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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Low Income Home Options – Tiny House, Yurt, Earthbag Home, or RV Living?


May 22, 2016 HOME INFO

Three years – that’s how long I have to decide where I’ll be living after I move out of my daughter’s home. Will I choose a tiny house? An RV? A mobile home? A condo? A townhouse? A Yurt? An Earthbag house? So many options! 

If you have only a small income and you are seeking new accommodations, I hope my research will help you decide where you want to live. 

In a couple of months I’ll be moving into my daughter’s and son-in-law’s home to help care for their new baby who will be born in a couple of weeks. Three years will go by quickly but three years should give me enough time to research different living options. The information I’m gathering here will prepare me for my August, 2019, move. Maybe it will help you, too! 

ALL INFORMATION IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AS I FURTHER RESEARCH MY OPTIONS, SO STAY TUNED! If you've read this blog before, look for UPDATE info below:

Places I’ll Cross Off My List

What I know so far is that I do not want to live in a house or a townhouse, because of the expense and because my back can’t handle yard work – although if I found somebody to do the yard work for me, I might consider those options if I could find something I could afford. I really don’t want to live in an apartment or a condo, either, because smokers don’t care that their smoke travels through the ventilation system. Also, I’m allergic to animals and can’t have them in the same building where I live. Dander would be everywhere. 

I wouldn’t mind living in a mobile home again or in a tiny home if the home was located somewhere between where all of my family members lived and, as I mentioned earlier, I could find a responsible individual to care for my lawn. 

“HOME” OPTION CONSIDERATIONS 

Tiny Homes

I have a prerequisite for living in a tiny home – it must be located on a lake so I can see the lake from a screened-in back porch. A tiny home on a lake would be my first choice. But unless I can find an affordable one on a lake, I’m going to have to consider other options.

After researching all of my options, I have discovered that tiny homes in Illinois are very costly (almost as much as that of a larger home). Lake options are expensive as well! And though inexpensive lots are available, they are quite ugly. The “lakes” look like muddy tributaries of mosquito-laden rivers. 

Regulations sometimes require a certain size for homes on lakes or in certain areas, so tiny homes may not be permitted. I would have to find a piece of property and investigate the codes on that particular piece of property. So the only reason I would buy a Tiny Home would be if I could get lakefront property, the area allowed tiny homes, and it was located in an area between family members.

Because you can move tiny homes, you need to know how big they can be for travel. According to Tiny House Design: In most U.S. states this maximum size is 13.5-feet tall, 8.5-feet wide, and 40-feet long – 65-feet maximum including the tow vehicle.

UPDATE: I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason Tiny Homes are SO EXPENSIVE is due to the excessive greed from builders who saw the popularity of Tiny Homes and capitalized on their popularity. If I decide to go this route, I will look into local builders, or perhaps contact a high school construction teacher with a class willing to take a semester, or even a year to build one. The experience might even provide a future income for the some of the students!


UPDATE JULY 2016 Consider using hemp batting for insulation. Hemp batts are supposed to reduce energy bills by providing healthy internal environments that are conducive to staying cool in Summer and warm in Winter – thereby resulting in low energy costs.

UPDATE August 2016: Google offers a 3D program for anyone interested in designing their own homes. Download it at Sketchup.

A Yurt

Wile a Yurt would probably be the most affordable option for me, I wouldn’t feel particularly safe in one. I would feel as if I was living in a tent. Also, I live in the midwest where tornadoes are rampant, and I wouldn’t be able to keep the Yurt in any one place too long. The thought of packing it up and moving it all the time doesn’t appeal to me – at all. 

Because of my asthma and allergies, I would need an air conditioning unit, but because of the transient quality of a Yurt, Yurts don’t come with AC. So I’m going to cross this one off the list as well.  If you want information on Yurts, though, check out THIS WEB SITE

A Sandbag or Earthbag Home

I like the look of Earthbag homes. I like the domed effect and the rounded shape you can achieve with one. I’m not sure I want to investigate building codes and jump through legal loops to get one made though, and because I wouldn’t be able to make one myself, I’d have to hire people to build one for me, which would make the costs skyrocket. I may have to research this option more, because I can have electricity and plumbing built in one of these types of homes and an Earthbag home is a far more appealing option to me than a Yurt would be. I can also get solar panels built into an Earthbag home – another attractive option.

Green Home Building states that, “Earthbag structures are safe, extremely durable, highly adaptable and owner-builder friendly. They are resistant to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, bullets, insects, rodents, mold and will not rot.” 

