“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
A.A. Milne

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


My mother's battle with cancer and Alzheimer's was won today.  Death where is thy sting?  She is with her Christ.

She and my father were married 55 years on December 14.  Below is a tribute to their life together. My father is understandably heartbroken. He has remained strong throughout this ordeal and never left her side--just like the song said.   Merry Christmas , Mother.  When we meet again...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Greetings Earthlings!!

Sorry everyone!! We are still here and yes you still have to do the laundry!


(And before I get emails and texts--It's a joke!!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Geri's!!!!

"It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

 We had lunch again today, the Geri's and I.  We stayed in at my house eating corn chowder, salad, artichoke dip and lots of sweets.  The food is always good when we get together but the talk is even better!!! In the words of Ninny Threadgoode from  Fried Green Tomatoes ,"I found out what the secret to life is: friends. Best friends".

So Merry Christmas from the Geri's!!!! (and below is a great recipe for easy, easy , easy corn chowder)


2 cans cream of potato soup
2 cans cream of corn
2 cups milk
bacon bits (I use the ones you find by the salad fixings
1/2 bag of frozen potatoes o'brien
sprinkle of parsley flakes (for color)
 shredded cheese
sour cream

Mix all the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream in a crock pot.  Cook for 2 1/2 hours on low.  Serve with cheese and sour cream and extra bacon bits.  Also serve with fresh bread or corn bread.  You are then good to go!!

Merry Christmas to all, Friends!!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let's talk about Autism . It is NOT a Mental Illness. A must read for everyone!!

By now, everyone who has a television, radio, computer, or mouth knows about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  There is no argument about the senseless killings of small children and their teachers.  What there is an argument about is of course the same one that has been circulating and dividing for years:  Gun control.

I don't want to talk about gun control.  We all have opinions about it--for or against.  However, the conversation that should be taking place is that of mental illness and mental health services--not only for the person suffering from the disease but from the family members who often suffer in silence. 

When my son, Caleb, was first diagnosed with Autism, most of the books out there dealing with the disorder still referred to autism as childhood schizophenia.  Basically, a child with autism was considered mentally ill and the mother was to blame.  It was because she was cold and indifferent. (sarcasm here).

The following is taken from Web MD and a brief history on the "origins" of Autism.

"Where Did the Term "Autism" Come From?

The word "autism," which has been in use for about 100 years, comes from the Greek word "autos," meaning "self." The term describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction -- hence, an isolated self.
Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first person to use the term. He started using it around 1911 to refer to one group of symptoms of schizophrenia.
In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use the term "autism" to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University, used it to describe the withdrawn behavior of several children he studied. At about the same time, Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, identified a similar condition that’s now called Asperger’s syndrome.
Autism and schizophrenia remained linked in many researchers’ minds until the 1960s. It was only then that medical professionals began to have a separate understanding of autism in children.
From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioral change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the role of behavioral therapy and the use of highly controlled learning environments emerged as the primary treatments for many forms of autism and related conditions. Currently, the cornerstone of autism therapy is behavioral therapy. Other treatments are added as needed.

What Are the Symptoms of Autism?

One symptom common to all types of autism is an inability to easily communicate and interact with others. In fact, some people with autism are unable to communicate at all. Others may have difficulty interpreting body language or holding a conversation.
Other symptoms linked to autism may include unusual behaviors in any of these areas:
  • Interest in objects or specialized information
  • Reactions to sensations
These symptoms are usually seen early in development. Most children with severe autism are diagnosed by age 3. Some children with milder forms of autism, such as Asperger's syndrome, may not be diagnosed until later, when their problems with social interaction cause difficulties at school."

Ok, so that's a brief synopsis of autism.  But that little blurp or the other blurps you read about the disorder are not going to tell you about living with the disorder each and every day. They are not going to tell you the hell that most families experience not once, not twice , but on a daily basis for months and often years on end.  As I continue Caleb's story in subsequent blogs, I'll relate some of the hell we went through.  But for today I want to focus on the obsessiveness of the disorder.

First of all, before I go on, I want everyone to understand, autism is NOT mental illness.  It is a disorder.  It is not schizophrenia.  It is a neurological disorder that no one has found a cure for (regardless of what some say).

Second, the one thing you can count on with autism is that you cannot count on autism and it's symptoms and behaviors being the same in every person that has the disorder.  One may be verbal; another may not be.  One may be highly intelligent, and another may have mental retardation.  One may be basically happy while another may be basically despondent and sad.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON WITH AUTISM HAS DIFFERENT SYMPTOMS AND DIFFERENT REACTIONS.  Therefore, it is difficult to treat autism.

Third, one thing you CAN count on with autism is that ritualistic behaviors and obsessions are unilaterally present.  Over my son's 23 years I have not met one person with autism who did not have certain obsessive behaviors and rituals that were performed and perseverated upon.  

