Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Monster Of A Party!

Last week, our first-born monkey turned five years old!

I always have to laugh when other parents make the observation of their children growing up so quickly or empty-nesters whose grown children reached adulthood "in the wink of an eye." They all seem to say the same thing: "Where in the world does the time go?" Well, I will tell you where it goes or at least, where it went for me. For the first three-and-a-half years of being a parent, it ticked by so incredibly slowly all while I wondered if my "baby" - who was definitely no longer a baby - would ever stop waking every hour through the night, sometimes two or three times per hour, and if I would ever get any sleep again in this lifetime.

Alas, after starting our special diet and being convinced of its effectiveness on the very first night (the first night Reiss ever slept through the night in his whole entire short life!), we were finally getting some sleep and everyone thankfully survived. And now we are at five years old! FIVE! Who knew I would make it this long and live to tell about it? But I am definitely here and, unlike back then, time does not tick by nearly as slowly now that I am asleep for at least part of it in any given twenty-four hour period.

Enough of my woes....Can you tell I am so thankful for sleep?

Last Saturday we had a party for Reiss and rented a bounce house in the shape of a monster truck. Yes, I know how much bounce houses cost and I am also aware that our rental cost almost as much as buying one. And furthermore, I have chosen to say "enough is enough" regarding toys and clothes and stuff and things that require space for storage and I made the wise decision to go with the option of having someone else worry about where to store such a large item as a bounce house.

Yes, renting a bounce house is not an investment with endless returns but not having to store it makes up for all those "lost" returns.

Reiss wanted to keep the bounce house, as trucks are one of his favorite things but, as we explained to him, by having people who come to get the bounce house (instead of keeping it), we get to choose a different one every time we rent one. Milla has already called "dibs" on the princess castle bounce house for her birthday in October. Little do they know that renting a bounce house is not something that will happen with a whole lot of frequency.

We took some really adorable photos, however, due to privacy issues with other parents' children, only photos of Reiss and Milla are posted.

All of the above photos were taken before Reiss's party began and while Reiss and Milla were the only children playing in the bounce house. Just prior to the start of the party, I changed Milla into a perfectly-party-appropriate dress with a cupcake on it.

Reiss painting a car bank. It was one of the prizes leftover in the prize bin after the party.

From left: Crystal (Reiss's BCBA for his ABA therapy), Reiss, Milla, Heather (one of Reiss's ABA therapists)

Reiss getting ready to open his first gift. In this photo, we also have Anne, who is not one of Reiss's therapists but works for Crystal and was here with one of the children present at the party.

Reiss had $23 from his birthday to spend at Toys R Us. So what'd he get? A princess dress for Milla! We tried to persuade him otherwise but that is what he wanted to buy. He also bought himself one of those hippity-hop balls. I have no idea what the real name is for them. They are those things a child sits on, holds onto the handle, and jumps around on.

My little five-year-old prince and princess....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mad Jap Kustoms

Mad Jap Kustoms

Mad Jap Kustoms is a bike shop located out of Calgary, AB.  Yes...Calgary.  I've still never been to their shop but next time I'm up in Calgary I plan on stopping by and taking a look.  They have a lot of custom parts including rolling chassis, gas and fuel tanks, frames, fenders, bars, pegs and anything else you could think of that you could use to customize or build a bike.  Their rolling chassis would be a great way to start a bobber build without having to throw down a lot of cash and you wouldn't have to waste time finding a frame, bars, tanks and tires.  This is something that I will be looking into come fall/winter.  I'm not a pro and I've never built a bike but I think this would be the best way to start.  I'm sure I could learn my way through a build but it would be tough...I'd like to leave it to the pro's but I think it would be very cool to rip on a bike that I built.

If you get a chance, stop by their shop and take a look at around...

Here are some of the bikes that have been built at Mad Jap Kustoms...

Mad Jap Kustoms Website

"The Buck Nutty" - For Sale

"Lucky Charm"

"Funk Master"

"Sweet and Sour"

"Root Beer Bike"

"El Pecadora" The Sinner

"El Santo Uno"

"Viva Las Vegas"

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Future of the Oilers

Time for an Oil Change...

Draft day.  For the first time in their team history, the Edmonton Oilers will select first overall in the NHL draft.

So it all comes down to this.  Hall or Seguin?

Both players will one day be superstars in the big's, Hall is said to be able to make an instant impact while Seguin might take a little longer to develop.  Hall is being compared to a 'Mark Messier' type player that hates to lose and wants the puck.  Seguin on the other hand has landed comparison's to the former Red Wings great, Steve Yzerman, a quiet leader who leads by example.

