A Mother’s Love for a Special Needs Child

August 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Health & Safety

A Mother’s Love Can’t Be Explained

A mother's love

We all know that Mother’s love their children, and we love them in a way we didn’t know we could, right?  But what about those children who have special needs? Some people who do not have special needs children can think that a parent might “love them less” because they aren’t perfect.  That they might “love them less” because they change the parents life style, change the life they pictured or believed they would have .  They think that they might “love them less” because they can’t leave their child with a sitter, or might not be able to go on vacations.  They think that the financial burden and loss of income because one parent might not be able to work outside the home, due to their child’s special needs… might cause them to “love them less”.  They think they might “love them less” because their child might not “fit in” with society, or cause trouble in public, or be difficult to even take in public because of all the needs they require.  They might even think that the parents would be “better off” if that child left this world early… so they can once again have a “normal life”.  Those “people” just have no idea. No way to understand the love a Mother has for her special needs child.

But guess what? … I think it somehow makes a mother’s love even stronger for a special needs child. Imagine a “child” being totally dependent on you for almost thirty years!  I have been a pediatric nurse for 30 years now. I have worked in children’s hospitals, Doctor’s offices and I’ve worked as a pediatric nurse case manager for a home health agency.  I have seen many many examples of how strong a mothers love can be, even for some children that do not respond to them… or respond in ways that others can recognize. For children that have cost them their careers, made them move into very small homes due to the financial crisis they now had to deal with, cost them their marriages because of the stress, cost them the life they wanted. I have seen so many cases… so many.

I recently had a cousin lose her daughter.  (pictured above) Her daughter, E….  was almost 30 years old.  She never spoke… ever ..except one time in church when she yelled “Amen” at the appropriate time. That was an awesome story to hear at her funeral!  They knew that E had something going on from the time she was a very small child. She was not hitting the normal milestones that other children her age were hitting. She didn’t talk, she had a strange gait to her walk, she would get angry easily (If I remember right. I did not live close to my cousin, so I didn’t know E very well… I only have a few memories with visits over the years). As she grew older, she required more and more care.  For the last several years she was unable to walk at all. She was not a small girl and she had to be lifted and completely cared for … by her parents.  My cousin and her husband did an unbelievable job taking care of her. Giving her every opportunity they could in order to help her, to make her life the best it could be for the body and the condition she endured.

a mother's love

 

They only discovered the actual diagnosis for what she had about two years ago. It is called   Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN). They were told at that time that there had never been a case he knew of, where a child/adult lived to 30 years old.  E was 2 weeks away from her 30th birthday when she died.  She died at home, in her parents bed with her mom and dad with her.  They had been without electricity for a week prior to her death due to the terrible storms that went through at the end of June.  They had one room air conditioner with a generator and lived in that bedroom with her, to make her as comfortable as possible.

I went to her funeral. I had no idea how difficult it would be. Gut wrenching, fits perfectly. I have been to many funerals over my life time, and I have been to several funerals for children. But I’ve never had as hard a time as this one. (Other than my own Mom’s) . Maybe it was because I myself forgot the unbelievable amount of love a mother has for her child with special needs. The first strong tears came for me when I saw my Aunt 89 years old (Mom’s sister) ask to go up to the open casket again to see her. She just stroked her arm, touched her face and talked to her. My Aunt is the closest living relative I have, linked to my Mom. I miss my Mom so much and get to see my Aunt so little…I just adore her, and seeing her pain was SO hard.

After the service was over, they went to wheel the casket out… and all of a sudden all you could hear in this very quiet church, was my cousin, crying… no, sobbing for her daughter. The kind of crying that came deep deep from within her soul. Crying, like I’m not sure I’ve heard before. The pain she was suffering was incredible, pain like she had more than likely never experienced before. The paw bearers stopped and just stood there for about three or four minutes. The crying did not let up. There could not have been a single dry eye in the room hearing my cousin’s pain, the torture she was going through, knowing she would never see her daughter’s face again, never hold her or take care of her again. There is a piece of my cousin that left right then….a piece of her heart, her soul, that stayed with her daughter; stayed with her when they closed that casket, stayed with her as they wheeled her out of the church, stayed with her as she was lowered into the ground and was buried with her. She won’t get that piece of her heart, her soul back until she is back together with her in heaven.

