Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Completed project: Overhauling my daughter's room.

My daughter has a lot of toys.


A LOT LOT LOT of toys.

That? Is a HUGE amount of toys. That's not even all of them. Under the bed, in the closet, in the toybox...

Toys are fun. Toys can be hours of imaginative play. It's always fun to get a new toy, right?

Well...too much of a good thing isn't necessarily a better thing, and that's a concept I've been pondering for a while now. I've posted a few articles in my Friday Thoughts posts about how less is more when it comes to toys, and that message came through loud and clear for me this week.

Recently, Elizabeth Willard Thames, she of the amazing and inspirational Frugalwoods blog, made a post about the challenges of holidays with small children. So much of what she posted rang true for me, and when she mentioned a book called Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, my ears (eyes?) perked up. This sounded like something I needed, and as luck would have it, my local library had a copy.

I'm not done with the book yet, but SO much of what this author is saying makes sense. Basically, given too many options, too many choices for anything, kids become easily overwhelmed, and it shows in their behavior. One of the examples he gave talked about a little girl with so many toys that she wasn't even playing with them, just kind of...arranging them. Gathering them in odd mixes. And with that, I sat back and went, "Oh." Because that's pretty close to how my daughter plays with her toys. I'm constantly finding bags and containers full of toy food, play rocks, Mr. PotatoHead parts, Barbie clothes, a block or two, a shoelace, just odd mixtures of things that don't at all go together (but of course need to be separated and put back into their proper containers). And that's when I realized...maybe my daughter wasn't having all that much fun. Maybe something needed to change.

And so last night, I started making plans. I broached the idea with my daughter (she's 4.5) and, to my surprise, she readily agreed to it. Now, this is a kid who once sobbed during a game of imagination when a doll (that she had JUST MADE UP) had broken. The doll didn't even exist, but she burst into tears over the mere idea of this doll not existing anymore. But she was amenable to the idea of clearing her room out so she could focus on a select few toys, and so I told her that was the plan for the next day.

I'm even happier that I cleaned the basement out this summer, because that's where everything went. The first to go was the toybox, which isn't so much a toybox these days as a giant catch-all for stuff she rarely plays with anyway. And then the little Frozen mirror table, the Little People toys that she doesn't play with anyway, the tent and stuffed animals that filled it and rendered it useless (I SWEAR stuffed animals multiply. I'm going to go through them and pass some of them on, because no one on this planet needs four garbage bags full of stuffed animals), her dollhouse (she plays with the dolls and clothes, but not the house), and a whole bunch of other stuff. Downstairs it all went to a corner of the basement. She helped me carry some of it down, and she knows that she can visit it or trade some stuff out for something else whenever she wants, but for now, that big pile stays down there.

And we'll go through it from time to time, I'm sure, to see what we can get rid of, or what she's developed an interest in, but for now, we're going to give this new, streamlined room a try and see if her behavior improves any. She's always been an intense kid, prone to quick tantrums and meltdowns if something doesn't go exactly the way she thinks it does (or doesn't match up the picture in her mind. Last week, she sobbed because I wouldn't put doll pants on the cat...), and although I'm sure a large part of that is just her personality, overwhelming her with 234823497832749832 options for toys probably wasn't helping, as evidenced by the grouping-odd-stuff-together method of playing. Thus, the whole room overhaul.

And there we go. Calm. Clean. Relaxing.

When we were finished, her exact words were an excited-sounding "I LIKE my room like this!" She was especially excited about the two sets of drawers being separated. "Now I can reach everything!" she told me. Before I was even done hauling stuff downstairs, she was digging through the drawer with her coloring books and coloring on the table- something she's NEVER done before. The table was always covered with Little People toys she never played with, and although she knew exactly where the coloring books were, she never took them out. Today, she did. Later on, the table became a place to make phone calls (her kitchen has a cordless phone), and she used the stool under the table to set up a lemonade stand. I lay on her bed and read out loud to her as she played, and she enjoyed that. She kept sighing happily and chatting about how much she liked the space, and when we cleaned up before going downstairs for lunch, it took two minutes. It really does feel like an entirely new room. 

So thanks, Mrs. Frugalwoods, and thanks to Mr. Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, because although long-term results remain to be seen, today she's happy with the calmness of her new room, and so am I. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Weekly recap: 1/21/2019

It. Is. COLD!!!!

I thought my toes were going to freeze off my feet last night before going to bed. Our heat is set to go down to 62 around 9 pm, and by the time my husband and I got upstairs, despite my multiple layers, I was freezing. We have a day in the forecast where the high is 3F. I'm NOT looking forward to that!!!

Driving everyone in the morning and waking up a little earlier hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be (although that was before single digit temperatures; I might have a different story next week!). I'm exhausted at the end of the day, though, and I've been starting to fall asleep on the couch most nights. Oops!

Up until Saturday afternoon, my pain was manageable for the most part, so that was a bit of a nice break. Still there, but not terrible. Today's verging on terrible, so that's a bummer, but nothing new.

Feels like it's been a quiet week with nothing major happening, but after the busyness of last week, sometimes you need that.

Okay, let's get this show on the road, shall we?


I woke up feeling pretty good, pain-wise! I drove everyone where they needed to go, and after my daughter had breakfast and got ready for the day, we got gas and made a trip to Walmart, where we purchased bubble bath and skirt hangers (but forgot the distilled water for my iron, dang it!). At home, I threw my daughter into the tub, where she played, and I organized my next-to-the-bathroom closet. It's where we keep all the medicine, all my toiletries and my daughter's hair accessories like hair ties and barrettes, our bath towels, etc. It had stayed in decent condition since I last organized it in the summer, but I was still able to condense some things and throw out a bunch of other things. Here it is, in all its organizational glory!

Not bad! Hard to take a good photo of this, though.

Once that was finished, I scrubbed my daughter down, and after I got her dressed, I started the dishwasher. I got some lentils started in the Instant Pot, and during naptime, I did a twenty minute yoga video that, for whatever reason, my body didn't care for. I was actually shaking afterwards, so I opted out of doing more. I got a batch of Baingan Bharta (mashed spiced eggplant) going in the Instant Pot, as well as a batch of rice going in the rice cooker, then cleaned up the kitchen, took out the recycling, unloaded the dishwasher, and took out the compost. When the Instant Pot beeped, I mashed the eggplant, then stirred the lentils into it. (Maybe not quite traditional, but it bulks the meal out a bit and adds some protein!)

My son wanted to go to the Senior Recital for the music department at school (and I would've gone if it had been at a different time), so we picked his friend up and I dropped them both off at the school. There wasn't enough time to go back home, so my daughter and I played at the library until my husband arrived from the train. 

At home, I ate dinner and farted around on the computer until my son texted to let me know he was done, so I picked the boys up and dropped his friend off. My son and I dragged the trash and recycling cans to the curb, and after my shower, I put dinner away and cleaned up the kitchen. I read my library book for a bit, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before going to bed. 


