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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Top Five Best Purchases of the Covidpocalypse

WARNING: SPOILERS IN SOME LINKS

While this list applies to my family and YMMV, keep these awesome things in mind!

This is not a countdown; I couldn't possibly rank them. So I'll give them each a special title instead.

Tastiest Treat: I originally purchased a pack of Michelle's Maccs for myself as a Mother's Day treat. Let me tell you, they may be expensive (by my standards), but they are worth every penny. If you are expecting overly sweet and unnaturally soft macaroons, or a Mounds bar, these are not it... the flavors are subtle rather than overpowering, and they're freaking awesome. Now, for me, these are a special treat, not a bag of candy/cookies for munching mindlessly. But as I'm trying to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth anyway, they're perfect. Twelve flavors, certified Kosher, and all nut-and-gluten free except the peanut butter flavor (coconut is not a nut, and these are made in a bakery, though, so cross-contamination could exist).

Best Bang for My Entertainment Buck: Now I got a fire in my belly! Honestly, hours and hours of entertainment by way of FUNimation Now Streaming. I got the $7.99 a month version so Abby could have it and now I'm watching (with her) almost as much as she is on her own. Lizzy's watching a bit with Abby as well, and the selection is enormous. Eight bucks a month for hours of keeping us occupied and maybe even picking up a tiny bit of actual information (though Lizzy has been informed that InuYasha cannot be used for her research project on Feudal Japan, except as an example of mythology.)

Super Sodalicious: For Easter, my mom got us a SodaStream. I was a skeptic, but holy cow this thing is awesome! I use it for seltzer (I have three flavor drops - mango, cucumber, and raspberry) and the kids use it for actual soda pop (they like several flavors, but their favorite is the Homestyle Lemonade). It's been terrific to have around, and of course, other flavors can be added... a couple drops of the juice from a jar of maraschino cherries was pretty good, for instance.

Keeping Hands Busy Best: Lizzy is, as you may know, a Fidgeter Extraordinaire. She is also very very hard on her fidgets for two reasons: she doesn't know her own strength, and she tries to take things apart to see how they work. Now, jigsaw puzzles, arts & crafts, and that stuff are awesome (you can't watch anime all day without doing something else; Abby draws) but it tends to be either too big a project for Lizzy's attention span or she gets frustrated with her inability to arts-and-crafts what she sees in her head. Enter two lines from LEGO: the BrickHeadz line and the Minecraft BigFigs line. These are small enough sets that she can do one in about half an hour, and she delights in changing around some of the bricks afterward to make each look slightly different. The BigFigs are allegedly for playing with as well, but the skeleton at least keeps falling over and losing his arrows.

Most Awesome Mask (and Hair Flair) Artist: So we've been buying hair flair from the lovely Cassondra of  Cassondra Creates! for about a year now. She's the creator of Rosie Bands (yes, that Rosie) and has recently expanded her tiny home business to include masks. She was donating masks for the first couple months, and now charges $10 (and includes a hair flair in mask orders) just to pay for materials. She's an artist tending toward the pretty or quirky, and did not so much as blink when I told her we needed masks for the Geeky, the Goth, and the Girly; she had that fabric on hand. She ships quickly and she works really hard to get materials that match the personality and wishes of the customer. Awesome stuff! (Don't worry about my eye - it's harmless but ugly.)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Amazon Fire Stick - this was given to us as a gift. We don't have "regular" TV, so this is replacing our aging PS3 as our primary streaming device. The aforementioned Funimation would not be possible on our TV without it.
  • Michael's Crafts - they deliver, although delivery is expensive and their website is best viewed on a computer-sized screen. They also have curbside pickup. And Shrinky-Dinks
  • The Museum of Flight Store - we got some jewelry for Abby, a puzzle for the whole family, and a couple things that encouraged Lizzy to rearrange and clean her entire bedroom on her own.
  • Shipt - Of all the same-day delivery companies, I like this one best. They text you when they arrive at the store (through a filter so they can't see your number) and will always text (if you set it up that way) about replacements. I even have a favorite Shipt Shopper now!
  • A new hamster cage for our escape artist. This was also gifted to us by a friend.





Friday, May 15, 2020

I Will Not Die On This Hill

I try really hard to choose my battles, especially when it comes to my girls and on social media.

Sometimes I fail at this.

Which is fine; I'm a human being, and failure happens.

What I won't do is deliberately make my life and my children's lives harder by shooting myself in the foot (just to expand the military metaphor).

I've written about this before, but here's the thing; I don't want to attach negative associations to things that should be lifelong positives.

Learning for its own sake, music and other arts, physical and mental health... these things should be positives, rather than obligations. And figuring out how to phrase things/assign family tasks/where to push and where not to... it's a very fine line and a balancing act on that line.

Even in the best of times, which these are not, scholastically speaking.

Example - generally these things are accommodated, and very well, in Lizzy's IEP. We know what she is capable of at school, how far she can be pushed out of her comfort zone depending on several factors both autistic and adolescent, and that routine is key. And they are doing an awesome job translating that to the distance learning model. But there's also only so much we can manage at home without the risk of her learning to resent things she actually likes, and that I want her to keep liking, like science for the fun of it and music and Feudal Japan.

