Hello all! This is announcing that Cheaper Greener Cleaner is now a “multi-state” organization! Those of you who have perused the site remember that I remarried and the love of my life and I were in a long-distance commuter marriage. (Remember the bubble gum liquifying incident on the way to the airport?)
Anyway, after many months, our family is together at long last and we are so glad to bring the Cheaper Greener Cleaner way to anyone that wants to hear about it!
Wherever you choose to go, go there with all your heart.
Like so many families, ours is touched by Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, Aspergers Syndrome. My daughter was diagnosed in 2009 and while this was a challenging piece of information to initially digest, it answered so many questions about her general “quirkiness.” So many of the traits she had now made sense and I had a way to categorize and help her. Autism Spectrum Disorder / Asperger’s Syndrome became my new topic of research.
Being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder / Aspergers Syndrome, her life was filled with overwhelming and painful sensory stimuli, and the answers on some of these overstimulating situations were easier than others (sensory integration disorder).
Before her diagnosis, a less than loving family member learned of her terror at any sound that was mechanical in nature – vacuum, blender, hair dryer, etc. caused her to cry. Her advice was to place her into a small room with all of the offending noises, turn the appliances on, leave her alone, and shut the door. The very thought of doing this to a three year old, even without knowing that she was on the Autism Spectrum Disorder or not offended every fiber of my mothering soul. I didn’t do it, but used these appliances sparingly, even to the point of leaving the house with her and taking her to her Grammie so that I could run the vacuum.
I learned that her sensory stimuli, resulting from her sensory integration disorder, was something she was always trying to avoid. Her reaction to her stimulus at home was not her being naughty, but truly caused her pain; Knowing the reason for her pain, associated with her Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are many things we now do to help her. I I keep a set of earplugs in my purse (her school backpack, my church bag, and in the car) for her when the noise around her is overwhelming and making her life challenging. She doesn’t react to light, but a busy mall, Target Store (Target sets her off – too many overhead signs), airport, and other busy public places are very distracting for her. She also has sensory sensitivities to touch as well, associated with her Asperger’s Syndrome . These are manifested in things like; her clothing must be very soft and she doesn’t like to be touched by someone walking up from behind, she has issues in having her hair brushed, and shower water is uncomfortable to her skin.
As a result of her need for super soft clothing, she needed allergy free detergents and fabric softener. I was using several times the recommended amounts and not getting the result that I needed for her to feel good in her clothes. Nothing was working and she would pull at her clothes and had problems focusing. With the help of my mother, we developed our own recipes to use in our laundry room. I found that by removing chemicals contained in the retail laundry products my daughter did much better with her clothingsoftness issues.
I quickly realized just how much I had been spending to try to resolve her sensory integration disorder challenges and in the process found I also received substantial savings. I don’t know if it will work for you and your famliy, but i I can say that it worked for mine.
April is Autism Awareness Month, my daughter’s birthday, and time for portraits again.
I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to have a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorder with Aspergers Syndrome and the day to day challenges that we have. Events which are normally celebrated and pass with little to no recognition, can bring about major turmoil in our home.
I have a wall of portraits in my home, some professionally done, and most done by me. I am not a professional, by any stroke, but I have always marveled at the difference between the portraits taken professionally and mine. (Indeed, she is more comfortable with those when she feels safe and secure. Once when my daughter was just a year old, I picked her up from the table and removed her from the studio because her pictures were turning out horribly and the woman taking the portraits was losing patience with her. If only I would have known she was on the Autism Spectrum Disorder with Aspergers Syndrome!)
Once, when my daughter was older, we were discussing having portraits taken, she expressed to me that the large lights scared her and she had felt that they were going to explode. (That would explain the worried look on her face for several years’ portraits! With her now on the Autism Spectrum Disorder answered many whys for us.)
A few years back, I wanted to do a portrait with my daughters and me to illustrate their individual personalities. I had a coupon for the Picture People studio, and had heard good things about their work. I called the studio and explained what I was looking for in portraits, and that I had a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorder with Aspergers Syndrome and Sensory Integration Disorder. The manager, Patty M., spoke to me, and we made an appointment.