I had some noticeable SI joint pain on this day...

I put the dishes in the dishwasher, then drove everyone to where they needed to be. I read my library book during breakfast (my daughter watches TV; I usually use this time to catch up on a few online things, but not always), then I tidied the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, and swept the living room floor.

And then my mom arrived! She comes up every few weeks to hang out with us and it's always nice. We visited for a bit and then went for lunch at a local pizza buffet. They also have different types of pasta and a vat of chicken noodle soup, which made my daughter happy. It was RIDICULOUSLY cold out this day. The temperature wasn't low, but it was windy and that made everything cold, even in the house.

The poor cold kitty huddled up to the heating vent agrees with me!

After lunch, we stopped by the thrift store, where I bought three skirts for my skirt-and-dress-loving daughter. They were on sale for a dollar each, and she's so excited about them. After my mom went home, I finished my library book, and when it was time, we picked up my husband. I tried to read more of my library book after dinner, but my husband and daughter were extra boisterous this evening, and so I gave up and just messed around online until it was time to pick up my son, who had stayed late to volunteer to pack food with his choir at an organization that ships food overseas. They packed enough meals to keep two children in Haiti fed for a year, and he enjoyed the experience. I read more of my book at home, and my husband and I watched an episode of Supernatural before bed. 


I don't know if I slept funny or what, but the muscles on the right side of my back were crabby as heck today. Driving was totally uncomfortable because of it.

I drove everyone where they needed to go, completed my basement chores of scooping the litterbox and refilling our Air Washer, and then it was time to run for groceries. I watch the weather forecasts carefully, and as the upcoming week was forecast to drop down into the low teens (with possible snow), I decided to shop a little extra this week in order to NOT have to go out next week. It wouldn't be that big of a deal if it were just me, but I have no desire to stand out in three wind-whipped parking lots in 11 degrees F, trying to hurry to get my daughter properly buckled in her car seat. NO THANK YOU. It may take a little creativity and extra time in the kitchen, but we *should* be good for two weeks; I can only think of a few things that may necessitate a trip out. We'll see. ;)

At home, I put everything away, including out in the garage freezer (our garage is unattached, so this is always an ordeal!). I took out the recycling and the compost, and during naptime, I read my book and dozed for a bit. My daughter and I hung out at the library until my husband got off the train, and after dinner, I read my library book until it was time to pick up my son, who had joined the pep band to play bass drum at a minor league hockey game (he had a great time!). My husband and I managed to watch most of an episode of Supernatural before I passed out! I was exhausted for some reason.


I dropped my husband off, dropped my son off, then went back and picked my husband up again. The trains weren't running due to a suicide on the tracks in our town. This is something that happens far too frequently and is just a complete heartbreak. If any details have been released, I haven't seen them, but I'm so sad for the person's family, and for the workers on the train who were affected; I'm sure it's devastating for them as well. 

At home, I started a load of laundry, then took down the laundry from the drying racks and put that away. I cleaned up the kitchen and got some black beans going in the Instant Pot, and then I dropped my husband off at the next train station up the line, which did have service, although he still had to wait about a half hour for the next train. Due to an impending weekend winter storm, my daughter and I made another trip to Walmart for cat litter, salt for our icy driveway, and the distilled water I'd forgotten on Monday. 

I salted the front and back walkways at home, hung up the wet laundry, and cleaned my daughter's room. Thanks to an online prompting, I vacuumed and lint-rolled the one lampshade we have in the house, then wiped the rest of the lamp down. I hadn't realized how gross it was, but yikes! It looks so much better now. I ran the dishwasher, took out the compost, and during naptime, I made black bean burgers and this potato-onion mixture that I make in this microwaveable potato cooker my mom gave me (my son loves these potatoes). I cleaned up the kitchen, finished one book, and started another. 

We picked up my husband when it was time, I read my book on and off throughout the evening, cleaned the kitchen again, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before going to bed. 


I drove everyone to where they needed to be, and after my daughter and I got ready for the day, we ran to the post office, got gas, made a quick run into Aldi for more lunchmeat (I don't eat meat and so I hadn't realized my husband has been chowing down on this as well, leaving not enough for my son's lunches the next two weeks!), extra coffee creamer for just in case, and a pizza for a quick dinner. I thought we needed to go to the bank, but it ended up not being necessary, so I took my daughter to play at a library in another town, where I also grabbed a few books. 

At home, I tried to doze a little during my daughter's naptime (didn't work!), and then watched a short documentary on the Magdalene laundries. This ties into the book I finished later on on this day. If you've never heard of these, they're horrifying, and I urge you to learn more. I had a vague idea of what they were about, having learned about them in my early 20's (the last one closed when I was a teenager in the mid 90's), but reading and hearing about the details of the atrocious human rights violations committed in these places is rage-inducing. There's another documentary I have bookmarked to watch whenever I get a chance. 

I unloaded the dishwasher and baked the Aldi pizza, then repaired the broken strap on my daughter's Barbie doll dress. Mama to the rescue! We picked my husband up, scarfed down our dinner, then headed to the library to watch a magic show. My daughter loved every bit of this, and it's nice to see her have so much fun. The snow was just starting to fall when we put my daughter to bed. My husband and I squeezed in two episodes of Supernatural before bed, although I was falling asleep on the couch!


Snow day!!!!!!!!

In total, I think we ended up with about seven inches. It was still snowing when we got up (my daughter thought 6:02 am was a fine time to wake up for the day *grumble*). I wiped down the bathroom counter and changed out the bathroom garbage bag, put the dishes in the dishwasher, started bread in the bread machine, started a load of laundry, took down the laundry hanging on the rack (it takes about two days to fully dry hanging in the basement), and scooped the litterbox. I swept the living room, cleaned my daughter's room, put the folded laundry away, hung up the wet laundry, and started another load of my son's bedding. 

During some of this, my husband and daughter went outside, where my husband figured out the snowblower we'd purchased last year. 


Little bit snowy out there. :)

When they came in, they were both snow-caked, so I tossed their pants and my daughter's snow gear into the dryer, then got the bread to rise in pans. The dryer didn't have to run too long to get that small load dry, and I tossed the bedding in next. I baked the bread, threw together a batch of Cauliflower Potato Soup, and then tried to nap for a bit. Didn't work. Don't you just hate that? This was about the time when my right hip really started bothering me in a bad, bad way.

After dinner, I loaded and ran the dishwasher, took the compost out (BRRR! The temp was definitely starting to drop), cleaned up my daughter's toys in the living room, and restarted the load of bedding in the dryer. I read some more of my library book, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before bed.


Quiet day around here. I read my library book throughout the morning, and we made a trip to the Dollar Store and the book store next door so my husband could grab a set of tiny screwdrivers in order to fix my daughter's light saber. I read a little more after lunch and then was hurting so much that I went to lie down in bed during naptime. I dozed for about half an hour, and when my daughter got up, she and I went to play at the library. I also picked up a copy of Will It Waffle?, a cookbook of recipes you can make on your waffle maker. I learned about this this weekend and I'm excited to flip through it. We picked my son up on the way home.

