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Category Archives: Helpful Info

New Favorite Things, Random Items

These are the random things that didn’t fit with the previous posts. I tried to include screenshots with prices when able, but watch the reviews since not all that look similar are created equally and there are often sales. Everything in this post was bought on Amazon (never too early to make a Black Friday/Prime Day watch list on Amazon IMO 😉).

This is definitely one of those cases where the brand matters, it seems. These have done the best for us; so much so that we bought another two pack! Hammock and chair work best for me, although I have the funniest ability to somehow completely flip myself backward in the chair position. 😆 They dry quicker than some of our other pool items, they fit with most activities and physical needs, and wrap into the drifter position so they’re easy to carry while also being pretty dang light weight. The youngest ditched his pool float and noodle to opt for one of these, despite originally feeling they were “for old people”, so there’s a ringing endorsement. *grin* (I admittedly am still not used to 41 being considered an old person, but I guess we all had some age threshold and the median just went down at some point lol.) A small electric air pump has you ready for the pool within a couple of minutes and although some heavier weights don’t float as high, they’ve still done an impressive job even when a rambunctious kid climbs on with an adult. *grin*

If you have any wood furniture and kids, I can’t recommend this multipack enough. We don’t get wound up much about little things that are bound to happen, but it’s nice to have something that can help make those oops moments less noticeable. We have a variety of colors for our wood furniture, since it’s two partial households joined together and on a budget, so the best part is that if none match, you can cover with another color and usually between a few layers of different colors, the scratch or nick is barely noticeable. Plus, it’s in a marker form, so no brushes or cans or any or that. Of course, this is for touch ups and not your big jobs, but easy enough that the youngest takes care of spots on his own even!

A total girly moment here, but I love this nail file. I was told that this type is way healthier for your nails, so I splurged, and now I can’t stand the old, cheap kind. Plus, it has a carrying case, so I can drop it in my purse or bag and take anywhere I go. Although I never found where it said it works on them, it works great on my fake nails when I decide to go all out and put the work in for pretty nails. (With my illnesses, I can’t grow out my nails and try not to draw attention, so when I want to be a little fancy or feel extra pretty, acrylic nails it is along with whatever color the youngest thinks is my must have this time. 😉😊) This sucker isn’t going to break or peel apart either, and is actually pretty.

A seriously random set to add for the post, but I’m obsessed with the smallest especially. I am NOT good at sewing, but when I had to modify my Handfasting dress, I needed good sewing scissors and oh man are these awesome! I use the little ones (which have a thick plastic bag to sit in *chef’s kiss*) for all of my small projects like sewing a button or snipping loose threads. For scissors these are a freaking amazing set IMO (for amateurs probably).

Now, I got obsessed with “Diamond drill paintings” during my Covid recoveries and have done a variety from cartoon characters to landscapes to animals. Amazon has a variety of sales and options, but watch the regular price. This is one of those instances where you get what you pay for. If the deal seems too good to be true, you’re probably not going to be overly happy with the finished project. I love The Nightmare Before Christmas and bought a whole combo set on sale…as the youngest says, the faces are pretty derpy. *laugh* Also, I’ve always had extra beads leftover and have noticed that most brands have a standardized item number system, so at some point I’m going to actually make one of my own with the leftovers. Here are a few of the different favorites I’ve done (these are the pics, not the pixelated versions for putting the “gems” on or the after results, which seldom photograph well IMO). There are some gorgeous pieces that are expensive at face value, but watch for a sale and next thing you know you have maybe 8 waiting on a shelf to work on *cough*.

If you become obsessed, you’ll need accessories. Each project comes with beads, clay “glue”, at least one stick, and at least one tray. Well, I needed a sturdy surface, I’m almost blind as a bat so back lighting, and something to hold my supplies. So, two more acquisitions when the prices were right.

Please note that this works for laptops too and there’s a version that plugs to USB to provide even more cooling if gaming, so I have three versions of this bamboo tray.
Trust me that the mesh stand for the light feels so much more sturdy than the frame versions you’ll see and those blue comfort grips are a MUST! To prepare, I open each gem bag in order and empty into one of the little holders I numbered in order, and if there are more than it holds, I make a baggie with identifying info on it, so no guess work while working on your art. The roller is a blessing when you get a section done and want to make sure they’re pushed on well and having 3 brightness settings to the light is fantastic!

As you can probably guess, birthdays and Christmas gifts are mostly “paintings” geared toward that person’s interests. I personally love a gift someone made/worked on themselves or is handcrafted, so it’s a love language for me to give gifts of the same type. You get a patriotic one, you get coastal, you love sloths, the house needs cute sayings and I can’t embroider so here’s a version of that… 😉

I’m finishing this round with one of our game night amusements. This one we tend to play with our friends instead of for family fun night, but you can always pull the few more risqué ones out or gloss over the “what does that mean” if the younger ones even bother to ask what the adults are laughing about. It’s also really amusing to see who in your group will admit to certain behaviors without the group even voting for that person. *laugh* It’s a toss up between the youngest and I over who wears the most oddly assembled outfits sometimes and who has the worst bed head. I’m definitely the one who will correct spelling and grammar even in text messages. *laugh* This must be played while lighthearted and not taken personally! This game must be approached with humor and is best played with people you are comfortable with. When played with the right people, this game is an hour of pure laughter and not-so-guilty admissions. *grin* And it’s not full of the crude humor of CAH nor are adult beverages needed. It’s a lot of fun as is. Tip: If you like the format of CAH, but don’t want to go there, yet want something more thought provoking than Apples to Apples, you should check out “Conspiracy Theory”. That game can be a riot and works great with the fake player added, too. Although even adults don’t understand some of the cards (seriously, conspiracy theorists have some acronyms that even Google had trouble with lol), you can come up with some really funny conspiracies! Just remember to play “to the judge”; for instance, if our youngest is playing, whatever makes the least sense is going to win when he picks. *laugh* With me, the most sarcastic and snarky is going to be the winner.

