Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Top Ten Posts Of 2015

Hi everyone! I am still not feeling too great... pretty homesick and having trouble getting myself to do things such as keep up with my blog... but I'm working on it! I at least thought I'd pop in here to do a nice Top 10 post for the end of 2015! I am going to link to YOUR top ten favorite posts from this year! The results from what you like... which I got from Google Analytics... were a little surprising! What do you think of these?

10. Maybe Nothing To Lose. This is sort of a sad one for me. I wrote about my big plans to start a preschool program for neurologically diverse children. I wanted to start it as soon as I moved out here. But due to lack of money and encouragement, I had to let that dream slip from my grasp. I still haven't given up on it. There is so much I hate about the public school system, that I no longer really want to be a part of it... I feel like I am helping to abuse children when I am working in these schools. I am still broken-hearted that it didn't work out. But maybe in the future...? 

9. Review: Peace Weighted Products Weighted Stuffed Animal. Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory. I am glad to have found out about, and shared, this awesome business!

8. Autistics Speaking Day. For this special Internet holiday,  I made a short movie about my everyday life. Definitely one of my favorite posts as well!

7. Trip to the Pumpkin Patch. You liked reading about how I got to go to the pumpkin patch that is owned by the family from Little People, Big World!  I also wrote about wondering if it was better to be with groups of more "low functioning" people where you were one of the most independent people there, or with groups of "neurotypical" people where you would be the least independent and possibly most isolated person there.

6. Little Lily Takes The Wheel. This is the one in which my dog, Lily, wrote about being a psychiatric service dog. One of my favorites as well! 

5. Not Knowing What I Need.  In this post, I talked about my frustration with not knowing what sorts of services and accomodations could help me, and the lack of availability of these things even if I did know what they were. Nice of you to let me vent!

4. My review of Stimtastic, the online store that is all about stimming.  I am glad my reviews are actually benefiting people out there! By the way, my aunt got me a new Snake Twist necklace to replace the one I tragically lost while hiking!

3. First Week of 1:1 Therapy or Counseling or Whatever. In this post, I started therapy and unwittingly convinced my therapist that I was suicidal. Interesting, for sure!

2. Conversation With My Mom About Autism. This is the post where my mom told me some things about my early childhood and how she came to find out (or, rather, not find out) that I was autistic. I also wrote about how the story of Stellaluna can be compared to a child with undiagnosed autism, growing up being told that there is something wrong with them, only to find out that the problem was that they are a bat trying to live as a bird. Good choice, friends! I like that one too!

The number one favorite? My review of Dose Of Nature CBD Oil.Since I wrote it in March of this year, it has continued to be the post with the most pageviews, You guys really want to learn more about how hemp oil can help you with ADHD! I have not used it for a while myself, so I can't give you an update on that. It is not quite in my budget right now. But I still do believe that it can be very helpful in treating everything from ADHD to cancer!

So those are your collective favorite posts from 2015. What about you, personally? Which posts on my blog did you like the best?

Thank you all so much for your support, this year and all of the years since I have started it. I hope to continue blogging for many more years into the future. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!
Rainbow New Year image

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Product Review: Simply Earth Pine Scotch Essential Oil

Hi everyone! Sorry this is going to be a short post... I just got back from my trip to California to spend time with my family, and I am feeling really sad today. I will write more about it later... but for now, just picture me with a black rain cloud above my head and a sad look on my face. It is hard to make myself do anything other than watch TV.  However, I remembered that I had this Simply Earth Pine Scotch Essential Oil to review, and I also remembered reading that pine essential oil can help with emotional release or stress relief. I decided to give it a try, and write about it as I go along.

How I feel now: Calm but sad. In low spirits. Listless. Also starting to have a headache, which I think is from crying so much in the past two days. (I don't know why, but crying jags always leave me with a headache!)

Using the essential oil:  The information I've read suggests putting drops of pine oil on a tissue or on your pillow and breathing it in. There is also the "direct palm inhalation method," which involves putting a few drops on your palms, rubbing them together, and then cupping your hands over your nose to inhale the vapors. This method is mostly used for emotional relief reasons, which is what I am going to use it for. It should only be used with oils that are safe for direct skin contact. I read that pine oil can cause irritation to people My skin is not particularly sensitive, but I decided to play it safe and put it on a wash cloth instead. Steam inhalation is one way to use essential oils. You can use an essential oil vaporizer or inhaler, but I don't have those, so my plan is to just get a wash cloth really hot, and then add a few drops of pine oil.

I did do that. I added about ten drops of pine oil to the wash cloth, and then cupped it over my face and inhaled. To my surprise, the scent was very mild, It reminded me, for some reason, of my Nona's house when I was a small child. As I inhaled more, I could feel the vapor going into my lungs. It feels a little bit like breathing in Vicks Vapor Rub, but much milder.

How I feel now: My headache has gotten milder, and I do feel a little less sad, at least for the moment. In DBT, one of the skills we learn is "self-soothing," which involves doing things to comfort all of your five senses. You could listen to music that calms you, for instance, look at beautiful art, or eat comfort food. Or, you could use one of your favorite scents. So it is possible that the scent of the pine oil, which brought up pleasant memories of my Nona's house, actually made me feel better. Of course it is also possible that the pine oil itself has properties that help calm the emotions.

I decided to try again, this time just using a dry paper towel to inhale the scent of the pine oil. Again, it is a very mild scent, and very comforting. I think I might sprinkle some on the collar of my pajama shirt tonight so that I can smell it while I fall asleep!

I've used Simply Earth products before, and I always feel good about it. First of all, they guarantee that their oils are 100% pure and therapeutic grade. Second of all, they donate 13% of the profits to organizations that serve human trafficking victims. The reason they choose to donate 13% is because the average age of a human trafficking victim is 13 years old. I am always proud to use a company that gives back to the community!  I know I will be looking for more Simply Earth oils in the near future!


Monday, December 21, 2015

California, I'll Be Knocking On The Golden Door

Hi everyone! This is going to be a short post because I am so tired, but I just wanted to say a temporary goodbye. I am going to be going down to my brother's place in California until the 27th. My mom is meeting me there, and we are going to spend Christmas there! Bro and Sunny couldn't make it out to Chicago for the holidays, and my mom couldn't stand the idea of not being with Squeak for his 3rd Christmas! (So far, we've been together each Christmas of his relatively short life.)

I am not going to be bringing my computer with me, because I want to take a partial technology break. Also they barely have Internet there, so it would be hardly worth it. I will have my Kindle to check email and stuff, but I won't be blogging. So... don't forget about me!

Until we meet again, I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, or a wonderful week in general if you don't.

Alright, I gotta wake up and go to the airport in just a few hours, so I am going to take a shower and go to bed. Peace, everyone! I love you all!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Kids Always Win Me Over

Christmas is almost here! Have you checked out my Autism/ADHD/Special Needs Gift Guide yet? 

