Saturday, October 29, 2011

You're not coming home

Yesterday we received a letter from the college our 18 year old attends telling us that he is one infraction away from being dismissed from the school.  We are only halfway through the first semester.  Sadly, this doesn't surprise me.  I predicted he wouldn't make it through the first semester.

When/if he bombs out, he will not be returning to our home.  I don't know where he will go, but it won't be here.

Yes, I know I sound cold, but this is my reality.  I know many people who haven't walked in my shoes judge this, so let me explain a little bit about our lives.

If you've seen my previous posts, you know that our son is severely mentally ill.  There are 10 mental health diagnoses.  He is extremely violent.  We have replaced windows, walls, stair railings and much more because he has destroyed them.

Due to his violent and criminal behaviors, we have appeared in front of every judge in our county as well as been in court in three other counties.

He has been in 3 different treatment foster homes and has been in residential treatment 4 different times, in additional to psychiatric hospital placements.  He has been in juvenile detention 9 times.

We have torn out the carpet in his bedroom because it stunk so bad from peeing on it - yes, intentionally, and burned his mattress for the same reason.

We spent endless hours preparing him for college, what the rules and expectations were.  We had numerous discussions with him while his social worker and case worker at the residential treatment center were present.  No one can say we did not prepare him for what college would hold.  One of the things he is on probation for is skipping chapel.  He's skipped it 15 times and they are allowed 10 misses in the semester.  Again, we are only halfway through the semester.  He knew the expectations of this before he ever left.

We are anticipating something major around Thanksgiving.  He has spent 3 of the last 5 Thanksgivings in jail.  Even when he is on his medication, he blows - BIG - around Thanksgiving.  A couple of years ago his foster father ended up with 11 stitches in his head because my son threw him across the room in a rage.  And that was when he was ON his medication.  Off his meds, he is beyond unpredictable.  He has indicated that he's going to Colorado with a "friend" to the family home for Thanksgiving.  I am grateful I don't have to fight to battle of him not coming here, but I am scared for this family.  I know warnings would fall on deaf ears though.  He presents as sweet and charming.  Remember Eddie Haskal from "Leave it to Beaver"?  Yep, that's my son.

We also have a 10 year old daughter to consider.  Allowing him to live with us and potentially put her safety in jeopardy... just not an option.  Not to mention the safety of myself and my husband.  If he can throw a grown man across the room, what do you think he could do to me?  And the majority of the time my husband is not home.  He works during the day and most weekends.  I would never trust our son to be alone with our daughter.  If he went "off" about something, she wouldn't stand a chance.

So, these are the reasons our son is not moving back home.  Not because I'm cold hearted, but because I'm a realist.  I harbor no fantasies that living with us would change him or help him.  It hasn't helped in almost 13 years, why would it suddenly change now.  And based on the nasty messages I get from him,  there is no change in the works.  My family's and my safety comes first.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Frugal Living - Substitutions

We all have favorite products that we can't live without, but there are many things that we CAN substitute things for and save ourselves some money.

Fabric Softener - Vinegar.  Add 1 cup to your wash when you start it. It softens fabric, gets rid of smell, and gets rid of build up on clothes as well.  This is especially helpful if you are sensitive to scents and dyes.

Weed Killer - Vinegar (again.)  Weed killer costs about $20 a gallon.  Vinegar costs about $2.50 a gallon.    Pour some into an old ketchup or mustard bottle and squirt it down at the base of the weed.  In a day or two, no more weeds.

Shaving cream - Hair conditioner.  If you use coupons, and watch sales, you can get conditioner for under $1.00.  Much cheaper than shaving cream.  Use it exactly as you would the shaving cream.  Spread it on and shave.  The conditioner softens the hair, making it easier to shave, and softens your skin as well.  You might be able to skip your lotion, saving even more money.

Vegetable wash - One of my dear friends writes the Two Men and a Little Farm blog.  It's a good blog about a couple who has bought their first "country home."  Anyway, he wrote about a vegetable spray that they use that's home made.  

1 Cup water
3/4 Cup distilled white vinegar 
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp baking soda

Mix it all up and put it in a spray bottle.  Spray the produce, rinse, let it sit a few minutes and enjoy.  

All purpose cleaner - Vinegar (again), dish soap and water.  This is a hand me down from my great-grandmother.  Mix your normal soap and water and add some vinegar to it. It cuts grease and shines at the same time.  She used this for everything from cleaning floors, to windows and mirrors, to lights to just about anything you can imagine.  No need for all different types of cleaners, and you know what's in it. She also used old newspapers in place of rags or paper towels when cleaning any type of glass.  It doesn't leave lint.

Cake Flour - Just under 1 C all purpose flour combined with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch.  Use it cup for cup for cake flour.  This is especially helpful if you don't bake cakes or use cake flour all that often.  Cup for cup, cake flour is about twice as expensive as plain flour.  

As you can see, vinegar can be used for so many things.  It's a staple to have in your house.  

You can Google all sorts of substitutions.  Some people make their own laundry detergent.  I haven't tried that yet, but those that use it, love it.

