Monday, October 31, 2011

An Unconventional Halloween

Call me a fuddy duddy, but our family doesn’t celebrate Halloween the way most people do. You might be shocked to learn that I have never been trick-or-treating. Ever. And, I'm okay with that.

As for my hubby, he looked forward to it every year until he had to stop due to his height. In 6th grade he was 6 feet tall, so when he went trick-or-treating he got lots of nasty looks and comments from people who thought he was some greedy older kid or adult. That was his last year in costume.   

Halloween never had any appeal to me. I didn’t like the creepy, scary, and gory stuff that everyone took such pleasure in. I never understood why that kind of thing was so exciting. I only ever dressed up on Halloween when I felt the intense peer pressure of the teenage years, and even then I only dressed up during the school day. I never had a traditional costume. I would throw something together from things I already had. I remember one year paying homage to Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. I dressed up in a preppy button-down shirt with the collar flipped up, acid wash jeans, jelly bracelets, hair teased up high and held with Aqua-Net hairspray, and lots of heavy, purple eye shadow.
My parents never made a big deal about Halloween. Sometimes we would attend a party at church or we would stay in and eat tons of candy. But, I could always count on us spending that time together. It was this tradition that I knew I wanted to pass on to my family after I got married. And I have, with my husband’s full support.
Now that we have our boys and all of the issues that come along with their diagnosis, it’s obvious that celebrating a traditional Halloween would come with certain obstacles.
First, we have to contend with their food allergies. Grumpy Badger rears his ugly head when he’s told that he can’t eat candy that’s been given to him. He still doesn’t fully understand the whole food allergy thing, and those kinds of situations can quickly become the mother of all meltdowns. It’s a fight I don’t want to have. Then, we have the sensory issues related to dressing up, face paint, masks, etc. And, not to mention that my boys don’t like scary things and get freaked out easily. There are plenty of people who like to put a good scare into children when they are trick-or-treating. Although they might find it entertaining, I certainly do not when it comes to my kids.   
So, instead of the traditional Halloween dress up and asking people for candy routine, we choose to have a special family night. It’s a little bit different each year and the boys always enjoy it. Last year we took them to a movie followed by a trip to a bookstore to purchase a new book for each of them.
This year we made a weekend of it. On Saturday evening we went bowling. Afterward Monkey got to go over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a sleepover while Prince Charming chose a movie from Redbox for us to watch with him before bed. On Sunday, we…meaning 0% Prince Charming, 20% Monkey, and 80% Titan…carved a pumpkin.
The only way Monkey can participate is with gloves. He has a hard time touching wet and slimy textures and he is much less anxious when he doesn't have to directly touch anything. He has low tone in his hands and arms so it was tough work for him!

My favorite part is collecting the pumpkin seeds for roasting!
Cleaned and ready to roast! The kids might not get to eat any after I get my mitts on these puppies.

We haven’t yet decided what we will do on Halloween night. We’ll just have to wait and see! One thing I do know is that we don’t need costumes or tons of candy from our neighbors to have fun on Halloween. I know that no matter what, we’ll have a great time together.
Whatever you choose to do tonight for Halloween, I hope you have a wonderful and safe time!      
Happy Halloween 2011!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Extreme Makeover Home Edition: The McPhail Family

