Ryan did not have a good night’s sleep. On the advice of our doctor, last night we started Ryan on Clonidine (0.1mg), but withheld Melatonin (10mg). He had his medicine shortly before 8pm, and then went to bed at 8:30pm. He didn’t fall asleep until sometime after 9:30pm, and was up again at midnight – AND HAS BEEN UP EVER SINCE. Against my better judgment I went ahead and sent him to school, but only because he insisted he wanted to go to school and would be fine. I sent an email to his teacher and the principal letting them know about this, and I asked them to please call me if Ryan acts out or falls asleep or even if he just looks miserable. I really hope he’ll sleep better tonight. Tonight’s sleep medication type/dosage to be determined. I sent a message to the doctor asking if we should continue the Clonidine tonight, or increase it, or give the lowest dose (0.1mg) with Melatonin, or increase it and give Melatonin, etc. Basically: WHAT SHOULD I SEDATE MY CHILD WITH?
As for me, I’m very tired, and my back feels both locked up and twisted up. I took some medicine earlier and it’s starting to kick in, which means that my pain is lessening but my desire to take a nap is greatly increasing. Blah.
Autism and sleeping problems seem to go hand in hand, and Ryan is no exception. Not long after I suspected he was autistic (around his first birthday; he was evaluated at 18 months, services started shortly thereafter; and the official diagnosis came a few weeks before his second birthday) came the sleeping issues. I cried tears of joy when he began sleeping through the night around four and a half months of age; and I cried tears of frustration and exhaustion when along with Ryan’s stimming behaviors and inability to babble (let alone form words) came the poor sleep – the late nights, middle-of-the-night wake-ups courtesy of him head-banging against his walls (and later eating drywall, which led to a medicine cabinet fully stocked with every possible OTC and RX stool softener and laxative, and a PICA diagnosis).
When our attempts at behavioral and environmental modifications in order to improve Ryan’s sleeping (ability to fall asleep and stay asleep) continued to fail (regular sleep schedule, regular daytime/evening schedule, quiet activities before bed, low lighting, no blue lights, no bedtime distractions, ceiling fan for white noise, etc.), we gave in and went with our family doctor’s recommendation to give Ryan Melatonin. This was in the winter of 2009, and we started with a 0.5mg dose.
Fast forward to now, six and a half years and 9.5 milligrams later. Ryan has been taking the maximum recommended pediatric dosage of 10mg for the last couple of months, and it’s clear that it’s just not working. For most of the summer (the first few weeks after my surgery excepted) and now this month, on most nights Ryan goes to bed between 8:30pm and 8:45pm, struggles to fall asleep, sleeps restlessly (lots of fidgeting/movement), wakes up anytime between 1:00am and 4:00am (or several times during those hours), gets into bed with us, sleeps restlessly for another hour or two, and is then up for the day no later than 6:00am.
Needless to say, we’re all miserable. The chaos and stress of this past spring and summer have worsened Ryan’s overall behaviors and general state of mind – he is very anxious and irritable. And the poor sleep is adding to it. And just as importantly, Ryan’s poor sleep is affecting us (and by us I mean mostly me, as I’m a lighter sleeper than Dan is and Ryan almost always comes to me when he wakes up – just as he did when he was a baby/young toddler, and I’d do my best to cuddle and nurse him back to sleep, while trying not to fall asleep myself and end up dropping him or suffocating him or simply crashing in a corner while he tottered off and got into all sorts of trouble unattended).
So all four of us went to the doctor’s office this morning. Ryan had an appointment, I was the one bringing him in, and Dan and Alyssa tagged along so that all four of us could get our flu shots. Our family doctor knew the reason for the visit with Ryan: while I was talking to him last week about everything that led up to the emergency/unexpected surgery (*cough*him*cough*) and the fallout afterwards (family/finances/my own sanity), I brought up Ryan’s sleeping issues and he suggested I bring him in so he could evaluate him and prescribe something while we wait for an appointment with a local renowned but heavily wait-listed autism treatment center.