I hope these posts have been as fun for you as they were creating them and maybe given a few helpful ideas! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy out there, and hope that maybe this helps us all remember to look for the happy little things in life, especially when things seem bleak. I’m always looking to share that silver lining. 😁

New Favorite Things, Kid Edition

We have a teen and a pre-teen, so things can be chaotic and requires a wide variety of creativity when it comes to organization and family fun. Here are a few of our favorites…

These were such a relief to find! I’ve tried several types and this has been the best by far. Not only do these Velcro onto a hanger and work in the closet, but it can double duty for other things than caps, and makes it super easy for them to find that hat that is just right (I figure it’s like women and shoes…they’re accessorizing, but I don’t pretend to truly understand why anyone needs that many hats, especially since I’m not a girl that has lots of shoes or purses either lol). These also work great for holding flat brims instead of only curved, even organizes winter beanies and sun hats (I bought several, so one is strictly for the teenager’s ball caps, while another is the family free-for-all organizer). I was worried about taking up too much space in the closet, but it’s just the width of a hat and holds so many (and all organized, so try to beat that! *grin*), that it doesn’t feel like any space is actually lost.

This is an older one, but I swear it was a huge help, especially with hybrid learning from Covid schooling. I felt like an idiot that I had no clue what these math names were when asked for help, so this was a blessing! We find them at Sam’s, but I’m sure they’re available elsewhere. Seriously though, division isn’t just division anymore. There are different methods and formulas in grade school! This explained the method, gave examples, has answers so you know you’ve learned it correctly so you can help them correctly, and actually matched all of the types that the school used. Hallelujah! Arrays and the Big 7 were total “what the…” versions for me. 😂 I swear I still find it easier to do the plain old long division I learned thirty years ago, but it was good to see that they’re working on finding methods that will work for everyone, because once we knew how to help him understand it, Big 7 was a game changer for the fourth grade. Other methods just didn’t work for him. I personally think these are more of a help for the parents than the kids unless you’re homeschooling, but man are they worth every penny when your child suddenly understands and can do their schoolwork!

The pictures make it self explanatory, but this organizer makes my day. (Yeah, it doesn’t take much sometimes, but organization definitely does it for me, especially if it stops the cycle of me having to do clean up after creative time! *grin*) Although Legos are the main feature (and rightfully so, since you inevitably step on them and they manage to find their way EVERYWHERE, and become the bane of your existence despite their awesomeness), I use one for crafts/play too. Play-doh, moon sand, craft sticks and Pom poms, etc. Mess stays contained, they can make all the ice cream cones and castles and wood stick catapults desired, and drop the stuff right back into the box to be closed neatly. And you can easily flip the pull out liner to drop moon sand bits into the trash if needed while never again seeing green sand spots in the carpet. Just remember to not be uptight about it. It’s going to stain and be messy inside. Just concentrate that the mess isn’t on the carpet or desk anymore and you’re not going to be stepping on Legos at midnight while walking in the dark to the kitchen because you have a sweet tooth attack. *grin*

We subscribed to Just Dance as part of both our exercise and family time budgets. Unfortunately, the over the thumb regular wrist holder for the switch controller doesn’t work with smaller hands/arms, but these are a massive improvement. Not perfect, but no longer a case of someone upset because half of their moves weren’t registered and their score was low, and no worries about what might happen to that controller without the band. 🙂 The subscription has a huuuuge library (thanks Sis for the heads up last year!) and even a section just for kids (just prepare yourself for PBS-like videos; you’ve been forewarned lol), although there are a ton of family friendly options in the regular catalog, with sometimes competing while other times the scores are joined for an ultimate score. This has been a great way for me to exercise with having health issues and also needing to stay out of the sun while taking frequent breaks, but also allows for great bonding opportunities. Just remember to get the regular ones for the rest of the family, because it’s so much better than sweating all over the controller and you may be able to get your teen to do a little “dance like nobody is watching” with you! 😊

You have to get creative for family night, especially when you have a wide age variety and want to be able to play with friends, too. And face it, the youth today pretty much sums up life experiences in memes, so might as well roll with it. *grin* This is a great option for laid back game night too, because the one with the energy can do all of the cards and displaying while the others rest on couches and chairs around the room. Bonus win: burn that extra energy from the active child, keep them extra occupied, bond as a family, and have a fun time all around. It’s a good game for most ages and you don’t even have to be familiar with the original meme for the game to leave everyone cracking up. Sometimes there can be a little innuendo, so just a heads up there that you might want to scan the cards before play and pull any that aren’t appropriate for your group.

If you’re patiently building your family game collection, you can often find most family games on sale at least a few times per month. This is one that is definitely geared to the younger generation, but can be pretty amusing if you’re okay with potty and fart humor (which you need to be with most Littles, if we’re realistic lol). This is like a kid version of Cards Against Humanity and if you have a tween or near there, they have some jealousy that they can’t play that popular game, so this helps fill that gap and give them a version that’s okay for them yet feels so risqué still. *grin* One tip we found is to have at least one “blind player”, which is a non-player that you just draw a random card for and add to the answer pile each round. The extra player(s) add a random and funny new dimension, usually, and honestly, they usually win when we play. *laugh* This is a low exertion game and can be easily modified. We usually play with the youngest as the judge every turn. One, it’s more amusing for him to read all of the silly humor instead of hoping his gets picked and two, it’s a slick way of having them work on reading out loud without realizing it and super easy going if you have to help with correcting on pronouncing words or pausing in reading when there’s a comma, etc. I am all about finding ways to get kids to read out loud and get help when they won’t be defensive about it. And despite being “too old for family games” usually, we can usually get the teenager to play at least one round because few ever fully outgrow at least a snicker when it comes to fart jokes. 😉

Hopefully this has provided a few helpful options and smiles. If you have any to add, I’d love to read your comments if you have time to respond. 😊 It takes a village, as they say. 😉

New Favorite Things Part 1

While recovering from my first iron infusion I thought I’d write something upbeat, especially with everything in the news and going on in the world. I’m not going to post purchasing links this round, although most items are available on Amazon (we have stairs to the apartment, so nearly everything gets delivered by a company because it’s almost impossible to carry stuff up stairs with a cane without bothering other occupants lol). I’ve been a bit spaced since the infusion and don’t trust that I’d put the right URLs honestly. 😂 Let’s get to part 1 (since I haven’t done one of these posts in a while I have several items and don’t want this overwhelming)!