This will be one thing that the Oilers can't lose at, both players are great, there is no 'wrong' pick.

So who will it be? Taylor or Tyler?

I'm on team Taylor...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manute Bol

RIP - Manute Bol

AP -Manute Bol, who became a basketball sensation in the 1980s as a skeletally thin shot-blocking giant with the Washington Bullets and other professional teams, and who devoted his post-basketball life to improving the lot of his fellow natives of Sudan, died June 19 at the University of Virginia...

While I was growing up playing basketball in my back yard with my best bud Kent Kerkhoff, I would pretend to be either Scottie Pippen or MJ, Kent on the other hand would be Manute Bol.

Here's a sick 80's rap video of Manute Bol.  You need to watch the whole thing.  Great lyrics...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

He Gets It! He REALLY Gets It!

Reiss turned five years old today. His first words when he saw me this morning were, "Today is my birthday!"

and right after that,

"I'm five!"

I nearly poured out buckets of tears. Tears of joy, that is!

My first thought was that he gets it. He finally "gets" the whole excitement surrounding birthdays. It was like that line Sally Field became so famous for in her Oscar acceptance speech in the 1980's: "You like me! You really like me!" Except for the fact that she didn't actually say that. That was simply the gist of what she did say and what has gone down in history in the minds of the masses.

Reiss, however, does "get" it. He really gets it now that birthdays are something special. I must say with each of his previous birthdays I have wondered if he would ever understand the concept of birthdays and the anticipation of one's own birthday, let alone when he would ever understand. Even around this time last year, Reiss demonstrated no understanding of the concept of birthdays or of them being cause for celebration. He exhibited no interest in opening gifts or any of the traditional birthday celebratory activities.

And this is where I interrupt our regular programming for a public service message.

When I try to describe all the things that make up our particular world of autism, it is extremely difficult to describe to someone who has only experienced having or being around neurotypical children. While Reiss is one of those children who definitely falls onto the spectrum of autism, his particular challenges are not easily pinpointed without going into great detail.

Birthdays are one of those areas where parents of "normal" children take for serious granted. Neurotypical children have birthdays, they get excited about them at a fairly young age, and their parents usually do their best to make their child's big day special. I would venture to say that many of those parents cannot fathom their child not being excited about his or her birthday. On the other hand, many parents of children with autism often wonder if there will ever be a year when their child will get excited over his or her birthday. My husband and I are no different from most parents in that we have tried to make Reiss's birthdays special but the whole concept has always eluded him...until now. His excitement left me with such hope for the future that I am certain is way bigger than any gift anyone could give to him.

My point?

When your "normal" child is sitting there whining and being a little patoot about his birthday gifts not being exactly what he wanted or when your little princess's heart is broken because you rented pony rides instead of a royal bounce house, just thank your lucky stars that your little turkey is even aware of that one special day each year.

End of public service message. Getting down off my soapbox now.

We are having a big bounce house bash for Reiss on Saturday but here are the photos from this evening....

The cake is gluten-free and casein-free, of course, and can be viewed HERE. We purchased three of them from our local health food store. If you are interested in purchasing this kind of cake, you might check with your own natural foods market or health food store. From what I understand, the Shabtai website is frequently out of stock on this item because so many distributors buy up their stock whenever they get them made. Plus, I paid less buying ours from the health food store than what the website charges.

Their photo, nor mine, does this cake justice. Theirs does not look exactly like the cake we have, as the flower in the center of the cake we have is made of chocolate icing, while the one on their website has colored flowers. I am pretty certain they have gone to the chocolate flower and just have not changed the website photo. The chocolate flower makes the cake seem so much more elegant, in my opinion.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Ride

I think Summer is finally here...until it rains again.  I've managed to get in two solid weekends of riding, the first being last weekend where I rode to Fernie and back.  The weather was a little sketchy on the way out, windy and overcast.  I rode back to Lethbridge on Sunday, and the weather was gorgeous.  The bad thing about it was that I had to do the ride on my own, it woulda been nice to have a few buddies along side me for such a nice ride.  The good thing about riding on your own is that you have a few less things to worry about, such as when someone wants to stop, if your going to fast or to slow,  who needs fuel up, who needs to pee, who's hungry.  It can be very relaxing to get out on your own and just ride.  