UPDATE: Important information from Earthbag Building: “The main problem with building codes is that earthbag building is so new, the technique is not generally recognized officially, so it may take longer to convince the authorities that the method is viable and safe….Building materials go through an expensive ASTM testing and certification process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Manufacturers have to do this in order to meet code and sell their products. This has never been done with poly bags because most bags are used for packaging rice, etc. The best you can do is contact the manufacturer and get their material specifications for shear strength, weave, UV rating, etc. -- whatever they can provide and hope this satisfies the inspectors. Because the bags are not tested specifically for building houses, it will be up to the discretion of the building inspectors whether or not to accept them. One thing that may work in your favor: the bags have probably been ASTM tested for packaging. If you can get the ASTM number and data then maybe the inspectors won't notice or care. They mostly want the info for their records.”



Class C vs. Class B vs. 5th Wheel vs. Tiny Home

As a result of my research so far, my preference is to live in an RV, so I can travel between homes that belong to family members. The problem with RV living is that I’m not at all eager to empty the black tank or to stop at laundromats every week. I also don’t want to have to depend on my family to help me fill the tanks. 

So I’ll keep investigating all of my options and this blog is where I will update my research every time new information arises. Check back if you want to see how my research is coming along.

If I get a Class C or even a Class B RV (most definitely cannot afford a Class A, nor would I want to drive something that large), I would pay only one insurance, and the Class B or C would be smaller than a 5th Wheel. A 5th Wheel would require me to buy a truck (suggestions from some sites are to purchase an F250, F350, or F450 or other similar truck sizes), and I would be paying insurance for both the truck and the 5th Wheel. A 5th Wheel is attractive, because I could fit a washer and drying in it, but do I really need that much space? More to think about!

RV Considerations:

Thor Synergy – This Thor RV uses diesel, so Thor appeals to me – This $95k motorcoach would cost under $600/mo. But I’m concerned about the slides. I’ve heard that they leak in other brands. Maybe Thor has fixed that problem. The videos I’ve watched promise no leakage.

Coachmen 5th Wheel – Comes with triple slides, and options include a fireplace, central vac, washer, and dryer. I may have to consider this attractive option, but I’m kind of afraid of driving something so large, and again, leaks? 

Pleasure Way Class B – The 2016 model has all kinds of upgrades including solar panels, something that really appeals to me! It’s small, but, again, how much space do I need? I don’t want to feel claustrophobic, and I want to feel as if I can move around easily, but what if it's too small for me? I’ll have to reconsider this option.

UPDATE May 22, 2016: 2017 Wonder Leisure Travel Van – (for consideration) Uses diesel fuel, has a Ford transit chassis, and comes with a 3.6KW Onan Generator. Features a lot of updates, including touch-screen technology on the dash, and includes a Queen-sized Murphy bed fold-down, under which are chairs and a table. Retails at $114,811. 

UPDATE August 2016: And the winner is – the Leisure Travel Vans Unity FX! After researching for so many months, the RV that I absolutely love is the Unity FX. Unlike the Pleasure Way Class B, this RV offers a separate living space. The flexibility appeals to my love for change, and this RV gives me that. The only changes I would make to it would be to add solar panels and a composting toilet. 

UPDATE January 2017: I’m reconsidering getting the Unity FX – way too expensive! Also, parking RVs is a problem I’ll have to consider, so I asked a friend about the cost for parking RVs, and she responded with a comprehensive list of FREE parking spots! Free RV Camping,  Parking, and Boondocking

Water Usage

Shower – The average American shower takes about 17.2 gallons (65.1 liters) and lasts for 8.2 minutes with an average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute (gpm) (7.9 lpm). Whether I decide to buy an RV or a Sandbag home, I’m going to have to conserve on water.

Savings on showers – from EcoOptions:  To save on water usage, get low-flow faucets and showerheads. The average household could save more than 2,900 gallons per year by installing WaterSense® labeled showerheads. Also, get a water pressure regulator so that when I fill the tanks, the pipes don’t burst. I’ll need to check into getting heat tapes for winter or let faucets drip to prevent pipes from freezing in Winter. I would prefer heat tapes. Heat tapes saved me when I lived in mobile homes.

Washing Machines – Typically use between 40-45 Gallons; High Efficiency uses between 15-30 Gallons. Always purchase High Efficiency appliances! Another option is to buy a portable washing machine and hang my clothes to dry. I hang most of them now anyway.

UPDATE: I located a new resource for renewable energy consumption at Renewable Energy World.

UPDATE JULY 2016 – Somebody on one of the sites I visited mentioned that joining an inexpensive gym would help people who didn’t want to empty black tanks. You could work out at the gym and then take a shower – every day if you wanted! National gyms with easy access, like Planet Fitness, which charges only $10 a month with a $39 yearly membership fee would be great for a single person. My water bill in the last place I lived was under $20 a month. Exercise and a shower are incentives I can live with!

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016 – Water Catchment Systems and Rain Harvest Systems collect rainwater and, with the use of water purifiers and treatment systems, catch rain from rooftops, which drops into barrels. According to Mother Earth News, “The best roofing material for rainwater catchment is uncoated stainless steel or factory-enameled galvanized steel with a baked-enamel, certified lead-free finish.” Also check out Blue Barrel Systems and Rain HarvestHow to Build a Rainwater Harvesting System  

Electricity Usage Considerations

From WandrlyMagazine“To figure out exactly what you need, find out how many amps your devices require. Here are some common appliances found in an RV.”

