Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Channeling my inner June Cleaver

applesauce, just like grandma's!

Well, I did it, I conquered my applesauce-making fears! And you know what? It was incredibly easy. I'm almost embarrassed to say how easy it was. But it sure does take a LOT of apples to make a little batch of applesauce! That bowl you see there is my smallest mixing bowl, and I used about seven small to mid-sized apples.

But it tasted excellent, just like Grandma's! So, Dave, I guess you're going to come visit now, right? You wanted Grandma's Lumpy Applesauce and this tasted just like hers (she confirmed it) and it certainly had lots of lumps! But no worms, I made sure to remove all traces of them.

Sunday was a simply gorgeous day here and the kids were outside all day. I, however, spent the day inside. With all the windows and doors open, enjoying the breeze and the smells, and cooking like I have rarely cooked before! First the applesauce, then two batches of banana bread, then I marinated and roasted a pork loin for dinner to go with our applesauce and some home-grown tomatoes, YUM!! (The tomatoes weren't from our garden, I fear, I think we placed ours in too sunny a spot, nothing survived.) Add in a vacuumed house, two loads of laundry, and two happy, tired kids and I think you can say that Sunday I reached my highest pinnacle of Mommyhood!

Then Monday came, and nothing got cleaned and we ate breaded meats from the frozen aisle. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Little boy, happy to be going somewhere with Daddy, enters a store he's never seen.
Looking to the left, his eyes open wide.
"What do you see, buddy?"
"Donuts", he whispers, hands and forehead pressed against the glass display.
The lady behind the counter chuckles and bends down low, watching his face stare in wonder.
"Which one do you want? This one or this one?", she asks, pointing.
"This one or this one?", he echoes.
The chocolate covered one seems to be drawing his eyes, so into the box it goes along with many others.
Still wearing pajamas and slippers, they take breakfast home.
The chocolate covered donut is again pointed to and removed from the box.
And, in seconds, it is gone.

Happy SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) Saturday, may yours be fueled by sugar and wonder.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Going Full Speed

I am a stay-at-home mom, right? Then why am I never at home???

Let's see:

Emma to school at 7:45
George to school at 9:00
work in Em's classroom 10:45 - 11:45
transport George from one school to the other 12:00 - 12:30
pick Emma up at 2:10
pick George up at 3:00
homework, various evening activities, etc.

There are a few minutes tucked into that schedule, but adding in drive times, grocery shopping, and breathing, there aren't too many left over for actually being at home.

I know, poor me.

But it's been driving me crazy that I haven't taken a picture in over a week, much less done anything creative at all. So, I grabbed my camera and captured today at approximately 4:20 this afternoon:

math homework...ack!!
Not sure why she's yelling, math is "like, so easy this year". So far.

dinosaurs, trains, and boys...oh my!
Little man comes home exhausted but happy. Lots of imaginative play going on around here these days, not quite so much movie quoting. I'm loving that.

sleeping cat
And the days are getting cooler, so wool blankets are magically appearing on beds. I'm not the only one loving that, it seems!

So there we are, my life at 4:20 pm. Of course, it's taken me until 5:45 pm to have the time to post the pictures; but, I've also made dinner, supervised hand washing, served dinner, unloaded the dishwasher (well, half of it), and typed out all this exciting drama! Off to the next activity!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And the screams were heard for miles

The schedule: The stickers that cover the band-aids:
The reward:
One thing I love about George (maybe it's common among autistic kids?) is that once a band-aid is slapped on, the pain is over. He went from screaming bloody murder, arched back, red face, and betrayal shining in the eyes trained on my face....to nothing. All done. Life's good. Can we go now?

It's a good thing, I know, but what about meeeee????? My ears are still ringing and I feel the need to apologize to him over and over.

He just looks at me like I'm crazy and reaches for a fry. It's all good.

Monday, September 15, 2008

When it gets too hot in town...

...you head for the windy, foggy Oregon coast!

And a GREAT time was had by all. It was understandably empty on the beach on Saturday, so the kids could run and climb and dig and shriek. I hunkered down next to a sand dune, let Daddy take them into the freezing Pacific Ocean, and we all had fun. One more activity to add to the list of things we know George can handle. (Previously, it was impossible to keep him away and out of the water. This time, the one time he tried to go without a parent, he came back immediately when called.) YES!

