Monday, April 30, 2012

Money Saving Tip: Do a Spending Fast

Who doesn't need to save money these days? The economy is such that we need to watch our pennies, as my mother says. Beth, over at My Simpler Life  is starting a spending fast tomorrow. That means eating from your pantry, staying out of stores, doing things that will help you save some money. Click on the purple link to her page to learn more about her spending fast. 
  Will I be doing it? Well... to be honest, I'm going to start mine on Saturday. And it will be modified just a hair or two. My pantry is pretty bare at the moment so I need to do some shopping to get my staples, come up with a game plan as far as menus, that sort of thing. Also I have an anniversary coming up on Friday and my family has three birthdays coming up this month. I'm going to get a little creative on those, and see what happens. One more thing: I have my business to run so I have to place an order for supplies this month so I need to figure that in.  Hmmm... am I talking myself out of this? I hope not! This is a really good idea. What about you?  Will you be trying it? Let me know the results! As for me, I will post again about this on Saturday.

Life's Ups and Downs

Helloooo! Anyone there? 
  I've been MIA a bit longer than I'd expected. We've had a lot going on to keep me from the blogging world. J has had a few meltdowns and has needed some attention to address those. Thankfully they haven't been too bad, just heartbreaking that they've been happening.
  The kittens have provided their own drama. Two kittens somehow got sick within a week of each other, and both have passed away, the second one just this morning as I held him. I had nursed him the best I could, but it just wasn't meant to be. One got caught in a shut door accidentally, and died from his injuries. And a fourth one got attacked by a tom cat and was killed. So we have three rambunctious little ones left, and I'm anxiously looking for homes for them, along with two of the tom cats and maybe a mama. As much as I love these critters I can't keep them all.
  Then there is me. I've been busy with my mom, and trying to get this house back in order. I also started walking a bit. That lasted a few days, before I started feeling ill, but I'm going to return to my walking today.
  While I've cried a lot the last few days, I still can see that life is good, even with its ups and downs. We live a blessed life, not a charmed one where everything is perfect and good all the time. As a Christian, I understand that if everything was all roses and no thorns here on earth, I might not have my sights set on heaven where everything is good. I'm thankful to have a place where there is no end. The earth will eventually be destroyed --whether it be in my time or not, I don't know. What i do know (but sometimes ignore or forget) is that this life and all its pleasures, frustrations, hurts and joys, is temporary. The next life is the permanent one. We each have a choice in life. Do we want to live in heaven, or hell?  Are we going to follow Jesus or not?
  I'm not perfect by any means. I make mistakes and I sin. But I won't give up trying to live the way Jesus wants me to. I have a long ways to go. I want to continue learning, and encouraging others in all aspects. On this blog I want to encourage you in your daily walk, help you begin the daily walk if need be, and also to share my life and triumphs as well as troubles. If I'm struggling with weight issues, organization (household and life), have a special needs (adult) child, and like to craft and/ or make art, I know that some of you have at least some of those things in your own lives. I've started and stopped a few times on this blog, so today is sort of like a new year. Time to start over and follow the path and see where it leads.
  My goals/ plans for this blog:
  •   Spiritual. I want to post something at the very least once or twice a week that is encouraging, yet honest to my life. I'm not going to tell you everything is all rosy and lovely when it isn't, but I want to be positive.  Each Tuesday I will continue linking with Heavenly Homemakers  for Gratituesday.
  • Autism. I'm going to continue discussing life with an adult child with autism. J is a great part of my life, and sometimes I struggle with what to do for him. My heart aches at times because I don't know how to help him. My heart sings when he makes the next milestone, or as a friend with a special needs child of her own calls them, inchstones. We celebrate each tiny thing that others sometimes take for granted.
  • Organization. If you're looking for perfection and how to keep a house spotless every second of the day, sorry, wrong blog. If you want commiseration on "I just cleaned a minute ago now it looks like a whirlwind hit" and tips that work for me, and sometimes links to where to go for help in this, as well as updates on how the house is coming together and encouragement for you, this is the place. I'm not where I want to be in this house yet, but hey, although I'm learning to be content with my life, I'm also seeing room for improvement in many areas. I hope you're along for the journey.
  • Health. Let's face it. I'm not eighteen anymore and I've been blessed with two pregnancies that netted me two healthy babies. As Ma Kettle once said, I used to have an hour glass figure. The sand's still there, its just shifted some. I wont tell my age yet, but I'm old enough to have two grown boys. My oldest would have been 21 this July. So health wise, I'm not looking to be a size 0. Not even close. While I would love to be a size 10 again, I think I'd be happy to be a 12 or even 14. I want nothing to do with society's view of perfection. I want to be healthy, as well as look and feel it. 
                 I know basically how to eat healthy, but I also am a lover of chocolate. There are just some times I need it more than others. I like desserts of all types, although I don't have them all the time. And although i want to eat healthier, I still eat fast food at times. I don't drink sodas most of the time, its less than once a month that it even comes into the house. I don't do substitute sugars, and I tend to stay away from low fat anything because (for me at least) if it's full fat I am aware of it, and it takes a lot less to satisfy me. As for oils, I use coconut oil, olive oil, and occasionally, lard. I make no excuses for that. There are just some things I need it for. And I use butter. NOT MARGARINE. As much as I'd like to use only grass fed meat in my cooking, my budget simply won't allow it. We eat meatless meals sometimes but I'd like to bump it up to two to three times weekly.  So for health I'll be sharing meal plans, how I'm doing on exercise (hope you'll join me and let me know what you're doing to get healthier too!), and I want to get back to sharing recipes. Yes, some will be desserts. If you feel the need to modify the recipes to fit your needs, feel free. Most won't be mine though. I like cooking but I'm not that great at coming up with my own recipes. :)
  • Art. I talked a few months ago about a project for my bedroom wall using a scripture I like. I also mentioned to another blogger about using toilet paper rolls to make a mini album. I haven't forgotten. I am still formulating a plan for both in my head and hopefully I can get them both done. I'll share them as soon as I'm done. Eventually I'd like to show a project once a week.
I have some lofty plans for this blog, I have to admit. Can I do it all? I hope so. Will I stumble some? Most likely. Life gets in the way, and sometimes the situation is I simply fall prey to fits of fiction writing --something I should be doing every day, but I don't get it done. I'm not ready to share my fiction just yet. Eventually though.We shall see. Anyway, that's the plan for this blog from this moment on, with random posts about other subjects along the way. I hope you'll join me. Let me know what you think when you see it. I'm still learning the ropes of the blog world so if any bloggers would like to offer suggestions and somehow teach me a few things, I'd welcome it.  Until next time, have a great day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grateful For...