Do you remember me telling you about my friend in Oregon and how her family was chosen to receive an Extreme Makeover Home Edition? Well, their 2-hour episode will air tonight on ABC at 8:00pm!
My friend Lindsay and her husband C.J. have 3 adorable boys, and 2 of them are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I was so excited the whole week of their makeover and you may remember me posting many updates about it on Facebook.
I wasn’t able to be in Oregon to help (although I would have loved to have been there in person!), so I participated as best as I could from here. I had the opportunity to help with fundraising through an auction, and I also found a web broadcast of the live news coverage of their reveal. I was bawling. So, take that as fair warning that you better have a box of Kleenex at the ready before you turn on the show tonight.  
I thought you might like a little background on their story. This is courtesy of a September 7, 2011 write-up from the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Facebook page:
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” traveled to Medford, Oregon, to surprise the McPhail family with the door knock that can change lives.
As a young newly married couple, C.J. and Lindsay McPhail decided they wanted to spend their lives helping others. They started the Southern Oregon Chapter of Sparrow Clubs, a non-profit organization, which helps children with medical issues by pairing them with a school which adopts them as their school’s "Sparrow." C.J. found himself speaking to students, businesses, and anyone who would listen about the incredible power Sparrow Clubs gives to both students and Sparrows. His amazing ability as a public speaker motivated thousands of students to raise funds, perform service work, and create programs all in the name of their Sparrow. Not only were C.J. and Linsday a part of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for kids with medical needs, they were also able to help transform schools through challenging students to look beyond themselves and serve.
C.J. and Lindsay never imagined though they would one day need the help from the very same organization they devoted so much of their time to. Soon after moving to Portland and running a chapter there, their oldest son Sawyer was diagnosed with a form of Autism and their second oldest son Thatcher began to start showing signs of Autism as well. With their children regressing, the family moved back to Medford to live on a 50-acre family property next to Lindsay’s parents. The boys showed great progress, but Sawyer still faced several challenges due to his lack of social cues. Much to the family’s surprise, Sawyer became a Sparrow and through his endearing personality, he helped put a face on autism and brought awareness to over 900 students in his adopted school.
Ty and the design team head to the community of Medford, Oregon to surprise the McPhail family. CJ and Lindsay McPhail have dedicated their lives to helping their community in many ways but especially children with severe medical needs. After years of helping families in difficult circumstances, they were dealt a devastating blow when two of their own three young boys were diagnosed with autism. Despite their difficulties, the McPhails still continue to give back to their community. This week The McPhails are sent off on a spectacular Hawaiian vacation while Ty and the designers summon a volcano to take down the house and build them a custom designed home to help their family deal with the special challenges autism brings. This week, Ty and the team are helped out with some very special guests. Temple Grandin gives some insight on the world of autism, while Chris Powell from “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” sheds light on the benefits of gluten-free cooking, then sticks around to help build a boot camp that mom Lindsay can run out of her home. Later, they team up with Autism Speaks to “Light it up Blue” all around the world to spread autism awareness.

I had a chance to speak with Lindsay the other day as we counted down to the airing of her family’s episode. This is what she shared with me:
My biggest soap box during the whole week and really in life in general was that I want parents of kids on the spectrum to know that they are not alone...that there are millions of us around the world and while are children all struggle with different issues, we are sisters in the fight! Just like my plight to all moms I think that we have to be real about our struggles as moms and feelings of guilt and inadequacy and then know that NO ONE has it ALL together.

I am really hoping that ABC chooses to use some of the ample footage of meltdowns the boys had throughout the week and not just show the fun shots. I want people to see autism...maybe not our scary meltdowns (just because I want to honor our boys) but we had plenty of TV appropriate meltdowns.
If you would like to see more from this wonderful family, visit the McPhail family Facebook page. You can also view lots of great pictures of their new home being built at the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Jackson County Facebook page. And, there is some great footage of Lindsay and her husband C.J. as they speak to the media for the first time after the reveal.
And, just so you know… Lindsay is a wonderful autism mommy blogger and small business owner. Please check out her cool blogging community, Earth Monkey Moms, and her company, Earth Monkeys, which makes an eco-friendly line of portable baby and toddler accessories that are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. 
I wish them nothing but love. They are a wonderful family and I am honored to call Lindsay my friend.

(One last thing! Please do me a huge favor. I don’t have cable, so don’t spoil the juicy details of the show for me! I have to wait until it’s posted on the ABC website before I can watch it! Be nice and don’t spill the beans. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween tater tots!