Friday, September 12, 2008


One year ago, my little girl was still willing to pose for my camera.

Begrudgingly, but willingly.
Isn't she pretty? She's aged a year since this picture was taken, and it startles me a bit to see the changes. They are little ones, but they are adding up into a "big kid". Yikes. The cheeks are a little thinner, all the limbs have stretched, the hair is longer, there are more freckles across her face... every little change makes her a bit more like me but takes her further away.

We had a long conversation last night about responsibilities and independence. She wants that freedom so very badly. I've tried to allow enough time in our various schedules, morning & evening, so that she can self-manage her time. But she's a bit of a dreamer, that girl. (cough, ADD, cough!) She told me last night that when she goes into her room to get dressed (into the bathroom to brush teeth, into the kitchen to put things in her backpack, into the living room to put toys away....) she starts thinking of other things and her brain gets too busy to remember what she's supposed to be doing. laugh! Yeah, I had gathered that for myself, as I would enter those rooms to check on her and, instead, catch her gazing off into space (or singing, or playing, or reading....).

So we talked about how I want to give her more opportunities, but right now I just can't trust her to take care of her responsibilities. Her response? Maybe I should stand right by her when she's getting dressed (brushing teeth, putting things away....) so that I can keep her moving.

Um, I'm not sure how that's independence, and it sure sounds a lot like what I end up doing anyway, but, okay?

I don't know how I'm going to reel this dreamer of mine in, enough for her to get through her days, without chasing away those dreams of hers; but I'm sure we'll figure it out.... side by side.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Love Thursday

Shutter Sisters: Finding Love 9/11/08

May you find love all around you today, even in your cereal bowl.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Special Exposure Wednesday

See this little gnome in my yard? Isn't he cute? Shall I mention the fact that it was about 87 degrees when this picture was taken? Apparently, daddy's wool hat and dress tie go really well with too-small mittens when you're attempting to roast yourself.

I'm not positive, but I think the inspiration for this outfit came from one of the kids' favorite videos, Tiny Planets with Bing & Bong. There's one episode that takes place on the Planet of Nature and they help dress some little creatures that are freezing in the snow. I love, love, love these videos because each episode teaches a simple science lesson in a very cute and easy to grasp way. Both Emma and George enjoy watching and have learned from them.

Thank you to everyone who voted in the Special Exposure Model Search contest. George came in second to the adorable girl you see below. Congrats to Gabi!

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why do I worry?

Off he goes to his first day of a new special needs preschool. Is he scared? Nervous? Not wanting to leave Mommy?


Last month, I had a really rough day after George's teacher questioned and criticized my decision to remove him from her classroom in order to attend this other school. She left me reeling in anxiety and guilt. Well, it's gone!

George often "feeds" me questions he wants me to ask him. This was our conversation on the way home today:

George: "Did you have a good day at school?"

Mom: "George, did you have a good day at school?"

G: "YES!"

G: "Did you have a good time?"

M: "George, did you have a good time?"

G: "YES!"

(About 10 minutes later, when we were almost home):

G: "Did you have fun?"

M: "George, did you have fun???"

G: "YES!"

I think it's safe to say, he likes his new school! And, when we got home and I opened up his backpack, I found this:

His wonderful new school has given George a way to communicate. By "reading" these images to me, he can tell me what he did each day. For those of you that don't have kids with low communication skills, let me tell you, this is HUGE! I was just telling my mom this morning, after dropping George off, that I so wished he was able to tell me about his day. And now, he can.

I foresee a lot of changes this year. Big ones. Exciting ones. Changes that have this mommy's heart near to bursting with anticipation. Take a deep breath with me, it's going to be a wild ride!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Simply Wonderful

Jason and I made a quick run up to Seattle over the weekend, to attend the wedding of one of my best friends from college. I was surprised and delighted to see a few friends from my undergrad years there. How amazing to see people that I haven't seen in thirteen years! (How scary that it's been 13 years!)

I was thinking about it on the drive home. I've never cared about high school reunions, always figured it would be the same people, gathering in their same groups, talking on the same levels....relegating me to the "drama geek" squad, hanging out in a corner somewhere, laughing uproariously about some very random subject. Fun, yes, but not my life now.

