Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My "Out With The Old, In With The New" Giveaway

Recently, I won a copy of the book Cowboy & Wills in a giveaway hosted by Chrissy over at Spectrum Hope. I am now finished reading it and have moved on to A Child's Journey Out of Autism written by Leeann Whiffen. I would love to "pay it forward" by passing Cowboy & Wills on to someone else and what better way to do so than with an "Out With The Old, In With The New" giveaway? It's kinda like I'm getting rid of the old book to make way for the new book.

To enter this giveaway, simply leave me a comment on this post regarding whatever you like. If you are not a parent of a child with autism, perhaps you could let everyone know why you want to learn more about it. Or, if you are a parent of a child with autism, maybe you could tell a little about how you came to learn of your child's diagnosis. Or you could just tell me what a fabulous blog I've got going here.

Just kidding, folks! If you wanna enter, leave me a comment about anything - assuming it is appropriate for a family-oriented blog.

January 2nd I will choose a winner at random and post the name in my blog post for that day. The winner will have until January 4th to send me a message to my email address listed at the bottom left corner of my profile page (when you scroll over "Email" on the profile page), including mailing address. Winner: Please type "Blog Giveaway" in the subject line of your email message.

Good luck!!! Have a safe and Happy New Year to ALL!!!!!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

So Much to Blog, So Little Time...

So I better get started while there is peace and sleeping children.

Where do I begin?

Today has been a day of super highs and downright lows. It all started with me patting myself on the back for thinking ahead last night and sitting out some roast cuts on the stove for around two hours and then placing them in the garage refrigerator overnite to thaw. Actually, I'm pretty good about that planning ahead thing when it comes to dinner but roasts take a long while to thaw and even with that amount of time out of the freezer, they were still practically solid this morning. No matter, I seasoned them up and pre-browned them prior to tossing them in the crockpot with some new potatoes and baby carrots. We also have some leftover green beans and corn mixed together that need to get gone. This type of mixture is what my mom always called succotash but I have since then come to learn that true succotash is lima beans and corn....not grean beans. Dinner, done! Score! One point for Mommy!

Next up was showering. I try not to complain about it too awful much but I rarely get a shower during the day when Reiss is home and Daddy is not. Most mothers can just throw their tots in front of the tv and trot off to the bathroom for a few minutes of blissful hot water raining down on them. Not me. If you read this blog at all, you know Reiss does not watch tv. And left unsupervised.....well, that doesn't happen. Enough said. Having said all that, I decided I would go ahead and try to take a shower this morning anyway. It must have been some kind of Christmas miracle because I was able to get in the shower, lather up, rinse and get out with the house still standing. Granted, it was only three minutes but it was probably the best three minutes I've had all day. Score! Another point for Mommy!

Apparently, I must have been getting a little cocky with all my triumphs of the morning because soon thereafter, the mayhem began. We had gone out for a quick few errands and had returned home.

A little about our trip out first.....

While we were out, I saw a man turn into a cigarette and lottery ticket store and do an almost complete donut on the icy parking lot. I don't think he meant to do it, but it unnerved me just a bit because he turned into the place going way too fast. Had he spun just a few feet farther over from where he did, he would taken out at least three cars. Good job, buddy! Now go in there and buy some cigarettes so you can kill just a few more brain cells.

At one point while out, we were driving in another parking lot and I saw a girl in what had to be no less than five-inch heeled boots with an ice pick thin spike serving as the heel. All that.....walking across an icy, snowy parking lot. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or be impressed. All I know is that I was this close (visualize my thumb and forefinger coming together as close to one another as possible without actually touching) to rolling my window down and clapping. But I didn't.

One of our errands included going through a drive-thru and getting some lunch to take to James. Just as we entered the parking lot to the fast-food joint, some lady pulling away from the pickup window was either oblivious to me driving in the parking lot or simply felt she owned the place because she just started pulling out right in front of me. Luckily this parking lot wasn't icy or I'm sure I would have slid into her after having to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting her. I had to lay on the horn. Okay, maybe I didn't have to but I wanted to get her attention. And then, of course, as he always does when I beep at someone, Reiss had to ask me, "Mommy, why'd ya' beep at them?" And, of course, I wanted to say, "Because that lady had her head in her rear, sweetie." But I didn't.

Back home again, chaos ensued quite rapidly.

On the way home, Milla fell asleep in the truck so once we arrived home, I took her out and brought her into the living room and laid her down in a chair. Reiss was playing in the garage. Milla was snoozing with sweet little toddler snores barely audible over the heating ducts spewing out warm air since I had cranked the heat up immediately upon entering the house . I had turned the heat all the way down to 66 when we left and it must not have taken long for it to get that cold in here with the arctic temps outside because it was all the way down to that temperature and we were not gone long at all. So all was well in my world and then some psychotic battery-operated vtech bug toy decided to go off all on its own and make a musical wakeup call to Milla. Score! Psychotic toy, one point!

Reiss came in from playing in the garage and told me he had to poop so we went to the master bathroom and we both sat in there doing our business. Reiss on the toddler potty and me on the regular toilet. I was done before Reiss and got up and flushed. The toilet seemed to be taking longer than usual to refill the tank but I didn't think anything of it and next thing I knew water was spilling over the edges all over the place. Good thing Reiss had finished up because I needed to get him up to clean up the flood. Amidst that disaster, the shirt Reiss had taken off and placed at his feet had gotten soaked. As I tried to contain the flood, Reiss treated me to an extended length tantrum, extolling the extreme grief I caused him by not allowing him to wear the "pee shirt." Bad Mommy! I am just so mean.

Score! Psychotic toilet, one point!

Next up we went to the basement to see if there were any visible traces of the great flood of December '09. I didn't see anything and was glad of that because maybe it means that our contractor actually got something else right and the floor really is water-proofed.

While we were in the basement Reiss and Milla played with some toys that we just recently banished to the downstairs play area to make room for the Christmas toy explosion. Reiss was pushing around some robot toy and somehow landed flat on his face. The first time he did it, he laughed and got right back up. A few minutes later, I heard him pushing around the robot again, a cracking noise, a falling noise, and then Reiss crying. I went into the hallway and quickly picked him up to find blood pouring out of his nose. I'm not entirely certain what happened, as I couldn't get Reiss to answer my questions very well but I think he was pushing the toy around with his head down and ran into the door jam. Score! House, one point!

Finally, it was naptime and that leads us up to now.

I swear, the adventures of my daily life often read like a manuscript for a movie entitled "Manic Mommy" or some other hysterical comedy at which I am usually the only one not laughing but it doesn't get much better than this. There is peace and sleeping children, a fully cooked meal in the crockpot, and a husband who made it home safely and is crashing Bigfoot trucks all over the place on our new Wii.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The No Nonsense Zone

I will be the first to admit that sometimes my mouth gets me in trouble. Sometimes I say things that just don't need to be said and other times I say things that probably don't need to be said but, at the same time, some people need to hear. My no nonsense approach may have been handed down to me from my mother. Maybe it was acquired when I was in the military. Or perhaps it may just be a side-effect of my own concrete way of thinking. I don't know how I got to be this way but this is me and this is a No Nonsense Zone.

Just this evening was a good example of one of those times when I opened my mouth and said something I think some of the people needed to hear. Unfortunately, I don't think what I was really trying to say is what was heard by those who really needed to hear it.

