Monday, November 28, 2005

This Weather Sucks!

I don't mind winter. A lot of the time I actually LIKE winter. I love the longer, cozy nights. I love the snow twinkling like diamonds, by the light of a full moon. I love the freshness of the air and the brilliant blue sky on a sunny day.

Today is NOT winter in northern MN!! We've had freezing, frigging rain since last night. We let the truck run for 20 minutes this morning and only managed to melt a small peep hole in the 1/2 inch of ice on the windshield. I had to slide out the passenger door at work so I could grab the building to hold my footing on the glare ice! I sprinkled 30 lbs of salt at work, and another 15 lbs at home.

Our local highway crews have done a valiant job. The main thoroughfares are relatively ice free, but watch out for the side streets, parking lots and your own driveway!

We now have an inch of ice covering EVERYTHING! I had to hack my way into our shed so I could get food out of the freezer.

It's been sleeting for the last hour. This is preferable to freezing rain. Walking on frozen pebbles is way easier than walking on a sheet of glare ice. In addition, the sleet bonds to the ice and roughens the surface.

To top it all off, we're supposed to get 4-8 inches of snow overnight! The snow will bond quite well to the ice on the metal roofs we northerners are so fond off. This is a BAD thing! This mixture doesn't slide off the roof, like it's supposed to. Unless we get a warm sunny day in the near future, we'll all be pulling the snow off our roofs with roof rakes. This is something you normally don't have to do with a metal roof. This will also make it difficult for L to clean off the truck at 5 a.m., so I can get to work.

We're praying that the wind won't pick up and snap the ice-heavy electrical lines!

I'll take 10 below ANY DAY over this!!

Friday, November 25, 2005


Acorn Man

I hope that your Thanksgiving was as blessed as ours. Once again we were grateful for the health and happiness of our family, a warm loving home, PLENTY of food on the table, and jobs to pay for it all.
My parents came over to share our 23 lb turkey and we were joined by SME and Doug via telephone. SME, we MUST get our webcams hooked up before Christmas!

Our leftovers are now divided into at least 11 more meals and safely stored in our freezer. Over the next few months we'll be enjoying 3 turkey pies, turkey stir-fry, 2 meals of turkey enchiladas, and 5 bags of leftover turkey for sandwiches or hotdishes. As you can tell, my family loves turkey leftovers!

Our boss decided to close for the 4 day weekend, so L and I are enjoying a much needed respite from work. This topic leads me into a mini rant. I absolutely refuse to patronize businesses on holidays! This is just another way that corporate greed is destroying family life. Employees DESERVE this precious time off to spend with family and friends! If everybody would boycott these businesses on holidays, they would quit this practice.

L and I will be using our time off to put up our 13 boxes of Christmas decorations. Yes, I admit it; I love to decorate for holidays and Christmas is my FAVORITE! I LOVE EVERYTHING about Christmas!! I love to decorate, bake, shop, and cuddle up with my family in front of the Christmas tree. L refuses to decorate outside. I agree that a lot of people are way too competitive in their outdoor decorating, but I wouldn't mind hanging a string of icicle lights and a wreath on the front of our porch. L's idea of outdoor decorating is leaving our living room drapes open so that people can see our tree from the road. *sigh*

Today, the Thanksgiving decorations are coming down. I'm sharing a few pictures of my favorites before they disappear for another year. The top pic is of SME's Acorn Man that she made in 1st or 2nd grade. Acorn Man goes up on our closet door in October and stays there through Thanksgiving. When SME reached middle school, she became mortified when I'd hang her old artwork in the public spaces of our home. I solemnly promised that, in the future, I would only display her "ancient" artwork in our bedroom. Homemade tree ornaments are the only exception to this rule. When Z reached school age, SME informed him that Mom would save EVERY "lame" artwork and "haunt" him with it for the rest of his life. This resulted in Z extracting the same "bedroom promise" from me. OK, kids; I kept my end of the bargain. However, I never promised that I wouldn't post your art on the internet. I AM posting from our bedroom, so technically I'm keeping my promise. HeeHee!

Z's Turkey

Z made this turkey in 2nd grade. Unlike SME, Z doesn't like to draw(poor kid got his mother's art genes). He does love working with tools, so scissors and glue became his medium.