These have been so awesome for us! If the eldest has sports practice, I can still have a “plate” ready for him when he gets home without him pulling out every dish or feeling left out, and the younger can eat on time. Plus, they do well in the dishwasher and when things go bad, they’re cheap enough that I don’t feel bad if one gets left at school or grows the cure to something because it fell to the back and needs tossed during the refrigerator cleaning. They make great to-go lunch boxes too, as long as the actual lunch box can handle the size.

This is so easy to clean and handy! They have a wide variety of colors, but if you’re not picky, the less popular colors are often cheaper, so you can nab a great deal. So far even tomato based foods haven’t stained this little workhorse and no balancing like with the type that slides onto the side of your pan and holds your utensil (I had a pig that stood with the pan edge going in the middle of the legs and utensil slid inside the mouth, for example, and even a Nessie standing holder that fell and made a worse mess than just putting the spoon on the stove directly, so trust me, I’ve tried others).

This could be handy for anyone, but what has worked wonderfully for me is giving this to the 10 YO. It allows him to write recipes he comes up with, have a copy of ones he loves that others make (he’s learning to help in the kitchen, so having his own recipe card to read to know if it dive the tomatoes or slice them, etc, is great, plus empowering), and it makes a great way for you to peek and see what meals your Little truly likes when menu planning and they appreciate whatever you do, so you have no idea what to make. *grin* It’s also just plain handy for getting them interested in helping in the kitchen! Worth every penny IMO.

If you’re cooking for a family, especially when it’s a protein push time for athletes, this is SO handy! I have a smaller one I used for years and it had the circle element underneath that you worked with for being the hottest area and using the other spots as the resting or warming area. Although this is boxed back up in prep for hoping to move here in the future and is in the longer rotation so it could be packed, it’s an essential for us. It takes up your counter space when you have it in use, but cooks SO MUCH food at once and is more even in my experience than the cheaper/smaller versions. You can store it like a cookie sheet or on a shelf under other appliances (with padding between to keep you surface nice, of course), but Mr Tea and the can opener can definitely sit on top without causing any issues and using the space in a practical way, since I personally don’t like having it standing on the side. You use the storage method that works for you, but I tell you that this is awesome when you don’t want multiple pans going in order to get breakfast done for more than a couple of people, and my French Dips are so much easier than all the shuffling a smaller plate requires. If you have the power, plug both in and you have it all made in a jiffy and ready with easy clean up. Totally be the kitchen rockstar. 😉

These were all kitchen based, so I think I’ll end here and not make a super slow loading due to the pics. I think I’ll sim for Part 2 to be kid based and 3 to be miscellaneous. I’d love to hear any recommendations you have of course, especially when it comes to making life easier with busy kids! (Btw, we love the bento boxes so much they were actually on our Handfasting gift list, so that should show just how much they’re loved! Lol)

Repost About Chiggers

Physical Therapy has been going really well and one of their goal is to get me to be able to be outside for a bit. So I tried that for a bit yesterday. Unfortunately, the bug killer on the gravel driveway had faded away without me knowing and I now have 13 chigger bites. I slept most of yesterday via the glory of Benadryl and decided that today might be a good day to repost about the nasty little buggers since it’s been a few years. So here’s an informational post for all of us that get to suffer from these literal suckers. 🙂

To kick it off I want to introduce you to the exciting excruciating life of a chigger. For those that haven’t been to the Midwest or Southern areas of the beautiful USA I’m going to give you the heebie-jeebies, so settle in. You’ve been warned. *evil grin* A chigger is simply a mite that is virtually invisible to the naked eye. They love to live in the grass, but especially longer vegetation, although apparently they can infest vehicles and homes even. (It gets better, or worse, depending how you look at it.) I’m not going to go into the scientific stuff with you, so I’m going to give it to you Midwest style. *teasing smile* Basically, when the chigger is in the larval stage they eat skin cells. It was originally believed that the chigger burrowed under the skin, causing a “bite”. However, due to the amazing nerds in lab coats (you rock!), we now know that they actually inject an enzyme into the host (you or I in this instance) which starts to break down the tissue and they feed on that lovely goo of decomp. The really fun part is that they prefer warm and damp areas (think about that for a second), so elbows, knees, where your socks are cinched around your ankle, armpits, skin folds (*ahem* lol), and the groin are prime feeding spots. After they’ve attached and inject that enzyme into you, the spot becomes a nice little feeding tube for the larva. They fall off when they’re done and become nymphs, which later develop into adult chiggers. Thankfully it’s only the larva that cause such a problem, otherwise I’d be screaming to set the whole area on fire and that the land can’t be inhabited. *grin* The Brooksville Garden Club (no longer an active link) very kindly put some informative pictures on their site, so I’m sharing two of their pics so you can get a mental image. To top it off I added a nice little close up rendering of them feeding that I found on Wikipedia.

The chigger life cycle

The chigger life cycle

The larval chigger working some magic

The larval chigger working some magic

Chigger larva "biting" host

Chigger larva “biting” host

This little feeding area becomes extremely irritated, as in one of the most intense itches you will ever have in your life.  There are tons of products on the market to supposedly heal thy chigger bite, but lots are just a placebo effect.   We’ll look into prevention first and then some treatments to try.

Well, you could always use lawn treatment that is indicated for chiggers, but what if you have a nice safe lawn and step out into your driveway, not noticing that some weeds or grass has pushed up through the gravel (remember my mentioning I was in the gravel driveway?)? You might consider a secondary treatment. Now this is tried and true, but doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee. Take a shower as quickly as possible and wash with the original or orange (antibacterial, which is the preferred choice) versions of Dawn Dish Soap (works wonderfully for getting poison ivy’s oils off of your skin, too!). If you can, follow up the soap with some exfoliation, although some vigorous towel rubbing seems to work just as well, but you’ll miss out on a chance to linger in that soothing lukewarm to cool cascade of water. If it’s just not possible to take that shower, after all you might not be THAT close to your friend that you can say you’re going to go jump in their shower, then a “spit wash” usually works just as well if you don’t need to do a large portion of the body. If you’ve just been walking, then usually washing your legs off is adequate enough, so suds up a washcloth or paper towel, scrub well, and then do a “rinsing” towel afterward. Anyone that is a super supporter of all natural stuff please close your eyes and scroll down a few lines riiiiight now. If you know you’re headed outside use a good repellent with Deet, but make sure it lists that it works against chiggers, since not all Deet ones do. Plan to look like an über weirdo and tuck your pant legs into your socks for even more protection. The evil little buggers can’t climb up your leg then, usually. I’m a big fan of Off Deep Woods combined with the dish soap scrub. (Always follow product instructions and medical advice, yada yada.) I seldom ever do the pant tucking because when it’s chigger weather in the Midwest it’s usually pretty toasty and humid, so you won’t catch me in full length pants usually. lol

Say company stopped by and you ended up spontaneously having a chat in that slightly overgrown and untreated driveway. You didn’t really have a chance to take any preventative measures, didn’t realize that the bug stuff wasn’t treating the ground anymore, and a couple of days (or hours if you’re extra unlucky) later you’re suddenly itching in spots that would most likely embarrass your mother to see you scratching. Skip all of the items that claim they help chigger bites. (You’ll still want to do a healthy rub to make sure that the larva is no longer on the skin before you apply treatments.) Instead, try a little of the good ole Vicks VapoRub. (Side note: who do I talk to at Vicks to get them to become my sponsor since I give a lot of marketing for off label uses of their products? *grin*) VapoRub has healthy concentrations of menthol and camphor, which are the main ingredients that clear your sinuses out when you rub it on your chest. (And also can help with some muscle pain, since those two ingredients are topical analgesics, but make sure you cover with something that you don’t mind getting stained up, since it’ll totally mess up cloth.) Dab some of the Rub over the horrendous lump you’ve developed and you may just find some relief.

Since everyone is different, something else might work for you. If that’s the case, try some anbesol/Orajel if you have it on hand. These often help people overcome that intense itch and also works great for mosquito bites, so I take a tiny tube with me when camping. Ivarest, an expensive yet awesome little tube of treatment for poison ivy, may help you too and rubs right into the skin.

You can also try a soothing bath with some Epsom Salts. Remember a long time ago when I mentioned a lot of awesome benefits to Epsom or maybe that tips and handy info tab on my website that talks about the believed benefits of it? Anyway, the Epsom will usually help heal some of that inflammation from the lovely tube of rotting muck stuck in you and may even help to shrink that little puppy up. Next you can stay in the same line and apply a little skin benefiting oil (like sweet almond) to the spot and pat some plain table salt over the badge of summer honor. This will not only help to dry it up, but it may also keep air from the spot. The problem with this is that you have to lay or sit around while letting the salt dry, and once it’s dry it will start to fall off as you are active, which can get weird and uncomfortable. Although I’d say you have a high tolerance for the uncomfortable if you’re able to lay in a compromising position naked with salt and oil drying on you, anyway, since most are in those areas that must not be mentioned. lol Still in the same concept you can also apply a simple baking soda paste to the spots, much like you can for other topical allergens.

Lastly, you might stick with the original old wives’ tale of covering the spot in clear nail polish. We know that we’re not suffocating the evil little cell suckers, but the polish seals the area off from the air, which is usually part of what is making you itch, scientists believe. However, most scientists also think this is totally bunk, so whatever floats your boat and works for you.

I’ve read varying reports about the ability for these little guys to fall off of you when they’re done feeding and carry out their life cycle right there in your home or vehicle. If you have more than one (and seriously, who usually ever gets just one?! They’re like freaking potato chips!), and you didn’t get them off, then you never know. You might just get them inside. (Yet again, I’ve read contradictory research on this, so don’t quote me. lol) Why not just try to make sure it’s not a possibility no matter what?

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen what a “bite” can look like, it can vary widely depending on how a person’s immune system responds.  We have small red spots, angry welts, or even nasty blisters in response to these feeding tubes.  MedlinePlus has a nice pic of the blistering version:

Chigger bite blisters MedlinePlus

Chigger bite blisters
MedlinePlus

The Mayo Clinic has a picture of a typical collection of “bites” on their slideshow:

Scabbed chigger bites Mayo Clinic

Scabbed chigger bites
Mayo Clinic

If you have immune system issues they often become huge welts that are about three to four times as big as the scabbed ones in the Mayo Clinic picture, plus they develop a nice dark ring around the affected area as the blood decides to come to the surface. I’m not showing you pictures of my summer “war” wounds. I was wearing a dress, so no polite ankle bites to show. Meh.

All of the doctors agree that you shouldn’t scratch chigger bites due to the risk of infection.  I don’t know a single person that’s ever managed to avoid doing it at least a few times, especially in their sleep.  You might decide to cover the area with a bandage or even plastic wrap (no weirder than a spa treatment) after you’ve found the treatment that works for you.  For me I have to live a little dangerously.  I rub or scratch lightly around the raised center to make sure the larval vamp is detached, take some antihistamines, and use an analgesic.  With my condition I have an issue with hyper responses and stimulations, so what should be the size of a period on a piece of paper will rapidly swell to match a quarter.  Due to this I have to combat the inflammation from both sides (which is contraindicated usually, so do all of the legal stuff to keep yourself safe, because I am often noncompliant since my body never acts “normally”) and work on the inflammatory response.

