Friday, July 03, 2015

Creative Person Clutter

Dealing with my packrat tendencies has been a process of continual improvement over the years. I have gotten much better also about not buying up a lot of new things. However I do have a pattern of buying a lot for the current passion or thing I am spending time doing. In the past that has been my favorite fiction books, nonfiction books on topics I was learning about, art and craft supplies. a new wardrobe for my professional career when I switched from a job with medical staff whites, and then homeschooling and parenting (toys and games and kids clothes).

My major area of concern at present is art and craft projects. I tend to want to do a new thing then need the equipment for that thing. I then overbuy materials I think I must have to use instead of making stuff with limited materials.

Even when doing that craft slows down I don't want to get rid of the stuff lest I suddenly find time and inspiration to start doing it again. The problem is that there is nothing as fun as learning something new and sometimes after investing in things like high quality paintbrushes or good watercolor paints I find I don't like doing it but I paid so much for the things I don't want to give them away or declare the project over.

It's a common problem among creative types so it is not just me being stupid or bad or wrong or crazy or nuts.

So what I have been working on is being realistic about how I want to live within my house (I want clean and clear spaces for doing certain things in certain rooms) so the stuff cannot clutter up those places. I am still working on setting limits such as saying if I don't get back into trying encaustic art I am going to get rid of the small box of art tools for that one process. If I don't want to make that felted quilt I should get rid of the two bins of felted old sweaters that are ready to cut up. It is hard for me to give myself a deadline and a limit then it is hard to enforce my own limit on myself.

I am in a situation where I do not have a spouse who gets involved, so he is not a helper to me. He lets me be. That can be good but it can be bad. I also don't have friends here that step in and say they will help me get rid of this stuff or will sit by me and hear me out and support me about letting go. One great thing when I moved was I paid a man I know to help me pack and he was there to say, "Yes you can let go of that book". It sounds silly to need to have someone say it but it really does help! (I had looked into hiring an organizational person but they wanted $60 a hour so that's not a reasonable price to me so I'm just handling this on my own.)

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Kid Stuff Memories

When we put in new flooring, prompted by the water damage from the faulty part on the hot water heater which is in the attic (which is a Texas thing), my younger son packed up his room then asked to not put any of it back into place. He asked that the bookcase be moved out and the erg move in.

I just went through all of that stuff.

I donated a box of books to the bookmobile for inner city Houston kids.

I have a box for the sport team charity fundraiser.

I saved one box of books that were mine as a child that both of my kids enjoyed and the recent books that we his favorites. As I went through these I was thinking of the different taste in fiction between my boys and how each has their own personality.

I found a journal book and put it in the box to save.

I took some items owned by his great grandfather and one thing from his great grandfather as weall as a little thing from his great great grandmother and packed them up. I put the Cub Scoout and Boy Scout things in a separate box which I am saving for possible display for his (hopefully) Eagle rank ceremony. I saved two small boxes of special toys like the LEGO Lamborghini. I am going to buy some plastic totes to put these things into and move them to the attic. It can get humid up there so I worry that cardboard boxes will draw and hold moisture then can turn to grow mildrew or mold.

This son of mine is less sentimental and is not a packrat. I am saving these memories for him. This now makes a total of two bins worth of stuff which is a really small amount as far as I am concerned. I think someday he will like to see these things. My older son and I have a much harder time letting go of stuff we own and we tend to fear letting go of an object lest we forget the memory.

Anyway I am glad that at age 14 my son made the decision that he wants his room to represent or define who he is now. I think it's a good sign that he is growing up and changing and accepting the changes that are leading him to young adulthood.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Son Was Home Alone Overnight

Another milestone happened in our family. This last spring on three occasions we left our seventeen (and a half) year old home alone overnight while we were away at younger son's sport events. It was a big decision for us.

The first time was one night and we were three hours away. The second time was two nights for three hours away, and the last time we were 400 miles away for two nights. In these times he had Friday night robotics meetings and all day Saturday meetings so we knew he would be busy and not here much anyway.

I do not have reason to mistrust my son's friends. In the worst case scenario I was imagining a party not quite on the level of Risky Business. I just feel like you never know what a friend or acquaintence can pursuade. We do not keep our hard liquor, wine or beer under lock and key.

We set rules for checking in and the curfew was in place as usual. We said no friends over to visit. We had adult friends in town who knew he would be alone and we arranged that if something happened he could call them. The house alarm records the entry and exit times so we could check his comings and goings if we wanted. (We did not.)