Each week Laura, from Heavenly Homemakers encourages us to reflect on something we are grateful for and share. Most weeks, since I've become a blogger, I've joined in. It's something I enjoy tremendously, and I like visiting other blogs to see where they are in their lives. Because of the busyness of life I don't get to keep up with them as much as I'd like, but I'm grateful they are there, and grateful that we can encourage one another and share our lives a bit.
  The past few days my emotions have run the gamut from happy to sad to angry, to who knows what. I've felt like a kernel of popcorn in a pan, never knowing when I would explode, or with what emotion. Even when happy I seem to be leaking tears. It makes no sense to me.
   In the past twenty four hours we've gone from 7 kittens to 5, one from illness and the other a victim of a tom cat. That cat is leaving this house never to return. As I dealt with that, early this morning long before the sun was up, I remembered that today was Gratituesday, and wondered if there was anything to be grateful for. Yep, at approximately 3 AM, I'm a bit of a drama queen.
   The more I thought about it though, there is much to be thankful for. I am a blessed person. I have a house to live in, we have food to eat, we have a running car that takes us where we need to go. Yes, we have bills that we struggle with, and a son with medical problems, and on and on and on. But I am blessed more than I deserve. I have a Saviour who loved me, a sinner, enough to die for my sins so that I wouldn't have to. All I had to do was accept the gift through obedience to His Word.  I have a husband who loves me and encourages me. I get to see J's smiles, feel his (sporadic) hugs, hear his infectious laughter.
   Yesterday my family and I had photos taken. J is a ham in front of the cameras. He was in such a good mood. One shot was supposed to be the three of us together, faces toward the camera. J chose that moment to lean way into his dad and reach up to pull me into a hug. You don't see J's face but you do see the love and fun. J's personality shines through. That one will be on my wall right along with the more traditional pose we chose to keep.
  At this very moment I have one kitten that I need to watch because he is showing some signs of illness, but seems to be okay, and four others who are bouncing around, jumping playfully with one another and climbing my legs to sit on my lap. They are learning the joys of cat food, and one nearly had me rolling on the floor listening to him growl to keep the others away from his food. He even stretched his paw over the bowl! I'll miss the little darlings when they are gone but they do need to find new homes.
     I could go on and on with my list of blessings, but here is the point: even when there is much to make me sad or angry or frustrated, there is still much to be thankful for. There is a song in White Christmas that Bing Crosby sings, called Counting My Blessings. He says in the song that instead of counting sheep, he goes to sleep counting his blessings. It always turns my mood around if I give it a chance. What about you? Do you count your blessings? What are you grateful for today?