Off and on today whenever I was on my computer and scrolling through my "live feed" on facebook, one message kept appearing. Several of my facebook friends said it. They all used a different way to say it, but it was the same message all the same: I want Christmas Break - or to be more politically correct, Holiday Break - to be over and I want my kids back in school.

I shot back with a comment of my own on my profile stating:
"(My full name).....thinks it's interesting how people will brag on how cool their kids are during regular school scheduling (when they are away all day) and then, a break comes along and every other comment on my fb feed is how they want their kids to go back to school. Let the flinging begin! If I can handle one w/autism & another w/dev... delays, I think I can handle the backlash this one might cause."

Depending on where you live in the country if you are in the United States, it's likely that today, December 21st, is the first day of a two-week (or more for some) break from school. When I see people complaining about wanting their kids gone and back in school on the very first day of a holiday break, I can't help but wonder what is so bad that they are looking forward to having their kids gone after such a short period of time. Worse yet, I wonder how their children feel. Seriously, that kind of attitude must radiate outwardly - and not only in the form of a facebook update for all to see.

Some people may think I'm judging and maybe I am. I don't think so. When a person comes right out and says that they want their child back in school, after only having them around for a little while...well, honestly, I think it is really sad and it pains me to wonder what kind of parental image the child involved has of their parents.

My husband and I deal with a lot of stress and a lot of challenges on a daily basis facing what we do with one child with autism and one with developmental delays. And yes, there are days when I need a break and the only break I am afforded is the three hours that Reiss is in preschool. So I'm not saying I never want a break and that I have to have my kids around me all the time (For the record though, while Reiss is at preschool I still have Milla so it's not much of a break.). Really, I am normal. I want a break now and then just as much as anyone.

That said, even as stressful as things get to be sometimes around here and as exhausted and rundown as I get, I still don't wish for my kids to be gone. I look forward to getting mommy breaks just as much as the next mommy. But I don't tire of their behaviors so easily that I wish for them to be gone for forty or more hours per week, as in, wanting them back in school after only a few hours of the first day of break.

I know some people will read this and still think I am judging. Or they will think that I'm saying my situation is worse. I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that I think we all - myself included at times - so easily forget how good we really have it.

From around November of last year to around June of this year, I experienced a seemingly insurmountable level of stress and depression. This is actually very common for parents who find out their child has autism. It is a time of an almost-mourning type of behavior as the parent adjusts to the diagnosis of their child, the challenges it presents, and the emotional loss of what may have been for their child. Or, at least, what they - the parents - envisioned as what may have been.

During those months of depression, I was mad at the world. In some ways, I still am. I am mad because my husband and I waited until we felt we were mature enough as adults to have children. We waited until we were financially and emotionally stable. We tried for years to get pregnant, facing three years of infertility. Then we were finally blessed with that little positive sign on the pregnancy test. We prepared for years for everything regarding having children.

Except for autism. We didn't prepare for that.

And I was mad because so many irresponsible people in the world who don't possess even an inkling of foresight or the ability to plan - people who should be poster children for birth control - were out there having kids. And not just having kids - having healthy, typical kids.

Having a child develop autism was like a punch in the face to us.

Anyway, getting off track here but not really because I'm trying to make a point of how we planned and prepared for everything and it all got thrown off-course. It wasn't fair to me and I was mad. I kept doing all the reading I could about autism and treatments and anything written by parents who have gone down this road. Actually, I still do. Right now I'm reading Cowboy & Wills by Monica Holloway.

With all that reading, I began to hear what needed to be said...We are very fortunate for what we have, even given the many challenges we have been given. We should always be thankful for our children and what they bring into our lives.

We love Reiss - autism and all - more than life itself. I can't imagine a life without him. I always wanted to homeschool any children James and I had and I would still love to homeschool. Right now, I don't feel I have what it takes for homeschooling a child with autism. Maybe someday, but as it it right now, it's just another dream fading away. When I think of how much I cherish Reiss and how much I would love to have him home, one can only imagine how I feel when I read of another parent wishing their child away at school and away from them.

I don't know if I've articulated my true feelings here. After all this, I know some people will still walk away thinking I beg for pity for our situation and that I think we have it worse than others. I don't want pity from anyone, and especially not from anyone who refuses to be thankful for what they have been given. I just wish for other children that their parents desired the company of their children as much as the children desire the parents' love and attention. And isn't that really all children are trying for when they carry on and try to drive us over the edge?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Masters of Disasters

Last Wednesday Reiss' class made gingerbread men. Because our family eats gluten and casein free, Reiss obviously cannot have the traditional gingerbread cookie dough, so I made a really great GFCF version of it and sent some of it to school with him. What was left of it was dealt with on Saturday evening.

A little bit of tapioca flour for dusting down the table and making sure the dough didn't stick when rolling.....

Reiss eating a bunch of icing. YUM! And we have one shirt off....

If it looks like fun, I can tell you it really was a good time. I don't think I remember the last time Reiss and Milla stayed occupied for so long with one activity. It was nice to be able to just sit and relax without having to entertain them or worry what they were getting into...who cares that they made a ginormous mess. They had fun and the mess was cleaned up in about ten minutes - a nice trade-off for about twenty minutes of breathing time for me.

And no, you are not imagining things. Yes, they were eating the gingerbread cookie dough raw and although I am not one to worry about salmonella in raw cookie dough, I definitely didn't need to worry about it with this dough because the recipe is free of gluten, casein, and is egg-free as well. You can find the recipe HERE. It is Lisa Lewis' recipe for Gingerbread People from her book, Special Diets for Special Kids.

Moving on to other messes....

Our new two-person, open-concept shower.....

The extra-wide, extra-deep spa tub and glass block window....

The granite countertop we had made for a miraculously inexpensive price by purchasing a remnant.

And finally, what happens when someone (not me!) adds "a little bit" of shower gel to a spa tub with the jets turned on......

I am still left wondering how much constitutes "a little bit."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If You Don't Like Our Pancake Recipe.....

Blame Living Without magazine!

Seriously, I know the recipe we use is not for everyone and if it's not your cup of tea, you might try Ginger Lemon Girl's recipe for pancakes that she recently posted. The recipe is gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, and vegan. Judging by the photo, the pancakes this recipe makes look very tasty....BUT beware if you or a member of your family cannot eat yeast.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breakfast with Santa Claus

Reiss, Milla, and Daddy at one of the craft tables. They made little reindeer ornaments with popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and googley eyes.

Reiss getting ready to tell Santa Claus to bring him a Colts shirt, please - with buttons! We're still trying to figure that one out.

Reiss surprised us with his willingness to sit on Santa's lap. Milla wasn't having any of it!

Another surprise.....Reiss not only did not throw a fit about the horse, he was very willing to check him out and even give him a little pat. If I sound pessimistic, I don't mean to. I'm just going by most of our experiences with animals. Reiss and Milla are both terrified of most animals - even Grandma's chihuahua. In their defense though, Grandma's chihuahua is yippity-yappy and more hyper than Reiss doped up on candy bars.

Dancer and his merry red-painted hooves. This was the last photo I took before we all went on a very, very chilly carriage ride.