Hopefully if you’re suffering from chiggers right now and that jar of Chigarid or Chiggerex Plus isn’t doing much good, you’ll give one or more of these home treatments a whirl and see if something unconventional will work for you, too. I hope you find some relief. If you’re now terrified to ever enter these areas of the States that have chiggers, at least now you know about them, how to prevent them, and some treatment options if they decide that your cell buffet is the best in town. They’re just a nuisance, so don’t let them discourage you from exploring. If you have found other home remedies that work for you or others that you know, please feel free to include them in the comments. You might just save someone else some misery!

Progress

I’ve had a bit of a sidetrack on my recovery journey, due to some health stuff, but I’m proud to say that at my psychiatry appointment on Friday I surpassed her expectations and the goals set at my last session. *happy dance*

Last time she helped me look at the failed adoption as a miscarriage and the goals were to grieve and let go of the grief that I will never have the life I had planned for since I was a child. It hit me one day that I’ve had to adapt almost all expectations of my life all ready, due to my illness, so realistically not having children in our life together is just one more expectation to change. He and I still make a family, with the relatives and friends that support and love us as the bubble of family around us. A child isn’t a requirement to be a family. It still hurts at times to be missing out on the special moments and to not have the parenting aspect to share, but this different path gives us other opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have, such as traveling and exploring other educational avenues.

Another goal that tied in to everything was to learn to value myself. To stand up for my needs, demand respect, and let go of toxic influences. One huge lesson was to stop trying to obtain verbal praise and validation from others for what I had done/achieved or for my personal growth. I realized that I have sought that my entire life, especially from male figures, and is also probably part of what made me an easy target for my ex. It also held me back in a lot of ways. So I’m learning to embrace my inner badass, which is a comment that my psych loved hearing. I’m a complex, flawed person, but I’m a survivor and I’m stronger for that. So yeah, I won’t use a more polite term. I’m embracing my inner badass. *grin*

In realizing that I value myself and my personal journey, it was an epiphany to me that I have sought L’s verbal validation for about 20 years, yet he’s always shown me that he values me. It’s just not his style and not an empowering way to show me that he values me, so I felt like I was lacking for years because I was so lost in trying to find that validation of value. He became friends with, admired, and married a strong woman; there isn’t a higher vote of confidence than that, really.

That realization made me feel even stronger and a few days ago I actually unpacked the adoption tote. In my immediate grief I boxed everything I possibly could that we didn’t send to Kid via the social worker. I hid that tote under a pile in the back of a closet. Last week I took the label off, threw out some of the items that can’t be donated or are too personal to share, and sorted the rest. I then packed a box for my friend to give to a couple that she knows is adopting. I even sent along my adoption tee and all of my adoption necklaces, which I wore instead of my cross throughout most of the adoption journey. It wasn’t as hard as I expected, honestly. It mostly was bittersweet to see and touch all of these tokens of hope. I seriously love that I’m able to share these with others that are holding that hope inside as well and that the items might help them through the tough times during their journey.

While sitting next to the box I realized that I was staring at the joint bookcase for Kid and I, which I had filled with some of the keepsakes I had always planned to pass down, along with my literature keepsakes. It dawned on me that I don’t have a child to pass my little treasures to, but I have loved ones that I can, so after checking with their mom that it would be okay, I also boxed up some of my book collections, like the Anne of Green Gables and Emily sets. I have three large mailing boxes to send all ready. LOL I know that my nieces will find as much joy and wonder in the books as I did, and my friend knows how much these books mean to me (they’re some of the few possessions that I truly value and wanted to pass on), so it makes me so incredibly happy to be passing my beloved books on to them. I don’t have to throw out or donate them for a library fundraiser, and know that they’ll still find life, so to speak, in the hands of much loved avid readers.

I also wrote an addendum to my will, which I’ll need to get witnessed, for the remaining treasures like fossils and collector items to be passed on to them and other kids/young adults. I’m not sure when my illness will overtake me and it is utterly heart lifting to realize that I can still pass on the few material things I treasure. I’ve always thought that passing down those little things are an incredibly meaningful way of saying “I love you”, especially if receiving gifts is part of their love language, so this all was a huge step in processing and leaving the other fork in the road behind. This progress left both my psych and I with red eyes after discussing all of it. I didn’t need that validation anymore, but the joy and hug meant a lot. So I straightened my imaginary superhero cape and walked out to L with a huge smile on my face, followed by a big thank you for showing me all of this time how much he values and supports me.

I hope this vulnerable post, and blogging this difficult journey, helps you find and celebrate your value, too, especially if you find yourself on a wildly different path than you ever wanted or dreamed of.

Tapeworm Education

Today’s post is going to obviously be about tapeworms, so if you’re squeamish or not interested, please pass this post by. I totally would have myself in the past if I hadn’t gone through an experience with them.

For context, I’m going to be providing information on the type of tapeworm that cats and dogs get from fleas, not the type from raw meat like eating raw rodents and such or contracted usually by trappers (even I couldn’t handle any of that research). Back in October we adopted twin stray nearly solid black kittens to make things all the more lively with having two older cats all ready. Zane and Izzy are now almost a year old and although I may slip and call them “the kittens”, they’re really not anymore. Just a heads up on that.

Anyway, one day as we prepared for bed (we are day sleepers since he works overnight), we noticed what looked like white rice around the backside on Zane. L held Zane and I removed them with a tissue, and promptly freaked out when one moved. Although it was way whiter than the following picture shows, here is an example.

We thought it was mucus or something until the bugger moved. Thankfully on a black cat they’re extremely noticeable and one of the few times I’m thankful that the twins tend to moon us frequently instead of keeping that tail lower. LOL After it moved L looked closer and said he thought it looked like a tapeworm, but maybe he was wrong and it was a different kind of worm. He was certain it was a worm, so I jumped into researching. After a few hours of research I discovered a lot of contradictory and even downright false information, but confirmed that the three were indeed involved with having a tapeworm. So, I wanted to provide the correct information here in the hopes that it helps someone.

