This year, I will be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, mostly to get myself back in the swing of blogging regularly. I have made some good online friends and found some interesting blogs through this process in the past. Those two things would be pleasant to experience again, but I really just need to get to blogging again.
My theme this year will be “A Crash Course in Being Me.” I realize that my blog hasn’t ever been something that appeals to the masses, and that is ok. If I can entertain one reader, if I can inform another, if I can persuade someone, or provide a possible solution to a problem — those small connections are all I desire.
As well, there is nothing so helpful to me as seeing ideas in print. Podcasts are great. Presentations are interesting. Lectures can be stimulating. But being able to read the words is the way I really learn.
I have a lot to learn right now, and always, and my blog is a place where I put those lessons so I can see them again and again.
The true subject of my blog for the blog challenge is parenting my special needs child. He is 11, and was born with Down syndrome. He’s completing 4th grade at the moment, and keeps me busy from sunup to sundown, and then some.
One month ago tomorrow, I went to my therapy group feeling pretty overwhelmed. I left group feeling inspired and energized. It bugs me that I cannot explain this seismic shift in my attitude, perceptions of capability, and energy level. Why now? I don’t know and I wish I did. It feels all just a little precarious since I can’t point to anything directly which is clearly the reason why I woke up. “Like waking up from the longest dream …” as the old Phil Keaggy song says.
Me: the morning of February 23.
Me: the morning of February 25 and pretty much every morning since then.
OK, so maybe I have a couple of ideas about some of the possible factors in this shift, but still I cannot explain it as “First A, then B.” And I guess that’s kind of how a lot of things are. Life is a series of experiments and a series of reflections on the experiments and a never-ending repository of new opportunities to respond to the next thing.
I read about this app on The Penny Hoarder as something you can do to earn a little passive income while doing other activities; in this case, grocery shopping, something I do multiple times per week. They are smart enough to offer a $10 bonus for redeeming your first rebate, which is a pretty substantial perk.
Downloaded it, and decided to give it a try. I usually use scan/bag/go at the grocery, so I’m already scanning every item I buy. But I’ve also noticed that I am thinking about several things at once while I grocery shop — you know the routine — do I have a coupon for this product, oh look they have that buy 10 save $5 special, oh hey i need some of that thing there that I forgot to put on my list, etc. And STILL I thought it would be a good idea to add one more thing into the mix at the grocery store. Well I LOL.
Checked out the app and looked at the higher rebate amounts and tried to figure out which things I was already going to buy or which things might be reasonable to buy if it wasn’t urgent that I get them. Fitting the bill was Duracell batteries, offering a $3.00 rebate for purchasing a couple of 8-packs.
The way the app works is you scan the item’s bar code, and then later scan your grocery receipt to prove you bought the items and then they credit you the rebate. I scanned the two packs of batteries, and later scanned my grocery receipt, and noticed in a few days that I hadn’t received the rebate.
Well, ho ho ho and ha ha ha. Since I scanned the bar codes with the app, my brain checked off “scan item” and I forgot to scan them with the scan/bag/go scanner. Which meant, in effect, that I stole two packs of batteries, although I didn’t realize what had happened until . . . . today, I shopped again and did an ibotta purchase, but found when I got home that the product was not on my receipt. Which meant, in effect, that I now also had stolen some bacon. (Not to be confused with this game.)
Seemed like the thing to do at the time to drive back to the grocery store and pay for the items I had inadvertently stolen. Which I did. But I must admit to being a little surprised that the customer service person expressed not even one iota of emotion about the fact that I was returning to pay for something I hadn’t paid for earlier. Years ago, I returned to a store in Australia to pay for an item that had been hidden in my cart. It was only worth a dollar or two, but the customer service rep in that case was noticeably responding to someone coming back to pay. Like honesty, man.
I didn’t need the customer service rep today to pat me on the back or sing my praises, but a simple, “Thanks for coming back to pay for this,” would have sufficed.
