plants and have an ounce of cannabis in your possession.  There's nothing to keep children from getting high from the second hand fumes or from accidentally eating the plant/brownie/candy, etc.  It's as bad if not worse (because a child could become high and ingest lethal amounts) than cigarettes around children.

5) And before you go back to bad parenting and getting child welfare involved just like you would if a parent was drunk all the time or high, then keep in mind this....what do you do if this person is using in your building?  Smoke fills other rooms as well.  As I said most people are good about cigarette smoking.  There is the occasional person who lives next door to your apartment.  But what happens if this is cannabis smoke and your child inhales a large dose?  Who is responsible?  This isn't some sort of long term effect thing.  This is something that could happen immediately without warning.  Your child could end up in the ER.

Who is held accountable if there's no law protecting children (or vulnerable adults)?

What about pets?  In Colorado the incidents of pets ingesting cannabis and becoming sick have sky rocketed.  There isn't a clause in the law about that either.

But my concern is about those innocents without legal recourse?  Who do they turn to if their neighbor is getting high so they are inhaling it?  Can a family break a legal and binding renter's agreement because of their neighbor's stubbornness?  What if they can't move?

Just something to consider.  Fortunately my family has been lucky that cigarettes haven't been too much of a problem.  I don't want to add cannabis to the mix.  Call it selfishness if you like but I don't see any good coming from allowing a person to smoke anything especially in populated areas.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Minimalism: Giving Myself Permission

I've been reading through this great book called The More of Less by Joshua Becker, and he has some great ideas for dealing with the stumbling blocks of getting rid of stuff.  He actually borrows a lot of these ideas from other minimalists who did different things to help deal with their struggles.  One of them he calls "leveling" basically it's this: If you are struggling to get rid of certain things, pack them up and put a date on the box along with the contents.  Place the items out of the way and let time pass.  Eventually you will stumble on the box and it will be easier to get rid of the things because you'll realize that you hadn't used the stuff in the box.

I've been doing this already without knowing what to call it.  My biggest issue is kitchen ware.  Believe it or not cooking is not my thing so having a lot of gadgets around is not my issue.  My husband doesn't really cook so there isn't that issue either. My problem is having multiples.

For example, just how many pots and pans do I really need?  For a while I was holding onto cook ware that wasn't really functioning well.  Non stick pans that stuff stuck too.  Pots that I never really used.  You get the idea.  So I removed a bunch of them from the kitchen and put them in my bedroom to see how long I could go without actually needing to pull them back.

Turns out that I didn't need them at all.

I am now the proud owner of : 1 small non-stick skillet, 1 large stainless steel skillet, 1 small non stick pot, 1 large stainless steel pot, and 1 soup pot.

That's it.  I only needed those five things.

I also got rid of a cookie sheet and a pizza sheet which were in such bad shape and replaced them with one large half sheet.  I'm still not done down sizing bake ware, but it's a work in progress.  I will probably end up taking some of the bake ware out and putting it in another place to see if I actually use it.  The best time to do this will be starting this month until the end of January or as I like to think of it holiday/birthday baking season.  If I don't end up using it then, then I wasn't really going to use it ever.

I'm going to especially enjoy moving (closing day is rapidly approaching November 10th).  This will give me a chance to pull stuff out from every nock and cranny and giving myself permission to chuck stuff that I never ended up using from last move or putting it in another "do I really need these items" box.

So if you are finding yourself overwhelmed by all the constant washing of dishes and trying to put things back into places, consider putting everything from a particular area into a box and pulling out only those things that you actually use.  After a fashion you may realize that you had too much stuff and you'll be able to give yourself permission to let those items go.  Or you may realize that you actually do use those things and need to find a better home for them while removing other things.

It's also a great idea to do with other people's things.  After you get their permission, have them put their particular grouping of possessions in a box.  Maybe it's toys for your children.  If they want something in particular they can ask for it.  It comes out of the box and stays in their possession.  If they never ask for particular things within a time frame (Becker uses 29 days but it could be one you agree upon), then you have their permission to donate/chuck/resell the item.  In this way they don't feel like you are getting rid of things they truly enjoy, but they understand that they are still participating in decluttering.

Happy minimizing!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween and Autism

So I got a phone call earlier that HB was having issues at school.  He was already super happy and then he crashed. Part of his costume broke too.  I'm hoping since his OT comes on Mondays she'll be able to work on his sensory over load.

Just in case you don't know...for autistics anything out of the routine can cause issues.  The holidays may be fun and excited, but it's also overwhelming.  Sensory wise autistics are seeing lots of people in colorful costumes.  There's the excessive use of lights in decorations and costuming.  It's a loud holiday too.

So sometimes stepping back and giving an autistic person some space is warranted.  They want to enjoy the festivities too, but it can get overwhelming.  Let them take things at their own pace.  Also keep in mind that if there's a party at school or work, the off-routine ups the anxiety (even if they enjoy celebrations).  So creating an area in which there is less not more is a good idea.

Happy Halloween!

Also remember in the US tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation.