Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rest in Peace Aunt Jeanie

A light went out on Monday morning, as my dear Aunt Jeanie passed away.
My Aunt Jeanie always made me feel beautiful and special and most of all, treasured. She adored hearing about what the kids were up to and wanted to know not just generalizations but every detail. She was proud of and loved each of them to pieces.
And she loved me. With all my insecurities I always knew Aunt Jeanie adored me, and what a gift that was!
Some of you know that I almost always would have at least one piece of Aunt Jeanie jewelry on. Every time I'd wear something of hers I would get compliments and would smile and say, "it's my Aunt Jeanie's." We'd get "Aunt Jeanie" bags with goodies that i KNOW were all mine but I would generously share with my daughters if I felt inclined lol. We all loved how we could smell her in everything that was in the bag (even the boys!) Sometimes I'd snap a picture of what I was wearing and send it to her or show her in person; the latter being the best cause I'd get to see her beam that radiant smile. At the hospital I showed her the ring I was wearing last week at a point when she had opened her eyes, and she smiled then held my hand. She held onto my hand for over an hour and when I needed to leave the room she held tighter, so I stayed until privacy really was needed and I had to let go. It hurts down to my core each time I realize I can't show her anymore.
This beautiful woman with the infectious laughter that tinkled like bells, how can she be gone? This amazing woman who marveled at and passionately embraced the freedom to practice her religion after coming to the US from the Europe of WWII, where they had to live as Catholics to survive the Nazis, how is she gone? She loved her faith and religion, loved to be near the Torah. She was actively involved in many aspects of her Temple.
And her boys, how she loved her boys, my cousins Steve, Neal, and Ron. They were everything to her. And then came the "messiah" Julian, her grandson! I loved hearing her talk about his funny stories and all he was up to as much (if not more than) she loves telling them! And oh so much pride in her beautiful Nova, who was exactly like a granddaughter to her.
My Mom. She is hurting right now. She and Aunt Jeanie would have typical big sister/kid sister situations as long as I can remember, but she loves her big sister and already misses her terribly.
Oh but then there is Uncle Herbie. Theirs is a spectacular true love. Sure they had normal moments lol, but there was no doubt they loved each other. To see the way they looked at each other there was no denying the truest love existed between them. One of the most beautiful moments I saw over the past week was when he took her hand, and she lifted it to kiss his hand. My God they loved each other. I'll repost the video of them singing another time.
I love you Aunt Jeanie. I don't really know how to do this, but I'm doing it. I miss you. We all miss you.

For those interested, the obituary is on Legacy.com

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Some GOOD News about Teens Today

Over the past several weeks there have been some truly horrific stories about teens doing terrible things to special needs people. I'm going to counter that for you today, and I hope everyone pays attention!

Last fall, Zachary was given the opportunity to be a "Little Brother" for Lenape High School's Varsity Boys soccer team. The program was started by the Paul VI girls varsity soccer coach and presented to parents of players in the TOPSoccer program, and I sent an email to have Zach participate.

His first day with the team was on his birthday last year. I was nervous because I know kids can be mean, or feel uncomfortable around special needs kids; as Zach walked up and I saw the incredibly warm welcome given him all my fears subsided. Not only did they have him participate in the practice that day the entire boys soccer program (all levels were out at the practice that day) sang Happy Birthday! Each and every game and/or practice he went to for the rest of that season followed suit, filled with greetings and acceptance.

Needless to say, Zach had been asking about the next season ever since the last season ended lol! Finally in June I sent an email to Coach to ask if they would be continuing the program. I got an email back to let me know that while Coach didn't know if the program itself was still going on, they (the team) would love to have Zachary back as part of the team and invited him to come out to the summer league games, where he was instantly greeted by each of the players. The fall season began this past week. Zach has been so excited and proud to be part of this team, and wanted to express this so naturally he got out his Legos and designed this plaque for Coach. It has a collapsible easel on the back, and is an exact replica of the logo on the shirt Zach wears to the games:



He also wrote a letter. Keep in mind that along with autism, Zachary has pretty severe processing disorders, dysgraphia, and generalized learning disorders. I was on the phone as he was typing and the only help he asked for was how to spell 2 words. Prepare yourselves, this letter is something!