Yesterday was our breakfast with Santa Claus. The event was held at a church not far from our house and was sponsored by our county's autism support group. Although we had to take our own food in order to be able to stick to eating GFCF, it was nice to be around others who "get it."

No one around to point, stare, and whisper if our children began having an all-out meltdown over something as trivial as a drop of water getting on their shirt or having to have the food wiped from their faces (as was the case with us). Really, I'm not prejudiced against people who only have typical children but I do get tired of the looks we receive. If pointing and staring at children like mine is the example these parents are setting for their own children, it's no wonder why their kids grow up to be the ones who bully kids like mine once they are in school.

I will not go off on that tangent though. This is supposed to be a positive post!

Reiss and Milla got to eat breakfast at a table decorated with Christmas decor and marshmallows for snow, work on crafts, see Santa Claus, use bathrooms away from home (which is the whole reason we went there, right?), and take a carriage ride. It was incredibly cold yesterday but fun was had by all. Other than the mouth-wiping incident, I would say it was one of our best outings in quite some time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Company Who Wants to Pay Me to Potty Train!!!!

Okay, not really.

But I did learn about a company who will ease the burden of the expense of buying disposable training pants. Considering the fact that we have been potty-training (the same child no less!) for going on three years, there's no telling how long we will be purchasing poop pants.

Thank you to Jen over at A MOMMY ON A MISSION for her mention of The Caregivers Marketplace, an organization that "provides cash back on eligible products used every day to provide care."

Even if you are not potty-training, it's worth it to take a peek at The Caregivers' list of eligible products, as it also contains pain relievers, supplements, and many other products.

I'm all giddy just thinking about getting money back on our Huggies Pull-Ups, Huggies diapers, and Cottonelle Fresh Wipes - products that I already save on by redeeming coupons and buying only when they are on sale. Who knew I could get such excitement out of thinking about products that will eventually have poop on them.

Things Are Better Than I Make Them Sound

First things, first.

Celeste Jean, if you are reading, I have emailed you to request your mailing address for your Betty Crocker prize pack to be sent to you. If you're like me, you may get a lotta, lot of email and perhaps did not see my message, so I wanted to bring it to your attention on here.

We did not get to do the adorable marshmallow craft pictured below this morning because I am a slacker mommy. I was going to go to the craft store last night to get the styrofoam ring to make it and noticed that I didn't have any marshmallows either. I could have just sworn I had a bag of the large kind in the pantry but alas, none, and I didn't want to make two separate stops last night. So, going to the craft store and getting marshmallows at the grocery are both on the list of to-do errands this weekend. Maybe we can save this project for a craft-time activity for Monday.

This week has been a challenging week. Dealing with this autism thing day in and day out, one would think I would get used to some of the more annoying behaviors and just let them roll off - and really, sometimes I do.

However, this week and over the past two or three weeks now I have heard the question "What's gonna happen if I close the gate while I'm on the brown?" probably no less than 422,000 times. See, Reiss knows how to open the gate at the top of the stairs but we keep it there so that Milla doesn't fall down the stairs. Reiss is welcome to let himself through the gate and to the stairs going to the basement whenever he wants. Too often though, he will open the gate, stand on the top step (which is brown, hence, "the brown") and try to close the gate behind him, all while asking that question....the question that I am just certain if I hear it one more time, steam will come barreling out of my ears or nose or mouth or all three combined.

When I tried to express my frustration on facebook about this, I got the typical phrase all parents of children with autism just love to hear: "Oh, that's normal. All kids do that." Well, that wasn't exactly what was told to me but that was the jist of it and any parent in this position knows that this kind of behavior is not normal. If I had a dime for every time I've heard the "All kids do that....blah, blah, blah." Whatever....come walk in my shoes for a day and you will know what I'm talking about.

Yes, all typical kids will ask questions over and over. For example, "Can I have ________, please? Pleeeeeaaaase? I promise, promise, promise I'll be good." And that's what the parent may hear several times in one day. If you're one of these people, seriously, tell me, when was the last time your typical child asked you the same question three-hundred, four-hundred, or even more times in one day? And yes, I am being literal. Those numbers are no exaggeration.

If I sound like I'm complaining, well, maybe I am and this is my blog so I'll do what I want. Call it what you will but I have the right just like anyone else to vent now and then. And don't even get me started on the petty little complaints on some of my facebook friends' pages to the likes of "Oh, poor me. I'm so tired. I need a nap." from people who don't even have kids, much less a kid with autism. I really just want to tell them to suck it up and that they don't know the first thing about exhaustion. Ask any parent about exhaustion and I bet close to 100% will say they never knew the true meaning of exhaustion until they had kids. And that's saying a lot coming from me, someone who was in the military, someone who knows what it's like to get up at 4am, go to PT and then train all day long for an eighteen to twenty hour day.

Blah, blah, blah.....blah.....blah, blah, blah!!!

Yes, I am very frustrated this week.

Guess what Milla's thing is right now? She likes to take her pull-up off and get a new one every few minutes. By 11 am this morning, she had changed her pull-up no less than fifteen times. Keep in mind, that is only about two hours that she had time to do it too, because she woke up a little before 8am and her speech therapist was here for an hour. She did not pull off her pull-up any while the ST was here so that only leaves about two hours - or an average of a new pull-up about every eight minutes. Good times.......

On a more positive note, we are going to have breakfast with Santa this weekend. We have to take our own food, because although it is sponsored by an autism support group, many of the parents do not use any special diets for treating their child's autism and the food there will be traditional fare, almost certain to contain all kinds of gluten and casein. I am happy to have friends who also eat gluten-free and casein-free who will be in attendance. There's nothing I hate more than being the freaks wherever we go because we don't eat things others do. I'm starting to think this must be how people feel who eat a raw diet or vegan or both.

It will also be interesting to see the kids' reactions to Santa and if they will go near him. Hopefully, I will not forget the camera. Let's hope I have something pleasant to photograph.

And another positive....Reiss pooped on the potty last night!!! Something that has not happened much as of late. Just when we think we have his "currency" figured out to bribe him to poop on the potty, he switches things up on us and his currency turns to something else that we can't figure out and the old currency is worthless. Right now, chocolate candy bars are out. "Bugs" are in. Bugs are gummy fruit snacks, such as the Betty Crocker Create-a-Bug snacks I recently reviewed. We also buy the Annie's bunnies, but wow, are they expensive!

Well, I'm sure no one came here to read me complain about everything under the sun and since I'm not having the greatest week or looking at things with the best perspective....Toodles!

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Cute Craft Idea and a Plug

Thank you to JenJen over at tatertots & jello for this oh-so-cute Christmas craft idea!

Yes, I said it - Christmas!!! And any of you Best Buy fans out there can just leave the room now if you don't like it. Hey, I have nothing against other religions but if you're not gonna say "Merry Christmas" in your ads, then you definitely shouldn't be saying "Happy Eid al-Adha!" Or, at least, not in the United States!

Back on track here....

Typically, the first Friday of each month the staff where Reiss goes to developmental preschool have some form of training, making it so the children do not attend class. This month is CPR training. Thank goodness for that, right???

Friday mornings are also when Milla has speech therapy so on those Fridays when Reiss does not go to school, it is nice to have something to keep him occupied and not disturbing Milla's therapist or their hour of therapy.