Air Conditioner, Microwaves, Electric Water Heaters
14 Amps

Blenders, Coffee Makers, Televisions
5 Amps

Laptops, Drills, Range Hoods, Fans, Water Pumps, Radios
4 Amps

Lights, CO & LP Detectors
1 Amp

Gas Refrigerator
2 Amps

UPDATE: How much electricity does an American home use? 
From U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):  “In 2014, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,932 kilowatthours (kWh), an average of 911 kWh per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,497 kWh per residential customer, and Hawaii had the lowest at 6,077 kWh per residential customer.” 

So if I, as a single person, use even close to that much, which would probably never happen, but I have to account for the possibility, I’ll have to consider the following solar panel kit options (see section below), keeping in mind that 1000 watts (W) = 1 kilowatt (kW). The following panel information comes from Wholesale Solar

1 100W Panel would provide 500 Daily Watt Hours 
2 100W Panel would provide 1000 Daily Watt Hours 
3 100W Panel would provide 1500 Daily Watt Hours 
4 100W Panel would provide 2000 Daily Watt Hours 

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016 –  LithiumCard PRO saves on electricity because it (purportedly) recharge batteries 300% faster than most other chargers.

Portable Appliances

Washing Machines 
If the RV is very small, I would look into portable washers (Walmart sells them). They are only 1.6 cu. ft. in size. I had one once and could fit 3 pairs of jeans into one (it may have been 1 cu. ft), so while I was taking care of a family of 5 at the time and it took nearly the whole day every day to wash, I could hang my clothes up to dry, and if I needed to wash blankets, I could go to the laundromat. Consider Magic Chef 1.6 cu. ft. Top Load Portable Washer.

Composting Toilet
Using a composting toilet in an RV appeals to me, because I really don’t want to empty the black tank; with composting toilets I wouldn’t have to use the black tank at all. However, these toilets are EXPENSIVE – around $2-$3,000 (also found at Walmart)! Sun-Mar Centrex 3000 High Capacity Central Composting Toilet Systems are supposed to provide one of the best composting toilets, but as I said, they are very expensive!

UPDATE June 2016 Recommended from Zyl Vardos –ZYLVARDOS.com – Nature’s Head Composting Toilets.

RV Wind Generators or Wind Turbines 
Very little information is available for personal use wind turbines. Because Illinois and Indiana are such windy areas, though, wind turbines seem like they would be a viable option if they were more readily available (some systems, such as Tycon Power Systems, shipped and sold by Flytec Computers, are sold at Walmart).

The Home Depot sells a 2000-Watt Wind Turbine Generator for $2500. Because of the weight of these wind turbines, though, I wouldn’t be able to use them in an RV. I would need something much smaller.

2500 watt portable versions (The Trinity 2500 goes for $6,000 – I probably don’t need one that large) are usable in winds 2mph and less and with auto stop feature and water & weather proof. (Found one at ErvSolar.)  

Also check out the article, Introducing The First Portable Wind Turbines

A plus for using wind turbines in residential settings (particularly if I choose to move into a Tiny House), is that I would have to connect it to the electric grid and, with such a small home, my electricity would probably be free. I could also get a check from the electric company for electricity I didn’t use!

UPDATE: WindPax offers 3 different types of portable, collapsible wind turbine generators: The Wisp, a 25 Watt generator for powering small electronics and running LED lighting; The Breeze, a 100 Watt unit that supplies power via a standard 12 V outlet and standard USP;  The Cyclone at 400 Watts, is used primarily as a village power station for multiple applications. 

The only problem I see with this company (so far) is that on their Kickstarter page, they haven’t updated progress for their financial backers since April 29.  I may have to invest in The Trinity 2500, since it provides the amount of power I would need in either a Tiny House or an RV. The Trinity 2500 comes with the very important Inverter! The 400 Watt version can power an electric car!

An excellent article about whether or not to invest in a wind turbine appears in the May/June issue #167 on the Home Power website in an article entitled, 2015 Wind Turbine Buyer’s Guide: Why, Where & How to Do Wind Electricity, written by Ian Woofenden and Roy Butler. While the article relates specifically to home installation, I found it helpful in determining if any wind turbine would be a viable option for living in an RV or a tiny home. 

As of now, wind turbines don’t appear to be cost-effective. Who knows the strides manufacturers will make in the next three years though. Even so, if I invest $6,000 in a wind turbine, and my monthly electric bills come to approximately $50, I would need a tower 30+ feet tall in order for it to work. That makes no sense if I choose to live in an RV – I would be paying upfront for something I would need for the next 10 years. I’m close to 65 years old. I might as well just use solar panels for my major appliances and perhaps a small, inexpensive wind turbine just to charge my electronics.