I don’t know why, but tater tots are hard to come by where I live. Well, at least the non-chemical laden ones. I was browsing in my local grocery store a few days ago when I happened to see a package I’d never seen before in the freezer case of the natural and organic section. They were sweet potato tater tots! No kidding! I picked up a bag to try and came home with my prize.

Titan couldn’t wait to try them out, so I made a dinner of convenience last night - Applegate GF chicken nuggets and Alexia sweet potato puffs. Here’s what happened:
Prince Charming: What’s for dinner?
Titan: Chicken nuggets and tater tots!
Monkey: Why are the tater tots orange?
Prince Charming: They’re carrots!
Me: Boys, they are very cool Halloween tater tots! That’s why they’re such a neat orange color!
I’m such a bad mama! But, it was clever, right? It is less than a week away from Halloween, after all!
Monkey is eyeing the tray of tater tots with a look of disapproval on his face and Prince Charming is wiggling in his chair with excitement. Titan eagerly stuffs one in his mouth and does the it’s-so-hot-it’s-melting-my-tongue-off dance. He gives his stamp of approval, although his tongue is a bit worse for wear. After a minute or two pass, the boys settle down in their seats and we serve their dinner.
Monkey: I don’t want any tater tots.
Prince Charming: I want 11!
Titan: Both of you need to try at least 1 tater tot. If you like them we’ll be happy to give you more.
Monkey tries one out and promptly says he doesn’t like it. I saw that one coming.
Prince Charming: Yum! I like these Halloween tater tots!
When Monkey grumbles some more about the new food, Prince Charming replies, The tater tots are really good! They kind of taste a little bit like chocolate.
Wow! Those must be some really special Halloween sweet potato chocolate tater tots!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest Post & Interview: Regarding Caroline

Today I am very lucky to have Rebecca from Regarding Caroline with me!  She graciously agreed to do an interview and is also allowing me to share one of her posts. It is a must read!

CAM:  Rebecca, I wanted to sincerely thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I have to tell you that I found out about you and your site through some Facebook friends who were madly posting links to your site the day you posted, “That Would Never Be My Child…” They were right to be sharing your post! You really drew me in as you talked about how you were never going to have that child or that house. I understood it also as not wanting to be that mom. You captured my attention, for sure.

As I continued reading, I found myself nodding my head in agreement all the way through. You spoke about everything so completely and honestly, without judgment or negativity. That is why I felt compelled to contact you to get your permission to post the content on my own blog. My readers needed to see it. I am so grateful that you are giving me the chance to share your advice and a little bit about you and your daughter.

I’d like to start by asking about how things are going at your house right now. How is your family doing?