At home, my daughter played and I read my library book hanging out with her (husband was out at the movies with a friend from childhood. After I put her to bed, I finished my library book (#7 for the year so far!), and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before going to bed.

I was hurting this morning even before getting out of bed. My right hip is just nasty today and walking is at a turtle's pace. We're taking my daughter to a mini golf program at the library for a little bit (husband is off work today), and I'm not sure what we'll do after that. Hopefully something warm!

How was your week???

Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday thoughts 1/18/2019

Batten down the hatches, folks! We're gearing up to get some weather. Nothing too crazy- I saw Bangor, Maine is supposed to get something nuts like two feet of snow during this storm! I think our forecast states something like 5-9 inches, so we'll see how that goes. And then the temperatures fall. Our highs after Saturday are only in the low teens. I'm more concerned with that than the snow!

Here's the weekly roundup of interesting things I found online this week!

*Man Sleeps 5 Hours a Night as "Experiment"; Moms Everywhere Are Like, So?*

Have you ever rolled your eyes so hard, you practically sprained something?

That was me when I was reading this.

This guy slept 4.5 hours at night, took two naps during the day, and thinks he should receive a medal for it.


I'm not trying to play the Suffering Olympics here. I'm sure he felt terrible- I have no doubt about that. Messing with your sleep is no joke. But dude. DUDE. I did this every day of my life for 18 months. I hallucinated. I drove through stoplights. I forgot where I was going as I was driving down the road at full speed. I thought of something I needed to do, stood up, and had no idea why I was standing. All because I regularly woke up 6 times a night with my daughter, between 11 pm and 6 am, and she didn't nap at that point, so I couldn't nap either. And no one was falling all over themselves to congratulate me for it. Mostly, people just rolled their eyes or laughed (which only served to make me feel worse). After I started having serious concerns about killing us all while driving, we let her cry for a night or two and she started sleeping normally, and I finally got five straight hours in a row and felt human for the first time in almost two years, but she's 4.5 now and I still don't feel like my brain has fully recovered from all the sleep it missed out on during that time (maybe if I could get more than 6.5 hours a night, but that's not possible right now).

So yeah. Hearing about this dude's experiment irritated me to no end. You want to hear how awful sleep deprivation is? Talk to some of us moms and believe us, because we know.

*Case report: Woman gives herself a C-section and saves her baby*


This is just a brief medical abstract, but to sum it up, a woman who lived in a village with no electricity, no running water, and no prenatal care, ended up having to give herself a C-section in order to deliver a live baby. The village nurse provided some post-section medical care, and then the poor mother had to travel to the nearest hospital, which was EIGHT HOURS AWAY BY CAR.

She was discharged from the hospital ten days post-section.

I could not have done that, could not have sliced myself open, and am horrified that that seemed to be her only option. I'm not saying that everyone needs to live the lifestyle that we live in Western countries, but man, I wish women had better medical care around the world so that a DIY C-section never had to be an option.

*Sherrilyn Kenyon accuses husband of 'Shakespearean plot' to poison her*

Holy cow.

I haven't read Ms. Kenyon's books, but I'm familiar with her, so I was stunned to read this article. It's honestly like something out of a thriller novel or a movie. She tested positive for high levels of some scary stuff after filing for divorce and only improved when she spent time away from her husband. Her husband, via his lawyer, seems to be scoffing at it all.

What a scary situation. Check your food, friends.

*'Frosty had the last laugh': Vandal tries to run over giant snowman, hits tree stump instead*

*giant grin*

I do my best to be kind to others and generous in my thoughts, even to those who are unkind to me. It's something I actively work on, because kindness is in such short supply around the world these days. But sometimes, when someone does something horrible solely for the sake of being horrible, it's nice to see karma come back, in this case fairly immediately. :)

The people in this story got a large amount of snow for what sounds like the first time, at least for one of them. They celebrated by building a nine-foot-tall snowman around a large tree stump in their yard, and the picture of it is adorable. Good for them, right? It's so nice to see people take joy in simple things, like building a snowman in the yard.

Along comes some jerk who has to ruin it all. Tire tracks lead up to the stump, where someone obviously tried to run it over, because no one can have nice things without someone else trying to ruin it for them, apparently. But Frosty had the last laugh, because his base was a large snow-covered tree stump, and odds are, the driver has some self-inflicted front-end damage right now, a fitting end for someone whose goal was seemingly ruining someone else's joy.

(I'm assuming that the police ruled out, via examining the tire tracks, the possibility of an accidental off-roading due to conditions. I would be entirely sympathetic to a person who accidentally slid off the road and smacked into Frosty.)

Moral of the story: being a jerk only comes back to hurt you in the end. Don't be that person, folks!

And that's about it! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, no matter what the weather where you're at. Stay safe, and I'll see you Monday. :)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Weekly recap 1/14/2019

This feels like it's been a busier week than normal.

Maybe it's just how the week ended, but I feel good about all the stuff I got done this week. The word I have in mind for this year is 'industrious,' and that's never far from my mind as I make my way through the days. I've been able to check a few projects off my list this week, but of course, there are always a million more waiting. It never ends, does it? ;)

Let's recap the week!


Oof! My hips were so sore on this day. My son pointed out that it might be due to the cold rainy weather, and that was definitely a possibility.

I started the day by going out to our unattached garage to retrieve some previously roasted and frozen butternut squash, then came back inside and went down to the basement to grab both my crockpot and bread machine. I tossed the ingredients for Tomato Butternut Squash Soup into the crockpot (using onions I'd sauteed the night before), put the ingredients for bread into the bread machine, cleaned up the kitchen, and ran the dishwasher. I took down the laundry that was hanging on racks in the basement and folded it, cleaned up my daughter's room, then put away that laundry in both her room and mine.

I started a load of my son's laundry, got the bread in the bread pans to rise (does anyone actually cook bread in their bread machine? I'm not a fan of how it turns out), unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, then overhauled the cabinet underneath my kitchen sink. YIKES, was it terrible.

So, when my mom was here watching my daughter so I could go to physical therapy this fall, she looked for something under the sink and...um, well, it was a mess. I clean and organize that area once or twice a year, but this was at an off time, and so for Christmas, she bought me a shelf to go under the sink! (Not as judgment, more as a, "Ooh, this will help!" My mom is fantastic at gifts like that!). And so I condensed items, tossed stuff out, moved a basket of candle-making supplies to the basement, recycled things, it was glorious. It's not perfect-looking, but it's organized and I'm thrilled about it!

I can actually find stuff now!!!

Do you have an organizational system under your sink? I had everything in baskets before, but the amount of stuff outgrew the basket space and it ended up just really not working out. I'm so happy about this shelf!