The L on the shirts and all does not only stand just for LenapeIt stands for love loyalty and leadership.And I believe that all of those are in us when we put on the shirts. the L stands with us whether were on that field or on the bench and no matter what. win or lose we are a team. A team that will stand tall if the game gets rough and if we fall we fall together. That’s what I see when I look at this team. Brothers friends and and to see that is amazing in a large school like this many kids don’t even notice each other but in a game like this a team can really get to know each other and I’m glad to be a part of this.  We stand for Lenape and Mt. laurel and we always will.  
There is so much more I have to say and so many more stories to tell about this amazing team; I'm saving some of those in the hopes that this heartwarming story makes it into newspapers. I think Zach's words more than adequately express what this program has meant to him and therefore, to me.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Coffee Buzzin'

I was just dragging today. I had my usual Pepsi Max but there was no pick up wake up happening; in fact I was ready to get back in bed. With a daunting list of household chores waiting to get done I made the ultimate sacrifice and drove to Wawa to get a Mocha Wake Me Up. Coffee does not agree with my stomach but my activity levels jump for joy when it hits my system! An hour later and coffee gone I found myself plummeting into exhaustion yet again.

I said, "I'd need an IV of coffee just to keep me awake today!"

Zach answered, "So put a pot on, you got a coffee maker, then just CHUG IT!"

"Yea, and then I'd end up in the hospital!"

"Nah, you'd end up in San Francisco by the time you're done." He said it seriously dead-pan. Then we both lost it cracking up out loud, high fives all the way around. This kid's got the sarcasm gene for sure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today my oldest daughter wed her Prince Charming out on the ball fields of the Camden Riversharks. I downloaded this little video filled with just a bit of the memories from that spectacular day :)



I posted it here for those of you not on Facebook.

Monday, August 18, 2014

FREE on Currclick!!

Download this awesome pack on Currclick today! It is filled with activities that can either supplement a current study of the Revolutionary War or act as a launch pad for a unit on the war. Enjoy!

Currclick Revolutionary War Activities Click Here!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Free Iced Tea K-Cups!

If I'd just pay more attention to the All You Magazine emails more often I'd have a ridiculous amount of free samples coming every day. Here is one from today, and I thought I'd share them with you, too!

Click----> two free Lipton Iced Tea K-Cups! Watch the whole video (58 seconds) and answer just 2 or 3 questions to see if you qualify for the samples.

Carry on!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Zero Tolerance for Gluten!

Please understand if I don't eat something when I'm visiting with you it isn't meant as an insult. I can't go ahead and try something just because it doesn't have any obvious gluten ingredients, or even if it says gluten free but ends up surrounded by/prepared with foods containing gluten. Please please please understand I have Celiac Disease (CD), I will have it the rest of my life, and yes even a tiny bit will make me sick. 

You might be thinking, "so you'll have a tummy ache or some gas or diarrhea, we all have that from time to time." Please try to understand that for me, and the many others with Celiac Disease, ingesting even the tiniest bit of gluten begins a war inside my body, sending signals of attack to the critical villi inside the intestines. Often gluten intake, for me, results in fiery pain throughout my entire body--every joint, every muscle, every inch of my body from head to toe, inside and out. Sometimes the attack takes place in my nervous system, triggering anything from panic attacks to exhaustion to a general "brain fog". This is why CD is considered an autoimmune disorder. A basic autoimmune disorder definition from NIH.gov:
...problems with your immune system cause it to mistake your body’s own healthy cells as invaders and then repeatedly attacks them. This is called an autoimmune disease. (“Autoimmune” means immunity against the self.) 

Celiac Disease can make me feel like a hypochondriac; the main reason I might feel that way is because society just can't seem to accept that Celiac Disease is real. The masses of people going to restaurants asking for gluten free foods and adding "can you just bring me one roll instead of the whole basket, because I'm limiting the amount of gluten in my diet" are just that, they are on a diet. Unfortunately with so many people doing this, too many take that as the attitude in general of anyone that says they can't have gluten. While yes, I've made the choice to eliminate gluten from what I eat I must eliminate gluten entirely from my what I eat to regain and maintain my health. 

If you have questions, ASK ME! I'm learning as I go because it just isn't as simple as "no wheat". One of my favorite bloggers Gluten Dude has this entry that helps to express some of the frustration when given the CD diagnosis Here's a short excerpt: 

...Who cares if this 21 year old has joint pain? It’s just inflammation, take it easy, take some more pills, and it will go away. I got labelled a hypochondriac. I was making it up.
Then, about 3 months ago, it was as if my body just gave up. I had no energy to do anything. I was anxious all the time, and I was hospitalized for severe inflammation in my chest that had me on bed rest for 2 weeks. Then I started getting ‘actually’ sick. In a way that counts, I guess. Up at 3 am, going to the bathroom every 20 minutes. Getting incredibly nauseous after eating. I lost a lot of weight in a very short time period. ... I was told I have Celiac. That I can’t have gluten. That I probably inherited it. [Read the entire entry HERE]
Here's a pinterest graphic that caught my attention this morning. Remember, if you have questions just ask. To get to the original graphic, click HERE and/or to read the original Gluten Dude entry that inspired the graphic, click Gluten Dude: Here is Why I Eat Gluten Free




Friday, May 9, 2014

Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Magic, sheer kitchen magic! This recipe had come across my facebook and pinterest newsfeeds several times and each time I saw it-or anything similar-I scoffed at the notion that one can call something a muffin that had no flour in the ingredients.

