Friday, September 24, 2010

Do Unto Others

It's time to put on my cranky pants and get on my soap box.  This morning I read a blurb (definitely not an in-depth article) on about whether or not "mommy bloggers" should blog about their kids without their kids' permission.  First of all, I hate the word "mommy" when it's used like an adjective as in "mommy bloggers", "mommy wars", "mommy makeover" blah blah blah.  Gag me.  It sounds so juvenile and it reduces women to nothing but a caricature, IMHO.  But that's beside the point.  Should parents (mommies in particular) blog about their kids without the kids' permission?

In my opinion, people should blog about their children very cautiously.  If a kid is no longer comfortable with his or her life on display then parents should respect that. To me, there is a fine line between relating a story and spreading gossip.  Call me paranoid, but I believe that what you say can and will be used against you at some point.  Just because you can blog about it, doesn't mean you should.  The Golden Rule is very appropriate in this case.  If you don't want your embarrassing moments blogged about, then don't do it to your kids.  Conversely, if you like to have your entire life on display, consider that others may not.  And consider that you don't know what others can do with the information you put out in the blogosphere.

And yes, you can call me a Jesus Freak, but I believe the Golden Rule applies especially in our interactions with children.  Why?  Because believe it or not, they watch and hear everything that we do and they can spot a double standard and smell hypocrisy a mile away.  Parents are children's first teachers and ideally, parents should set the example and the standard.  Besides, you don't know what kids may blog about you. :-)

I have chosen not to use my real name or use the names of my children in my blog.  They are entitled to their privacy.  That doesn't mean that I don't write about their challenges or stuff that they do, but I try to choose my words carefully.  People don't need to know every sordid detail of our individual lives or our family life.  (Besides it's not that interesting.) Time to take off the cranky pants and put on a pair of comfy jeans.

So, if you call me "paranoid" and "Jesus Freak" in the same sentence then I guess that makes me a "paranoid Jesus Freak".

Friday, September 17, 2010

Accepting Defeat or Rethinking Perceptions?

This lengthy post is dedicated to that wonderful group of moms with special needs children that I get to see once a month. 

Progress. We've come to expect, dare I say 'demand', progress in certain areas of our lives. Specifically, I'm thinking of technology and medical science. Going backward or staying where we are is not the desired option. The goal is to progress, to move forward. To keep us motivated, we can always rely on some marketing slogan or some pithy quote to encourage us to 'expect the best-don't settle for less'. Or something to that effect. Our personal and professional lives are also expected to progress.

Sometimes, the progress is painfully slow and barely perceptible. Specifically, I'm thinking of children with disabilities. It's hard to chant the mantra,"Expect the best" (or whatever the slogan of the day is) when your 12 year old is still not potty trained. In fact, some children may graduate from Pull ups directly to Depends. That's not what we would consider progress. Sometimes it may take upwards of a year or more for a child to learn the ASL signs for "more", "eat", "ball", or "cookie". Forget the tea parties, the cute toddler just want your kid to be able to communicate that she wants a cookie. And when that day finally comes, when she signs "cookie", you will want to give her the entire freakin' box of cookies with laughter and grateful tears of joy streaming down your face. Who cares about the sugar content or the calories. Progress? Yes. The kind that we have come to expect? No. What if the progress was this slow for the remainder of your child's life. Would you still be grateful?

A recent email exchange with a friend got me thinking about my own attitude toward my youngest son's progress, which I touched on in a previous post. My friend has a daughter the same age as my son, and she too has disabilities. My friend was lamenting the fact that the reality of her daughter's challenges is beginning to hit her.

I'm not presuming to speak for my friend. Although we are on a similar journey it's not the same journey. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that sooner or later, those of us with special needs children must come to the realization that our kids are not like typical kids and that we may need to readjust our thinking. As obvious as this sounds, it doesn't always hit us right away. I'm going to go out on another limb and say that sooner or later, some of us with special needs children will come to the realization that progress will be painstakingly slow...maybe even imperceptible. Is this accepting defeat? I don't think so, but it is reality. I've heard the quote, "Reality is what you make it." Baloney. Because in my desired reality my kid would be able to see and talk. If I could make that, I would.