I hung my son's laundry to dry, baked the bread, and read my library book. When my daughter woke up, she and I waited at the library to pick my husband up (the train station is right behind, so we do this often). At home, I cleaned the kitchen, took the trash and recycling to the curb, and did my PT exercises. My husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before bed.


Yikes, the hip pain was still going on this day, and got worse at night. :( 

Today was the first day I had to start driving my son to school for early gym (something he's doing voluntarily, in order to make space for another class), so I dropped my husband off at the train, and then dropped my son off at school at 6:30. 

My daughter's behavior on this day was less than exemplary, and although it was a bad morning, I gave her another chance and we went to play at a library out of town. Unfortunately, she continued to not listen to a single word I said, and so we left after about twenty minutes. Oy.

At home, I scooped the litter box and read my library book, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. For dinner, I made Rice Cooker Spanish Rice and stirred some cooked Soyrizo into it (my daughter had leftover soup and grilled cheese; the Soyrizo is too spicy for her still). I swept the living room floor, then brought in our two containers of old Halloween and Christmas candy, and I sorted through it, pulling out all the old chocolate (and separating whatever was left into plastic bags). And I took that old chocolate and melted it down and turned it into a batch of brownies, going off of a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. They turned out pretty good- I saved three for my son's lunches the rest of the week, and my family devoured the rest. It's a great way to use up candy that doesn't get eaten before it turns old and just sits there. :)

I read more of my library book, and when it was time, we picked my husband up. At home, I read *more* of my book, and cleaned the kitchen, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before bed. :)


GAH, that hip pain! It kept going throughout the day and ended up traveling down my legs as well. HMPH.

I drove everyone where they needed to be, and after my daughter and I got ready for the day, I made out a list and we were off to grocery shop! On this day, we hit three different stores. I spent closer to my normal total this week, because we needed perishable things like cheese, bread, milk, and fresh produce, but everything I got was fresh; I'm still committed to eating down what's in my garage freezer and some of my pantry. At home, we put groceries away, I took out the compost, loaded and ran the dishwasher, and got some white beans into the Instant Pot. I started a loaf of French bread in the bread machine (not my preferred method of making French bread, but my regular method needs to be started much earlier in the morning, so this would have to do!), and started a load of my son's laundry.

When the bread machine beeped, I put the bread out to rise, then unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. I took out the recycling and compost, and for dinner, I made an Instant Pot full of veggie soup (using up some frozen corn, along with the last of my fresh spinach), because it was bitterly cold outside. I cleaned up the kitchen, swept the basement, then folded my son's hanging laundry and hung up the wet load. I delivered the basket to his room, baked the bread, and finally finished the library book I'd been reading- which meant, of course, that I could start a new one. Which I did. ;)

I picked my husband up, and after dinner, I put the leftovers away, then loaded and ran the dishwasher. I swept the living room and kitchen and did my PT exercises, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before going to bed.


My son didn't have to go in early on this day, and I was hoping my daughter would sleep in, but nope! Up at 6:15 am. I was tired and got a slow start to the morning, but once I got going, I threw my daughter into the tub and organized one of the hallway closets. 

It's a weird closet- its location is such that it's situated over our downstairs stairway, so the door and floor of the closet is about at chest level for me (and I'm about 5'8"). It's also long and goes back stupidly far, so it's easy for stuff to get shoved to the back, lost, or forgotten. For the past two years or so, I've been going through it every six months or so, in order to organize and pitch, and it was time today. I found a mesh laundry bag, which I used to store all our bedsheets in (along with one of those plastic bags with a zipper that comforters come in- I *knew* that thing would come in handy!), so those are all organized and not falling all over the place now. I tossed a few things, placed two more things into the giveaway pile, organized my shampoo collection, and pulled out a box and some extras of diapers that my daughter never needed. There's an organization in town that hands out diapers to needy families; they'll gladly accept open packages as well as closed, and a local school is doing a diaper drive for them. A mom of those students had posted on FB a few days ago, and as I knew I had some to donate, that was my impetus to clean out that closet. (I messaged her and she came and picked them up later on in the day. She's thrilled to receive them, I'm happy they're going to people who need them and happy they're out of my house!!!) 

Also in the closet was a bag of too-big clothes for my daughter. I went through it and found a few things that will fit her now and in the summer, so I put those away in her closet (tidying up the area in front first so I *could* put them away!) and I went through the other bags of too-big clothes in her closet and condensed them down into two bags (clothes sizes 6-10; when yard sale season starts, I'll focus mostly on sizes 5-6 and larger; that way I never have to go out and buy new clothes, I can just shop what I've already bought at ridiculously low prices).

I started bread in the bread machine, vacuumed the hallway, then scrubbed my daughter down and made her try on a few articles of clothing once she was out of the tub. (At this point, I checked my step counter and was surprised see that I'd already walked two miles just in my house!) I emptied and refilled the dishwasher, vacuumed and tidied the living room, and when it was time, I put the bread to rise in pans.

Once my daughter went down for a nap, I did 28 minutes worth of yoga and baked the bread. 

Smells so good!

After my daughter woke up, I cleaned her room, and when it was time, we picked my husband up. I drove my son to a basketball game at school, cleaned up the kitchen, showered, put my daughter to bed, then had about ten minutes to read my library book before I had to leave to pick my son up.

My husband and I watched one episode of Supernatural before bed.


Pain levels weren't too bad on this day; my hips finally seemed to quiet down.

I drove everyone to where they needed to be, then put chickpeas into the Instant Pot as soon as we got home. My daughter and I had breakfast and got ready for the day, and then we were off to play at a library in another town, where I also picked up a few books.

She was SO much better behaved on this day!!!

On the way home, we stopped by Aldi to pick something up for my husband. At home, I took the chickpeas out and turned them into red pepper hummus. I steamed sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot, and when they came out, I used the pot to cook couscous. I roasted broccoli, took out the compost, filled and ran the dishwasher, and tidied up the kitchen. When my daughter woke up, I used my (very loud) food processor to make a garlic tahini sauce, and then we went to the library in our town, where we read a large stack of books, picked up a book for my husband, and then picked my husband up. ;)

At home, we made Mediterranean-flavored couscous bowls with all the things I'd cooked for the day piled on top. I tidied the kitchen up, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and ran it again, and watched two episodes of Supernatural with my husband before bed.


No kid gymnastics; we missed the sign-up for this session, so we'll start up again in February. No big deal!

But yikes, a LOT of hip pain on this day, to the point that walking hurt and I had to take it slow.

Since we had the morning free, we went to Saturday storytime at the library, then played in the playroom. I got to chat with a mom whose daughter had been in my daughter's preschool class last year. Her daughter is in kindergarten at the same school my daughter will be at next year, so I'm looking forward to already knowing a few people at the school!

My mom texted me to ask if we had any snow. I texted her back with this picture:

So pretty! 