Over the next 3 years, I’ll be revisiting the wind power option. In the meantime, personal use wind turbines (most under $2,000) to consider include the following:

Air40 Wind Turbine
Air-X by Sunforce
Rutland 1200 Wind Turbine
Trinity Portable Wind Turbine (Trinity 2500)
Wind Sail Receptor by Richard Steinke (still in Kickstarter status)
The Windwalker 250 RV Wind Turbine

Generator 
A generator probably already comes with whatever RV I choose to buy, because generators are necessary for RVs, but one would be good as a backup plan in other structures as well. 

Batteries
One probably already comes with the RV, but I need to make sure the battery is large and new.

Propane 
Will need one for heating the RV water heater. Suggestion at one site is to buy my own, but the post was from over a decade ago, so…? I think most newer RVs already come with a propane tank.

Solar Panels 
Need ?# of solar panels, depending on the size of the RV. Solar powers DC (direct current) batteries inside the RV. Also need an Inverter (see below) to convert DC into AC (alternating current, like that used for plug-in appliances) for use inside the RV, like Go Power (see below), AND a Solar Controller (see below) to prevent the solar panel from overcharging the batteries  (find at WindyNation Also Amazon offers a couple of different ones – check for others).

Inverter Try GP Electric

Go Power GP Electric Calculator recommends how much battery life I would need for the RV.

Solar Controller can also be found at GP Electric.

UPDATE June 2016: Another consideration, if I decide to buy an  RV that doesn’t come with solar panels is to use portable solar panels, like the ones offered by Zamp Solar RV Education 101. Another option would be to have five (5) solar panels installed on the roof of an RV in a configuration that would allow the sun to hit the panels on all four sides and on the top. 

NOTE TO SELF: make sure that the type of battery (i.e., Gell Cell, AGM {Absorbable Glass Matt}, and Lead Acid batteries) that comes with the RV is compatible with whatever solar panel(s) I purchase.  Incorrect battery type settings will damage the battery, so it’s important to know what type of battery I’m using. The chart shown on Zamp Solar will let me know the best type of solar panel for the battery type I would be using. 

UPDATE August 2016: The Wynns have researched the use of solar panels for years. For lots of information regarding solar power in boats, RVs, tiny houses, etc., click the link.http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/solar

Cooking
Most RVs come with either 2 or 3 cooktops and an oven, along with either a microwave or a microwave/convection option. I’m also curious about the Nuwave Precision Cooktop (~$60), so I want to check into that option.

Lighting
ALWAYS USE LED LIGHTS!!

USED RVs
Run an Internet check on, “Top Rated RVs in (list year)” – I might be able to get a used RV and upgrade it. A great place for upgrading, according to Technomadia (see below), is MasterTech RV Services in Elkhart, Indiana. I could add the type of generator and battery I need and also have solar panels put on top. 

Phone & Internet
Portable Satellite is too expensive an option and has been for several years. Cellular seems to be the better option, but according to several YouTube videos, even campsites that list, “Free Wifi” don’t have much to offer. You end up sharing the Internet with possibly 200 other campers and your Internet is s-l-o-w.

Look into MoFi Router for Internet connection.

RVMobileInternet.com (Technomadia) suggests using Wifi range extenders, such as PepWave or Wifi Ranger Elite. Put on a roof to enable the router inside the RV to expand coverage. I could also use a mobile cradle-style booster.

Roadside Assistance
Technomadia (see below) suggests using Cachet Emergency Roadside Assistance.

Camping
Though I don’t plan on camping, since I’ll be visiting family most of the time, I want to keep this information on hand in case I ever want to travel with friends – freecampsites.net.

Connecting with other campers through, “Our Village” (founder’s name is Curtis) will help me when I run into problems and can connect with seasoned campers.

Boondocking/Drydocking (Free Camping)
Apparently some grocery store parking lots and Walmart allow people to stay overnight. Of course you can’t get water or sewer hookups, and you can’t stay more than one night, but food is readily available.

Workamping
The ability to work, travel, and camp while RV'ing. 

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016 Storage Solutions for Tiny Homes or RVs This web page offers LOTS of storage solutions for tiny spaces.

Videos

I’ve been relying on several YouTube videos to help me decide what I want to do and where I want to go. Gone with the Wynns, Follow The Hearts, and Technomadia are some of the RV videos I’ve watched.


UPDATES will appear within the content of this blog, so if I add anything new, I’ll change the date on the top of this blog.

Photo is from Tiny House Listings

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kids KNOW How to Read People by Understanding Body Language


Many parents and grandparents don’t give their children or grandchildren credit for being as intelligent as they are. They talk in front of children and even babies, believing that kids don’t have a clue what is being said, but believe me, kids know more than we think they do and way more than we give them credit for knowing. I often wonder if, through well-intended, but unnecessary tactics we employ to teach our children how to understand our world, we dismiss their ability to assess situations on their own. 

