The Man, a Cargo Van, and IKEA

The Man and I are traveling this week.  Just an overnighter to help a friend’s daughter move from her parents’ house to a deluxe apartment in the sky in a big city about six hours away from us.  We’ll be traveling by cargo van, and staying in a moderately priced hotel, with a quick trip to IKEA the following morning, and hopefully returning home with a new couch.

I know, luxurious, right?

It’s no honeymoon, but I know we’ll still have a good time.  We like spending time together, even while working or doing menial tasks, and he actually loves to drive.  I can’t wait to hit IKEA, one of the things I miss most about living up north.  When the closest one is six hours away, you appreciate it so much more.

Ikea_logo.svg

And I can’t wait to have a couch!  We’ve been sitting in chairs every evening, and even though The Man loves his recliner, I’m ready to relax, and stretch out.

We’ll mix a little work with a little fun, and my parents will stay with The Boy – a little changeup to our routine.  Enough to make it interesting, but not too much to throw us off.  This is the life.  :)

My Own Space

As we unpacked the house, our fourth bedroom became the dumping ground for stuff that couldn’t find a home in any other room, primarily because it was going to be our “office”, and lacked carpet.  This past weekend, we finally laid some carpet down, and to do so, we had to take out all the boxes that had collected there over the previous week.  This left our den (our primary hang-out spot) such a mess that it was a priority to get into that office again and start to unpack and organize.  It was a daunting task, and frankly, I was dreading it.

But it needed to be done, and last night, I started sorting music, and other stuff into piles.  And since I don’t yet have a job, I continued chipping away this morning.  Almost immediately, I realized I needed something to house my piles.  I do have a few desk drawers, but they were no match for my piles of tutoring books, teaching materials, and music.  My mom and I popped over to Lowe’s and picked up a Closetmaid 9-cube storage piece, and when I returned home, put it together and put it up, and continued busting it out.

I’m almost done, and truthfully, I am now pretty excited to have my own little space.  I did have a desk at the old house, but I never used it because it was in the dark, stinky basement.  This one is actually a nice place to hang out, and I like it.

office space

A Different IKEA Effect on Singlemomdom

 

I can remember living in the same house the three of us lived in, only after the divorce, and the toilet seat broke.  Having a broken toilet seat is not just something you can live with, so I needed to solve the problem for myself, especially with an octogenarian landlord.  I went and purchased a new seat, and installed it myself, and for the first time, I realized that I really could do this being single thing.

 

After dividing up our assets, I needed some new furniture.  At the very least, I needed new things to look at if I had to stay in the same house.  My parents had come up to stay for a month or so, to help me purchase a car and get things settled before the school year started.  Enter IKEA.  I think I spent $800 in one day.  I had never, ever spent that much money in one place at one time, ever in my life.  But as some of you may know, $800 goes a long way at IKEA.

 

And as you may also know, IKEA purchases are almost always un-assembled, meaning you have to put them together.  It was a project, but with my parents’ help, we got it done, and it really started to feel like a different place, with my personal touches (including a duvet cover with flowers on it, just because I could).

 

And since that time, I have made more purchases, always putting it all together myself.  And every time it reminds me of how strong I have become, how capable, and how independent one can be, even when they don’t know it.  IKEA was good therapy for this single mom, and I suspect for many others out there.  If you are struggling with the emotions of a divorce, get yourself to an IKEA store, bring home a project, build it yourself, and give yourself a little reminder that yes, indeed, you can do this.

 

English: Logo of Ikea.

For the record, this post was inspired by this story on NPR, and also for the record, not all IKEA furniture is pressboard junk.

 

Snow Day – The Boy = Toy Purge!

Today was a snow day for me, and not for The Boy. (Picture me grinning and laughing maniacally, and rubbing my hands together with glee.)  Time to tackle The Boy’s room.

The Boy is a collector, and as I’ve said before, like lots of kids with autism, just won’t give anything up.  Not for the poor kids with no toys, not for money, not for anything!  “Mine, mine, all mine!” he must be chanting in his brain.  But like the old lesson with the petri dish from school, if everything continues to grow, you run out of space.

Enter Christmas and a December birthday.  And two sets of parents (and grandparents).  Toy explosion.  And then he dumped those damned fusion beads everywhere.. TWICE!!  I was ready to tear my hair out, and his worst fear (and my biggest fantasy) was that I would come in and vacuum them all up.  (Do not, whatever you do, allow those beastly little things in your house.  They will find their way to every nook and cranny and will defy you when you attempt to pick them up.  They also hurt when you step on them in bare feet.  They are the bane of my existence.)

