Monday, June 21, 2021

ODD Notes

 I bought and am currently reading the book Overcoming Oppositional Defiant Disorder: A Two-Part Treatment Plan to Help Parents and Kids Work Together (published March 2019) by Gina Atencio-MacLean PsyD. I am using this post to keep track of my notes as I read and complete the exercises.

Introduction through page 16

Message I received:

  • Successfully helping a child with ODD is not a quick fix
  • Parents need to care for their own emotional needs before they'll be ready to address their child's
  • Parental anxiety is related to disruptive parent-child relationships: an increase in negative discipline (punishment), social distress, and controlling behaviors
  • Parental anxiety also decreases parental warmth and positive engagement, qualities that build connection
  • Walking on eggshells around the ODD child may actually encourage more of the unwanted behavior
  • Other children can get "lost in the shuffle" when the ODD child drains so many parental resources
  • Children with ODD have strong emotions and are very emotionally reactive
  • You want to respond to a situation, which is intentional, instead of reacting to it, which is an automatic reflex

Thinking exercises:

  • Q: What are your own triggers? Think of some times recently when you've lost your temper: What time of day was it? What else was going on? What did you do in the moment? What was the immediate result of that action?
  • A:  My mom was over and had been bothering me with her "helpful" parental suggestions, while I was trying to get work done. I could not concentrate on nor complete my work and was frustrated. I stopped talking to my child other than to say "please stop talking to me" increasingly loudly.
  • Q: Imagine a miracle day where the child no longer has ODD - what does that look like?
  • A: The school does not call home to indicate he's misbehaved. He thus successfully learns social and academic skills (like reading), and has fun doing so. After school, we go on a walk and he does not run off. We read a book together and he sits with me until the end.

Goals for next time:

  • Q: What two actions could you work on that would be a step towards the "miracle day" described above? Do them.
  • A: I could take my child on a walk, and could read a story to him and only him (as opposed to a group activity with the other children).

*This post contains an affiliate link for the book*

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Frugal Family Ideas

While not a literal bootcamp, here are some ideas that have stretched my family's paycheck a little further. With four kids under eight, we use quite a few money-saving strategies.