Let’s start with getting to know the truth about the tapeworm itself. Usually your cat has only one infecting it and by the time they are mature, they average between 5-8″ inside the intestine, with the head latched onto the intestine. It is made up of three parts: the head that connects to poor kitty, the neck, and a long body of segments. This picture gives a great example.

Now, this worm tends to be difficult for the vet to detect unless segments have detached and the owner finds them, since it’s not detectable in a blood test and is really tough to test for in a standard fecal exam (unless the segments are breaking off). Now comes the creepy, crawly part. That segment that breaks off and passes through is actually an egg sac. First they’re a bit lively when they’re freshly out of kitty (or pup) and the nasty buggers have the ability to move around to find a host. You can even see them snake their way out of the anus sometimes (insert gagging). After exposure to the air and lack of finding an immediate host, they drop off and dehydrate.

You can find these anywhere the cat has walked, played, or slept. At this point they will not move and are waiting for a host. The important thing to know now is that tapeworms need an intermediary host, such as this variety needing to be ingested by flea larvae, which then grow into infected fleas. (Note: the dry segments/egg sacs, break open and the eggs are released, which the larvae can then infest.) The sacs can not infect you or your pet directly, even those nasty crawling ones, and they’re not going to go back into kitty’s backside. If your cat roams the house freely, you have a high chance of finding these dehydrated sacs in your own bedding as well, so don’t freak out if you see these tiny, really weird gold looking, sesame seed-like, hard sacs.

Here are the top keys to taking care of this. First, make sure that kitty is treated with a flea preventative, preferably one that kills fleas and larvae ASAP. Contact your vet and buy tapeworm anti-parasitic treatment from them (oral or liquid application, so whichever you’re more comfortable with. Since we use the liquid flea treatment, it made since to use the same for the other), and thoroughly clean anywhere kitty has been or where fleas could have gone, especially vacuuming anywhere possible. Now, I am not addressing a heavy flea infestation with this, but instead the random type. If you have an infestation, contact your vet and follow their recommendations to the “T”. Also, it is worth the extra cost of buying the tapeworm treatment from your vet instead of an OTC version, because the OTC isn’t usually as strong and sometimes doesn’t kill the worm itself, so you may get this issue all over again once that worm is at a reproduction stage again. Now, poor kitty may spend a lot of time in the litter box trying to get the irritating matter to pass like fecal matter (which won’t happen, so the poor thing is just getting kinda tortured trying to care for itself) and every so often, although it’s more common in dogs than cats, they may scoot on the carpet to remove what is irritating their backside. Thankfully Zane didn’t do that or I’d have probably set fire to that area of the carpet and just dealt with L’s anger later. *laugh*

Now, those infected larvae grow into fleas and kitty either eats one while grooming or while nipping at the itch of fleas biting, and ingests it then. Within three weeks of eating the infected flea (most vets seem to agree that the flea can still be infected even if it is dead and the cat grooms up that dead flea), the worm living inside the flea then attaches to the intestinal wall. Note: the worm MUST go through the flea to complete the life cycle, according to our vet and most documents I found written by actual vets.

If you use a good flea treatment, then all traces of fleas on them, even the larvae, will be dead within 24 hours. Your vet will let you know how soon after the flea treatment that you can administer the parasitic treatment. The good thing is that a prescription based tapeworm treatment will kill the whole thing within 12 hours and only needs the one treatment! (Again, this is not the case in a heavily flea-infested environment or if your pet is able to go outside, since their exposure possibilities are nearly endless outside. Your vet will be your best instructor on this. Do NOT rely on the internet for guidance on this, please!! A LOT of the information people post is so wrong.) Also, make sure you clean the litter boxes often, just as an in-case preventative, especially while in the possible “something might still be alive” window.

At this point it is a good idea to clean thoroughly again, especially since there will be dry sacs and dead fleas in your linens and carpet. There’s contradictory information, but you can also use a cleaning spray solution such as Lysol or a bleach or borax and water solution, and spray anywhere you can’t reach with other cleaning methods. The jury is out on the safety of Lysol around cats, however, thankfully mine hate it and stay away from any wet spray, and they won’t lick dry spots either. With having a compromised immune system, Lysol helps give me an extra peace of mind, knowing that it’s killing any other germs or bacteria that may be hiding and can affect my system later, as well as making me feel confident that this is DONE.

A few more key notes now. It is extremely rare for humans to get this type of tapeworm. Basic hygiene should prevent this. You have to ingest an infected flea in order for the possibility of getting infected, so, in normal circumstances, you have nothing to worry about, even if you have a compromised immune system. Next, most vets all agree on only giving the tapeworm treatment to those that show they have been infected. As our twins have a tendency of sharing their grooming (blech!), we all agreed it was probably best to treat Izzy too, while the flea treatment was done on all four. And now the biggest thing to know. You must continue to use flea preventative all year long to prevent this from happening again, even if you have a foot of snow, since one can hitch a ride from a house that has fleas on something they bring over or on their clothing, or something of that nature, thereby bringing the infection into your house. It seems insane to treat even when the ground is frozen, everything outside is dead, and there’s snow everywhere, but if you never want to deal with these nasty buggers, it’s worth the cost of treatment. One last note that I almost forgot – if your pets roam your house freely, make sure to also vacuum your mattress pad while your linens are in the wash (warmest temps for washing and drying that the manufacturer recommends)! I don’t know how they can get around like that, but I found dry sacs on the mattress pad itself, despite us using several layers of blankets and sheets, so don’t half-ass clean (excuse the language please). For something without a brain, they’re very creative and goal oriented.

It’s up to you what flea preventative you want to use, but make sure it can also kill the larvae. Our vet actually recommends the new Revolution Plus, since it prevents a lot of other issues too that may affect kitty.