We are fortunate.  Our son is obsessed with all things Disney.  In particular, he is obsessed with Winnie the Pooh.  Winnie the Pooh is gentle and kind and not violent--ever.  Some people with autism are obsessed with purses, or trains, church, or whatever.  However, some are obsessed with superheroes, and yes some are obsessed with video games--violent video games.  And this can be a problem.

You must understand Autism to understand why this is important.  As described above, persons with autism are interested in objects.  Well, it goes further than that.  They tend to TREAT people like objects.  They completely lack empathy.  They aren't being rude or insensitive.  It is just not in their nature to have empathy for people--at all--ever.

Now challenge their obsession; take it away; destroy it; then you might get some emotion.  But for people-no.  Here's an example:

Several years ago, our dog, Sunny, was killed in a car accident.  Caleb loved that dog.  That dog slept on his bed.  But when Sunny was killed, Caleb laughed and hooted about it for days.  We would tell him it was sad and for a time he would put on a frown but then he would go back to laughing about Sunny's death.  And to this day, three years later, Caleb will still laugh about how Sunny's head was squished by a car.When my father in law died, Caleb laughed about that. When he visited my mother in the nursing home and saw her crying in pain (she is dying from cancer), he laughed.  It's inappropriate--yes--to us.  But to him who lacks empathy and understanding of empathy, it is perfectly normal.

Caleb does cry.  If you take away his dvd's or his toys or restrict him from the television, he will have big old tears pouring down his face.  Challenge his "world" and he is terribly unhappy. Those who know Caleb love him.  Most people would describe Caleb as gentle and kind.  And he is.  But he is still autistic and he will never act in a way we think he should.  People are objects --plain and simple.

For better understanding of autism, read Temple Grandin's book "Thinking in Pictures: My life with Autism".  She is a person who has autism and can artfully explain it. 

Now why did I just write about all of this?  Because the media is reporting that Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, suffered from Asperger's.  If that is true, then he would have seen people as objects.  I don't know (and we may never know) what caused him to pick up a gun and decide to kill 20 children and 6 adults that day but I do know if he was a player of video games, if he was obsessed with them, the games would have been real to him.  It is conceivable on every level of autism that he would carry out what he was watching on his games-because the people would only be objects to him and the games would be real.  This does not mean that all people with autism are going to pick up a gun and harm others.  I am not saying that at all and I do not want anyone out there to be afraid of people with Autism.  That would be stupid and a step back for our society.  I am merely trying to offer an explanation from an autistic point of view.

It will be interesting to see in days to come, if Adam Lanza's mother had reached out for help and was turned away.  Services for children and adults with autism are STILL spotty at best.  Unlike other disabilities, adults with autism have difficulty interacting with others, maintaining employment, and developing any meaningful friendships.  Many agencies are less than thrilled to offer services to adults with autism--especially those who display violent tendencies.

My husband and I are fortunate.  Even though we live in a small town, services over the years have been good.  Caleb has had wonderful, caring teachers through the years who made sure that he was integrated well with peers his own age.  We are also fortunate that for the most part, Caleb is happy and easy going.  He does still have rituals and behaviors that he must perform (like wearing pink on Sunday's--he has six of the same pink shirts) but most of his behaviors are harmless and only annoying to us, his family.  Other families are not so fortunate.  Many children with autism become unhappy adults with autism.  Hormones tend to play havoc with their moods and behaviors.  Their families often find them difficult to deal with and also find no where and no one to help them. 

Although the natural tendency is for society to judge Adam Lanza and his mother harshly and call them monsters, please be careful in your judgements.  What happened was wrong and a tragedy.  However, you do not know the hell that either Adam or his mother were suffering from.  You do not know if they reached out for help only to be turned away again. Remember, they too lost their lives and only by the Grace of God go we.

Disclaimer:  I WILL delete any and all posts that are rude, ignorant, or basically not helpful so please before you comment on this blog, think about that.  This blog was intended to uplift not harm.  Thanks!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Primitive Gingerbread Ornament or doll -- A PATTERN AND A HOW TO!!!

I love primitives.  I love gingerbread men.  So I decided to share a pattern and a tutorial with you. 

The following takes only slight sewing skill.  If you can hand sew a straight stitch or do a basic stitch on a sewing machine , you can make this craft.

What you'll need:

scrap of fabric(s)--I used scraps of cotton fabric in brown tones but you can use whatever color you wish
jute string
sewing machine and/or sewing needle and thread
small amount of polyfill stuffing
safety pins--rusty (find these at a craft store)
instant coffee and brush
ground cinnamon

1.  Copy the pattern below.  (I don't have it in a pdf file but you can copy and paste it to a Word file and then print.  Or freehand it).If the size is too big for you cut it down.  Make your ornament as big or little as you like. Cut out and trace onto fabric which has been folded in half with the right sides facing each other.  Trace using a thin sharpie on the wrong side of the fabric.

