Spring Cleaning…Episode Two

It continues to feel like Spring around here so maybe last week wasn’t a fluke. I actually got some seeds started in the greenhouse yesterday. Might need to bring them inside as it might get a little too cold later this week, but I remain hopeful. Still has been too wet to get the big garden tilled, but it’s looking like the grass will need mowing soon which is a weekly chore and competition between me and my neighbors that I routinely lose. My neighbor to the East is retired and she mows twice a week which I just can’t do. My neighbor to the West has a zero-turn mower which mows twice as fast as my John Deere. In my defense I have twice as much property. But I’m also lazy. But to this week’s Spring Cleaning topic…Appliances. Don’t worry, we’re not covering everything, just the kitchen. And the neat part is these are great chores to involve the kiddos; even the RAD kiddos. There are a lot of easy jobs and even some fun things to do which they will (might!) enjoy. And if it still happens to be raining or if you’re in the part of the country where the huge snowstorm is still blowing through and your Spring is a ways off, will keep you occupied till you can get outside again. Dishwasher

  1. Clean the Interior: To remove buildup, mix two Tablespoons of baking soda with 16 ounces of water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a spray bottle. Spritz the inside of the appliance, the door interior, and the rim. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Dishes coming out grimy? Soak the filter (inside the dishwasher’s base) for an hour in a sinkful of hot water plus a scoop of dish powder. Scrub the mesh with a small brush and rinse. 
  2. Clear the cutlery container: Shake the basket upside down over a trash can to jostle out any debris. Okay, this tip sounded nasty to me because hopefully we all see this stuff in our cutlery containers when we empty them and deal with it then but here it is…
  3. Flush out impurities: When the dishwasher is empty, pour 1/4 cup baking soda into the detergent dispenser and run a rinse cycle on the hottest temperature.
  4. Remove residue: Use a vinegar-dampened cloth to clean out the detergent dispenser and wipe down the spray arms.
Oven Range
  1. Disinfect: If your oven is self-cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s how-to. If it’s not, wipe the interior with a damp cloth. To soften caked on gunk, fill a casserole dish halfway with water, add the juice of 3 lemons plus the rinds, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes, then apply a paste of baking soda and water to all sides with a non-abrasive sponge. Wet the sponge in the lemon water, then scrub. Wipe clean with a damp paper towel.
  2. Vacuum up debris: Pull the unit away from the wall and, using the hose attachment, remove the crumbs and dust from the floor. Push it back in. This is always a scary one!
  3. Scrub the stove top: Apply a paste of equal parts baking soda and dish soap plus a few drops of water. (This is safe on any cooktop, electric or gas-check manufacturer’s instructions on ceramic). Let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe thoroughly with a damp cloth. Buff dry.
  4. Refresh the racks: Place the racks and grates in a plastic garbage bag, spray generously  with a degreasing cleaner (like Simple Green), and tie the bag closed. Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse each piece in a sink filled with hot soapy water.
  5. Wash the exhaust: To degrease the overhead filter, remove it and soak it for 15 minutes in a sink filled with hot water and scoop of OxiClean. Rinse and dry. Next, clean the piece on the wall: Apply a paste of baking soda and dish soap and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a soft sponge and buff dry.
Refrigerator
  1. Empty it out: Remove all items and toss any that have expired. My boys always loved finding the really nasty things in the way back of our fridge!
  2. Sanitize the drawers: Take them out (shelves too, if detachable) and scrub every side with a sponge dipped in warm, soapy water. Sprinkle baking soda  on any stubborn spots and scrub again. Rinse and pat dry. If your refrigerator has a removable drip pan, soak it for a few minutes in hot, soapy water, scrub with a sponge, then rinse.
  3. Deoderize: Get rid of odors by wiping the inside walls with a microfiber cloth spritzed with an all-purpose cleaner. Wipe again using a paper towel dipped in a bowl of diluted vanilla extract.
  4. Remove dust: Using the brush attachment, vacuum the coils, which may be behind the refrigerator. Wipe down the grille (typically at the base) with a dryer sheet.
  5. Clean the gaskets: Use the soapy water from the shelf-scrubbing to wipe down the refrigerator gaskets (door seals). When they’re dry, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to prevent sticking and tearing.
  6. Restock: Insert the clean shelves and drawers. To avoid gunking them up with anything sticky or dusty, wipe the bottom of each item with a damp towel before putting it back.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying (and calming!) than seeing a clean refrigerator. But for some reason that’s not enough motivation to clean it! But I promise next Spring Cleaning Episode, I will show you a picture of my clean fridge as motivation. Feel free to send me yours! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Jealousy…

