5 (Cheap) Ways to Beat the Heat

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Ah, Summer…time to soak in the pool in your bikini with a glass of lemonade.

But wait! What if you don’t have a pool, wouldn’t be caught dead in a bikini and…*gasp*…don’t like lemonade? Having been raised “below the poverty line” in the sauna-like southern Midwest, we couldn’t afford very effective air conditioning, nor could we buy a pool. I’m very sensitive to heat and it’s even caused a couple of meltdowns in the past. With an index over 100 degrees even before the first days of summer, I have to keep cool to keep my cool. So I stuffed a few heat-busting tricks up my sleeves. If I were wearing any, that is. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Slowly adjust your thermostat

This is the old “frog in boiling water” trick–the more gradually you increase your thermostat, the less likely you’ll be to notice it’s getting warmer. Over the course of a week, inch your thermostat up just a degree at a time, stopping only when you hit the threshold of what you consider comfortable. We leave ours at 75 during the day but could probably inch it up another degree or two, if wee one’s naps don’t suffer.

2. Roll the windows down

On one side of your car, that is. When you’re out and about, turn down the windows only on the passenger side of your vehicle, and the air will circulate around you like natural A/C. This really works best going over 50 mph, or on a highway/freeway.

3. Dress light

Well this one is obvious…however, I used to be under the impression that “light” meant lightweight! But I sweat like crazy in synthetic clothes, even the gauziest acrylic/nylon tops are like heat traps in the sun…and forget about any light knits. Light-weave loose natural material like cotton seems to work best.

4. Spray fans

When I was living in an honest-to-goodness trailer park a few years back, we had one window air unit, which during August kept it a balmy 89 degrees inside. Putting an oscillating fan in front of the unit helped to circulate the air. However, about the only thing that was really effective was putting water on my limbs and sitting in front of the fan. A spray bottle of ice water would work even better, and there are handheld fans available which spray a mist (just google it!).

5. Use mint

Chew some mint gum for a quick refreshing burst of cool. This is especially effective with an icy drink. Mint body lotion can also “trick” your skin into feeling a little cooler.

 Are you especially sensitive to heat? Got any heat-busting tips or tricks? Let us know with a comment below!


Pic by GaborfromHungary on Morguefile.com

How to Harvest Mulberries

I looked down and realized I was making valances for my studio out of a bolt of loud 70s polyester with a 60s steam iron on a 60s dinette set with mid-century accessories,  while listening to the Beegees. I might possibly be from the wrong decade. Or maybe the right one, since some of that stuff is so popular with “hipsters” now anyway?

On an unrelated note, the mature mulberry tree we share with our neighbors is bearing again, and it’s time to pick and freeze while the picking’s good. Mulberries are among the best edible berries, IMO. They’re so sweet they need no sugar, they’re not tough nor do they have large seeds, they are full of antioxidants, and to harvest them, you simply shake the tree and they literally fall on you like *purple rain*. Supermarkets don’t carry mulberries, so if you have them then you probably got them for free from a nearby tree, which is also awesome. Unfortunately birds love them too so your car and sidewalk will be littered with colorful poo for the next two months, but it’s worth it.

  1. To get the mulberries, I use a ladder and drop them into a plastic kiddie pool on the ground, but you can also just spread a large tarp or cheap plastic painting dropcloth, shake the branches you can reach, and pick up the booty that falls. These things stain everything they touch, including carpet, so wear your grungiest digs and check your shoe soles before wearing them indoors afterward.
  2. Next, soak the harvest in a bowl of water for about 10-15 minutes, which should drown whatever got to the berries before you did.
  3. Spread them onto a paper towel on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Not too many berries to a sheet so they don’t stick to each other.
  4. Put them in the freezer a couple of hours until they are frozen solid–a COLD chest freezer is best–then remove.
  5. To remove the stems easily, rub the frozen berries vigorously on the sheet with the palm of your hand. The stems should all snap right off. (They are edible, but I personally dislike the texture). Then pick the berries up and the stems will be left on the sheet.
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frozen mulberries…lots of tasty, no stems

But now what to do with them? There’s cobblers, pies, you can put them in smoothies, in yogurt, on fancy crackers with cheese, use them frozen in slushies…and they can be stored in an airtight container in your freezer if you’re not ready to use them. I like to pick the first ripened batch, freeze them and pick more as they ripen over several days. Or, just eat them fresh right off the tree–the “bugs” are extra protein!