I finished a library book during naptime, and then we made a trip to Menards, where we used a gift card to buy a shelf to go under the bathroom sink and supplies to make a clothing rack in the laundry room. Closet space in my house is ridiculously limited and I have nowhere to hang up my long skirts. Since jeans are hurting my right hip these days, I either wear sweatpants, a leggings/long shirt/cardigan combo, or leggings and a long skirt with a sweater or shirt and cardigan. But since my skirts are all stored in a large Rubbermaid container, that means I have to iron every time I want to wear one, and I don't have time to do that every morning, so this clothing rack will give me a place to hang up a bunch of skirts. I still need to get skirt hangers; I'm hoping to do that this upcoming week.

At home, I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher while my husband made some boxed macaroni and cheese for him and my daughter (I can't eat that stuff; I had leftovers). I read a little of my next library book, and my husband and I watched three episodes of Supernatural before going to bed.


Busy day.

BUSY day.

With all the snow we got on Saturday, the family event that would've required us to travel was rescheduled (thankfully; I'm not sure my hips could've taken the car ride). So my husband and daughter left to go sledding with other family members, and I got to work at home despite my already aching hips.

I started out with my basement chores, then got a load of laundry going and ran the dishwasher. I headed upstairs and took everything out of the cabinet under the sink, placed the shelf in there, then reorganized everything (SO much better!), cleaning the toilet and emptying the trash since I was up there. I put the dishes in the dishwasher, did a quick tidy-up of the kitchen, and took out the recycling. I tidied and swept the living room, took down the load of my son's laundry that was on the drying racks, delivered it to his room, then hung the load of laundry I'd just washed. I started a load of my daughter's bedding and headed back to the kitchen, where I baked a batch of Norwegian kringler cookies (this was a new recipe for me, from a 1001 cookie recipe book, and they're pleasant enough. They used up the rest of a container of sour cream, so hurray for no waste!). I then set about deep cleaning the kitchen, scrubbing everything including the sink and running a knife along the metal edges of my counter to get the grime out.

I switched the bedding laundry into the dryer, then stripped the couch and chair blankets off and threw those into the wash. I vacuumed underneath the couch cushions (which weren't too bad, surprisingly!), then vacuumed my stovetop, sprinkled it with baking soda, sprayed it with my vinegar cleaner, and left it to sit while I cleaned my daughter's incredibly messy room. I emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, then scrubbed down my stovetop, including around the burners with a toothbrush (I definitely need to do that more often. And I can, now that I can actually find the toothbrush in my super-organized under-the-sink kitchen cabinet!). I vacuumed under the kitchen table, swept the living room again, and mopped it, then wiped down the bathroom sink.

At this point, I sat down and checked my step count.

Just about 4.5 miles walked without even leaving the house!!!

My husband and daughter returned home, and during her nap, I took some well-deserved time to relax and read my library book. When my daughter got up, she and I read some library books together while my husband installed my clothes rack in the laundry room. When he finished, they went to play outside in the snow while I prepared dinner, an Instant Pot full of vegan cabbage roll soup (I always use rice, because that's what I have on hand). I cleaned up after myself, then assisted my son on and off, as he was cleaning out his own room (which badly needed it!). 

I put dinner away and cleaned up the post-dinner mess, tidied the living room, and my husband and I watched three episodes of Supernatural. As I got into bed, I checked my step count.

Six miles without ever leaving the house. Not bad for a day's work. ;)

And that was my week! I need to get better at getting back to my PT exercises, but I've been so sore this week (in a way that exercising doesn't help) that it's been difficult to find the motivation.

I'm noticing that I tend to organize the house twice a year, and this time of year is my counter to my big summer house overhaul. I have an enormous pile for the thrift store right now, but we've also got a bunch of snow on the ground, and I don't know how much I want to load up the trunk while tracking all that yuck into the house. Even if I bring it all downstairs first...Hmm. I'm going to have to think about this.

It's going to be another busy week around here. My son has several field trips and something else going on late one night at school, so I'll be making more trips there and back than normal. Friday, we'll take my daughter to a magic show at the library, and I'm hoping to get the closet next to our bathroom organized. It's what holds all our towels, stuff like cold medication, my and my daughter's hair ties and barrettes... It's still in pretty good shape from when I organized it over the summer, so I don't think it'll be a super arduous task, and...maybe I'll tackle my husband's many heaps of clothing in our bedroom, if I get around to it. Maybe. ;)

How did your week go? What projects did you tackle that made you feel accomplished???

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday thoughts: 1/11/2019

I don't know about where you're at, but the weather turned bitterly cold here this week! I've been huddling under some blankets when I have time to sit down. I don't mind the cold, but it sure would be prettier if we had some snow- we may get an inch or two tomorrow, but nothing major. Boo on that!

I've got some interesting links to pass along this week, so let's get started!

*C diff Spores on Bedsheets Survive Hospital Laundering*


Passing this along as an FYI, in case you or someone you know may benefit from this info. I have a cousin who is hospitalized often and who has had numerous C diff infections, and maybe this is why. What with the growth of antibiotic resistance, these infections are no joke.

*Thinspo, Houseporn, and the Tyranny of Unrealistic Expectations*



If you read any of these links, this is the one. Naomi (whom I know, and who is awesome, and who is a fabulous writer; Cat Pictures, Please was one of the best books I read in 2017, and I'm not just saying that. I don't normally enjoy short stories, but I loved every story in this book) discusses the overlap between internet fitness photos and the HGTV-inspired house photos that look like no one lives there, and how unrealistic both standards are, and how terrible they are for the mindset of most people.

"With both food, and stuff, in the span of a few generations, we’ve gone from needing to work hard to bring it in, to having to vigilantly spend a lot of time and energy keeping it out," she writes, and the accuracy of this statement is jarring. I'd never thought of it in those terms, but it's so true. There are so many things I enjoy that I actively keep out of the house- Oreos, Cheetos, peanut butter M&Ms- because they're not good for me, and I feel the same way about items that are just going to become excess clutter. It's straight-up work to keep stuff from taking over (papers, kid art projects, that item you said you'd use but never got around to), just like it's difficult to constantly say no to foods that tempt us, or difficult to work it off when we've eaten too much.


And the loss of identity is killer. When you're Mom and nothing but Mom, when you get zero validation for your efforts day in and day out (your cleaning is immediately messed up; your food disappears close to immediately, there's no one to say, "Hey, that's awesome! Great work!" and make you Employee of the Month, etc, or you tell your spouse, "Hey, look at this closet I organized today!" and the response is, "I don't feel like it right now"- happened here last night), you start to wonder what all of this is for. Why you even bother. And it's not something you understand until you're in that situation. When all the things you once defined yourself by are now not things you're able to do, it's devastating to your image and your sense of purpose, and you mourn. You mourn deeply. And it doesn't mean you don't love your kids or that you're not grateful to be able to stay at home with them. It just means that being the stay at home parent isn't all fun and games all day long. Much of it is just flat out drudgework. It's laundry, it's vacuuming and sweeping and digging stuff out from under the couch, it's making food that at least one person will complain about or not eat, it's getting up every time you sit down because your kids need a-drink-of-water-can-you-get-this-button-Mama-I-pooped-oh-no-the-cat-threw-up-can-you-fix-this-hey-I-need-a-ride. It's exhausting, and if you don't regularly get breaks, you begin to feel like an unpaid servant, and all used up.