So far, I’ve earned $15.75 through this app in what should have been one trip to the store. I can withdraw the money as soon as I reach $20.00. Although there was a bit of a learning curve, namely let’s not steal these items, I think this will end up being a simple way to cut my shopping bill just a little bit. If by any chance you would like to try it out, I do have a referral code — dwjhyql — and the referral link. (It’s not just grocery stores, but most of the items I have seen are grocery or household or personal care items.)
OK. Gotta run. I want to keep one step ahead of the grocery store employees.
This is a poem written by my beloved Alexander technique teacher, Ellen Bierhorst. I am choosing to publish it today because of the March on Washington today. I’m sure, as in my own city, there are smaller marches throughout the US as women and men stand to make their voices known for the rights of women. My family is represented at the local march today.
And now, the poem. Let there be love:
Well, I don’t know, Jesus, who brought you back to life on the third day,
But I know they always made a big deal of it and scared us as children
Saying you shed your blood for all of us,
But godamnit I, a woman, shed my blood for human kind not once but every month for forty years!
I don’t know who resurected you, Jesus,
But I know that I, a woman, resurected myself!
In the pit of hell, all Light extinguished, I made the awesome decision
That even though the reality of love had been disproved,
Even though the lamp of hope that had burned in my life, alone, strong and true had been shattered by my beloved,
Yet I would not accept a universe without love.
And I saw that my task could be healing Sickness as it wound its evil through my own life:
An insane marriage to a good but raging man,
A work life riddled by denials and repressions,
Family finances plagued by fear and inattention,
A big old house full of junk and mess, sagging into ruin.
Greatly more than my small courage and strength could face,
Yet for you, for Love itself I faced them all
And vowed to spend my life cleaning it up, setting all to rights.
For myself alone I had not strength to try, but that July day I wrote on my wall
In four-inch letters, “For you I will triumph over all my darkness!”
The only huge work, the only mountain I could sculpt, the only sea I could turn.
People say that it was such a horrible thing to die hanging on a cross with nails in your hands. And it is.
But people act like nobody could match or top it.
That’s what I thought too;
As a child I squirmed at night and sweated, envisioning the tortured corpse on its cross of fear.
Well, move over, Jesus. I, a woman, have been to Golgotha…
And my sisters cover the earth.
Alone and in the darkness, I, a woman, stood and said Let there be love!
And my sisters cover the earth.
For more information on Ellen and the many ways she makes this world a more beautiful place, see this website.
Haha. It’s not crap at all. Just sounded better than “Look at my Cool Stuff.”
Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
I got super tired yesterday, and sometimes I can be a little under the weather the day after a big day. So I was debating this morning whether or not to go out for my walk/run. Finally, from the security of my warm blankets, my Accountability Elephant agreed that it would be preferable to err on the side of being sorry I went rather than being sorry I stayed under the covers.
The Things People Leave Behind
Note the crumpled up page of comics from the newspaper. I had the good fortune the other day of discovering a delivered newspaper that was not delivered to anyone. It was just in the grass on the side of the road. I brought it home and enjoyed it immensely. The best part, honestly, was the comics page. They now print that on a stiffer card stock, and the entire other side is the puzzles; the basic and advanced crossword puzzles, the cryptoquip, sudoku, and the jumble. I really miss those puzzles! Of course most of them are available in one form or another online or via an app, but I have wonderful memories of doing all those puzzles back in the day.
The comic page was on the driveway at the entrance to one of the local schools. Maybe a teacher brought it along to do during recess? But, like my random newspaper the other day, this was clearly abandoned and therefore I was not being a stealing thief by picking it up. (NB: the original owner actually did do the cryptoquip, so I’m out of luck on that one, but the rest of the page is clear and ready to be filled in!
ROTW (Right on the Way)
Moving clockwise in the photo, you will see a small piles of glasses cleaning cloths. They’re pretty small, so I might have to use one per lens, but since there are four people living here who wear glasses, one can never have enough cleaning cloths. I stopped into an eye doctor’s office near me this morning to inquire about these cloths. I don’t know where all of mine have gone, but I can never seem to find one when I need it.
Next, you will see two screws. (Isn’t this exciting?) I took one to the hardware store to buy a matching one. 12 cents for that shiny new screw.