Hi everyone! It is finally Friday, and I am exhausted because I've had a busy week! I actually worked every day this week! You might remember last week I worked all week helping some kindergartners with behavioral problems in a regular ed class. Then the people from the office had asked me to come back this week to work in a special education classroom. As it turned out, the job was not in a special ed classroom at all, but another job as a 1:1 assistant for yet another little kindergarten boy with behavioral problems! This job turned out to be good and bad in many ways. The little boy I worked with was named "Myles," and he reminded me in some ways of "Taz," which was hard for me.*
Like Taz, Myles was a little boy who was living in kinship foster care because his parents were, probably due to drugs and other problems, unable or unwilling to care for him. I didn't get to know that much about Myles's background because I was just a lowly sub, but I did hear a few things. Like Taz, Myles was a very smart kid, although he had some learning problems. Like Taz, Myles was very hyperactive and really did not have much control over his activity level. You might picture trying to get a four-month-old puppy to sit quietly and work on math problems, and that would be pretty much what it would be like to get Myles (or Taz) to do these things. 
It is actually hard for me to write about Myles today because I have so much to say but I can't really organize my mind around it. On my first day, they only told me what classroom to go to, and what the child's name was, and nothing else. When I got to the classroom, the teacher pointed him out to me (he was wearing a red sweatshirt) but told me nothing else. When I sat down next to him, he was friendly and told me all about his breakfast, his Matchbox Cars, and the names of his friends. When the teacher called all of the children to come sit on the carpet, and Myles bounced around the classroom instead, and I tried to get him to sit on the carpet, he ignored me. The teacher whispered to me, "Being near him and talking directly to him doesn't work."
Uh... okay...
The special ed teacher gave me this clip board with all of these charts that I was supposed to use with Myles. On one chart I was supposed to tally up how many times he needed to be told to do things before he actually did them, throughout the day. Another was some sort of smiley chart, on which you were supposed to mark a smiley face, straight face or sad face for each activity of the day. On another chart, he was supposed to earn stars for following directions, and when he got ten stars he could get a break. But the classroom teacher told me, no, he doesn't use any of those behavior charts, but yes, I was supposed to do the tally mark things.
The children switch classrooms for one of their Reading sessions. Because now in kindergarten they don't do much playing... they do reading, writing and math all day long. So anyways I went with Myles to the other kindergarten class, which was actually the class I worked in last week with Josh and Tony. Instead of going to the carpet in that classroom, Myles ran over to the puzzles and started trying to play with them. I tried to figure out how to get him over to the carpet without being near him or speaking to him. I wasn't successful. Then some random assistant who was in there started trying to get him to go to the carpet... she apparently was familiar with him... and when he wouldn't go, she went to get the special ed teacher, who also tried to get him to go to the carpet. They finally got him to go by saying he could earn two puzzle pieces for each thing he did in class. 
I was already wishing I could be anywhere else but there, but that point. I hate not knowing what I am supposed to do! But actually, it wasn't so bad. Myles was a sweet little kid, really, the problem was the teachers. Each person who worked with Myles seemed to have different theories and plans. The classroom teacher's theory was, "Myles needs to be able to do exactly what all of the other children are doing. If he can't, then there is a problem and he shouldn't be in this class." She told me that. So the special ed teacher was giving me these things to do with Myles... like the visual symbol page, which I eventually replaced with some smaller cards with stick drawing pictures that Myles could hold and read... and the break schedule (because, yes, he was supposed to be earning the stars and taking breaks) and half the time the teacher was just thinking I was coddling him by letting him earn extra breaks for doing what the other children were just expected to do with no extra reward, and the other half of the time she was just glad for me to take him out of the classroom for any reason, even if he spent all day playing with an iPad in the library. 
Most of the time, he wasn't even that disruptive... no more so than any other 6-year-old who has to spend seven hours at school doing academic work. There were plenty of other kids in the class who were doing the same things as Myles, sometimes even more frequently, like interrupting during story time or talking without raising their hand or moving their legs out of the criss-cross-applesauce position during the never-ending carpet lessons. Occasionally  he did have what could be called a tantrum or "melt-down," and it was a doozy. But the rest of the time... it was like he was being disciplined all day long, for things that were pretty typical little boy behaviors, just because he also occasionally had more severe behaviors. Because these severe behaviors existed sometimes and because he had so little control over them, he was expected to be behaving BETTER than the other children. Seven kids could all be crashing the Matchbox cars together during play time, but Myles would be the one who had his Matchbox car confiscated. And to me, what 6-year-old doesn't crash the cars together when they play with them? 
The adults frustrated me. But the kids always win me over. I connected with Myles. He listened to me most of the time. He wanted to please the adults around him, He tried. During our breaks when we escaped from the classroom and went to the library, I played board games with him. I played Matchbox cars with him on the floor. I taught him how to draw snowflakes. I drew stars on his chart when he was doing good work, and then changed the stars to smileys, and then boots, and then cars, and then M's, at his request. When he had one of his biggest meltdowns, he clung to me and cried. I thought he was having a pretty good week. The classroom teacher said his behavior was going downhill. 
The kindergarten has a special day when everyone's parents are invited to come make mini gingerbread houses with them. The houses were made out of graham crackers. Nobody from Myles's family came, so I made his gingerbread house with him. I helped him spread the frosting onto the graham cracker walls. I told him I was good at spreading things because I loved peanut butter sandwiches, and he laughed. He was excited that I helped him, and told his teacher, "She helped me! She did the frosting, and I put the candies on!" He worked very hard on his little house. Later they had to write in their journals. He drew pictures in cars, and I wrote down a few sentences that he dictated to me. Again, he was excited to have my help, and he ran to the teacher to show her his journal. "She helped me with the words!" he said. (Myles never did learn my name.) 
I mentioned to the special ed teacher that I would be glad to come back after winter break to keep working as a 1:1 for Myles. She told me it was "covered," but that there would be other kids who would need help. Later as I walked Myles to the bus for the last time, I told him, "When you come back from vacation, I might not be in your class anymore. Someone else might be coming to hang out with you and help you."
He frowned and said, "But I want you to hang out with me!" It had only been 5 days, but it felt like it had been a year. 
Earlier today while we were taking a break, Myles was drawing on a dry erase board. He drew this picture and said it was him and me. He had to erase his head and re-draw it three times because he kept making it too small to fit his smile onto. I wanted to take a picture of it with my phone so I could remember. I let Myles take the picture. He took about fifty, and then somehow took an extremely fast stop-motion video of me from about twenty different angles. I have no idea how he did it. He scrolled through the other photos stored in my phone, and wanted to know the names of all of my pets and how old they were. He took pictures of the table and the ceiling and my feet. Later, I would not want to delete them. 
Here is the one of his drawing of him and I. I am the tall one. I am bald, I guess.

I hate these jobs because the teachers and other assistants confuse me and frustrate me. But the kids always win me over... especially the ones like Myles. It is always really hard to say goodbye.