I will never give up praying and hoping for a miracle. But in between praying and hoping there is a life to be lived. There are school lunches to be made, family bike rides, cookies to bake, playing video games, serving at church, and on and on. To my friend: I share your pain – the pain of having an 8 year old who is not like the others. An 8 year old who is not yet reading, who communicates differently, who doesn't have friends who come over and play. I also share your joy – the joy of having an 8 year old who is not like the others. An 8 year old who isn't begging for a cell phone, who is generous with hugs and kisses, who is oblivious to not having friends because family is there. I hope that our joy is never measured by how much progress is or isn't made

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Friday, September 10, 2010

Proactive Budget Trimming

I hate being told what to do.  Especially when it's something that I don't want to do. Even when I was a kid, I hated being told what to do.  I usually knew what I had to do, but if I didn't want to do it, I would just either procrastinate and delay the inevitable or I would just not do it.  As I've gotten older, I've changed my mind about this behavior, somewhat.  I've discovered that there is a certain sense of freedom or control in doing what needs to be done before someone or circumstances force you to do what needs to be done.  Huh?  Let me try to explain.

Two years ago, we used to have Dish Network.  While we enjoyed HGTV, Food Network, and Comedy Central, we realized we didn't really watch TV that much.  My husband was anticipating a layoff, so we decided to get rid of Dish.  Sure, it only saved us $30 a month, but when you're out of a job, that's alot of money. The layoff didn't happen for a year, but we were able to save the money that we would have spent on TV. 

Recently (as in last week), my husband was laid off.  I decided to do a little proactive budget trimming rather than wait for the checkbook to completely empty.  First, I took a look at our phone expenses.  Our home phone is a cell phone.  Three years ago we ditched our landline for a cell phone, but that's another story.  My husband also has a cell phone, which is a must if you work construction. We had switched from Virgin Mobile to MetroPCS.  As much as the $40 per month unlimited talk/text is a good deal, I had to admit that it was more than I wanted to spend for the amount of time that I used it.  Needless to say, we went back to Virgin Mobile's PayLo $20 special: just add $20 to your account every 90 days.  That works out to $6.67 per month per phone.  That's a savings of $66 per month.

Next, I looked at our grocery shopping.  I decided to do something that I've been threatening to do for a long time: monthly meal planning.  I made a handy dandy calendar and filled it in with favorite (i.e. cheap) meals. It's now hanging on the fridge. To my surprise, I realized that I have more than enough pantry items to make dinners for the rest of the month.  I'll have to buy eggs, dairy, bread, and fruit every week, but I can easily save $30 - $40 per week by planning ahead.  I know, I know...Duh!

Can we still afford these things with unemployment and savings?  Yes.  Should we?  That's a good question. We're choosing to let these things go before we have to. Most people, myself included, are willing to go along with a plan if they choose to do it, rather than if they are forced to do it. They still may not like it, but there is a huge difference in attitude: choosing to eliminate items from your budget can give you a sense of freedom - like cleaning out your closet, you get to decide what stays and what goes.  Being forced to do something can make you feel deprived - like a victim.  There are no easy choices, but I would rather make the choices whenever possible than have my circumstances make them for me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Other Ride is a Townie

You might have heard women of a certain age such as myself say, "My other ride is a broom."  Now that I am entering that time of my life (no, not that time of the month), it's safe to say that there are gonna be days when I'm flying on my broomstick.  On those days, it's best to duck and cover.  However, when I'm not flying on my broom or driving my minivan, I'm on my other Townie.  The women's Electra Townie 7D in Orange Pearl.  Sleek and geek, oh yeah, baby, how do ya like me now?

My husband and I both got bikes a couple of weeks ago so that we could go on family bike rides.  I don't remember what he got, but it's not as cool as mine.  Anyway, I love this bike, and I am so sad that I've already got a flat tire.  I haven't had a bike in over 20 years and I had totally forgotten what it was like to ride a bike - the freedom, the exhilaration of being out and about.  The one thing that my bike can do that neither my minivan nor my broom can do is to provide me with a means to exercise and enjoy doing it.  I foresee a long and lasting relationship with this soon as I fix the flat tire.


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