 

a mother's love

It was right then, standing there crying myself; that I knew that a mothers love for a special needs child, could not be explained.  It was something that so many people might not understand…. but something so real. So precious. So wonderful. God is so gracious to give us what we need, give us the children that he wants us to be trusted with and to love. He could not have picked better parents for E, when he picked them. He knows the love a mother has for her child. Only God, and a mother herself can possibly know.

My love to you cuz, as you and your hubby heal and learn to live a life with your angel in heaven.

a mother's love

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Kids Artwork

August 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Crafts & Craft Rooms, Family & Friends, Paper, Playroom

Kids Artwork – Great Ideas

What do you do with all that great artwork the kids bring home from school?  They are So proud of it!

kids artwork

 

1) Photograph it

If you have a hard time throwing away their artwork, then one solution is to take pictures of it. You can have it on your computer or in a scrapbook and remember it for years to come. You can now do all kinds of neat things with them.

2) Photo Gifts
I just had mugs made for my Dad and sister for their birthdays with special pictures on them from SnapFish

3) Give them as Gifts

You can give one or two a year to a Grandparent or Aunt and Uncle if you can’t stand to throw it away, but you have your paper for the month. (My rule of saving only one paper for the month…but with most of these ideas, you can actually get rid of all the actual artwork but still see it for years to come!)

4) Frame Them

kids artwork

Frame some of their artwork and hang it. I was just getting a picture framed for a client and there was a woman there with her grandchild’s art work that she was having framed to hang up. She was going to have it hanging in the guest room where her granddaughter stayed when she came to visit. She was using an expensive frame and mat, but the frames above in the picture are only $1.99 at Ikea. There are all kinds of cute colors and they would work great, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

5) Art Gallery

kids artwork

I remember growing up that our upstairs hallway was the art gallery. Both my brother and sister are artist and did wonderful work even in grade and high school. My mother had their pieces displayed in the upstairs hallway. They were her favorite pieces. Then if something new came in she would take one down and put the new one up. We all thought that was great and anytime guests came to our house, mom proudly took them upstairs to show them the “art gallery”.

6) Photo Book

I heard a great idea from watching Peter Walsh on Oprah the other day. He suggested taking pictures of your child’s artwork with your digital camera and then putting them in a digital scrapbook. You can use snapfish.com or shutterbug.com, and I also know that Creative Memories(their package for a 20 page book is about $99) does the same thing too.
But I do think his idea was great. You could make one of these each year with their artwork and it would be great fun for them to look at through the years and easy to pass on to them when they are grown.

7) Wall Art

Another thing they had on his segment of the Oprah show was to take carpet squares and use double sided tape and tape them to the wall to make a bulletin board. What they showed was using two different colors with two across and 3 down. Then they used that for a bulletin board and hung one piece of the kids artwork in each square to showcase it. This is one way you can change them often.

Let me know if you have any other ideas of what to do with your child’s artwork!

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Peach Pie Recipe

August 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Food

Who Love Fresh Peach Pie?

I know I love fresh peach pie and my family does too.  I’m always excited when Branstool Orchard in Utica, OH has their fresh peaches. We stopped by last weekend and bought three pecks of peaches.  One went to my Dad and the other two we got to eat and make pies with.

peach pie

Peach Pie Recipe I used this recipe for the filling. The crust I just used Pillsbury pre-made dough found in the ref. section.

5 cups of peaches.  Peel them and cut them up.
3/4 cup sugar (recipe says 1/2 – 1 cup. I used 3/4)
1 1/2 t lemon juice (I didn’t use it because I was out. Just make into pie quickly so they don’t brown)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees

Place one of the pie crusts in the bottom of the pie pan. Make some holes in it with a fork to vent.

peach pie crust

 

Mix the cut up peaches and lemon juice (if you remembered it.. lol) and set aside.

peaches

Mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl.

sugar flour

Take the dry ingredients and mix well with the peaches

peach pie

Pour mixture into the  pie shell.

peaches

Slightly wet the edges of the bottom pie crust.  Place the top crust and lay over top of the filled pie pan.  Pinch the edges of the two pie shells together.

Make a fun design in the top shell to vent.

peach pie crust

Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  Mine cooked for about 40 to almost 45 minutes.

peach pie

Then you just have to enjoy!

peach pie

I have to apologize because the family was so excited to eat the pie when it cooled that I totally forgot to get a picture of a piece of the pie! We like to eat it warm and put whip cream on it.  It would also be good with ice cream, but we didn’t have any for this pie.  It was SO good, by the way.