After finding this cute idea for a holiday wreath, I thought it would be the perfect activity to keep Reiss busy for at least a few minutes. I'm not terribly sure whether the gumdrops are gluten and casein free but if not, we'll find something that makes a suitable replacement. Who knows, we may end up with a marshmallow and Swedish fish wreath.

So what if Reiss has marshmallows and candy for breakfast that day....what kid wouldn't love that? The important thing is he will be a busy little bee. And probably really busy for the rest of the day too, while riding on his sugar high.

And the Betty Crocker Contest Winner Is......

Celeste Jean

My apologies for not posting the winner sooner! A tip for anyone interested in participating in future contests on this site: Celeste Jean won by default. As in, although there were three people who left comments as contest entries on the Betty Crocker contest post, she was the only one who left her comment before the deadline.

Congratulations, Celeste Jean!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Alec's Journey

Today has been a bad, bad day and as a mommy who is having a serious "autism day," this video gives me hope.........

Friday, November 27, 2009

Blech Friday!!!!

Call me a scrooge, but I do not do Black Friday.

Driving and driving around just to find a parking space, mass throngs of people (some of them behaving, while others only behaving badly) crowding into stores and all wanting to buy the same items, and a bunch of stuff that just takes up space in one's house, for what? A better deal? No thanks! I'll do my shopping from the clearance racks throughout the year where most of the deals I get are better than the Black Friday sale prices, anyway. And most of the time, I don't have to worry about my life or those of my children being in danger of being lost due to a cattle stampede of a bunch of crazies trying to get the latest dancing Elmo figure at a rock-bottom price.

So there it is....some people call it Black Friday. I call it Blech Friday.

I'm not totally against going out the day after Thanksgiving though. We did go out today for some fast lunch from a drive-thru and also to pick up a few items from the health food store. With the exception of our own dish, we did not bring home any leftovers yesterday from my mother-in-law's house. We left here to go to her house with collard greens and came home with almost the same amount we left with - I have never had the same tastes in food as my husband's family but oh well, more for me!

A bit after lunch today, we went back out to go to the health food store. It was one of those go-in-with-a-list-of-three-items-and-come-out-with-two-bags kind of trips. We needed sorghum flour because Saturdays are, of course, Pancake Saturday at our house and we ran out of sorghum flour last Saturday using up the last half-cup in our favorite GFCF pancake recipe.

On the way to the health food store, we witnessed the mass chaos at the mall, which is less than five minutes from our home. Cars were spilling out of the parking lot at the mall, with people even parking in the grass just to make a space. I don't know.....I just don't get it. I know some people will read this and think, "But have you seen the Black Friday ads?" Yes, I've seen them. I still think I get better deals on things throughout the year by shopping clearance racks and by combining sales with store coupons. But whatever. To each his own.

Geez, I'm doing it again. I keep meaning to get to this part about an accident we saw while we were driving to the health food store. By the way, am I the only one who has noticed over the years car accidents have gone from being called "accidents" to "crashes?" When I think of the word "crash," I think of a plane falling from the sky. Two cars or more plowing into one another makes me think "accident" or "wreck" - not "crash."

Anywaaaaaay, so we were on the way to the health food store to get sorghum flour and two other items and I'm driving along telling James something probably of little importance when I hear this really loud noise. I thought it was behind us but it ends up that it was in front of us. A red Ford pickup truck had run smack into the back of a Mercedes SUV. Then I was trying to get around it and someone almost ran into me. What a mess. I wonder what that guy in the truck was doing to run right into the person in front of him. He must have been distracted in some way as this was no small bumper to bumper tap. I hope all of them were okay but we weren't about to stop and cause an even larger disturbance to other drivers, especially since our children were in our vehicle.

Milla "shopping" on Black Friday morning. I tried to tell her most stores have a "No shirt, no shoes, no service" policy but she wasn't having any part of abiding by the rules.

The mess pictured above is what our bedroom looks like right now while we are remodeling the bathroom. Oh yeah, I don't think I mentioned that yes, we are still remodeling our bathroom. Actually, I fired the guy doing the work one week ago today. I'm not going to get started on that in this post but suffice it to say a bathroom should not take three months to do and I should not have to be the one to tell someone when something is not right. But, that is another post.

Reiss dorking around in the hallway while I was chasing him and Milla around with the camera this morning.....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Give Thanks for Another Betty Crocker Review & Giveaway!

Recently, I participated in another Betty Crocker giveaway through MyBlogSpark. Just like the first one, this giveaway consisted of Betty giving me some products to review, I review them here, and then hold a contest (keep reading for details!) for some lucky winner to receive a package of the same products I received.

Here is a photo of my goody box contents:

In the box were the following: Betty Crocker Create-a-Bug 10-count package, 10-count variety pack of Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Gushers, and Fruit Roll-Ups, a light up yo-yo, a transparent red frisbee, and a slide-open box of pick up sticks. All products are gluten free, although they do contain artificial dyes (not something I prefer to ingest, but I'm willing to make exceptions now and then). Well, I don't know if the toys are gluten-free, but who cares, we weren't planning on eating those, anyway.

My monkeys eating a package each of the Create-a-Bug.
I don't know, what do you think...
You think they like the bugs?

If you ask my kids what they thought of the products, they would most likely say they liked them all. Being here and seeing for myself how quickly the products disappeared into their little mouths, I would say they liked the Create-a-Bug product best.

The Create-a-Bug portion sizes are ten pieces per individual package. Both children loved them and asked for seconds. Reiss asked for thirds. Oops...I let the cat out of the bag. Yes, I gave them seconds. No thirds though.

Although the first ingredient listed is fruit juice, I'm sure this product contains way more than enough sugar for little bodies but it hardly seems like a snack and since this product is little more than candy, I would recommend using it as a treat for special occasions or as an accompaniment to something more sustaining rather than alone to tide over a little belly until the next meal. Personally, we have chosen to use the Create-a-Bug product as a reward for pooping on the potty. Reiss really wants to "eat bugs" but also prefers pooping in his pants, as opposed to in the potty. So we compromise: He poops in the potty. We let him eat bugs.

The next product with the highest likeness rating would probably be the Fruit Roll-Ups. Only Reiss asked for seconds and when he got the second roll-up, he also got a broken tooth. But don't let this discourage you from buying this product. In Betty's defense, Reiss has horrible teeth. Without going into great detail, you can read about that HERE.

Reiss and Milla both liked the Fruit by the Foot and it was eaten well enough. However, they both complained of "stickies" afterwards and were hesitant to eat them when given them the next time. Reiss even asked for a fork....but then, he does that. He hates getting anything on his hands.

The Fruit Gushers did not get finished and I have a feeling I know why. They are kind of a strange texture. They're like a chewy gummy bear with gushy liquid inside. Hey, if that's your thing.....For us, it's not.

Now, for the contest! If you want to receive this same type of goody box offered by MyBlogSpark and Betty Crocker, leave me a comment. This coming Sunday, November 29th, at noon Eastern time, I will draw a winner. At some time that day, I will post the name of the winner as a new blog entry on 1-2-3 Autism Free.

Good luck to all!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Few Who Ruin It for the Many

I love catching up on the blogs of several blogging buddies. Over the past almost-year since I began blogging, I have watched as way too many of my blogging friends have had to go from "no comment moderation" to some form of it. And all along, I've had that "it won't happen to me" attitude. However, my time has come.