Until we can get in to the pediatric autism treatment center, Ryan will be trying Clonidine for sleep. We’re starting him on the lowest recommend dose for his age, weight, and problem (sleeping): 0.1mg. The plan is to increase the dose by 0.05mg weekly, but not to exceed a dosage of 0.4mg. Clonidine is typically used to lower blood pressure, and it’s that exact mechanism that enables it to work as a sleep aid – lowered blood pressure makes you sleepy. So, fingers are crossed that it works without lowering his blood pressure overly much (I’m going to get my hands on a pediatric blood pressure machine by the end of the week, and he has weekly appointments to keep tabs on his overall “reaction” to the medication). I’m just hoping that he doesn’t run low like I do (a typical reading for me is 100/65 – which kind of sucks if I’m in pain from something like, oh I don’t know, a STRANGULATED HERNIA or a PERFORATED ULCER, because what’s an elevated BP for me is barely above normal for many other people).
So, our fingers are crossed that the Clonidine is sufficient in helping Ryan get better quality of sleep (longer duration as well as restful), because I know all too well from my brothers and a neighbor’s special-needs children that after this, the next step is the harder-hitting stuff with gnarly side effects and more serious adverse reaction risks.
I’m especially hoping it’s effective tonight, because I’m tired and feeling kind of icky (maybe from this morning’s flu shot?) and I’d love just one night of uninterrupted sleep.
Look At How Tired I Am selfie
I have spent the better part of this year debating whether or not to put together this type of post. On one hand, there’s the “outing” of myself and my family as a family that is struggling. But on the other hand, not publishing this post means possibly not extending a digital helping hand to someone who could really benefit from it.
So, consider this post as me holding out a digital helping hand. While I can’t help directly like family, friends, and neighbors can, posting this list will hopefully help someone find one or even multiple ways to reduce their expenses, which means more money for groceries, gas, paying off loans, and so on and so forth.
- Shop at grocery stores and even retail stores (such as Target) that allow you to combine manufacturer and store coupons together. Then, look for sales or other markdowns. Here’s a true example: two save 25¢ on one bag of frozen vegetables manufacturer coupons + one save $1.00 on two bags of frozen vegetables Target coupon = I saved $1.50 on two bags of frozen vegetables. Bonus: sometimes you’ll find clearance items, and yes you can use coupons on them!
- Always check sale ads for multiple grocery stores, and make a list based on which store has the best price on items. My mom and I often do this together, so while we may hit up three or four grocery stores in one outing, we do so together so as to cut down on vehicle expenses.
- Shop at discount grocery stores. Ripped boxes and dented cans mean nothing if the food itself is still securely packaged. And honestly, expiration dates are often a suggestion – you won’t die of Listeria if you eat a can of tuna that “expired” two months prior. But seriously, discount grocery outlets are a godsend. Dan and I filled two shopping carts to the brim with what I call pantry items (juice, cereal, seasonings and condiments, baking essentials (including 72 pounds of sugar), sides, and snacks for $200. We then filled a third shopping cart with cold items (milk, heavy whipping cream, 1/2 & 1/2, cheeses, sour cream, eggs, produce, and a lot of frozen vegetables, fries, breakfast pastries, and a few fun items like pizza and soft pretzels for, wait for it… $220. Then later that day we shopped at a regular grocery store, and $106 bought us four half-filled shopping bags of groceries.
- Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. It’s been proven that if we’re hungry, our brains will influence us to buy everything on our list and then some. Not only will you have most likely gone over your spending budget, but you’ll have more crap to haul home and Tetris away.
- If you find yourself in dire straits and it’s a choice between food and the electric bill, or food and medication, then you pay that bill or pick up the medicine, and then contact your local food bank. Trust me on this: every community has one. Some have multiple. Your neighborhood’s community office, if it has one, is where to start. Do you have a local Salvaton Army? They almost always give food, though you may need to make an appointment, and bring in documentation for household members and income sources. You can also check with churches – many do their own weekly or monthly food banks, or give food to individuals in need on a regular basis. All you have to do is ask.
