Weekend Link Love, July 25, 2015: Death Penalty, Rejection, and Parenting

But not all at the same time . . . .

Hello Friends,  Real quick-like, here are a few choice picks from the internet of the past few weeks:

1. Check out this article on how a Mexican drug lord recently succeeded in a meticulously planned prison escape.  It made me think about the death penalty and Catholic Church teaching on it and whether need for the death penalty is really so rare.  In Mexico anyway?  I dunno.

2. I loved this article from Money Saving Mom.  My daughters already have to deal with feeling rejected by other kids from time to time.  I know what it’s like to feel rejected.  I’d give anything to shield them from it, but I can’t.  Crystal discusses how to handle it constructively.  

Honestly, as a mom, I wanted to rush in and scoop them up and protect them. I wanted to express anger and frustration and say things like, “That was so rude and mean… You can never play with those girls ever again!!”

I hurt for them. But I knew deep down in my heart that trying coddle and bubble wrap my kids is doing them a disservice. I cannot shield them from hard things forever.

. . . .

Because there’s a world out there that will crush you in two if you don’t develop backbone, stand strong, know the truth that you’re enough, and lovingly forgive and believe the best about people.

So part of growing up is learning to love others even when they do unloving things to you. It’s forgiving when you are slighted or skipped over — whether intentional or accidental. It’s not harboring bitterness and anger toward people who don’t treat us fairly.

. . . .

I also told the girls that the best remedy for times when you feel lonely and left out is to do something for someone else. Reach out to someone else. Be interested in other people’s lives. Look for ways to serve. Find opportunities to show love.

3. I learned a lot from this article from this Wall Street Journal about the Confederate battle flag brouhaha in South Carolina.  I’ve been seeing a lot more of those flags flying in our town.  I didn’t have a strong opinion on the flag earlier.  My feeling before was, “Just take it down already.”  I have a soft spot for federalism though (or states rights, but that phrase has a negative connotation), and there seemed to be some connection.  I honestly had no idea that the flag was resurrected in the mid-1900s in reaction to the civil rights movement.  And now . . . yeah, seriously, take it down already.

4. On a lighter note, here’s a good resource showing proportionally how much electricity various household items use, and how much energy-saving strategies actually save. It’s something I’ve been thinking about because it looks like we actually will be moving to a bigger house soon, and I’m not looking forward to those utility bills.

5. Remember that singer, Jewel, and her album Pieces of You?  I know some of you remember it.  And that song “Sensitive,” where she whines in her little girl falsetto,

Please be careful with me/ I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that wa-ay.

Anyway, that makes me roll my eyes and think, “Just get over yourself already.”  But, as Modern Mrs. Darcy explains well, there really is something to “highly sensitive persons” and parenting one is quite a challenge. It’s not so much an issue of having your feelings hurt easily, a la Jewel, but of having overactive physical senses.

6. Speaking of parenting, this funny article by Rob LaZabnik, a writer for the Simpsons, made me laugh: “They’re Back! How to Cope with Returned College Graduates.”

So the time has come for you to cut the cord. And by that I mean: Take your kid off your Netflix account. He will be confused and upset at first, not understanding why this is happening to him, but it’s a great opportunity for him to sign up for something all by himself.

Which brings us to money. It’s finally time to channel your Angela Merkel and get tough with your young Alexis Tsipras.

It also make me think, “No God, please no.”  Also, who is Alexis Tsipras?  I don’t even know, but I still laughed.

7.  Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Click over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes.

What’s Saving My Life in this season of cold & the plague

And how a 1990s sitcom prepared me for Lent . . . .

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy has a great link up idea–“what’s saving my life.”  

Even though most of us can easily articulate what’s killing us, few of us pay attention to what’s giving us life.

We’ve had a sickness that just won’t end and has taken a variety of forms: cold for Girl 1, croup –> pneumonia for Girl 2, sinusitis for Pat and me + bronchitis for me.  So we’ve been cooped up and miserable, but these things have made it a bit less miserable:

1. Essential oils diffused in this diffuser.  I don’t know whether they actually do anything, although inhaled lavender oil has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms in mice.  They sure smell nice, though, which makes me feel better.  And they don’t give me a headache like cheap, chemically scented candles.

