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!

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

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spotlight :)
spotlight ON

keeping the crazy fans away from the store
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, 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.


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.