Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cardinal Rule Broken

When I started this blog I told my Friend Jenny, this was a hide out, a nothing about raising a special needs individuals blog. I am breaking that rule. It has come to my attention, that a part of all I do and all I am is because of my son John.

I spend money on and for my son. I shop for my son, I think for my son. And I am proud of my son John. I am very proud of who he is and what he means to our family. While I hope to keep the post about life from a different point of view few and far between, forgive me, I cannot write a blog and leave him out.

I hope, that we can help you see life in a very positive place even when the situations of life are hard. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. For tonight on the edge of New Years eve, I want to introduce my family to you and I hope in the next year, I'll learn a bit more about yours as well.

My oldest son Aaron. Now 26 and currently in training to be a flight attendant. He has been hired by an airline and will soon know where he will live. He is funny, does stand up comedy, and has a host of friends. Until one week ago he had sworn off marriage and children. After lighten struck him (kidding it didn't really) he has changed his mind and thinks someday he might want a child. He has a long way to go.

My younger son John is 19. He was born normal in a natural childbirth. He was above average for a time, then regressed greatly. Say what you will and swear off reading my blog if this offends you, but John was vaccine damaged from two vaccines, the DPT and MMR, which left him with late onset cerebral palsy and regressive full blown extreme autism and a seizure disorder. Our world turned upside down in 1994 and we have been rocking it from there on. Today John still has CP but not autism, and that folks is a huge, HUGE event. He is non-verbal with motor control issues. He as full understanding of everything and has a great sense of self. In a nut shell, he is down right vain.

My husband is a truck driver and gone 4 days a week. Years ago the stress of our life with a disabled child, mounting bills, and pure confusion forced us into a separation.He went off to truck driving school and I took over the boys. While we remained a solid unit raising the boys, I did not see him for months at a time. We did talk on the phone. We did still love each other. Somewhere in the last two years we had rekindled that love and were remarried, kinda, in a quite non-public way. Today we are more like honeymooners and it's fun. I am thankful we manged to pull it back together. Marriage is hard, it takes work, and sometimes we have to stand back and look at why we fell in love in the first place to get back to who we were. I'll share how we met one my story tops yours!

I also have a dog named Cindy. She is a rescue from an breeder mill. A saddle back beagle I call her my little girl, even though she is really middle aged. We have two cats, Gray and Kelso. They come to us when they need something or want to show us something, other than that, we are their pets, they are not ours.

I live in a small house on the side of a busy road. My dream home is a Texas Tiny House, if you don't know what that is, look them up. I doubt I'll ever have one, but a girl can dream. I am simple, plain and love life...and I need to go...John is running bath water...I can never sit and just write when duty calls.

Be blessed and have a wonderful new year~

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Making Silky Soft Liquid Soap

I see red when I see someone wasting resources. No, I am not the greenest person out there, wish I was, but I do like to live by the mantra "Use is it up, wear it out. Make do, do without." It was one of the things my spouse learned about me in that first month of marriage. He adjusted to some of my rules, agreeing to cloth napkins, we did get a nice supply as gifts anyway. He didn't fully understand reusing aluminum foil, but he got over it and learned that it is possible. One place we differed, was on soap.

My new husband loved bar soap. The problem was, he loved new bars, not old ones. He had a thing for using only about half of the soap before he opened a new bar. I couldn't use up the rest of his soap due to an allergy to the soap he chose. I got creative and tried to reglue three bars together to make a new bar. I would soak them and make them soft, then squish them into one new bar. Nope, he didn't like that idea either. To stop me from trying to save the used bars of soap, he would flush them quickly before I knew they were gone. This broke me to tears. That did it, we had to come to an agreement. We did, he agreed to place the used soap into a bucket in the bathroom, and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted with it, as long as I didn't try to remake it into a bar of soap for him.

What I learned to do, was make liquid soap! Now we have an endless supply of liquid soap for all kinds of uses. While I do not recommend using body soap in soap making for laundry, it can be used for other kinds of cleaning. One of my main uses when my children were small, was using the soap to wash their toys. I have been known to use liquid soap in a bucket of water to wash outside areas like sidewalks or the window screens.

