When Good Plans Fail

As my daughter’s illness started to come under control this year, I began to dream again: dreams like going back to work full time, of Roo fitting in. Well this week this mom got a couple of slaps upside the head and was faced with the realities that can come.

First is on the behavioral end of things, yes Roo has gotten so much better, but she still has far to go. She gets caught up in a linear thought and cant change it and then that becomes her truth, and she will stick to it no matter what. She can become stubborn beyond stubborn when in a cycle like this and until she has had time to first calm her body and her thoughts down she is stuck. At home when I see these coming I try and nip it is the bud and tell Roo to go and have some cool down time, often after this she then she can talk through any problem. In the real world though and when she is dealing with others who can have temporary authority over her some days she doesn’t fair well.

 Yesterday at her new after school program was one of those days.  Roo was playing dodge ball and was supposed to be out. She says she never felt the ball hit her, her teacher asks her to sit and it spirals downward from there. There was no hitting, no biting ( some of the things she used to d0-) just a level of disrespect and not following the rules).Resulting in Roo being asked to take a break from the program which means I at this time do not have childcare for Roo.

Finding childcare for a child with special needs in Toronto is extremely difficult if not impossible and is VERY costly if you have to do it yourself. It makes it that you have to earn at least $15 an hour minimum and then you would be back to what you got on welfare. You see a babysitter would charge at a minimum $10 for 3 hours a day=$150 dollars.  That is something that I can not afford and with Roo turning 10 on January 2nd she no longer qualifies for child care subsides and to get a space in a daycare here lets just say she will in junior high before her name got to where she would have a spot.

So basically this means that the $100 I spent on bus-fare in the last 3 weeks is for naught, as once again I have to pick her up at 3:30 every day. So my dream of returning to the work force are once again on hold.

With this said and done I really had wanted to be working by my birthday which is now 25 days away but I feel that is an impossibility so I am trying hard to just deal with the hand that is dealt.

It has also made for a change in the Christmas budget. There will be less here. We will make due, and we willing be going to less things then I had planned: There will be more things done at home like game playing, movie watching,  and crafts.

It has also changed my volunteering plans for the month as well as I am first and foremost the mom of a special child.

Menu Monday–

We are having company in this week- got to practice hospitality right! So what are we having this week:

Monday- Slow Cooker Lasgna ( I use just regular Lasgna Noodles for this–and it is yummy!) and a salad

Tuesday-chicken nuggets, french fries and corn

Wednesday- Breakfast for Dinner- Eggs, Toast and Bacon, sliced tomato

Thursday- Turkey Tacos ( a good cheap meal)

Friday- leftovers

Saturday-Chicken/Broccoli Bake( makes enough for two days) and it comes from a Campbell’s Label

Recipe: 

Cubed chicken breasts ( we use pieces)
1 1/3 cup of water
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken
3/4 uncooked rice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups frozen broccoli florets (we use fresh broccoli sometimes, both are great)
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese

Mix water & soup . .add pepper & onion powder
Mix in rice, broccoli, and chicken.

Pour mixture into baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Add cheese after you remove from the oven.

This recipe is great because you can really play around with the ingredients.
Campells has tons of recipes that you can easily modify to fit a healthy diet. We love Campbells here in this house!

Sunday-leftover bake!

 Christmas Tip Number# 14–Okay folks we have less then a month to go, if your decorations arent out, and up this is the week to get going on that! Mine are up and we can feel the Christmas spirit here at home!

Today I am so very thankful for a returned wallet! I lost my wallet on the street yesterday and late last night a kind stranger returned it! Can you say honesty in Toronto is alive and real! Thank you Ali!

Now if you want to you can find more meny planning over at the one and only organizing junkies blog

American Thanksgiving Memories

Today as I watched the Macy’s Parade my mind was taken back to two American thanksgivings that I celebrated in..