I'm not saying that working moms have it easier- they have their own set of challenges, difficult ones. We stay at home moms just have different ones, and far too often, they go unnoticed, because we're shamed into silence. And this isn't to say that I'm in this place right now, just that I've absolutely been there. My daughter goes to kindergarten next year (we actually register her next month!), and while I'll absolutely miss her, I'm looking forward to having time to focus on my own projects all day long and not being in full-on crisis mode, cleaning up mess after mess and delivering drinks of water every three seconds!

And that's it for this week! As long as I'm feeling up to it, we've got a family get-together on Sunday that will involve traveling the better part of the day, so I'm hoping my achy right hip gets itself together and stops this constant pain- car rides when you're hurting are NOT fun. Been there, done that, many times. I hope you all have a pleasant, relaxing weekend!!!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Weekly recap: 1/7/2019

Welcome to 2019!!!

Boy, that holiday season flew by so fast. I think I say that every year, but this year it seemed particularly true, what with my daughter and I being sick from basically right after Thanksgiving until right before Christmas. Feeling so crummy left little time to prepare (we were still gathering the last gifts on the 23rd, which is SO not like me), but we managed, and we had some really lovely times with family. That's what counts right?

So here's what I've been up to this week!


New Year's Eve! We never have any plans to go out- I think I've been to one single New Year's Eve party in my entire life- so I was looking forward to a relaxing day at home.

In the morning, my husband and daughter and I ran to the grocery store, where we purchased a bunch of stuff for my husband to make sushi. He usually does this once or twice a year or so, and it's always delicious. My daughter really enjoyed helping him make it this year, and her squeals of delight coming from the kitchen were adorable (she's SUCH a Papa's girl!). I tidied the kitchen when we got home so that my husband would have plenty of workspace, swept the living room floor, did my basement chores of cleaning the litterbox and refilling our Air Washer, and put away two loads of laundry that had been hanging out downstairs, waiting for me to get around to it.

And then it was time to say goodbye to the Christmas tree.

I love having our tree up. It's so cheerful and the lights make me so happy (and provided for a great nightlight when my daughter and I slept downstairs when she was sick), but I do enjoy a calm living room, and thus it was time. My daughter started taking down ornaments from the bottom, I began at the top, and we met at the highest space a four year-old's hand can reach. ;)

Until next year, ornaments!!!

After the tree and accompanying ornaments were packed away, I tidied and swept the living room (even fake trees shed!), then dropped my son off at a friend's house for a short New Year's celebration. At home, I cleaned up the remaining mess from my husband's sushi making (he had cleaned up after himself, but I needed a few more things tidied up, you know?). I finished a library book, and when my daughter woke up, she and I snuggled and read Linnea in Monet's Garden. My grandmother had given me a copy of this book, along with a cloth Linnea doll, when I was younger, and I've always loved it. I found a copy of the book at a library book sale last year and grabbed it for my daughter, and today was the first day we got around to reading it. It's as charming as I remember, and it's a great introduction to Monet and art in general for kids. 

I picked my son up when he let me know it was time, and at home, we all watched Pixies (a cartoon movie. It, um, wasn't very good). During the movie, I finally finished the third hat I had been knitting and gave all three to my son, who seemed happy that they were for him- I hadn't had a chance to finish them before Christmas, so they were a late gift. :)

Hurray for leftover yarn that becomes Other Things!

My husband and I watched three episodes of Supernatural (we're on Season 9 now!) before going to bed well before midnight, because we're too old for that. ;)

Daily pain recap: Not a terrible day. I had a strong spasm on my lower right side that persisted throughout the day, and a sharp grinding in my SI joint right before bed. Ouch!)


In the morning, I unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen, swept and tidied the living room (it still looks so empty without the tree!), mopped the living room floor, and did some writing research. After that, my husband and daughter and I took another trip to the grocery store; he had found an old Chinese cookbook he'd bought a long time ago and wanted to make a soup from the back of the book, so he needed just a few things that I didn't have around, like green onions. 

When we returned, I tidied up the kitchen again (with four people at home and limited counterspace, it's a never ending job!), and during my daughter's naptime, I did 41 minutes of yoga (the new fitness tracker watch my mother gave me for Christmas makes it really easy to track just how much I'm doing, which is fantastic!). 

I took my son out to pick up a few late Christmas presents for a friend. It was so nice to spend time with him, just the two of us; he's so busy that it's a rare treat for him to be home these days! At home, we ate the soup my husband and daughter had made (which was delicious!) and watched the My Little Pony movie. I filled and ran the dishwasher before hopping into the shower.

My husband and I watched three episodes of Supernatural before going to bed.


My daughter and I headed out for groceries and WHEW, were the roads icy!!! It wasn't terrible going to our first stop (although the parking lot was icy), but heading to our second stop, we slipped and slid on the road several times, and I was barely able to stop a few times despite going ridiculously slow. I slipped in the parking lot on the way out of the store, but thanks to having a tight grip on the cart, I didn't fall. Going home was a little scary, and I was ridiculously happy to be safe indoors! We didn't need much, and I only spent about $30, mainly on stuff we were absolutely out of, like cheese.

Safe at home, I put away the groceries and weeded out some old stuff from the fridge (mostly my daughter's leftovers), unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. During naptime, I did 59 minutes of yoga, trying to get the spasmy muscle in my right side to calm down, but it didn't, and by about 3:30, that muscle was putting me in a decent amount of pain. I went to go find the lacrosse ball that I use to help with muscle spasms, which I leave under the piano bench with my other back stuff, only to find it was missing. Having warned my daughter several times in the past to leave it alone, I immediately asked her if she knew where it was. She looked guilty and said, "Oh. Sorry. No, I don't remember where I put it."

Thus began the several hours-long, painful hunt for the ball. I searched all over our downstairs, poked around my daughter's room, checked in the closet. Nothing. We picked my husband up, and he helped to look for it when we got back home. I organized my daughter's room, hoping that it had accidentally gotten tossed somewhere in there; my husband checked the basement to see if the cats had chased it down there. Nothing. We finally just threw our hands up, assuming that our daughter had managed to toss it into another dimension, and I went to take a shower. In the shower, I had an epiphany, and when I got downstairs, I checked one of the few places we hadn't checked: a bag of knitting I hadn't used for a few weeks.

At the bottom of the bag lay the lacrosse ball...along with a Mr. PotatoHead mustache.

Kids, amirite??? The ball did help that muscle spasm a lot. It hurts like CRAZY when I use it, to the point of tears, but at least this time, it helped to disrupt the spasm.

