Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Coffee Karma and Espresso Excitement!

If you have been on the Caffeinated Autism Mom Facebook page recently, you may have seen my post about making a "Poor Girl's Iced Latte" at home. When you don't have a lot of cash to go out to a coffee shop and you no longer have an espresso maker, you learn to improvise.

I used to have an espresso maker (two, actually), but unfortunately both machines ended up breaking. I had a well-known brand, but apparently the quality was just not there. When the second machine gave up the ghost, I opted to live without an espresso machine from that point forward. That was about 4 years ago...maybe more.

Well, I must have put out some major coffee karma into the universe or something, because I got a call from a dear friend of mine who knew that I did not have an espresso machine and she had one that she never uses. Actually, it belonged to her husband, but you get the drift. She said that her husband had set it aside for me.

Can you say jaw-dropping moment?


She met up with me last night and gave me her barely used, commercial grade, high quality, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious espresso machine.

I am in seventh heaven! I think it's all I babbled about with my hubby last night. He may have asked me at some point in the evening if I was going to blog about it. He doesn't need to know that I had already started typing the post when he asked me the question. I claim innocence. He doesn't know me that well. I'm an enigma. Uh-huh. Sure.

I can't wait to read through the manual (yes, I will actually read the manual). I will also lovingly clean and de-scale the machine, go buy some espresso grind coffee, and then take this baby for a test drive.

I can hardly believe a gorgeous Breville machine is sitting on my kitchen counter right now!!! Someone may need to pinch me.
If you missed my Facebook post, here is how I made my
Poor Girl's Iced Latte:

Brew a pot of your best coffee (preferably made with filtered water).
Simmer it slowly in a saucepan until it reduces to about 1/4 of the original volume.
Refrigerate the concentrated coffee in an airtight glass container.
Pour some of the concentrated coffee into a large glass.
Add ice and coconut milk (or your choice of milk) to taste.

I hope you have a great week and are able to enjoy some good coffee! *clinking coffee mugs*

Friday, August 17, 2012

Honorary Aspie: Amelia Bedelia

I wrote this post about 2 years ago for another site and thought I had already shared it with you here on Caffeinated Autism Mom. I was telling someone about my Amelia Bedelia post, and when I got home to try to find it, it wasn't here! So, I am very happy to share this post with you because I had intended to do so a long time ago! Better late than never, right? Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy what's left of summer!

Amelia Bedelia: A fun perspective for daily life on the spectrum

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When I was young, I used to love reading Amelia Bedelia books! Peggy Parish created one of my favorite fictional characters, and the antics of Amelia Bedelia always made me smile. A housekeeper by trade, she humors the reader with her literal interpretation of instructions. Her employer begrudgingly tolerates her quirkiness, and after a series of mishaps, all is forgiven after the first bite of one of her culinary creations. Whenever she blunders, her amazing skill in the kitchen is her forever saving grace.

Last spring I introduced my oldest son to the Amelia Bedelia series of books. He immediately took to them, and loved the books almost as much as I did – although I don’t think he understood the humor to the same degree. In particular, he derived a lot of pleasure from quickly saying her name over and over again. I think he liked the way the words felt on his tongue and in his mouth as he quickly said, “Amelia Bedelia.”

After our visits to the library over the summer, I would listen as my son read the books aloud in the car on the way home. Recalling her various escapades from the recesses of my brain, I remembered how Amelia Bedelia blissfully marched to her own beat. She was always innocently ignorant of when she was committing a mix-up that created chaos for others. No matter how much trouble she got into, she was always forgiven and loved. Her amazing desserts also went a long way to soothing frayed nerves!

When asked to “dust the furniture,” Amelia Bedelia thinks that it’s strange to dust the furniture, as she would rather than “undust” it. So, she finds the “dusting powder” in the bathroom and proceeds to coat the furniture and floor with the powder so that she can cross “dusting” off her chore list. Or, when she is asked to “draw the drapes” she finds a sketchpad and tries her best to draw a picture of the drapes.

Amelia Bedelia’s daily journey of literal misinterpretations of common phrases and idioms, and the reactions they receive, are indeed humorous. However, there are some parallels between the experiences she has in her books, and the experiences some kids on the autism spectrum have as they navigate their way through the social waters of life.

Those of us with verbal kids on the autism spectrum, or with an Asperger’s diagnosis, are quite familiar with the lack of social tact or understanding of anything that is not fully definable or concrete. If only these real life misunderstandings were as funny as Amelia Bedelia’s! Most spectrum kids really don’t “get” the complex gray areas that abound as we go through each day. Their literal translations of life situations are easier and much more logical for them to process.

Amelia Bedelia also brings to light the importance of having a usable and desirable skill, like her ability to appease her employer with a lovely dessert after coming home to a disaster she created. I fully believe that finding a special talent in each of my boys will aid them in their social experiences in and around school. For socially quirky kids, honing a desirable skill that successfully sets them apart from others will also hopefully aid them as they become employed adults.

So, I guess that in an elementary way, Amelia Bedelia helps to give a glimpse into the mind of these complex kids…if only for a moment. I nominate Amelia Bedelia as an honorary Aspie! Do I hear a second nomination?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Air Show!

Last month I was invited to participate as a vendor at a special needs VIP event on the day before a big military air show. Not only did I get to go, I was able to get permission to bring my boys, my husband, and Miss C! The weather did not cooperate and a good portion of the show was ultimately cancelled, but we still had a lot of fun!

In the hangar before the air show, we were hanging out at my vendor table waiting out the weather. The Thunderbirds jets are behind the boys.

Miss C had just helped the boys get pins on their coats from the Thunderbirds flying team. Men in flight suits everywhere...
She was loving the scenery! ;-)

I saw this sign and had to take a picture of it! It says:
Restricted Area. It is unlawful to enter this area without permission of the installation commander. While on this installation all personnel and the property under their control are subject to search.
This area is patrolled by military working dog teams.

And, I HAD to get a picture like this! Monkey is such a rebel. Well, insomuch as his mommy forced asked him to pose this way.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Flashback Friday: Teachers need to know!

It’s August! Have you thought about your kids going back to school yet? Have you starting shopping for school supplies?

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I had the opportunity to speak about autism with some college students studying education. We got into a nice discussion about how parents communicate with teachers. What was reaffirmed to me that evening is the absolute importance of parents communicating with teachers. It’s critical.

You are the expert!
Let me repeat that. YOU. are. the. EXPERT.

I mean it!
Your child may be surrounded by therapeutic and education experts in the school environment, but you are the expert when it comes to your child.

Use your voice. What you share about your child can better equip the teaching team to be successful in working with your child.
One of the best ways to start off the school year is to write a letter of introduction about your child. I do this every single year for both of my boys. It’s an excellent practice to get into, and I guarantee the teachers appreciate it.

Take some time and think about your child – their strengths, triggers, calming strategies, etc., and then write it up in an email or a letter to their teacher, or drop it off in person at the school. By having this information ahead of when the students arrive, the teacher will have time to review the information as they plan their classroom for the fall. 
Check out the post I wrote about this last year and get started on your child's letter of introduction. It's definitely worth the time to put it all together!
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