 

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Middle School

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, School

The Triplets First Day Of Middle School

The kids went to middle school for their first day on Monday.  They were both excited, nervous and trying to act “cool” about it.  They picked out which uniform they wanted to wear the night before (I didn’t even have to tell them) and I had no problem waking them up at 5:55am!

middle school

They have a lot of big changes going into 6th grade.

Uniforms: This is a public school, but they introduced uniforms about five years ago, starting with the high school.  It moved down to the middle school two years ago (I think), but the elementary school students can still wear street clothes. They are not any too excited about the uniforms, and I was less excited about the cost of outfitting three kids for 5 days of school… even going to Old Navy and getting $5 polos and $8 shorts/pants. We are thankful that Zach is bigger than Alex, he can already fit into some of the uniforms that Tim and Drew wore in high school.

Earlier Time: They have to be there much earlier than elementary school! Actually about an hour and half earlier. In order for us to have a non – crazy kind of morning. We aren’t going to have “running around with their head’s chopped off” kinds of mornings. They get their own breakfast, make their own lunches, do their 20 minutes of reading, make their beds and clean their rooms… before they go. If they have any time left (they like to make their lunches the night before) then they get some computer time. Our mornings normally aren’t hectic.

Walk To School:  The middle school is closer, so they are able to walk to and from school.  They will only be doing this part time. We only have them every other week, and their mom doesn’t live within walking distance from the school. Of course when it’s raining or too cold… I’ll be driving them. There are a couple other kids from the neighborhood that will probably be walking with them also, so I’m not worried for them.  Plus the fact that they are all only one belt away from being black belts in karate!

Changing Classes:  In 5th grade, they had a couple class changes to get them ready for middle school, but it won’t be like it will be in 6th grade. They had orientation last week and received their schedules and we all navigated the hot narrow halls of this super old building (that needs major renovations. It’s the worse of all our schools needing actual rebuilding…but no money to do it… that’s another whole post. lol) and trying to find out which rooms for which classes were theirs.

I’m bummed because I cut off Elise’s shoes. They are kind of a lime green color. They aren allowed to have any color shoes and socks.  middle school

 

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School Papers!

August 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, How To Organize, Paper

How To Handle All The Kids School Papers

How could you possibly think about throwing away the school papers your kids bring home? That just doesn’t seem right… right? Wrong! If you kept all the papers your kids did during school, your home would be over taken with papers!

school papers

School Papers – What do you do with them all?

Now we have a sorting system for mail and other papers coming into the house. But what about all those school papers that come in everyday?
You also need to work out a similar system to sort those papers.
I have the triplets come in each day (they are in 2nd grade) and take out their folders and put on the couch where I sit so I can go through them. They get their snack and then do any homework they have for the day. While they are getting their snack I am going through their folders.

Sort the Papers
I first of all see if there is any weekly papers to update us for the week from the teacher. They usually send something like that on Monday and Friday. Then I see if there are any homework papers for the kids to do. Once I have pulled those out to read in a few minutes…I go through the rest of the papers. Most of them are worksheets with a few pictures thrown in. If there is anything really special, like a story they made up with pictures then you can set it aside to keep it. I recommend only keeping at the most one paper per month. Yes…per month!! Think about it. That is still 12 papers per child per year. Multiply that times 12 years in school and that is still a lot of papers to store! It is enough to remember what level they were on and to see how they drew.

Blended Family
Our situation may and hopefully is different from yours in that since this is my 2nd marriage and these are my step kids. So I have to save all the papers so that their mom can see them when they go to her house at the end of the week. I have a folder that I keep all the papers in for the week from the kids. At the end of the week on Friday when they are going to go home with their mom I put all their papers in one of the kids book bags so that their mom gets to see everything. We let their mom keep those special papers for them. If there is something that we really like, we make a copy of it and give the original to their mom. Then when they come back to our house again in a week, they will have a boat load of papers that their mom kept for us to see.

Ok to Get Rid of School Papers.