First was in 1988 and I was living in LA, well actually Venice CA was my home. I was spending much of my time for a wonderful little church called Bible Tabernacle that houses and feeds many homeless people each and every day in LA. One thanksgiving day they do it big..they really show Christ like love for their neighbours and the homeless. Every year they set out to feed about 5,000 on the beach…For those who don’t know Venice Beach has always had a huge homeless population. That year I got to be part of the solution. I was thankful to be there to see the service of so many that give up their traditions to serve: many that served that day were household names every day of the year, we watch them on tv or in the movies. It was exciting to watch people serving people..it was humanity in action. So often on most days these are the people we walk past, and this day and well actually every day, those that volunteer at BT well are some of the most Christ like people I have ever had the chance to meet..and I am thankful for that chance.

Fast forward to almost 10 years later and it is 1997 , I am now living in Carlsbad NM, I am pregnant with Roo, and I am alone. My Bishop had asked me to house-sit while his family was out of town. I did so …it was a chance to be out of the battered woman’s shelter that was my current residence. I was so very alone that day, everyone was off celebrating with out of town families and well my family was falling apart. A month earlier my now ex had asked me for a divorce. I was in a state of depression that I have never experienced at any other time in my life. That day as I watched the parade on tv I thought of ending all the pain that was inside me that day. I figured out how to do it, and even wrote a letter, and then I started thinking of my dear child that was growing inside me, and how I would be not only ending my life but theirs and I couldn’t do that so that day I had to decide to live if not for me for them…I am thankful for that choice that I made that day and for the fact that I had Roo there with me even when I felt so alone.

Inconvenient Truths

Today there were two news stories that caught my eyes and ears this morning. Both have to deal with inconvenient facts..

First was a shameful story I think for all Canadians. We are living our children in the dust. We were rated 12th out of 21th western countries in how we treat children. Too many of our children live in poverty. One in 4 has a child in just like mine.We live we below the poverty line and live off less then $1300 a month in Canada’s largest city. ” Compared with other industrialized countries, our children are suffering from unacceptable rates of poverty, obesity, mental illness and violence that have persisted or increased since Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991,” Unicef Canada President Nigel Fisher said in a statement. So what do we as Canadians think is important? Right now federally we are running at a surplus. Can not some of these funds go to what is really important: our children? I will give some concrete example of where we fall short:

1 in 4 families will at some point use a food bank

Wait times in Ontario to get a child diagnosed with a learning disability or ADHD run between 18 to 28 months( meanwhile they fall further behind on school work and it is often difficult for these children to get caught up).

Wait times to get OT assessment in the Toronto District School Board average one year.

To get a pscho ed assessment in the Toronto Board can take 2 years or more.

To access mental health programs for children in Toronto you wait over a year even after diagnosis. Roo has been on a wait list for such a program for 10 months now.

 Sports programs are offered for free to all who qualify for Toronto’s Welcome program but when people go to sign up classes are often already full, so there child goes without.

Educational Assistants and Special Needs Assistants are in short supply( in fact the Toronto board layed off lots of these this past year) and these are the people who help our kids get the education they deserve under the law.

As a mom who is cheaper than cheap I am always on the look out for ways I can save money so I can spend it making sure Roo is getting what she needs…that is why I became such a cheap mom. I supplement where I can, enter contests, volunteer etc..I try my best to give her a typical childhood but I know I am lacking in so many ways and if funds were there so much could be done to better increase her chances for success later on. I am fortunate though I know how to find ways of doing things that can help her be the best her, I feel for those who haven’t figured out the how to’s yet and there are so many of those.

Now as for the other story it is about going green so I will right the second half of this post tomorrow.

Christmas Tipp#12-So many charities come looking for money this time of year and there are so many places were we can put our giving dollars–can I recommend you live to help the poor locally in your community: here in To I recommend both the Salvation Army and Scott Mission for the amount of work they do to help the homeless as well as feed poor families..

Gratitude for today: I am thankful that I met with Roo’s teacher and found out behaviorally over all she is having the good beginnings I dreamed of and we now have a plan on how to work on some goals we set for her.