  1. Schedule clothing purchases, and purchase everyone's clothes at once.
    • I purchase the kids' clothes at three (3) specific times: back-to-school (late August), Black Friday, and early spring (before Easter). Why these times? Sales!
    • Unless someone is in dire need of a specific item, I buy all of the kids' clothes in a single transaction. Why a single transaction? It reduces shipping charges, and simplifies the returns process - I don't need to weed through a bunch of transactions since I only have three clothing receipts per year!
  2. Never buy an item without checking your inventory.
    • Before I buy the family some clothes, I will look through everyone's dresser and see what they already have, then create a shopping list that includes quantities. For example, Child 1 needs three pairs of pants and one long-sleeve shirt, while Child 2 needs two short-sleeve shirts. If my list just said "pants" or "shirts" I might buy too many!
  3. Cut everyone's hair at home.
    • There are plenty of YouTube videos for how to cut children's or adults' hair. Buy a decent set of tools, breathe, and give it a try. I prefer to cut everyone's hair on a single day about every four to six weeks (which is about 1 to 1.5 inches of hair growth, respectively). Personally, I'd rather just get my tools out and sweep once than spread this chore out over multiple days.
  4. Have a whole house color scheme.
    • I tend to think this makes a home look calmer and more cohesive, and this may free up mental energy by reducing visual stimuli. This will allow you to "borrow" items from one room to another. For example, our throw pillows are equally at home in our bedrooms, living room, and office. At my home, our color scheme is blue, green, and gray, plus neutrals like wood tones. I actually take this one step further and have a whole house vibe. At my home, I'm going for an airy Miami / tropical vibe.
  5. Organize your fridge.
    • If your fridge is disorganized, you will lose track of what you have, leading to spoiled items and double-buying. Consider removing built-in drawers, changing the heights of your fridge's shelves, adding turntables, and adding and labelling clear bins. Make it easy to quickly find and grab what you need.
  6. Keep wish lists.
    • Instead of buying something I want immediately, I add it to my Amazon Wish List. Frequently, I find that if I wait a few days, I no longer want it as badly. Avoid impulse purchases this way. We keep wish lists for the children too which they curate themselves. It really helps make gift-giving and receiving simple.
  7. Consider using Amazon Fresh or Instacart.
    • While grocery delivery services are not a free service, I believe the cost is low relative to the value I derive from it. No longer hauling kids to the store? No more impulse purchases? No more wandering the store desperately looking for that last item? Sign me up!
  8. Stick to a budget.
    • Writing out a budget is the easy part; sticking to a budget is the hard part. But it is so worth it. You'll be intentional and accountable.
  9. Save up for large charges on a monthly basis.
    • For all large transactions, such as car insurance, vehicle registration, or trash service, I budget for them as recurring monthly amounts. For example, if your car insurance is $600 due every 6 months, then set aside $100 every month for car insurance. You'll never be caught off guard when a large bill is due.
  10. Consider the cost per use when buying an item.
    • For me, this is most useful when considering shoes. For example, if a nice pair of leather boots costs $150 and I can wear them twice a week for two years before replacing them, then the cost per wear is about 72 cents because $150 / (2 times worn per week * 52 weeks per yr. * 2 yrs.). To get the cost per wear, divide the purchase price by the number of times you will ultimately wear the item.
  11. Create transactional friction whenever possible.
    • This is why I don't let stores' websites save my payment card information. I want to experience the discomfort of getting up and walking over to my wallet to retrieve my card. This is also why I don't use one-click shopping. Or let Alexa order items for me. Or make a purchase without first entering the transaction into my budget app. The more transactional friction you create, the less likely you are to buy.
  12. Live in a small home.
    • The smaller your home, the lower your utility bills and property taxes will be. You will also be less likely to buy more than you need because you won't have the space to stow extra items. It's more likely that you won't keep item duplicates since no item is ever too far away. I remember a friend showing me her "downstairs baby changing area" and while very practical for her, my own home was small enough that my walk to my baby's room was quite short.
  13. Embrace minimalism.
    • Currently, my two oldest children share a single closet which contains not only their clothes but also some school supplies and pet supplies. Yes, they have a small enough number of clothes that each item gets a lot of wear. But, we're saving a lot of money by buying only what we need.
  14. Only buy for the season you're in.
    • I used to stock up on items for my children to grow into. But you know what? By the time my kids are older, the saved item may be out of season or not to the their taste. Not only that, but I may not be able to find it when the time comes.
  15. Choose a few merchants and only shop there.
    • For clothes the practical reason to do this is because that way all of the colors will go together nicely - you won't have several slightly different shades of red, for example. Other benefits of only shopping at a few places over and over again are: you're familiar with their website or store so you are less likely to stray and make impulse purchases, you're more likely to get the maximum rewards program perks, returns might be easier (less guessing about where you bought something, and more familiarity with their policies), and you have a better idea of their sizing (for wearable items). Said another way, the benefit here is predictability. I would also try this with things like airfare (pick one carrier) and hotels (pick one chain) whenever possible in order to maximize rewards.
  16. Create shared family shopping lists.
    • We have shared lists for groceries, the hardware store, and even quick-cook meals. This reduces the likelihood that unnecessary items are purchased.
  17. Use Pinterest to keep track of what you own (or want to own).
    • I pin product information for items I buy so that I will know things like their dimensions, color, material, etc. This helps me keep an eye on my inventory. And makes it easier for me to tell, without actually bringing a product home, if it will fit in. This also helps me plan for future projects. For example, if I'm planning a birthday party, I might pin several party games, balloons, serving ware, cake recipes and accessories to a dedicated board. Seeing everything together helps me weed out the weakest ideas.
  18. Avoid off-site storage.
    • This one may be controversial, but unless you're staging your home and have a short-term off-site storage solution, I'd avoid using off-site storage. It often winds up costing more than if you just sold the items and bought them again secondhand as needed. Plus, you are more likely to stow items you don't truly need. And, when you do actually need the items, it can be a pain to retrieve them. Not to mention the draconian policies if you don't make your on-time payments in full for the storage space. Sometimes, long-term off-site storage is just delaying the decision to get rid of something.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

One-Subject Art Challenge

The idea is simple:

Choose one subject and draw that subject every day. You will get better.


I'd heard about this idea from my mom who read about it somewhere - a professional artist picked just one subject and created an artistic variant of that subject every day for a year.

My subject:

The toucan. Why? Because I like its comically large nose. And I do tend to like tropical things. And I didn't like the toucan artwork available for sale, so if I ever do get good, I think I could find a niche market for this.