We go through those to see what happened that week and read everything. After we have seen everything and have gone through it with the children (if necessary), then I throw them away. (recycle)

You don’t have to feel guilty about throwing these away!! These are worksheets for the most part. If you keep everything….then nothing will seem special.
I have heard some mothers say that they want to keep everything to give their child when they grow up. Is this really a favor you are doing for them? You hand them over boxes and boxes of papers. Now they have to go through them and either throw them away or store them (more clutter)themselves. They may enjoy looking at a few of them, and if there was just a few from each year it would be fun. But if its all their stuff then it is cruel to do to them. You are basically giving them boxes of guilt so they can decide what to do with it and its off your chest now. I think that you would find that most kids wouldn’t want you to keep everything they did.

What To do with Special Papers and Pictures
You can have a bulletin board that you keep a special paper of the day or of the week on to showcase it if its a little special and they worked hard on it that week. This will make them feel proud. Then when you take it down, if its not that most special paper of the month…throw it away. The kids don’t have to know you are throwing it away, chances are they will never miss them. I have done this for years with my kids and my step kids and I can not think of a single time that the kids have been upset or realized that their papers were gone.

Remember, it is not like you are saying your child isn’t special or you don’t like the work they do by throwing it away. But keeping everything is not feasible if you want to have a home that is comfortable and not cluttered.

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Color Code Your Trash Bags to Declutter Your Home

August 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Cleaning, How To Organize

Color Code Your Trash Bags!

Why in the world would you color code your trash bags?  Look how easy it is to distinguish which bag is trash to be thrown away and which bags are clothing that need to be donated?  If you have gone through a room before, completely reorganizing, then you know you are going to have a lot of trash and hopefully a lot to donate too.   This system takes the guess work out of which bag is which, once you are finished.

color code your trash bags

When you are de-cluttering it is easy to mix up things.  Here is a solution that can help with that.

I suggest getting a box of black trash bags, and a box of white trash bags.  You can also use clear trash bags for recycle.

Trash Bags – Color Code Them

Black is for trash that goes right to the trash can outside.
White is for donate.
Clear for recycle

It is to keep from getting bags mixed up in the clean up and clear out process. As you are loading things into the bags it is easy to think that you will remember what is where….but after you have loaded up several and you happen to take a break and come back to it, its easy to get confused.
You don’t want to accidentally throw away something that was meant to be donated and someone else could use.
I suggest the white for donate and not clear , the reason being -  you don’t get that bag out of the house the same day, it may give you time to reconsider what is in it and you may find yourself pulling things out to keep. Then you are defeating the purpose and you may not get rid of all the clutter you need to.
The clear for recycle because you can then see easily what is paper, what is bottles etc. when you go to take it to the recycle location. (Or hopefully if you are lucky enough…just out to your curb…we aren’t so lucky in our town to have curb side recycle yet. Pain huh?)  Update on that – we now have curb side recycling at our house. Our town has come out of the dark ages!
This simple solution for loading up different colored bags can make things much easier on the “getting out of the house” end of the process.

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Blogher 2012 Impressions

Sharing My Thoughts On The Blogher 12 Conference

I really enjoyed Blogher this year. It was very large, yes… but I always think of Blogher as huge… so I didn’t necessarily feel like it was So much bigger than before.

blogher

I did not get the conference pass this year, I only got the expo/party pass.  Why, you might ask?  This was the forth time I’ve been to Blogher, and the first two years I did get the full conference pass.  I quickly learned that with so many Brand events and networking going on… I was so caught up in those, that I did not have much time for the blogging sessions.  That seems a bit backwards, I know. It should be that the blogging sessions to learn more about blogging should be first on my list and networking with fellow bloggers and Brands, should be last on my priority. Right? No, not in my book.  I have been to dozens of conferences over the last four years, and love every one of them.  I have learned SO much and have oodles more to learn! But I believe that the smaller conferences pose a much more valuable space to learn in.  Smaller rooms, plenty of space to sit, amble opportunity to ask questions, hands on workshops, and no problem hearing the speaker.  That is a much better learning environment for me.

blogher

With that being said, I can evaluate Blogher 12 for their sessions this year, or the actual conference, because I wasn’t truly a part of it.  I had a an objective of networking and meeting our Social Fabric bloggers and meeting new bloggers. If there happened to be a Brand that I really wanted to work with personally, or I thought was a fit for our Collective Bias company, then, so be it. If you have noticed, I do very few reviews now, unless it is something that I REALLY want to review. So trying to chat it up with all the Brands was not something I was terribly worried about.

I did visit the expo… and got to see things like Melissa @ConsumerQueen in the Chuck-e-Cheese ticket booth!