2. Neti Pot–for when I wake up with a headache and don’t know why.  Whaddya know?  It’s impacted snot.  Nothing like infusing your nostrils with salt water.  Hurts so good.

3. Down comforter–I got the warmest one I could find and “gave it to Pat” for Christmas.  It’s warmer even than the 4 or so mismatched regular comforters we had piled up on the bed.  Pricey, but oh so worth it.  Pat runs cold at night and he sleeps a lot better now.

4. Plush mattress pad–now I sleep better at night with this.  We have an extra firm mattress, which we bought relying on the common wisdom that firm mattresses are good for your back.  Eight years later, I found myself sleeping more comfortably on the couch.  When I slept on the bed, I felt more sore in the morning than in the evening.  Guess what?  Firm mattresses aren’t so good for bad backs.  There’s even a study to prove it.

5. Friends Season One--I get nostalgic watching this show even though I’ve never watched it much before.  And I think it’s more than a lingering fondness for crushed velour, turtlenecks, and the Rachel. Last night it hit me–that first season was filmed in 1994.  That’s over 20 years ago.  Twenty years ago. Last night I watched it and thought about how quickly life passes by and how close we are to death.

And that, my friends, was my segue into Ash Wednesday and Lent.  Never saw that coming.

Remember man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

What’s saving your life this cold cold winter?

I’m linking up with Call Her Happy for Five Favorites, and I’ll link up with Modern Mrs. Darcy when she does the link up again.

What Worked in 2014

Better late than never, I’ve been thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me in 2014.

What worked

Lexapro: I don’t know why I need to take an anti-depressant.  I’m not depressed.  It’s anxiety, I guess although for me it manifests as irritability.

Anyway, 2014 was the most peaceful year I can remember, and I’m thinking it was a chemically-induced peace.  During the homily on New Year’s day, the priest talked about how all peace comes from God.  Sometimes God even works through big, bad pharma.

Floradix: I’m mildly anemic and notice a big drop in energy when I don’t take this liquid iron supplement regularly.

What didn’t work:

Cow brain supplements (i.e., bovine pituitary gland pills): “prescribed” for me by my witch doctor by way of pressing down on my arm, these made me feel crazily irritable.  It didn’t help that I tried to wean off Lexapro at the same time (another thing that didn’t work), but even once I got back on Lexapro, these continued to make me feel irritable.  Maybe I didn’t give them a fair chance, but I’m not going back.

bitch mode

What worked:

Magnificat magazine.  I resisted subscribing to this for years because of the expense and because I already own a breviary.  Silly Laura.

Audiobooks: for the girls, mostly rented for free through a library consortium.  We are loving the Ramona series.  And Frog and Toad, read by the author, is a delight.

Chiropractic/massage: My back is the best it’s been in a long time.  It starts getting out of whack again when I don’t exercise for a while though, which brings up–

BodyFlow: I love this exercise class.  I only make it once a week and that’s only if we aren’t sick.  But it’s the perfect combination of stretching, relaxation, and strengthening.

Fabulous Forever: It’s a stretching DVD for old people, and I love it.  It feels great.

What didn’t work:

Pilates at Gold’s Gym: Hurt my back no matter how carefully I modified.

T-Tapp: A little more on that here

What worked:

Paper plates: I meant to add this to my goals post–I hereby resolve to eat more often off of paper plates!  Better to eat healthy food off of paper plates than convenience food off of fine china!

What didn’t work:

Red food dye: Girl 1 had three rough weeks at school in November, after doing really well for the first two months.  The only thing I could think of that had changed in her routine was that I had given her over the counter cough medicines regularly, and those medicines all have red dye in them.  We cut out the dye and, upon her return to school after Thanksgiving break, her behavior greatly improved.  We’re avoiding artificial food dyes now.

Every diet I “tried”:

The Christian ideal diet has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried [for more than two weeks].”

G.K. Chesterton, ed. by me

  • The No-S Diet: Ha!  Yeah, no.
  •  Calorie counting using My Fitness Pal–There was a time when I could lose weight just by keeping my daily calories under 2,000.  Not anymore.