Rebecca:  Well, first of all thank you for your generous compliments!  Things at our house are going well.  Caroline is 5 and in mainstream Kindergarten with an aide.  She’s such a happy girl who truly loves life.   
There are two ways I look at our situation.  On beautiful days, when the sun is shining and everything is happy, I think about how lucky we are.  For a long time, I doubted that she would ever speak.  Like so many parents, I prayed, “Please, let her talk to me and I won’t ask for anything else.”  I’m grateful that my prayer was answered, but still, on those cloudy, dreary days when we’re stuck inside working on what feels like the same goals we’ve had forever, I’ve been known to forget that promise I made and start to feel sad about all the things she can’t do, such as have a conversation with a friend. We always want to get to that next step with our children, even if they’re typical, which is good, because it keeps us motivated, but also so important to remember from where we came and count our blessings for what we do have.
When she’s not “herself” it always means something is medically wrong.  Recently, she had a rapid onset of new OCD type behaviors and irritability.  With the help of a specialist, we learned that she’s dealing with PANDAS.  It’s been a whole new journey of discovery and healing.  PANDAS is an autoimmune disorder that affects a large percentage of children on the spectrum, but I’ve found that many people are still unaware of it.   After seeing how much Caroline improved with treatment for it, I’m going to have to get the word out!  For her, when we treated the inflammation caused by PANDAS, her eye contact and engagement profoundly improved and other typical ASD traits decreased.  It makes you wonder how many other children on the spectrum could also improve.  So overall, Caroline is doing well.  Thinking about how hard she works to attain what comes easy for most kids, makes us very proud parents.
CAM:  Just a quick note on this – PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. If you are interested in learning more about what happened with Caroline, please visit Rebecca’s post about PANDAS. I also wrote a post about these issues that includes a link to a scientific case study about PANDAS. OK, back to questions...
In Washington State there is insurance discrimination against the autism diagnosis code, which means insurance companies can get away with not paying anything. It’s commonplace and tragic for families like mine. Does insurance cover any of the treatments for your daughter? Do you have any tips on how to pay for treatments?
Rebecca:  We’re fortunate that we live in one of the states that have mandates for autism coverage.  Here in Illinois, insurance must pay for $36,000 of medically necessary autism related therapy each year.  The majority of Caroline’s speech, OT and PT are covered.  It’s important to have a prescription for the services and to use the right codes.  In the beginning we received many denials, but once we got those initial claims paid, we haven’t had problems.  The National Conference of State Legislatures website has a helpful page that outlines each State’s autism coverage requirements, in case anyone is unaware of what their State offers. (
CAM:  Like many of us warrior parents, you probably have your PhD in vaccines from Google! Do you have any sort of estimate on how much research you have put into the topic of vaccines?
Rebecca:  That’s so true, and it’s too bad we can’t print out Google diplomas after we reach a certain number of hours logged on a topic!  The nice thing about the internet is that it allows us access to scientific journals, Pub Med and sites that allow for serious research into the topic.  The type of research even my former law school professors would approve.  Often times, us parents aren’t just reading the sites that report the stories, we’re reading the research itself.  Research that most pediatricians don’t even know exists, which as you know is the frustrating part!
How much time I’ve spent varies widely.  Right after her vaccines, when I first noticed changes in Caroline’s behavior, I researched them every night until I was exhausted.  I was actually looking for articles to prove that vaccines couldn’t have caused the changes, but I couldn’t find any.  All I found was more and more proof that they did.   I felt so sad and guilty that I had to let it go for a while and start focusing on recovering her.  I took all the time I was spending and put it into researching biomedical treatments.  Then, after she started recovering, and enough time had passed, I was able to look at it again.  Now, I keep up to date, reading new reports as they’re released, but still spend more time researching biomed and educating others.  
CAM:  Have you ever spoken with your daughter’s pediatrician about her vaccine injury? If so, what was the response?
Rebecca:  Our situation is unique because the pediatrician who gave Caroline her vaccines moved away just after her last set, at 12 months.  The pediatrician who took her place has never given Caroline a single vaccine.  She has two children herself who developed seizures after their MMR vaccines, so for her third child she delayed it.  Yes, you heard that right, DELAYED.  That’s how strongly Pharma has convinced these doctors and how little of their own research they do.  She admits she has not read any independent research.  I have given her some and I hope it gets through.  Who knows, maybe like so many doctors with vaccine injured children, someday she’ll become an alternative practitioner. 
The pediatrician who vaccinated Caroline after my continual questioning is now in Minnesota.  Just last week, I requested an email address to get in touch with her because I wanted to send her the blog.  I think she deserves to know.
CAM:  Another note – If your child has experienced a reaction to a vaccine, please contact your doctor and ask them to report it to the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) database. Vaccine injuries are notoriously underreported, so if you see any behavioral or physical changes following a vaccine, it is important to get those documented so that you retain your rights to access the vaccine court, should it be warranted. Now, here is the last question.
If you could boil down your experience into one nugget of wisdom, what would you like to share?
Rebecca:  Wow, that’s a tough one.  If I have to choose just one, I’d say “Stay the course.”  It seems that sometimes parents try biomedical treatments or the GFCF diet briefly and think, “Well, that didn’t work.”  Almost as if they don’t want it to, because, well, honestly, in the short term, it’s easier that way.  I know the feeling well!
The problem is that many of the things we’ve done with Caroline have resulted in only subtle changes, but over time and combined with others, they amount to a remarkable difference.  Miss a step or two, or three and she would not be where she’s at today.  An example is how many children need to also be soy free or even grain free for “the diet” to help.  If those things are not tried, an opportunity for healing and recovery might be missed. 
To be sure I don’t ‘abort mission’ too soon, I try to understand the science behind what we’re doing.  Knowing why something should work helps me to be more invested in it, increasing the chances I’ll stick it out and ultimately that Caroline will benefit.   
CAM:  That is excellent advice! I, too, have seen many families give up on new things too quickly. I think it's hard for parents to be patient because it seems like we are all in a rush to survive our current crisis, whatever that may be. We want to see positive changes yesterday! It can be very hard to have a little faith in something when the changes are slow and subtle. This is where good record-keeping or journaling can help you understand where your child was before, during and after a new treatment.
Before I launch into your post, I wanted to share my absolute favorite thing you said:
“That would never be my child,” was the rationale that resulted in my ignorance. An ignorance for which I paid an incredibly steep price. The life of my child was changed forever. Much of her childhood has been spent seeking recovery and the guilt I feel will never be lifted.
Rebecca, your words mean so much. I can only hope that more people will take those words to heart as they make choices for their children. Thank you for being here today.  
Rebecca:  Thank you for taking the time to ask such thoughtful questions and for sharing our story!
CAM:  Please visit Regarding Caroline to learn more about Caroline’s journey, get some great links, watch Caroline’s recovery video, and much more. You can also “Like” her page on Facebook.