- Electric: Besides doing the obvious things like turning off unused lights and appliances, consider other energy-saving tricks: run large appliances like your dishwasher and washer at night, wash dishes and clothing with cold water rather than hot, and let cleaned dishes air dry in the dishwasher (just leave the door open). Also, contact your electric company and ask for a budget billing plan. For Pennsylvania PPL residents, there is also the onTrack Payment Plan, which in my experience offers more reasonable monthly bill rates. There is also LIHEAP, a program that offers lower-income residents a one-time grant payment of up to $500 to be applied to your choice of energy bill: electric or gas. Finally, look into weatherization programs – you can get free or reduced window treatments, insulation, and light bulbs to help increase energy efficiency and reduce your electric bill.
- Gas: Ask your gas provider about monthly budget billing. This setup gives you one flat payment to pay every month; the amount is based on your 12-month average usage.
- Phone: Consider dropping a home phone line, if you still have one, and simply using your cell phone. I highly recommend Consumer Cellular for their reasonable monthly plans — including family plans. I currently pay $35/month for 200 minutes, 1000 texts, and 1GB of data. Since we’re home most of the time and prefer text and email over phone calls, we have rarely gone over our limits. If you have a Sprint or Verizon phone, consider switching to FreedomPop. Their BYOD service makes setup super-quick – and their FREE plan offers 200 minutes, 200 texts, and 500mb of data. Believe me, if I had a compatible phone (my S3 is from AT&T) I would have switched quite a while ago.
- Internet: Do you really need that high rate of speed, or all of those add-ons? Call your provider and see if you can cut off the excess. Or, if you have a child who receives reduced or free lunches at school, sign up for Comcast Internet Essentials. Under this program, you will pay just $10/month for 10mbps. The payment amount never changes, and as of last year Comcast was even sending new subscribers two $30 gift cards, so in essence your first six months as a Comcast Internet Essentials subscriber is FREE.
- TV: Ditch the Xfinity/DirectTV subscription. Seriously. Cut them loose and enjoy not paying more than $10 per month for Hulu or Netflix. Or hell, get both, and still pay under $20 per month. And if you are an Amazon Prime member, your annual $99 fee also includes free streaming of all sorts of popular current and previous TV shows and movies.
- Pets: Stalk Petco and PetSmart for marked-down dry and canned foods. I often find the best deals at Petco. Just last month I found three 10-pound bags of Avoderm marked down to just $8 apiece. Those bags are normally $25 apiece, so the savings was significant. You can also make your own food for cats and dogs – there are plenty of recipes online that’ll show you how to make dry food, chewy biscuits and strips, as well as canned food that really is just like what we humans eat. Oh, and for those of you with a bazillion cats like me, switch to Petco’s own brand of cat litter. It’s just $9.49 – $10.49 for a 30-pound tub, and the litter quality is just a step below my favorite litter, Fresh Step. And of course, scoop boxes as often as possible to keep them clean and to keep the litter in better shape.
- Cleaning products: Buy generic whenever possible. Also, did you know that you can make your own cleaning products from existing items in your house? Here’s an example: 1 tbsp. baking soda + 2 ounces fabric softener + 10 ounces water = homemade fabric refreshing spray. I also make my own disinfecting sprays, makeup remover cloths (large cotton balls), and bleach sprays (bleach + water + spray bottle). There are loads of recipes available online. My favorite source for these is Pinterest.
- Goodwill / Craigslist / Freecycle: Before buying a brand-new item, first check Goodwill, other thrift shops, then Craiglist and Freecycle. Freecycle is my favorite because items are free, but understandably it’s just a shot in the dark in terms of an item you’re wanting being available when you want it.
- Samples: Don’t hesitate to look for samples and free product coupons. Write to the company of your choice (food, soaps, pet food and other products, cosmetics, etc.) and ask for free samples and/or coupons – you’d be surprised at how many say yes, and how many who are truly generous with their coupons (one company sent me TEN free product coupons for pizzas!). In specialty stores such as Sephora or Petco, ask for product samples: at Sephora you can load up on makeup remover and lip gloss; at Petco you can snag samples of cat food and litter.
Even if you’re planning your wedding with a limited budget, you can still have a beautiful celebration. Creativity is as valuable as financial resources. All you have to do is decide the theme and ambiance you want to create to celebrate your big day, and then let your imagination run wild. Here are some ideas to spark your wedding-day ceremony and reception plans.