Indian Corn
This is my artistic contribution to our Fall decorations. I grew and dried this Indian corn 18 yrs ago. Every October, we hang two ears from each of our plant hangers in the house.
My artistic flare is limited to crafts and my Grandma's green thumb. SME got her artistic genes from her Dad.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Our Visit With the Psychologist

Wow, we've been busy this week. I haven't had time to post, although I visited a few of you.

Last Friday the three of us went to Z's appointment with the new psychologist. Her name is Kathi and she's about my age; OLD. Kathi is the opposite of Z's previous child psychologist. She's very bubbly, with a great sense of humor. Z hit it off with Kathi immediately. Z tends to measure people before he trusts them enough to open up to them. Kathi had him talking like they were old pals right away. OK, I guess we'll keep her.

Kathi said that we caught Z's obsession with his health at a good time. He is obsessesed, but he hasn't started any compulsive rituals related to his health. She doesn't think that the gastroenteroligist is a good idea. People with Z's problems CAN become addicted to going to the doctor. If things keep running smoothly, I'll cancel our appointment next week. I'm sure that there are kids with real gastric problems who could benefit by being bumped up to Z's appointment date.

Kathi printed us out some great material on ADD and OCD hoarders. This gave us some new insight into Z's problems. I'm happy to report that we've been doing exactly the right thing with Z's hoarding obsession.

As we were leaving, Kathi put her arm around Z's shoulders and asked him if he played chess. Z loves board and card games. We taught him to play chess a couple of years ago and bought him a Harry Potter chess set for Christmas. Kathi says that chess is helpful for kids with ADD. It helps to organize their mind when they have to think 2 or 3 moves ahead. Looks like we'll be playing more chess at our house. Kathi would also like to play a game of chess with Z during one of their future sessions. I've heard that you can learn a LOT about a person by the way they play chess or poker. At this point we're willing to try just about anything.

In the future, Kathi will be meeting alone with Z during the first part of their session. She will then discuss how L and I can reinforce his therapy at home with whoever brings him to the appointment(usually me). Sounds good to me.

The following is a printout that Kathi gave us. I've colored the parts that apply to Z.

1. Sensitve
2. Empathic with the feelings of others
3. Feels things deeply
4. Creative in nature
5. Inventive
6. Often sees things from a unique perspective
7. Great at finding things that are lost
8. Perceptually acute
9. Stand-up comic
10. Spontaneous
11. Fun
12. Energetic
13. Open and unsecretive (I thought this was just a "guy thing")
14. Eager for acceptance (yes) and willing to work for it (not usually)
15. Responsive to positive reinforcement (For some reason both of our kids hate praise)
16. Doesn't harbor resentment
17. Quick if they like what they are doing
18. Difficult to fool
19. Looks past surface appearance to the core of people, situations and issues (I thought WE instilled this in him; RATS!)
20. Down to earth
21. Good networker
22. Sees unique relationships between people and things
23. Cross disciplinary and interdisciplinary (WHAT? I gotta look this one up)
24. Less likely to get in a rut or go stale
25. Original, with a sense of humor (humour to SME)
26. Observant
27. Loyal
28. Intense when interested in something
29. More likely to do things because they want to than because they should, thus often wholehearted in efforts (If only he'd be wholehearted in the RIGHT efforts!)

The trick is to capitalize on Z's positive aspects, while working around the negative ones. This is something we've been trying to do all along, but it isn't as easy as it sounds.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gov. Tim Pawlenty Can Eat My Undies!!

I'd have him kiss my ass, but that's a bit too erotic for the likes of him!

I just wasted my precious afternoon on the phone with MNCARE, our state's health insurance pool for the uninsured. Our yearly evaluation was the middle of September. Today I was informed that L and I were no longer eligible because we have too many assets. Z would continue to be covered for $40/month, as he is under 18.

MNCARE is a wonderful system, and has been operating in the black since it's inception. Last year Gov. Pawlenty took it upon himself to appropriate(steal) MNCARE's funds to balance the state's budget. This forced MNCARE to raise it's eligibility requirements and knocked many people out of the program. At last count over 30 people have died as a direct result of losing their coverage.

As a result of Pawlenty's thievery, we can now have only $20,000 in assets. This includes our $800 savings account, $5000 in savings bonds, $700 for our 14 yr old second vehicle, $3000 for our 8 yr old pop-up camper, and $14,000 cash value in the whole life insurance policies that L and I have been paying on for 20 yrs. According to my calculations, this puts us over by $3500. According to MNCARE, we're over by $1500. OK, they must have given us the benefit of the doubt somewhere.