Then came the day I had loads of bananas but no flour and NEEDED banana bread. I took a chance and made them, expecting nothing but gooey globs that at least would be chocolatey! ;)

Halfway through the baking time, the familiar smell of banana bread wafted through the air. I took a peek in the oven to see how they were doing and SURPRISE, they had risen! The timer rang and they LOOKED LIKE MUFFINS!

I was still skeptical in spite of how delectable they smelled and looked. I had to taste test at least one to be sure I didn't give the kids something disgusting. I split one muffin in half and saw, well, MUFFIN! 

I ate that one and then had just one more to be certain it wasn't just one that tasted okay. I waited a couple minutes to be sure there wasn't an aftertaste and ate two more; seriously I had to try two in a row because sometimes that's what kids do, and I wanted to be sure the kids would be okay. (Did I mention the kids weren't home part of the day??) I felt fine. I had a couple more after that because I hadn't had my actual muffin treat since the first few were testing.

The kids loved them. I only had a couple more, or seven, with the kids. I shared with a friend of mine and with my Mom. Suddenly they were gone! With a visit from my daughter and son-in-law coming the next weekend, I had to make more! These were a huge hit with anyone that tasted them, now it's time to finally post the recipe. I don't know exactly where this version came from, I apologize for that. 

Enjoy!

1          Cup        Peanut Butter
2                        Bananas
2                        Eggs
7           TBSP    Honey
1 1/2      tsp        Vanilla
1/2         tsp        Baking Soda
1/4         tsp        Salt
1            Cup      Mini Chocolate Chips

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Grease mini muffin pans or place mini muffin liners into mini muffin pans.
  • Place first 7 ingredients in blender. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
  • Stir in chips.
  • Drop by TBSP-full into pans.
  • Bake 8-9 minutes, or until tops are springy and toothpick comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan.
If you have celiac disease as I do, be sure your ingredients are gluten free.



Monday, April 28, 2014

German Jewish Refugee--Aunt Martha's Story

It started with a box. A beautiful ornately painted black jewelry box that belonged to my Aunt Martha. I got her box along with many pictures and her piano.

             

When I first received the box I was afraid to it let alone open it for fear of breaking it. Finally I opened it to be pulled into memories by the smell of Aunt Martha and Pop-Pop Harry's house. Inside the box were a few pieces of Aunt Martha's jewelry and an envelope of pictures.


Under everything was the most amazing treasure of all...notebook paper with Aunt Martha's handwriting. I was so surprised by the first sentence:

I would like to tell my experience during my early years, then my mother made arrangement for me to go to England.
I didn't know Aunt Martha's story, at least not much. I knew she was from Germany and had gone to England during WWII which is what saved her life. I knew that her entire family had been killed during the Holocaust. 



Reading these pages gave me some of her story. My regret is there is no one to ask to fill in the missing pieces. I am hoping that maybe some day I'll be able to find the answers. I know she had a nephew that lived in Italy somewhere. For now I have what I can make out from her pages, unfortunately there are several words I can't figure out. Share these stories so we NEVER FORGET. 

I would like to tell my experience during my early years, then my mother made arrangement for me to go to England.
All went well in ________town in Germany where I was born until 1933 when the Gestapo stood in front of all Jewish owned stores, to prevent the customers from buying. Gradually we had to sell out by visiting the costumers in their house, which also had to stop now. 
We had to leave the small town, where I was born and raised and my father's family had lived for generations. My mother, & youngest sister and I moved to a larger city near by. My father had already passed on. There was a possibility to leave Germany, but there was no country to take us. Israel became a state much later. 
After the Kristallnacht (1939) England opened its door for some young girls & for children. English people took the children in their houses and raised them.
My mother contacted a cousin who lived in England. She was active in bringing people out of Germany. Finally in April 1939 I received my permit to come to England as a domestic. I was permitted to take 10 German marks out of Germany. I spoke very little English. My mother & sister took me to the station to leave for Holland and from there I got a ship to South Hampton. 
 