Bouquets, boutonnieres, and garlands are definitely festive staples in wedding decorations, but you don’t have to go completely traditional to have the floral effect. The blossoms themselves are often the priciest parts of arrangements, so save money when you supplement with:
- Greenery: Vines and greenery are less expensive than the blooms, so go heavy on the stems, vines, and leaves, and add the actual flowers for effect.
- Balloons: You can create an airy, light atmosphere by combining flowers with balloons. You can tie them together or pair them side-by-side for fun and budget-friendly décor.
- Dried grapevine wreaths: Weaving flowers through dried wreaths can be stunning, especially when the wreaths are hung strategically around to serve as backdrops.
Glass mason jars are readily available, inexpensive, and come in a variety of cool shapes. What may seem like ordinary jars can become:
- Glittering candle holders
- Hanging vases strung from ribbon
- Centerpieces filled with single flowers
In addition to jars, you can also use unique-shaped bottles to create simple, yet sparkly decorations.
Don’t underestimate the power of paper. You can buy or make garlands, streamers, and backdrops with colorful paper, by:
- Folding it into flocks of origami cranes that you hang from the ceiling with strings
- Cutting it into geometric shapes and stringing them as garlands
- Making strands of flags
Ribbons from your local craft store come in an abundance of patterns and textures. You can hang streamers of ribbon to align with your wedding colors to create moveable curtains of color. Consider hanging:
- Knotted rope for a rustic look
- Silky ribbon for a contemporary ambiance
- Lace strands for a Victorian feel
Who doesn’t want to see pictures of the bride and groom at the wedding and reception? Gather photos from earlier time periods, such as on your first dates or as babies and young children. Arrange the pictures:
- On clotheslines with clothespins
- On storyboards or framed posters
- In video clips set to music
Your day of holy matrimony doesn’t have to drain your bank account. All you need is some creative energy and a bit of time. Decide whether you want a formal or casual event, then dress your decorations up or down to fit your festivities.
Not only her wedding attire and gorgeous accessories can emphasize the bride’s beauty. A bride without her maids is like a bright flower without lovely butterflies flying next to it. So, a bride should take care of the images of those “butterflies” long before the wedding. On the one hand, the maids’ attires should by no means overshadow the beauty of the bride, and on the other hand, it’s extremely important that the colors and fashions of their dresses could not derogate the body advantages of their owners.
This article will offer you to consider some basic color solutions for the bridesmaids.
1. Similar monochromatic dresses for all bridesmaids (it’s desirable for the girls to be of an alike body type, so the dresses would look equally beautiful).
2. Dresses made of different tissues and having various fashions but being in a common color palette. For example, girls in pale peach bridesmaid dresses will appear very tender and will make your wedding even more romantic.
3. Dresses sewn of one tissue type. At the same time, the fashions and styles of the dresses can be absolutely different: their choice will depend on the preferences and body peculiarities of every girl. Someone of them can choose one of the long peach bridesmaid dresses, another one will prefer a short cocktail gown of a totally different color.
4. Dress styles can be similar but the colors can differ. But one should remember that the hardest thing is to choose the dress fashion for the corpulent girls. You should focus mostly on those girls, because ones with a slender body will look nice in any dress fashion. Trapezoid dress model is universal option for everyone. You can also choose a costume variant: a top till the hip and a classical skirt.
5. Finally, the best solution here may be the alike accessories: belts, straps, jewelries, hats. For example, every maid can hold a little bunch of flowers similar to ones in the bride’s bouquet.
Bridesmaids’ dresses style and color should comply with the bride’s finery. If a bride wears a long dress of a sophisticated fashion, the maids should have the same ones. In case the bride’s dress is of a knee length, a long dress for the maid would be highly inappropriate.
The choice of the wedding dress and bridesmaids’ gowns requires a very careful consideration. Those dresses are to be worn at one of the most important days in every girl’s life. Thus, they should not darken the feast by some unpleasant detail. A girl should feel very confident and solemnly wearing such dress.