When we arrived at the studio, Patty made my daughters very comfortable and captured each of my daughters’ personalities. I have never felt so pleased with a portrait experience as I did from Picture People and will be back there many times.
I highly recommend talking to and “vetting” anyone taking portraits of your family, especially of a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Parenting or helping children with Aspergers Syndrome can bring its own challenges, and one area that provides many differences between parenting a child with Aspergers Syndrome and the Neurotypical child is eye contact. The neurotypical paradigm on eye contact is that when we listen to someone, in order to show our interest, we use good visual communication. For an individual with Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, direct eye contact is often fleeting and even non-existent. My daughter has recently been able to find a way to describe how she feels about non verbal communication. She stated that she feels afraid, threatened, and intimidated when she holds eye contact with a person.
Certainly, as a parent, these are the last emotions I want to invoke in my child, or anyone, for that matter! I know that when she is not looking at me directly, that she is aware and very often listening to me. (In fact, with her sensory sensitivities, she is hearing EVERYTHING around her, from the buzz of a light, the spinning of a DVD in the player, others breathing, and my voice.) She is taking everything in, nothing is leaving.
So, how to balance the need of neurotypical individuals and “social convention” (using the words of “Dr. Sheldon Cooper,” from the CBS show, “The Big Bang Theory”) of appropriate eye contact with the needs of the person with Aspergers Syndrome to maintain a safe sensory input level and in their world, safety?
According to our society, direct eye contact is required when conversing with someone, or receiving instructions. Hence the much used phrase we as parents always say, “Look at me when I am talking to you.” For children with Asperger’s Syndrome, demanding direct eye contact could bring about the exact opposite result. Your Asperger’s Syndrome child does not need direct visual communication. Their sensory sensitivities seemed to be always fine tuned to all that is around them.
I found the following information written for parents working with non verbal communication and their child with Aspergers Syndrome. This information is written with the parent in mind, but applies to spending time around all persons with Aspergers Syndrome.
Seeking opportunities to make direct eye contact attractive or appealing, such as holding some favored item up near your face, while requesting eye contact.
Accepting your child’s need to make fleeting visual communication, look away, and then look back.
Accepting your child’s “ballpark” approximation of non verbal communication if he stares at your ears, mouth, or some area of your face other than your eyes while you are talking.
Accepting your child’s need to look away from your eyes in order to formulate a thoughtful, articulate response.
I have had many instances of skin irritations which became much less frequent after I removed retail cleaning products from our home, especially the ones in the laundry.
A few weeks ago, I found that my skin began that annoying tingle and demanded to be scratched. It drives me nuts!! I rotated the laundry soap recipe, and re-washed all my clothes. This did not help at all, to my dismay! I was disheartened and tried another recipe. Again, still itchy. After about a month of persistent itching (which always seemed to worsen after dinner for some reason), I was getting very frustrated. I visited the allergist to see if he could determine another cause for my skin allergy, itchiness. Nothing to be found and I left even more concerned.
When I got home, I found a dryer sheet on the floor between the washer and dryer. I was, to say the least puzzled, since I don’t use these at all in our home, but the evidence suggested that it had been used. I had a neighbor that had asked to use my dryer a while back, could she have brought it? Anything was possible, and I went to her house to ask her. She was surprised by my query, but replied in the affirmative.
I returned home, grabbed my favorite microfiber cloth, and poured a little bit of rubbing alcohol onto the cloth, wiping out every nook and cranny of the dryer. I repeated this a few times, and after the alcohol disappeared, I did the same with white distilled vinegar. Back to washing all my clothes again. Amazingly, this worked. I guess the dryer sheets left a residue in my dryer that I was sensitive to.
I am not advocating that anyone try to replicate this experience at home, but it might be worth wiping out your washer/dryer if you are having issues of the sort. It takes a few minutes to do, and could provide excellent results.
Would you believe rubbing alcohol is now a standard winter staple for my car. In the wintertime, I was constantly plagued by the inside of the windows in my van frosting over. Of course, I would grab the first thing I could reach and swipe the window until it was clean. This often was a hand-knitted scarf or some gloves. This works well, but is also problematic in that it leaves nasty streaks on the windows that become quite annoying, especially when I am driving at night.