Lastly, a total impulse buy at the chiropractor’s office. A Standard Process Cocoa Cherry protein bar. That one gets a thumbs down from me. The package looks much prettier than the bar, which looks rather like brown play dough and is about the same consistency.
Bottom left hand of the photo you will see the back side of Pepper, our cat. She was very curious when I emptied my pockets.
Something Needed, Something New
Not shown is the new thermometer I got so I don’t have to keep telling the doctor that I don’t know whether or not Kepler has a temperature. It’s one of those that you just place on the forehead. I took my own temperature. Easy peasy. It even says the temperature our loud, in case I’m too weak and feeble to be able to read the numbers on the screen.
And The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story here is that it is most often the better choice to get up and go exercise. At least for me. And even though it’s a mostly gray day here, again, being outside gives me all kinds of great stuff – both tangibly and physically, and that makes me want to write and share it all with you.
One of the many things I enjoyed about my stint as UPS driver helper was the opportunity to see all the different companies people order things from. We were usually too busy for me to take time to make any notes about something I’d like to look up later, but I delivered enough Hello Fresh! and Blue Apron boxes that I got curious about the companies and what they offer.
Baiting the Hook
I ended up choosing Hello Fresh! rather than Blue Apron this first time around. I may try BA at a later date, especially because they also offer the great introductory price I received from Hello Fresh for this first shipment, which arrived today. The companies have probably accurately determined that if they can just get you to try their product, you will be hooked.
Casting the Rod Thingy
To be completely honest, I haven’t been cooking dinner really much at all for a long time, maybe even more than a year. Both my sisters and my mother are always busy in the late afternoon cooking dinner for their families, and often creating new dishes, putting an entire hot meal on the table, vegetables and all. As useless as I think guilt and shame are for the most part, they still come around on a regular basis when it comes to some things. And dinner is one of those things.
When I became aware of Hello Fresh I thought maybe, just maybe, if someone else would make it easy enough, I could manage to cook something. And I think Hello Fresh just may have succeeded.
What’s for Dinner?
Well, as you can see, Hello Fresh delivered all the ingredients and recipes for three meals.
They include the vegetables, the spices, the meats and cheeses, the FRESH HERBS, adorable little bottles of things like 25 ml of Balsamic Vinegar. Those who’ve known me since childhood know that I have always loved miniature things. (N.B. How did I not end up with multiple collections of miniatures??)
My Man, Jeeves
This is like having a domestic servant. Someone who can thumb through the cookbooks and surf through the websites and find meals that simple to prepare and very tasty. Someone who can make the list of ingredients and go to market with a basket over her arm to pick up the freshest ingredients. Someone who can organize the food so it is easily accessible to the actual cook.
Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest
My big kids are troupers. They have had to fend for themselves for dinner for quite awhile. Fortunately, they can cook. Unfortunately, they don’t always feel like it or have time. But I’ve known that they could feed themselves, and haven’t worried much about actually cooking. Kepler needs more assistance, obviously, but his repertoire is pretty limited and I can manage his foods ok.
Moms Love to See Their Kids Eat, Don’t They
Today, I made a hot meal which included all kinds of food groups. It was healthy, tasted good, was easy enough, and left me feeling highly satisfied after watching my kids devour it. Since they rarely get dinner cooked by me, this was an extra special treat for them.
I loved it. Of course, I’m often highly enthusiastic about things from the get-go, but Hello Fresh has gotten me cooking again, and that’s pretty exciting.
Listen, if you want to try this, you can get a discount pretty much anywhere on the web that you can find Hello Fresh. If you use this link, I can also get a discount on my next order, so I’d be delighted if you choose to use the link.
Oh, somewhere along the way, maybe in my teen years, I was introduced to this idea that everything is connected… It makes more sense the longer I live. To wit:
Help Someone Declutter by Taking Their Clutter As Your Own
I may not have fallen far from the tree of my youth. I may have inherited a fair few characteristics of my mother. I may deeply appreciate her efforts to declutter her home, because I am always trying to do the same with mine. So when she mentioned today that she had a couple big bags to go to Goodwill, I offered to come and get it for her and take it to Goodwill. I may have thought it might be fun to go through before I dropped it off. This is all pretty much supposition at this point.