I put dinner away and cleaned up the kitchen, filled and ran the dishwasher, and brought in the trash cans. The husband and I watched three episodes of Supernatural before bed.


I read my library book during breakfast time, and after I got ready, I did my basement chores, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, and cleaned the kitchen, including an impromptu spray-down of the disgusting, removable parts of the dishwasher (I just cleaned those in September! How did they get so nasty so fast???). I read a little more of my library book, swept and tidied the living room, and then it was off to our errands- the post office, and Walmart for cat food.

One of the beneficiaries of said cat food. They are SO patient with my daughter.

At home, after lunch but before naptime, I cut out a few squares of fabric and sewed a set of handheld-sized microwaveable rice bags. My husband's birthday is on Saturday. He walks to the train every work day (unless the weather is terrible). It's a decent walk, 1.8 miles from our front door, and he enjoys it because it gives him some exercise, but I worry about him when it's super cold out, so hopefully these will help a little to keep him warm. They're nothing fancy, but I'm hoping he'll like them. The fabric is old scrap fabric that I originally used to make a hanging bag with Velcro straps for my son's old metal bunkbed; he needed somewhere to put his glasses after he climbed up into bed, so I had sewed him a little bag that strapped to the bars of his bunkbed, one that had a side pocket for his glasses, but that also had a big enough body pocket to fit a library book. :)

Fish fabric! Maybe the thought of warm ocean water will keep the husband toasty. ;)

I dozed for just a little bit during naptime, lightly enough that my activity tracker watch didn't even register it as sleep, then got up and stitched the bags fully closed. I managed to read a little bit of my library book, then my daughter woke up from her nap, distressed that her stuffed bear had a rip in his ear. Mama to the rescue! I stitched it up and she was much happier. :)

I helped my son decide on some classes to take for his senior year (Digital photography? Forensics? I want to go back to high school, they have some really fascinating classes these days!), and then it was time to pick up my husband, whose train was late. After dinner, I read my library book, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before bed.


In the morning, I stripped the bedding, including the comforter, in the hopes that putting on our lighter comforter would help my husband and I stop waking up at night sweating like crazy (spoiler alert: it didn't. Hmph. It's warm under the covers, but we turn the heater down to...I don't know if it's 62 or 65 these days, so it's cool out there. Neither of us is overdressed, so we can't figure out why we've suddenly turned into our own personal rainforests at night!). I gathered our laundry, threw that all in the wash, then refilled the Air Washer in the basement. I cleaned the kitchen, took out the recycling and compost, and swept and mopped the living room. When the wash was done, I tossed the bedding into the dryer and hung the clothing to dry on my drying racks.

My daughter and I sat and read the copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein that I had grabbed from the basement bookshelves the day before. This was one of my favorites as a kid, and she enjoyed it as well. When we finished, I pulled the sheets out of the dryer and tossed the cotton blanket back in, that always takes at least two rounds to dry. I sprayed the stovetop and let it sit, and vacuumed (with the Dust Buster!) my counters and sprayed them down, including underneath the microwave, which I'd been meaning to do for a while. I filled and ran the dishwasher, and after lunch, I prepared our dinner- quiche with spinach, carrots and peas, and steamed sweet potatoes. I took out the recycling, composted the eggshells, then put the dry blanket back on the bed, and because my daughter had asked me to the day before, I pulled out my guitar and played for a while. It was the first time I'd played in a long time (because the last time I'd played, my daughter, who was two at the time, threw an enormous fit, telling me I was doing it wrong, and had a tantrum that lasted about an hour, so I just gave up!), and I really enjoyed it. :)

Then it was time for my son's orthodontist appointment. He'd chewed through his retainer in his sleep, so while he got a new one made, my daughter and I did two pages of a learn-to-write-letters book and read an Olivia story. We dropped my son off at home, and my daughter and I went to the library; she played with some other kids, and I read my library book. After dinner, I cleaned up the kitchen and read some more of my book, and my husband and I watched two episodes of Supernatural before bed.


I read my library book on and off throughout the morning (I haven't had a TON of time to sit and read consistently lately and it's driving me a little nuts! I was really enjoying this book I'm and would really have liked to just inhale it instead of taking tiny sips). I scooped the litterbox, cleaned the kitchen, filled and ran the dishwasher, and swept the basement, and then my husband and daughter and I went to a science surplus store. He purchased a glass rod for work, and then he and my daughter took advantage of the nice weather and went off to the park. I came home and started work on patching two pair of my daughter's pants.

She's eyebrow-deep in the whole "I can pick out my own clothes!" phase, and so she's been wanting to wear dresses all the time, everywhere. Which is fine, but it's been cold and so I make her wear something underneath the dress, usually a pair of stretch pants that kind of look like tights. Two of her pants had holes in the knees and she was NOT going to stand for that ;) so I told her I'd patch them up for her. After stabbing myself half to death about a dozen times and uttering a few choice words about the crappy scissors that do NOT cut fabric well, I think I did an okay job.


You might have to enlarge the picture to see the patches well. My daughter loves hearts, so I cut the patches into heart shapes, along with a patch of a stretch knit scrap for the back in order to make the patch stronger, and I hand-sewed them on while listening to a few episodes of the What Should I Read Next podcast (highly recommended!). Closeups:

This took almost all of her nap, which was fairly short as naps go, so when I heard her awake in her room, I took the pants up to show her. "Ohhhhh, I like these!" she said, so I'll count that as a win. :)

Since it was so nice out, we took a walk down to the new Little Free Library a few blocks away (this was the only part of the day where I really felt pain; walking hurt my SI joint a lot), dropping off an old book my daughter no longer reads, and bringing home a flap book she picked out, and a copy of The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage by Chris Kurtz. At home, I read the first four chapters out loud, and my daughter seemed to enjoy it. I used to read to my son out loud ALL the time, both kid books and grown-up books (for example, we tackled A Tale of Two Cities when he was three, and Frankenstein when he was either five or six- that last one was his choice!). My daughter has a more wild personality and hasn't much been one for sitting and playing quietly while listening like my son was, but maybe we can make this work...

My husband decided he'd rather stay in for dinner than go out (it was his birthday; he DID enjoy those handwarmers, and it looks like he'll need them this week!), so I fixed up the pierogies I'd made and froze a few months ago, along with a batch of Velvety Vegan Alfredo Sauce, and some garlic sesame green beans. It was a delicious dinner!

I cleaned the kitchen and filled and ran the dishwasher, and after my daughter was in bed, I finally finished that library book! My husband and I only had time for a single episode of Supernatural before bed.