*Taz was a first grader I worked as a 1:1 for a few years ago and it was a horrible experience, not at all because of the child, but because of the teachers and other staff members I worked with. Horrible. I think this job was one of the reasons that I started having even more anxiety about work and have had such a hard time with jobs ever since then! You can read about Taz here if you want to.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: Peace Weighted Products Weighted Stuffed Animal

(Part of this review was also published in my ADHD/Autism/Special Needs Gift Guide!)

Children with autism, ADHD, and various other special needs are often calmed and centered by holding, pushing, or being covered with a heavy object. Kristi Samson, the owner of Peace Weighted Products and also the mother of two children with special needs, makes weighted stuffed animals and other things for children. She started her store in order to provide weighted products at a more affordable price than many of the other stores out there sell. I had the opportunity to review one of her products recently and my opinion is that her products are high quality, durable, and loveable.

Kristi asked me if I would like to review a lap pad or a weighted stuffed animal. Of course, you know, I chose the stuffed animal! I love animals... even stuffed ones. I had not looked at pictures of the weighted stuffed animals Kristi makes, and I was somehow expecting some sort of weighted pillow shaped like an animal. I was delighted to get this tiger in the mail!

He is very soft and snuggly, with floppy arms and legs. He weighs about two pounds. I wasn't sure that would be enough weight for me... ideally I would sleep with a 150 pound blanket over me... although it would definitely be heavy enough for a child. However, I found that sleeping with him sitting on my belly actually helped... and he also helps me get work done when he sits on my lap while I'm at the computer!

The weighted stuffed animals Kristi makes include a cow, a monkey, a pig, dogs, cats, a dinosaur, a giraffe, a ladybug, teddy bears, a lion, and a tiger. These stuffed animals look just like a regular stuffed animal you'd find in a toy store, with sweet faces and soft fur. They are weighted with bean bag pouches filled with nontoxic aquarium gravel. Stuffing is then added around the bean bag pouches, so they are still soft and cuddly instead of crunchy!

Kristi suggests many ways that a weighted stuffed animal can be used by a child. For instance, a child can carry his stuffed animal while going on an errand with his family, such as to the grocery store. The heavy object in his arms serves to help him stay calm and grounded, while also keeping his hands busy and less likely to touch random objects. It can act as a transitional object that the child can bring with him from home, to school and other places.

Peace Weighted Products also makes weighted blankets, lap pads, neck wraps, and shirts. Be sure to check them out! 

With the holidays coming up, a weighted stuffed animal would make a great gift for some lucky kid! (Or adult... as you can see, I am very happy with my tiger!)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Stealing: Why Do You Want To Know That, Part Two


Now it is time for Sunday Stealing! This one is apparently a continuation of last week's meme. Here we go!
Why Do You Want To Know That Meme, part two

Stolen from: Love me some surveys

25. List 3 activities that you can only enjoy by yourself. 
Blogging, reading, listening to music on headphones.

26. If you could live in any biome* (and survive) which biome would you live in? (*a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g., forest or tundra.) Uhh,,, What are my choices? You just forced me to Google it. Okay, got it... Definitely the ocean, and specifically either the pelagic zone (with the dolphins and whales) or the coral reef!

27. How do you like being roused in the morning? Preferrably just by waking up naturally. I hate being woken up. If my little dog wakes me up, that is okay, because she is so cute that I can't help forgiving her!

28. How was your day? What did you do? I slept all day. I really did. I got up briefly to eat breakfast, and then went back to sleep. So did my dog.

29. What did your last text message say? From my dad: "Lets see... Somewhere over the rainbow where the sun is black, snowmen turn into cats who leave big paw prints."

30. Do you respond to texts quickly? Yes if they are from somebody I know!

31. Who was the last person you called? My work to tell them I was stuck in traffic and would be late.

32. List 5 things that are on your wish list. The game Colorku, a black kitten, a bigger fish tank, a weighted blanket, and a goat.

33. If you were famous, what do you think you would be famous for? Blogging! Yay!

34. Winter or summer? SUMMER! Yay!

35. What is a quality that all people should have? Kindness.

36. If you could have a large collection of one item, what would that item be? Stuffed animals. I already to have a large collection but I can't find it because it is at my mom's house somewhere in the deep, dark depths of the attic. I love stuffed animals!

37. What have you been thinking about lately? Christmas! I can't wait to see my nephew Squeak!

38. What is the secret to a happy life? If I knew that, I'd probably be a lot happier!

39. What are some phrases you say often? "I gotta pee like a racehorse." and "What in the world?" and "I want a goat."

40. Favorite food? Chocolate anything. Especially angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream frosting. Yes yes yes.

41. What is your wish for the world? People to stop hurting each other and other living things.

42. What are some of your greatest fears? Drowning. Being murdered. My dog dying.

43. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? A screen camera app for a user testing site.

44. Most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen (in real life)? The lake up in Wisconsin, once we were out on the boat and we stayed out too long until it got dark, which wasn't particularly good because we just had a little dinghy with no lights or anything. But the moon was out and was reflecting on the lake, and some of the cabins in the distance were lit up, and it was so friggin beautiful. It was magical.

45. Spicy food: Like or dislike? Somewhat like, up to a point. Mildly spicy.

46. Scary movies: Like or dislike? I usually like them but many recent ones are kind of lame.

47. Do you like to travel? Yes!

48. Any regrets? Just a billion.

49. Do you like rain? I don't mind it. I like how it sounds at night. Which is a good thing, because I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it has been raining continuously since Halloween!

Okay, that is it! Sunday Stealing is always so informative!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday 9: Chuck E's In Love

Camas Lilies that Lewis and Clark talked about in their journal.
It is time again for Saturday 9! The weeks go by so quickly, these days!

Saturday 9: Chuck E.'s in Love (1979)

Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Chuck E.'s friends look for him at the pool hall and the drugstore. If we want to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where should we look? Probably at home. Although I was really hoping to spend a lot more time actually doing things when I moved here, having no money pretty much grounds me... I barely have enough money for gas to get to work!

2) The lyrics tell us his friends know something up with Chuck E because he's even combed his hair. So here's a question about your hair: do you usually use a blow dryer or let it air dry?  Air dry. If I blow dry it it turns into a ball of frizz!

3) In this song, Ricki Lee sings that she spotted Chuck E. at the Pantages, a grand old Los Angeles theater. Nearly 100 years old, the Pantages was originally a movie palace and was renovated in the 1980s for concerts and theatrical productions. Tell us about a cool landmark in your town. I've only lived here for a while, so I don't know many. One I do know of is the Camas Lilies, which bloom in the spring time and are really pretty. Lewis and Clark (the famous explorers, not my fish) talked about them in their journal when they traveled through this area.