If you have favorite substitutions, please share them!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Products helping breast cancer fundraising

About a week ago, I wrote a blog about Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Since that post, I learned of another friend who has breast cancer and has started chemo.

I decided to do a blog dedicated to companies who are helping to raise breast cancer awareness and contributing funds to research.  This is not, in any way, a complete list, but these are some that I know of.

Panera Bread - they have a "pink ribbon bagel."  It is in the shape of the cancer awareness ribbon with cherry chips, dried cherries, dried cranberries, vanilla, honey and brown sugar.

Dannon Yogurt - each cup of Dannon brand yogurt has a code inside the lid.  Enter the code on the website, and they will donate 10 cents.

Yoplait Yogurt - they have a similar program to Dannon.  You used to have to save the lids themselves and mail them in, but now they have a code inside that you can enter online.

Pink Together - This is associated with General Mills cereals and other products.  Click on the Pink Together link and it will take you to the Facebook page.  "Like" them and they will donate money.  There are also other opportunities on the Facebook page to donate.

Proctor & Gamble - Another one to "Like" on Facebook.  In addition, many P & G products have turned pink for October and money will be donated.

Ulta Beauty - Ulta participates in many ways.  You can get a "free" product with a donation.  They are hosting a Cut-A-Thon.  A "free" shampoo, cut and style with a donation.  They also carry products from many manufacturers that are donating proceeds to breast cancer.

Pink Hair Extensions - Many hair salons are offering pink hair extensions.  Ulta, listed above, is one of many places.  Click on the pink hair extensions link to find a salon where you can get yours.  (This is one thing I will be doing for sure!)

I could go on and on and on and on..... There are some major corporations that are active in breast cancer fundraising year round.

Ford - they have a Warriors in Pink campaign.  There is a specially designed car, apparel, etc.  You will find them out at the Susan G. Komen breast cancer walks, and they give away a special Warriors in Pink scarf at each walk. I have passed my scarves on to my pastor as she goes through her fight.

Avon - Avon hosts a different walk from the Susan G. Komen.  They have a 2 day walk totalling 39 miles (Susan G. Komen also has a 3 day/60 mile walk)

There is also a website called The Breast Cancer Site Store that I have ordered from.  They have a large variety of items and each item purchased funds 1%  of a mammogram for a woman in need.  The more you buy, the more you fund!  There are also daily sale items.

Doing a quick Google search will reveal all sorts of results.  You can use these to decide where and how you can help.  Every little bit helps and hopefully we can find an end to this horrible disease.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pondering homelessness and poverty

I spent the last 24 hours with twenty 7th and 8th graders, and 5 other adults.  We did an "urban immersion" retreat to Milwaukee.  We took our country kids out of their comfy lives and plopped them completely out of their comfort zone.  I went on this same retreat with a different group 2 years ago, and it was amazing then too.

Friday night, we ate dinner at St. Benedict the Moor church at their meal program.  It is an amazing program.  They serve dinner 6 days a week to anyone who comes.  The majority of the population is homeless or living in poverty, but anyone is welcome.  For most of our youth, this was their first exposure to homelessness and/or true poverty.  We did not eat as a group.  3 or 4 of us would go through the line and be seated with the "regular" participants.  Most of us had discussion with the other participants and we learn a lot during these conversations.  I am eager to hear their thoughts after they have had time to process everything.

From the meal program we went to Greater Mt. Sinai Church of God in Christ.  Again, this is outside the comfort zone of our youth.  This is an African American Pentecostal church and the Friday night worship service is amazing.  The love and warmth of the congregation is amazing, their faith in God and Jesus are beyond evident in their testimonies, and the worship is filled with lively and spiritual music.  A few of the youth got into it and were clapping and dancing.  This is not "normal" in our church, so I was glad to see them let the Spirit move them to join in the service.  The church is so welcoming of visitors, and we are obviously visitors!!  This may have been the first time that these youth were in the minority by being white.

From their we made our way to Bethel-Bethany United Church of Christ.  This was our host church and our sleeping quarters.  Bethel and Rev. Tim Perkins run this program.  It's a great trip for a youth group both in content, and the fact that we have to do little planning. They do the work for you!!!  It is another welcoming place.  We all bunked on the floor, well the adults bunked on cots, and spent the night.

In the morning, we got up and ate breakfast.  Last time we got up and prepared breakfast for 75 men at the Guest House in downtown Milwaukee, just a few blocks from where we ate on Friday night.  Another group had already signed up to serve there, so we had a different "project" this time.  We talked about how people become homeless.  We ran through different scenarios.  We were then given a budget and went to Target to purchase items that would be beneficial to the recipients in each scenario. The youth learned what the NEEDS of these groups are, and they are learned about making a dollar stretch as they had to get the items on their list, within their budget.  Yes, I know, it's a basic life skill.

We took our purchased items to Guest House and took a brief tour.  A walk around downtown Milwaukee gave us a glimpse into the life of someone on the streets and where they might seek shelter.