That was the last time I saw my mother & sister. I also had two older brothers & two older sisters. I never saw them or their children again. I have one surviving nephew in Italy. I visited him twice after he found me in the United States and he visited me once. 
I went to England hoping that my mother & sister would follow me but the war broke out and then there was no more hope. 
I had contact with my mother for a while through a cousin in Switzerland but that stopped when my mother was deported to a concentration camp. Meantime I worked as a housekeeper in Birmingham, sleeping in the shelter for 8 months during the Blitz. 
Later I decided to move to Leamington a smaller town. I received a permit to work in a munition plant. After living in England for 8 years I finally received my visa to come to the good old USA on the Queen Elizabeth in April 1947.
The last paragraph is crossed out, but she ends the writing with

                                             God Bless American and Protect Israel

Aunt Martha was my "step" grandmother. My (maternal) grandmother died in 1961 and my grandfather married Aunt Martha in 1965 (the year I was born).


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"I Have Autism"

I heard him say those words in public for the first time ever. Z has never discussed the fact that he has autism with anyone except family. I've never discouraged any discussion; autism is just as much a part of our regular lives as breathing.

Our local ShopRite grocery store has been gearing up for the beginning of Autism Awareness Month (April, with April 2 being World Autism Day), for the past couple weeks, by selling papers with the iconic puzzle piece to put your name on, lanyards, pencils, etc to raise funds for Autism Speaks. Each time we have been in there Z would comment how great it is that they are doing all of that for autism. (mixed in with the usual scripteds "I love this ShopRite", "This ShopRite is my favorite store", "Everyone is so nice here", "This is the best store")

Z and I ran to the store for a quick trip for just a few things. As soon as we walked in my beef lover smelled the hot dogs and there was a woman saying "hot dogs, doughnuts, drinks (etc) for autism awareness" by a table. We walked over because Z wanted to know how much everything was since he had allowance money. He ordered a hot dog and soda and the lady, a store employee, started telling us how the money would go towards autism research, and Z thanked her so much for doing this and told her it really meant a lot to him. My gut feeling was that he wanted to tell her, and even though my heart hurt a bit with worry, I asked him, "do you want to tell her why you feel that way?"

With no hesitation, Z said "I'm Z (ok he said his whole name lol) and I have autism!"

The woman was obviously caught off guard, and fumbled just a bit before responding with "Really? Oh you don't look like you have autism. You seem very smart. Here, have a doughnut, my treat."


Hmmmm.


Okay, before you get too upset at her response, let me tell you that as far as I know, Z was so deeply basking in self-pride and amazement that he said it out loud that I don't think he realized what she said; unfortunately I heard and processed every word and while those words made me wince a bit, I followed Z's lead and just smiled.

This isn't the first time I've heard that type of presumption. Sometimes those types of words are used in a person's flawed thinking that they have to comfort me with an assumption that I wold be sad about autism. This was the first time it was said in front of Z. I know that she was simply attempting to say something nice. Here's a suggestion to those of you that might struggle for a quick but nice response in a similar situation, say "Hi Z, nice to meet you!" (a friend of mine commented that, it's brilliant isn't it ;) )

We embrace everything about his autism. Yes he struggles with so many everyday things, and YES of course I am human and have my moments when I lose my patience as do his siblings; but I would not change a thing! As Z himself has said, he has autism but autism doesn't have him.

Follow his lead and enjoy the view.

Turning Blue for Autism

Today is World Autism Day! Will you be showing your blue?

The statistics are staggering: 1 in 68 kids have autism.

People say that's because diagnosing is more common today than even 5 years ago.

I say it is harder than ever to get people to listen.

People say that's because "Most kids diagnosed aren't really autistic."

I say, walk a mile or even a minute in my shoes to see the reality of the struggles every day in our private lives.

I ask you to Light It Up Blue today to show acceptance of those with autism. Those with autism are blessings to our world and present amazing perspectives to otherwise insurmountable problems. (Think Temple Grandin)

For today, don't question the statistics, or the "legitimacy of diagnoses", or anything else about autism--just go blue for today.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Celiac Disease is FAD-free!

"Whether your choice to live gluten free is driven by the desire to lose weight, comply with a celiac diet, the need to avoid wheat because of mild allergies or the suspected link between gluten and autism,"




This part of a gluten free cookbook description irked me...why? Because the fad dieters (who give those with a medical reason to be gf a bad name) are listed first. 


I get it, it's all about the almighty dollar, which would explain why gf products are so expensive; all these people jumping on the gluten free bandwagon are willing to pay to play, while those of us with no other health choice can't afford it. Yes, it is a double edged sword on that products are more readily available, but at what price-both literally and figuratively to the quality of the food and the dismissal of those diagnosed with celiac disease as using the latest diet-du-jour. 