Busy?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by everything that keeps you busy as you try to be that good frugal mom? Well this morning I am a tired mom with a cold. I think this week with the long list of tasks I gave myself I over did it..After all what did I really get done? Here is my list of tasks done:

  • Finished class lists for about 3/4 of my daughter’s school( school is 600+ students)
  • Reviewed Daughters IEP and test scores and work portfolio in attempt to be ready to meet daughters teacher.
  • cleaned out under stairs storage area
  • decluttered and purged Roo’s bedroom
  • applied for 8 jobs and interviewed for 2.
  • Made 3 Christmas gifts
  • read and reviewed book for First Look
  • scrapped 12 pages for Roo’s scrapbook
  • deep cleaned fridge and stove
  • reorganize coupons
  • attended one day conference on parent involvement
  • researched curriculum for grades  3 and 4 so I can supplement Roo at home
  • Babysat for a friend who really was in a pinch
  • Baked 3 dozen cookies
  • shop for one Christmas pres that I have to mail.

This plus all the normal day to day stuff of being a solo flying parent. So this morning I am sipping ginger tea and trying to get a wee bit of energy. I have already vetoed our trip to the Santa Claus Parade though as I don’t think I could handle it with the how I am feeling. So do we as mom’s ever really over do it? and how do you stop yourself from overdoing it?

Christmas Tip#8: When you are getting busy this season remember to get some R and R time in too! We need down time!

Gratitude: Today I am thankful for a lil girl who loves to be a nurse!

Fare thee Well George for Now…

 I know I know I have already broken the Post a Blog a day pact. Im sorry. The last 2 days have been very hectic here as I took a very temp job to try and get some extra cash for Christmas.

Tonight I knew as soon as I heard the news that is now being reported everywhere that my post today would NOT be my usual frugal kind of post.

Today George Osmond passed away. If you don’t know who he was. He was the dad to Donny and Marie and seven other. 

For those of you who don’t know this: I grew up in love with Donny as did many girls my age.  I was excited when Donny lived here in Toronto for a wee bit during his performing time up here and we were in the same ward.

 When I think of his dad and the impact that dad had on his family I couldn’t help but think of two things. First the incredible love that was shown between all family members and it started from the top and flowed down and back up. Secondly they lived there faith. Then my thoughts were drawn to sacred covenants made at alters long ago and what they mean to those who call themselves LDS.  One of the primary beliefs that are held is that we can be together as a family unit after death. With that in mind. I know the Osmonds will miss their patriarch but I can just imagine right now a certain dance in the heavens between a man and his eternal bride who used to dance together to make money. I am sure as they grieve they will also be comforted by their faith.

Today I am thankful for my own family…For having had and having loving parents , and the bestest daugther.

Christmas Tip #5This is more a local request for those that live here in Toronto. Down at the Sony Center on Thursday, Nov 8th they are attempting a world record. What record: an attempt to fill the worlds largest stocking with unwrapped gifts for the Salvation Army. If you can please bring a large unwrapped toy between 12-3 pm to 1 Front St E please do so. If you are one of the first 1500 to do so you will receive as a thank you a ticket to White Christmas for the Nov 22nd performance. As well they will have lots of hot chocolate and cookies on hand and I have hard even a few giveaways….so come lets help some of the kids who need it have a brighter Christmas.

If you aren’t here in Toronto may you make giving somewhere somehow part of your holiday season.

Starting to Feel A Bit Like Christmas

Tis starting to feel a bit like Christmas. Yes all the store are quickly getting to into Christmas gear, and you truly know the season is at hand when The Bay on Yonge St reveals its Christmas window, they are a site and a tradition here in To.

Well here at Castle a La Cheap Mom we too are getting into the spirit so much so that guess what we broke out this weekend. The Christmas decorations.We went through the box, checked it once, checked it twice, and then began can I say this out loud — to decorate! Last year because we were tree less till just a few days before the holiday I really didn’t get to enjoy the season. So this year I am starting early! But then again I really love the season..

We are using an artificial tree, and have all the decorations we will need for the season minus a table cloth( can you figure out where I will be looking for one this week?).

Christmas Tip #4– When getting out your Christmas decorations why not try and save some green and use LED lights. We switched to these last years and for pennies our tree was well lite while not wasting much electricity…So be good on your pocket book and go green.

Today I am thankful for a daughter who loves Christmas as much as I do! Decorating with her after a hard morning of school work. (She finished her Emperor Scorpion project this morning) was so much fun. We laughed and giggled and remembered where and when each ornament came into our home. It truly was a great afternoon of fun.  