Everything was just fine for the first time hence the second and third time.

Our son has been able to cook since he was I don't know how old. It was before age ten that he was boiling water for pasta and heating on the stovetop, toaster oven, oven, and using the microwave.

We have no reason to believe our older son (or younger son) has ever used drugs or alcohol, but there is always a first time.

It was a rite of passage of sorts I think. We all survived.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reactions To Teen Suicide Are Disingenuous

A situation arose in this last year where a seemingly good group of kids was found to be doing social manipulation exclusionary games. At the heart of this were girls. For those who are clueless the majority of activity classified as bullying done by girls are social manipulations regarding exclusion activity. If you are ignorant about it I advise you go do a little reading on the topic. If you are a mother of girlsl you really should know all this information inside and out so you can recognize if your daughter is actually a bully.

In regard to teen suicide, it is a fact that more boys kill themselves than girls. Yes, to go through with the act probably means the teen was suffering enough to be classified as having a mental illness that should have been treated with medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy with a psychologist). In some cases it is stated that certain drugs to help depression, anxiety or ADHD actually give suicidal thoughts but that is another matter from what I want to talk about today.

What I want to say today is after it hits the news, local, national, or worldwide news, that a teen has committed suicide there is a general outpouring of emotion by adults and teens. However I am going to call a spade a spade and say that a portion of their statements are disingenuous. Why? Because the very female and male teens who practice mean social activity such as: name calling, social exclusion, gossiping, shunning, the cold shoulder, and other overt acts such as posting photos on social media intended to show who is in and who is out are the problem. So we have teen girls crying over some dead teen in town who was teased all his life for being a redhead or a girl dead who was a loner after being excluded and shunned and these very same people who wring their hands and say, "What can be done about this?" are the ones doing this very same thing to the kid right in their own town, in their classroom, in their Scout troop and on their sport team.

What I want to say to those people:

It feels good to think you have empathy when you feel sad to hear that someone has killed themselves. You like to think you are innocent since you did not know that person, or if you did know of them you feel you didn't do anything to that one person so you feel badly they suffered enough to end their life. But how can you ignore your own active part in doing the same awful social behavior to other kids you know right now?

How can you pretend that you are not causing problems for someone right this very minute?

Are you in denial or do you not want to think about the true harm you are doing to others?

If you think you are such a good person, if you think you are good at heart, are smart and decent, I ask you to look at your actions recently and think about what kind of a person you really are.

Go read your social networking posts. Go see what others are posting that contains your photo.

Do you like who you see? Look at who people on the outside see you as, do you like that representation of yourself?

If not, it's time to make a change.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Long Term Rewards For Homeschooling

On my mind lately is that the rewards for homeschooling may not be fully appreciated or realized for years to come. The results have a long term effect I believe A main source for this revelation is a friend of mine has two daughters who are in theis 20s now. One was homeschooled for a while and both had multiple types of schooling: pubic, private, and one at boarding school for a period. Who these young ladies have become as young adults is still unfolding and their experiences in life and education and school have had a definate impact but not all of it was evident on the day of high school graduation.

When my sons were little I thought other people's kids were so mature and so finished. Now that mine are teens and one is a high school graduate I see how much they are still developing and becoming the person they will be. Then again who one is at age eighteen is not who they are at twenty-two or thirty or forty or fifty. People are always evolving. In living life and having experiences things about their character and personality and their talents and skills reveal themselves. It takes time to see all the good that came from an experience!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Worthy Cause For Our Books

I wanted this and asked all around but no one knew of a source. I wanted to donate my picture books to be used by children who were disadvantaged. I wanted our books to be enjoyed by kids, at least one, more if possible. I could not find a way to donate them.

As I said prior here I got rid of a lot of books last year. The libary sale received 28 boxes in one week alone plus others throughout the year.

Today on Facebook a group of local families had a post. It said the woman's friend is a teacher and is stocking up a bookmobile to drive around inner city Houston this summer providing books to kids. They want books for preschool through grade five.


I put aside my tasks for the day and dove into one closet that was three boxes deep and five boxes high. These books are a combination of my own books and children's books. I went through half already.

I actually found more to get rid of in other sources. So far I have two boxes to try to resell to the used homeschool curriculum store in Houston, two boxes for the library sale (adult fiction, adult nonfiction and cookbooks), and two boxes for the bookmobile.