(No, I don’t know when this blog became another down-home-food preserving-curtain sewing- mama sort of blog.😉 )

Let me know if you have any tasty mulberry recipes!

To Be Human

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We all need a healthy balance of time to ourselves plus time with others. However, those of us on the Autism Spectrum may have intense special interests and social awkwardness. To other people, this can make it look like we are content to stay in our own little worlds.

But what some people don’t see is that there is this unfortunate paradox for us on the ASD Spectrum. We can to tend be unintentionally socially inappropriate, which drives people away, yet there are those of us thirsty for companionship, because hey…we’re human beings.

As a mom on the Spectrum, I’ve realized I’m not an island. I’m a peninsula–stubbornly jutting out from the mainland, but still forever a part of it.
I rely on the connection to that big, varied continent of Everybody, to keep me from being stuck in my head in an unhealthy way. To relieve some of the intensity that gathers when I’m by myself too long. And when you’re a mama, there’s really no such thing as “by yourself”, but stay-at-home moms, you know what I mean–going through days mostly void of adult conversation or any communication more meaningful than whining and sudden tantrums (mine, that is…just kidding).

Yes, I would love to dive under a pile of covers, curl up into a tight little ball like a dead bug and sleep for several millennia. I want to create art and listen to music and read, or heck, just poop, with absolutely no interruptions. Not from my child, my husband, Facebook, or whoever randomly calls me.

But I also really want connections with friends and family and other moms. And to meet up over coffee/wine/whatever beverage suits the hour, discussing late nights and is your kid walking yet because mine isn’t and things like that.

I just want others to know that even though we may not look like it, sometimes we get lonely here in our own little worlds. And we may not all know how to come out and say “hi”. Though some of our behaviors may be different from the general population, we are unique, fascinating people to know. So, say “hello” to an Aspie today. Ask them what they find interesting (I guarantee you’ll get an answer!). Because everyone needs a little companionship…and that’s how it is to be human.


Image by greyerbaby on Morguefile.com

7 Ways Newborns Are Awesome

Every now and again, I write up something for a mom blog outside my own. This is one of those posts…

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Whenever someone asked me how I was “enjoying motherhood” during my first few weeks of it, I honestly didn’t know if I should spout cliches about magical mommyhood bonding or just spill the no-so-pretty truth. Which meant, asking them this:
Do you enjoy waking every 2 hours to screams and being pooped, vomited and yanked on at 3 AM while the most sensitive parts of your body are recovering from the most extreme trauma they’ve ever experienced (or a major surgery)? No?
Well then why would you expect me to?
That being said…beside the obvious cuteness of your new offspring, the newborn stage comes with some awesome perks that almost make up for the zombiefication that is the first 3 months post-partum. For example:

1. Newborns can sleep anywhere, any time.
Yes, sleep comes in unfairly tiny chunks, but the average newborn sleeps a lot, and some can sleep anywhere. For instance, I could have held a heavy metal concert in my living room when my daughter was tiny and she would have snoozed right through it. Now she could wake up at the sound of a gnat sneezing in the backyard, and basically pitches a 5-alarm fit if she has to sleep any place but home. If your tot can pass out in your arms during a WWE match, enjoy that. It doesn’t always last.

2. They’re easily entertained.
You can hand a 3-month old any random object in reach, and because they’ve never held it before, it’s the most fascinating thing on earth to them. All you have to do is be uber-enthusiastic, say something like “You thought spoon was cool? Wait til you see…washcloth!!!”, and that will keep them entertained for at least a solid 8 minutes.
But eventually they will develop more advanced reasoning skills, you will run out of different voices to read books in, and the toys will become so complex and covered in light-up buttons that your kid will need to read a manual before playing with them.

3. No teeth.
Most babies are born toothless. Which is awesome because that newly breastfeeding break-in-period is hard enough without tiny incisors chomping down on raw nipples. Also, teething BITES (literally).