We've gotten at-home accommodations as well - thank you Lizzy's middle school IEP team - and it's going pretty well. But she seems unable to wrap her brain around attendance in one class and doesn't see the point in optional Zoom cooking classes and also has issues with Zoom piano lessons, though her piano teacher is the most patient person on the planet. I don't want to force her to do these things the school way (because again, I want her to keep liking them instead of seeing them as a chore), so I work around the issues by saying things like, "If you can't find the attendance check-in for that class, email the teacher," or, "Okay, let's do some cooking at home," or, "For today, just do the scales and chords." In general, this works, and I know a few of you will think I'm letting her call the shots. I'm not; she still has to do the things; we're just accommodating for her (and my, as I don't want to have a shouting match every day) specific needs.
The idea is to start the day at Green

Based on conversations with assorted educational and mental health folks here lately and the chart over there, we have determined that most of the time in the Before Times, Lizzy would start the day at Yellow. After breakfast she'd be at Green and generally stay between Green and Yellow for the rest of the school day, depending on the circumstances.

Now, in the Dark Spring of 2020, we've decided that almost everyone is a shade (see what I did there?) more anxious than we would normally be. This also means we can go from yellow-green to dark red in an eyeblink, over something as minor as "let me help you find the check-in so you don't have to email Ms. K every week."

And nobody wants that.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Four C Words

stay healthy helpful and calmNot that C-word. I try not to use that C-word. Yeah, yeah, it's less fraught in other cultures, whatever. I still don't like it.

Anyway, part of today's training was a TED Talk from Scott Geller. He's a bigwig in Applied Psychology, and a lot of what he says makes sense to me. This may well be my own internal bias, as a lot of how I've learned to communicate with my youngest is similar or maybe even based on some of his stuff, and he seems to be pretty liberal, politically speaking. So there you go - I am not an unbiased witness.

The training was about working together and thinking positive, for the most part, but I'm gonna take those Four Cs and interpret them in this time of Coronavirus.

The Four C Words in this are:

Consequences - our consequences, of course, are literally life and death. For some people, this is more about making a living being more important than life, as far as I can tell. The problem is they don't want to put their own lives on the line; they want to make it cool for the rest of us to put our lives on the line so they can make more money. I'm not talking about the teeny businesses here - you know how I feel about them - and the ones I know seem more willing to live with the restrictions anyway, as well as the ones more likely to be screwed by the federal government. For whom it seems there are few consequences.

Competence - true competence, to my way of thinking, is doing what you can on your own, and ultimately knowing when to shut your mouth and consult an expert. Or several experts. Which my state governor is doing, and my federal government is very decidedly not.

Choice - the folks out there shouting about not having a choice? They seem to mostly be the same folks who think they should police our choices over our own bodies and relationships (and several of them are clearly raging asshats, given that they're also waving Confederate or Nazi flags. This is not a good look). Yes, my health does actually outweigh your coiffure, you self-important asshole. Which brings us to...

Community - we're supposed to have one. Or maybe Civilization is a better C-word for this. God knows we could use one right about now. I long for the day when we can be decent to each other. I'm really tired of the conspiracy theories, violence, and the money-over-lives bullshit.

I don't like this better than anyone else, I desperately need a haircut, I could really use a massage, and I suck as a homeschool teacher.

The only difference between me and you is that I'm not willing to kill for these things.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Random Thoughts Around Covid and Stuff

ClientmojiWhy? Just, why? Why can't you be bothered to do something that doesn't hurt and might help?

I'm not talking about folks with legitimate reasons like phobias about suffocation or a health need to walk further than your apartment balcony allows. These are fine and valid, and honestly, people with these issues shouldn't have to explain them to anyone to be seen as valid, though they often do. Because the other side of that coin is the busybodies who assume that anyone not going by their rules must be flouting them out of the same selfishness as the hypocrites claiming that their right to go anywhere they damn well please is more important than the actual life of everyone on the planet.

The fact that the latter folks apparently see no irony or hypocrisy in screaming bloody murder about their inability to enter a Costco without a mask on and their usual need to control women's bodies just makes me mad.

As I said on Facebook, I'm sure glad I have nowhere I must be before September.

I don't want to snooze all of Facebook. I wonder if there's an easy setting for These Four Groups Are Allowed without quitting them all. I've already turned off something like 90% of my notifications and done a lot of paring of people and groups.

On that note, and although I have shared (and created) several memes on the topics, I think a lot of them are huge oversimplifications of complex issues. Some make sense - like this one (see example) - even if they are oversimplified for the sound-bite-ability. Some others I've seen are more along the lines of "is bad" when really is fine when done properly. Especially with the circular logic that some use to try to justify their thinking. "X is bad because Y says it's bad. X, Z, and ABC say Y has been discredited, so X is evil." What?

My oxygen thingy is still in the green, though it's lower today. I suspect dust from cleaning. Or that bizarre little switch from rain to sun to thunderstorms and back to sun in less than 24 hours. Or both.

Big "small businesses" still seem to get most of the love, both from the gubmint and from things like GiveBig. I was able to raise $300 for the microbusiness I talked about here, as well as $95 for a local food bank. I'd like to help others though. Link is around here somewhere.

ClientmojiI have a grump today.

Looking forward to Mother's Day. We're doing arts and crafts - Shrinky-Dinks and rock painting. And I'm making one of my favorites I used to make for Game Night - tropical pork - that's pork roast, onion, soy sauce, and pineapple; it's served over rice. Yum.

Abby and I are watching a lot of anime. Funimation Now may, in fact, be my best Stay Home Safe purchase. We are getting a lot of mileage out of that $7.95 a month.

This post brought to you by the letters F and U (for Fed and Up - get your minds out of the gutter) and the number 2020.