That would never be my child...
Although Caroline is 5, it seems like only yesterday I had a life that was my own and was so blissfully unaware of the demands of motherhood, that when witnessing a screaming child in a restaurant I'd think, that would never be my child.

And when I was pregnant, visiting a friend's house where dolls and toys were strewn about every room, I insisted to myself, that would never be my house. In fact, I didn't want colorful, plastic anything. The thought of a high chair disrupting the clean lines of my stainless and glass dining table caused me tremendous anguish.

Needless to say, I've come a long way since then... and I have a house overrun with toys, games and stuffed animals to prove it.

So "Why is it," new moms often ask, "that they don't tell us what it's really like having kids before we have them?"

Honestly, I can't say no one did. People do, we just don't listen.

We're too busy living our fabulously free lifestyles to begin to contemplate what true sleep deprivation actually does to one's mind or to comprehend how it will feel to have the 60 minutes we spend getting ready dwindled down to 5 (if we're lucky).

We may hear the words our friend is saying - but subconsciously we think - that would never be my child. My child will sleep through the night and be easy, beautiful and perfect.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flashback Friday: Medicinal laughter

I have a great flashback for you today!

Prince Charming literally proved himself to be good medicine for me. Check it out here.

Hope you have a great Friday!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Easiest GFCF Sauce Ever

I get asked this question a lot: What in the world do you feed your children? My husband came up with the standard reply, Water and air! Well, we obviously feed our children because they are growing like Amazonian weeds. I can tell you that GFCF cooking doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be easy. Yes, really it can!
All you have to do is focus on the protein, vegetables and fruit. Everything else is optional. I don’t have time to bake GFCFEFSFNF bread (for those of you confused by this, it means gluten-free, casein-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free) or make delectable treats all the time. So, I always start with whole, fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables and a nice protein.

Last night for dinner, our protein of choice was organic chicken breast. My husband put in a request for the broccoli and carrots I had just brought home from the grocery store. He also said he had a hankering for quinoa.

Quinoa, by the way, is the bonus ingredient. We could have had dinner without it, but it makes a nice addition to the meal. It can be used in lieu of rice, pasta, or other side dish. And, if you don’t want an animal protein, quinoa is a wonderfully complete vegetarian protein.  