When Harry Met Sally. And if you haven’t seen the whole movie, what’s wrong with you? But it’s the scene in the restaurant where Sally convinces Harry that maybe, just maybe, not all of the girls he’s been with have had actual orgasms. That maybe some of them were faking it. She proceeds to show him how they might have done that. Right there in the restaurant. Now that part of the scene is hilarious but immediately afterward, a sweet little old lady-played by the director Rob Reiner’s mother in case you didn’t know-delivers one of the best lines of the film. To give you a little Monday giggle and make sure you read the rest of today’s blog, here’s the clip. The point of that little story is jealousy. We’ve all felt it. That little (or big) green monster has reared its ugly head probably more times than we want to confess. There’s always times when it seems a relative or a neighbor or a friend or a co-worker has it all together and you just can’t measure up. When you’re a parent with a RAD kiddo, it seems like it’s happening ALL THE TIME. When August started having school trouble, my jealousy stayed in check pretty well. I mean, shouldn’t people feel sorry for me and my sweet injured boy who is struggling so? Then we had to hold him back a year in school and then the run-ins with the law started and somehow his sweet injured self wasn’t so cute anymore. And as much I tried to keep myself from it, I started to feel jealous of parents in church and in my neighborhood who didn’t have to worry about taking their child to his probation meetings on Saturday mornings or the alcohol diversion program at 13 years old. And fast forward to today, I have just in the last month shared with my new church family that August is in prison. I’m watching friends from high school become grandparents and announce their children’s college graduations and weddings. And here creeps that large green monster once again who robs me of being able to feel true joy for them in the midst of my grief. Not surprisingly, today is again an attempt to provide you all with some helpful tips that just maybe by typing them I will get some help for myself in the process. Here are five ways to handle jealousy when it whacks you upside the head (which may not be what it feels like to you, but does to me!)

  1. Be a copycat. When something wonderful happens to a friend and you are immediately jealous, use that. Follow your friend’s example. Maybe you walked into your friend’s house and she’s completely renovated her kitchen. You may not be able to do that but you can change something that will make you happy. Buy new hand towels or a new curtain. If a friend is going on a luxurious cruise, plan a fun weekend getaway. Do something similar enough to make you happy.
  2. Practice gratitude on social media. Holy moly do NOT compare your life to someone’s life on Facebook! That is for sure a recipe for disaster! Studies have shown a direct connection between depressive symptoms and the longer time people spent on social media. So use social media, but spend some time using it to be grateful, do some “Today I’m grateful for…” posts. It might lighten your perspective and you might enjoy the responses!
  3. Focus on your strengths. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself through everything with August is that he’s alive. And he’s healthy. Everything else feels like a hug parenting fail, yes. But now I’m trying to turn my experiences into something useful for other people and hopefully over time I’ll have more lessons to share as August and I continue to grow and heal. Spend time doing what you are good at and what makes you feel good when you don’t feel like you measure up in some other way.
  4. Wallow-briefly-then move on. Be a good friend to yourself. A friend wouldn’t let you stay in a negative space; so follow your friend’s advice. Have a little pity party then get up off the mat and get back to thinking good positive thoughts. Thinking positive is a much better space to operate from and it will serve you much better in the long run.
  5. Don’t hate, congratulate! There’s enough happiness on the planet for everybody. My favorite saying is, “It’s not pie.” If you stay jealous and angry you will miss all the good things waiting for you. And you will miss out on good times with those friends and your kiddos and they will miss out on the wonderful that is you. Let them have their moments and be first in line to applaud.
I’m not for one moment going to say this is last time I’ll ever be jealous now. I will say that even writing this makes me feel lighter about how I feel about my own situation so I hope it might be helpful to one or two of you. If so, let me know in the comments, that’s what they’re for! Till next time, Shannon    ]]>