Happy Blogging Birthday to Me

It was five years ago tonight that I first sat at a computer screen and typed my thoughts for the world to see. Over the year many sites have hosted the evolution that is me.

I started my blogging journey on Xanga. My site there called “Simply Hollie” was the beginnings for me. It was there that I stayed for a bit. It was there that I first had to write about the fire that would change my life.

Then I moved my blog to MSN and took back an old MSN forum name I have used for many years on line: that being “Celestialmom”. I blogged here for a long time as well. It is here that I first blog about Roo’s diagnosis of being a special needs child.

Then when MSN was going through a period where my site was more down then up, I moved to blogspot again as Simply Hollie…while there I began Cheaper then Cheap as well( but it was only a few month old when I came here) and am now combining all that I am and ever will be.

In the last 5 years I have come to know and visit many bloggers  some stayed on my radar and others faded. You know us bloggers have a life outside our computers right? I have favorite reads that I must go to…girlfriends that I have known only through what they have typed to me over the years. Catholic Mom, Lynne, Beast Mom, SAMM, Jungle Mama, Katy, AM, Holy, Thotman are all old friends with many exchanges between us. AM moved from the blog world and has become one of my closest girlfriend’s…but we started our friendship online. It is her parent’s that took me in for a year after the fire.

I love the interactions that come from being part of the blog community and so I will make that what I am thankful for today this my blogger birthday! For those of you who have read me over the years thanks for letting me ramble-may you of taken away a piece of me. I want to thank you for stopping by, for sitting and reading a bit, for sharing and for caring.

No Christmas tip today I have a blog birthday party to get too! Happy Birthday to me!

November Has Blo In

Well November has come in with a roar! There is much to do for this cheap mom. Today begins National Blog Posting Month and I am participating so expect to see a post every day this month..

And I even have two themes for the month: Frugal Christmas tips and Gratitude. Since I am a thankful mom who is cheaper than cheap you will get to read the best of both. I may even sprinkle in some of Roo’s antidotes( when you are solo parenting a child with special needs you never know where life might take you).

So on to Christmas Tip#3:

If you already haven’t figure out your holiday budget..there is nothing worse then going in debt to show some love…so plan ahead.

Here is my holiday budget:

Christmas Baking: $20

Gifts for Roo:$175 ( $100 of this amount comes from her dad and gram who send cash and I buy gifts from them)

Gift for Mom:$25

Gifts for others: $30

Christmas Meal:$40

Total:$265

Roo and I are busy planning what we are making this year and I am sure than will come up in a tip to come.

When the fall comes it really does get you in a thankful mood as the holidays come along. Today I am thankful that I am a mom. It is the best job in the whole world. I love the fringe benefits of mommyhood the hugs and cuddles.

Well time to go pack up the candy that is still out…

rainy day activities

Rainy Day Activities

rainy day activities

Today it is a wet yucky fall day here in Toronto, so what does a frugal mom do with her child on a day like today?

First off Roo loves her computer time. On the weekends, I let her have an hour. Her favorite websites are Webkinz ( Mom rates this a great site with a cheap cost), Champman’s Kids Club( you can even earn stuff they will send you for free), TVOkids and Link to Learning( a great site for educational learning put out by the province of Ontario).

Then there is craft time: I keep an ample supply of craft items on hand, and then we have our recycling bin of course. Roo often raids it for her latest creations. This week she used old bits and pieces to make a webkinz house for her stuffed ones and furniture too.

Another of our favorite activities when we just have to get out of the house is to go to the library to read together. Roo and I both like this as it gives us some nice time together.

Sometimes we go to the mall and go window shop. I am able to gleam as we go some great ideas for Christmas shopping.

Games are another favorite in this house. I have been able over the last to collect quite a few from second hand stores and garage sales ( just make sure you check that all the pieces are there).

We often do family movie time. We can rent from our local store a new release for $1.99 or we have about 50 dvds that we own. I put on the popcorn popper add some real butter and we are good to go. Who needs a movie theatre!

Baking is another way to chase away the rainy day blues and think they are learning important math skills too.

So many things to do, what are your favorite ways to chase away the rainy day blues on the cheap?