Kids Say the Darnedest Things
So when we got home with the stuff, I was carrying it in quickly because my car was blocking someone else’s car in the driveway. Kepler was holding the door and he was holding his nose. I didn’t think anything smelled. He pointed to the door. Oh yeah. There I see scores of carcasses of those June bugs or May beetles, or whatever they are called. And I realized that they have been there for a few . . . months now, so it’s time to get rid of them.
Thank Heavens for the Right Tools
It didn’t even take me forever to find my screwdriver, handheld vacuum, scrub brush, etc. Although I did have to make twenty trips to the kitchen because I kept figuring out new things that I needed for the job.
And This is Where the Screaming Comes In
I am not afraid of spiders. I look on them with benevolent omniscience and wish them good things (as long as they do not wish to bite me). I am also not afraid of insects, but I do not like them. I do not like to see them in my house. Dead or alive, they do not belong. So, once I got the door glass out of the way, I began the process of vacuuming up the carcasses. “GROSS!” I yelled over and over. Kepler tried to comfort me. “It’s ok, mom,” he said as he patted my shoulder and looked at me in mild alarm.
I don’t really think I could ever eat a bug. They are bad enough to just have to see.
Second Thank Heavens That Tomorrow is Trash Day
It could have been 15 below out there and I would have taken my little handheld vac out to the trash can to get rid of the bug pieces. SO GROSS.
As If the Bugs Themselves Were Not Bad Enough
A bunch of legs and parts were left behind. Is this not just so gross?!? Are you screaming with me?? So me and my scrub brush scrubbed the heck out of that ledge inside the door and got rid of ALL THE PARTS.
The Three Hour Stove Cleaning Job
Like I said, Dr. Dobson says not to get distracted when doing a job. I don’t think it was getting distracted as much as it was just noticing other aspects of the door and doorway that needed to be cleaned or otherwise fixed.
So, WD-40, more scrubbing, q-tips, and a few toothpicks to poke into corners later, and my entry way is not stinky at all. Just ask Kepler.
I was just sitting here minding my own business, and everyone else’s business on Facebook, when I realized I had intended to jwalk today at 11:30. Still out on errands at that time, I had to postpone the walk, and suddenly, it’s 1:15 and I’m sitting, not walking. And I wonder, “Am I lazy?” Is that why I am not leaping up and hopping out the door, ready to brave the elements, absorb some Vitamin D, and get the locomotion going.
What Else Could it Be?
Old thinking suggests immediately my stationary post indicates laziness. And then I remembered how many steps I took every day when I was working for UPS, as many as 23,000, so if we’re basing it on actual motion, I’d have to claim not to be lazy.
But if I’m going to forget all history and context, and apply the most negative assessment I can to the situation, then I suppose I could argue that sitting here writing instead of being out there walking means lazy.
Twenty Questions to Health
I decided yesterday to ask more questions. Yes, that’s something I’ve written about before, but I’m needing to ask Even More questions these days. When I come to a conclusion, I often find out later that I didn’t think about something all the way through. So, I shall apply my new “Ask five more questions” to this idea of me being lazy.
What is the dictionary definition of lazy: unwilling to work or use energy. Synonyms include idle, indolent, slothful, work-shy, shiftless, inactive, underactive, sluggish, lethargic, remiss, negligent, slack, lax, lackadaisical.
Looking at my day so far, do any of these synonyms apply to me today? Have I been unwilling to work or use energy? Without putting you to sleep with the long list of accomplishments so far today, the answer is no, I have not been unwilling to work or use energy.
What would be my motivation for calling myself lazy? If I call myself lazy, it’s easier than actually embracing all that I have already accomplished, and even acknowledging that I could be physically tired from some of the things I have done today. Calling myself lazy would be me comparing myself to “the ideal woman,” who always does the next thing, and pretty much never gets tired, always follows through, and pretty much never misses a step; to “the ideal woman” who doesn’t even exist, except in our brains.
What would I gain from walking? All the things. I’ve written elsewhere; the joy of listening to my music, being outside, fresh air, a change of perspective, possibly some sunshine, a feeling of accomplishment, and all the benefits of moving my arms and legs.