4. They can’t wreck your house.
House-cleaning is going to fall pretty far below “keeping a tiny human alive” on the priority list. And it won’t matter–your lil’ angel can’t run through the house smearing poo on the walls, or throw an entire plate of spaghetti on the carpet yet. This may be the only time in the next 18 years that you will have a child in the house AND all of your glassware intact.

5. They’re lightweight.
Although there are exceptions, an average newborn will generally weigh less than an average bowling ball. I could carry mine around easily and securely with one arm. But once your bundle of joy approaches the 16-lb mark, your arms won’t recover for a good 5 years. Want to pump up those “guns”? Try this new workout called “carrying a squirming child”.

6. Everyone wants to hold them.
Baby-crazy relatives/friends are gold. If you happen to see one at a gathering, they’ll pretty much be unable to resist the temptation of holding your kid. Then you can go hide in a closet for a good 30 minutes so they can’t find you and give your baby back (just kidding…or am I?). Good luck doing that with a tantrumming toddler. I doubt anyone will be begging to hold 30 lbs of screaming, flailing fury.

7. They can’t escape confinement.
Apparently, toddlers are capable of doing backflips out of their cribs (at least I did, according to my horrified mother). This is obviously not a problem with a little person who can’t even hold their head up yet. And you can set a newborn in their crib while you pee for a precious couple of minutes, without coming back to a disaster that took 3 seconds to create and will take 3 hours to clean.

Ironically, because of sleep deprivation and temporary mind loss and all, I only realized all of this in hindsight. It may feel like the longest few months of your life, but the newborn stage really is a tiny chunk of your whole life together–and the next stages have their own challenges (and joys!). So while you’re waiting to get through this, new mama, take heart that it won’t last forever. And enjoy not having to worry about securing every cord in the house, finding socks in the toilet, and fits involving carrots while you can!


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From Their Perspective

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You know something? Parenting is hard. The sleepless nights, the worry, the noise and tantrums, the flu bugs, the tough decisions…it’s enough to crumple a tough person into a stressed-out little ball sometimes. So what could be more trying than this very important job we have as moms and dads?

How about being a child? Likely none of us remember much from before age two or three. What was it like to be an infant? They have likes and dislikes and fears they can’t communicate–and they experiencing the same emotions as we do, but with an underdeveloped ability to cope with them. And sometimes when they lose their patience, we lose ours. Lately my kiddo is learning to assert herself, and I find myself losing patience more often than I should. To better handle when wee one is being unreasonable (i.e., tantrumming over something tiny), I need to try to see things from her point of view. What may be silly and small to me, is probably momentarily devastating to her, because she doesn’t know how to handle it.

In this vein, I just ran across a short insightful blog post on life from a tot’s perspective: as a challenging, frustrating and exhilarating experience. Read here: It’s Hard For Them Too

What’s the “silliest” thing your kiddo has thrown a tantrum over? Got any tips you use to help them (and you) calm down? Feel free to comment below!


Image by Jentsoi at Morguefile.com

 

The “New” Dilemma

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I’ve got a question for you:

Have you ever been so “set on” one thing that you know you like or are used to, that you won’t accept anything else?

This will sound unrelated, but bear with me here:
Just recently, I was driving to my mom’s house to help her with some home improvement projects. She lives on a curvy, hilly road out in the middle of nowhere, where I grew up. I was likely daydreaming a bit like I’m prone to doing. Going around a steep curve on a hill, I swerved a bit, overcompensated, and…

…immediately found myself doing vehicular somersaults sideways across the road. My car landed, roof crushed, upside down in the ditch. I’m not sure what led me to be so careless, but I was lucky to still be alive. After managing to free myself from the front seat and frantically crawling out through the busted back windshield (because in movies, all wrecked vehicles explode), I wondered where I would go from here. Other than to the E.R., that is. I got help pretty quickly even out in the country. I ended up with just a slight concussion, minor whiplash, massive tow and E.R. bills, and…oh…no car.

This was gonna be tough. Because not only did I like my reliable little family car, but I was Used. To. It.
The comfortable seats, the scent of handmade soap I’d used as air-freshener, its non-descript color that hid the muddy pawprints always on the hood…it always started and I could always expect the same things from it, as long as I kept it well-serviced.