So, we chose our key ingredients: chicken, broccoli, carrots and quinoa. The question then became, how do I tie these ingredients together? I knew I could accomplish something great with a simple and flavorful sauce. I looked through my cupboard and saw the answer to my dilemma. I was about the make the easiest sauce ever. And, it truly was. I only needed a can opener. And, oh boy, was it tasty!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sorry, doctor. You're wrong.

I was doing some shopping at my local vitamin and supplement store when a lady looking at children’s vitamins noticed me quickly placing some products in my basket. She watched me for a minute and then asked if I could recommend some vitamins for her son. I looked over and saw a young boy sprawled out flat on his belly quietly playing with a car a couple feet away from his mom. I asked the mom some specific questions to try to learn about her situation so that maybe I could provide some guidance.

I learned that her 4-year old son was not eating. The mom was grasping at straws to get some sort of nutrition into his body. When he chose to eat, his diet was extremely limited – full of wheat and dairy. Sound familiar? He was also not communicating verbally with much success. The alarm bells were very loud in my head as she shared more with me. While she was talking, I glanced at him occasionally and watched him play with his car on the floor. He was passively listening, only trying to speak or use crude sign language when prompted by his mom. He wouldn’t communicate directly with me, instead using his mom as a translator for his very special hybridized language of Spanish, sign, and English.  
I began to share a bit about my boys and their journey since we learned about autism and their food allergies. The lights seemed to be turning on in her head. She knew there was something going on with her son. It was very obvious to me also, and I had just met him.

This mom had done everything right. She was seeking high-quality supplements to try to help her son avoid vitamin deficiencies from his lack of food intake. She told me his hearing was fine, but he wasn’t picking up speech as he should at the age of 4. Even his own father has great difficulty understanding him.
She told me that she had taken her son to the doctor to discuss her concerns about his lack of speech development and his daily refusals to eat. The doctor told her to not worry about the food thing and that he would talk eventually. His advice was to just give it some more time.  

OMFG! In my head I am going freaking nuts when I hear her say those words. I’m concocting an imaginary plan to go visit this excuse for a doctor and scream obscenities at him.
Give him some more time? He’s four! Obviously something is wrong. Hellloooo! So, the mom should just wait until he enters kindergarten and the teacher has a heart attack when she realizes how delayed this child is? That would be a huge disservice to the child, his family, and his future teachers.

I felt awful for this mom. I was her not that long ago. I had blind faith in our doctors. I heard those same words when I brought my son's delays to his attention. Oh, just give him some time. Boys are slower to develop speech. It will be okay. 

Don't forget...doctors are always right! Especially about cigarettes!

NO! No, it’s not okay! He doesn’t need more time! He needs help! NOW! The wait and see attitude infuriates me to no end. And, now that I have the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, I can almost taste my fury when I hear those same words again.    
Unfortunately, I listened to our doctor longer than I should have and I lost precious time that I will never get back. I finally figured out that I was getting nowhere fast and that I needed to take control of our situation. And I did. And my boys are better for it. I shudder to think where we would be if I had continued to wait per the doctor’s recommendation. It makes me cringe just thinking about it.

I spoke with the mom about food allergies. I also told her about free developmental assessments available in her school district. She was floored that such a service exists. I didn’t specifically tell her to pursue an autism diagnosis for her son, but I mentioned how my boys did many similar things at the same age. And, I used the word autism a lot. I feel very confident that this mom will call the school district to get an assessment for her son. I’m about 99.9% sure that they will find areas of delay and that he will qualify for developmental preschool. I have no doubt. A proper diagnosis will hopefully come in time, but the first priority is getting this kid assessed and qualified for a specialized education.

I gave her my card and asked her to keep in touch with me. I am very interested to see the outcome for this precious boy. I can only hope and pray that he gets the help he needs and deserves. Lord knows his doctor didn’t help him one bit with his ignorant remark. Jerk. Thank God this mom followed her instinct. 
Despite my hurry that day, I am so glad that I chose to take those few minutes to talk with that mom. I can only hope that a seed was planted and that positive changes are on the horizon for her son.  
Moms, you have a wonderful gift of intuition. You know your child. Don’t accept the garbage you are fed if there is any shred of doubt in your heart. Do what you do best and seek the answers for your child. You, like all of us mother warriors, are smarter than your doctor when it comes to your child. Trust yourself.