What would I gain from staying home? Not all the things. I’m not opposed to rest, and when I need to rest, I do, but it’s the middle of the day, and the sun just peeked out, and even though it might take a little doing to get myself out there, I know that I want to.
Checking in with the Rest of the World
Do you ever think of yourself as lazy? Do you mean it in a momentary sense? Do you think it matters if you constantly talk about how lazy you are? It just seems to me like there are often a lot of other possible explanations besides laziness. Probably something that requires a little more thinking on my part, but right now, I’m going for a walk. See ya.
One thing I noticed during my whirlwind month as a UPS driver helper is that people who have large houses clearly have someone else to help with a lot of things such as landscaping and housecleaning. I also noticed that landscaped gardens and pristine entryways (the only part of the houses I actually saw) appeal to me.
It All Begins with the Pilot
Just ask the people on Sully’s flight. But I speak of the Honda Pilot, our Honda Pilot that worked fine for all those two years and then unceremoniously died on the side of the road. After six weeks of hemming and hawing, to-ing and fro-ing, fricking and fracking, pro-ing and conning, we made the decision to sell the Pilot as was, and we began the search for a new vehicle.
I Love all of You Who Do Not Have a Garage
Once again, we purchased a vehicle in the summer that does not fit in our Hobbit garage. Which was all fine and good until cold weather appeared. The high school senior who resides here now drives the Camry, which does fit in the Hobbit garage, and is all snug on the cold mornings, backing out with her garage door opener button and excellent sound system and most importantly, complete lack of the elements affecting her ability to get going in the morning.
The Joys of Dressing a Child for the Cold
As any and every parent knows, dressing a child for the cold weather takes approximately 45 minutes and yields a good 3 minutes of outside time as a reward. When one’s child must ride the Big Yellow School Bus® to school, one embarks on that whole rigamarole with the gloves and the hats and the coats and the shoes and socks and the scarves and the backpack and the extra paraphernalia for gym class and music class and the sock drive for the month of January.
Which Brings Me To Closer To My Point
Kepler looks forward to the bus every day. He asks me at night whether he is going to get to ride the bus in the morning. So, we have no problems when it’s time to get all the gear on for the trek down the driveway to the bus. Currently, though, we are navigating some new gloves (see Blaze Orange Glomitt below) which take some time because getting the fingers one per opening is eluding us at the moment. But I’m nothing if not patient and I work those little tiny fingers in and out of the slots until finally the right ones are in the right place.
Then, since we are also still developing fine motor skills, I help with zippering the coat, putting on the tricky socks, locating the hat, scarf, and aforementioned paraphernalia.
Today it only took 6 hours minutes to get it all done, and off he went with my “Be careful on the sidewalk walk in the grass it might be slippery” admonishments going in one ear and out the other. Slowly, he walks. Carefully, he makes it down the stairs and all the way to the end of the driveway. I watch from the window waiting for the exciting school bus to arrive. When suddenly . . .
. . . he becomes aware that Nature is Calling. Right now.
Back up the driveway, up the steps, carefully across the sidewalk, gingerly across the porch, when he decides oh never mind, so back across the porch, down the sidewalk, to the steps, when oh yes mind and he come back again. At this point, I know I am going to be driving him to school, as well as reupholstering him with all of his winter gear.
Remember the Garage and the Elements?
Yeah, my car greets every morning perched on the driveway, his little windshield wipers raised to the sky in greeting, his little side mirrors tucked in, his little windshield taking on whatever rain, moisture or snow comes by in the night. So, now I get to prepare my car for a drive, even though my major plan for the morning was going back to my snuggly bed.
And The Comedy of Errors Begins
We bought the car in the summer, so didn’t think to check and see if there was a snow scraper included. Not that there should have been; I’m just used to having a snow scraper in permanent residence in my vehicles. But this morning, I discovered there is no snow scraper. And unlike the high school senior who can just jump in the car and GO GO GO, my car takes hella preparation. So, back in the house I go, scanning my overly decluttered home for an extra scraper, can’t find one, settle on the litterbox scoop, and head back out. All of this for a 3 minute drive, mind you.