So I started looking for a “new” (used) car. I’m no people expert, but I imagine that most would probably pursue the nicest, newest vehicle they can afford. That’s what makes sense, anyway. I saw plenty that looked nice and were in my price range.

But I realized I didn’t want to get used to something else. I really just wanted my 14-year-old plain-jane car back. Same make, model, heck, even color would be nice. Of course, I own that my expectations can be…unrealistic. But sometimes I actually end up with exactly what I want, regardless of how ridiculously specific that is. I recently found something nearly identical to my last car, for a good deal. If I end up with this vehicle, it would be awesome, like getting “my car” back.

But if I end up with something else…I guess it’s really just an opportunity to remove myself from my comfort zone a bit. That’s how we grow and become more resilient and flexible, both important traits for survival and happiness in life. “New” is difficult, but maybe not such a bad thing.

(There might also be a message in here about paying more attention while driving…uh, yeah. Don’t be a distracted idiot like me. Pay attention while driving!)

How about you? Do you find it hard to adjust to forced changes? Or do you seek out ways to stretch your comfort zone? Comment below!


Image by mindgrind at MorgueFile.com

 

5 Thoughts You Have While Falling Off Your Deck

 

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My deck…with a broken rail

Every now and then, I start to think that I’m oh-so-smart and might actually sort of…have it together.

Then, I have a moment of profound stupidity that humbles me down to a reasonable level. Nothing has triggered more of these moments for me than the rite of passage that is motherhood. Maybe not even when I was a hormonal teenager who broke three DVD players in a row. As an Aspie with her head in the clouds, I can be horribly unobservant, and I’ve always managed to be creative at maiming myself too. I’ve cut myself on cardboard, managed to knock an actual chunk out of my eyeball with a ruler, tumbled down steps in a goth Halloween costume, and recently accidentally drank hydrogen peroxide thinking it was water. But this last moment takes the cake.

While hubby was gone, I was out on our deck a few days ago, baby-proofing the wooden railing by securing some woven wire fence to the posts–leaning over the posts due to the awkward angle it took to attach it. This system worked fine until I leaned over a post that was attached by an idiot…less than expertly.

An unexpected *crack* later, I was hurtling head-first toward the ground 8 feet below.

In the .07 seconds it took me to hit the ground, I had just enough time to think some frenzied thoughts that went a little like this:

OH SHI–

Well that was stupid.

Will I live?

Maybe I’ll get lucky and just be paralyzed.

Or break something. Never done that before. I’ll cross it off my bucket list.

*THUNK.*

The most horrifying thought was, that wee one was standing by the rail I had just broken through. The second I was aware I could actually move, I hauled butt back up the steps and yanked her away from the railing. God was surely looking out for us–she was too short to fall through the opening, and somehow I ended up with nothing but some bruises, a scraped thumb and a very sore tailbone.

Folks, I learned my lesson. Don’t do ANYthing even remotely risky without a responsible, driving adult home. Hubby has since re-secured the post (whoever built the deck used screws only about half an inch long), and I won’t be leaning over things that can’t support my weight again. Hubby would like to add that if you ever have any safety-related projects to tend to…don’t put them off!

Sooo, surely I’m not the only one who needs some parent-proofing! Got any parenting blunders/survival stories you’d like to share? Share them below!

 

Some Changes

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We’ve had crocuses like these for a couple of weeks already

Happy March, everyone… Spring is on its way soon! It’s been the warmest winter here I can remember, hardly any snow or ice, days in February that reached into the 70s…very unusual for us.

But other than the weather, there is a change coming to the blog as well. With wee one becoming more and more adventurous and free time even less free, we’ll be cutting back posts a bit–to basically whenever there’s a chance! And with a vegetable garden that needs fenced, tilled and sowed, chores piling up, and side endeavors to pay off our second mortgage, my hands are pretty full. You may see fewer posts, but we’re still here, just probably in the middle of cleaning carrots off of the wall, or *attempting* to grow potatoes. So stay tuned!🙂


 

Image by Rosevita at Morguefile.com

Lookie lookie!

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See how excited they are? Go check it out!