I ran across a tip that I was skeptical to try, but thought it would be worthwhile to do so, after all, what would it hurt? Wash your windows as normally, ands when you are done, simply combine 1 part rubbing alcohol to 2 parts water. Spray this onto your windows and wipe clean. You can use a paper towel, micro-fiber cloth, or newspaper to wipe down the windows. Newspaper works very well and it is environmentally friendly. The regular newsprint works better than the colored circulars. At a local McDonald’s I saw the early morning crew washing the windows using a solution containing rubbing alcohol and shining them with the newspaper.
Another simple and great use of rubbing alcohol in cold weather is to spray full strength rubbing alcohol onto the car window to melt the ice on the window. You can just wipe the ice away! This won’t take the sting out of winter weather, but it will make it more tolerable in the meantime. Now, if I could get a robot chauffeur to drive in the slick and nasty roads for me!
THOUGHT: “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.”
Do you know there is actually a commercial product to clean your washing machine? Think about this a moment – it is a “WASHING” machine. What do you need to clean it for – it has all the properties of something clean – water and soap. What do you put in your washing machine – swine? This gets me, every time I think about it.
I was inspired to go online and search for other ridiculous products and I found this list that made me chuckle!
In the event that you do wash swine in your washing machine, please send me an email and let me know why you do so and what you use to clean it all up. If you are like most of us, you probably wash clothes in the washing machine. If you have soap build-up and residue, you are using too much laundry detergent. (Yes, you can use too much!) I cannot imagine what anyone is thinking when they spend money cleaning the inside of a washing machine with another product. If you do find a reason to clean the inside of your washing machine, there is a simple solution. The cure – stop using that much! To remove soap residue, wet a cloth with white vinegar and wipe the tub out.
Washing machine cleaner? What is next to hit the store shelves to take our money and to some degree our common sense – single socks to prevent the frustration when the dryer abducts them into another dimension?
My daughter with Asperger’s Syndrome has an entire ritual that must be followed before she goes to bed and can settle down like many children with sensory issues. Once, she was at a sleep-over with her maternal grandparents and the “sleep sack” with all of her ritualistic supplies did not go along. It was a very rocky time to get her to calm down – especially since I was not available to answer the frantic calls from both child and grandmother to meet her sensory needs! I learned quickly that this special sleep sack needed to be taken whenever she sleeps away from home.
When we were getting ready to leave for her first sleep-away at Girl Scout Camp, we made sure that we had her bag for all the little ritualistic items which she requires. One of these was one of her creations – Asperger’s Syndrome “Sweet Dreams Spray” made from essential oils (meaning any scent out of the ordinary) were bothering her, and could trigger a sensory overload. She would calm down with certain aromas at the end of the day, provided that the scent was not to strong. When using essential oils remember use caution if you are pregnant:
Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy or Plan to Become Pregnant
Cedarwood (all sorts)
Thyme (white variety)
Please check with your health care professional before using essential oils if you have any medical concerns.
While essential oils are generally considered safe, some are considered dangerous for pregnant women. To be safe and simple, stick with eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils for all recipes if you’re pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
We make a bottle of her Asperger’s Syndrome ”Sweet Dreams Spray” and before she goes to bed, I squirt a couple of sprays into the room, giving just the right level of scent allowing her to calm down at the end of the day.
Lavender, Rosemary, and Chamomile Essential Oils are often suggested as a having calming qualities, yet for my daughter with her Asperger’s Syndrome each of these gave her a headache and produced the exact opposite reaction for our needs. We use a mixture that we created when the girls had nasty colds.
My daughter’s personal recipe for her Asperger’s Syndrome ”Sweet Dreams Spray” sensory integration issues: a 10oz. spray bottle, fill it with water, add 3-5 drops of each of the following essential oils: lemon, camphor, eucalyptus, wintergreen, and peppermint. (We go light on the camphor and heavier on lemon and peppermint, using 3 drops of camphor and 5 of lemon and peppermint essential oils.)
You can experiment to see what works for you. Best of luck in finding your “Sweet Dreams Spray!”
