I don't proofread my posts before I publish them... cause I keep my thoughts au naturale.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Like onions? Here's a helpful hack for those who cook with them!

Now after you read this, you're going to either thing I'm dumb for thinking everyone who likes onions doesn't already do this, or you're going to question why you had never thought about it!

I generally only use white onions, but I'm sure it works for all onions.
I've never really been a fan of raw onions on things, but I like the flavoring it adds cooked into things.  What recipe doesn't taste a bit better when you add chopped onions?  I spent years just buying the dried onions that you buy in the spices section at the grocery store.  I'd just buy them minced and chopped.  I question how much flavor they actually added, but it made me feel a little more mature in my cooking, haha.

Anyway, a few months ago I bought myself an actual onion.  I can't remember what recipe I was making, but it called for chopped onion and I didn't think the dried stuff would cut it.  But after slicing off the little bit I needed, I felt like I totally wasted an onion!

Enter my glass Pyrex containers.  If you use plastic tupperware/gladware/etc., then you aren't really living.  Glass is the way to go!  I received a set for Christmas a year or two ago and I can't believe I had gone my whole adult life without them!  You can use them for storage or cooking, cold food, hot food, non-food storage, you name it!

So I put my leftover onion in one of the small Pyrex containers.  It lasted for a good month while I slowly chipped away at it when I was cooking different dishes.  By the time I used the last of it, it looked and felt as fresh as when I put it in the container!  So there's my hack, lol.  Instead of running to the store every time I needed one onion or having to waste onion, I put it in a small, air tight container and I can have fresh onion to use for weeks!

Okay, so am I dumb for going this long with figuring it out or are you surprised you hadn't thought of it before?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Agoraphobia and the big bad world

I've been seeing therapists and psychiatrists off an on since I was 17.  I've always had the definitive borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorders diagnoses from most all of them (don't get me started on the horrible, terrible, very bad first psychiatrist I ever had.)  And of course, as tends to happen, it's hard to keep the same ones your whole life.  Therapist-wise, I've only had two in the past 16 years.  They have been great and I have learned so much from them.  My first one retired and recommended the one that I currently see.  I even drive 90 miles to see her as I moved in November, but I prefer not to start all over and you become kind of attached to your therapist.

Now psychiatrists, they tend to not stay put very long apparently.  I've seen 5 over the years, but my current one has been around the longest for me.  He is EXTREMELY smart, although a bit eccentric and prefers holistic approaches, but realizes that he's not in the majority with that theory in the world of psychiatry.

Anyway, when I first started seeing him was when he took over for the previous psychiatrist at my local hospital and clinics when she retired.  (She was sooooo strange- and not too bright either.)  So when Dr. O started, he wanted to get to know all his patients and spent about an hour with me on our first appointment, which tends to be unheard of these days with psychiatrists.  In the appointments over the years since, he spends as much time with me as the mood permits.  Some days I'm just there to get refills and other times I'm there in desperate need of a med change, increased dosage or some other answer that I don't have for myself.  On the first meeting with him, he diagnosed me with PTSD.  He asked me if I knew what it was and I said, "isn't it what people have when they come back to war?"  But he explained in a really interesting way that I sure wish I could remember!

Now back to agoraphobia.  I had always assumed that it was just about being in crowded places, but it is more than that.  This was the most recent diagnosis he gave me.  I, of course, can't tell you my deepest feelings, but let's chalk it up to the fact that I often don't want to leave my house- I can't tell you why (maybe if this blog was 100% anonymous to everyone I knew), but that's how I feel.  The thought of having to go places at times gives me an overwhelming feeling of dread and panic.  It can be something as little as running to the grocery store for one thing to going to work. 

The hardest part about it is getting people I know to accept it.  Of course no one understands you better than you, but everyone is a doctor in their own mind.  Some people know me as outgoing- I've even done theatre!  But it comes and goes- as does the mania and depression, sometimes feelings just last longer than other times.  So people that know me well don't understand how I could possibly be agoraphobic.  But they don't FEEL how I feel.  They aren't in my head and to be honest, I don't want to allow them to be.  Do you know what it feels like to have people treat you like you're being overdramatic, exaggerating the way you feel, when all you want is to feel "normal."  Even loved ones look at you as if you're being a pain in the ass and want you to "get over it."  And people wonder why I have trust issues and don't like to share my feelings.

I'm not trying to throw a pity-party, I'm writing this so that other people who are in my position realize that they aren't alone.  (Definitely email me if you need someone to talk to.)  I would like to think that the people I know that are reading this won't judge or won't roll their eyes to themselves, but again, something I can't change (God grant me the serenity...)  Unfortunately, the "get over its" of the world will continue to exist around me and I will always be thankful that I have my therapist and psychiatrist who believe me and put stock in what I feel... even if I have to pay them to!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Technology, Toddlers and 9-year-old Tantrums

It's 2015.  When I had my first child, it was 2005.  Needless to say, technology has changed tremendously since then- and so have my views on it when it comes to letting my children use it.