And  Courtney posing with a “Greek statue”

Being able to increase the bonds with those I work with was also vitally important to me.  Since I am a remote employee, we don’t get to see each other in person very often.  I think it is important in any company to have a good working relationship with other employees and often times that can be built through fun/work related activities, such as traveling & rooming together for conferences.

This is Courtney Velasquez (One of the VP’s at Collective Bias), Kim Janocko (Senior Community Manager at CB), Mel Lockcuff (Community Coordinator for CB) and me. We had adjoining rooms and had so much fun meeting members of our Social Fabric Community!

wicked

I was really excited to see friends I’ve met through blogging and meet new friends.  That is really the coolest aspect of blogging. We meet so many people online, and you can get to “know” them …. to a point. But there is nothing like meeting them face to face…. giving them a real hug rather than a virtual one…. and really getting to know them.   I think the relationship is what grows your brand. The relationship, not only in real life… but through twitter, Facebook and through comments on our blogs.  Ted Rubin says it in regards to Return on Relationship™ and business, and even though I run Organize with Sandy as a business… I often don’t feel like a business, I feel like me… and I want to be able to take that same stance on a personal level…. it’s the relationship that is most important.

Here are some of our Social Fabric bloggers that we ran into at one of the parties we went to.

blogher

So, to bring this back to Blogher 12 this year.  I had a wonderful time… meeting some clients at a CB client dinner, meeting several of our Social Fabric Bloggers at our coffee meet up, and a few at some of the Blogher parties… but most of them I saw and met as we were going to different Brand events, walking into the hotel lobbies of The Sheraton or The Hilton, and wondering around NYC.   I didn’t feel stressed to run to every event, and I even bowed out of several of them (very unlike me, if I have RSVP’d.. not proud of that), but having some down time to get some work done, chat with friends and rest my feet (ouch!) also was on my agenda.

blogher

I actually was not looking forward to going to Blogher this year in NYC. I was overwhelmed at Blogher 10 in NYC (I’m not a big city girl by any stretch of the imagination) racing from place to place… trying to be at two events at once, and not being able to figure out how to get from here to there. I couldn’t hail a taxi for the life of me (they make it look so easy on TV!) and without my subway navigator, Kim @CraftyMamaof4 I would never attempt that method of transportation on my own. (yes… total whimp here!)  This is Kim and Mel @MamaBzz as we had been down in the subway waiting for a train for about 20 minutes. It was SO hot down there…. but these two are the subway queens, I couldn’t talk them into a taxi for this trip. lol

kim and mel

I’ve seen many blog post this year on how big Blogher was.. and it has grown too big … and they didn’t know anyone… and they didn’t want to return…. and that’s ok for them.  Personally, I don’t see that as a negative. There were plenty of familiar faces to me, and new bloggers means new relationships. I think we always need to be growing our circle of friends.   But, I kept my Blogher experience smaller, by only choosing the expo pass, by not feeling like I had to be at every single event, and by making the relationships my priority…. rather than connecting with all the Brands, as my priority.

I of course didn’t take pictures of all the Social Fabric members and new blogging friends I met while at Blogher…I think half of them I was using Courtney’s phone to get pics of her with them! lol   I love this fun picture of Courtney @CourtneyRix

Here are a few other pictures I have of sites around New York City

nyc

Bryant Park area

nyc

 

nyc

 

 

nyc

I am not as scared of New York City as I was… and do look forward to returning at some point.  The conference next year is in Chicago and I’m really excited about it.  I do plan to go, and look forward to all the new faces I will meet and all the hugs I’ll get from faces I’ve met before!

 

Collective Bias, my employer; sent me to Blogher this year.

 

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The MegaBus

The Megabus – What an Experience!

Riding the megabus to New York was an experience and thankfully we didn’t have any accidents, like the megabus did in Chicago!

megabus

I undertook the adventure of going with two of my best blogging friends and co-workers to ride the megabus from Pittsburgh, PA to NYC for the Blogher 12 conference.

Why in the World Did we Take the Megabus?

Because the tickets we got were only $10 each way!  Yes.. really!  My round trip bus fare from PA to NYC was $20.50.  lol!   I know I didn’t want to drive  or park in New York City, and airfare was pretty hefty.