4) "Chuck E." is a real person. Chuck E. Weiss is a blues musician and DJ who hung around with Ricki Lee and her boyfriend ... until he fell in love. Have you ever had a friendship fall by the wayside when one of you entered a romantic relationship? Not really. Kind of in high school, I guess... I was good friends with a guy and a girl, and the three of us used to hang out all the time... but then they started going out with each other, and then they sort of turned against me, as a bonding experience or something. They started making fun of me and stuff. It was so rude. Of course after they broke up, they each individually wanted to be friends with me again!

5) Rickie Lee was once married to a French musician named Pascal Nabet-Meyer. Say something to us in French. Bon jour?

6) When her popularity was at its height, Rickie Lee appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone twice. Who have you seen on a recent magazine cover? Oprah. I saw her on the cover of her own magazine EVERY SINGLE MONTH!

7) Rolling Stone called Rickie Lee "the duchess of cool." Who is the coolest person you know? Uh... I only know, like, 11 people. And most of them are pretty cool.
8)  1979 was a good year for Rickie Lee, what with her big hit record and the Rolling Stone covers. But it was a terrible year for The Who, because eleven of their fans died during an Ohio concert. What's your favorite Who song? I used to like "Pinball Wizard". Mostly because I liked playing Pinball.

9) Rickie Lee moved to New Orleans, a city she fell in love with after a visit. Have you ever gone to a vacation spot and wished you could just stay there forever? Manitowish Waters, of course! That was the awesome town in northern Wisconsin where my family used to go every summer, for generations. But I also felt that way about several other places, including Maui and Key West. And here, actually, and now I do live here

Alright, everyone, that is Saturday 9 for you! If you want to participate, just copy and paste the questions into your own blog, answer the questions, and enter the linky on the Saturday 9 page! !

Friday, December 11, 2015

I Made It Through A Week!

Hey you! Don't forget to check out my Gift Guide for people with ADHD, autism and other special needs! You'll find ideas for everyone on your list!

I worked every single day this week! It was an exhausting week. But not bad at all. It started out with Monday, when I subbed in Portland as a Title I teacher. I got to work with small groups of children on reading.

Then I ended up accepting an assistant job as a 504 Assistant, which means an assistant for a child who is not in special education, but has a 504 Plan. Usually this means the child either has a physical disability, or sometimes kids who have ADHD. (I don't know why, but children with ADHD alone do not qualify for Individual Education Plans. Getting them a 504 Plan is a way of slipping through a loophole to get a child the accommodations he needs, even without an IEP.) The job was for Tuesday through Friday, and I decided to take it, even though I would make more if I tried to hold out for a teaching job in Portland each day... because this was guaranteed work for the whole week.

It turned out to be for a kindergartner named "Josh" who has a broken foot and can't go outside at recess. Incidentally he also seems to have some sort of undiagnosed ADHD or learning disability. When I got there the teacher explained to me that although my official job was just to stay indoors with Josh during recess and help him out if he needed mobility assistance throughout the day (which he didn't), she also wanted me to help him with paying attention, with behavior, and with doing his work. He was way behind the others in all of his skills, even as far as coloring, drawing, writing his name, and what-not. He had a really low frustration level as well. He would tell me, "Go away! I don't need any help!" and so I would stay near by, sort of working with other students, and soon Josh would be demanding, "HELP ME!" (He also was a sort of rude little kid... he acted more like an angry teenager than a 5-year-old! I tried to explain to him about the magic word, "please.")

Besides Josh, there were several other children in the class that had some behavioral problems. Sometimes it gets hard to tell whether a child actually has some sort of social-emotional behavior disability, or if he just has no respect or manners at all! When I see a child in public acting "badly," I always remember that it is possible there is something else going on... the 9-year-old running down the aisles of the grocery store screaming with chocolate smeared all over his face might not just be a kid with no parental guidance. But when you are in a classroom full of 23 children, and at least 10 of them are acting like this... it seems unlikely that all of them have special needs! There was one girl, for instance, who took something from the teacher's desk and was playing with it during "circle time." When the teacher told her to go put away whatever she had, the girl hid it in her pocket and said, "What do I have?" The teacher just looked silently at her, waiting, as the girl repeated several times, "What do I have? What? What? What do I have?" Finally she sighed and went to put it in her cubby. The teacher noticed what it was and pointed out that it did not belong to the girl, and then the girl started to insist that it was hers from home, until finally she gave up and put it on the teacher's desk.

The third day, the teacher was absent, and so there was a substitute. The teacher knew she would be out, and asked me to help out with one of the other children with behavioral challenges, a boy named Tony. Tony, with the adorable curls and big brown eyes, would throw a fit every time something went slightly wrong. If another child got a "Golden Paw" ticket (part of the school's reward system) and Tony didn't, he would run into the coat room and hide under the recycling bin and cry that everyone hated him, everyone was being mean to him. If someone bumped him by accident, if he didn't get to be first in line, if he tried to take a toy away from another child and the other child wouldn't give it up, Tony would be in the coat room crying. I spent the better part of that day with Tony, reminding him that he could only get his stickers on his behavior chart if he actually went and did his work instead of sitting under the recycling bin, coaxing him to just go to a group activity for ten minutes and then he could have a break, holding his hand to keep him from running off into the parking lot as we walked to the cafeteria.

I also spent a lot of time with Rachel, another little kid who was always crying when things went wrong. She was sort of like Tony, only more stubborn. She somehow bumped her knee on a chair and started crying. The substitute looked at her knee and told her there was no cut, no bruise, and that it would probably stop hurting in a few seconds. Rachel threw herself to the ground and refused to do anything for the next half hour. She finally got up and did some work when I reminded her that if she didn't do it she'd have to finish it at free time, and then just went and worked with Josh. Rachel got up and huffed over to her seat, and started doing her work, still making crying noises but with no tears coming out of her eyes.

Between Josh, Tony and Rachel, I felt like I was putting out fires! I didn't know any of them very well... I knew Josh better than I knew the other two, but he was actually the one who needed the least amount of my attention. But at the end of the day the substitute gushed about how great I was with the children and how I knew all of their personalities so well and knew how to respond to them.

The people at the school actually asked me to work with Josh again all next week, and I agreed to it, but then they changed it and asked me to work with a child in a special education class. So I will be doing that all next week. And then it will be winter break. And starting in January, I will actually be able to sub as a teacher here in Washington, so that will be more money for me!

The job with Sandy never panned out... Even though the people at his school were so enthusiastic about me working with him, I never heard from them again. It could be because he didn't get approved to have a 1:1, or because they had to hire someone internally for the job. I'm still a little disappointed, because I enjoyed working with him... but one thing this week taught me was that I could start to feel comfortable at any school. I have had bad experiences in the past, but not all schools are like that. I could easily find a place to fit in, maybe not at every school, but at more than just one. I had sort of felt like the job with Sandy was perfect because the teacher was so nice and I worked so well with Sandy... but it wasn't just a fluke, it could happen again in another classroom. I didn't get the same friendly connection with Josh's teacher as I did with Sandy's, but... you can't have everything. Tolerable is good enough.