  • Weight Watchers–I started off on their “Simply Filling” program and found myself pigging out on low-fat microwave popcorn, sugar-free jello, Weight Watchers brand shakes, and fat-free everything.  A low point was when I tried fat-free ricotta cheese.  It’s an abomination.  The alternative to the Healthy Start is the traditional point-counting method, but I didn’t feel like paying for what is basically counting calories plus weekly meetings I didn’t enjoy.
  • Thin Within–a prayer/ positive thinking method of eating only when you are hungry.  It makes sense, it really does.  And it’s still my goal.  But food has too much of a hold on me for this method to work on its own.  A dilemma I run into is trying to eating slowly and mindfully when sharing a meal with the two resident barbarians of the house.  Eating with them is stressful in itself, but it doesn’t work to eat separately from them for each meal.  So.

We’re back to Perfect Health Diet, which I went on initially because food has such a hold on me.  It’s not a panacea but it worked better than anything else I’ve tried.  Also, Pat wants to go back on it.  So here we go again.

And the barbarians are waking so I need to end this abruptly.

What worked and didn’t work for you in 2014?

An ADHD-friendly little girl’s room

 

adhd CHILD'S CLOSET ORGANIZATION

Girl 1’s room used to be a complete disaster most of the time.

We would send her into her room to get her pajamas on and put her clothes away.

She’d come back, twenty minutes later, vaguely disoriented and still in her clothes.

She would have trouble finding her pajamas in all the mess and then forget what she went in there for.

If she did find and put on her pajamas, she would leave her clothes on the floor or, at best, piled on top of the dresser in her closet.

(At age 5, Girl 1 hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD, and she may never be.  But she displays many of the symptoms, so ADHD-geared solutions are really helpful for her.)

I really wish I had taken a more representative “before” picture.  It was 3 times worse on a regular basis.

G1 room before G1 roomAFTER

Our pitfalls were

1. Too many clothes that she didn’t wear, mixed in with the few pieces she did wear,

2. Dress-up clothes perpetually out of the bin and on the floor, mixing in with her regular clothes,

3. An antique dresser with drawers that were hard to open and shut, and

4. A closet bar too high for her to reach.

Inspired by Organizing Solutions for People With ADHD, we revamped the closet, culled through the clothes (storing some of it in bins in another closet), and moved the dress-up clothes to little sister’s room.

Ta-da!

 

 

 

1. Shoe bin 2. Clothing bins (one for shirts, one for pants, etc.) 3. Bin for church shoes and dance wear 4. Toys with lots of pieces, to be played with one at a time 5. Bin of clothes to be taken out when the weather changes 6. Hanging rack at Girl 1's height

1. Shoe bin
2. Clothing bins (one for shirts, one for pants, etc.)
3. Bin for church shoes and dance wear
4. Multi-piece toys & games, to be played with one at a time
5. Bin of clothes to be taken out when the weather changes
6. Hanging rack at Girl 1’s height

We (and by we I mean Pat) installed a Rubbermaid custom closet organizer.  It’s nifty because you buy a certain size range (4′-8′ in our case) and you can adjust it to fit any sized closet within the range.

It is a huge thing for Girl 1 to be able to hang up her own dresses.  She really takes pride in it.  (Thank you, Montessori school, for teaching her to hang things on a clothes hanger!)  She even insists on hanging up her nightgown.

Also key are these Sterilite stacking, open-front bins.  (3 for 5 bucks at Walmart.)  So-ho-ho much better than sticky dresser drawers.  She can see where everything goes and doesn’t have to go through the additional steps of opening and closing drawers.

She was so proud of her “new” closet and eager to put her clothes away.  The newness has worn off a bit now, but she’s still able and generally willing to put her things away with a gentle reminder (or two).  She is far from being a neat freak but she can appreciate the niceness of having her room tidy.

We keep the toys and books in the living room and the basement, so Girl 1’s room stays serene and (mostly) clutter free.

Now to figure out little sister’s room . . . .

 

IMG_0265

 

I’ll link up tomorrow, for the first time, with We Are That Family for Works For Me Wednesday.

What I’m Into (a look back on May)

Veggies, VHS tapes, trouble at the Episcopal church rummage sale, and more . . .