I ran across this picture and began to laugh, loving Star Trek, I just got tickled by the idea of Worf in a soothing oatmeal bath. (Can you imagine what skin condition sent him to this point and what itchy skin would be like for a Klingon?) Seriously though, this was not an episode of Star Trek – The Next Generation, but it does beg a grin!
As I have often purchased Colloidal Oatmeal for my itchy skin, I knew the benefits of Colloidal Oatmeal, but did not use it at home as much as I could have, mainly due to the cost. Recently, I have learned to make my own Colloidal Oatmeal at home, replacing the expensive Colloidal Oatmeal that is available at the store. Colloidal Oatmeal can be made simply and easily at home, using a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder. Simply grind the oatmeal very finely and put 2 to 3 cups into warm bath water as many as 3 times per day to treat itchy skin conditions.
I have suffered with various several episodes of itchy and dry skin, some of those are of the variety which I can suppose could be considered “Klingon-esque” itches for my entire life. I have gone through times in which my skin feels itchy, with no apparent reason, no hives, and no marks to speak of. Lately, I have come across a few areas that help this skin allergy or irritation and soothe the constant itching all over and need to scratch.
I was first introduced to the benefits of Colloidal Oatmeal when I was sick at home with Chicken Pox at the age of 12. I turned my nose up at the idea of an oatmeal bath; heck I could not stand eating the stuff, let alone taking a bath in it. After being assured that I was not going to be bathing in a home version of a pan of oatmeal, I gave it a try, and found the soothing qualities of Colloidal oatmeal baths to be of great benefit. For those unfamiliar with Colloidal Oatmeal, in a nutshell it is simply the term used to describe the qualities of a substance that does not disperse in water. When oatmeal is ground very finely, it creates a milky substance in warm water and is very soothing to treat itchy skin conditions.
It is great for Chicken Pox, Poison Ivy, Eczema, Dry Skin, Irritated Skin, and Acne. The properties of the Oatmeal coat the skin and ease the urge to scratch. Thank goodness!
Those of you that are real Klingon lovers, take a peek at this classic clip from TV’s Frasier, wherein Frasier wants to bless his son in Hebrew, but asks the wrong person for help. Combining Star Trek and Frasier, and life can’t be much better than this!
P.S. This blog entry is dedicated to my DD, and fellow Star Trek fan. Thank you NASAGirl!
Opportunities are the result of pluck, not luck. The people who succeed seek out opportunities, and if they can’t find them, create them.
I almost got kicked out of Walmart today, and all for my exuberance for ZOTE soap. (Ok, a slight exaggeration, but I did get some very strange looks!) For kicks I went down an aisle that I stay away from on most shopping trips since I learned how to make laundry soap and other homemade cleaners. Really take a look at it the next time you are at the store getting your Fruit Loops. It’s a jungle! As I walked down the crowded aisle, my eye caught a familiar and coveted white wrapper – ZOTE soap! It is a bit tricky to find, and finding it in a Walmart was a real treat. (And at a Walmart price too – $ .97 per bar of ZOTE Soap!) I began to whoop and high five my daughters, and we quickly put ten bars ZOTE soap into the cart.
ZOTE is found in the laundry aisle of a select number of stores. We have had luck finding ZOTE in Latin American grocery stores as well. Before Walmart carried this soap, we were regulars at the Latin American Grocery not far from where we live. We do not speak Spanish, and the owners did not speak English, but they looked at us with amusement as we would walk in, go directly to soap, get 3-4 bars (more if we were picking some up for friends who had asked us), pay and leave. After our first workshop, we sent several of the women who had come to the same store. Same thing, walk in, grab ZOTE, pay, and leave. We must have given the owners reason to scratch their heads once or twice. They might have thought we were expecting some sort of laundry apocalypse or the likes. They saw demand rise, and accordingly, they raised their price.
In any case, when they went out of business, we were not happy. Each is lightly scented (neither one bothers my allergies, and I am very sensitive), the pink has a slight floral fragrance, while the white is fresh and clean. We’ve heard people talking about an elusive blue bar of ZOTE. We’ve never found it. (If you find one, let us know where!)
I love this so much – it’s unwrapped (so that it dries out and grates easier and finer) then set in the linen closet, ready when we need it, this will last us quite a while. Plus, it gives a nice fragrance to the towels.