I was very concerned about getting sick on the bus, because I suffer from that lovely affection called motion sickness. That pain in the butt thing that keeps me from trying a cruise, doesn’t let me ride in the back seat of a car, and often people try to tell me is only in my head.

Kim has ridden the megabus several times back and forth from NYC… because she LOVES NYC and she is able to sleep the whole way.  Because she was the seasoned megabus pro, I listened to her guidance (not that I didn’t grip about it… right Kim? lol)

We did get to sit in the front, on top.. both ways – so that pretty much solved that problem and I was ok.  You can see Kim @CraftyMamaof4 and Mel @MamaBzz up in the front seats we had.  We made it there at 5:30am so that we were the first in line for our 6:40am bus trip.  Kim and I got on in Pittsburgh and we picked up Mel about 3 hours into our trip in another part of PA.

megabus

I drove to Pittsburgh the day before from my home in Ohio and spent the night at a hotel, since we had such an early bus.

The ride was very bouncy…. especially on the way home. (Different bus… different bounce).  As we were coming into NYC, we hit a bump and the bottom of the bus evidently hit the ground. It was SO loud and scary… everyone on the bus screamed and you just waited for that moment that you knew the bus was going to lose control…. or pull over because we had a flat tire.  Neither of those happened and we continued on our way…. a little more frazzled than we had before.
It took 8 hours from PA to get to NYC.  I was not able to sleep at all. Even though we had a little more room in those front seats, I was not able to get comfortable enough to go to sleep.  It was a LONG ride.

It was the funniest/scariest thing.. once we hit New York City, our bus driver turned into a NYC driver! We were laughing & screeching  so hard!  We were sure that we were going to either hit a car or run down people!  Keep in mind the front of the bus is flat and we were looking straight down from the 2nd story of it. Our bus driver was beeping his horn like crazy… and was bound and determined that everyone should get out of his way!

Once we got to NYC…. you should have seen me (so pathetic) trying to lug my big suitcase and heavy backpack from the bus stop to the subway…. down all the stairs… maneuvering through the turn styles (thank you Kim for helping with that) … onto the packed, standing room subway…. then back up all the stairs (one … at…. a…. time…. lol) and to the hotel.  OMG… I was dripping wet with sweat and bright red.  I think it took me about 45 minutes to cool down once we hit the air conditioned lobby of our hotel.  Now granted… if I was in better shape… it would not have been such a sorry sight!

Mel and I were bound and determined we were going to rent a car and drive home, rather than repeat the performance.  It also didn’t help that we had just heard about a deadly megabus crash that  happened in IL on August 2, while we were at Blogher. From one report I heard, the woman who was killed, when the bus blew out a tire and hit a bridge embunkment had been sitting in the top front seats (where we sat).  But we soon learned, after multiple calls that you can not rent a car from a local company and drop it off at another local company going just one way.  I think we could have done from airport to airport, but that wasn’t workable for us. So we finally gave in to the fact that we were going to have to return on the megabus to get home. As I looked for the article on the August 2nd bus crash in IL, I found this article from the Chicago Tribune that there was another accident and a pedestrian was killed by a megabus in Chicago. omg! That is so horrible… and yet, after experiencing our driver in NYC, I can very easily see that happening!

Plus, one of our good friends Beth, @plussizemommy and her family came in the day after we did on the megabus… from Pittsburgh to NYC. They were supposed to get in at 2:30 pm like we did… only their bus kept over heating. It finally broke down 2 1/2 hours out of Pittsburgh and they had to wait inside the hot bus (no air) and did not get to NYC until 11:30 pm that night!!! We felt so terrible for her!!

One of my requirements was that we were going to take a taxi from the hotel to the bus stop (not station .. remember). I paid for it… and it was NO big deal. $9 including the tip. I wish we would have done that one the way to the hotel!

Here we are…. at 5:30 in the morning, waiting on a “not so nice” street, near the Hudson river.. for the megabus. I took this picture and Kim said… “Put that camera away Sandy… we are NOT in a good area and I don’t want someone mugging us for your camera!” oops!

megabus

We were first in line again, and rewarded with the front top seats.  We were praying we didn’t have a tire blow out! The return bus was a little newer, and somewhat nicer… but much more bouncy.  Considering in 2010  there was another megabus accident (one of several in the last couple years) on it’s way to (or from… not sure) NYC.. where the bus driver went under a bridge that was not tall enough… and 4 people were killed in that bus accident….  we were just a little leery when we went under the bridges… and there were bumps.. and the bus would bounce!