The only signs now that we had an issue is that I need to brush the twins’ fur where they had the treatment applied, since they have some funny fur patterns from the dried solution on the back of their necks, my house is way cleaner than it has been in a long time and all laundry got washed including anything the cats could have laid on, and I am out of energy spoons for the foreseeable future. *laugh* However, I was really upset that something common and so easily treatable didn’t have accurate information easily handy, despite the availability of information on the internet! I felt an obligation to help provide some accurate knowledge about this as a result. If you would like to read an actual trustworthy article, click HERE for the site that our own vet trusts.

So, other than a step back with my recovery due to using up too much energy and getting a little injured during the cleaning, and some irritated cats that hate getting their monthly treatment, life is returning to normal for our little menagerie. Zane is catching up on missed sleep from when he was kept up by his issues, the others are enjoying fresh bedding and a new heated cat bed, and all of them are super affectionate right now for some reason. I truly hope you never have to deal with this, but if you do, hopefully this helps prevent you from freaking out like I did, and also gives you a solid base of information to get this under control. Our key take away is that we will be giving year long flea preventatives with treats afterward and never dealing with this again. (And in case you wonder, nope, we didn’t have a single flea found on the pets or in the house. A great way to find out if you have an issue is to walk around wearing white socks. It’s easier to see them jumping on you and getting tangled in the material before making their way toward their food source and gives you a good idea of how bad of a flea situation you’re dealing with. With my immune issues, if there is a flea around, typically it comes after me and I react with a big red bite, or a series of them if I enter a place that has an infestation.)

Anyway, sorry for such an icky topic, but I really hope that it’s helpful, even if it’s just education to keep in the back of your mind for “just in case” purposes. In the meantime, happy pampering and please do a little extra for me, since I’m too tired to even get out of bed right now. 😀

Christmas shopping

I did a search and couldn’t find that I mentioned this right before we lost the internet, so I’m hoping this is new information from you.  You’ve probably heard of the Wish app, where you shop vendors at really low prices, pay almost an even amount for shipping, and wait a long time to get these little packages from China.  I learned about another app, Joom, that has no shipping charges and their items have been a lot better quality than most Wish ones, so far, in my opinion.

 

Now, I know some are going to be like “seriously, Christmas shopping in September?!  That’s going too far!”.  Stay with me here though.  For $30 I got a bunch of stocking stuffers (which have some of my best purchases for people usually).  Then try to forget about it and the packages slowly come in.  Due to the massive delays, I’d advise you check it out as soon as possible if you’re interested in some interesting, cost effective little items!

 

I do have a few bits of advise though.  One, the sizes are usually incredibly off on the clothing, so read reviews or may the odds be with you.  Two, use the app if possible – the website is much harder to navigate in my opinion.  In addition, the app immediately checks that you want to pay in US dollars instead of other currencies, so it’s a LOT less frustrating.  Three, if you’re considering makeup, see if there is a screenshot or list of ingredients, because knock offs sometimes have some bad chemicals mixed in, so just be aware (goes for any outlet type shopping).

 

They even have a section where you can enter a lottery for select items for that day, to get them for just $0.10, with the caveat that you need to do a photograph-containing review on the item.  I haven’t won all week, but I’m noticing that I kind of set myself up for loss anyway.  I was selecting items that a lot of people were in the raffle for, so I’m watching that number of other entries more now.  We’ll see if I might get a fun and wild wig or piece of jewelry this way.  *laugh*

 

So, I definitely recommend you at least take a look and see if anything appeals to you.  I even found a bunch of business items that are really inspiring me (unfortunately the most inspiring item is not here and it’s been almost two months – see, that’s why you need to order early!).  The only really bad side I’ve found so far is that it’s incredibly addictive.  That thrill of getting a great deal is almost nonstop, especially with “item of the hour” flash sales with things for $1 or such.  *grin* Hopefully this will help some people have a more cost effective holiday while still having lots of fun (check out the Harry Potter alloy wands if you have a Potterhead to shop for; looks so pretty but is a phenomenal price!).

 

This is definitely one of my favorite apps.  Makes for a rather random blog post, but that’s what makes me interesting, right?  *laugh* Who knows what the next one will be about, but for now, happy pampering (and shopping!)! 🙂

A Few New Favorite Things

After being a lot sicker than usual for five months I started thinking about what could be playing with the Fibro to make me even more susceptible to illnesses. I dusted (I admit that I suck at staying on top of that), I used baking soda in the carpet, stayed away from my business shelves in case I had developed an issue with an ingredient…I tested a lot of things. My ability to grip things is getting worse, but caught even me by surprise when I couldn’t hold onto my drink while sitting in bed watching GMM on my phone. (Since my body is irritated by straight water right now, I’ve had to get creative with findings things to drink and Frappuccino became one, unfortunately. Lol) I knew my comforter would need to be washed to get the milk out. I stripped the bed and did a quick half fix to get us by until I built up another spoon to make the bed fully again. When I went to properly make the bed I truly saw the state of our pillow top and it was embarrassing. We had a foam insert inside the pillow top, so I knew that it had to be bad, as well.

I started thinking and realized that we bought the Sleep Number bed with pillow top and foam around 13 years ago. The Sleep Number and bedding was such a blessing as my Fibro pains began, and I truly think the combo gave me a little more time to enjoy having a career and a more active lifestyle. Years later I’m looking down at the bedding and thinking about what has probably developed in bedding that we didn’t realize was so old. With his help we went to straight onto the mattress with a fitted sheet and I knew this wasn’t going to work. Once we got our taxes done and knew we would be covered, I spent a few days researching mattress pads and pillow tops. During all this I realized that my congestion had improved dramatically and that although I was hurting more, I was actually getting better rest (which any Spoonie knows is nearly impossible). Something inside of our old set had gotten bad enough to compromise my system further. I was floored.