This  past weekend myself and my buddy Mur went out for a little southern Alberta ride.  We headed out to Taber, East on Highway 3 then headed up to Vauxhall on the 36.  We stopped in Vauxhall and had a burger at Wendys drive-in.  From there we looped around threw Iron Springs and Picture Butte and back into Lethbridge.  It was a nice short ride for a Saturday afternoon.  I finished off the weekend golfing out in Picture Butte for Fathers Day with my Dad and my brothers Kevin and Craig.  It was nice to have some good weather finally, hopefully it sticks around... 

Myself and Ryan Fletcher (Mur) at Wendys in Vauxhall

Riding back from Fernie...Pic taken by world famous photographer, Andy Houtheys

Our Sunday BEST: A Revelation

For nearly five years in our house, every Saturday morning, without fail, we have had Pancake Saturday. In that time, I cannot recall a single Saturday when we have not made pancakes and we always make them from scratch.

For several months now, we have also eaten the same thing almost every Sunday morning as the previous Sunday morning and it was just this afternoon when I had a revelation. The acronym for our bacon, eggs, smoothies, and toast we eat on Sundays spells out the word "BEST." So from this day forward, our weekend breakfasts will consist of Pancake Saturday and our Sunday BEST.

Yes, I will admit I have some oddities. It's okay - I'm fine with owning up to those oddities.

By the way, I was going to wish you all a Happy Father's Day but with it being 12:22 AM on Monday morning, it looks like I am a little late to the punch. Hope it was a good one!

For our Father's Day.......

--- I called my own father and wished him a happy birthday and a happy Father's Day. My dad's birthday falls on the same date every year (one would hope so, right?) and some years that happens to be on Father's Day. This year was one of those years.

--- Reiss gave James a "hot glove" (that is a Reiss-ism for what others might call an oven mitt) he made at his ABA social group. It says, "Hands down, you're the greatest dad! Happy Father's Day!" Reiss wrapped it in some paper with the ends still open and set it on his and Milla's toy kitchen. He then waited to give it to James this morning. Too bad he already told Daddy two days ago what he was going to give him. Nonetheless, James reacted with surprise and excitement today when given his gift.

--- We went for a short road trip to Bloomington, a city approximately 45 minutes away from our home. We went to see two sets of aunts and uncles on my mother's side of the family who are currently in town for "mini-college," a week's worth of informational seminars on various topics at Indiana University. One set of relatives are in from Albuquerque, New Mexico and the other calls Clover, South Carolina home. It was really great to see them and unfortunately, we do not see them enough. I know they were disappointed that we could not go have dinner with them but Reiss and Milla were going downhill fast after already having visited for two hours and we are only just now beginning to get a hold on the whole dining-out-with-a-child-who-cannot-sit-still-for-five-minutes-let-alone-an-hour-or-more kind of thing, so long story short, we bid our good-byes and headed for home. They all went out for Indian cuisine and we came home to chicken satay with 100% buckwheat soba noodles and peas. The grilled chicken and peas were leftover from last night's dinner leaving me with only having to cook the soba noodles - for seven minutes, not eight like the package directs. I learned that little tidbit from Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut.

--- Before the visiting with the relatives, we went and bought a cooler and a bunch of ice at the superstore where I do some of our grocery shopping so that we could take it with us to go to another kind of grocery - a natural foods market. The irony that I was buying a cooler at one grocery store so that I could shop at another almost makes me laugh out loud. Actually, I would let out a good chuckle if it weren't for the fact that my children sometimes seem to sleep as light as special forces military personnel.

After purchasing the cooler, we set out on our little roadtrip and then to Bloomingfoods once we arrived in Bloomington. Peppadew peppers, maple sugar, 240 Sweet artisan marshmallows, and Himala Salt were just a few of the wonderful little treats I picked up while there. I have not found Peppadew peppers anywhere locally. Perhaps I could find them and any of the other items if I were to go to Whole Foods but that is a bit of a drive from us as well. The Himala Salt is easy enough to find at my usual health food stores but neither carries the large rock crystals for grinding.

Bloomingfoods was a nice little diversion and I will admit that I'm just plain giddy with my artisan marshmallows and Peppadew peppers (I bought both the red and yellow variety!) but the produce at Bloomingfoods was a bit pricier than I'm used to paying. For example, their organic bananas were $.99/lb. I am accustomed to paying $.69 or $.79 per pound at regular price or $.29-$.49 per pound when they are getting overripe and are marked down.

--- And finally, I was reminded that, on this day one year ago, Reiss had his first seizure.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Juice

June 17, 1994

Where were you?