Making a supply of soap is easy. Save your scraps or use up that stash of hotel soap most all of us are guilty of holding on to. I also like to buy soap at the dollar store, in scents that I like, just for me. I can take one bar of lavender soap and make eight cups of liquid soap! Sure stretches my budget.

Make sure the soap is hard. If you save soap scraps, let the dry for several weeks to be dry and firm. Using a fine grater, a cheese grater is idea, grate the soap into a container. Make sure you store any unused grated soap in an air tight container in a cool dry place. When you are ready to make soap, take four cups of hot water and place in a container. Sprinkle two cups of the shredded soap over the hot water. Soap will start to sink. Let it set for a few minutes before you stir in the soap. Liquid soap can be made as thick or thin as you wish. This recipe is the thickness I like. For thicker, just add soap in half a cup until you get the consistency you like. For thinner, add small amounts of hot water and stir well. Place the ready to use soap in pump containers. It's a good idea to just recycle ones you already have, or purchase new pump style bottles at dollar stores or thrift stores.

Keep in mind that different soaps have different ingredients. Deodorant soaps may be an issue for some people. If that is the case in your home, you might consider making only deodorant liquid soap and placing in a container for body wash. Yes, my husband was willing to give this a try and you know what, he loved it.

Do you have a favorite use for bar soap? If so, share your tips!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cutting the Fat

If you read the first blog, you know seeing red refers to debt and green is well, that cash we often can't seem to have enough of. Today Fat is a double meaning both body and the excess spending. I encourage you to post tips for others, on ways to cut both. Many thanks and happy reading~

My favorite consignment shop ran the last of the summer clothing on sale for two dollars and less this weekend. I was there soon after the doors opened Saturday morning. I went right to the dress rack. I am for the most part a jeans girl, but when summer comes, I love dresses. Not skirts and shirts, dresses. I quickly began to scan the rack, not looking at sizes, but pulling off name brands. I have always shopped sales this way, grab all the name brands I like, and then take them aside and look at the sizes. After I cleared the rack of my finds, I stood at the end pulling out any size I thought might work. I know brands and sizes, like Jessica Howard, hand me a size 6 and yes, it will fit. Another lady stood by me asking for all size 10's in my hand. We had fun together, two strangers bonded over a sale rack of used clothing.

In the dressing room I hung my find, a total of 6 dresses. My heart beat fast holding up a beautiful handmade size unknown knit dress in lime green with yellow swirls. Someone had taken great care to make that dress and I wanted to give it a new home. But it was not to be. Size unknown did not fit me anywhere. I moved on to dress number two. A hot pink number that fit like a glove, a glove that was a size too tight. What's going on I wondered, as I slipped on my reading glasses to double check the size. HUM. No the size was rights. I took down a red linen dress by Ann Taylor. It was very me. Straight, simple, with a side pleat and simple nautical detailing at the top of the pleat. I wanted that dress so bad. I slipped it on. The top half looked perfect on me, now to zip it. I struggled to zip the dress, sucked in my breath and closed my eyes as the zipper slid up that last little few inches.

Yes, the top half was perfect. The neck line was beautiful, the cut of this sleeveless shift, perfect, and then, I looked at the bottom half. What was going on? It pulled and puckered in a very unflattering way. I stood there wanting that dress to fit perfectly. I sucked in my breath hard, yes, do that and it fit. Breath, and no it did not. I laughed at myself wanting this dress so much. How many red dresses does a woman need anyway I asked myself as I counted off the red dresses I already owned. Still, this was a classic, a pretty number made to wear at a nice summer party or just to make me feel better after a bad week. I slipped the dress off and moved on to a denim jumper I knew would fit.

At the register I thought about the red dress in my hands. It did not fit as of right now. I was spending two dollars on the hope I would shape up a bit between now and summer and wear it. What if I don't? I spend two dollars for nothing.