Join us at Heavenly Homemakers  for Gratituesday. See what others are grateful for today, and maybe add your own. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Story of J, Part Two

 As you may know, April is Autism Awareness month. On World Autism Day, April 2, I wrote The Story of J, Part One .   This part of the story tells a bit about his personality.

These days I typically wake up around four o'clock in the morning. It's not because I like getting up that early or that I have a paid job that requires it. No, it's usually because I hear J in his room giggling and singing, or I hear water running and his singing. What does he sing about? Food, mostly. Like any teenager the moment he wakes up his mind is on how hungry he is. If it isn't about food, sometimes it's hard to tell what he's singing, but there is a recognizable melody most times. 
   If J were ever to work with or become an interior designer or an organizational specialist, I would not be surprised. He has definite opinions as to what belongs where, and his taste is rather definite. In J's world, things should be put away. I agree with him, but it doesn't always happen as quickly as either of us would like sometimes so he takes it upon himself to place it where he thinks it should be. Usually in a hidden place only he knows about. If you catch it quick enough, all you have to do is say, "All right J, where's it at?" (Bad English skills there, but yup, that's what happens at home sometimes). This elicits a blank look, especially if for whatever reason the name of the object isn't making a connection for him. Then we point to the space where the object had been and command, Go get it. That he understands, most of the time. I've caught glimpses of his sense of humor as he sometimes waits for that one magic word that sadly I say a lot: NOW! Then he smiles and retrieves whatever it was we were looking for.
   As for J's design taste, it apparently clashes with mine. It's hard to describe what it is he likes for certain, but he knows what he doesn't like and the offending items usually go out the window. Literally, out the window. Granted, that tends to be his method of cleaning his room sometimes. I walk outside and under his window there may be clothes, a blanket, or a pair of shoes that he's thrown out at least three times in two days. (We've checked: the shoes fit, and he seems to be comfortable when he wears them, he just doesn't like them).  Other things that haven't made the grade: a plate I made in the 90's. He didnt want it displayed so he shoved it behind my china cabinet before I could hang it up on the wall. I put it inside the cabinet and all was well for awhile. He has taken it out and pretended to bite it.  A figurine I've had for years, he despises. It is currently under my kitchen sink, right where he placed it. It fared better than a decorative Christmas piece I was given, though. I don't know what about that house he didn't like but in his mind it had to go. First was a part that he broke off. Annoying, but I could fix it. Then he placed it under the kitchen sink. Not good enough. While I was in another room I heard him in the bathroom, then I heard a crash.  I investigated the bathroom and saw nothing. Then I went outside. On my porch, which is just close enough to the bathroom window (don't blame me, it's an older house that was designed badly) was the Christmas decoration, smashed to bits. 
  He wasn't angry, didn't have a meltdown. He simply did not like it. I have yet to figure out his thought process on what is acceptable and what isn't. Although I'm not happy to see things destroyed, I guess I should be grateful that the stuff he detests isn't valuable and he hasn't hurt himself or anyone else getting rid of it. 
  Water has always been a soothing element for J. Although I fear for my water bill, I don't usually say much when he heads for the shower. He knows it calms him. It might prove cheaper in the long run to have a pool but two things prevent that: one, we don't have the room in our yard. Most importantly, even if I tried my hardest I can't watch him every second of the day and night and pools are too much of a temptation for many with autism. I've heard too many accounts of a child with autism going missing and then being found dead in a body of water. Even if a child isn't autistic drowning happens all too often. It's not a risk I'm willing to take. I'm actually grateful that J rarely goes outside by himself and he hasn't noticed that just inside a neighbor's gate is a pool. 
   As far as exercise is concerned, J isn't one to volunteer for it. He's much rather sit and listen to music. Lately I've figured out that I need exercise, and my family does too. While I could walk faster and longer without J, I don't really like leaving him alone so for the past week, minus a few days, he's been walking with me and The Hubby. 
  This is something we've done sporadically in the past, but I want it to be a more permanent fixture. We've learned rather quickly that the car has to be locked, otherwise J will plant himself firmly in his seat and it nearly takes an act of Congress to get him to budge. Much to his surprise though, he is actually enjoying getting outside and walking. 
  All in all, J is happy. He likes routine, his own brand of order, and just being comfy. Most of the time he likes going to church. He is comfortable there, and many talk directly to him. He enjoys the singing. He watches everything going on. Yes, there are times when he's tired to the point of being silly but we try to keep him quiet. He has areas there that allow him to calm down if he's over stimulated. 
  This post seems a little choppy, but then, J's life is like that: mostly routine, but his mind and body are rarely still for long. As for me, I'm grateful he's allowed me to sit and write this long. I'm glad you've glimpsed a little more into J's life, but if you'll excuse us, it's breakfast time.   