Keep in mind that our combined yearly gross income is $35,000(yes, this includes my tips). We live in a depressed area(I plan on posting on this at a later date) and are able to live quite cheaply. Now we're being penalized for living within our income and managing to squirrel away a few thousand in savings. We don't have an IRA (which counts as an asset too) and know that we will never be able to fully retire. According to Social Security, if we continue making what we do now, we will be eligible for $700/month apiece at age 65(66 1/2 for me). I'm a genius with our household budget, but we'd never make it on $1400/month.

The MNCARE worker told me that we'd be reinstated if our assets decreased by $1500. No problem, I told them. The bank closes in 30 min and I'm closing our savings account and cashing in some savings bonds. THEN I'm going on a shopping spree. I'm going to buy all the things I've been scrimping on for the last 28 yrs! By the end of the day we're going to have all new sheets, towels, blankets, winter jackets and a new 8 hp snowblower(to replace the 14 yr old, 5 hp snowblower that we've been holding together with baling wire).

I made the trip to the bank. I closed the savings account and cashed in 2 bonds. We now have $2555.55 in an envelope in my underwear drawer. I didn't go on that shopping spree. I plan on having my Dad purchase bonds in his name, with me as the beneficiary. MNCARE is satisfied and we're reinstated. In the future, I guess I'll be burying any extra money we have in ziploc bags in the back yard.

Pawlenty's campaign promise was to not raise state taxes. He has kept his promise by drastically cutting state funding of such frivolous things as schools and local fire and police departments. As a result, city and county property taxes have skyrocketed and MNCARE has drastically reduced it's enrollees. By the way, Pawlenty hired an architect to develop plans for a state funded professional football and baseball stadium. We all know that professional sports are much more important than the 30 lives that have been lost!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just Like a Bad Penny. . .

OCD always returns! We had a pretty good week and a half between episodes; then it hit again.

Z had a friend spend the night last weekend. Whenever this friend comes over, Z's room and the den get totally trashed! I'm planning a post on Z's friends in the future, so I won't go into details on this kid right now. Anyway....Z picked up the living room on Sunday and started on his room and the den on Monday. We try to keep the areas Z studies clutter free as this tends to clear a lot of the clutter in his mind. He often studies at his desk in his room and his computer is in the den, so clearing the mess was a priority.

By Wednesday I could see no progress. I couldn't even walk into Z's room! When confronted, Z burst into tears and said: "What's the use of doing ANYTHING when I'll probably be dead in 2 months?" Oh boy; here we go again!

As I've said before, we choose our battles with Z's TS behaviors. Many of his obsessions we just work around. We've worked on easing his obsession with thunderstorms over the past few summers. When it comes to obsessing over his health, we have to do something. Anxiety over his health CAN wind up ruining his health.

Z and I sat down and calmly discussed his health obsessions. Then we decided it was time for some professional intervention. I called to make an appointment with his psychologist, but he's booked for the next 2 months! We wound up taking an appointment with the new gal at the clinic. Z tends to have trust issues with people until he gets to know them, so I hope he'll open up with this lady. The only available appointment she had was in the morning, so I'll have to leave work early. L doesn't hear well enough to attend these meetings without me. Hopefully the psychologist will be able to give us some tools to help Z overcome this obsession.

To complete my week, I ran into a homeschool snag. The Algebra book I ordered for Z is a wonderful explanatory guide! The problem is that it doesn't have enough assignments to work out. If you know math, you know that the more problems you work out, the better the concepts sink in.

I did an online search and found a textbook that would work for us. I decided to buy the teacher's guide so I would have the answers to all the problems. Any math teacher's guide I have ever seen has been a larger version of the student textbook. There are teaching hints in the text part and solutions to the problems are included. I found a used teacher's guide for $78, a savings of $40. When it came, I was dismayed to find that it was ONLY the solutions to the problems. It didn't even include the original problem! Now I had to order the original textbook so the guide wouldn't be useless to us. Fortunately I found another used deal for $29, but now we have to wait another week for it to come.

On the bright side, we got the inside of our windows cleaned and put up Thanksgiving decorations. This small gesture did a LOT to lift the depression that was dragging us all down.