Pretend for a moment that children were born with an innate sense of knowing how to read people, even from birth. Look into their eyes when somebody speaks. Imagine that they instinctively know how to evaluate and analyze smirks, smiles, frowns, and even tension in their parents and others. What happens when we later argue with them and tell them that their perceptions are wrong? Do they believe us and question their perceptions? Do they adopt society’s (and our) views and ignore their own?

Before they learn how to communicate with speech, babies ascertain feelings and emotions through facial expressions and body language. In a previous blog I wrote, How to Feel More Powerful, I discuss the subjects of physiognomy and phrenology, the studies of body language and facial expressions, something I believe we are all born knowing, but as speech develops, we place more emphasis on words than we do actions. 

No clearer example of understanding facial expressions and body language exists than what I heard the other day – a child who interpreted a situation he encountered by understanding – intuitively – the subtle, and not so subtle, aspects of physiognomy and phrenology.

A couple of rooms away from where I sat, I overheard one of my grandsons talking to one of his friends who was about the same age. A little girl in my grandson’s class (not the little girl I mentioned in this blog – Kid Crushes and Puppy Love) was paying him a lot of (apparently unwanted) attention.

My grandson knew that the little girl liked him, he said, because she always “fake laughed” around him – a lot – (he even imitated her laughing) and, he added, her eyes got really big whenever she talked to him. 

What an accurate description of the way a nervous little girl acts when she is enthralled with a little boy! How perceptive! 

Think of the many times you have witnessed over-the-top flirting in real life, in movies, and in comedy routines. And now you’ve just learned a little more about physiognomy and phrenology – from an 8-year-old!

Language is only one way to communicate. Beyond facial expressions and body language, we also rely on our other senses as well. Now is a good time to ask your children how they know when somebody is happy or sad. How do they know if somebody is lying? You might be surprised by their responses. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Does Your Child Feel Helpless?

While the following blog post was written with adults in mind, it offers some insight into how to help your child feel less vulnerable and more powerful. It might even help you, too, if you feel insecure:




Monday, January 25, 2016

Baby Item Recall – Has the Item You Purchased or Borrowed Been Recalled?


Whether you purchase your item from Craigslist, Facebook, some other online source, a garage sale, or you decide to borrow a used item for your baby, you’ll want to make sure the product is safe to use. 

The crib your grandma used for your mom and your uncles might have some sentimental value, and maybe thousands of babies slept in similar beds, but if even one baby died as a result of sleeping in a crib with too-wide slats, thank Grandma for the offer, but take a pass on allowing your infant to sleep in that crib. Maybe you can repurpose it.

Car seats, too, though they passed inspection when tested in factories, proved to be deadly outside the factory. ALWAYS CHECK THE SAFETY OF YOUR PURCHASE!

New parents expect manufactures to produce SAFE products. They expect manufacturers to understand that babies put everything into their mouths, and they can figure out how to slide through a high chair faster than an avalanche down a mountain. 

All new and all experienced parents should be concerned about the safety of their babies, their older children, and even themselves. Even the family car might have been recalled, and we owe it to ourselves and our families to check with the manufacturer to make sure the “great deal” we got is not going to kill us.

Every gift you receive for that new baby needs to have all safety features in place to guarantee safe use, though I wonder why new items that supposedly passed inspection in the factory ever landed on the recall list at all. New items are being added all the time. Pay attention to the manufacturer and keep up with the latest news about your product's safety.

The best resource for checking recalled products in the United States is the Consumer Product Safety Commission, where you’ll find information on the latest recalls and you can run a search for older recalled items. 


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Pregnancy, Drugs, Alcohol, Mom AND Dad


Babies Born to Drug Abusers or Alcohol Drinkers

Most alcoholics and drug abusers know, but often refuse to admit, that they have addictions. Though pregnancy should change their behavior, often it does not. Oblivious to how their unborn infant might respond to their drinking or drug abuse during pregnancy, moms continue to abuse their bodies – and their baby’s developing bodies – with drugs and alcohol, knowing, and at the same time, refusing to believe, that continued use of either drugs or alcohol could harm their growing fetus. But Mom is not the only one responsible for her baby. Read on! 

Drinking While Pregnant

As I mention in a previous Help for Single Parents blog, titled, Which is Better – Tobacco, Alcohol, or Marijuana? “According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), ‘Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker's body and can damage a developing fetus.’” According to Mayo Clinic, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome symptoms “include any mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.” Alcohol affects Baby’s brain and central nervous system, behavior, and social skills.