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gratituesday: Spending Time with Family

We live about thirty minutes from my mother, and about 90 minutes or so from my mother in law. With gas prices going up and the usual time constraints, it's not always easy to find time to visit with either of them, though we try. I enjoy spending time with both, and I'm happy when we can.
  This past Saturday we treated my brother to a movie. The Three Stooges was playing, and he is a huge fan. My mother isn't one to still for two minutes, much less two hours so I took her shopping instead. We browsed through some stores, looking at purses, hats, and home decor. We shopped for some items we both needed. We talked. Before we took my mother and brother home we stopped at our house to put away some groceries and let them see the kittens again. I had made soup earlier so I put some in a jar for them to enjoy later. 
  Although we didn't do anything special, the time spent was precious. My mother is in her 70's, and none of us is promised tomorrow. In my opinion we don't connect with family near enough.  In times past family lived close by, and in some instances several generations lived together under one roof. That isn't so common anymore. Relatives are spread out all over the state, the country, sometimes even the globe. We get so busy we forget to write or call, except the occasional text message. That's why I'm so thankful for time spent with family.

 Each Tuesday Laura from Heavenly Homemakers  invites us to link up and tell what we are grateful for.  Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Wall...

 I've spent a good many years avoiding mirrors. I'm so good at avoiding them here in the house that I rarely see my face in the bathroom mirror above the sink. I know my figure flaws. Who needs to see them? Certainly not me. When I choose not to look in the mirror I can pretend I still look the part of the nineteen year old me, with a little more padding and such.
  Earlier this week The Hubby found the mirror that had once been attached to my vanity. While he still needs to reattach it to its frame, the mirror is now propped up on top of the vanity. That particular piece of furniture sits right beside my bed and acts as a night stand and storage area for different things. It's in a spot I can't miss. I haven't yet learned an avoidance technique with this intruder into my life; I see myself a few times each day.
  This evening as I was preparing for bed, I made myself take a good look in the mirror. The time to take stock of what I'm working with has been long past due, and I can no longer pretend. It wasn't easy to take a look. I knew I'd gained weight over the years, and, as Ma Kettle once put it, "I used to have an hourglass figure. I still do; the sand's just shifted in some places."  But this time there is no denying what the shifting sands have done. It spurred a discussion with my husband, and he told me what I needed to hear instead of what I wanted to hear. I'm happy he is honest with me about this, even though it's kind of tough to hear. Now that I can't deny the problem, it's time to do something about it. Although this will be published on Monday, today is Saturday evening; tomorrow is the time to to get busy and work on these problems. I will follow this post soon with an action plan.
   Are you like me? Do you tend to avoid mirrors? Sometimes we see ourselves one way, and don't want the mirror to show us something different. It's that way with sin as well. Sometimes we get to a point in our lives where we are comfortable, and don't want to take a good look at the mirror and see what it says about our lives. I like being able to think that I'm doing okay, even when I know that my life is a mess. I don't want to look into the spiritual mirror, the bible, and face the truth. Sometimes God does what The Hubby did for me : he places the mirror in an unavoidable spot. Perhaps He uses a trusted friend or a brother or sister in Christ who isn't afraid to say, I'm concerned about you because of this particular sin in your life. Sometimes it comes in the form of a lesson in the morning sermon, or any number of ways to get our attention. Once the mirror is placed in our way, it is up to us to decide what to do with that image placed before it. We can cringe and become defensive, come up with a plethora of excuses as to why it isn't true or shouldn't matter. We can give half hearted acknowledgement, console ourselves with thoughts that it really isn't that bad and "I will work on that. Soon. Really." Or we can take a deep breath, look into the mirror, and really pay attention to the state of things. Take inventory, go to God in prayer, and ask for His forgiveness, and then work on addressing the problem, knowing that we needn't be alone in this. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Missing Blogger Returns, House Cleaning, and Kittens