In the morning, I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the bathroom, cleaned the kitchen and took out the compost. I put a batch of white beans in the Instant Pot, then read 50 pages of a new library book. For lunch, we went out to a local Chinese restaurant, my husband's choice, as a day-late birthday lunch, as he didn't want to go the day before. On the way there, my husband and I discussed future gardening and landscaping plans, including- FINALLY- talking about taking out the bushes in front of our house. I'm not a fan of them, and as soon as my husband learned that my neighbor keeps her herb garden in the same space right in front of her house (getting the same amount of light as we do and always having enough herbs to share), he thought taking the bushes out and replacing them with an herb garden was a great idea. We have a nice space in between windows as well that would be perfect for a trellis and climbing plants, so we discussed that, too. I'm excited!

At home, I dozed for a little bit, and then my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came over for a visit, so while we chatted, I worked on my grandmother's cross stitch table runner. I threw together a meal of Creamy Lemon Ziti (no asparagus, add spinach and nutritional yeast) for dinner and cleaned up the kitchen afterwards. My husband and I watched three episodes of Supernatural before bed.

And that was my week! I thought my son went back to school on Monday, but it turns out they don't start again until Tuesday, so things will really start to get back to normal then. If I'm feeling up to it, there's a family birthday party on Saturday. It's about a 2.5 hour drive away (one way!), so the trip can be a little hard for me- sitting in the car for long periods of time is painful on my crabby SI joints. I'll play it by ear and see how I feel this week when it comes to traveling that far. Otherwise, hopefully it'll be a productive week at home. I definitely need to get back into doing my PT exercises at night; I fell away from that when I was sick. I've been decently about keeping up with the yoga (even when I was sick, I tried to keep up with that!), so that's at least good. :)

How was your week???

Friday, January 4, 2019

Friday thoughts 1/4/2019

I'm back! I'm mostly firing at all cylinders, now that the holidays are over and we seem to have recovered from our raging case of Viral Crud. I'm deep in hibernation mode, not wanting to go out, just wanting to stay in and snuggle with my stack of library books, but alas, life calls, and on Monday morning, I get to start driving my son to school at 6:15 am (he has to be there by 6:30 am for what's known as zero-hour gym). This is going to be...cold.

I've got a few interesting links to pass on to you today, so let's get started!

*Six-Year-Old Moira Is One of the Sickest People in America. So Why Is North Carolina Trying To Gut Her Health Care?*

Oh man. Articles like these hurt my heart. Every last one of us is just as vulnerable as Moira and her parents (who make a good income. Dad is a lawyer, Mom was a science researcher, and it sounds like they had what's considered to be decent insurance). All it takes is a heart attack (even if you're in great shape, an undetected defect might suddenly make itself known), a car accident, a slip and fall with a hit on the head, a nagging headache that turns out to be a tumor... We're all vulnerable, and if losing everything due to something you had no control over it doesn't scare the crap out of you....

I'm so sad for Moira's parents, and for all the parents out there who are going it alone in taking care of medically complex kids. As a society, we focus way too much on independence and making your own way; we desperately need to turn the national conversation to helping one another, especially helping those who can't help themselves. I've read articles about elderly parents struggling to take care of their adult children's health needs alone, including 80-something men and women attempting to lift grown men in their fifties in order to get them to the bathroom or shower. What on earth are we doing as a society that that's acceptable??? There should be way more help out there, and it hurts me to know that there's not. I used to live in a state that didn't have the Katie Beckett program, nor did they expand Medicaid, and parents of kids with special needs were desperate for help, and the state government's response was, "Not my problem, sorry."

How anyone can listen to the suffering of people like Moira's family and so callously dismiss them, I have no clue.

On that note...

*To Get Mental Health Help For A Child, Desperate Parents Relinquish Custody*

This is another one of those things where, if you have kids, they're vulnerable; if your kids have kids, those grandbabies are vulnerable. Someone you love is vulnerable to situations like this, until we fix it so that no one is vulnerable. Mental illness can strike at any time, at any age. I was 13 when I was struck with crippling depression; anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was young, it wasn't talked about as much as it is today (I didn't even have the words to describe what was wrong with me back then), and so I didn't get the help I needed and struggled for a long time. Today, things have changed- we're at least able to talk about it- but access to services for children who need more complex treatment than just a therapist are still difficult to come by (and even child therapists and especially child psychiatrists are in short supply. I have friends- in the US, in case you were wondering- who tried to find a child psychiatrist for their kid, and when they finally found one that accepted their insurance, the wait list was over a year. A year! How on earth is someone in a crisis situation supposed to wait for over a year???).

The situation in this article is one of nightmares. Can you imagine, the only way you can even attempt to get your child the medical care they need is to no longer be their parent? The very thought of it makes me tear up. I can't imagine how I would explain that to either of my children, and how that would make that child feel- especially for a child who had been adopted from the system, like Danny in the article.

If you're interested in learning more about mental health care in the US, another good article can be found here.  I know Laura, she's wonderful. I knew her before her son passed away, and I knew of the constant monumental struggles she endured to get her son proper treatment. She's started a non-profit, Parents for Care; check them out and spread the word, because it's a worthy and much-needed organization that does a lot of good.

Moving on...

*Dollar Stores Planning For Permanent American Underclass, Sell More Groceries Than Whole Foods*

I'm not surprised they sell more groceries than Whole Foods (have you SEEN the prices there? Every time I'm there, I see people with full carts. Who ARE those people? Bazillionaires???), but it's still a little disturbing that the Dollar Store sells *that* much food (considering the kind of food they do sell. It's not all bad- ours at least sells small bags of frozen vegetables- but the vast majority isn't exactly healthy fare), and the fact that they're planning for the existence of a permanent American underclass doesn't say anything good about the state or future of our economy.

'Dollar stores are both symptom and disease,' the article states, and I agree. We stop by ours now and then and I have very mixed feelings about it. It's good for certain things, but I'm deeply uncomfortable purchasing so much stuff that I know is produced in China, most likely under terrible conditions. It's definitely more of a convenience thing for us; it's really the only 'stuff' store in our town. Things like Walmart and Target aren't far away, but they are out of town and we have to travel on a sometimes-crazy three-lane state highway (which I avoid like the plague during all rush hour times) to get to either, whereas Dollar Tree is on Main Street in town. But it's not like those are perfect corporations either, and there's nowhere else local that I can buy, say, a roll of tape.

I don't know. I don't have answers, but this article feels a little scary to me.

On a lighter note...

*Here Are the Biggest Fiction Bestsellers of the Last 100 Years*

I love books.

And lists.

And lists about books.

This is a neat one. You can peek at the top ten novels of each year, starting in 1918. Some of them, you'll recognize; others, you'll squint and go, "Hmm, never heard of that." I really like how the article shows what else noteworthy was published during each particular year, proving that what's popular isn't always what's long-lasting. I'm curious as to what kind of fiction published today will still be remembered and celebrated a hundred years from now.

And that's about it! I'm hoping it'll be a quiet weekend around here, but we'll see. We have nothing on the schedule, and the weather's supposed to be nice-ish, so maybe we can get outside for a little bit. Winter nature walks are always interesting, right? :)

Have a great weekend!