15 Nov 2014

This week’s smiles

  • Warlords of Draenor, the new World of Warcraft expansion, was released this week – and it is awesome! It’s like everything anyone ever complained about has been fixed. And there are garrisons! You have your own little town to build the way you want, and all sorts of new features.
  • Breaking the habit of relying on cafeteria food. I actually packed my lunch every day this week. Awesome, healthy, cheap food. And when I followed a friend up to the cafeteria, thinking that maybe I did want a ridiculously overpriced burger, I took one look at the cafeteria food and decided I did want my packed lunch after all.
  • I started working on the Christmas/Yule presents that I’m making myself this year. I’m really excited to give them to people.
  • Just helping people. There have been a lot of opportunities to do little jobs for people this week, and I love making life a little easier for people.
  • Snow! Ok, so I don’t really get all that excited about snow – but I love how insanely excited my son gets when he first notices the snow on the ground.
12 Nov 2014

Anything – Hedly

I love this song. It’s a bit rebellious, but it reminds me to keep going even when it seems like I’m the only one in the world who believes in what I’m doing.

Fair warning: this is the explicit version of Anything, so he says the F word a lot. There is a radio edit, but I prefer the original 🙂 The video is funny, but you probably don’t want to watch it at work and you may not want your kids to see it.

10 Nov 2014

Nipping frustration in the bud

I’m going to take a break from my mood boosting vitamins series to talk about something that’s been going on in our lives this week.

Early last week, I got really frustrated about something. As part of my efforts to lead a more positive lifestyle, whenever I find myself getting really frustrated about something I stop and think of ways to fix it. I do this with anyone, really, whether it’s my son, my husband, my friends or myself. If you don’t deal with frustration, it can easily poison your life and the lives of those around you. Often, when you stop to think about these things, the problem isn’t actually as big as it may seem.

What got to me this time was Steven’s lack of respect for his property. He doesn’t clean up his toys and he doesn’t care if they get destroyed or lost. As he’s gotten older, he’s asked for increasingly expensive toys, and the more he has the worse he gets at cleaning them up and the less he seems to care about them getting lost or broken.

Earlier this year, we gave him an allowance. This was more for our budgeting than anything else. If we don’t plan our spending, we spend hundreds on toys and candy before we realize it, so we started making one trip a month to the toy store and allowing him to spend a certain amount.

Part of our goal worked. He understands that he has a limited amount of money and he has to think about what to spend it on, and we keep our budget in check. But these toys still end up strewn across the floor, chewed (a recent problem that oddly didn’t exist when he was younger), torn, lost, covered in markers, glue, sparkles, tissue paper, dried up playdough… He doesn’t take care of them, and he sees no value in them. If I throw one out because it’s destroyed, he doesn’t care, his immediate response is “next allowance, I will buy a new one”.

This attitude and lack of respect for his possessions has been the source of a lot of frustration and heated discussions in our household lately. So, what are we going to do about it? How can we turn this around, stop yelling at each other and avoid frustration in the future?

The first step was to clear out his room. We’ve been telling him for a long time that if there’s too much for him to clean up, he obviously has too many toys. So we threw out anything that was damaged and donated anything that he hasn’t played with in a while. Since his interests are pretty limited these days, they happen to fit neatly into categories that are easily sorted. So now that all the extra stuff he’s accumulated over the years is gone, he has no trouble picking it all up himself.

This process was admittedly upsetting for my husband and I. We knew it had to be done, but until we got in there I don’t think we realized just how much was going to be thrown out. Donating is one thing, we both love knowing that something we no longer need is going to be used by someone else. We even have a facebook group of friends and relatives where we post things that are still usable but that we have no use for, so that whoever will use it can come get it free. But throwing things out has always been hard for us, and we watched a lot of dollars go into that garbage can today. However, the most unnerving part, the part that I think kept us going, was that Steven didn’t once complain about things that were going in the garbage or the donation bin. We kept him involved to try and teach him something, but even watching half his room dumped into a garbage bin didn’t seem to phase him.

Which brings me to the next step, which is still a work in progress, so I’ll post more about it later when it’s completed. We’ve been having conversations as a family to write up some chore charts. One for Steven and one for my husband and I. These will hopefully solve a few frustrations:

  • It will give Steven something productive to do. He’s always (thankfully) been very good at entertaining himself and keeping out of the way when we’re busy with something, but he’s also keen to help out and gets upset when everyone is working and he doesn’t have a job.
  • It will give Steven an opportunity to be more independent. Maybe if he has a checklist I won’t always have to tell him to do everything? Maybe.
  • Steven will have to earn his allowance. This will hopefully solve the whole toys-have-no-value problem.
  • Us adults will get our chores done too. I have to admit that there are days in my house when I’m washing yesterday’s dishes while dinner cooks so we have something to eat off of, when I get to the last pair of underwear before realizing that I need to do laundry, when I forget to run the garbage out to the curb. Hopefully having a checklist on the wall will help with that.