Where's All My Money Go? Oh Yeah…

Two weeks from today I will be visiting colleges with my younger son. A blessed event to be sure but also one that strikes fear into the heart of many parents. How do I pay for it? Please don’t let him like the out-of-state one! With August, the money woes started long before that. I have told him since an early age he will never have two nickels to rub together. The concept of saving any money he ever got has never been an option. It all needed to be spent immediately. The lack of impulse control and need for immediate gratification was just too much. Trying to explain that if he waited to add his Christmas money from his NC relatives to his Christmas money from his Ohio relatives to buy something even better was like trying to explain how to build a space shuttle. And we were lucky enough to be fairly financially secure so he thought the money for whatever he wanted would just be there. If not in cash, then on one of those credit card things…no matter that those card things had to be paid for someday! I’m not sure how he handled his affairs in the couple of years he was living on the streets before he was incarcerated. I know a little of how he made his money. Not the best choices. He tried a job once. Lasted three days. I even helped him open a bank account. He’s drained the money from the savings account we had for him as a child, where we insisted half of any birthday money go as a way to teach saving when he was little. When he wanted to get his own place his father and I ran the numbers with him multiple times on what it took to live on his own. He kept saying that wasn’t how much it really cost. Maybe as his pre-frontal cortex continues to develop that aspect of his behavior will grow. But I fear his impulsiveness will always run the show. But for those RAD parents out there who may have that battle yet to wage, I have these tips for teaching money sense to your kiddos! Preschoolers & Early Elementary (7 & Under) Think about it like tying shoes…it’s one of those things that you learn at this age and you have to practice.

  1. Communicate about money: Don’t hide your discussions about money. Don’t discuss your stress about not having enough to pay the bills but if you get a sweet deal on shoes or you’ve saved enough for a family trip to an amusement park, share the celebration as a family. And use the money terms (“save”, “share”, “choose”) and financial values (“save for a rainy day”) so they understand how you view and value money.
  2. Involve them in your shopping: When you recognize a good deal and verbalize it, it shows your child that you see the value and are making a decision about buying it. At checkout, let the child buy something themselves, hand over the cash and all. One of the biggest problems we had with August when he was little was explaining to him that a $20 bill was better than having $18 one-dollar bills. He just wouldn’t buy it. He liked have more bills. This resulted in the purchase of a Nintendo handheld game thing one year with $150+ dollar bills and a very pissed off GameStop cashier.
  3. Open a savings account: As I mentioned above, we set the rule of half of birthday money going into a savings account. The boys balked at first but they caught on and they became cool with it (at least in public) and got good at the math when they got money!
  4. Play Games: Duck Duck Moose, Bringing Home the Bacon, or even playing with a calculator while you shop and adding up the price of what is bought. Seeing the total will help them realize the actual costs of things.
Older Elementary Kids & Tweens (8-12) These children can begin earning money and developing personalities around money and you’ll learn which of your children are spenders (August) and which are savers.
  1. Brainstorm ways to earn: They won’t care about managing your money but they will care about managing money they earn. Help them think about their passions and talents. Love animals? How about walking neighbors’ dogs or pet sitting? If they are crafty how about making something to sell? They can research and create a business plan figuring out how much to charge by looking at others doing the same thing in the market, considering costs and figuring out what they need to make a profit.
  2. Talk about spending choices: One of the hardest things to do will be to talk about what to spend the money they earn on without criticism. The positive reinforcement of good choices is more important than the punishment of bad ones but you can begin to talk about wants versus needs. If you are out and your child wants a toy you weren’t going to buy and you say OK, make sure they know it’s their money they’re spending not yours. It will be coming out of their savings account. That’s a powerful lesson.
  3. Be positive about your job: This may be where I lose some of you. I know there are days when going to work may be the last thing you want to do. Or you may be working because you have to or for the benefits. But kids need to feel excited about the idea of earning money and what it allows them to do so paint on that smile!
  4. Model Philanthropic Behavior: Even if it’s a stretch to the budget, let kids see you helping those less fortunate. Remember that kids see everything and will take those behaviors into adulthood. Even if it’s some spare change into the Salvation Army bucket at the holidays. And ask them for input into your charitable giving choices. If they want to give their money too, let them be part of the conversation.
Teens & College-bound kids (13+) Now is the time to begin to involve your kids in your family’s financial situation. This is especially true when conversations about college get closer. Talking about credit scores and applying for financial aid and scholarships should be open discussions.
  1. Track dollars: There’s an app for that! Current is great one which has spending, saving and giving “wallets” tied to a debit card which parents can make deposits to and set up notifications for. However it is tracked, make sure there’s a conversation that follows so they can see where their money goes. As for credit cards, most experts say not until they have their own source of income and can make their own payments.
  2. Play “What If?”: Discuss tricky money situations and how to handle them. Who pays on dates? How do you decide? What if your date’s family is super-rich? While there may be no right or wrong answer, having the conversations will help your child become more savvy about the situations.
I know this is a lot to take in but you really only need the parts that apply to your child’s age! Money has been and always will be a monster to deal with and RAD does not make it any easier. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s found tips or tricks that have worked for them in handling money with their kiddos! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