Circa 2004, I recall witnessing someone put their toddler in a high chair and stick them in front of the TV to watch cartoons.  I was floored.  I didn't ever plan to use a TV as a babysitter.  Well, I never went to any extreme of making my child stay immobile in front of the TV, but I'll be honest, when my oldest boy was a toddler and was extremely needy, blessed was the day I saw him go sit in front of the TV and watch Dora with his sister.  The same can be said for my almost 3-year-old.  It is so nice to be able to have a single thought without it being interrupted- those are few and far between!  So when he goes in the dining room and watches DVDs, it's a bit of a relief.  Although I am able to see them from whatever room I'm in, it's nice to know I don't have to entertain them every second of the day.
A little less of this (that's my boy!)...
Bring on the iPhone.  Circa 2007, I was working for an after school program in an elementary school.  While working with my 3rd grade group, one of the students showed me her new bedazzled phone.  This was the same girl who had highlights in her hair that she got professionally done.  I remembered being shocked that anyone would give a child that young a phone (and completely floored someone would dye their child's hair that young!)  Let's jump now to 2012.  My daughter was in 1st grade and the teacher gave them a prompt for a journal entry that they were to write a letter to their parent telling them why they wanted an iPad, cell phone or iPod.  When I read my daughter's entry at conferences, I was kind of happy.  She said something to the effect of, "Dear, Mom, I would like a cell phone.  I don't really need one or want one, but I had to pick and this was the only thing I'd heard of."  Her teacher was surprised by this and I felt slightly proud of my parenting ways.
...and a little more of this! (Isn't he adorable?)

A couple years ago I was on a girl's night out excursion and one of my friends had to bring her kid.  He did not want to be there and made it quite obvious and had somewhat of a meltdown.  So she handed over her cell phone and let him play Angry Birds on it to get him to behave.  I had prided myself in the fact that my kids behaved in public settings and I would be embarrassed if one of them had done that to me.  I also remember thinking that I would never let my kid use my phone... cause it's MINE.

Here we are today: I bet you think I'm going to say that all my kids have a gazillion gadgets and I let them use my phone... well, not really, but things have changed!  I don't let my kids use my laptop or my iPhone... they're MINE and I don't need little kid prints all over them.  For the past 2 years I've had to listen to my now 9-year-old daughter talk about wanting a phone.  When her friends have phones, she likes to point it out.  I like to point out her friends that don't have phones.  She says something all the time to the point I want to ground her until she turns 15- the age I think she would be ready for her own phone.  Some parents say it is for safety reasons, but I don't let my kids venture anywhere alone and everywhere they do go has a phone.  I survived without a phone until I was 20 and paid for my own.

And then there were tablets.  So, my almost 3 year old is by far the most exasperating child I've had out of the four.  This kid... literally... has driven me to the point of a breakdown on more occasions than I have fingers.  So I will offer up a lot more things to appease him than I would have with the older two.  No, I don't let him have my phone or my computer.  But my husband caves a lot easier than I do.  Sometimes he will give H his phone or even sit and watch whatever H wants on the living room TV- which is a big no-no for me.  If I want to watch the TV in the living room, I'm definitely not giving it up to watch some lame kid's show!  But here's what I do have.  I had a temporary iPhone when my first one died and I was waiting for the replacement to come in the mail.  I bought one with a majorly cracked screen cheaply on Facebook.  When my new phone came, I figured I'd put some kid-friendly apps on it and let my daughter feel like she had her own phone.  It also gave me leverage for something to take away when she got in trouble.  The best app in the world for moms HAS TO BE Youtube Kids!!!  This entertains H like none other!  I can turn on whatever he says he wants to watch and he'll go away from me for a little bit.  He was using my daughter's phone during the day while she was at school.  Until she started throwing a fit.  I didn't care that she was throwing a fit, but I wanted to teacher her a bit of a lesson, since it was HER phone...

I researched kid-friendly tablets.  I wanted one that I could use if I wanted to watch Netflix or something, but I wanted one that was geared towards kids in terms of durability.  Enter my Kurio 7s.  Based on reviews, it seemed to be the best fit.  And being the frugal mom I am, I bought one for $33 (shipping included) on eBay!  It is AWESOME.  It has the parental account that you can password protect and then you can create an account for each of your children that allows them to only use the apps you allow them to.  For instance, for H I have YouTube Kids, a coloring app and a couple letter/number learning apps.  Aside from that he can't do anything on it.  For my 7-year-old, I have Angry Birds, YouTube Kids and some games that came preloaded that seemed age appropriate.  That's it.  Then for my daughter, I gave her all those same things, plus some girly apps and spider solitaire and mahjong tiles.  That's it!  You can make it so they can't use a web browser, can't access settings... they literally can only do the things you have set as allowable for them.  And since my daughter insisted that it was HER phone, I showed her the Kurio and let her know that it was HER BROTHERS' tablet... she was not happy about that, but I use it as a reward for her if she does something good. 