How it's going:

I'm getting better. By posting these I am clearly not afraid to show that I didn't start off with a mastery of this subject.

#artwork #art #toucan

Friday, May 28, 2021

My Absolute Favorite Summer Products


Every product in this post is something I personally have tried and would buy again.

First up, sunscreen for summer sun safety fun!
  1. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, Water-Resistant and Oil-Free, Broad Spectrum SPF 70+
    • This is good for not just kids but adults too, and it goes on very quickly!
  2. Banana Boat Kids Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Stick with SPF 50
    • This is great for kids' faces, and it doesn't run into their eyes.
  3. Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Defense Reef Friendly Sunscreen Spray, Broad Spectrum SPF 30
    • If you've ever gotten a sunburn in the part of your hair, you know why I'm recommending a spray sunscreen specially formulated for hair.
  4. The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow-Protect Lotion SPF 30
    • This is what I use on my own face for daily wear, and I like the extra hit of Vitamin C.

Sunscreen aside, what else is important for summer skin? I'd say moisturizing properly is important.
  1. Too Cool for School Egg Mellow Cream
    • I've been using this moisturizer for years. What I like most about it are that it doesn't break me out, and that the packaging is very convenient and hygienic (no tub to dip one's finger in).
  2. Sheamoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Body Lotion
    • This is a relatively new product for me, but if you're looking for an affordable all-over moisturizer that smells nice, try this hibiscus-scented one.
  3. Pre de Provence Artisanal French Soap Bar Enriched with Shea Butter, Starflower
    • Personally, I love this bar soap, but what's important is to find a soap that won't dry you out.
  4. Panama Jack Burn Relief Gel - After Sun Topical Analgesic, Cools & Soothes Sunburns, Insect Bites, Cuts & Scrapes, Contains Aloe and Menthol
    • I found this product on a vacation and the more fair-skinned members of my family can attest that it helps if despite your best efforts you've gotten a shoulder or neck sunburn.

Here are some products my children use throughout the year, but especially during the summer.
  1. It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In product
    • I use this on my own hair, but also on my long-haired daughter and my wavy-haired son. It works well and has a pleasant scent.
  2. Bed Head Curls in Check 1875 Watt Diffuser Hair Dryer
    • It seems like summer is one long cycling transition from dry children to wet children, whether it be from a sprinkler, the pool, or a water gun. I find this hair dryer to be reliable and affordable, and use it myself too.
  3. Kids UPF50+ Safari Sun Hat Breathable Bucket Hat
    • A brimmed hat is a wise choice for anyone, young or old. This hat fits my three-year-old daughter, but she'll need a larger one next year.
  4. Crocs Kids' Classic Clog Slip On Shoes for Boys and Girls
    • Whether we're at the beach, the pool, the splash park, or just walking the dog, these amphibious shoes are great.

And here are some products I use on my own hair during the summer in order to combat the humidity and add moisture. In addition to the items that follow, I'd also recommend a wide-toothed comb for detangling, and some gentle hair ties.
  1. Foxy Curls by TIGI Bed Head Screw It Curl Hydrating Gel
    • I wish the packaging were better - it can and will leak. I can add a dab of this to my hair after a shower and it will be more behaved.
  2. Spa Life Shea and Avocado Nourishing Hair Mask
    • I use this mask in the winter too, but find that chlorine and saltwater are really punishing to hair and this helps to mitigate their deleterious effects. I also like using olive oil hair masks.
  3. L'Oreal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty
    • I use this hair putty to tame flyaway hairs. I have heard that you can use clear mascara for the same purpose but haven't tried yet.
  4. Conair Color Match Bobby Pins, Brown
    • Using a few bobby pins to effortlessly pin up an asymmetric hair style is a quick way to add a bit of visual interest and height to your hair.

All of the above being said, do what works for you, your family, and your budget.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Shared Boys Bunk Bedroom

I was going for a vaguely tropical vibe with does of colors found in nature, specifically, greens and blues. I was also on a relatively tight budget.
I particularly liked these two photos for inspiration: bunk room with turquoise walls and T-Rex poster, and bunk room with black and white.

My goal was not only to create a space for restful sleep, but also a place where the children could participate in virtual school via laptops connected to an online classroom.