Further information from Mayo Clinic about the effects of alcohol on pregnant women include the following:
  • Alcohol enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing fetus by crossing the placenta
  • Alcohol causes higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a fetus metabolizes alcohol slower than an adult does
  • Alcohol interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your baby's developing tissues and organs, including the brain

University of Iowa Children’s Hospital lists the following complications for babies born addicted to alcohol:

  • Acute ingestion: hyperactivity, tremors for 72h, followed by lethargy for 48h
  • Chronic ingestion: consider fetal alcohol ingestion and its spectrum of abnormalities including CNS (Central Nervous System), growth deficiency, facial features, cardiac and musculoskeletal anomalies 

The difference between acute and chronic is that acute means an immediate severe problem, such as ingesting a lot of alcohol just prior to the baby’s birth; chronic means that Mom has been drinking throughout most of the pregnancy. If Mom is a chronic drinker, Baby could be born addicted to alcohol, in the same way that chronic drug abuse could result in a baby suffering from withdrawal.

Taking Drugs While Pregnant

Just as alcohol crosses the placenta, so, too, do drugs. Depending upon the type and amount of drugs the woman takes during pregnancy, varying effects on the unborn child occur. Withdrawal may be one of the results. The physical manifestations of those withdrawals is, according to several authorities, child abuse.  

The University of Iowa lists the following signs of drug withdrawal:

  • Gastrointestinal: Diarrhea, vomiting, ravenous appetite, poor feeding.
  • Neurologic: Irritability, jitteriness, restlessness (rubbed knees, rubbed nose), erratic sleeping, fist-sucking, shrill cry, hypertonia, hyperreflexia (overactive or over-responsive reflexes), myoclonus (spasms) and less often seizures. The incidence of seizures is higher in methadone-maintained mothers (10-15%) than in those abusing heroin.
  • Signs of heroin withdrawal occur in 50-75% of infants born to addicted mothers and usually begin within the first 24-72 h of life.

What Parents Can Do to Prevent a Baby from Becoming Drug Dependent

Many people place the bulk of the responsibility for the baby’s health on the pregnant mother. If she has a predilection for alcohol or drugs, she knows she needs to stop drinking or abusing drugs, but she needs encouragement and support from people she trusts and loves. 

If Mom’s partner continues to abuse alcohol or drugs during the pregnancy, she may find that stopping is difficult. With no support system to buffer her, the stress of pregnancy itself, along with other considerations (i.e., job, home life, finances), may contribute to her feeling that she’s handling her situation alone, and she may decide to drink “just one” or take “only one” pill. One translates to another, however, and then to another, and Mom cannot stop. At a certain point, she stops caring.

The first step in dealing with drinking and drugging while pregnant is admitting you have a problem. The second step is to enlist the help of your partner and outside help. A supportive partner who quits smoking, drinking, and doing drugs with you is a partner who is willing to sacrifice his or her habits for the welfare of the child. EXPECT your partner to support you! And be supportive of him or her as well.

If your partner refuses to be responsible and refuses to participate in your recovery, suggest you both join a group of either Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous. If your partner refuses to help you help yourself and your unborn baby, ask family members to help. If family is not an option, seek friends who want to be part of your support system. If you have no friends, several organizations specific to drug/alcohol addiction, like the ones mentioned above, exist to help you. Find them.

If you don’t take care of the problem while pregnant, you may not be able to bring your baby home from the hospital! Many Departments of Family Services organizations take addicted babies from hospitals directly to foster homes while they await your recovery, and you will miss those first bonding moments.

What Parents Can Do to a Baby Born Addicted

Because addicted babies are considered to be the result of abusive parents (abused because the parents took drugs or drank alcohol during pregnancy and caused their baby to be addicted), some states won’t allow Baby to go home with Mom or Dad and instead may place the infant in a temporary foster home until the parents are deemed capable of caring for their newborn. Why risk losing those first bonding moments with your baby when you can take care of the matter now, while you’re pregnant? 

If you’re fortunate enough to bring Baby home, STOP DRINKING and STOP USING! Cuddle, swaddle, and care for your baby. Let your baby know that you value your baby’s wellbeing. He or she will be dependent upon you for the next 18 years.

And don’t resume drinking or doing drugs once the baby is home. Children who grow up with alcoholic or drug abusing mothers and fathers live in fear. I cannot possibly list all of the problems associated with children who grow up with alcoholics, so I will suggest you read Psychological Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics, written by Kenneth J. Sher, Ph.D. 

And if you continue to abuse drugs, I suggest you download the report located at the bottom of the article titled, No Safe Haven: Children of Substance-Abusing Parents, which starts out:

Children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs are almost 3 times likelier to be physically or sexually assaulted and more than 4 times likelier to be neglected by their parents compared to children of parents who are not substance abusers. With 28 million children of alcoholics and several million children of other drug abusers, children and adults in America who, during their lives, have been neglected and/or physically and sexually assaulted by substance-abusing parents constitute a significant portion of our population.

Alcohol and drug abuse contribute to the neglect and abuse of our children. With everything going on in the world today, why subject your baby to a life of more fear and uncertainty? Be a safe haven for your baby.