It's Spring…Maybe

The last few days (except for Saturday when it SNOWED) have been as close to Spring as we’ve seen here in the Midwest so I’m gonna call it. It’s Spring. I’ve been in touch with the guy who tills my big garden and I’m starting seeds this weekend and my clematis vines are sprouting so those are the signs I needed. Oh, and the sweet kids next door left a daffodil on my back steps (I think it might have been one of mine but nevertheless…). In honor of Spring, this is the beginning of a Wednesday series on Spring Cleaning. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is one of the, “Those who can’t blog about it” ones. I haven’t by far done all of these things, nor do I expect I will get to all of them. But writing them down makes me want to get them all on a to-do list. And you’ll see that many of them can be done with VERY active RAD kiddos so they are a nice way to get the family involved. But there are some that are just for you, for your sanity, so make sure you focus on those as well. And that’s where we start.

Spring Clean Your Mind written by Margaret Townsend Take a minute to think about what’s supporting your body right now-the chair or the sofa you’re sitting on and the ground below your feet. Much of the time, we use more energy than we need to hold our bodies up. Learning to really sink into physical support can calm nerves, soothe emotions, and relax the mind. First, become aware of your feet against the floor. Place them in a comfortable, natural spot and press them into the ground a bit to feel your leg muscles tighten. Then let those muscles relax completely, allowing the floor to hold up your legs and feet. Next, notice your back against the chair. Tense up your shoulders for a couple of seconds, then release them. Notice the parts of your back that are in contact with the chair. You don’t have to hold up those muscles right now. Breathe comfortably and give in to gravity, letting the chair support you. Allow your body to feel held for a moment. Take time to enjoy that feeling. Become aware of what else changes when you simply let the chair and the ground hold you up. You might feel a softening in the belly, hips, and breath. Also notice what you may be “holding up” that doesn’t need holding. Your jaw, for instance. What happens if you soften it? Luxuriate in the support that is right here, right now. Spend a minute or two experiencing it, breathing naturally-falling into gravity and letting the effort drop away.

vernal-equinox-happy-spring-day

 
Use this as often as you need to calm your body and clear your brain. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Finally Another Visit…

Next time you find yourself feeling annoyed by a noisy environment-voices, phones, traffic, lawn mowers-try this one-minute exercise to shift your experience. The idea is to tune in to sounds around you rather than attempting to shut them out. Sit up tall, close your eyes, and let your face relax. (You might feel a connection between your jaw releasing and your ears softening.) Breathe naturally and think of yourself as a sort of receiver, taking in all the sounds around you. Try not to favor one kind of sound over another. Whether it’s chatter or clanging or honking, just hear it. Is it possible to experience this “noise” the same way you might experience the sound of a river flowing? Can you relax and accept what’s around you without wishing it were different? See how you feel after just one minute of sitting with this quality of openness.

It’s a new month. Spring is trying it’s hardest to get here permanently. Always a time for hope and new beginnings. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>