So with that said, a few people have ruined it for the many of you fabulous people and I have had to make changes. Anonymous comments are no longer allowed on this blog. My settings remain set to allow all other comments to post immediately without my approval. Any "comments" posted solely as a means of advertising will be deleted.

I'm not sure why I'm even writing this, as the offenders will never see it...but whatever.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Invitation to Plug Your Fave Book/Website

Between dealing with a home remodel project under the supervision of the world's slowest contractor, my growing dissatisfaction with Reiss' progress (yes, I DO indeed recognize this is not his fault!), and everything else going on, I am getting more and more frustrated with eating a gluten-free, casein-free diet and not being able to get a break from cooking and dishes. I'm tired of the same old fare I seem to be rotating in an organized fashion.

So with all that said, please share (in the comments section) your favorite book or website that caters to gluten-free - and casein-free, if possible! - recipes and cooking.

And I hate to have to give this little disclaimer but there are the few who ruin it for the many: Any website postings meant to be advertisements for any products or services unrelated to gluten-free dieting will be deleted.

Post away, people!!! Pleeeeeaaaaasssee, post away!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Money for Nothing

You no doubt remember fundraising appeals from third world charities asking you to sponsor and give money to the ‘poor’ children of Africa with images of sorrowful little faces on begging boxes and cans, underscored by patronizing and trite appeals to your sense of sympathy and justice…AutismNI/AutismUlster’s public relations team have copped on to the power of ‘feeling sorry’ in their recent fundraising campaign. Nothing like using pain, unhappiness and pity to get what you want.

Instead of the ‘poor black babies’ of Africa, their focus of course, is our own ‘poor little autistic’ children.

Here is an excerpt from their ‘gifting’ postcard. For those of you who have not paid your membership to AutismNI/Autism Ulster, you will not have sight of the offending article. It features the photo of a child who allegedly has a diagnosis of ASD. The writing underneath his photo states, -

“This child has a diagnosis of autism. He may never develop language, is unable to relate to the outside world in a meaningful way and gets upset when taken away from familiar things. He also does not sleep well, will only eat certain foods and is very sensitive to noise. This is Autism. (Is it?)

Arggggghhhhhhhh ….it goes on….(am retaining this postcard for future posterity - i will show it to my children when they grow up and tell them what some people 'used' to think of their brother. )

“But you can help! Through your support we can provide effective services to families who have a child with Autism and can enable the 20,000 people in Northern Ireland affected by Autism to become valued members of the community.”

(Interesting to note that AutismNI/Autism Ulster has had 20 years to do this so far, and it still hasn’t happened.)

On the reverse side of the postcard suggested donations are outlined : -

£4.00 – will pay for an information pack to be sent to parents of a newly diagnosed child
£20.00 – will support our parent/user helpline
£30.00 will pay for a counselling session with a family support worker.

(£50.00 will pay for an ox, a goat, a chicken coop – you get the picture)

Considering Health Trusts already fund AutismNI/Autism Ulster for many of their helpline/counseling workers, I don’t understand the need for more money in this regard.

But, let’s get back to the language used by AutismNI/Autism Ulster to describe autism. Don’t you just love it when the word ‘never’ is used regarding our children. Self fulfilling prophesies abound regarding our kids and feed the autism industry no end. Who is AutismNI/AutismUlster that they know anything about the possibilities of our children?

The description of autism here is offensive in the extreme. Instead of dwelling on impossibility, (for which there is no such thing regarding our children) they could have said, ‘he WILL develop language if only we could get it together to get our finger out of our proverbial and provide a concerted challenge to society to change their beliefs about our kids and lobby for programs (and not expensive autism bills) that are individualized and tailored to the specific child and his family.’

It begs the question of what is the point of contributing your hard earned cash to this charity if they believe our kids are lost causes. Autism is treatable, and recovery from autism is possible. AutismNI/AutismUlster promotes a self fulfilling prophesy for our children and seems to be expecting you to pay for that. Why? If our kids are so hopeless, why bother?

They could have said, ‘this child relates to the world in a different way, one that is fascinating, unique, authentic and totally within the ability of society to understand, if only they would shuffle off their skewed beliefs about the importance of ‘conformity’, and what is ‘acceptable’.

They also could have said, ‘peer reviewed research around the world is consistently pointing to the environment as a possible causation of autism and your donation will help us fund quality research and a care pathway for children suffering from sleep disorders, gut dysbiosis, allergies and other physical correlations with an autism spectrum diagnosis.’ (Of course, when you have a charity who accepts money from huge pharmaceutical companies who ply drugs to our children and their parents, you aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds you!) AutismNI/Autism Ulster was very happy to accept money from Glaxo Smithkline here:

AutismNI/AutismUlster, in my opinion, takes the low road in this regard. The biggest joke of this fundraising campaign is on the reverse of this card, where they state that AutismNI/AutismUlster ‘increases the quality and range of services available for individuals with Autism through training and education. Northern Ireland still provides one teaching program for our kids (TEACCH), no ABA, no Montessori, and limited funding for alternatives for home educators who want something specific to their children. Every year, talking heads from North Carolina TEACCH central come to Northern Ireland to drone on about the same old thing.

By now, we should have had many of our experts in this 'system' who could provide in house training across the province instead of having to spend thousands of pounds continually year after year.
Speech therapists are scarce (and often useless), sensory integration is virtually unheard of and autism specific schools, well that is another matter altogether. Meanwhile, in my opinion, parent members of AutismNI/Autism Ulster waste their time echoing and fighting for the political aspirations of Arlene Cassidy and her buddy Iris Robinson, wasting their time picketing the offices of certain political representatives who have eschewed the autism bill in favor of common sense.

‘Quality’ and autism services in Northern Ireland anyway, is an oxymoron. We need a good outcomes study of the millions of pounds already spent on so called autism training. Classroom aides in mainstream schools are wholly under-trained, if trained at all, parents get even less access to training unless they want to pay for it.

Meanwhile ‘our’ autism charity continues to tout our children as potential lost causes, making money off their backs and off their diagnosis’.

The fact that children all over the world are losing their diagnosis’ of autism doesn’t seem to interest AutismNI/Autism Ulster. Why would it? This should be on the front pages of AutismNI/Autism Ulster's web site. But no, not a dickey bird. Better to keep that kind of information hidden in case parents start to ask for more for their children.

Here is an excerpt taken from AutismNI/Autism Ulster's quarterly newsletter (Summer 2008). An article entitled 'Autism', written by a 15 year old girl explains her take on autism. As the article was vetted for the said newsletter by the charity, I presume the charity agrees with it as well. "Remember", she says, "Autism is a lifelong sentence and cannot be treated." Again, if that is so, why is it that on virtually every page of the newsletter does the charity beg for money for those 'untreatable' children? Why not just call for the blanket institutionalisation of all children with autism?

AutismNI/Autism Ulster appears to be working closely with Autism Initiatives (provider of group homes, etc) this is, in my opinion, a nice little number, a cozy airtight relationship – with one group guaranteeing the existence of the other. Autism Initiatives would not be building group homes all over the province unless they were sure they would be filled. ‘If you build it, they will come’ springs to mind. Continuing to use words like ‘never’ will ensure a steady stream of in-mates for these facilities.

