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Dolla, Dolla Bills Y’all

The word “shopaholic” originated in the 1980’s. That fitting, since I was born in that decade. I admit I often buy stuff I don’t need. My weight fluctuates every year, so I end up buying clothes to accommodate my changing shape. I typically do a closet purge every spring in preparation for our neighborhood yard sale to squabble with people who think $3 for an Ann Taylor blazer is too expensive. I more recently started using two websites to earn money for my old clothes, and I’ve had overall positive experiences with both. If you’re looking to reclaim some closet real estate and earn extra cash, read on.

First up is Poshmark. I saw the app advertised on Facebook. You can download the free app on your iPhone or Android, or create an account on their website. Poshmark created a community where people from all over the country buy and sell clothing and accessories. Poshmark keeps a percentage of your “closet” sales, but they cover shipping costs, offer buyer protection, and cover shipping on returns. Selling on Poshmark takes some time to navigate, including taking pictures of your items, adequately describing them, researching retail cost, and then assigning your sale price. Buyers can make offers instead of buying items for your list price; as a seller, you can counteroffer or ignore any low-ball offers. It took me a couple hours, but I uploaded my maternity clothes, a few purses, and a couple other items I had not worn in a while…and earned $260 so far. You can use that money to purchase items from other Poshmark sellers or transfer it straight to your bank account. Most of the money went to my checking account, but I took advantage of awesome deals on a pair of LuLaRoe leggings and an Anthropologie top.

If you want to try Poshmark, download the smartphone app and sign up with the code JKQLF. You’ll get $10 to spend!

Next up is ThredUp, a online consignment boutique for women, maternity, and kids clothing. You can order a free Clean Out Kit from their website. A few days later, a huge green polka dot bag arrives, and you fill it with your gently used but defect-free clothing. ThredUp covers the shipping cost of this beast package and will closely inspect your clothing upon its arrival. They keep approximately 40% of items they receive. What they do not keep, you can select they return those items (you pay return shipping) or have those clothes donated or recycled. I did not count how many items I sent in my first bag, but ThredUp kept 30 items and paid me $70. Like Poshmark, you can use that money to shop from ThredUp, or have the money transferred to a PayPal account.

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Give ThredUp a try by creating an account here, and get $10 to spend. There are detailed videos and information about selling to their organization there, too.

Guess who is not yard-selling this year? This gal.

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My Fantastic Mr. Fox

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He is so stinking cute.

Thing 1’s affection for Roald Dahl’s Mr. Fox knows no limits, and I’m not even talking about the movie. Fantastic Mr. Fox was the first big-boy chapter book we read together, and it holds a special place in our hearts. When I saw Mini Boden was also loving on Mr. Fox this fall, I knew my kiddo needed this shirt. I love all things Boden. Their top quality and cheeky prints make me happy. Their shirts and pants are also autism-friendly without itchy tags or seams. When the clothing lasts through three rough-and-tumble boys, it’s even better.

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All parents know (or SHOULD know) how important it is to read to their kids. Having a teacher and chemist for parents…well, our boys have a lot of books. The best part about reading children’s books is revisiting characters from your childhood and watching your kids become part of those favorite stories. There are a few books that I’ve bought more than once because they are so well read, loved, and even eaten in our house. What is it about chewing on board books that is so appealing? It’s gross. But I digress…

My kids excel at phonics and can tell you all the letters and their sounds, but literacy–recognizing sight words and putting letter sounds together–is a challenge. I blame that on autism because it’s related to clear processing and comprehension delays for both Things 1 and 2. But our boys enjoy being read to, so we keep reading. Thing 2 has memorized a lot of books and can “read” them to us. His favorites are Roly Poly Pangolin and Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney, anything by Bill Martin, Jr., the Pete the Cat series by Eric Litwin, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Thing 2 tells me frequently that he speaks for trees. Some days he tells me he speaks for trees repeatedly at 3:00 a.m. Thing 1 is a fan of the Step into Reading leveled readers, and he loves We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

When Thing 1 started first grade, though, I tried to move him beyond the rhyme-time books, and in walked Roald Dahl and Fantastic Mr. Fox. We read three of the short chapters every night, and he was captivated. He loved the story, the illustrations, and the cleverness. He smiled as Mr. Fox outsmarted Boggis, Bunce, and Bean again and again. When we finished the book, Thing 1 quietly sat in his bed and stared at the cover for a while. Dahl was a hit, so I hit Barnes and Noble for more books the next week.