Apparently Arnold Palmer was playing his final round at the U.S. Open, the New York Knicks were battling the Hakeem Olajuwon's Houston Rockets, the World Cup was kicking off in Chicago, and the New York Rangers were basking in the glory of their Stanley Cup victory with a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan.

Most famously, it was the day that, with former teammate Al Cowlings at the wheel, O.J. Simpson, charged with the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, took his slow ride around the freeways of Southern California in a white Ford Bronco, holding a gun to his head. 

I bet some of my buddies from L.A. have some better stories about where they were when this went down...

I was in grade 9, and I was most likely rockin' a pair of overall's with the left strap hanging off my waist.  I remember getting home and as we flipped through all the channels, all that was on the TV was OJ.  Who the fack is OJ?  I grew up in Picture Butte, Alberta, Canada.  I didn't have a clue about the NFL.  OJ?  Is that the guy from Naked Gun?  I had no idea he even played football,  let alone was an All-American, a Heisman trophy candidate, or was the only player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a 14 game season.  He was a 6 time pro-bowler, an actor, and he even hosted SNL at one time, I'd love to see that episode, I'm sure he killed it...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Biker Bitch...

I was in Fernie over the weekend and I managed to pick up a pretty little lady that loved my bike.  I can't remember her name but I do remember that she was a nasty girl...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here You Are, June!

With my last post I hoped for warm weather and the arrival of June and now, here it is, the month of sunny days and strawberry picking in the Hoosier state. June is not only here but close to a third gone. My apologies for sounding cliche but seriously, where does the time go? What's more is it has been close to three weeks since my last post. Needless to say, I have become quite the blogging slacker. Not to be confused with a general slacker, which by far, does not describe me, despite my wishes to be able to do less and relax more.

So what have we been up to these last few weeks?

We have gone to downtown Indianapolis and rented a paddle boat on the canal. The photos from that outing.....

(To be read to the same beat as "Five Little Monkeys") Two little monkeys rolling down a hill, one got grass stains on his knee. Momma didn't worry and she didn't fret. She just let them play and frolic with glee.

Where might the photos of the actual paddle boat be, you ask? Well, long story short, paddle boats do not come equipped with seatbelts. Or at least, the paddle boat we rented did not come with them. Between trying to paddle the boat in a semi-sane path of travel through the canal and making certain none of our belongings - to include our backpack and children - fell overboard, conducting a photoshoot fell to the bottom of the priorities list.

Two weekends ago, we went to a USDA certified organic farm to "see the cows." There was not much to see but the man working the tiny little store there was nice enough to walk us out to the barn for the kids to see some calves and the bull. We purchased a few potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions. We also bought a pound of ground pork and much to my disappointment, they were out of veal at the time. We have a few photos from that little outing but as with so many things in our house, they have gotten lost in the shuffle. Actually, there is a pretty good chance they are still on the camera waiting to be downloaded. Guess I will find out next time I use the camera.

We have also gone to a neurologist appointment, a DAN! appointment, and spent countless hours doing ABA, occupational, and speech therapies.

We had a laugh-so-hard-I-cried moment here on Monday evening. I'm not quite sure why I decided to set up the pool that day, as it was quite cool for a June day but for some reason I asked the kids if they wanted to set it up and (stupid question, huh?) of course they did. It was one of those impulse decisions that was not well thought out at all and coaxing either child into the water meant boiling water in a big pan in the house several times and pouring it into the pool. (Yes, I always make them get out of the water when we pour the boiling water in....give me some credit, will ya?)

Anyway, Reiss had gotten out of the pool and walked around in the grass and the driveway a bit before coming back to the pool and stepping in, only to yell "There's a SNAKE in the pool!" loud enough for the neighbors on the next street to hear. My husband went over to inspect where Reiss was pointing to discover our "snake" was a dried up dead worm that was two inches long if it was a mile. He pulled it out, held it up, and then discarded it into the grass. And then that is when my laughing and snorting and, eventually, the tears began to stream out of me.

As I am sitting here, I just remembered Reiss has also GRADUATED since my last post. Yes, I know, this seems like a rather big thing to forget but in my defense, a lot happens in three weeks and I have slept since then....even if only a little. His graduation produced several adorable photos. However, many of them have other children in them and due to privacy and blah, blah, blah...they are not on here. Here are the photos I can post. Enjoy....