We were able to get a few pictures (most of them were blurry because we were literally bouncing that much!) since we were in the “good seats”.  It was a really cloudy, rainy day when we went home.

megabus

Going through the tunnels was a little scary, we just had to remind ourselves that the buses took this route every day…. and we would fit just fine.

megabus

We had a lot of rain on the way home…. and just like the bus driver on the bottom….. we had wind shield wipers on our window too!

megabus

I was SO excited to see the Pittsburgh skyline …. here is my tweet!

megabus

It is an experience that Kim, Mel and I will share….. laugh at and enjoy (now that it’s over)… and one that I don’t foresee ever having again!

 

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Social Fabric Meet Up at #Blogher12

The Social Fabric Community in Collective Bias Met at Starbucks

We love our Social Fabric community and so many of you we’ve never met in real life!  We feel like we know you because we interact online and in our Social Fabric forum, but there is nothing like a face to face hello and a real live hug!

Social Fabric

From L to R: Back Row: Mariah Moon, Michelle Kay, Courtney Velasquez, Kim Janocko, Mel Lockcuff, Hanan Webster, Lela Davidson, Yolanda Machado  Front Row: Melissa Garcia, Staci Salazar, Carolyn West, Caryn Bailey

We planned our meet up ahead of time in the Social Fabric forum. Anyone who was in NYC was welcome to come and meet up!  Kim Janocko found the largest Starbucks for us to meet.  It was in Time Square, about 10 blocks from the conference hotel. But we wanted to be sure to have enough room for everyone!
Social Fabric

From L to R: Daniel Garcia, Melissa Garcia, Mel Lockcuff, Carolyn West, Kim Janocko

I know there were many more Social Fabric members that weren’t able to make it. There was SO much going on at Blogher and being in a zillion places at once isn’t always possible.  Even though we all think we can do it… reality hits!

social fabric

Courtney, Mariah and Staci

It would have been great to have had a place to sit down and relax while we drank our coffees. But I do think the standing caused us to mingle a little more and meet everyone.  It was fun to see others walk in and match up their avatars to the real live person.  I’m sorry we didn’t get a group picture at the end, when everyone was there.

blogher

Jacqueline Cromwell and Melissa Pezza

We even had a beautiful baby join our meet up! Hanan had her darling little girl with her.

blogger

Hanan Webster & her baby girl

We met from 9am – 10am. The time really sped by (time also spent standing in line to get some yummy coffee) and I’m sure there were several others who would have loved to have had more time together.

social fabricMelissa G., Jacqueline (in mid blink) and Melissa P.

Even though we live in on “on line” social world and our relationships are usually online, there is nothing that compares with meeting the real person. Being able to see personalities, hear voices and see expressions.

blogher

L to R: Carolyn, Hanan, Lela (tucked back there) and Caryn

We had to retreat outside after a little while as we were taking up the standing room area.

social fabric

Lela, Courtney, Melissa and Hanan

I met Margarita at Blogher 2011 for the first time. She joined our community after we met. She is also a professional organizer and She drove here from Canada.

social fabric

Margarita Ibbott, Sandy Jenney

If it wasn’t so hot outside, I think we could have all visited for a longer time. Oh, except for the fact that we all had places to be and other people to meet!

blogher

Melissa G and Leanne Heilman

We saw several of these ladies throughout our several days going to different Blogher parties and Brand events. A little more visiting and pictures and we were then on our way to find our way around New York City and the Blogher conference.

social fabric

L to R: Melissa Garcia, Leanne Heilman, Lela Davidson, Courtney Velasquez, Melissa Pezza and Hanan Webster.

Thank you to all our Social Fabric bloggers that made their way to the Starbucks to meet up with us! We know it was a bit of a walk/ride to get there and we really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedules to come out.  There is nothing like meeting each of you in person!

A portion of my Blogher trip was sponsored by my employer Collective Bias. 

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Get Organized

August 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, How To Organize

Are You Organized?

You might say, “I’m not organized, but everyone keeps saying I need to be”.

not organized
This can be tough. What if your husband or wife, friends and family are telling you that YOU NEED help? You may not think you are ready for that step.

Think those these questions. How would you answer them?