So that is it! Now at least I will be able to look forward to a substantial paycheck! Unfortunately I won't get it until the end of January. Until then, I remain poverty-stricken.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Product Review: Simply Earth Peppermint Essential Oil

I don't know why, but for some reason, last night I was having a terrible allergy attack. I am allergic to pretty much everything airborne, so I take loratadine allergy pills every morning. They usually keep my allergies at bay. But last night my nose was so itchy, my eyes were itchy and watery, and I was sneezing all over the place! Sometimes I resort to an antihistamine when it gets that bad, but I didn't have any on hand.

Then I remembered the Simply Earth Peppermint Essential Oil that I had recently gotten for free, in exchange for a review. I had read somewhere that smelling essential oils could sometimes unclog your sinuses. So I opened it up, put a few drops on a paper towel, held it over my mouth and nose, and inhaled. (I don't quite recommend you do exactly that, though... it is a strong oil and can actually irritate your eyes and skin if used improperly. At the time, the frustration of bad allergies made me desperate!)

Right away the itchiness in my nose decreased greatly. My nose was sort of runny after that, but I stopped sneezing and was able to breathe much more easily! I was very relieved. Usually, when I have an allergy attack, I have trouble sleeping that night because my nose gets clogged... and sometimes afterwards it escalates into a full sinus infection. So to be able to get my allergy attack under control so quickly, without medication, was really awesome!

I began to do some research to find out what else I could use peppermint essential oil before. I found a few interesting ones.

1.) If mixed with some sort of base oil such as coconut or almond oil, you can rub it on achy joints. The feeling will be similar to Icy Hot and give you some relief.
2.) When you have a cold or allergies, you can either mix it with an oil and rub it on your chest, or diffuse it in a vaporizer-type apparatus, to help you breathe and also help you cough up all the nasty stuff from your lungs.
3.) Also mixed with an oil, you can rub it on your temples when you have a headache, for a cooling feeling that is much better than just a cold washcloth!
4.) Take a whiff of it when you need more energy or focus, such as when you need to study, get some work done, or drive for many hours.
5.) Sniff it, or rub a little on your stomach, when you're feeling nauseous.
6.) If you have sore feet, either mix some in oil and massage your feet with it, or add some to cold water and soak your feet in it.
Basically, just think about this. You know how, when you eat a candy cane, your mouth feels cool and refreshed? That isn't just from the taste. Peppermint essential oil will leave that same feeling wherever it is used, whether it is inhaled or rubbed on the skin.

I am really happy with my Simply Earth Peppermint Essential Oil! I think I will be using it a lot!

Oh yeah, and if you buy from this company, you can feel good about it, because they give back to society. They donate 13% to organizations that help victims of human trafficking. Why 13%? No, it isn't just a random number. It represents the average age of a human trafficking victim, which is 13 years old. 

By the way, I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Just Take A Swing!


I missed DBT for two weeks because I was in Chicago. Last week was my first week back, and it was a good one! I learned about "willingness", We had to watch this video of Marsha Linehan, who is the creator of DBT. She was talking about willingness. I always love analogies and metaphors, and I guess that is why the metaphor she gave really "spoke" to me. It went like this. 

Imagine you are a batter in front of a pitching machine. The machine is pitching balls at you, one after the other. You have a few choices about what you can do in this situation. You can:

1. Protest, get upset, fight, and yell at the pitching machine to stop. (But the balls will still keep coming.)
2. Stand there and passively watch the balls as they fly past your head. 
3. Ignore the balls and pretend that they are not there. 
4. Stand in front of the pitching machine and let the balls whap you right in the face. 
5. Use your bat and try to hit the ball! 

For me, this was a good analogy to help me deal with a lot of the anxiety and frustration that I deal with... for instance, about substituting jobs. Being "willing" means accepting the fact that something is happening that you can't really change. The machine is pitching balls at you... it is happening, no matter what. I have to somehow work and earn money, no matter what. My mom has cancer, no matter what. These are things that it won't do any good to shout about, or try to avoid.

To me, trying to hit the ball means being just going out there and trying your best. Realizing some of the balls might whiz past you, some of them might even hit you... but some of them, you will hit... and some, you might even knock right out of the park!

So today, when I went to work, I tried on a whole new attitude. I was really nervous and anxious ahead of time, but I just thought, "I am going to face this. I might be anxious, but I can deal with it. Whatever happens, I'll survive it."

And I actually had a really good day! I only had to work four hours, but it was as a teacher and not as an assistant, so I made as much as I would have made in a full day as an assistant! I worked as a Title I teacher. That means I pretty much worked with small groups of kids, for half an hour at a time. Even though some people warned me that the Portland suburb I was going to was a rough one that I should try to avoid, it turned out to be a pretty nice school, and the kids (even though they were "regular education" kids, because Title I works with children who are just behind in their skills but are not particularly eligible for special ed)  were very nice and respectful and fairly well-behaved. 

The teacher I was subbing for was actually there part of the time, because her meeting got cancelled, so she sort of observed (not on purpose... just as she was passing through the room) me working with a reading group of 4th graders. They were talkative and had trouble focusing and sitting still, like 9 and 10 year olds can be, but I think I did an okay job at managing them and getting them to practice reading. Later, the teacher said she thought I did a great job with them, and asked if I'd be willing to sub for her again!

I decided to take a swing, and I hit the ball!

I am definitely not saying that my anxiety is cured now. I am still anxious. I'm just saying that this has helped me be more open to facing things in spite of my anxiety. And I just accepted a job for the rest of the week (as an assistant... always a gamble to decide whether to take an assistant job or hold out for a teaching job, but I decided to just go with it) and although I am going to be nervous, just knowing that I am going to "take a swing" makes me feel a lot better!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday Stealing: Why Do You Want To Know That?

It is time for another round of Sunday Stealing! But first, since the holidays are coming up, I wanted to direct you to the gift guide I've made, Angel The Alien's Autism/ADHD/Special Needs Gift Guide. It is chock full of gift ideas for children and adults with special needs. Right now it has 104 products listed, and growing every day! You can use the label cloud at the top to find a list of gifts for someone by age group, interest, or need. 

Okay... now back to our regularly scheduled program. 

Why Do You Want To Know That Meme

Stolen from: Love me some surveys

1. List 5 things you want to do before the year ends. 
- Get Christmas presents ready for everyone
- See the boat parade on the river where I live
- See my nephew Squeak
- Clean my room
- Go back to Chicago again. 

2. What color are your pants? 
Blue denim overalls. 

3. Favorite motivational quote. 
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again?

4. When was the last time you drank coffee? 
I don't even remember! I don't like coffee very much at all. 

5. What was the last thing you ate? 
Avocado and cheddar cheese sandwich!

6. Favorite animal. 

Aaaah that's a hard choice! Probably dogs.