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Don't Consent to Inferiority!


It's okay to walk away. I'm still not good at it even after all I've learned the hard way. I don't want to seem mean or rude; but I must learn that by trying to maintain the nice guy appearance I am hurting myself. 

Respect yourself enough to protect yourself. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Thank You Kevin Reilly!

Kevin is one of Zach's buddies. We met Kevin in 2011 at an autism event held each year in conjunction with the Philadelphia Eagles. The event didn't go well for Z and after I privately let one of the workers know what happened, the event was not only salvaged but also cherished as a favorite day for Z and the whole family. We were given two special autograph tickets, so Zach and big sister Alexis (they are the two biggest Eagles fans) got on line together though they got placed in two different lines. The former Eagle giving signatures at the end of Zach's line was Kevin Reilly.( Kevin's Website, from Third and Long to First and Goal ) I admit I hadn't heard of him but his demeanor with Zachary endeared him to me immediately. Kevin quickly had Zach at ease and even got him to smile!




On the ride home, the little football got wet and Kevin's signature was smeared. Zachary didn't have a meltdown or express anger, he just cried. We all worked on telling him it was still readable and he still had the great memory of meeting Kevin and Zach cheered up. The next day I thought I'd try to reach out to Kevin; to thank him for making such a lasting impression on Zach and for turning a really difficult day into a happy memory. I mentioned what had happened to the little football but told him we could still make out the autograph, and that the little football was one of Zachary's new favorite things. I got an email back in less than 24 hours from Kevin, telling me he had a surprise for Zach. That surprise was TWO TICKETS TO THE NFL DRAFT PARTY! This man who had NO obligation to do anything at all reached out to my child. To say he became a permanent hero in our household is an understatement. In those days that the emails went back and forth, I read some of Kevin's story from his website http://kreilly.com :

Shortly after beginning his NFL career, Kevin was diagnosed with a rare scar tissue tumor. To halt the spread of cancer, his left arm and part of his left shoulder were amputated. After surgery, Kevin worked hard at rehabilitation to overcome the limitations the experts said he would have.
We had VIP passes waiting for us, which left Zach awestruck. Kevin met us at the top of the stairs that led to the VIP area and I watched Zachary run those steps to meet greet him. Anyone observing the hug would have thought they'd known each other for years! 


Kevin introduced Zach to several of his former Eagles friends who autographed the brand new Eagles football Kevin gave him, then told us to go have fun while he did some broadcasting and we'd meet back upstairs later.







Zach and Kevin have stayed in touch off and on since then, with Kevin always responding any time Zachary reaches out to him. Last week Zachary mailed Kevin a letter, and five days later a package arrived for him! Just the day before had been extremely rough for Zach (and therefore also for sister Mallory and me, a different blog entry for that later) so the timing could not have been better. Inside was a wonderful handwritten letter along with a brand new Eagles ball cap and a signed picture of Kevin. Zach had been terribly upset about the meltdowns that overtook him the day before; as he looked at each thing from Kevin, his joyful smile made an appearance and his body relaxed. 


Kevin, I know that you send Zachary letters and surprises simply to make him happy, and I hope his notes and letters bring smiles to you. I want you to know that your acts (that you probably think of as simple acts) have long lasting positive effects on our family. When Zachary thinks about you he relaxes in the memories that have been built with you. He knows all you have gone through and reminds himself of that when things might be harder for him, and keeps pushing forward. Thank you for staying in touch (and please know that just a note or letter is more than enough lol!) and maintaining your "buddy" status, and making a difference for all of us. 

********
Please watch this video from 6ABC Action news that tells Kevin's story:

Kevin is a broadcaster and motivational speaker, as well as actively raising awareness and research funds for Desmoid Tumor Research. Visit http://kreilly.com/motivational-speaker/ for info

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

These Beautiful Words

I'm about to copy my 13yo son's words to The Lego Group. He typed the note yesterday. Ordinarily I would print it out "as is" and then type it with the corrected spelling and grammar, then mail both to the Lego Group. This time however, he wanted to post it to Lego's FB page. Privacy concerns abounded in my mind but I knew this was important to him, so I let him post. I realize now that almost no one will see his post because of the strict privacy settings I put in place; I decided to copy it here so more people could see it. (more being all 20 of you lol) Without further ado, I give you his note:

hay Lego i have built for years and the thing that keeps me going is that how much time and work you put in every brick and the one thing i'd like to do with my life is to be like you all of you from the .c.e.o. to a janitor cleaning the floor you make more than 1000 smile's a day now that's a job i'd like. even the workers that work at home there helping make that smile two a lot of the time when you see a kid holding a Lego set you can see a smile on his/hers face. that's a smile that means some thing its not all about the money Lego make's its the fans that count its the fans that keeps Lego coming with what they do. its what you do that makes my world go round its what you do that will make smiles keep coming so for what you do thank you. it's not about the money its the sole.
These words are his and his alone. These words come from the heart and mind of a child that so many dismiss as unable to express such thoughts because of his "challenges". These beautiful words are always inside him and have shown me yet again the the value of patience.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Someone's Caught my PowerPoint bug!