It was very interesting to realize that it doesn't necessarily work out that way. We spoke about our travels, our kids, our (vastly different) life paths, and we laughed. And got to know each other as adults. There were still glimmers of the intense, enthusiastic-about-everything, silly kids we were; but those glimmers were tempered by the experiences we have had and the new goals and families we have now. These were young friends I had said good-bye to and never expected to see again. They are now slightly older, but still wonderful friends I would love to keep in touch with. What a treasure, to re-meet and get to know these amazing people!

And check out the wedding location! Simply gorgeous, simply wonderful!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fall is here, I need recipes!!

This is a view up into the tree in our yard. Trust me when I say there are approximately 3741 more of these apples on the ground. (We've created a new family sport: the kids gather up the apples and throw them over the fence into the field behind our house, for the deer to eat. We compete for distance and accuracy!)

I know I should do something with all these apples, other than throw them, of course. Years ago, my grandfather grafted many different types of apples onto this tree, so it now produces apples with a mix of colors, flavors, and textures. Perhaps I'm intimidated by the memories I have of my grandmother making her "famous" Chunky Applesauce with these apples. It was, quite simply, the best applesauce in the world. Living up to that standard would be hard, I fear, even using descendants of the exact same apples she used.

Mom assures me that making applesauce is easy. Peal, core, and chop the apples (removing any worms, of course, I remember Grandma doing that step; worms make a big impression when you're little), and boil them in a pot of water with a lot of sugar. But looking for slightly more specific recipes on-line grabbed me 1 million in 0.13 seconds. Some use a mix of brown and white sugar, some add cinnamon and/or, some use NO sugar at all!

So, if you have any suggestions or other recipes for mixed-variety, slightly wormy apples, let me know! For now, I'm going to go referee an apple tossing contest out back!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Special Exposure Wednesday

I don't think I've ever shared George's activity schedule here. We put it into place last spring and, let me tell you, it has saved us. George (and Emma) look at it every morning and throughout the day. It's especially valuable on days that aren't routine; for instance, the entire summer!

I'm printing out new magnets today to prepare for George's new school that starts next week and ones that show us taking Emma to & from school (last year Jason took Emma most days). We have a whole refrigerator door full of these business card sized magnets that I created with Clip Art and printable magnet sheets.

They've also helped George be able to tell me what he wants to do. He often drags his stool over to the side of the refrigerator and points to the magnet that shows a desired activity. He's very excited today to see that swimming has shown back up on the schedule, it hasn't been there for the last few weeks!

Today was also an exciting day for Miss Emma, our new SECOND grader!! Though there were some nervous tears last night, this morning she ran through her chores and was grinning ear to ear as we drove off to school.

Don't you love her outfit? I wish I had as much fashion sense as my girlie girl!

She came home looking very tired, but happy. In answer to the question, "What did you do today?", she said, "Nothing." But when asked, "What was your favorite part of the day?", she answered, "Every minute!" So I guess that day full of nothing was a good one!

Don't forget to go vote! We're in second place right now!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Please Vote!!

No this has not become a political blog. That's not what we're about. But I do need your vote!

See that adorable face right up there? (For some reason, he's going through a stage where he thinks he has to physically move his face into each expression. What a silly boy!) Well I entered that face in a photo contest and it's one of four adorable finalists! Look down a ways on my sidebar and you'll see a poloroid shape with a child holding a camera. The site that sponsors that challenge wants to replace that stock photo with a "real" kid! So, I wouldn't win any prize, I can't share hundreds of dollars with you, but my silly, little boy could be featured on blog buttons throughout the blog-o-sphere!

The site that runs the challenge and this contest is 5minutesforspecialneeds.com. A community of parents, sharing stories and ideas about living with their special needs children. I try not to let this blog of mine become an Autism blog because there are three other members of our family besides George, and we all have our needs to talk about and celebrate. But sites and communities like 5 Minutes for Special Needs are a lifeline for me. I learn from, cry, laugh, nod my head in agreement, and cheer with the families that post there. I would feel so honored to have my little guy on anything bearing their name.

Vote in the contest here: Special Exposure Model Search Contest
You don't have to register or anything, just click a button! Then spread the word so others can click that button, too! And while you're there, read through some of the older posts on the site. Be sure you have your Kleenex handy, there are some amazing special needs kids in this world!