I got the call this morning, and The Boy did not, so I packed him off to school, and came back to hop into bed and dream about tackling his room.  That lasted less than an hour – I was so excited to get crackin’!

My strategy is to hide out-of-favor toys for a period in the basement.  This ensures that the one thing I think he will never ever remember that has now gone underground can be found again when he says, “Hey!  Where did that green squishy worm thing go?”  If nothing gets asked for after a certain period, it all gets donated or freecycled.  There is a closet-full now.  Some are destined for the center program for severe special needs in our district.  Others will be put in a box randomly for “porch pick-up” by families who are willing to take a “grab bag”.  Some of these things are brand new, still in the wrappers, too, but I don’t care.

Finally, the boy is getting old enough where he likes videos and clothes and money as gifts, and not the toys.  It’s just the will to hang on that prevents us from getting to where we need to be.  Most of the time, I am honest and upfront with The Boy because I want to model behavior I’d like to see in him.  But when you are dealing with a hoarder/toy addict, sometimes you have to take drastic measures.

I left some for him to sort through and put away later tonight.

But you better believe I hoisted that vacuum in there with a certain amount of satisfaction, and sucked a bunch of those babies up – looked like the old fisher price corn popper.  It’s almost as fun as putting piles of paper through a shredder.

fp corn popper

Happy Day

Christmas morning, The Man and I got up leisurely and decided to open our presents to each other before my parents came over for the meal, stockings, and all of the other gifts.

I gave him his gift, cleverly disguised (he told me later he thought I had bought him a large tool set, but they were actually three framed engineering prints in poster frames, which were also a great cover for the real gift — a gift card to the tool store).

Then it was my turn.  I had told The Man that I would like a watch for Christmas, and lo and behold, there was a watch-shaped box under the tree with my name on it. I unwrapped it to find “Parker” on the top of the box.  “Parker pens?” I asked, not expecting a response.  Sure enough, I opened the box and found a nice pen and pencil set, not what I expected but nice enough.  I pulled out the mechanical pencil to see how to activate the mechanism, which The Man promptly grabbed from me, leaving me to examine the pen.  I turned it over and noticed his name engraved on it… What the —??

I had not noticed The Man getting off the couch and doing some other stuff in my peripheral vision.  At the very moment I was thinking this could quite possibly be a very rough day, he suggested I look again under the tree, because he thought he saw another gift for me under there…

And there was a ring box.

After uttering his name, and looking at him to see if he was for real, I reached down, grabbed the box, opened it, and realized what he was giving me.  He asked me if I would marry him, and I said, “You know I will!”

my RING!

Sneaky, sneaky man.  He did an amazing job remembering exactly what I liked.  And now we are engaged!  He says he had no idea those pens had his name engraved on them, but wrapped them knowing I would think it was a watch.  He knows me so well.

I am a lucky, lucky (and happy!) woman.

 

Teacher, Parapro, SLP, OT, Daycare, and Ex’s GF gifts

It’s that time of year to give gifts to the many, many people who help your child through his or her day, as well as to the other side of the family (you know, the one you don’t want to spend too much money on, because really it’s the ex’s job to buy for them, but it’ll never happen, and you don’t want your kid to feel bad for not bringing presents?…).

But buying gifts for all of those people would be outrageous.  So what is a budget-minded, single mom of a special needs kid to do?  Get crafty…

  1. As mentioned in a previous post, you can make your own sugar body scrub from fairly common ingredients like sugar, honey, tea, and vanilla.
  2. You can get yourself a metal stamping set (like this one from Harbor Freight), some washers (but probably better to get actual jewelry making metal from the craft store: zinc-coated washers are too hard), and some carabiners from your local big box store (they run about a dollar apiece) to make personalized key chains.
  3. Last year, when I asked everyone I knew for ideas, Dr. Leah from Singlemommyhood suggested paperwhite bulbs in a pretty bowl as a great gift for teachers.
  4. You could always do a donation to a great cause like Heifer International for teachers, as well.
  5. For daycare helpers, we have made fudge, cookies, chocolate-dipped large pretzel sticks (with sprinkles), and all sorts of goodies in previous years.  Just make sure to note any allergies!

I can’t tell you what we’re doing this year (because some of these wonderful people who help The Boy sooooo much read my blog!), but maybe you can share with us some of your ideas in the comments!

body scrub