Vegetables:  I haven’t cooked much at all lately (that’s another post for another day).  But I signed up for a CSA months ago.  We’re now getting our weekly shares, and right now it’s greens greens and more greens.  Kale, spinach, chard, lettuce, bok choy, and more kale.  I don’t like it because I have to cook it all before it goes bad.  I like it because I’m forced to cook it all before it goes bad.

 

Dinners on the grill: Pat grills burgers and chicken.  I cook up some CSA veggies in the quickest way possible. We open a bottle of wine.  We sit down and eat.  . . . .  We’ve had two meals in a row like this and I’m hoping for many, many more. . . . No special meal prep for the girls (sweet, blessed, relief).  Girl 1 will eat her grilled chicken (with ketchup) and (certain) veggies if bribed with dessert.

The What I’m Into linkup on Leigh Kramer’s blog, which I first learned about from Modern Mrs. Darcy.  I’m new to Leigh’s blog and the link up.  I might not be doing it right, but I really like the idea.

Professor Linda PrzybyszewskiI look forward to reading her new book,  The Lost Art of Dress.

From her recent Tumblr post:

Since time out of mind, fashion illustrations and store mannequins have exaggerated the female shape into something so long and tenuous one wonders why they didn’t snap in half.  . . .   [A]djust your eyes to the shocking sight of a dress on a young woman with full cheeks and curves.

Times sure have changed, haven’t they?

Buying VHS tapes at the thrift store for $0.33–cheaper than renting!  When I’m done I throw them away or give them back to Goodwill.  So far I’ve watched.

  • 28 Days (Sandra Bullock)
  • Green Card (Andie MacDowell, lovely, why can’t they make rom coms like this anymore?)

I’ve bought the girls more VHS tapes than I can count, some favorites being:

  • Cinderella
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Peter Pan
  • Robin Hood (all the classic, Disney animated versions)

Pat has found a way to digitize VHS tapes, so the girls watch their movies on our Roku box with software called Plex.  With that in mind, I picked up VHS tapes of some old favorites that are worth digitizing, saving, and watching over and over:

VHS tapes left to watch (but probably not to save):

  • Fargo (I like a lot of Coen brother’s movies but somehow haven’t watched this yet)
  •  Spanglish
  • Now and Then
  •  The Net (interested to see a movie about internet ID theft from ~ 15 years ago)
  • Little Black Book (okay, I might regret this, bu I guess it caught my eye since its star, Brittany Murphy, died so unexpectedly)

Prints of Delarue paintings of Paris, found at the Episcopal church rummage sale for $2 apiece, paired up with frames I found at the same sale for $1 a piece, spruced up with some black spray paint and matting from Michaels.

 

Lucien Delarue

 

 

More Delarue prints.  I’m hoping to make some moolah off these on eBay (it worked with the blazer I [fortunately/unfortunately] bought at the same church’s previous rummage sale).

IMG_6277

Losing my keys at the Episcopal church rummage sale, and being locked out of my minivan.  Well, I’m not into this but it happened.

Living in a small town such that I was able to (a) snag a ride home from a second cousin-in-law who just happened to be at the sale and then (b) have my keys delivered to me the next day from a friend from church who also just happened to be at the sale.

Having a two-year old who stuck a popcorn kernel up her nose.  Again, not so much into it, but it was into her.  Yuk yuk.  We can add this to the many stories of children in the family sticking things up their noses: peas, beans, crayons, pebbles, Baby Jesus figurines . . . the normal stuff.

Hoping for a less-sluggish, uneventful June filled with more beautiful weather!

 

Thank you Leigh!

Five free exercise routines for the faint of heart

and the weak of body.

Guess what y’all?  I’ve been exercising!  A little!  And that’s a lot more than I was exercising before!    Here are some workouts I like:

1.  10 Minute Fat Blasting Circuit from Fit Sugar.

hate cardio, so I went for this because I figure, I can stand anything for ten minutes.  It’s mostly low-impact, keeps your heart going, and targets the lower body.  It’s touted as the  Victoria’s Secret Model workout . . . or something like that. Blah.   I don’t even know why, though, it has nothing to do with Victoria’s Secret.

2.  10 Minute Yoga for Happiness routine.