1) Are you happy with how your house looks?
2) Are you proud of your house?
3) Are you embarrassed to have people in your house?
4) Can you find what you need when you need it?
5) Are you ready for a change?
6) Are you ready to stay in the situation you are in?

These are several things that you can ask yourself….and be honest with yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone your answers.

If other people are telling you have a problem…and you don’t feel you are ready…you need to ask yourself…why?
Why do you want to keep your home the way it is? If you aren’t proud of it…if you can’t have company over because you are embarrassed…..then why aren’t you ready to make a change?
Change can be scary. It can be hard…and that is usually the reason that we are resistant to it. We are scared of things that can be hard. We are scared of things that make us face reality. No one likes to do that. Plus it just seems too overwhelming to us to handle.
When you do realize you need help…then to reach out and get that help is the hard thing….once you get going…it will feel wonderful. It will feel like a weight has been lifted and you can breath.
Imagine if your mother in law or friend decides to drop in at on you at the last minute and you have no problem saying ….”Come on in and sit down!!”….without embarrassment! That would be great wouldn’t it?
Think about it!

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Sorting and Organizing

August 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, How To Organize

Sorting – How Do You Know What To Get Rid Of?

This is the biggest stumbling block for people when it comes to sorting through their belongings. How do you know what to keep and what to give away. You can look at almost anything and attach a personal meaning to it. It might be something that was a relatives, that has since passed away. It might be something that you KNOW you will use again… some day. It might be clothing that you WILL fit into again, someday.

sorting

 

There are advantages to having a friend come over to help you, or someone who is not attached to the items, like you are. It might be that you do decide to hire a professional organizer to come in and help you.

The attachment to the item is what is hard to separate out by yourself. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own, by any means.  But you need to consider the amount of space you have and what you want your living space to look like – as compared to what you are trying to keep.  You can’t fit 10 gallons of water into a 5 gallon bucket. (I think Peter Walsh uses an analogy like that)

Here is a list that was compiled by the NAPO (National Assocation of Professional Organizers) Chat Group.
Here is a good list to read down and help you decide if you want to really keep something.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

General

*Was it a purchase mistake? (if so, it does not make it better to keep it)
*Does it take more time and effort to manage than it is worth?
*Does it make others unhappy to see it? Am I putting things before people and relationships?
*Do you need it? Is it redundant (i.e., do I really need 3 measuring spoon sets)?
*Do I love it? Does it make me happy or unhappy to see it?
*If you were moving, would you pay to have it packed and moved?
*Would you buy it again?
*Is it broken, and if so, are you ever going to fix it?
*Are you ever really going to finish this project (book, quilt, etc.)?
*Can you borrow or purchase another one, if needed, without spending a fortune or having trouble finding it?
*When’s the last time you used it (assuming you knew it was there)?
*If you knew that someone else would really benefit from having this (i.e. if you found a great place to donate it), would that make it easier for you to let it go?
*Is this adding value to your home or business?
*Is this item getting in the way of your ability to find what you need, when you need it?
*Will this help me make or save money?
*How much space does it require (the more it takes, the more critical you should be in your decision to keep it)
*If you keep it, will you remember you have it? If you remember you have it, will you be able to find it?
*Convince yourself that you need to keep it.

Paper

*Am I legally required to keep it (i.e. vital & tax records), and if so, for how long? (a topic for another whole newsletter)
*Will I actually use it/refer to it/need it?
*Is the information still current?
*Can it easily be duplicated or created if needed again (i.e. found on the web)?
*What’s the worst that can happen if you toss it?
*Is it a duplicate?

Clothes
*Is the item in good condition?…does it have stains or tears or is it too worn)?
*Is the item still in style (And no…..1980′s shoulder pads are not going to come back into style in the same exact way)?
*Do you love the item, or even like it? Does it make you feel great to wear it?
*When was the last time I used this item….Would I use it again now that I remember that I have it?
*How many do I currently own of this type of item (maybe 20 pairs of black pants are too many)?
*Does it fit? If not, is it within a reasonable number of size ranges of my current size range to keep it?

Memorabilia
*Do you have anything else that reminds you of this (event, person, time)?
*If we took a picture of it, would that make it easier for you to let it go?
*Am I keeping it because someone gave it to me and I’ll feel guilty if I get rid of it?
*Does the sentimental value exceed the practical value (if so, by all means, keep it!)

Using these guidelines can make it much easier to help you decide if you are going to part with something.

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