Got the kid dropped off at school and decided to use the $5.00 coupon I managed to have on my person rather than leaving it at home to purchase myself a new scraper at the hardware store. The scraper is $4.49. Bonus! I’m not even going to have to shell out any money. The decidedly serious cashier says, all alarmed, I can’t use that coupon on a sale less than $5.00. Oh. My. God. I try a few things — can you charge me more for it? Can you just make up a charge for something like “Used Air while in Store?” But no. She suggests a Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Tree, something I need about like I need the hilarity of the morning. Finally decide on a whatever, and now I OWE $1.49.
Do I have $1.49 in my wallet? Well, yes, but it’s in the form of a $50.00 bill. Blanche does not appear to be willing to take my $50, so I charge the $1.49. But at least I have a scraper now.
Maybe Getting Closer to my Point Now
When I get home, after the 60 minute process of getting my son to his school which is 3 minutes away, I decide oh what the heck I’ll stay up and start on the laundry. When, much to my surprise, I discover this:
The lint screen. Did someone wash a black sheep in here? What the heck? This was from one load, by the way, and I couldn’t see anything that would have done such a dastardly thing to my lint screen. So, of course I cleaned the screen, and then noticed that some of the sheep had escaped around the edges, and I realized it was Time to Clean the Lint Screen Area.
The Three Hour Stove Cleaning
Years ago, I heard Dr. James Dobson speaking about how his wife had gone to clean the stove and ended up really deep-cleaning it. What the point of the lesson was I do not remember, but I think it was something like stay focused on what you are actually trying to get done.
But really, that lint screen showed me that there was subterranean needs in the lint-al area, so I finally located a screwdriver, flashlight, vacuum cleaner, important vacuum cleaning attachment, ETC. And now that puppy is all clean. And it’s 9:42, and something that normally would be completed by 8:00 has brought me all the way here, JUST now ready to look for some sustenance, get STARTED on the laundry, and get started on the day.
And you, my considerate readers, got the opportunity to read about the last 1 hour and 42 minutes in fine, minute-by-minute detail, so all is not lost.
All this to ponder the question of who vacuums the dryers of the wealthy. Alas, I do not have an answer, but I am going to presume that there are people out there who are available for hire. Perhaps I’ve found my new calling.
In the past year, Kepler has gotten very interested in giving and receiving greeting cards. As someone who has gotten out of the habit, I appreciate his enthusiasm and I like to make sure he has the opportunity to give cards to family members on their birthdays. As we were preparing for his birthday, he made sure to remind me that he would like a birthday card. You can see it above. Holy Cow™ does not have blue light shining through his holes. He’s just letting my laptop help him stand up better since he is paper-thin. (Har.)
So, he’s 11 years old today. He managed to find cards in his new pack of football cards featuring players wearing number 10 and also number 11. See?
Pretty much everyone has some opinion about Down syndrome and what “downs kids” are like. Oftentimes, people will mention that they think people with Ds are always happy. Anyone who lives with or parents a child (or adult) with Ds knows this is not the case, but there is something in Kepler that seems more innocent to me. Even though he of course has some worries and concerns, he is also most amazing at giving love and affection, and accepting love and affection in return.
And I think that his ability to give and receive love so beautifully may be starting to rub off on me. I’ve probably said this elsewhere, but having the four older kids so close together threw me into a PhD level course of parenting when I was really at a 2nd grade level, so I had to do a lot of studying outside of class to manage. And, as I’m sure my kids would agree, although I did my best, I couldn’t do it all!
So having Kepler at an advanced maternal age is sort of like starting over as a parent, with a group of one. I didn’t really know what to expect from my 40s and 50s, and I don’t think I really thought about it much when I was in my 20s and 30s. But the past 11 years have been so much harder and so much richer than I would have ever imagined, and it is in no small part due to this child, who gifts us with laughter and challenges and joy and new learning and fun and innocence and being able to continue to see the wonders of the world through a child’s eyes.
I’m closing with a song that resonates for me in reference to all my children, and I daresay it may resonate for you as well. Today, I celebrate Kepler, my beautiful baby.