This is for Rookie J, our current and awesome therapist!! (yes, he is a dog, but don't let that make you think he's not qualified!!) Zach has many learning disabilities and has a hard time with the written word, but when he is inspired he goes for it. Rookie J inspires him every single day!

video

For more info on Rookie J, check out his facebook page------> The Doggie Llama

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Two Cents on the Chicken Pox Vaccine

First and foremost: ***THESE ARE MY OPINIONS***

Here's my take on the problem with the vaccine: way back in 2000 or so, right as the vaccine was becoming required, and right after my younger two got the vaccine, there were articles that came out that said YES a booster would absolutely be needed, that the vaccine was NOT effective beyond 10 years, AND it was thought that those that received the vaccine *could* be a increased risk for shingles.

I did get the vaccine in 1996 (it was in limited availability at the time) in a panic after my 5 year old came home from school with the chicken pox. I was almost 31 and had never had the chicken pox and only heard nightmare stories about getting them as an adult. Although I was on a wait list, the base made an exception since I was exposed.

Two weeks later was Thanksgiving. We had friends visiting and more friends coming over for dessert. It was a glorious day and evening, although I had begun to feel a little funky but attributed that to the wine we had consumed. I had a sudden itch on my neck. The second my fingers felt the spot I intended to scratch--I knew I had come come down with the pox. I ran a 103/104 fever for about 2 days with lots of hallucinations. My then 2 year old also broke out the day after Thanksgiving. Somewhere I have a picture of the two of us covered in spots.

People say the vaccine will protect from a bad case of the chicken pox. Mine were pretty flipping bad. People say it could have been much worse had I not gotten the vaccine. My two cents here is NO ONE can know that. Statements like that are pure propaganda.

Back to the first paragraph's discussion. Any news and/or articles about the absolute need for a vaccine disappeared and not discussed again, as far as I can tell, until very recently.

In 2005 (ish, could have been 2006) there was a massive outbreak of chicken pox among the students of elementary schools in our town. The CDC confirmed this to be an epidemic. 80% of those students had been vaccinated. EIGHTY PERCENT.

I remember discussing with friends how we feared that with all of these kids being vaccinated against the chicken pox, we were going to see a generation of adult chicken pox outbreaks like never seen before as well as an increase in shingles outbreaks.

I had shingles when I was 45. Then I got it again almost a year later. Yes, that's correct--not once, but twice, and I'm not alone. There is a vast increase in the outbreak of shingles, particularly among younger people. I'm not going to quote any sources, feel free to research it yourself and come to your own conclusions. What I will say is, I'm not saying "Don't get the pox vaccine for your children!" I simply wish we had been given more truthful information, like the need for boosters every 10 years. I don't know what I would have decided back then but at least I'd feel more confident in my decision to cave into the pressure that was put on me by the pediatrician at the time.

Measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough were quickly shown to be eradicated from most of society because of the vaccines. All of those diseases have made brief comeback appearances through the years but have been generally contained. The chicken pox continues to prove to be with us in one form or another, even with the vaccine being mandated now for more than 10 years. Something isn't right.

Just my two cents.

Thank you Dr. King

**Did you know?
--The original title of this speech was "A Cancelled Check," and the written drafts (there were several drafts) never included the words "I have a dream"?
--12 hours prior to delivering the speech, Dr. King still was not certain what he would deliver as the content of his speech.
--Most of the speech he did deliver was unscripted!

Thank you Dr. King. Thank you for speaking from your heart and thank you for believing not only that people are basically good but also that faith is alive and well in us all.

Address to civil rights marchers by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men -- yes, black men as well as white men -- would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end but a beginning. Those who hoped that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. ****

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for whites only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today my friends -- so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father's died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi -- from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring -- when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children -- black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics -- will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"




Saturday, January 18, 2014

Funny Homeschool Video

Because I want to laugh. And who doesn't like to laugh about preconceived notions about homeschooling? Thank you, Tim Hawkins.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's a Rookie J day!