This one is cheesy, but it really does improve my mood.

3.  Do yoga with me:  I like this whole website.

This is a good, 30 minute beginner’s yoga routine; mainly stretching with just a bit of strengthening.

This is similar, but about 45 minutes.

I recently tried going up to intermediate level with this 45 minute “foundations in flow” routine.

It was . . . humbling.  Ahem.  But good.  I’ll be going back to it.

4.  This 25 minute pilates routine is supposedly a beginner’s class.  Apparently, I am more beginner than a beginner because it kicks my tail.  But I’ll be coming back.  I can tell it’s what my muscles need.

5.  Finally, this “deep release for the lower back and hamstrings” doesn’t burn many calories, but it’s a great stretching routine.  It feels great and is relaxing.  Highly recommended for those with low back problems.

 

I’m linking up with Hallie for Five Favorites.  Thanks Hallie!

 

Organizing For People With ADD {Five Favorites}

. . . And For Those With Small Children

Readers, I am on fire.  I  found this book at the library.

And it is awesome.  The best.   (Just in case you needed a third opinion after Jen Fulwiler and Modern Mrs. Darcy endorsed it.)

My theory is that having little kids is the functional equivalent of having ADD.  And if you’re like me and already had a somewhat short attention span even before having kids . . . well.  You know.

The basic gist of the book is to work around a short attention span, instead of trying to change it.  If a family member always drops his coat on the floor by the door, don’t make yourself miserable trying to get him to walk down the hall, open the coat closet, and hang his coat on a hanger.  It’s never going to happen.  Just hang a hook on the wall next to the door.  And if he doesn’t use the hook, stick a basket on the floor.  Then when he drops the coat at least it will land in the basket.

The author of this book recommends lots of ways to use shelves, hooks, and clear, open bins.  It makes sense.  If you’re waiting to, say, cover cereal boxes with wrapping paper before you get organized:

It’s never going to happen.  At least not for me.  And not for most people I know who have little kids.

But if you can live with this:

I recommend this book.

And in the spirit of shelves, bins, and hooks for the attention-impaired, here are a few little things I’ve implemented in our house:

— 1 —

Before, the corkscrew was in one drawer sometimes, the other utensil drawer other times.  Now, it has its own 3M hook, right next to the wine glasses.  It’s the little things, folks.

IMG_3829

— 2 —

Our linen closet:

IMG_3833

Are you impressed by all that open space?  Mainly, it’s because lots of towels were in the wash.  But, you see this little shelf on the door?

IMG_3832

In all the five years we’ve owned it, our poor heating pad never has had a home.  Sometimes it was in one of our bedside table drawers, sometimes in the other.  Mostly it was on the floor somewhere collecting dust bunnies.  Now it has a place to call home.

— 3 —

Before, when I needed a screwdriver or tape measure, I had to unstack my little tool kit from where it was wedged in with some other bins in the linen closet.  I think I procrastinated on projects, subconsciously, because getting tools out was such a hassle.

Now, my tools are easily accessible in an open lidded bin.  I amaze myself sometimes, really I do.

IMG_3834

— 4 —

And for my daughter with an extremely limited attention span, who is in a big artistic phase at the moment: an open-topped bin for crayons and markers.

organizing art supplies for kids with attention deficit

It wasn’t until after I read Jen’s post, Amelia’s post, and this book that this occurred to me.  Before, we used one of those little pencil cases with attached, snap-on lids for her crayons and markers.

Getting her to clean up her art supplies was like pulling teeth.

Now, she just drops her markers in a bin.  We still have to coax and remind her, but clean-up is much easier now.

— 5 —

Finally, I bought bins for Girl 1’s ballet and soccer stuff (top shelf) and shoes (bottom shelf).  Little Sister probably still will pull everything off the shelf, but at least now everything has a home where Girl 1 easily can put them away.  Also, I put a hamper in her room.  The main hamper is only three steps from her bedroom door, but those three steps were enough to distract her from getting dressed.

organization for attention deficit kids

I am really, inordinately excited about all of this.  I’ll stop now before I embarrass myself.

Thank you, Jessica for hosting What We’re Reading Wednesday and Hallie for hosting Five Favorites this week!