Anyway, fast forward to yesterday and five boxes from the mail man, with one being incredibly heavy so he brought it in for me, and a new bed was born. Lol They really need to put warnings on pillow top bags that states there may be an explosion upon exposing to air…I cut open the bag and literally got knocked over as this cushion exploded out and tripled in size immediately. It’s now funny, but was quite startling and irritating. *grin*

I then had to wrestle the mattress pad out of the big and heavy box. It was literally a wrestling match. It won several rounds. After I was pouring sweat and breathing harder than when I box, I managed to get the pad partially up onto a crafting table to air out. It was full on the hardest workout I have ever done. *laugh* As I collapsed into my recliner and stared at the 2″ pad draped over the table in front of me I realized that it was hanging unevenly. Dude. You suck. I kept staring at it while trying to catch my breath, but my OCD started screaming inside of my head. I can’t stand when things aren’t even. Sides have to line up if I can see them (I can’t see his side of the bed from where I am, so our bedding can be high for fun sized me and low for tall him without bothering me thankfully). The right side was at least 6″ longer. When I managed to get back up and try to even it out the doggone table tried to collapse!! L was still sleeping, so I knew I had an hour with this nightmare, and found that if I leaned onto the arm of my recliner with my phone at eye level, watching YouTube, it was all out of sight and my mind could quiet down. But seriously…a freaking piece of bedding got the better of me! After the brother knocked me on my bottom all ready!

Thankfully L got up and drug everything into the bedroom, and we made our revived bed. When we crawled in for a nap before he had to get ready for his shift it was so worth the beat down. There’s a little firmness, but for the most it just cradles all of my trigger points. And I woke up without trying to hack up a lung, too! It took about five minutes to convince ourselves to get out of the cloud of happiness. *grin*

I also ordered a germ guardian air purifier, but just got that running, so I’ll have to give it a thumbs up later on if it proves itself worthy. In the meantime I want to share the links for these two incredible pieces of bedding that quite quickly eased a lot of the extra pain I’ve been suffering from lately.

The gel memory foam mattress topper is by Milliard and set us back $124 for the king size.

The pillow top was a hard one for me to decide on honestly. I had a really difficult time deciding between the three I had narrowed it down to, but decided that the hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties, plus being overfilled if I’m honest, were the winning features. The Leisure Town Mattress Pad Cover was $80.

These are Amazon member prices, of course, and the free shipping for such heavy items is so worth the membership, let alone the sales and shipping frenzy during the holidays, in my opinion.

Kiddo’s room is still the most incredible in our house, but our bed feels like the one I slept in at a Marriott. We got her an incredible bed set, but I have to say, I won’t hesitate to order if she asks for the topper and foam. A two hour nap all ready convinced me (at the time of the writing…I’ll schedule this to post in the morning while I’m still sighing happily in my fluffy bed. *laugh*). These are definitely going to be on my list of favorite things!

Before I go, I want to mention one other thing. I’m hoping that the links I embedded for you actually go to smile.amazon. If you haven’t heard about it, a portion of sales from Amazon, when ordered through the sister site of smile.amazon.com, go to charity. There’s a place in your account where you can pick the charity that you would like to have your percentage donated to. I totally respect that you may have a favorite charity that you would like to support. If you do not, though, it would be absolutely amazing if you would consider helping raise money for KCSL, who is the company Adopt Kansas Kids, our adoption agency, is under. KCSL supports a lot of different areas of the process, including fostering, adoption, training, and parent assistance. I embedded the link if you’d like to read their fast facts and hopefully look around their site a bit. Part of the reason our adoption has had a lot of delays is because there aren’t enough resources to process the less urgent parts quickly. It would mean a lot if we could help raise more for them and help more children who need all of us to advocate for them, not just an overburdened system. Here’s a quick view of the charity screen, although I marked out our part, especially since I don’t need L to see and figure up how much I’ve spent on Amazon. *grin* (Not really; we are open with each other about finances. We are private with public consumption though.)

There are a lot of charities being helped, although a lot of people don’t know about it. Although the heavy hitter charities are very worthy, it would be an incredible blessing if you would consider choosing KCSL for your charity. It does nothing for our adoption journey, but every bit truly helps take care of the children. “It takes a village to raise a child” as the proverb goes. I’d be so honored if just one in “my village” will help the children.

Okay, I’m done with the sentimental moment for the week. *grin* If you’d like more information about the products, Smile, or KCSL/Adopt KS Kids, please don’t hesitate to write a comment or email!

Happy pampering (and yes, a comfy bed is totally under the pampering umbrella!)! 🙂

Short and Helpful

Today has been filled with medical stuff, so I wasn’t able to write and schedule the morning post as I have been. Since it’s a rough evening for me and two new sedatives are about to knock me out, I thought I’d make this is short, but wanted to provide some helpful info.

While doing research and prep for any emotional issues our adopted daughter may have I found tons of great worksheets on the internet and Pinterest. Some are even provided by social workers for this. Since it’s been a bit difficult to keep waiting on the adoption to progress when I’m an impatient person *grin*, plus the new health issues that cropped up that we’re trying to pin down, I decided to try a few of the forms and see if they truly are helpful. I swear to you that it really helped me put things into a more positive light, not be so judgmental of myself, and actually took a lot of the stress away once I looked at things differently. If you’re unable to save and print out the pics of the forms from my post, hit my Pinterest board for Teenage Adoption for access to the originals. I do not take credit for these, didn’t create them, and am not totally sure who even came up with a bunch of the others that I’m not including on here. I actually just wrote my responses in a lined notebook and did different topics, so I could use the same original, so no completed worksheets for you to peek at. *teasing smile* Anyway, I hope you consider trying at least one out when things get overwhelming or emotional. Tomorrow I’ll try to have a clearer-minded post for you!! Lol

(The Self-Talk is my favorite one)

I Picked New Habits

Instead of picking resolutions for this year, I decided to develop new habits. I’ll share a few later on, but for now I’d like to share this incredible post that was sent to me. I think it’s a much healthier perspective and will definitely help me for a lot longer than any resolution. Hopefully it may help a few of you as well.

Please read Miss Mustard Seed’s Nurturing Habits. Once I’ve healed from my recent falls I plan to be less inspirational and write more of my long-winded random posts, I promise (or threaten, if you prefer the usual randomness *teasing grin*). Until then, I wish you success developing your new habits for this year!!

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