Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dominic and Elevators

One of Dominic's "gifts" is definitely knowing his way around a computer. He taught himself how to get into YouTube and about this time last year, he seemed to be watching a lot of videos about elevators. They all seemed to be narrated by the same person. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the gentleman narrating them has his own website, http://www.dieselducy.com/ and several videos on YouTube. It turns out he has Asperger's Syndrome. Even now, one year later, Dominic is still super fascinated with elevators.  During this past summer, we decided to use his love for elevators to our advantage. Going to weekly Mass is very important to our family. Since Dominic was about a year old, we have been sitting in an area of our church, where you can still hear the Mass, but are behind a glass window.  For many years, both the hubby and Lauren kept encouraging me to let Dominic go inside the church. Anytime either of them even mentioned going inside, I would instantly get stressed out and give myself a headache, stomachache or both and tell them no. For a while, we didn't even take Dominic to church, which in retrospect, was really doing him a disservice. After two years of special needs religious education classes taught by an awesome, gifted and loving teacher, Dominic made his First Holy Communion this past May. Shortly after that, we decided that it was time to start making the "transition" to being inside the church.We decided to use the parenting "technique" of first this, then that. For example, your child wants to watch television or play on the computer, but has homework. You say something like, "first you do your homework, then you get to watch television or play on the computer."  Given Dominic's fascination with elevators, we decided to tell him earlier in the summer, "first you have to be good in church and then you get a ride in the elevator." It didn't take Dominic too long to understand what we were requiring from him. For a while, only the hubby was "allowed" on the elevator rides and then Lauren. Last Saturday night, it was just Dominic and I going to Mass. He did great and when we sat back down after getting Communion, he whispered to me, "so proud!"  I was like, "yep, Mommy is very proud of you!" After Mass was done, he said, "elevator ride." We got on the elevator and went all the way to the top and then down to the bottom, then back up to where we got on. I don't foresee his fascination with elevators going away anytime soon. Given Dominic is so social and he loves elevators, he would be an awesome elevator operator, like in a fancy hotel, wouldn't he be?!?!?!?!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

College Life



This coming Monday will be two months since Lauren left for college. I have had more than one person ask me how I'm doing with her being gone. I guess if I could sum up the feeling in one word, it would be, "different." The college Lauren is attending is 90 miles away. Yesterday, since my schedule was clear and Lauren has no Friday classes, I decided to hop into the car and drive over to visit her while Dominic was at school. I had a Panera gift card, and knowing how much Lauren loves their macaroni and cheese, I invited her to lunch. It was awesome to have my girl completely to myself for a few hours. After lunch, I drove her back to her dorm and dropped her off. On my drive back home, I caught myself smiling because I know that Lauren is happy.  Isn't that kind of the way it goes with your children (even if they are adults)? If they are happy, then you are happy, right? My first semester as a college freshman was much different.  In the Fall of 1981, I went away to school in Kentucky. I had really bad homesickness, fell into the "wrong" crowd and was briefly engaged. I lasted one semester and then moved back home with my parents. I really can't remember what possessed me to pick a college so far away, knowing how close I was (and still am) to my family. A few weeks ago, I hooked up with a friend of mine who also has a daughter that is a college freshman. My friend was telling me that her daughter's first roommate moved out of the dorm and dropped out of college completely within a few days because she was so "homesick." Wow, I guess that young lady was definitely not ready to be on her own!! Starting on that road to "college life" can be hard, especially if you tend to be more introverted or shy. You really have to push yourself out of your normal "comfort zone." I sometimes wonder, what if I would have stuck it out at Eastern Kentucky? Where would I be and what would I be doing now in 2014? I guess life has a way of going the way it was meant to be.  My college "career" involved mostly going to school at night and working at the same time. It took me another 13 years before I finally finished! Believe me, I have highly encouraged my one and only daughter to not take the same "path" I did!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Accept The Nomination!

When I first started writing this blog over three years ago, I would have been overjoyed if just one or two people read it. Wow, I am totally blown away that at last count, I had over 28,000 page views!  I continue to be grateful for every single person that takes a few minutes to read my blog posts.  A close friend of mine, Julie, recently nominated me for the "One Lovely Blog Award."