Photo was found on so many sites, I couldn’t find the original to credit.



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Do We Force Our Kids to Be Someone They're Not?

Yesterday I watched a Dr. Phil episode, Mama’s Little Boy or Daddy’s Little Girl: Identity Confusion or Brainwashing? And my heart went out to that little child who was born an “intersex,” a term meaning that the child was born with ambiguous sex organs (not to be confused with hermaphrodites who are born with two complete sets of both male and female sex organs). 

The heartbreaking part of the story, though, was the way the child’s parents were raising him or her. Dad is convinced his child is a girl; Mom is convinced her child is a boy, so at Daddy’s house, Aubrey dresses as a little girl, and at Mommy’s house, Aubrey dresses as a little boy. How confusing must that be for a 4-year-old child!

And yet, how confusing must the parents be as well. I don’t pretend to understand what they’re going through, but imagining how the situation looks through the eyes of a 4-year-old child, I can understand how I might want my parents to behave if I was an intersex. I would want the choices about me to be mine – without being forced to make them to please both of my parents!

Let me explain why I think a 4-year-old child is perfectly capable of knowing what he or she likes. I’ll use my own 4-year-old granddaughter as an example. Nothing about Avery is ambiguous. She was born a girl and she has long hair, which she loves. She won’t play with dolls, but she loves playing “house” with stuffed animals. 

Try to put a dress on her, though, and she will refuse to wear it. She does not like wearing dresses. And she loves to play sports.


Does that make her a boy? No! And if she wanted short hair, what difference would her hair make in determining her sex? My own son, when he was only 4 or 5, had long curly hair, which I refused to cut, because I loved the way it looked. He, however, wanted a buzz cut, so I relented. He didn’t like his curly hair, so why should I force him to keep his hair long and curly? I’m glad I recognized that even as young as he was, he knew how he wanted to look.

The Barbarians – Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl

Maybe Aubrey has been so brainwashed, the child no longer knows what s/he wants. And how sad is that? But I think it would be wise for these parents to allow their little boy or girl to choose whatever hairstyle, clothing, bedding, or whatever else the child wants to wear or to have. Right now, I think Aubrey chooses what s/he believes her/his parents want her/him to choose. Aubrey very compliantly lives as both sexes depending upon which home s/he stays.

In any divorce situation, when parents get along, everything goes better for the child. In the case of Aubrey, though, the parents communicate not at all. Mommy gave her “son” a buzz cut, for instance, without informing Daddy of her decision. I would imagine that by now, the child feels coerced into behaving like a little girl when she is with Daddy and like a little boy when he is with Mommy. 

So maybe a trusted third party should take the child shopping and allow Aubrey to choose for him- or herself the types of things that will help Aubrey learn to identify who s/he wants to be – and who s/he is – with no outside interference or coercion.

A walk through Toys R Us would give parents a clue about what the child finds fun or entertaining. Bedding choices should be the child’s too. And let the child lead when it comes to shopping for clothing. Hand Aubrey a catalog and let Aubrey choose what s/he wants to wear. 

In the meantime, though so much damage appears to already have been done, Dr. Phil has offered these parents some professional help. I hope they get it in time for Aubrey to go to school, where s/he will have to appear as one sex or the other. Kids don’t need much incentive to bully, and seeing a child who appears during the week as a little boy and on weekends as a little girl would give the bullies among them target practice on Aubrey.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pedophilia in the Workplace: Does Your Teenager Work for a Pedophile?

Originally posted on Associated Content/Yahoo Voices/Yahoo Contributor Network December 3, 2009

Pedophilia is a subject that causes blood to boil. But it also causes - in some people - an excitement unmatched by anything else.