AutismNI/Autism Ulster is proud of its 20 year history. I don’t know why. The only reason the charity has been allowed to flourish is because the statutory sector relinquished it’s responsibility to our children, favoring instead, to delegate the ‘problem’. AutismNI/Autism Ulster was ready and waiting to keep our kids in a holding pattern that now employs 24 staff.

In my opinion, the lack of, in fact the clear absence of lobbying by AutismNI/Autism Ulster for evidence based services and training in the province attests to this fact. The only 'lobbying' of the charity has been Arlene Cassidy’s autism bill. Politicians have realized how they had been duped, but moreso, how much it would cost, both in legal challenges and in rolling it out.

But back to the topic of this blog entry. Before you even consider giving one penny to AutismNI/Autism Ulster, please ask yourself the following questions: -

Is it ethical for the charity to fundraise from already financially overstretched parents, parents whose homes often break up with the breadwinner (husband) often leaving, homes where parents often cannot even work?

Are you sure where and for what the money is going to be used for? It costs a lot of money to pay 24 staff, money that could be used to actually lobby for real change in this province. With that many employees, the government should be inundated with demands for positive change for our children. We shouldn’t be in the mess we are currently in. Does AutismNI/Autism Ulster need money for more public relations, media and lobbying tables? Is anyone asking these  questions? Does anyone actually know or care how much the charity has spent on lobbying for the autism bill? Maybe Iris Robinson knows and should indeed be asked.

Could you do better? Could you start your own autism support group and elect someone to carry out research, a scoping exercise of services in Northern Ireland? Could you disseminate that research to the wider community for free? Could you fundraise monies from the lottery or from private patrons and use it directly for your children? I bet you could, I know you could. And I am sure you could do it without the need of employing 24 people.

AutismNI/Autism Ulster will never receive a penny from me until it starts demanding what my child needs as an individual first. To date I see nothing of interest on their website, in fact compared to the NAS website, it is a blank page. There is so much going on regarding autism in Northern Ireland right now with the RASD autism strategy – yet Autism NI/Autism Ulster remains silent.

I believe AutismNI/Autism Ulster has spent much time and money and effort lobbying for something I did not want, the government does not want, and something my child does not need. Instead of financing the political aspiirations of AutismNI/Autism Ulster with your hard earned cash, a simple phone call to the charity might be better. Ring them and ask them for their current financial statement and an explanation of how next year’s projected budget is going to be spent and how it will benefit your child. The worst that we, as parents can do, is to just assume. That is what the statutory sector has done for 20 years and that is why our children are living in this current mess.

The rot we currently face regarding autism, here in Northern Ireland does not solely rest with AutismNI/Autism Ulster. I am hopeful for the future though, as more parents are becoming aware, are being empowered and governments officials are realizing the error of their ways. Big things are afoot in Northern Ireland regarding autism and they have nothing to do with AutismNI/Autism Ulster or any other charity for that matter.

It’s an exciting time and should be embraced. The word ‘never’ is slowly being removed from the autism lexicon and the autism dinosaurs here are having to face their own extinction. To all the wonderful, astute, well informed parents I have met in the past 2 months, I say thank you and thank God for the opportunity to have met you all.

Nothing stays the same forever, even here in Northern Ireland! Exciting times are ahead whether you fund AutismNI/Autism Ulster's 'never' campaign, or not.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Woohoo!!! Organic GFCF Chocolate for Cheap!

If you or someone in your family eats a gluten and dairy free diet, you are probably all too familiar with the high price of getting a chocolate fix in the form of a candy bar. Right now, Endangered Species is offering their organic 1.4 ounce bars at an incredibly low price of only $0.49! If that alone doesn't set off your Woohoo Meter, consider the fact that most candy bars that fit into the category of GFCF usually cost at least $2 and aren't even made from organic ingredients.

So you can save some money, stick to your dietary restrictions*, and feel good that "10% of net profits (are) donated to help support species, habitat, and humanity."

By the way, I am not being compensated in any way for this plug for Endangered Species.....I saw a good deal and thought I would pass it on to others. If anyone is in the same boat my husband and I are in, you can sympathize with needing a good deal when it comes to providing a candy bar bribe for a poop on the potty (versus in the pants!) by a four-year-old. :)

*Only the dark chocolate bars are gluten and dairy free.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh, To Be A Doctor.....

A funny thing happened Thursday morning. At precisely 9:30 a.m. the doorbell rang. Not expecting anyone, I didn't answer it. About a minute later, it rang again. This time I looked out the window but did not recognize the car in the driveway. Unless you are a really persistent door-to-door salesperson - in which case, you shouldn't be ringing my doorbell anyway, due to the "No Soliciting" sign posted directly next to the button - or some creepy stalker who can't get a clue to leave, two rings is usually the limit for any normal person. That is the norm, right? Or am I just ignorant and rules of etiquette proclaim one ring to be the proper number?

But no, the doorbell rang a third time.

This time I actually walked to the door to find our service coordinator, Tracy, with First Steps (This is the organization through which Milla receives speech therapy and in other parts of the country it is called Early Intervention), standing there waiting for me to let her in for our quarterly appointment we scheduled weeks ago. Yes, it was in my planner. Yes, I kept reminding myself all week long, but apparently only up until the day before the appointment and then it somehow escaped my thought process never to be recovered again because, by around 9:34 Thursday morning, I was about to wail on someone for ringing my doorbell so many times and not leaving me alone.

Embarassed and apologizing all over the place, I opened the door and poor Tracy came in.

This post isn't about my lovely fifteen minute appointment (nearly five minutes of which was taken up by my avoiding the doorbell ringing) with Tracy and all the paperwork we ran through in that short period of time, but rather, what followed afterwards. However, it was a bit humorous and worth mentioning the thought that I had an unexpected arrival of a serial killer or serial salesperson or serial stalker and how I was avoiding opening the door to such a person when, all along, I should have remembered it was the person who was clearly marked in pen on my planner for that morning at that specific time.

That said, I do need to mention one piece of paperwork that is pertinent to this story. One of the items Tracy brought was a diagnosis sheet that I needed to sign off on that would then be sent to our family doctor for him to confirm that yes, Milla has developmental delays and her need for speech therapy services is warranted.

Now I need to backtrack a little bit here because this is the part where I thought it was odd that Milla's doctor needed to sign off saying he had diagnosed her with these delays because 1)He had never diagnosed her in the first place when we began getting speech services several months ago and 2)Her need for services was first determined and is determined by the speech and occupational therapists who serve as evaluators for First Steps.

Are you confused yet? Basically, when we first started to notice Milla was not talking at a level as a typical child her age, we contacted First Steps. They sent two evaluators (whose degrees are in speech pathology and occupational sciences) out who sat down with Milla and I for around two hours and determined that Milla did indeed show some weaknesses and delays in enough areas to qualify her for services. Our family doctor was never involved in the process.

BUT - there is always a "but"....

But despite the fact that the two evaluators felt she needed services, in order for Milla to receive services, our doctor had to sign off on this one sheet I am talking about. Apparently, around six months ago, our doctor did so with no questions asked.

Fast forward to this week and the phone call I received yesterday from Tracy telling me that she had been notified by Admin Girl at Milla's doctor's office that our doctor would not sign off on the form because he had not seen her in over a year. Hmmmm.....he had no problem with not seeing her six months ago and confirming her diagnosis as "developmental delays." But now six months later, he needs to see her in order to sign off???