I’m curious to know how many of you had a similar experience with your child’s doctor. Did they give you the crappy line about waiting, too?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flashback Friday: Mom Caves

TGIF! I thought I would try something new today. In thinking about how I wish I had a Personal Assistant (or 2...yes, definitely 2!) and how I would love to take a spontaneous vacation to regroup a little bit, I remembered the post I wrote about the Mom Cave trend. How relevant!

So, I'm going to take it easy today and offer you up a most excellent recycled post. See, I really am a bit crunchy and green!

For your viewing pleasure, click here to read all about Mom Caves and why I'll never have one.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Checking in

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster, and not necessarily in a fun way. You may think by now that I’m a slacker and have abandoned posting content. No, I haven’t forgotten about you, my dear readers. The fact that you come back time and again to read my random stuff serves as a great motivator.

However, as of late I’ve been distracted by various crappy issues. One of the biggest things going on is that Monkey has been getting bullied. I won’t go into that right now because I’ll just get angry and I don’t have the energy. You can be sure that I do plan to write about it sometime soon.
I have dreamt up many brilliant posts, but they never seem to make it out of my brain. When I finally have a moment to type something up, I am just too dang tired to keep my eyes open while I stare at the computer screen willing myself to stay awake. I can’t tell you how many times I have nodded off while working on my laptop in the wee hours of the morning in the past week or two. You gotta love a good kink in the neck as a handy wake up call.
Anyway, I thought you should know where I’m at. I’ll continue to post as I can, and I hope to emerge from the crazy sometime soon.
Oh, and just to let you know, I'm running a contest on the Facebook page! If we can get up to 300 'likes" by the end of the month, one random Facebook friend will win a prize that Monkey picked out for you. You're dying to know what it is, aren't you? Share Caffeinated Autism Mom with your friends and let's make this giveaway happen!
For now, here is a link to a post that makes me smile. Smiling is good. You could use a smile, right? Then you should definitely check it out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I love to singa

Do you remember the old Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons? There was an episode from 1936 featuring the character of Owl Jolson. This little owl only wanted to sing jazz, and his parents disapproved and insisted he learn classical music. Sound familiar?
Well, over the weekend we lived in “I love to singa” land. All. weekend. long. Prince Charming sang the song nonstop around the house as he played, sat, ate... You get the idea.
It went a little something like this:
I love to sing-a
About the moon-a and the June-a and the spring-a,
I love to sing-a,
About a sky of blue-a, or a tea for two-a,
Anything-a with a swing-a to an "I love you-a,"
I love to, I love to siiiiiiiiiiiiiing!
You remember the song, don’t you? Fair warning…since you just read the lyrics and found yourself singing along in your head, there is a 99% probability that the song will now, in fact, be stuck-a in your head-a. At least I’m not the only one-a!
He even included the nasal rendition of the piece that Owl Jolson’s parents wanted him to sing instead of jazz.
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with miiiiine.
Prince Charming nailed it every single time. Perfectly. In hindsight, I guess it was a nice distraction from Monkey’s constant talking about cars.
As I sat down to write this post, I reviewed the cartoon again to refresh my memory (as if I needed to be reminded).
Guess what? I made a discovery!
Both of my boys have been saying, “stop, Stop, STOP!” in increasing volume and intensity as they play together. Let’s just agree that it’s NOT an enjoyable experience to be in a room with them yelling, “STOP!” repeatedly to each other. Anyway, I discovered that the boys got that little gem from Owl Jolson’s father who yelled those words with the exact same inflection whenever he wanted his boy to quit singing jazz.
Well, I guess that cleared up the question of where the latest and greatest phrase came from. I could choke Owl Jolson’s dad for that one. Perseveration is fun, isn’t it? Mommy needs coffee. Or maybe vodka.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A new perspective on Amanda Knox?