The checklist is still a work in progress, but I’m super excited for it. I think it will make this household run a lot smoother and make all of us happier by resolving a few frustrations.

08 Nov 2014

This week’s smiles

Here are some highlights from my gratitude journal this week:

  • Dressing up in my Little Red Ridinghood costume. We had a halloween party on the 1st, so I didn’t actually wear it on halloween.
  • Candy! I love that every time Steven raids his stash, he makes sure to ask if Liam and I want any candy. He even knows what my favorites are, and will bring me those if he can find them.
  • Making it to all my classes while fighting with my seasonal depression. This time of year I often wake up feeling like someone has bolted me to the bed, and I often end up missing some classes and falling behind on my school work. This last week was really hard, but I made it to all my classes and stayed on top of my work, and I’m glad I did.
  • BLIZZCON! In case you don’t know Blizzard is the company that makes awesome computer games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. Liam and I buy the virtual ticket and watch it every year. We almost decided not to this year, but then bought it at the last minute, and I’m glad we did. They finally announced Overwatch, a new game they’ve been working on. Never before have I been so excited about a first person shooter. Also looking forward to the Metallica concert that will be their finale tonight.
  • The Goodreads app. I have had so much trouble lately finding books that hold my interest. Whenever I try to read I get distracted by my to-do list… or fall asleep. This app lets me put in my old favorites (I used to read a book a week) and then helps me find new books that I love. Plus, the list of books I want to read is right there in the app on my phone, so I always have it with me when I go to the store.
05 Nov 2014

Up We Go – Lights

I’ve been in love with Lights since I first saw her on a screen above the popcorn stand while I waited for my friends at the movie theater. I had no idea who she was, but I was instantly hooked. If I’d had a fancy phone with data back then, I would have already been downloading her stuff at the theater, but the fact that I remembered to look her up when I got home late after a 3 hour movie is saying something.

I found her more recent hit “Up We Go” at a perfect time for me. Every year, as the days get shorter and I get busier, I have a harder time controlling my depression. It’s not like anything suddenly goes wrong, it’s just a lot more tempting to start focusing on all the things I didn’t accomplish this year, no matter how much Liam tries to remind me of my successes. This song gives me a little push in the right direction on some of my worst days. Sometimes it ends up on repeat for hours on end.

I also love one-take music videos, and this one is pretty awesome:

03 Nov 2014
Apples on a branch

Mood Boosting Vitamins – Chromium

This is the second in a 10 part series on mood boosting vitamins. Last week’s post was about calcium, and this week’s is about chromium.

Chromium is something we probably don’t think about much day to day, but we should. A chromium deficiency increases our chances of getting diabetes, and can cause extreme mood swings and anxiety as well. If kids don’t get enough chromium, it will cause muscle weakness and fatigue as well as anxiety and will likely slow their growth. Our bodies need very little chromium to function, but the junk food diets that many people find themselves on don’t tend to offer much chromium. For example, whole grains and sugarcane lose most of their chromium when they are turned into refined flour and white sugar. On top of that, higher fat diets (and other diets that are harder on the digestive system) inhibit our ability to absorb chromium.

The best way to make sure you are getting enough chromium is to cut out processed foods wherever you can:

  • instead of buying Wonderbread, try whole wheat bread from the bakery (it’s usually cheaper, too!)
  • try raw sugar instead of white sugar
  • make your own tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes (and don’t skip the basil and garlic, they’re both good sources of chromium)
  • avoid cereals with high sugar content
  • choose fruit juice instead of pop, if you must have carbonation try adding some tonic water

I don’t have many recipes this week because most of my favorite ways to get chromium don’t require cooking. Apples, oranges, bananas, and broccoli are some of the best sources. Red wine can also be a great source of chromium, though, which means my favorite homemade sangria can also be a great source! If you try the recipe, remember to use raw sugar for the simple syrup.

01 Nov 2014

My Smiles – Halloween!

I love Halloween! Ok, maybe I just love all holidays. Any excuse to celebrate and give presents and hang out with friends and family! Here are the highlights of my gratitude journal this week:

  • halloweenHalloween Oreos!
  • Making Steven a Halloween themed lunch box – I’m nowhere near as talented as some parents making awesome Halloween themed lunch boxes, but he liked it anyways.
  • Getting all dressed up for Halloween. Last night it was just Steven getting dressed up (as Night Shift from Skylanders), but we’re going to another party tonight and I’m so excited to wear my costume!
  • Steven loved playing hot potato at the kids’ party last night. Whether he won or lost, he’d immediately look at our host and say “again, again, again!” I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so excited over hot potato, lol.
  • Sorting the mountains of candy. Steven gets excited about this because he’s not allowed to touch it until it’s sorted – I get excited because I get the candy he doesn’t like!
29 Oct 2014

Happy – Pharrell Williams

I don’t think I really need to explain why Happy made my happy playlist. I know a lot of people aren’t terribly fond of this song, but I love it, and if you haven’t seen the video yet you should.