As I think about Z getting to see Rookie J today, I find my own body relaxing, my own breath slowing at the thought of him sitting with his dog brother. Z loves to be near him, yet knows he must control his actions as he gets very close to RJ because this is a little teeny dog! It isn't always easy for kids with ASD to control their feelings. When their feelings come flooding in the emotions are often expressed in an extreme manner. Rookie J helps Zach calmly express the joy he feels. Rookie certainly never barks or acts aggressively if there is too much activity around him--he sits down! The "patient" is drawn to emulate Dr. Rookie and heads to the floor. As calm fills the atmosphere RJ will "smile," do his little yoga stretches, lays down,



or even rewards him by climbing onto his lap!

The serene look on Z's face speaks far more than my words can express. With Rookie J, Z also knows his hands must move slowly and gently. The first thing many people think of when they think of autism is hand flapping or arm flapping or spinning. "Stimming" is the word used to describe these actions and many others that ASD people's bodies do to try and regulate their perception of all the noise and chaos going on around them. When around RJ the world becomes a quiet and calm place where stimming isn't needed. Z gets happily lost in the moments with Rookie J, and learns coping techniques we carry with us back into the real world. 

Rookie J certainly lives up to what his shirt says! 

#1 Best Pal
The best gifts really do come in small packages. For more information about Rookie J, click here for Rookie J's Facebook page

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Serenity From...a doggie?

Rookie J has done it again. We haven't seen him for 2 weeks yet just talking about him soothes our senses. 



The kids had a bit of a rough time this weekend. They were unfortunately reminded of some past troubling events, things that we have had some peace from for a little while. M talked about it and of course said she is "fine". In my personal opinion "fine" means "it SUCKS but I'm being a brave soldier for you," but I do believe that at least talking about it helped a little.

Z on the other hand wanted nothing to do with talking it through. This did NOT fit into the happy space that he likes to put even the worst events into. Talking about it means the bad thing was real. He had a rough night that night, and the next evening's bedtime routine was more stretched out than usual. Have I shared the bedtime routine with you? Oh, please, allow me to give you a glimpse:

1. Lavender spay on pillows
2. Rescue Remedy sleep spray on wrists.Two 'squirts' then rub wrists.
3. Tuck in.
4. Turn on humidifier.
5. Refill humidifier.
6. Set timer on tv.
7. Turn on fish tank light, and feed fish.
8. Get and then bring Z a Tums.
9. Bring him a drink of water.
10. Hug and kiss goodnight. Then another hug, then please one more.
11. Go to door, pull it shut to just a couple inches...
12. "one more hug?", yes, one more hug.
13. Back to door. 
14. The sayings start:
Z: "Good night." 
Me: "Good night." 
Z: "I love you." 
Me: "I love you, too." 
Z: "Everything will be alright, right?"
Me: "yes." 
Z: "Promise?" 
Me: "Yes." 
Z: "Okay. Good night, sweet dreams, I love you."
Me: "Good night, sweet dreams, I love you, too."

I walk away and wait, he shouts some of the aforementioned sentiments, I respond once or twice then say "No more shouting!" He says "okay," and on most nights that's it. On rougher nights it all goes over and over, with him coming out, going back in, etc. Some nights, when I don't respond to the shouting he will say "you didn't say 'no more shouting!'" lol.

Last night, before I tucked him in (step 3 if you are paying attention) we started talking about Rookie J ( Rookie J the Rescue Doggie ). We talked about his face and his calm eyes, and how happy we are about getting to see him on Wednesday. 

Last night I only got to step 11. Z then said "Good night, I love you" and I did my response, then stood there waiting for everything else. Nothing happened.

I said "Okay, good night...."
He said "Okay!"

I walked away and heard nothing more the rest of the night. This was not a coincidence. This little dog has such a calm sereneness about him that radiates not just to the senses but also the soul. Z's soul wants to soar to reach others but he's still learning how to open it up while still balancing out all the noisy disruptions that autism brings. Together they harmonize and while that may sound corny, it is beautiful.

I am feeling so blessed that our paths crossed with his and his Mommy's and can't wait to see where it all leads.


Lego Movie Premiere at Home!

Well, sort of.

Our favorite Lego guy was at it again. The official Lego movie theater set was a bit out of our price range, so Z designed his own. Love this boy.
the boy and his creation

The star "Emmet" with "Good Cop/Bad Cop" behind him


Add caption
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spotlight :)
spotlight ON


keeping the crazy fans away from the store
Update:
The Lego company commented on Zach's creation!




Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gluten-Free Breakfast Heaven!

I don't often eat breakfast. Actually for most of my adult life I did not eat breakfast.


But when I do.....


It has to be GOOD! The biggest problem for me, and for the kids though they don't want to admit it, is the belly ache that would often arise after mounds of pancakes or waffles.

These pancakes...



had me LOVING breakfast again. 

These fluffy, puffy, tasty, cakes from the pan...



had us all ooooo-ing and aaaah-ing over the taste and texture of these delightful little meals. The pure maple syrup and real butter didn't hurt, but they tasted incredible plain, too, and even though I pigged out on 3, I had no belly ache.

These beautiful breakfast delicacies that melted in my mouth...



are GLUTEN FREE! It's true, I swear. I found a homemade pancake recipe on allrecipes.com, then played around with it to make it work for us in our new GF world. My new adventurous spirit is completely thanks to Nicole at Gluten Free on a Shoestring and her amazing recipes that are building my confidence and the fantastic Cup 4 Cup All Purpose Flour Blend which, with very few adjustments, has proven a perfect substitute in most of my formerly gluten-full recipes. Happy happy joy joy.

The recipe:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, warmed slightly or at room temperature
2 TBSP white vinegar
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour blend (one that has xanthan gum, such as cup4cup, or you will need to add xantham gum)
2 TBSP white sugar
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 TBSP butter, melted

Combine milk and vinegar and let sit about 5 minutes. It will curdle, don't worry--that's what it's supposed to do, you are making sour milk (just like buttermilk).

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.

Add egg and the melted butter into your sour milk, using a whisk to combine. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients, whisking until smooth. It will be thicker than a typical pancake recipe! Let the batter sit for about 5 minutes.

Heat a frying pan or electric skillet over medium heat, pre-spraying with cooking spray if needed. Use a large spoon or ladle to place approximately 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Watch them puff up quickly! When they begin to appear dry around the edges, flip and cook a few minutes more, until both sides are golden.

Enjoy!!

****
I forgot to mention my thanks to a new friend Kattie, who took time months and months ago to message me with tons of gf tips. I wasn't quite ready to take the plunge then, but it was because of her tips that I chose to use coconut milk rather than almond milk in this recipe!





Friday, January 3, 2014

Teen Making Me Crazy!

I cam home from the store yesterday, exhausted from the rushing around to get as much shopping done as I could before the snowstorm and frigid cold hit. Younger teen went with me, teen girl stayed home. I was sure she stayed home for socialmediatizing. Yea, that's what I'm calling it.

I set all the bags down, then came around the corner to see teen girl sitting at the table, and she was doing something that left me stumbling backwards, grasping frantically  for something to hold on to for support, and feeling slightly faint. 

What was she doing? Oh, you are NOT going to believe this, she was...

.

.

.

.

.

.

DOING MATH, and excitedly insisting that I check her work NOW so she could know if she was "getting it" and could move forward. How rude!

Math-U-See, you've struck again!


Can we trust anyone?

There's a video going around of an autistic child being abused during a home therapy session, and people are tearing apart the parents for not staying in the room, they are IDIOTS that know nothing.

The parents are not supposed to be in the room. They trusted their gut and then videotaped it and found it fairly quickly, thank goodness. This is yet another reason I homeschool especially Z, because he will take any bad situation and "fix" it in his mind. I'm not talking about a positive outlook, though he certainly is an optimistic guy. For him, and many ASD kids, bad things just do not fit logically in how things are supposed to happen so he does everything he can to find a way to turn the bad thing into a positive and, if he can't, he just won't talk about the situation. Which is terrifying considering what happened here.

Z is older now and processes things a bit better but still it often takes a bit of detective work to find out when something happened somewhere. THIS is why I won't send him to a local day camp that is supposedly superior to all other camps (special needs and typical kids) that ever existed--yet every single summer I hear of several special needs families whose children have been mistreated. (from verbal abuse to physical abuse, it is sickening)

Can I protect him from every bad situation? Absolutely not, but I can try to protect him from as much as possible. When he had a teacher that treated him as a discipline problem in kindergarten because he couldn't complete schoolwork in a timely fashion (she took away his recess and play time), and made him turn his card over (further discipline) because he 'appeared to not be paying attention in circle time,' he regressed to toddler levels and it took a solid year to recoup the loss in social and emotional skills and reinstate his love of learning. I had NO IDEA what she had been doing, but he would cry and have meltdowns every single day before the bus would arrive. It was 6 months before he mentioned something about having to turn his card over every day.

Could these parents have seen this coming? ABSOLUTELY NOT, and they shouldn't have had to ever think about it! Special needs kids get abused in therapy/school settings far too often. This 3 year old baby went through this because so many of these companies see the money in Autistic services rather than wanting to provide real help.