Hey folks, we are on the blog “Crazy Good Parent” today! CGP is a great publication for parents from all kinds of mental backgrounds, who are looking for a safe place to express themselves and read about others like them.

Come see our new post on 6 Things An Autistic Parent Wants You To Know…


 

Image by AmyFisherLittle on Morguefile.com

 

4 Aspie Parenting Challenges – And How To Face Them

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I’m not a veteran parent, but I’ve realized during my short experience with being a mom, that parenting is a special challenge–whether you’ve got one kid or ten, with or without Autism. However… there are some unique things that I face as a parent on the Spectrum. With some helpful advice and trial-and-error, I’ve found a few ways to deal with them, too. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

Struggles with Noise
Probably for survival purposes, a baby’s high voice seems almost specially made to cut through obstacles–like multiple insulated walls, shooting-range earplugs with foam muffs over them, and Los Angeles smog. This is great for getting your attention when they are in need or in danger, but not so great when it’s simply nap time, nothing is amiss, and they just want to keep playing (yelling). And loud, sudden noise can sometimes trigger panic or even a meltdown for me.
How to deal with it: I use earplugs. I can still hear little one well due to my very sharp hearing (and her very loud voice), but it’s less painful for me to respond to her when she’s tantrumming, and I can concentrate better on her needs rather than my throbbing eardrums! Just make sure that
1)
you’re watching your child closely,
2)
you aren’t wearing these all the time, and
3)
you can still hear them well enough to respond and interact normally with them.

Getting Alone Time
If you are an introverted Aspie, you probably recharge your energy most effectively by yourself in a calm environment. “By yourself” and “calm environment” may have gone the way of the dodo with the beginning of parenthood–but the more moments you can grab to refocus on calming your mind and body, the better you will feel for both your and your child’s sake.You need to take care of yourself to better care for others!
How to deal with it: You may need to call on a friend or family member to watch your little one(s) while you go to a quiet room or leave the house for a bit. You could also try hiring a babysitter for a few hours if needed. If you can’t get help right now, common advice is to “nap while they nap”, if you are able. Or, you can use this time to pursue your favorite calming interest, whether that’s reading, listening to music, or heck, collecting insects. Unless housework is your interest, it can wait. A little time spent doing what I love works wonders for my mood and makes me a better mom to my daughter.

Changing Routines
It seems like it’s common for us Aspies to need a steady routine to function best. In a previous post, we talked about how having a child can turn this upside down (and why that’s a good thing!). It’s great to set up routines like regular nap times and bedtime rituals for kids, and it’s been proven that they feel safest with some structure. But we need to expect that there will be things that suddenly upset the routine, so that we can be ok with that. Kids teach us that it’s ok to color outside “the lines” sometimes.
How to deal with it: This isn’t easy in the moment, but it also helps to consider all stages as temporary. They won’t wake 5x nightly forever. They won’t be teething forever. They won’t be taking your car without permission forever (ha!). The one thing you can reliably expect is for your child’s routine to eventually change as they do. So don’t get too used to bedtime at 6PM, or regularly having to clean carrots off the walls. This too, shall pass!

Making Eye Contact
Do you struggle with making eye contact with people? I do. It feels intense and awkward to me, and often I either can’t look a person in the eye, or I stare. I feel silly about this, but my daughter has a pretty intense, unblinking stare that I find a little uncomfortable, even though she’s just an infant. Babies love their parent’s faces, and eye contact is seen as beneficial to help our kids to bond with us. Making eye contact with them also helps them learn how faces and emotions work, and teaches them patterns and responses of other people. Along with eye contact, it also stimulates baby’s development to make different facial expressions at them.
How to deal with it:  I’m still working on this challenge, but I’ve gotten better as I push past my comfort zone. I can relax knowing an infant hasn’t developed the social expectations of an adult, and won’t think I’m weird while I try to find the appropriate amount of eye contact! And there is so much I can see about my daughter when we look each other in the eye. I can see her developing personality and curiosity peeking out at me. This link has some wonderful tips on how to meet people’s eyes in various situations (the last one on loving someone may be the most relevant).

Do you recognize some of these issues? If you have some tips to share, or would like to mention a unique challenge you’ve faced, feel free to comment below!


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