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We gave The Twits a try, but Mr. Dahl’s opinion on beards halted us: “When a man grows hair all over his face it is impossible to tell what he really looks like. Perhaps that’s why he does it. He’d rather you didn’t know.”  My baby-daddy is one of those bearded men. As clean as he is, let’s just say it got awkward. Thing 1 kept taking the book away and handing me Mr. Fox instead. We then started James and the Giant Peach but did not make it past the first 20 pages. Reading about those nasty aunts tormenting James, Thing 1 grabbed the book and shouted, “NO!” I promised it would get better, but he didn’t believe me. He would not tolerate the sadness of James’s tears, threw the book across the room, and pulled Mr. Fox out of his book basket.

Thing 1 and I are about to start our third reading of Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Mini Boden is the bees knees for making a Mr. Fox shirt for my clever-as-a-fox son. Like the protagonist, Thing 1 shows us plenty of perseverance, love for family, and ingenuity every day. Maybe that’s why he finds this book so endearing. Guess what he’s wearing for school picture day this year.

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Birchbox Favorites

I received some winners in my Birchbox samples over the past few months.  Here is a round up of my favorites.

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Supergoop! Everyday SPF 50 sunscreen: Broad spectrum sunscreen that felt so light, non-greasy, absorbed quickly…I am in love.

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer: Holy hydration!  My skin felt smooth, my complexion was even, and this cream makes a great make-up primer.  It’s also packed with organic ingredients.

jane iredale Just Kissed Lip & Cheek Stain: This balm adjusts to your body’s chemistry to create a customized shade and makes lips super-soft with beeswax, olive oil, and avocado oil.

amika Bombshell Blowout Spray: Nice scent, light, and I stayed frizz-free all day.  My hair had shine and hold without the weight or crunch of hairspray or mousse.

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: BEST dry shampoo I ever used.  amika’s brand uses rice starch so you can embrace your Day Four hair.

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: It’s a one-step microdermabrasion.  My skin felt fresh, clean, and looked bright.

Give Birchbox a try for $10/month.  That includes shipping, five personalized beauty samples, and some really pretty boxes.

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Autism Gift Guide

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Buying for certain people at Christmas can be difficult.  Choosing gifts for the nonverbal child who doesn’t ask for anything…nearly impossible.  Since we want to make the holidays special for our children, here are some ideas that have been on my mind, and some toys my kids love.

  • Gifts that develop gross motor skills and compliment the hard work our kids do in occupational and physical therapies are great.  My oldest struggles with pedaling a traditional bicycle, so we bought him a Go Glider last year.  Radio Flyer’s Ziggle intrigues me…and I saw this Spin ‘N Saucer in Target and thought it would be a stimming fantasy come true.
  • I love the IKEA MULA series.  Inexpensive and durable, trust me.
  • I always think about getting my kids sensory items, like a weighted blanket or sensory swing.  If you’re crafty and can sew, I’m sure there are DIY patterns available.  I’m not crafty, so I use my credit card.  I like this Taco Swing, and I found these weighted blankets offered in different sizes that can also be personalized. (I don’t own, nor have we tried, either of these).
  • Every year, Toys R Us offers a Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids.  I think it’s worth mentioning here…If your child is 8 but enjoys playing with toys intended for a 2 year old, so what?  We want to encourage functional play and meet our children on their level.  Don’t be hung up on what your child “should” be doing.
  • Lego sets.  I have yet to meet an autistic kid who doesn’t love Lego.
  • Ask your child’s teacher what your son or daughter enjoys playing with in class, or ask the speech therapist, occupational therapist, or behavior therapist for suggestions.  Thanks to our son’s teachers, we found out he LOVES Boggle Jr. and Don’t Break the Ice.
  • We often ask for iTunes gift cards for adding new apps and music.  The iPad can be a lifesaver many days.

This year, Santa is bringing my oldest a Lego set and Thomas & Friends DVD; middle child is getting a Radio Flyer Ziggle and Chuggington DVD, and the baby is getting a Baby Einstein Gift Set.  We’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the front lawn on Christmas Eve and leave cookies and milk for Santa, even if my kids don’t completely understand why.  They do know that cookies are awesome, and that’s enough for me.

For additional ideas and resources, please check out:

Autism Consortium

National Autism Resources

Ten Toys that Speak to Autism

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism