Friday, January 31, 2014

First Cars

When I was growing up, my "dream" car was a T-Top Camaro. My first car ended up being my parents old station wagon!  I then owned a Hyundai and after that, I bought a Geo Storm.  I had a sunroof installed, so it was sort of like a T-Top!!

I LOVED my Geo Storm.  I definitely thought I was pretty cool driving that car around!!!!  I still owned my silver "baby" when I gave birth to Lauren. I learned real quick that it was not a good car to tote an infant around in.  You had to be a contortionist to strap a baby seat in the backseat. Sadly, I had to say "good bye" to my Geo Storm and for the past 12 or so years I have been driving a minivan :) Watching Lauren own and drive her first car brought back memories of when I got my first car. It's interesting how we acquired her vehicle. When the hubby was at the car shop in the late Spring of 2013 picking up one of our other cars, he was chatting with the service guy and said, "hey, do you know anyone that is selling a good, reliable used car?"  The guy standing in line behind my hubby said, "yes, me!" He was selling the car for a  reasonable price (we were VERY lucky)!  I think that car was meant to be hers - she LOVES her car as much as I loved my Geo Storm!!!  It's given her more independence which she was craving. When I found this old picture a few days ago, I took a drive down "memory" lane. But, that's okay, it was a fun "ride!"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ice Cream Pie in the Winter? Yes!!!!!!

You would think with several inches of snow on the ground and the air temperature lately well below 32 degrees that the last thing I would want to make is ice cream pie, wouldn't you?!?!?!  I decided this past Monday was a good a day as any to make this easy three-ingredient dessert.  After I put Dominic to bed that evening, Lauren was asking me if the pie was ready to eat.  It had been in the freezer for about 4 hours, so I told her yes.  She gobbled the first piece down and went for seconds!  What's cool about this ice cream pie is you can use any flavor of ice cream you want - you could use strawberry and toss in crushed candy canes if you have some leftover from the holidays or use chocolate ice cream and toss in mini chocolate chips! Let your imagination be your guide :)


9-inch ready to eat chocolate pie crust
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup mini M&M's

Measure out two cups of ice cream in a medium bowl and let it melt just enough to be able to stir in 1/2 cup mini M&M's with a large spoon (about 10-15 minutes).  Spread evenly into the pie crust and then sprinkle the 1/4 cup of the M&M's on the top.  Cover and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Serve immediately. Makes eight servings.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Getting into Mischief

Yesterday was not a good day for Dominic as far as getting into "mischief."  In the early morning, before Lauren and the hubby woke up, he knocked a lamp off an end table in the family room.  Luckily, it didn't break, but I gave him a stern talking to.  Since we have been working on Dominic being able to express the correct emotion and also him being able to recognize other people's emotions, I asked throughout the day, "how did Mommy feel about the lamp falling over?"  He said, "mad."  Well, at least we're making a little bit of progress or so I thought.  Later on in the afternoon when Lauren and Dominic were playing with a video game, Dominic started getting frustrated and shoved Lauren more than a few times. He then screamed really loud.  I took him upstairs and sat him down on his bed and told him that what he was doing to Lauren and the screaming was not acceptable. After a little bit, he got the message.  I made him apologize to my husband, Lauren and I since we were all around when he screamed. Things were going okay until the early evening, when we discovered that Dominic had been in the basement awhile by himself and we didn't hear him.  That is usually not a good sign. Well, sure enough, he had used a small screwdriver to totally disassemble one of Lauren's toys that a special friend had given her when she was little. Even though she hadn't played with it for a long time, it still had special meaning to her.  She was pretty upset about it. It was beyond repair, so we had to throw it away.  I told Lauren that I was sorry, but the apology really should have come from Dominic. We brought him upstairs, sat him down on the family room couch and told him what he did wasn't very nice. He apologized, but the hubby said he was acting like he didn't mean it.  We made him apologize a few more times until it became clear he was being sincere.  Later on the evening after I got done doing the dishes, I went out to our garage to throw a bag of trash out.  When I tried to open the door back into the house, I found that Dominic had locked it!  It wasn't too cool, and when he let me back in, I told him that wasn't very funny and to NEVER do that again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was like five degrees in our garage! Remember that old nursery rhyme of Mother Goose's?

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice, 
That's what little girls are made of.

I think Dominic was definitely made of "snips and snails and puppy dog tails" yesterday! While he behaves himself most of the time, he definitely still has his moments like a few summers ago when he tossed this bucket of water at me :)  Look at that mischievious expression on his face!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Feelings and Emotions

A common characteristic of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder is the difficulty with being able to express and/or regulate feelings and emotions.  Dominic has been working on some homework from his social worker that was eight pages long. Each page had a feeling - happy, sad, angry, excited, disappointed, tired, upset, and afraid.  On each page, Dominic had to list something or someone that made him happy, sad, etc.  We worked on it a little last night and he had a very hard time with the assignment.  He kept repeating the same people that made him happy, sad, etc.  I don't think he truly understood what he had to do. One emotion that I know Dominic can express is compassion.  During this past holiday break, we watched a DVD of Frosty's Winter Wonderland many, many times.  It's not the original version, it's actually where Frosty gets married to his snow "wife." Jack Frost is in the movie and is jealous. There is a scene after Frosty gets married, where Jack Frost makes Frosty loose his "magic" hat and he isn't alive anymore.  Every single time Dominic has watched that particular scene, he gets really upset and covers his ears and hums loudly. It bothers him quite a bit.  Dominic is still working on "regulating" his emotions when he gets frustrated at home.  Sometimes he'll scream or run around because he's incredibly upset about something.  After he calms himself back down, I'll ask him if he's okay.  His response back will be, "feeling sorry for himself." At least he knows when he is :)  A few days ago, Dominic out of the blue said, "Mommy is mean!"  I told him, "that hurt Mommy's feelings."  He didn't say it again, so maybe he understood that it made me sad when he said that! We will continue to work with him on being able to identify his feelings and emotions.  I know one emotion I feel when I see this - happy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Soda Pop "Detox"

I have been drinking soda pop on and off since I was 12, so that makes over 38 years of drinking some form of pop!  My mom used to drink Tab out of the glass bottles and I would have it too.  That evolved over the years into drinking all kinds of other soda - Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, etc. It was always diet, sometimes caffeine free, sometimes not.  As I have watched the price of pop get higher (even the "house" brand) was getting kind of expensive, the last couple of times I have done my weekly grocery shopping, I haven't bought any pop in cans.  What I figured out is, that if I didn't buy it at the store, then it's not in the house and I won't drink it! I had begun to drink two cans of pop a day (sometimes three)!  Since I have never really drank regular soda pop with caffeine, I think I was more addicted to the habit and the taste.  I feel like I have more energy since I "detoxed" the pop out of my diet.  I asked the hubby if he noticed that I wasn't drinking so much pop any more.  In the past, he would notice the pile of empty cans in the garage and usually make the comment, "you're hitting that pop pretty hard!" He has used that line for YEARS. Well, this time he said, "I noticed there weren't too many cans in the recycling!" Yes, my husband is quite the comedian, isn't he?!?!?! I have been trying to drink more water and I have to say, I feel more clear headed.  I'm not keeping track of how many glasses of water I'm drinking, but I definitely know it's more than when I was drinking so much pop. I don't even know why after so many years, I decided 2014 would be the year I eliminated/cut back on the diet pop. It wasn't even a New Year's resolution! If I feel like I want to have a diet pop, I'm not going to deprive myself.  I had one glass on Sunday and that was it for the day.  It tasted okay, but I realized I hadn't really missed it too much either. Well, I would love to write more, but I have to go. It's time to get a nice, cold glass of water to drink :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pajamas and Dress Pants

For the past couple of weeks, I have been on the "hunt" for a pair of pajamas with feet for Dominic.  Since he went through a growth spurt, he has only one pair that fit him from last winter.  He has been wearing them so much he already has a rip near the shoulder and a hole in one of the feet. He really needed one more pair of pajamas since the weather here lately has been like living at the North Pole! I don't foresee a "thaw" for at least several more weeks :)  I figured I could just go back to the store and buy him another pair in his size. Well, guess what?  They didn't have any in the store or online in his size.  I then tried two other stores (I went in person and tried online) and the only pajamas with feet they carried only went up to size 6.  Dominic needs at least an 8.  I gave up looking for pajamas with feet for him and ended up buying a two-piece pajama set on the clearance rack of all places!  Even finding that was a challenge since I wanted the top to be long sleeved.  The stores are already putting out pajamas with short sleeves!! Good grief.  I thought Dominic might give me a hard time about wearing the new pajamas since he's become pretty attached to his one and only pair with the feet, but he willingly wore them to bed last night. Maybe even he was getting tired of wearing the "old" pajamas seven days a week!!  Anyways, yesterday afternoon, Lauren and I were on a different kind of clothing "hunt."  She was invited to participate in an event at school that requires her to wear dress pants. I think the last time she had to wear dress pants was back in elementary school (I'm not kidding). When I was out last Friday looking for the pajamas for Dominic, I did a preliminary search for the pants and found a ton in the petite section that I thought were great.  Well, Lauren didn't think so. She thought they looked too "old ladyish."  I said, "like me???" She said, "no, older than you!"  Hmm, well luckily this store had many to choose from, so we headed over to the junior section.  We found a bunch for her to try on, but she is in an in-between size, so it was kind of a bust. We then headed over to another store and had the same problem there finding any that fit her - they were either too small or too big! Lauren is like Goldilocks - looking for just the right size!  I'm starting to get a little stressed about finding Lauren some dress pants, but we still have eight more days until the event at school - wish us luck (we'll need it) !!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Laughter is the Best Medicine

One thing that I have found as I travel through this life, is that a positive attitude will get you a lot further than a negative one.  Are you happier if you surround yourself with positive people? or with negative people?  I don't know about you, but I try and keep positive people around me!!  While it's good to know the proper time and place to be serious, I think it's also good to be able to laugh at yourself.  A perfect example - this past Saturday night, Lauren and I were on our way back from a school event that was more than an hour and a half away from home.  It was way past dinnertime and she and I were pretty hungry.  If we would have waited until we got home, it would have been almost 10 p.m.  We had many options and decided to hop off the highway and go to a Burger King. We both ordered and then got back in the car and continued home.  I don't know what I was thinking, but I got a Whopper.  That is one big hamburger!  It was dark, I was driving and I was trying to eat - all at the same time :) Since I was keeping my eyes on the road and not really looking down at my burger, I was taking big bites because the Whopper was so huge and I didn't realize that the mayo and tomato were dripping on to my jeans and sweatshirt! Yikes :)  Lauren thought it was the funniest thing ever and she and I were laughing hard. It must have looked pretty hilarious from where she was sitting in the passenger's seat!!  Yesterday, I had to go to the hospital and get my test done that starts with a "c" and ends with the "y" that is recommended that men and women get when they turn 50.  As my hubby and I were walking in, we were joking around and we started laughing together in the parking lot.  It kind of took the edge off of the apprehension I was feeling.  The doctor did find something when he did the test, but it was minor.  When I found that out, I told my husband, "well, I'll just add another thing to my list!" I could have chosen to be negative and have the "why me?" attitude, but why should I?  I have always tried my hardest to maintain a positive attitude and keep a smile on my face (even when I was a toddler)!

Everyone struggles at one time or another with tough things in their lives.  I don't know of too many people that haven't had at least one hard challenge to deal with.  According to the WebMd website, laughing is really good for you.  When you laugh, you change physiologically.  Muscles are stretched throughout your entire body, your pulse and blood pressure go up and you breathe faster, which sends more oxygen to all different parts of our bodies.  One day last week when the kids had off because of all the snow, Dominic and I went outside to play.  We have a couple round sleds and at first I pushed him down our icy driveway and then I thought to myself, I want to sled too!  I grabbed the other sled and hopped on and he and I went down the driveway together a bunch of times.  I was laughing all the way down.  I didn't care if my neighbors saw me or if the cars going by saw me.  Dominic and I were having way too much fun!!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cabin Fever

The part of the country where we live had a massive ice storm shortly before Christmas.

The ice was followed by a huge snowstorm that shut down the schools for Lauren and Dominic until this past Thursday.

I think this is the first time in the 12 years we have lived here that Lauren and Dominic have missed three days in a row of school (not counting the Friday before Christmas that Dominic was also off for the impending ice storm that was coming).  My hubby's office was also closed on Monday and Tuesday, which is unheard of too!  Between the holiday break, ice storm and snowstorm, my whole "gang" was home for the better part of three weeks. The temperatures were subzero for part of that time, so you really couldn't go outside.  I parked our van in the driveway and there was actually ice on the inside of the windows!! Now, that's cold!!!!!!!

The picture below of Dominic sitting on the snowdrift was when it was a "balmy" 18 degrees. Yes, I have lived in the Midwest long enough to consider 18 degrees warm!  Luckily, the weather started getting a little warmer yesterday so some of the snow started melting. I actually saw someone wearing shorts last night outside, I'm not kidding :)

Some members of this household (who shall remain nameless) were beginning to experience some "cabin fever." According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, cabin fever means, "extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time."  The word was first used in 1918. I thought the word originated back in the mid-1800's, when more people lived in log cabins.  We are a pretty tight knit family, but I think we were all glad when things started to get back to some kind of routine and normalcy :) Hopefully, we have gotten our allotted amount of snow and ice for the season, but since it's not even the middle of January, who knows? I have a feeling it's going to be a LONG winter!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Finding" Time for Ourselves

A few months ago, Lauren said, "hey, mom, did you know you have a rip in your jeans?"  She was standing behind me and saw a one inch rip near my back pocket.  I had no clue that it was ripped, but I did know I had worn those jeans ALL DAY! Yikes.  How long do you wait to buy something as basic as a pair of new socks for yourself? Do you wait like I do until you have big holes???  For most of 2013, I knew that I wanted to get my hair cut because it had gotten pretty long.  Every time I thought about it seriously, I would get side tracked and something always seemed to come up.  While some ladies can pull off having long hair at age 50, I had come to the conclusion that I wasn't one of them! I decided at the beginning of December that I was just going to go for it and have eleven inches taken off. What did I need with almost an extra foot of hair??????  I was beginning to look like Rapunzel :)

I wanted to be able to donate my hair to charity in honor of the people that I know that have battled cancer and won and to the memory of those who have battled cancer and lost. Unfortunately, I have known more people that have fit into the latter category. Doesn't there always seem to be something or someone that needs our attention? Do you sometimes end up at the bottom of the list? There is always laundry to do and meals to be made. With my whole family here for going on almost three weeks, I feel like I've been running a 24-hour restaurant and laundromat :)  Good thing I love and adore my family!!!  How about you? Are you able to "find" time in your day for yourself or has it become "lost?"

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Following the "Path" to Independence