Some that I picked today are great message books and/or great artwork books. Many are in like new condition. I could try to resell them but why bother? Some of the books were African American history or African American characters with positive messages. Some have messages about anti bullying, the value of true friendship, dealing with when a person is different, acceptance, and love in a family.

I also found some nonfiction adult books about teaching inner city kids and Jonathan Kozol books on education inequality and some on ways to be an effective teacher that I tossed in. Maybe the teacher would want to read those.

I wish I had a used bookstore that wants antique children's books as I honestly should let go of the ones I own. I keep asking myself how my life is enchanced by owning this thing or that thing and the honest answer is usually it is not contributing anything to my life today. So why keep it?

Calcium Level Update (Parathyroid)

The NP at the endocrinologist's office ordered a new set of blood tests with calcium and amylase to compare the two. This time the calcium was 9.9 (was 10.5 prior). This was the same lab.

So the whole investigation into parathyroid disease and possible surgery ended.

Just like that, it is done.

There is a bit more to the story about the problem with the 10.5 calcium that has developed which tells more of how doctoring is an inexact science.

Regarding the other specialist who started this whole thing: in the time between the endocrinologist office consult, that blood draw and when the result and plan of action was made, we had another visit which the specialist; the specialist wanted my son in the office in that week, despite an having an answer yet. So the doctor asked what happened with the parathyroid investigation. The specialist got mad when I said the blood was redrawn and we were waiting. He said, "One drug I have your son on can in some cases raise calcium and cause parathyroid disease. Did the endocrinologist discuss that?" I said no, they did not discuss that with us, and that he had not told us anything about that, nor had he communicated that concern directly to the endocrinologist in any way including when his office faxed the lab results to the specialist prior to the consult! So how was I and my son to know to know to have that discussion? He said he was annoyed because the endocrinologist must not know that that drug can raise calcium. That drug side efffect was his concern and that is why he wants him off that drug. But he never discussed that with me or my son. What the heck?

You see on the last visit when the calcium was 10.5 he said he wanted my son off a drug that is helping him a lot. My son pleaded no, as it is helping him immensely. Additionally he offered a newer drug (which is advertisted almost nonstop on TV) which was tried by the last doctor that had such a bad (very bad) reaction (causing psychotic events) that it was the reason we left that practice. So the new doctor had forgotten or not looked in the chart to see the history of meds and the bad reactions. We begged him to not change that med. We left the office with the doctor thinking the med would be stopped completely.

At home I discussed this with my husband (and son) and we sought a couple of opinions of people who know a lot about this topic and this drug but whom are not doctors. We all decided that with the plans to leave the state in a few days, for a week's time, and to have a graduation and see old friends which would be an emotionally trying time,  that a med change is not a good idea. We kept him on the meds against the doctor's orders.

So at this second visit we were truthful about him still being on all the same meds. He also wanted another drug doubled but taken alone but I reminded him that in the past on that regimen he was not as highly functioning and the side effecs were blunted affect and none of us want that again. We also had a discussion of the drug's known side effects of altering brain activity and impeding clear thinking, fogging memory and impeding also short term memory recall. We both said that this has hindered academic ability and hurt schoolwork and the college plans which affect career. The doctor just looked at us. But he wrote a refill for the prescriptions.

I also mentioned the slowed brain activity as seen on QEEG test last month and he said, "That test is not exact science." However it is afact that the drug works by slowing brain activity, that is what it does.  So my son discussed wanting to be off the drug that the doctor wants to double and the doctor said no.

The last think the doctor said was, "It seems we are at a standoff." I was not arguing, I was just keeping silent at that point.

So when we go back to the next visit I will hand carry the lab results and show that the drug is not altering the calcium level so there is no problem being caused by that drug. Honestly to redraw the blood to double check a result seems reasonable to me given the nature of the importance of this drug in my son's life.

I have since found on the internet that the exact time of the blood draw matters if you take that drug, that the calcium goes up and down through the day and a certain numberof hours must have passed since the last dose in order to get an accurate result. So what the hell? No one has discussed that with us either. Doctoring is so, so, so inexact!

My son turns eighteen in less than two months. I cannot imagine him being in charge of all this by himself. It is a lot to juggle for me as an informed person who used to work in that field.