Are my kids technology addicts?  Absolutely not!  I don't want my kids raised on video games or TV.  I wanted them to read, have imaginative play, become president.  Basically, I want them to experience the kind of care-free existence I had as a child where my brothers and I played outdoors all year long, I read books all the time, I was even so dorky that one summer I handcrafted my own poetry book.  My brothers and I were so dorky we made a family newspaper... yep, that all happened.  I want to see my kids experience those kinds of things instead of being glued to tiny screens their whole lives.  I'm by no means a perfect parent, and yes, my parenting thoughts have changed since 2005, but I still think I'm doing a good job.  I've probably offended a few people with this, but hey, it's my blog and as I frequently say to my husband and kids, "I'm and adult!"

Now how do I log out of this thing?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Having this problem with LeapPad 3? Black screen/dead screen? Here's the fix!

I may know a lot about technology, but I don't know a thing about electronics technology.  If you draw me an intricate map of the innards of a computer and then tell me what each piece is called and what it does, I could probably figure out how to fix my computer in about 3 days, while taking notes and googling.

So when an electronic that I own fails on me somehow, my first three steps are to:

1) Take the battery out or restart the item.
2) Google my exact problem until I find a solution that works for me.
3) Contact customer service for technical support.
4) Replace it for as cheaply as possible.

Part 3 is the one I sometimes skip over because I refuse to talk to them on the phone and emailing back and forth is often difficult when these companies outsource and we can't communicate at the same level of English.

I've had an issue with my daughter's LeapPad 3 that was not resolved by any of my four above choices, but it was still playable and she didn't mind... then one day I plugged it into the computer and it fixed itself.

And an issue I had with a LeapsterGS was the stylus didn't work.  I bought a new one... it didn't work, so I plugged it into my computer and the Leap App automatically repaired it.  That was GREAT!

Okay, now to why you might have happened upon this blog.  I had tried the first 2 steps from above with no luck.  I found people who had the same problems, some were given solutions that worked for them, others were in the same spot as I was, where nothing was working.  So after some emailing back and forth and taking pictures of the screen, I got the following response from LeapFrog tech:

"Begin by downloading and installing LeapFrog Connect from www.leapfrog.com/connect.  Launch the LeapFrog Connect icon on your computer desktop. 

On your keyboard, press and hold down Ctrl + Shift + R (on a Mac "Command + Shift + R")

A pop up box will prompt you to connect the device you'd like to reset.  Power on and connect the toy to reset."

I already had LeapFrog Connect on my computer, but went ahead and uninstalled it and reinstalled it just to be safe.  Anyway, after following these steps, my LeapPad 3 was working again!

Good to note:  my son's LeapPad 3 was turning on, showing the LeapPad 3 logo, then going to a black screen with red writing in the bottom right corner.  You couldn't go anywhere past that.  When I tried plugging it into the computer it said the memory was too full to sync, but when I tried to remove items, it would say the memory was too full to make changes.  Argh!

Also: once you reset the LeapPad 3, you will have to start all over with everything.  Hopefully you had already set up a parent account with LeapPad Connect before, because that would allow you to put all the purchased games/apps back onto the newly reset pad.  If you didn't do that, I don't know if there is any way to salvage those games.

Good luck, hope this worked for you!! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Son No Longer Drives Me Nuts!! (Well, the older one.) #parenting

Don't get me wrong, my toddler still drive me nuts, but now I'm talking about the older one who was the inspiration of a post from 2012, entitled "My Son Drives Me CRAZY."  The younger one still drives me crazy, like new diagnoses kinda crazy, and you can read about that from my Dec 2013 post.

I post quite a bit on Facebook about the times when H drives me to an almost nervous breakdown.  Well, L was NEVER this bad! 

I had decided to follow up on the 2012 post because to date it is the most popular searched one and gets random comments years later.

He no longer drives me insane, but makes me very proud!
L doesn't drive me nuts anymore... in fact, he is by far the easiest of my four kids!  He's polite, helpful, rarely complains and is happy-go-lucky for the most part.  In kindergarten his teacher told me that she loved him and that he's the kind of student every teacher dreams of.  In first grade his teacher said that he's a leader and great role model for his classmates.  She said that whenever they are supposed to be partnered up, they all wish that L could be their partner.

He's so sweet and kind.  He's loving and likes making people happy.  If you ask him to help pick up, he may whine a bit, but gets up to help. 

I'm so proud of him right now and hope that he continues on that path.  And maybe since he's changed so much since when I first posted about him driving me crazy, there's hope for H in the future.  I had a blogger friend tell me she had a daughter just like H, and she turned out to be one of her best kids and had many positive attributes.

Well if H turns out like L, I'll be blown away, but anything is better than screaming tantrums that last until his voice gets hoarse or he throws up.