Why has she not seen him in over a year, you ask? Well, after we began determining that Reiss has autism and that we felt his vaccines played a part in it, we stopped taking Milla to the doctor. If she was not sick, why bother? We didn't want her shot up with the same bunch of crap. And she has never been sick (aside from a spell where she kept vomiting but we were pretty certain that was an intolerance to a particular food and the problematic food has since been eliminated). If you're taking a child to a Well Baby appointment and not getting her/him vaccinated, then what is the purpose?

So this morning I called the doctor's office and told Admin Girl, who answered the phone, my situation and why Milla has not been seen in over a year in their office. I asked if there was any way we could just come in for an appointment and have Milla seen so that the doc could sign off on the form. Without it, we cannot get speech services. And I made sure to include that in my plea.

Admin Girl told me that even if we are no longer vaccinating Milla, she still needs to be seen for Well Child visits so that the doctor can determine whether she is meeting her developmental milestones or has developmental delays present.

I wanted to say, "Um.....excuse me? Do you mean the same developmental milestones that I kept bringing to the doctor's attention every three months when I thought that my son was not hitting them? The same milestones that the doctor reassured me that children reach at different periods and it didn't matter that my son wasn't right on target? The same milestones that we persistently kept bringing to the doctor's attention that we were extremely concerned about and he told us not to worry? Do you mean the same milestones that, when missed, can indicate developmental delays and even autism? Do you mean the same milestones that six months ago, without seeing Milla in person, the doctor signed a form stating she had missed them and had developmental delays present? Those? Are those the same ones? Because, if those are the same ones you're referring to, the doctor missed them altogether with our son and dismissed our concerns and it was only after we began talking to parents of other autistic children that we found that there was concern there all along."

But, of course, I didn't say that.

I politely accepted an offer of an appointment for next week and we'll get our little signature and things in our world will be righty tighty again. And all because of a bunch of bureaucratic paperwork that requires a scribble from a doctor who missed it all the first time around with child number one.

The irony makes me want to vomit.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now THIS Is Cool!

(Edit: The 3/50 Project site has been having some technical difficulties and clicking on the above may give an error. If that is the case, click HERE.)

By sheer accident, I came across this website while reading some totally unrelated content on another website. The 3/50 Project is basically a grassroots movement to support local businesses and assist them in weathering the storm of this tough economy.

As a person whose entire family's well-being depends on a small family-owned business, supporting local businesses and those of the "Mom & Pop" variety has always been something I try to do, when possible, and take pride in doing.

I won't even try to provide lengthy detail of the process and how we can all help our local businesses. Instead, you can read about it straight from the source. If you choose not to click on the link, "The goal is simple: Ask consumers to frequent three local brick and mortar businesses they don’t want to see disappear, and to spend a very affordable $50 per month doing it."

And if $50 is too much for your budget, create your own 3/$40 or 3/$25 Project or whatever is affordable for you. You will feel good about making such an effort and the business owners whose businesses you frequent will appreciate it. Every little bit counts! So let's get out there and get shopping! Or eating! Or getting our car worked on....or whatever!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Join Me on Facebook for Biomedical Discussions!

This is just a quick heads up to all my bloggie world friends that a few friends and I have created a facebook group called DAN!/Biomedical Parents. If you are interested in joining, the aforementioned boldface words are the exact words you will want to search for when on facebook.

The intent of the group is for those who are using the DAN! protocol or those who are interested in learning more about it to discuss issues relating to the protocol and other biomedical treatment methods used in treating individuals with ASD's.

Here is the fine print, per se. And I hate to have to say it but unfortunately, as my friends and I have found in the past, it is necessary: Currently, the group is set as "open," making it available for any facebook member anywhere in the world to join. If problems should arise with any member or members causing trouble (bashing, criticizing treatment choices of other members, etc.), said members will be booted from the group and the group will be reset as "secret." In the event that the group is changed to secret mode, it will not be searchable on facebook and membership will be by invitation only.

Come join us on facebook and give us an introduction! I look forward to "meeting" all of you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Swine Flu Vax Is A Moral Obligation???

Really? Seriously?
Read what I'm talking about here.....

I am speechless, yet totally outraged at the same time, by the audacity of these people who are supposed to be "religious leaders" for their labelling the H1N1 vaccination 'a moral obligation.'

Um, no, I don't think so! Plain and simple. Who the you-know-what do they think they are, anyway???

And because I refuse to get off on a tangent and get any madder at these ignorant souls today, this concludes my post for the day, folks!

Enjoy! And don't shoot me....I'm just the messenger.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A (Nearly) Perfect Autumn Day

Today we went to a birthday party for a little boy who is our neighbor and a very good friend. In the last three and a half years, even before the little guy came along, James and I have really gotten to know his mother and father and they are awesome people. By the way, if you click on the link on the right for "The Wellness Philosophy," that is our neighbor's blossoming business.

The birthday party for our little friend was held at a park fairly close to our house. We have been there one other time and didn't think much of it but obviously it was because we did not walk around a whole lot while there. When we went today, we found there was a bridge over a stream that led to what must be miles and miles of cleared away and paved trails. It was an unbelievable surprise, to say the least.

At one point, I was walking along one of the trails with Milla while Reiss and James were over in the playground area and, with all the colorful leaves falling all around us and just being in the middle of it all, it felt like a little slice of Heaven. Being back there surrounded by all the color and beauty of the environment, one would never guess there is the hustle and bustle of a very busy commercial area close by and a very well-travelled street right outside the park's gates. It was refreshing and relaxing and I could have kicked myself for forgetting to bring the camera. The setting provided a perfect opportunity for one of those kinds of photos where a child is pictured from the back wondering amidst falling leaves and those already on the ground. Grrrr! Maybe next week.....

Our neighbor, who has shown great interest in the biomedical treatments we use in treating Reiss' autism, attended one of the DAN! conferences and is now a practicing provider in the DAN! protocol. Because she is so aware of the importance of our GFCF diet, she made a cake especially for us to eat at her own son's birthday party! How cool is that? And although I told her to please do not do anything special for us, I have to admit, that is a true friend!

There were several children at the party and we all played on the playground equipment and walked around (making certain to avoid a very large, very disrespectful pile of dog poo someone failed to dispose of - seriously...what is wrong with people?) and talked and it was just great fun.

There was one time when Milla was making her way up the steps to the slide and I had to seriously restrain myself and now I wish I hadn't but who knows what the consequences would have been had I opened my mouth. Anyway, there was a little girl of about four years old who was trying to get past Milla rather than wait her turn. Her father kept telling her to wait her turn and she kept on trying to get past Milla and the father grabbed her on her chest (like one of her breasts) and squeezed and very angrily told her to wait her turn. She let out a little wail and, although I did see it happen, I didn't need to see it happen to know by her wailing that it hurt pretty badly. Call me a wimp and call me a stereotyper, but I kept my mouth shut because all his tattoos running up and down his arms scared the crap out of me. Now I'm wishing I would have said something....poor little girl. If he does that out in public, I don't even want to think what happens at home when she does something he disapproves of. (SIGH!)