Wimpy Mom Takes A Road Trip { Five Favorites }

We just made a road trip to Florida to visit my family: 1,000 miles each way, with a four year-old and a one year-old, neither of whom likes to nap in the car.  Right after we got back, I read Amelia’s account of her longer road trip, with twice as many kids, no air conditioning, and no CD or DVDs.  So yeah, I’m a wimp.  But whatever.   We lived to tell the tale, and here are some of the things that helped:

— 1 —

DVD player and DVDs.  Perhaps some parents the electronic babysitter, but I can’t get over this fantasy that car travel should be enjoyable and relaxing for me.  I like to read and listen to books on CD and do cross-stitch.  Singing “Wheels on the Bus” and counting cows and playing educational games or whatnot . . . for fifteen hours . . .  just doesn’t fit the bill.*  So enter this:

Or some other model like it.

And this:

Girl 1 watched it over and over and over.  The song selection is slightly questionable.  Girl 1 now goes around singing “We are on the prowl tonight/ like an alley cat./  Looking for some new delight / like an alley cat.”  But like I said, we made it there and back with sanity mostly intact, so I’m overlooking it.

*  I did read them a few books.  I may even have sung “Where Is Thumbkin.”

— 2 —

Books on CD from the library.  Pat and I have listened to a lot of John Grisham.  A lot of his older books are great (The Firm, Pelican Brief, The Client, The Rainmaker, The Street Lawyer).  The newer ones are hit (The Litigators) or miss (The Associate, The Broker, The Confession).  But they all make the time pass more quickly.

Grisham probably wouldn’t work if you have older kids.  His books have some bad language and adult subject matter.  But we turned the volume all the way to the front speakers in the minivan, and the girls paid no attention.  Once they’re a bit older hopefully we can find some audio books we all enjoy.

— 3 —

Chick-Fil-A.  Good food (for a fast food restaurant), clean bathrooms, friendly service, and a playground for the kids to run around in.  Perfect.  We select our route to FL based on the number of Chick Fil A’s we’ll pass.  The only downside (upside?) is that they are closed on Sunday.

— 4 —

Van organization.  Okay, this is kind of a joke.  You can look on Pinterest and find all sorts of ideas like organizing car toys using bungee cords and little bins whatnot.  You can also put together cute little packages of snacks and toys for your kids to open each hour.  Me? I used three cardboard diaper boxes.  One was for books, DVDs, CDs, and miscellaneous “dry goods.”  Another was for snacks.  The third one was for trash.  It worked.

Fantasy (image from Organizing Made Fun)

Closer to reality (image via Turn Leaf Organizing)

— 5 —

Driving Time Equity.   I lost my cool with the girls about two hours into the trip.  They had been whining for approximately 1 hour, 59 minutes.  Then Girl 2 had some business that required me to dig through our biggest suitcase, in the back of the van, on the side of the interstate, with 18-wheelers zooming past.  (See supra #4 re: my van organizing skillz.)  Pat calmly reflected, “You know . . . I usually do most of the driving on road trips because I always thought it was the hardest job . . . but maybe you should take the wheel.”  I did.  I don’t particularly care for driving, but at this point in our family life, it’s a lot less stressful than playing stewardess/zookeeper in the middle row.

****

I’m excited to finally join up again with Hallie of Moxie Wife, for her Five Favorites link up.  Thanks Hallie!

Five of My Favorite Things, Vol. II

Back again at Hallie’s fun new link-up over at Moxie Wife and sharing five of my favorite things:

  • Rachel Meeks’ funny and useful flowchart to help you decide “Should I Buy This Shirt?”  I don’t feel right cutting and pasting it here, but you can check it out with this link.  Really, you should.  One page. 
  • Pig tails:  IMG_1574
  • Command hooks: they make them for hanging pictures!  Who knew?  If only I had known about these before.  My poor walls would be much less injured.  I tend to hang things up then change my mind six months later.  Also, they’re great for giving my keys a safe haven from the abyss of my purse.

IMG_1496

  • Bengal Spice tea from Celestial Seasonings.  Like chai but non-caffeinated.  So delicious at nighttime with generous amounts of milk and sweetener.

Thanks, Hallie, for hosting this fun link up!!