Shopping Links:
  1. White photo frame
  2. Wood photo frame
  3. Bunk beds
  4. Desks
  5. Bed canopy
  6. Monogram alligator art
  7. Monogram whale art
  8. Submarine sheets set 1
  9. Alligator sheets set
  10. Submarine sheets set 2
  11. Multi-colored square pillow (no longer available from CB2)
  12. Multi-colored rectangular pillow
  13. Beige rug
  14. Pair of koalas art
  15. Single koala art
  16. Shark art
  17. Cockatoo art
  18. Pair of chairs
  19. Stars blanket (no longer available from Target)
  20. Coat hangers
  21. Curtain rings
  22. Wall shelf for books
  23. Wire bin for closet
  24. Whiteboard set
  25. Math notebook
  26. Drawing pads
  27. Wooden storage box for office supplies
  28. Gray wall shelves
  29. Teal mason jars for storing whiteboard markers
  30. Weighted blanket
  31. Superhero curtains
  32. Blue sheets set (no longer available from Walmart)
  33. Fleece blankets
  34. Warmie microwavable heating pad
  35. Hamper
Individual details - Each boy got his own desk, chair, and bunk bed. The curtains feature The Hulk, because that's what they wanted, and I don't think it's bad to let their personality shine through too. The blank wood boxes were customized by the boys - each decorated his own with acrylic paint.

Installation - There was only enough room for one boy to have a bed canopy because of the window placement. I actually hung the gray shelves side by side to create a longer shelf. I hung the art in clusters, although the whale and koalas are for one boy, and the alligator and sharks are for the other.

This post contains Amazon Associates links.

#bunkroom #boysroom #sharedbedroom #kidsroom #virtualschoolsetup

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

How to Make $1,000 in Only 6 Weeks


Recently, in a budget group I'm a member of, someone asked this question:
How can I make an extra $1,000 in 6 weeks? Besides get a job, or get a second job.

My answer:
  • Cancel all subscriptions: gym, magazines, Hulu, etc.
  • Avoid all delivery and convenience services: Grubhub, Doordash, Ubereats, etc.
  • Revise your transportations situation: downsize your car, or stop owning a car, which will also save you on car insurance

Here are some other ideas, organized by short versus long term:

  • Participate in paid wellness initiatives through your job, e.g. weight loss or smoking cessation
  • Use up your pantry or freezer stash
  • Sell items around your home
  • Proofread on Fiverr
  • Shop around for a better rate on your insurance or utilities, and/or ask your current providers for discounts
  • Temporarily scale back the amount of your income that you devote to retirement or kids' college savings (we're talking about doing this for a few months, not forever)
  • Refinance high-interest loans
  • Become a paid research test subject
  • Sell plasma (not something I would personally do)
  • Cancel anything with a recurring membership fee, e.g. credit cards with an annual fee
  • Become an influencer - get endorsements and earn commissions
  • Cook at home and eat leftovers - avoid dining out
  • Write a book and self-publish - earn passive income for years
  • Fix your items and/or buy secondhand instead of buying new - a penny saved is a penny earned
  • Never borrow money - don't pay interest on your purchases

You may wonder, "Where's the tip to use coupons?" or "Where's the tip to buy in bulk?" Coupons rarely net enough savings to merit the time it takes to clip them. Unless the purchase is quite large, like a refrigerator, coupons or rebates may not be worth it. As far as bulk purchases, the upfront cost to purchase would probably not net you savings in the short (6-week) timeframe.

Note that this post is not advice; this post is written for reader enjoyment only.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Mini Closet Makeover for the Boys


The results photo is above. I decided to move things around one afternoon using only items I already had. Changes made: moved little girl clothes to Rosie's closet, swapped in a larger drawer unit (on right, from laundry room), moved pet bunny's hay to under the bed, removed the wire pull-out drawer, hung jeans from the lower shelf, allowed more height for hanging clothing (e.g. bathrobes), and moved pajamas into one of the re-used / smaller drawer units. On the top-most drawer is still clothing that is one size too large or excess / overflow clothing, what organizers might call "back stock." There is one "back stock" bin per child. There is actually room to grow in this closet - the wicker basket is empty, as is the bottom-most drawer of the re-used / smaller drawer unit.


Not a bad "before" for two kids and a pet bunny

The basket drawer was always sliding out because nothing is ever level in our home

Seeing how low I could hang the lower shelf with the larger drawer unit

Staging area, a big mess during the process

Trying things out

Putting all socks and underwear in the lowest drawer, divided in baskets by child

Almost the final version... still has large hay box


Links (from top):

#closetorganization #boybedroom #kidsbedroom #sharedcloset