7. Favorite song. 
"In My Life" by the Beatles. 

8. Last movie you watched? 
Some Lifetime TV movie, I can't even remember. 

9. Any turn ons? 
I turn on the lights when I enter a room!

10. Any turn offs? 
I turn off the lights when I leave the room!

11. List 4 big words off of the top of your head. 
Antidisestablishmentarianism, supercalafragalisticexbeyelladocious, invigorating, discombobulated. 

12. What are some meaningful movies? 

American Beauty is one of my favorites. 

13. 2 most important people in your life right now? 
My mom and dad?

14. What are 3 things you want for Christmas? 
A black cat with yellow eyes (because my cousin BT is taking his black cat with yellow eyes back and I'm going to miss her); the game Colorku; and... I don't know what else. 

15. When was the last time you read a good book? 
I read so many books, but they're not always good. I can't remember the last "good" book I read... I really can't. I did like the Mental Floss Book I had from the library a few weeks ago!

16. What was the last thing you studied? 
I've been learning some photography lately.

17. Do you have any nicknames? 
ANGEL is my nickname, of course! My grandpa calls me Nicki-Pie sometimes. I don't know why.

18. Favorite kind of perfume? (fruity, alluring, etc.) 
I use lotion more than perfume. My favorites are Warm Vanilla Sugar, Vanilla Bean Noel, and Moonlight Path. 

19. Do you have any international friends / friends who live out of state? 
My cousin BT moved to Ecuador. I have an e-mail penpal who I think lives in Maine or someplace. I don't really have any other friends in or out of state!

20. What is something unique that you do every single day? 
Pet my fish. 

21. If there was a movie based on your life, what would it be called? 
Diary of an Alien, of course!!!!

22. When was the last time you bought a gift for someone? 
I just ordered a Christmas gift for my mom. It was something we saw when we were out together and she thought it was really cool but she didn't want to buy it for herself because she thought it costed too much. I found it online for half the price. I can't tell you what it is, in case she somehow reads this!

23. Are you a shopaholic? 
Probably a little bit! At least, I would be if I had more money! 

24. What are some songs that always make you feel better?  
"Oxford Comma" by Vampire Weekend, "Busted Heart" by Bishop Allen, a ton of 50's and 60's songs like "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" other fast, upbeat songs like that! 

Well, now we all feel a little better, don't we! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday 9: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

It is time again for Saturday 9! I know you are so excited! If you would like to participate, just go over to the Saturday 9 website, copy the meme, answer the questions on your own blog, and then add your url to the Linky!

Saturday 9: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2004)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here

1) The "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" video begins with the gentlemen of Green Day dealing with car trouble. If your car overheated, what's the first thing you would do to remedy the situation? I used to have a car that overheated ALL THE TIME. So this is pretty much the one thing I know how to do with cars. First you turn up your heat to such some of the heat out until you can pull over. Then you pull over and let it cool down. Then you add coolant or, if you have none, water. One time someone I was riding with opened up the coolant thing too soon, and the boiling hot fluid sprayed him in the face and burned him! He was a jerk though, so it sort of served him right.

2) Thinking of cars, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong has had his share of trouble behind the wheel and was busted for driving well beyond the speed limit. Was your last ticket for parking, or was it a moving violation? Parking, I think. I haven't had a ticket in a while though. In the past I did get some speeding tickets!

3) Billie Joe says "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was inspired by the Edward Hopper painting, "Nighthawks." Tell us about a piece of artwork that you enjoy. (Yes, the macaroni picture frame created for you by your nephew counts.) I have at my house in Chicago a painting made by my sister-in-law, which is like a fractal, with lots of bright colors, and glitter.

4) Let's go back to childhood. Was the home where you grew up located on a boulevard, an avenue, a street, a lane or a road? We moved a lot and I don't remember my first three addresses because I was under the age of three. The first one I remember was a Lane, and then we moved to a Street.

5) This song won Green Day a Grammy for Record of the Year. What positive feedback have you received recently? People like the GIFT GUIDE I've been working on for gifts for children with autism, ADHD and other special needs. Check it out! 

6) Green Day uses their Facebook page to let more than 32 millions know what the group is doing. What's the last thing you posted to social media? A picture of some people in Portland walking their goats on leashes.

7) In 2004, when this song was popular, Ken Jennings had a still unbeaten string of 74 wins on Jeopardy! What game show do you think you'd do well on? Family Feud! I like that one. Because it is one of the only ones that doesn't require you to be very smart!

8) Also in 2004, Lance Armstrong was in the midst of his own Tour de France winning streak. Now we know he cheated. Tell us about a time you broke the rules. Hmm, I can't remember exactly... there just aren't that many rules lately that are really worthy of breaking. Okay, when I was a kid, I did shoplift occasionally. I stole a Chapstick once, and I stole pops a few times, and once my friend and I stole a birthday cake. 

9) 2004 is when Morgan Spurlock released Super Size Me, his documentary about eating nothing but McDonald's for a month. What's the last fast food restaurant you visited? Portillo's, when I was in Chicago. You probably don't know what it is if you don't live there, but it is popular for their beef sandwiches, and they also have burgers and hot dogs and salads and stuff. My favorite is their chopped salad, and their chocolate cake shake! 

Okay, that is it for Saturday Nine for this week! I hope you all had fun!

Friday, December 4, 2015

ADHD/Autism/Special Needs Gift Guide

HI EVERYBODY! After managing to rock NaBloPoMo, I took a few days off and worked on a different project. I'd like to share it with you, if you don't mind. I read that a lot of bloggers were creating gift guides for the holiday season. I decided to make one too. Of course I had to put my own spin on it, so I made a gift guide for people who want to buy presents for someone with ADHD, autism, or other special needs.

I have worked on it for about a million hours, and I am still adding more every day! I was struggling to decide how to arrange it and what to include. In the end, I decided to give each individual gift it's own blog post, and then label each post by category, ages it is meant for, and topic. This resulted in Blogger thinking I was posting a lot of SPAM, and I started having to enter a captcha code each time I posted a new item.

How did I find my ideas? A lot of them came from things that I would like, and things that I've seen kids enjoy a lot in the classrooms and camps I've worked in. I also scoured online toy catalogs like Fat Brain Toys, read Amazon reviews, and watched demonstrations on YouTube. So I feel really good about the things I am recommending here!

I am still adding to it every day, but I wanted to get it out there by today so that people could see it in time for their holiday shopping. Of course, these gifts could all just as easily be used for birthdays and other events!

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for things I should add.


WIthout further ado, here is the guide... go check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2015

End Of November

Here is the good news: I made it through NaBloPoMo with flying colors! I posted at least every single day, even on the days I was traveling and on Thanksgiving! It was easy and I think I could even keep it up permanently! Or at least ealternating days. Maybe I could blog on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and leave Mondays and Wednesdays for reading other blogs and taking care of blogging business. The weekends are easy because I do Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing. 