Onward to the Islamic Center of Miwaukee.  We were greeted by our wonderful guide, Inshirah, who took us on a tour of the Mosque and the school and we witnessed the afternoon prayers.  We discussed the Islam religion and found that we had many things in common.  There are cultural differences, but our youth discovered that we actually worship the same God.

Our last stop was for lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market.  If you are in the area and have not been there, it is worth the trip.  There are vendors offering everything from burgers to sushi to Mexican food and seafood.  If you can't find something you like here, you're a pretty picky eater.  You won't find a chain restaurant in the market.  Along with being a place to eat, it's a place to gather.  Their is a coffee vendor, a flower vendor, a wine vendor, and a gathering area.  Every age and race are present in the market.

....and then it was back to church.  We did ALL of this in 24 hours.  We left our church at 4:00 PM on Friday and returned at the same time on Saturday.  It is a hectic, action packed time, but there is so much to learn and absorb.

It's good for us to get out of our comfort zone and remind ourselves that we actually have pretty good lives.  There are things we take for granted every day that many people do without out and be grateful if they had it.  I am tired, but it is a good tired.  I hope we have given our youth some things to think about and reflect upon.  I know this trip make a big impact on the group we took two years ago.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Product Review - Ultra Extreme Gel Eyeliner

I have tried a product that I absolutely LOVE!!

I've spent money on eyeliner that promised to last all day. They did not lived up to their promises.

I checked out a new to us store.  Ulta Beauty.  This store just opened in our area a couple of months ago. I like it for several reasons.  One is that they carry many of the name brands such as Revlon, Cover Girl and various others.  But, they also carry their own brand, which is where I found this great eyeliner.

This is a gel/creme eyeliner, so you will need an eyeliner brush to apply it, but it really does last.  At the end of a 16 to 18 hour day, it's still there.  And I have active days.  I can be working in a warehouse, running errands, meetings at church, working with a youth group, and it's still there at the end of the day.

Better yet, it washes off easily at the end of the day.

It costs $10 and comes in various shades, but it's worth it to me to have a product that actually lasts.

Another reason that I like Ulta is that they are big supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  More to come on that in another blog.

Meanwhile, check out this product.  I think you'll love it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Product Review - Olay Facial Hair Removal Duo

I received this product as a freebie from Olay.  I was thrilled that it was a full size product, not just a sample size.

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  There are various symptoms with this, and one of them is excess facial hair.  Isn't that thrilling?

Women have facial hair.  Some have fine and light hair, others dark and coarse hair.  You know the ones... the women with a "mustache."  We wish we could get rid of it.

Well ladies, here is your option!

There is one thing that makes this product very unique.  The first thing you do is apply a "balm" to your skin. It comes in a twist up tube that looks similar to lipstick or lipgloss.  Put it anywhere you are going to use the hair remover, then rub it in for about 20 seconds.

Next, apply the removal cream and leave it on for the indicated amount of time.  If you have dark and/or coarse hair, go for the longer time.

Then wipe off the cream.  It's that simple.

However, the balm makes a big difference.  Anytime I use a facial hair remover, my skin gets red and flaky.  That didn't happen after using this.  I just had nice smooth skin.

It's a little pricey at about $22.50 - $25.00, depending on where you buy, but it's a good product. (Made me extra glad I got the full size one free.)

I give it a two thumbs up!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

You probably know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  If you're not, you will be by the end of the month.

This cause is one that is very dear to me.  I lost my aunt to this disease when she was younger than I am now.  A 42 year old woman should not die from breast cancer.  She battled the way she battled everything in life, head on.  She was an amazing woman and the world is a lesser place without her in it.

Right now I have two friends who are fighting this.  One is younger than I am, the other older, but the fight is the same.  And it is a fight that affects so many.  I have several friends who are survivors and I am so proud of them.

Statistics from

About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

About 39,840 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.

In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

About 70-80% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

How can anyone argue with this?  A cure needs to be found!!

My friend, Laura, and I try to do the breast cancer walk each year.  Both her mother and her sister has battled and won.  This puts her at great risk.  We both know how much awareness there needs to be.

The Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk is an amazing event.  When you see a mass of people, all wearing their race/walk shirts, all in support of cancer research, it is amazing.  Pink is everywhere you look, and the size of some of the teams that form are overwhelming.  When you look around you see "bibs" on people.  The have their race number on it, but most of them also contain at least one name.  The name is either someone they are walking in memory of or in honor of.  The number of names is beyond comprehension.  There is also a garden where you can hang a ribbon in honor or memory of a loved one.  Watching the ribbons blow in the breeze brings a harsh reality.

For Laura and me, it is a girls day.  We take the whole day for ourselves and just spend time together. It is the bonding time women need, along with a great day of self care.  This year, my schedule did not allow us to attend, so we decided to Sleep In For the Cure.  We paid our fee, just as if we were attending the walk, we just didn't go.  The money goes for the cause and we could still contribute, even though we couldn't be there in person.

Participate in a walk if you can.  It is a mind boggling event.  If you can't, consider doing the "sleep in" so the money still goes toward research.  

To all of you currently battling, or have survived the battle, you have my greatest admiration!  To those of you who have lost someone, you have my sympathy.  Cancer sucks!