This blog award is for "those newer or up-and-coming" bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and to help the new blogger reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be "lovely" by the fellow blogger who chose them. This award acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner with the viewers and followers.

To "accept" the award, I have to do the following:


Thank and link back to the person who nominated you for the award.
List the rules and display the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
Share seven facts/or things about yourself.
Nominate around 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award.
Follow the blogger who nominated you (if not already)!

I accept the nomination and want to thank Julie from the bottom of my heart for nominating me! Here is a link to her amazing blog: http://aschelteredlife.com/ .  Please take a few moments to read her posts - you'll be glad you did!

Okay, now on to seven things you may or may not know about me:

1. My nickname when I played soccer was "Tuffy."
2. I used to read Tiger Beat magazine from cover to cover.
3. I went to college for one semester in Kentucky.
4. I love deep fried chicken gizzards. 
5. The most famous person I ever saw in person was Spiro Agnew.
6. One of my past jobs was taking tickets for the Washington Diplomats, a now defunct soccer team.
7. I still love to watch the Brady Bunch and the Waltons.

I would like to nominate the following bloggers:



I have had people tell me that I write the way I talk. Yep, I love to say "good grief" in person too!! LOL. I try to keep my blog positive, because I know that I don't like to read blogs that are full of negativity! I love the saying, "carpe diem" which means, "seize the day." That's kind of the way I live my life. I try to live each day to the fullest and while it is good to think about about the future, if you worry about it too much, then you miss out on the present. Have an awesome and amazing day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Home Cooked Meals

Lauren came home briefly this past weekend from college, in part, because she missed my "home cooked meals." She has asked me for years to make chicken pot pie and since previous attempts had not ended well, I kept putting it off. It wasn't until my best friend gave me a great recipe a few months ago, did I even want to attempt to make it again. Friday night, I made a roast chicken and homemade mashed potatoes (two of Lauren's favorite foods) and since I had about two cups of chicken leftover, I made a chicken pot pie on Saturday night and told her if there was any left, she could take it back with her on Sunday afternoon.  As I was getting ready to drive her back, she was like, "did you remember my pot pie?!?!?!?"  I quickly grabbed the container out of the fridge and she took it with her. When my stepson comes to visit, I like to feed him. I've been cooking for him since I met him over twenty years ago. He has barely set foot in our house, before I'm saying, "so, do you want something to eat?" A few visits ago for lunch, I asked him if he wanted a sandwich. I always have the "fixins" for a good sandwich here! I made the sandwich to all of his specifications. He called it a "piled high sammie with all the trimmings." Now, when Lauren or the hubby want a sandwich, that's what they call it too!  Besides Lauren taking back the leftover pot pie on Sunday, since we were leaving close to lunch time, she took a "piled high sammie" for the road. LOL. My mom is a great cook. She would make meatloaf for our family, even though it was not her favorite. My dad and I LOVE meatloaf!! When I go back to visit my parents, I always try to make at least two to three home cooked meals for them. One of those meals ALWAYS involves a two-pound or more meatloaf.  I want to make sure my dad has plenty of leftovers!!!! My mom would also make my siblings and I our favorite kind of cake for our birthdays. My favorite was and still is cheesecake. Technically, is a cheesecake really a cake? I'll have to look that up sometime! A handful of years back, when a friend of ours lost his wife, we invited him to our house for dinner. He thought it was a one-time deal.  We continued to invite him over until he met a wonderful woman and got remarried. When a friend is ill, had surgery or a new baby, taking a meal to them can really brighten up their day. Trust me, I have had people bring our family home cooked meals when we have needed them and it was awesome! What are your favorite kinds of home cooked meals? I would love to hear!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Making a "Classic" Even Better!