Here is the bad news. Tomorrow I am going back to Washington. I am already feeling so sad about it. Yet, strangely, as soon as I opened this up and started typing, I felt a little better! But now I started feeling worse. My brain is a tornado. I want to stay with my Mom. I wish someone would glue my feet to the ground so I could never go anywhere again except home. The ten days went too fast! And now I am crying because I don't want to go. I miss Auntie Em and Uncle J and Roo and my fish and Phyllis and the woods. But when I go there I will miss my mom and my dad and Trixie  and my home. 

I am going to see my mom and dad again in less than 3 weeks. I am going to see them for Christmas. If they come out to California, then I will only get to see them for a few days. But if they stay in Chicago and I come back here, I will get to stay with them for two weeks! Also if we go to Bro's house in California for Christmas I am not sure I want to bring Lily, because one of my brother's dogs supposedly killed a buffalo recently, and I don't want him to kill Lily. I actually love my brother's dog, and I would want to hug him and play with him and be around him without having to worry about whether he thinks Lily is potential food for him. I don't know if OP really killed a buffalo. Who even owns a buffalo? The people said they were raising the buffalo for meat. Who keeps a buffalo in their yard and raises it for meat? Who eats buffalo meat? The whole thing is a little WTF. But I still don't want to put Lily at risk. So I would only see my parents for a few days, and I would have to spend Christmas without Lily. 

My mom also wants me to come to Chicago in February so I can help her after she gets out of the hospital. I have to help her remember to take her medicine and eat food and drink water. If I have a job I can take Family Medical Leave. If I am still subbing I can just go, and come back when I am ready. Then I could also come back for spring break, and I could come back for part of the summer. It should be motivating me to work more. The more I work, the more I save up, the more I can see my mom. My goal will be to make enough to save up for a place to live AND see my mom! 

It is sort of ironic that, when I don't live here, my mom and I get along so much better when I am here. We are happy and cheerful and don't argue and my mom is calm with me. Not yelling at me for every small thing. But if I lived here then she'd probably be mad at me all the time again. It is like being stuck between a rock and a stabby knife.

It is almost like I will be starting to split my time between Washington and Chicago, So I should feel cheerful  because I really will be getting the best of both worlds, and the closest possibility to my ideal world, which would be to be able to see everyone. I won't be able to see everyone at the same time, but at least it will be somewhat equal! 

But I am still sad. I don't want to say goodbye to my mom tomorrow. I want to hide under the bed. I want Auntie Em and Uncle J and Roo and my fish to come here instead.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Stealing: Consider Yourself

Yes, I want to own five dogs!
Hi everyone! It is time for Sunday Stealing again! This is one of my favorite memes. Feel free to play along, and be sure to join the linky if you do!

1) Of the various cultures, ethnicities or nationalities you belong to, which most strongly do you consider yourself?
Italian, because my Nona is Italian. I grew up on Italian food. Unfortunately, my Nona chose not to pass on the language and culture. She grew up with parents who didn't speak any English, and she got made fun of for being Italian at a time when people were racist against Italians. So when she grew up she spoke only English, and raised her kids to be all-American. I am lucky she at least kept the Italian cooking! I wish I could learn more about the culture my family has lost.
2) Is there a culture you cannot claim heritage from but which you feel quite close to?
Mexican. I've had a lot of Mexican friends over the years, and working in schools I've worked with mostly children who were either born in Mexico or whose parents were born there.
3) What's one language you wish you knew fluently?
Spanish, or Italian. Sorry, that is two languages.
4) If you could move anywhere in the world and be guaranteed a job, etc., where would you go?
 I just moved to the Pacific Northwest, so I'd probably stay around there. I wish I could be guaranteed a job there! That would be nice!
5) If you had a time machine, and could witness any one event without altering or disturbing it, what would you want to see?
 Woodstock! The first one, not the weird 1996 one that was sponsored by Pepsi.
6) Have problems sleeping?
Sometimes I do. My natural sleep cycle does not correspond with the sleep cycle I'm required to keep!
7) Are you free with your feelings? Yep, a little TOO free sometimes! I wear my heart on my sleeve!
8) What is the one outfit/piece of clothing/accessory you own that makes you feel incredibly good whenever you wear it? Why? My overalls. I have no idea why. I just love them. 
 9) What do you do to make yourself feel better when you're in a funk? Blog, or watch a funny movie. 
10) Has anyone ever surprised you in a way that let you know you were special? How? Hmm... I don't think anyone has! Not that I can think of! Many times people try not to surprise me because surprises freak me out. Even good surprises, sometimes. For instance if someone said. "Surprise! We're taking a trip to Disney World and we're leaving tomorrow!" I love Disney World, but I'd still be sort of freaked out because I'd have to completely re-imagine what they next few days would be like, I'd have to change all the images in my head!
11) When you are having a "good day," how do you spread the happiness to others? Probably just by smiling a lot, making silly jokes, singing to myself, and generally being cheerful.
12) What is one thing that puts you in a bad mood, no matter how good you were previously feeling? Being sick. Or someone yelling at me.
13) Would you rather live in a world with or without technology such as computers, cars, airplanes, bombs? A world without bombs would be great. But I need cars and airplanes to get back and forth to see my family, and I need a computer to communicate. 
14) If you had to live without either heating in your house or air conditioning, which one would you keep? Air conditioning. I grew up without air conditioning, so I'd be fine with it. I'm usually too cold, anyways, when the air is on. 
15) If you had to own five dogs, what kind would you get?
I'd just go to the shelter and play with all the dogs, and I'd rescue the first five dogs who seemed to bond with me! Rescued dogs are the best, anyways! But if you were forcing me to choose my hypothetical dogs, I would like at least one pug, because their little faces are so cute and I've never met a mean pug. I'd also like a pitbull... but a small pitbull, like a pocket pit.

That's it! That was a cool meme!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Nine: Black Is Black

I really liked doing Saturday Nine last week, so I decided to do it again this weekend. This week's theme is about the song "Black Is Black." Visit the website to join in, if you'd like! Ready? Here it goes!

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 27, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. No, because first of all it didn't look like there were any deals that would make it worth it. And second of all, my mom read that the stores were even putting tables of items in the aisles, so it would be really crowded and hard to move around. Too overwhelming!

2) WalMart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Target have all heavily advertised their "Black Friday" sales. If you could have a $50 gift card to one of those stores, which would choose? What would you spend the $50 on? I would spend it at Target, because I don't really like Wal-Mart. What would I get? Logically I should just use it to get necessities like groceries and shampoo and stuff. But I'd rather spend it on fun things, like arts and crafts stuff, bones for my dog, books, etc.
3) Star Wars items are predicted to be big sellers this Black Friday.  I am not. My cousin BT is, I think.

4) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game? NO! Well, maybe pigging out. But no football. It is boring to me!

5) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) Do you have a signature dish? Not personally, really... but my mom and I are trying to master a good baked macaroni and cheese recipe. If I was going to bring something, it would probably be deviled eggs, which are pretty easy to make but which many people think are difficult. And EVERYONE loves deviled eggs! Although I've heard that some very religious people call them "Doubled eggs" or "Angeled eggs."