What is pedophilia?
Considered a mental disorder by some medical professionals, pedophilia is a societally condemned abnormality wherein the pedophile becomes sexually aroused by his or her own fantasies involving children.
Unlike fantasies engaged in by "normal" people who keep their fantasies in the fantasy stage, however, the pedophile's fantasies mutate into actions - unacceptable and harmful actions - perpetrated on innocent victims and their loved ones.
What is a pedophile?
The pedophile is a master manipulator. He learns very quickly how to draw children and teenagers into his deceptive web. He entices his victims in ways those victims would never recognize as anything but sincere. At most, children feel only slightly uneasy or uncomfortable, initially without any obvious validation for why they feel the way they do.
How do pedophiles operate?
Pedophiles ease their way into unsuspecting lives and often try to befriend the parents first - in an attempt to build trust. The hope is that eventually parents will allow their children unsupervised visits with them. The pedophile, once he targets his victim, feigns interest in the child by engaging the child in ways that cause the child to believe the pedophile truly cares about him or her.
Children who are under a tremendous amount of stress and who are filled with self-doubt are particularly good targets for a pedophile. The pedophile zeroes in on the stress and alleviates it by pretending to be more interested in the child than the parents appear to be (at least according to the child's perceptions, which have been masterfully manipulated by the perpetrator).
Once the child trusts the pedophile, the pedophile, taking advantage of the opportunity to abuse the trust, confuses the child by taking the child off-guard with something as simple as an arm around the shoulder. Thus begins the courting stage where the pedophile convinces himself that he loves the child and therefore anything he does to show that love is justified.
The pedophile, in his own warped mind, decides his purely sexual attraction to children is actually a form of love.
Why does it seem that pedophilia has proliferated?
Sexual attraction to children is not new. It has been going on for centuries, but with the introduction of computers and web images, pornography has become a profitable venture for opportunists who find pleasure in abusing children.
How do pedophiles entice their victims?
The pedophile puts himself into a position where he can access children in socially acceptable settings. Nowhere is this ability to attract children more obvious or more insidious than in the workplace, where the employer can choose his victims through a careful screening process, weeding them out until "the one" shows up.
Though we often think of pedophiles as being attracted to young children, some are more attracted to teenagers. And by offering employment through business opportunities, the pedophile can attract exactly the type of victim he prefers.
How does the boss give himself permission to abuse his employer?
Say he owns a small shop and pays minimum wage. Who, other than a teenager, would apply for such a position? He is the "boss" and the teenager depends on him for income. After a couple of weeks, when the teenager becomes somewhat comfortable with the job, the boss introduces small gestures of sexual interest. It may be only a hand on the shoulder or the back of the neck. It may be a nudge with a hip, but it soon becomes a hand placed on other body parts.
Or it starts with suggestive comments, like a subtle request to take a picture. The request sounds innocent until the boss asks the child to open his shirt a little or pull down his pants. The teenager panics, but unless he is equipped with enough self assurance to run out of the store and immediately call the police, the teenager may reason that he has to keep his job and, though upset, grants the pervert's request.
A teenager may at first brush off inappropriate suggestions. But by showing up at work again the next day, her boss now has the impression that she merely has to be convinced to adhere to his wishes. She will probably be too embarrassed to mention to her parents that her boss asked her to engage in sexually explicit pornography.
The teenager becomes more and more uncomfortable, but feels helpless to change anything. He is afraid he will disappoint his parents who are depending on him to keep his job. He is also afraid to stand up to his boss. The boss is an authority figure and if the teenager's parents drove into him that he had to respect his elders, he won't be capable of standing up for himself.
Why do children and teenagers cooperate with the pedophile?
Fear drives the victim to engage in activities she otherwise might never allow. Taking "just one picture" might seem innocent to her, but one picture leads to more and now the boss has an entire hard drive filled with photos of your daughter or your son ready to share with other perverts on the web. And once your daughter (or son) feels degraded and humiliated, she will never admit her involvement and she will blame herself for her behavior.
What signs can parents look for when their children have been abused by a pedophile?
How can parents know if their children are experiencing abuse in the workplace? By paying attention to their child's behavior. Don't always assume that behavior changes are related to age. Sudden consistent moodiness needs to be investigated. If the child becomes withdrawn, if he or she starts making excuses for not wanting to go to work, don't ignore her silent pleas for your help.
Open a dialogue about your teenager's feelings. When your teenager feels even slightly uneasy about another person, teach him or her not only how to recognize and pay attention to those feelings, but also how to act on them by reporting them. Uneasy feelings are trying to relate to your child a warning that needs heeding.
Discuss people who are put into abusive situations. How do they deal with blame, humiliation, and degradation? Let your child know that actions perpetrated by pedophiles are NOT the fault of the victim. Children whose parents discover pornographic photos on web sites are NOT at fault, even if they allowed somebody to photograph them.
Teach children never to send suggestive photos of themselves to people they think are their friends. Friends don't ask for naked pictures. Friends don't put their friends into precarious situations.
Empower your teenagers by asking them how they would handle the situations discussed above if they were put into similar situations. By opening a dialog you may be able to prevent future abuse or learn about past abuse.
Let your teenagers know that the abuse is never their fault, and that you will help them through this emotional turmoil if they are involved in an abusive situation (resources are listed below). Assure them that no matter what - you are there to support them.
What do you do when you discover your child has been a victim of abuse?
If you discover that your teenager has been a victim of sexual misconduct, no matter how minor the infraction seems to be, report the perpetrator to the police. We need to protect our children from these perverts.
Other resources are also available. To report incidents of child sexual (including pornography) exploitation and abuse, fill out an online form at the CyberTipline. The CyberTipline is operated through The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). 
The NCMEC also maintains a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST and a website at www.missingkids.com.

And to see a list of registered sex offenders (listed by state) go to the National Sex Offender Public Website. Keep in mind that though sex offenders are required by law to register, not all of them do. Many of them move frequently. Just because they don't show up on the registry does not mean they are not offenders.

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