The more I though about the dress, the more I though about fat. Not just body fat, but spending fat. When money is tight, a budget is strained, two dollars can make a big difference. I thought about the cost of a coke and candy bar, about two dollars as well. There ya go, I told myself, where to cut the fat. By walking past the temptation of buying a coke and candy bar, I save not only two dollars but a few hundred calories! I can take that two dollars I save, put it toward debt, and the calories I don't eat, well, I can put that toward wearing that new Ann Taylor linen dress without all the bumps and lumps it was struggling to cover.

Yes, I did buy the dress, and several things for my family as well. Later that afternoon I was walking down town with my family. My husband stopped at a local hamburger stand and ask if I wanted a burger and some fries. I fingered the five dollar bill in my pocket, thought about all the things I could do with five dollars. I then though about the calories of a simple burger and fries. "No thank you, I'll pass." I told him as I walked on.
"Hey me neither, I don't need it at all, let's just get John something and save our money and the calories we would just have to walk off."

Summer red dress, I hope you are the only red I see this summer.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yes, There is a Reason for the Rain

I whined a bit over the week about the cold rain. On Monday the house was so dark, if I did not have a light turned on, I couldn't see very well. The corners, nooks and crannies were dark. Dust and toys hid there. I am not a person who likes dark days. Rather than dwell on the dark, I thought of a very light sensitive friend of mine who lives for dark rainy days. I sent him a quick note that I was thinking of him hoped his day was dark and gloomy. I heard back that it was and he and his wife were able to take a walk and enjoy the dark. Thinking about the joy such days bring to his family, the way bright days do to me, helped me cope.

Yesterday the sun came out full and bright. I took John and our dog Cindy for a walk, the ground wet with standing puddles. As John and I dodged the puddles I though about the nourishing rain that had fallen in our area for days, and how blessed we were to have a nice supply of water. John and I stood on the bridge near our home and watched water flow in the full ravine. I was thankful for the rain. In all honesty I was even more thankful for the sun.

Just after midnight last night, I was awakened by bright lights and firetrucks. Outside my door I watched as flames shot high into the black sky. The woods, the place were John and I walk each day, was in danger of burning. I stood in the dark cold field across from my home trying to see exactly what was burning. A police office stopped, rolled down his window and said, "Where is John, is he sleeping?" I am never seen without John.
"No, but he didn't want to come out in the cold, he is looking out the window, how is it down there?"
"It's okay, nobody hurt, it's the house that was being gutted and worked on. Nobody living in it yet, and thanks to the rain, the fire did not have time to jump to the woods. Had this been last know...I can't say we would have been as blessed." He spoke in little puffs of breath as he looked back at the woods. "You go back in, you are safe, the rain saved us."
I walked back home and John met me at the door. I hung up my coat and told him we could go back to bed. the fire would soon be out.

This morning I got up and walked down to look at the burned out house. Amazingly little had been destroyed. The house sits way back off the road and in the middle of a group of tall trees. Pine trees burst into flames very easy in dry weather. I had been in the area only a few weeks ago picking up pine cones and gathering pine straw for my flower beds. The morning sun was bright and golden, making the cold morning seem not so cold.

I though about how dry our summer had been and how we had a burn band in place way into the fall. Had it not rained so much lately, the ground and trees would not have been soaking wet, this morning may have been so different if that were the case.

When negative times come into our lives, it's hard to see how they are a part of a bigger and better plan. When we seem to be wandering in the dark cold of bad news, setbacks and disappointments, there is a reason. The job you did not get, perhaps that is so when a better job comes along, you will be in a position to take the better job. One of the hardest things we do as humans, is understand disappointments. Yet if everything in life was positive, how would we be able to be thankful for the things we have.

I didn't like the rain that fell all week. This morning, I was so thankful for the dripping wet trees and soaked wet ground. Next time a set back comes my way or your way, remember, without the rain and dark, we couldn't appreciate the warmth of the sun as fully as we do.