 Just a few weeks ago I was lost in the fervor of A Simple Mom's Declutter 2012. I kept you up to date and promised I'd continue the cleaning each week. And then I wrote a post on April 1, 2012 and dropped off the face of the blog earth for awhile. Ouch. Not exactly how I planned it. Excuse me a moment, won't you? I have soup on the stove and I need to finish it.
  That's better. Now all it has to do is simmer until I'm ready for it. So... where have I been lately as I have not been posting in the blog world?  Well, I've been dealing with a bad back --nothing too serious, just needed a hot bath, some over the counter meds, and time to walk it out a bit. Also, I've been spending time with family and dealing with a son whose scheduling has gotten totally off kilter --a big no no in the world of autism. He is currently snoring away because he has been up fairly early. I've been trying to get him back into the world of sleep at night, up all day instead of the reverse. In the meantime, I've been trying to match his sleep habits with my own. Not an easy feat for someone who loves daylight. And I've been cleaning house. 
  I would like to say that I've been good and keeping up with the dishes and the sweeping every day. It hasn't happened. I let it slip for one day, then two, and so on until I felt on the edge of going back to my old ways.  I'm slowly climbing out of the funk that allowed that to happen. But you know what? There are some good things on the cleaning front.
  My bathroom and J's room, while not spotless every minute of the day, are looking a huge site better and have stayed that way since The Hubby cleaned them up for me. J's room is in serious need of a shampooing but Hubby wants to wait until the Master bedroom and the Living room are ready to be cleaned as well. On that note... I'm happy to report that the only room lacking is the living room!
  My bedroom got attacked earlier this week. There is a floor down there, who knew! The closet and my dresser both need a  good going over, but I can walk without stumbling and my vanity has some order to it now instead of everything being piled on it willy nilly.
  The kittens that were brought into the house during the last week of Simplify 2012 , along with a surprise batch from another mama, are all doing well. They are toddling underfoot these days, enjoying some independence. I'm wishing I had an old play pen to corral them all because I'm not that thrilled with having them playing near my feet. While I'm enjoying them, I'm also looking forward to finding good homes for them. 
   Now that I've come back today, I hope I continue writing every day. At the very least, three times a week. As for the morning cup of tea, I'm not sure that I'm going to continue that.  What is your opinion on that? Would you like to keep it going or nix it? Also, what have you been up to lately? Have you had spring break with your kids? Are you done spring cleaning your home? What has kept you busy lately? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Story of J, Part One