FLASH NEWS - Gut test could make autism preventable

see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7801077/Autism-test-could-make-the-condition-preventable.html

Autism test could make the condition 'preventable'
Autism could be turned into a "preventable" disorder after British scientists develop a simple test for the condition.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:00PM BST 03 Jun 2010

Diagnosis of autism has always been difficult and often the condition remains unrecognised until too late for treatment to have a maximum effect.

But now researchers at Imperial College London have discovered a potential way of spotting the disorder that they hope could ultimately lead to a test for children as young as six months old.

That would mean that intensive behavioural and social treatment could begin before the disease has caused any permanent psychological damage.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the author of the study, said: "Children with autism have very unusual gut microbes which we can test for before the full blown symptoms of the disease come through.

"If that is the case then it might become a preventable disease."

It is estimated that around one in 100 people have autism, meaning there are around 500,000 in Britain.

The condition covers a wide spectrum of disorders with cases ranging from relatively mild problems with social interaction to more severe difficulties in behaviour such as not speaking or copying, rigid routines and social isolation.

While the causes of the condition remain a mystery, early and intensive treatment is known to help alleviate the symptoms.

The problem is that diagnosis can be difficult and often relies on waiting for the symptoms to develop by which time a lot of damage has been done.

At present, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy process involving a range of tests that explore the child's social interaction, communication and imaginative skills.

Early intervention can greatly improve the progress of children with autism but it is currently difficult to establish a firm diagnosis until children begin speaking.

The latest breakthrough shows that it is possible to distinguish between autistic and non-autistic children by looking at the by-products of gut bacteria and the body's digestive processes in the children's urine.

Prof Nicholson, who worked with the University of South Australia, said he hoped that the test, which could cost as little as £5, could one day be used in children as young as six months old.

Most children are not diagnosed until they are at least two.

The researchers are keen to investigate the link between the learning difficulties and the gut microbes further.

If such a link was established this might lead to "probiotic" treatments or cures.

The researchers reached their conclusions by using a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy which is able to analyse the make-up of chemicals.

They used the machine on samples three groups of children aged between three and nine – 39 children who had previously been diagnosed with autism, 28 non-autistic siblings of children with autism, and 34 children who did not have autism and did not have an autistic sibling.

They found that each of the three groups had a distinct chemical fingerprint. Non-autistic children with autistic siblings had a different chemical fingerprint than those without any autistic siblings, and autistic children had a different chemical fingerprint than the other two groups.

Now they want to test the technique on a larger group of younger children in the next two years with the idea of having it available within five years for full medical approval in five.

The findings were published in the journal of Proteome Research.

Deepa Korea, Chief Executive, Research Autism said, "We welcome any scientifically robust research, which has been subject to the highest research methodology, that advances the improvement of early diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions, so that children can receive appropriate support from as early an age as possible.

"We recognise that more work needs to be carried out in this area."

A National Autistic Society spokesman said "Studies which consider differences in urine samples are interesting, but before these findings could be applied more widely, they would need to be tested and scrutinised on a much broader scale.

"This research appears to focus specifically on children with gastro-intestinal (GI) disorders as well as autism.

"Whilst some children with autism do have additional gut problems, this is not true for everyone, so the differences observed in this study, might not be representative of all people with autism.

"The most important thing that children with autism the right help and support as early as possible."

NAS Launches Shocking Report on our Children's Mental Health

"Autism is not a mental health problem. But a recent
study showed that as many as 71% of children with
autism have mental health problems, such as anxiety
disorders, depression, and obsessive compulsive
disorder (OCD), and 40% have two or more."

The NAS report investigates the impact of mental health problems on children with autism and their families. The report focuses on how the CAMHS system isn’t meeting their needs and what can be done to improve the outcomes and experiences of these families,while recognising the wider responsibility of other agencies to promote the emotional wellbeing of this group.

You can access the new report here: http://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-for-change/our-campaigns/you-need-to-know.aspx

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday Cruise...

The weather was good enough to get out on the bike for a little ride last night.  Is Spring finally here?

This coming Friday, June 4, is the second bike night of the year.  It's put on by Lethbridge Harley Davidson and the Lethbridge HOG chapter.  HOG, meaning Harley Owners Group, is run by one of the Lethbridge HD mechanics, Eric.  He has put together one good night already, so I'm sure the second one will be better then the last.  This week's ride is planned to be out to Fort Macleod and back through Nobleford and Picture Butte.  After the ride we will be getting together for some food and drinks at Backstreet Pub just off of 3rd Ave.  We will be meeting at Leth HD around 5-5:30pm and taking off for the ride around 6pm.  Lets hope the sun is shining and that we get a good group out for the ride.