The child abuser was the worst part of my afternoon. Otherwise, things were mostly ideal. The kids played fuss-free for nearly two hours. They were very happy and having fun and probably would have played even longer without any fits but Milla was getting tired and naptime was approaching, so we left. Milla was worn out and was asleep in her carseat as we approached our house.

It doesn't sound like a particularly spectacular day but it was a great Autumn day and one I will remember for a long time.

Something to Ponder This Sunday

Disclaimer: This post includes mention of bodily functions of the #2 kind. If you are easily grossed out or do not see the humor, poo on you.

Poopology, according to Reiss:
If you poop on the potty, that's a poop.
If you poop in your underwear, that's a turd.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oh, How Autism Changes Your Goals....

Jenn over at Can Mom Be Calm? gave me an idea for a blog post of my own with one of her latest posts. In it, she compares her pre-baby goals to her goals after giving birth. Or rather, to her goals for her children now that she has two children with special needs.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately myself, especially during those times when I am subjected to another parent rambling on about how their child is the best soccer player his school has ever seen. Or how their child is the first in her class to make the fill in the blank with a sport travelling team. Or how about this one (we have all had to listen to someone like this): How the child walked out of the womb and was potty-trained by one year of age.

Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration but you get the point.

As Jenn pointed out in her own post, no matter whether you have a child who is typical or one who has special needs or even one who is extraordinarily gifted, for that matter, once you have a child and reality begins to set in, your goals begin to change so rapidly that you wonder how you were ever so naive to believe things would be the way you imagined them before you had the child.

Here are just a few of my "before" and "after" goals. And if you're new here and the name of this site wasn't enough to clue you in, here's a newsflash: I have a child with autism.

For my child -
Before: My child will not become addicted to television.
After: Please, God, can you get him to watch tv for just five minutes so I can have a break to breathe?

Before: I will not allow any organization (Boy Scouts or other) to base my child's membership eligibility on whether or not he goes out soliciting over-priced merchandise to our neighbors every other week.
After: At some point, I hope my child will "get" the concept of being in an extra-curricular activity.

Before: My child will not be that child in a restaurant who, at say, eight years old, has no table manners and still makes a toddler-size mess.
After: My child will be able sit quietly enough and sit still long enough by say, eight years old, that we can go out to eat as a family without people pointing and staring at us.

Before: My child will not be that child who all the other kindergarten children are whispering about because he peed his pants.
After: (With fingers crossed) My child will not be that child who all the other freshmen are loudly taunting because he peed his pants.

Before: My child will not be the child who gets picked on.
After: My child will almost certainly be the one who gets picked but I hope he can let it roll off his back (or let's hope God is looking out for the child doing the picking on him).

Before: My child will love to read.
After: I hope my child will read at his appropriate grade level.

Before: My child doesn't have to be Mr. Popularity but I hope he has a lot of friends.
After: I hope my child will "get" the concept of friendship soon. It's something we discuss frequently.

For myself -
Before: I will continue to work out and refuse to become a shlumpadinka mama.
After: Does playing waitress to my children and rarely getting a break to sit down count as exercise?

Before: I will not be one of those moms who goes out in public looking like they just got out of bed.
After: I hope I get to brush my teeth today. Getting a shower would be like a slice of Heaven.

Before: My husband and I will plan for college. We will not wonder during our child's senior year how we are going to pay for college.
After: I hope my child will do well in mainstream public school. Attending college would be a totally unexpected and more than welcome bonus.

Before: I will not be that know, like the one I mentioned before who brags about their child doing everything better than your child and at a younger age.
After: I will put on my best smile and try my darndest to not vomit down the front of that parent's shirt when I have to listen to their meaningless droning.

Enough of my goals. I need to get off here and go help my four-year-old study for the LSAT.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Monkey's Birthday

In this week's news, Milla turned two years old! We had a very impromptu party for her with only Daddy, Mommy, Reiss, Grandma Marie, Grandpa Phil, and Grandma Elaine as her guests.

We weren't going to do anything at all except make a cake but then I had James invite his mom over for dinner and cake and ice cream (all gluten-free and casein-free, of course!) and then I invited my own dad and step-mom for cake and ice cream. My dad is retired but he and my stepmom came just after she got home from work, not giving them time to eat dinner and I then felt bad for only inviting them for cake and ice cream. Once I got to feeling bad for that, I then began to wonder if I actually invited them for dinner and then didn't have dinner waiting for them when they got here.....who knows, I'm getting old. Should that be the case and if you are reading this, Dad or Elaine, my apologies because I really did think I only invited you for cake and ice cream.

I should have just invited everyone for dinner and I wouldn't be wondering like this now. Anyway, on to the photos............

First, we opened gifts and Milla received six books total. She loves, loves, LOVES books, which I love, love, LOVE that she loves them! Here we are looking at one of the board books she received that has flaps in it with toys and people and assorted other things hiding behind the flaps.

Here she is pointing to the baby in the book. She also loves babies and ducks and always points them out whenever she sees them, no matter where they are. We have a car dealership close to our home that has a big duck on the sign and she always yells out "Duck!" whenever we pass by it.

Milla's birthday cake.
I made the cake, frosted it, did the little stars on it and wrote her name. Next I let Reiss and Milla take turns placing the pure sugar (yuck!) ducky decorations on the cake. Notice the one that is upside down? Each child then placed a little duck candle wherever they chose. I'm not bashing those who buy store-bought cakes, but I'll take the fun of having the kids help out over paying for a fancy cake any day!

Milla blowing out her candles. Actually, I did it for her but she has plenty of years to get the hang of it.

"Let me at it!" Milla talked about her cake all day after we made it. When it finally came time to eat it, I don't think she could believe it.

Picking off the duck candles.....I also let Milla and Reiss pick off a few sugary ducks before slicing the cake into pieces.

Reiss helping with the first slice....

Milla helping with the next slice....
Happy Birthday to our little monkey!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wintertime at the Pumpkin Patch

We froze our buns off taking the kids to a local pumpkin patch yesterday. Honestly, I can't remember the last time it was this cold in October for so many consecutive days. Enough complaining, here are the pics........

Reiss trying to pick up a pumpkin. This is not the one he ultimately ended up choosing. That came later.....

Milla venturing into the little pumpkin area.

Milla holding a pumpkin and being silly with Mommy. This also was not the pumpkin she chose. She wanted one that was much bigger.

Reiss....just being Reiss.

The kids could choose a pumpkin from this area but we decided to let them choose from the actual pumpkin patch that you had to get to by hayride.

Reiss patting the head of the cutest little baby cow ever!

Milla on top of the world.

Reiss on top of the world.

All three monkeys being silly.

No pictures to post of the hayride. Well, that's not entirely true. We have two photos from the hayride but I'm all slouched over trying to hold Milla and not bounce all over creation from the rough ride through the mud out to the pumpkin patch.

This place we went to is a landscaping place where we usually get mulch by the truckload every year in the springtime. When we were coming back from the apple orchard with Reiss' class field trip a few weeks ago, we noticed this place was doing a kid-oriented pumpkin patch and hayride sort of thing.

For $4 (over age 2) per person, we got a hayride, corn maze, petting zoo (which only had four animals) and a straw bale mountain. The $4 did not include our pumpkins, which were $3 each. For what we got, I thought $4 was a bit much but it was fun for the kids. I know other people probably don't think $4 is much....but then, I don't think like most people. I expect more for my money than most people....but that's another post.