Amanda Knox has been all over the news in the past few days since she was acquitted on murder charges in Italy. I read an article yesterday that I couldn’t stop thinking about. Written several months ago and prior to all of the latest breaking news in her case, the author ponders the possibility that Amanda might have Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of Autism.

The author of the article takes you through the journey of some of Amanda’s less socially appropriate behavior and analyzes it with the filter of Aspergers. Some of the points made are compelling, but obviously it is not possible to draw a conclusion since she has not been professionally evaluated for such a diagnosis.
Now, I’m not here to discuss her guilt or innocence, so please don’t start yelling at your computer screen or angrily typing in the comments.
What got to me about the article were the questions raised in my mind about what Aspergers can look like for a teenager or young adult, especially one who is involved in or near a criminal act.
To be honest, the thought of how easily a high-functioning kid on the spectrum could get themselves into major, big time trouble with the law puts a nauseating knot in my stomach. There is always a scary and ever present potential for my boys and those like them to get into big trouble by complete accident, mistake, or misunderstanding.
You may recall about a month ago I shared the story of a young boy with autism who was handcuffed following a meltdown he had on a bus. Some of you reacted very strongly after reading that post.
Even now, with some things that have happened with my boys at school, I can see how easily something minor can escalate quickly. Trying to get to the core truth of an incident is like pulling teeth, and nothing is ever absolute because of the communication and processing difficulties they have in sharing pertinent information. Question marks always remain after conversations like that. I shudder to think about this in the context of a police interrogation. Dear God, I pray that we never have to experience that.
Agree or disagree with the conjecture about Amanda Knox, this article reaffirmed to me that there will always be lots of work to do to help prepare my children for a successful adulthood.
I encourage you to read the article and then comment below.     

Monday, October 3, 2011

My first YouTube video!

My bestie, Miss C, called me up about a week ago and told me about a local contest. She’d heard a radio advertisement from a Seattle credit union trying to find their next representative Mom to blog, vlog, and speak at various events. And, the best part…the winner gets paid!

Since I am a blogger and I speak regularly in the community, I thought this position would be an amazing opportunity to expand my horizons doing something I enjoy. But, the problem was, I had never done a video of myself. Ever. I’ve taken hundreds of videos of my kids, but I’m the kind of person who loves to be behind the camera, not in front of it.

I’ve got some great experience speaking and performing for audiences both large and small, so I don’t know why it was so hard for me to take the video plunge. The first day I decided to get in front of the camera I took about 4 takes. Then I dove right in to learning the video editing software. I didn’t even know I had editing software on my PC, so I was happy to make that discovery! It was pretty user friendly so I quickly got up to speed and produced a working edit. I uploaded it to YouTube so that Miss C could see it and give me a critique. She called me back and gave me some constructive criticism. In a nutshell, it wasn’t good. She didn’t think it was horrible, but it had some definite areas for improvement. After I had my husband watch it later that night and give me his feedback, I decided to remove the video and go back to the drawing board.   

The next day I got back in front of the camera and took about a dozen takes. I know there are some awesome bloopers in there, but I’m too chicken to post any of them (yet). Anyway, I re-edited the video with the new footage. It went together a lot faster than the day before because I had learned quite a bit when I had tinkered around with my first video flop. The second video passed the friend and hubby quality control test without hesitation, so I posted it onto YouTube. Later that night I finished up my bio and blog entry and submitted my application and video.
And now I’m officially in the running to be the next Verity Mom! If When I make it to the next stage, I will be asking for your votes. So, be ready to help a girl out. It would help our family immensely if I were able to bring home a little bacon. And, frankly, it sounds really fun!   

Here’s my video. Also, please take a minute to hop over to read my blog entry. Thanks in advance for your support!

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