***The condition for which my son is being treated has been attributed by three doctors and the psychologist as beign a direct cause of stage two Lyme Disease: brain injury.***

I, we, are all happy to know my son does not have parathyroid disease. However we are still frustrated with dealing with what it takes to get good care for this Lyme related condition and the general issues with medical care in the United States. For the record I know how complex our healthcare system is and it's because it is filled with humans, many people. A government or law cannot fix all that ails it because a government cannot change human nature or behavior or the decisions that are made. The government's changes with The Affordable Care Act have caused the employer to change our private health care plan to get a lower plan so we have a higher out of pocket expense. To get this doctor who we feel is the best we have found we have to pay all out of pocket of office visits ($125 for ten minutes). Our presccription copay has been raised. The employer is paying a 40% Cadillac Tax on this worse plan.

Note: I will be seeking a replacement under warranty for this iPad keyboard because it makes double and triple letters for one click or does not do the actions that I pressed (spaces or letters) which is very confusing. I apologize for the typos if you see any.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Someone Else's Memories

I am still holding onto some things that belonged to my paternal grandmother, the hoarder. They clutter my garage here in Texas which means I cannot park in the garage. I was on a big decluttering mission ealier this year then burned out due to doing too may hours every day, day after day. I stopped working on it. I need to get back to it. I had set a goal that I'd clear the garage before Hurrican Season because if one hits I really think the new cars should be able to be protected instead of being in the drieway exposed under hundred foot tall trees whose branches may fall onto them and cause serious damage. It got to a point where trying to hold onto memories is being put ahead of protecting current assets which have high monetary value.

In helping my grandmother declutter I uncovered decades of memories she was trying to preserve. She thought she needed all the material evidence in order to recall and remember. Yet she was so busy living daily life with what she felt was of high importance on that day that she never had time to go look at drawings her son made as a toddler or ones that my brother and I made while visiting her. She never wanted to look at her son's old math schoolwork or to read his research papers.

In finding some of this stuff I felt compelled to keep some of it. The problem was the papers smelled moldy or mildewy or whatever you want to call it. I shoved them in my garage in Connecticut which was not musty smelling. I moved them to Texas. They sit in the garage. Now this summer is our most wet and most humid summer since our move here four years ago and as of this week our garage has a stink of mold and mildew It is that smell of her stuff.

Hurricane season is upon us. I am busy here with younger son still in school and the older graduated last week. I am busy living real life every day and have no time to look at or enjoy that old stuff, whatever it is, in those cardboard boxes.

It is time to get back to the garage and thow crap out.

I have been thinking that those memories are her memories. They are not my memories. By looking at it I have learned a bit more about her and what was important to her. Since lugging this stuff to three different houses and paying two moving companies to move it, I have been pondering on the nature of memory and things. When I look at the stuff I ask myself what am I trying to know or remember or not forget?

I have been thinking that writing down some stories and writing out the memories would be better than having a dozen boxes of ephemera that stink of mildew which someone is left to decipher and try to form infomation and memories out of. If I write of my father's school experience, hating it, struggling to learn, and dropping out it tells the story that a smelly report card need not reveal.

I am psyching myself up to let go of the last of the stuff. I have gotten rid of a ton of stuff since my first decision to try to not be a packrat and to declutter my house, belive me. But there is more to let go of that I hope to tackle this summer. One more week of being mom to a schooled kid then the new summer schedule begins.


Related: This week a mom asked on a homeschool chat group what she should do with her kid's stuff now that it is time for college. Multiple responders said get rid of most of it or it could become a burden. I agree. Both of my parents are packats and they held the opinion that my chilhood stuff was my stuff to manage. I was no ready and was too emotionally attached to things to let go of it all. I hauled childhood stuff like stuffed animals from rented house to rented house then to my first home after I got married.

I feel that a parent is doing a child a favor by letting go of a lot of stuff so it is not an emotional burden on the young adults. Last month I asked the packrat son if it was okay to donate a certain book series he read as a preteen. He said he wished I just did it and did not ask as now he feels bad thinking it is gone. I have one who was born a packrat and another who doesn't want to keep a single thing. I am against getting rid of everything so I am keeping a very small amount of the most important things for my younger son. Instead of keeping the entire Magic Tree House series I kept the first three in the series. I got rid all of the not favorite books of his. I saved all the Cub Scout pinewood derby cars even though he said to let them go. I'm editing for him.