6) What did you give thanks for on Thanksgiving 2015? I gave thanks for my family, of course!

7) Monday is Cyber Monday, when shoppers can save big online. Do you shop confidently over the Internet, or do you worry about security breaches and identity theft? I don't really worry about breaches. My identity is not that great... my credit score is nothing to brag about. So a thief would not be able to get very far with my identity. They might possibly even improve it!
8) This week's featured band, Los Bravos, was international. Their members came from both Germany and Spain. If you could travel to any foreign country in the world, which would you choose? Italy because I want to go to where my grandparents came from. Or Australia so I can see koalas and kangaroos and sloths and other cool animals.

9) The band's name, Los Bravos, can be translated to mean, "The Brave." Do you consider yourself gutsy? In some ways I am. I have done a lot of things that a lot of people would consider brave, like traveling across the country by Greyhound, being homeless, staying in a crack house, and, well, moving to a new state. On the other hand, everyday things such as going to work, going into the backyard alone at night, or meeting new people, have me shaking in my boots!

Well, that is it for this week's Saturday Nine! I hope you all enjoyed it!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Good Friday Is Good

A photo I took in a free photo booth at a store in the city the other day. 
Hi everyone! I hope any of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a good one! Mine was pretty good. Usually on Thanksgiving we celebrate with my mom's entire family... but this year they are experiencing some animosity amongst themselves. So my mom and dad and I had our own private Thanksgiving celebration. My mom and I made rhubarb pie, and macaroni and cheese, and my mom also made ratatouille (the Italian vegetable and cheese dish, not the movie about the talking rat) and mashed potatoes, and there was turkey but I didn't eat any because I try not to eat meat. Then we watched movies. 

Today, for Good Friday, my dad and I went to visit my Uncle D and had sandwiches with him, while my mom was at Physical Therapy. Then we came home and played three games of Scrabble, which none of us were very good at... the longest word on the board was only 5 letters long... until we got bored of it, and then we went downstairs and watched TV again. At this house most of our days end with TV. 

I only have three more days to be here. I am already starting to get sad... although it is not so bad, since I realize that it doesn't feel like it has been so long since the last time I was here, and it will be only a few weeks before I'm here again. I am definitely going to be with my parents for Christmas, whether I come back to Illinois to see them or meet them in California to see my brother. Also my mom has mentioned that she'd want me to come back in February when she gets out of the hospital, so I can help take care of her while my dad is at work. So it is definitely not like I'll be saying goodbye forever when I leave! And if I still lived here, we would probably not be spending all this time together, and instead I'd just be sitting around by myself. But still... this is my childhood home, and when I come back here everything just feels so familiar and comfortable. Auntie Em and Uncle J's house is comfortable and familiar too, but you know what I mean. I love Oregon, but at the same time it is hard to shake the displaced feeling I have when I am not in Illinois. 

If you are wondering about the picture in this blog entry, it is from a free photo booth I found in a store the other day when my mom and I were in the city. I have a confused look because I wasn't quite sure how to operate it... I was expecting some sort of on-screen instructions,,, or even to be able to see myself on screen... but I just pushed a button and a light started flashing. Then my mom jumped into the booth for the last photo. And now it is hanging on our fridge. 

I don't know what we will do tomorrow and Sunday. On Monday I am probably going to go with my mom to her treatment again. And then on Tuesday I leave. I hope I won't be too sad. I hate feeling sad. Don't ever go anywhere. You just end up missing everybody.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Thankfulness List

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Thanksgiving, incidentally, is not one of my favorite holidays. First of all, I don't really like how people celebrate the idea of killing and eating reluctant turkeys, with cartoons of talking turkeys begging for their lives. I understand that many people like to eat meat, and that they especially like turkey on Thanksgiving, but why do people take such delight in the fact that they kill turkeys for their meal?

I was also going to share some really dark facts I learned about Thanksgiving... for instance, there were probably many "Thanksgivings" before the historical story of the Native Americans and pilgrims eating together happened. It was pretty common for groups of people to have a feast to celebrate something good that had happened, such as the fact that there was never a friendly party where pilgrims and Indians cheerfully shared food. Yes, there was a large feast, in 1621, that included pilgrims and Native Americans... but it wasn't quite a feast of friendship. They met together to discuss a land treaty. They did not refer to it as Thanksgiving, or give any sort of thanks, and they did not repeat it annually from then on. The holiday called Thanksgiving did not begin until 1637.
The first real Thanksgiving celebration, in 1637, was not really a celebration of friendship between Native Americans and Europeans. It was a celebration of a massacre by English and Dutch mercenaries, who captured and executed 700 men, women and children of wards, the governor declared it a holiday to give thanks that they had successfully eliminated 700 Pequot. 

But I decided not to bum you out with those facts today, and instead to go the more traditional route with a list of things I am thankful for. It has been a hard year, and right now I'm having a particularly hard time, so I thought it would be good for me to try to focus on some things I can be happy about. Here it is. 


- I am thankful that I have Auntie Em and Uncle J in my life and that they do so much to help me and try to understand me. 

- I am thankful that I've gotten to see my mom and dad three different times so far since moving to the Pacific Northwest... in June when we met in California where my brother lives, then in late August when I spent two weeks with them, and now I am here with them for Thanksgiving! It helps me to not be homesick when I know I can come back frequently. 

- I am thankful that my mom's cancer treatment is going so well, and that the doctors say she might actually be cured by next year... not just in remission, but with the cancer totally gone!     

- I am thankful for new friends I met in the Pacific Northwest, like Phyllis and Lisa. And Ken, for a little while, at least, before he died.  And Linda, who is an email penpal who was also a friend of Ken. 
- I am sthankful for my special little service dog Lily, and also for Trixie (who is my parents' dog but I still call her mine) and Roo and my fishies and the kitty cats. 

- I am thankful for all the free things I've gotten to review on this blog, because it makes every trip to the mailbox feel like Christmas!

- I am thankful that I started DBT, and I am thankful that my therapists have worked with me to lower my fees as much as possible because they know I can't afford much and that I really want to participate in it. 

- I am thankful that my little 1997 car continues to run well and be a dependable car. I will never sell it, because my Nona gave it to me. Even if it breaks completely and can't be fixed, I think I will just keep it. I'm sure I can think of something to do with it! 

- I am thankful for the friends I've made through blogging, who I can bare my soul to and who understand me or at least empathize with me!

- I am thankful for Dr. Pepper and Pirate's Booty. 

Well, that is an even ten, so I won't keep going... I want to leave you to your own Thanksgiving festivities! At my house we are just having a small dinner with my parents and I. My mom's family is in a feud, so we're apparently boycotting the large family dinner. That is okay with me, because I am going to see everyone separately throughout the time that I'm here, and small, intimate parties are actually better for me. I actually talk and stuff. The more people there are... especially in my loud Italian family... the quieter I am! 

So, anyways, Happy Thanksgiving! And don't go shopping until Friday.