There was a time (in the not so distant past), when we would have to do pretty much everything for Dominic, like telling him when to eat, drink, get him dressed, etc.  I can remember when he learned how to button his shirt and zip up his own jacket - I was overwhelmed with emotion. Right before the holiday break, Dominic's class went to a movie theater and also bought snacks with their own money.  I was so excited when I heard his class was doing that, because he had never been to see a movie in a theater, much less purchase his own snacks.  Earlier this week, I was making myself a ham omelette and asked Dominic if he wanted a piece of ham.  He came over, took one look and said, "good bye, ham!" I love that he was able to tell me how he felt, plus with the added bonus of being a junior comedian :)  Thursday night, I was upstairs and I heard Dominic say "milk" downstairs.  I then heard my husband say, "do you want some milk??"  Dominic said "yes."  I heard my husband getting him a cup and the jug of milk out of the fridge for him.  My husband then said, "be careful that's really full, do you know how to pour your own milk??"  Since I had taught Dominic to get his own milk and pour it himself a while back, I knew he could do it. Guess the hubby knows now too!  Friday morning, before I took a quick shower, I told Dominic that when I got done, he was going to have to get dressed and get out of his pajamas.  When I was done with my shower and came into the bedroom, he was sitting on my bed with his shirt and pants on.  At first I said, "did you fish those out of the dirty clothes?"  Upon closer inspection, the clothes he was wearing appeared to be clean.  I then said, "where did you find those clothes?"  He was very adamant and said, "Dominic's room!!!"  I went down to his room and he pointed to where I had a pile of clean clothes that hadn't been put in his dresser yet.  Since I had never told him directly to go get some clean clothes and be dressed before I was done with my shower, I was really proud of him for taking the initiative on his own  :)  Just this morning, when he woke up early, he was able to get himself something to eat until we got up a little later.  Granted, it was a few peanut butter cookies with sprinkles, but that's okay. It's not the end of the world if he has cookies for breakfast once in a while! I know that Dominic will still need help in the future following the "path" to independence, but he can be rest assured that someone will always be there for him and what a great thing that will be.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Semi-Empty "Nest"

Now that Lauren has heard back from all the colleges that she applied to, there are decisions to be made in the next few months.  We do know this for sure, she will not be commuting to school - she will be living on campus at least one hour or more away, depending on which school she chooses.  Dominic is very used to having Lauren around.  Her leaving for college will be a HUGE adjustment for him.


We got a little "preview" of what it will be like when she leaves our "nest."  Her best friend has been visiting her this week from out of town and we have barely seen Lauren.  With Lauren having her own car, she and her friend have been able to take themselves wherever they have needed to go.  Yesterday, Dominic was wondering where she was.  I told him that she was going to a sleepover and we wouldn't be seeing her again until Friday.  He said, "good night La-La," even though she wasn't here because he is used to her giving him a kiss every night when he goes to bed. Dominic is close to his older brother and since we Skype him just about every week and see him a handful of times a year, Dominic is able to remain very connected to him.

Dominic has not grown up seeing his brother every day like he has with Lauren, so I think it will be a little harder for him when she leaves for college. While Dominic is rigidly set in some of his routines, he is also pretty adaptable.  I think as long as we show him on a calendar when Lauren will be gone and we keep in touch with her on Skype the way we do with my stepson, I think my littlest baby "bird" will adjust just fine. Wish I could say the same for Mama and Papa "bird!"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Body "Maintenance"

As I was sitting and waiting a few weeks ago to get some routine blood work done, it was really hard to not overhear a conversation going on about ten feet from where I was sitting.  One of the scheduling clerks was talking to a lady who was probably at least my age about her mammogram.  They talked for quite a while about insurance issues.  When it came time for the scheduling clerk to ask the lady when her previous mammogram was, she said something along the lines of, "I've never had one, I've been too afraid to ever get one." Unfortunately, that's not the first time I have ever heard someone say that.  I have an exam that a lot of people feel embarrassed to get or even talk about, scheduled for the middle of January. It starts with a "c" and ends with a "y."  How many of you ladies out there get routine physicals and see your dentist at least once a year? Do you put it off? Our bodies are like a car that needs to be "maintained."  If you don't take good care of yourself, things will begin to not work as well. I used to have tons of headaches before I got diagnosed a few months ago with glaucoma.  Since I got put on eye drops, I rarely have a headache.  We are all busy taking care of spouses, significant others, and our kids, that sometimes taking care of our routine body "maintenance" takes a "backseat."  For 2014, how about taking a few extra minutes to make sure you have your routine appointments scheduled? You want to make sure that you keep your body running like a well-oiled "machine!"

My New "Relationship" with the Sun

Long gone are the days that I would sit on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean for HOURS at a time with just baby oil on my skin for prote...