I would definitely categorize sugar cookies as a "classic" type of cookie.  Dominic calls them "sugar cookies with sprinkles," because when we make them, there are ALWAYS sprinkles involved!  I'm beginning to think I need to start buying sprinkles by the gallon :) Anyways, what's a way to make a "classic" cookie even better? How about adding chocolate?!?!?!?!?! Yep, I took my favorite sugar cookie recipe, tweaked it a little and added baking cocoa. They turned out awesome and everybody in this house liked them!! Which plate of cookies would you prefer?

No sprinkles?


Or sprinkles?


Who would like to take a guess as to which plate Dominic would prefer?!?!?!

Ingredients

3 cups white flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup baking cocoa

Topping:

1 tablespoon white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the one tablespoon of white sugar (for the topping) on a small plate and set aside. In large bowl, put all ingredients in the order given and mix with large spoon by hand until well combined. With the palms of your hands, roll the batter into medium-sized balls (this recipe makes four dozen) and place a dozen balls at a time onto an ungreased cookie sheet. With the bottom of a small drinking glass, dip first in the white sugar and then press down on each ball. Add sprinkles if you would like at this point. With Halloween approaching quickly, how about dipping in orange and/or black sprinkles! Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let the cookies cool on the sheet about three minutes and then remove to wire rack to continue to cool.  Store in covered container at room temperature for up to one week.

The "Spectrum"

Before I entered the special needs "world," about eight years ago, I had never met anyone with Autism. While I certainly don't proclaim to be an expert, I definitely know a lot more now than I did when Dominic was first diagnosed. Autism Speaks (http://www.autismspeaks.org/) has an amazing website and if your child is newly diagnosed, please take the time to look at all the resources they have. Even if your child doesn't have Autism, chances are, you probably know of or know a family who does have a child with Autism.  Here is a great definition of Autism from the Autism Speaks website:
 "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art. Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means."

I have had more than one person ask me "so, where does Dominic fall on the "Spectrum?" Since the word "spectrum" means a way of classifying something between two opposite ends, my response back is usually, "mild to moderate."  I would much rather someone ask me where he falls on the "Spectrum," versus not ask me the question at all :)  Every day with Dominic is definitely not the same, just the way it is if your child is typically developing. My hope is that through my blog posts, it gives you a deeper understanding and possibly a different perspective of what it is like raising a child on the "Spectrum." 


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Adventures with Butternut Squash

When the hubby came back from grocery shopping earlier in the week, he handed me a butternut squash and said, "this was on sale and I knew you could figure out how to use it!" Well, I think I have cooked butternut squash one time in my entire life.  We were going to make last night "leftover" night, because Dominic has music therapy from 7:15-7:45 p.m. every Wednesday and we don't get back home until about 8:00 p.m. Even though we had some great leftovers (ribs and spaghetti), I wanted to try out a new recipe in the slow cooker - pumpkin and black bean chili, which I have never made before. When I had proposed my recipe idea earlier in the week, my husband told me he WOULDN'T eat pumpkin and black bean chili, if I made it, so I figured he could eat the ribs or spaghetti! At the last minute, I decided to use the butternut squash instead of the pumpkin. Wow, it was quite an "adventure" figuring out how to peel and cube that kind of squash. Peeling the skin gave me an upper body workout.  Trying to cube it was a bit like carving a pumpkin. I learned one thing - -  we have very DULL knives here. Anyways, I finally cubed up four cups worth of butternut squash and then put a little of this and a little of that into the slow cooker and turned it on. When Dominic and I got home from his music therapy, the house smelled yummy and the hubby was anxious to try the chili. When he started eating it, he said, "it tastes a little like pumpkin!" Well, it sorta did :) If you are interested in making the chili, here is the recipe:

Ingredients

4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed, seeds removed
12 ounce package three pepper and onion blend, frozen
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can Mexican style stewed tomatoes, undrained
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon chili powder

Put all ingredients into a 2 1/2 quart slow cooker in the order given. Stir well and put the lid on. Put on high for three hours or on low for six hours. Makes 4-6 servings. This recipe could easily be doubled or even tripled, if you have a bigger slow cooker! This chili is more on the milder side, so if you want it to have a little more "kick," feel free to put a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce in. We love Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce here!