As many may know, today is World Autism Day. According to the CDC   1 in 88 children have autism. For boys, the number is much more prevalent at 1 in 54. Those are some sobering odds. Yet some still don't find it serious enough to stop patting parents on the head and do something. We hear about autism mostly during the month of April and then it's quietly shoved back into the closet to forget. As a parent with a child with autism, I live autism awareness 24 / 7. 
   J is nineteen years old. Although he says a few words appropriately, his communication is mostly through simple sign language, gestures, and pointing. He sometimes will take a trusted person by the hand to show what he wants or needs. Very few get that privilege. Although considered nonverbal, he is not quiet by any means unless he's asleep or contemplative. He is quite vocal whether he's happy, sad, angry, or just wants to tell the world, "Hey! I'm here!"  J loves being the center of attention and will call out in public so that everyone knows he is there. He doesn't care that the attention he nets is usually curious stares or blatant looks of disdain. 
   J isn't fully toilet trained at this point although we haven't given up yet. Adult pull ups work when we are out and about but honestly, he has sensitive skin and does not tolerate them very well at all. He will look for the first opportunity to rid himself of the nuisance and if he can't, there almost certainly will be a meltdown.
   When visiting others, J tends to be quiet unless he's hungry or he's comfortable with the people there. He loves for people to talk directly to him but don't always expect eye contact. If he has decided he likes you, he loves giving hugs. He interacts a lot with men. Women usually merit a shy smile.
  As for his likes and dislikes, J loves food. A typical teenager, the words he uses most are food related. He also loves music. Almost any type will do, but he prefers Latin hip hop, classical, classic rock, International, and Michael Jackson. He rocks to almost anything upbeat.  He's not big on movies and television, but will watch if there is a lot of action and/or music. Although surrounded by cats, he's not a big fan of them. He merely tolerates them in his world but he prefers them to be out of his room and off of the furniture. In the past he has shown a like for horses and bigger dogs such as retrievers.  Smaller dogs get the same treatment as cats.
   As far as whether J was born with autism, although one doctor said he was, I disagree to a certain extent. Looking back, even as an infant he had a certain quality that set off the "mommy radar" but that really didn't show up until he had a well baby visit that included a vaccine or two. Although I had no qualms with his brother getting vaccinated, without even hearing any of the controversy (I was blissfully unaware until J was 6), I felt in every fiber of my being that vaccines were wrong for J. Especially when he emitted a high pitched wail that I've never ever heard another infant make. He also held his breath, which is something that he does to this day when needles are involved. After that (and I was told his reaction was normal, btw) I noticed he loved watching ceiling fans. There wasn't a lot of eye contact from him, even during nursing. 
  As I watched J grow, I was somewhat in a fog because we had lost J's older brother at the age of two and J was 6 months old. J didn't babble the way kids his age did. He did some, but it wasn't to the point of trying words. `He hit other milestones pretty much on time, holding a spoon, walking at 13 months, that kind of thing. Words didn't come till later. I expressed concern about this at a checkup and was again patted on the head. "Do you talk to him?" the nurse asked with a smile. I think I answered Of course, but what I was thinking was, "NO! I stick him in a corner all day and ignore him! Sheesh!"  Of course I talked to him! I talked, I read to him, sang to him. 
  I saw him walk on his tiptoes a lot, and he turned his head to scream sometimes. I thought he was simply playing when he did things like that. He spoke about ten words at 15 months. At 18 months he began losing those words. He would sit and play by himself, stacking legos taller than himself or spinning objects. I would call his name and he would ignore me. I thought he had a hearing loss. I talked to his doctor and got the brush off many times. I was just a mom, what did I know?  I finally convinced the doctor about the hearing problem (only when my husband came with me and agreed there was a problem) and he was sent to an audiologist.  The audiologist tested him as best he could: J paid attention the first time or two and then tuned him out. We were told two things: J could hear just fine but there seemed to be a developmental delay. That diagnosis, along with setting J on the floor and letting him do his normal thing convinced the family doctor to send us to the specialist. The specialist took about ten minutes before diagnosing autism.  Of course, we had to have tests run and this and that done before it was official. So just a few months before J turned three his pdd(pervasive developmental disorder)/autism diagnosis was confirmed. 
    If you've read this far, thank you. I'm not sure where I'm going on this, but I want J's story to be told. I want him to not be ignored or discounted. I am his voice. I want to encourage other parents who have that  mommy or daddy sense to be able to speak up. I want parents to be educated and to be able to speak up for their child or children. We as parents know our children better than doctors, teachers, anyone out there.