2.  Next, sew on tracing lines all the way around leaving NO openings.  Cut out around gingerbread man about 1/4 of an inch. Cut a slit in the back of the gingerbread man (doesn't really matter what side) in the middle of the man.  DO NOT CUT THROUGH BOTH FABRICS--ONLY ONE SIDE!  Then turn inside out.

3.  Stuff gingerbread man lightly with the polyfill.  Sew up the back by hand with a whip stitch.  (If you don't know what that is, look it up on google)!

4.  Tie a piece of jute string around the neck and knot.  Add 3 rusty safety pins .  On the back make a "hanger" using thread.

5.  Next put a small amount of instant coffee in a cup (a couple of teaspoons), mix with about a 1/4 cup hot water, and brush on gingerbread men so they are really dark.  Then sprinkle with ground cinnamon. 

6.  Air dry or bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 150 degrees F for about and hour.  Your ornie or doll should be really stiff.  And you're done!!  Enjoy!!Wasn't that easy????

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup in the Crock Pot--It's what's for dinner!!

I don't like to cook.  I do it out of necessity.  I'm no gourmet and I rarely try new and fancy recipes.  Therefore, I like fast and easy.  Years ago, my crock pot became my best friend, so much so that I have three!!  You can make all aspects of your meal in the crock pot. 

I also love soup.  And Chicken Noodle Soup is one of the family's favorites.  So here's my recipe (which isn't much of a recipe).  It's fast and easy.  Don't think too much when you make this. 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 crock pot
4 or 5 or 6 cups of water
4 or 5 halves of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 or 2 cups of chopped celery
3 or 4 carrots cut up
1 onion cut up
salt and pepper to taste
Grandma's Egg noodles-Homemade

Put the water in first and throw everything else in EXCEPT the egg noodles.  I throw the chicken breasts in frozen and cut them up a few hours later when they have started to cook.  Add the egg noodles about 3 hours before you serve  the soup otherwise they will get too rubbery. The egg noodles (the bag) are pictured below and found in the frozen aisle of your store.  I love these because they taste and look homemade but I didn't have to make them.  Cook the soup about 8 hours on low, 6 on high.  Serve with crackers, homemade bread, and maybe a glass of milk!!  Easy peasy.  Enjoy!

Chicken noodle soup may be good for the soul but it's also good for the lazy cook!

Homemade Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Driving the Geri's...--The Geriatric Club Strikes Again!!!

 "Hoke"?  "Yes, Miss Daisy".  You're my best friend".--Driving Miss Daisy

“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

 There are lots of movies about friends and friendships. Over the years, you form all different kinds of friendships.  Some are lasting and some are only for a time.

In my "later years" I have been blessed to have been given a group of girlfriends like no other I've had in the rest of my life.  In the 10 plus years we have been together, we have been through overwhelming life obstacles and  enumerable joys. Over the years we have ebbed and flowed in our friendships like the tide at sea.  Sometimes we were closer to shore than others. For a time we all grew apart and became busy with our lives seeing each other only at the grocery store or once a year at Christmas.

And then last year, a tragedy struck.  Our dearest, Rosan, was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I won't ever forget the day she told me.  We hadn't seen each other in months when out of the blue she called and wanted to do lunch.  I was elated and overjoyed to see her.  Until she dropped the bomb.

Rosan is a strong woman. One of the strongest I have ever known.  And she has had her share of health issues.  But I sure wasn't expecting that!  She was only 51 years old.  It was at that moment, I decided; she decided; the "group" was getting back together.  I hadn't seen Carla or Debbie, the other two in our group, for well over a year.  However, at that moment, we all came together, and began bi-monthly meetings for lunch.

We decided it was time to stop the busyness of life and to remember what is really important in life.

Not long after at a monthly card game some of the girls still attended, one of the other attendees commented on the four of us being together again.  I laughed and explained how we all were older now and faced with health issues and/or other health related issues of family members.  I said how we how unofficially named ourselves The Geriatric Club.  (Now mind you, the other women in my group don't like this name but me in my warped sense of humor think it's hilarious).  Then she said we could be like Miss Daisy only it would be
driving the Geri's"!  I love that.  And for me it stuck.

That's not all that has stuck.  We have.  This past year, my bestie, Rosan, survived colon cancer and now has a clean bill of health.  My other bestie Carla is still struggling with auto-immune diseases but she is a fighter and I know she's going to be okay.  (She wasn't always a fighter but she is learning!)  My third bestie, Deb, was diagnosed with severe Diabetes and is lucky to be here. Her daughter has also had severe health challenges but Deb is also a strong, strong woman and continues to persevere.  Me- well you read about my mom (and if you didn't, read some older posts).

For those of you who are younger women and think once your children are grown, you will be home free--WRONG!  The challenges change but they are still there.

What I do know is you need to remember to keep a close group of women with whom you can share and cry and laugh.  I will NEVER let these wonderful women go again.  We make a point of getting together now on a regular basis no matter how crazy life gets.  We have learned--life is precious and can also be gone in a second.

I had lunch today with the Geri's.  I forgot to take pictures or I would have posted them here.  We laughed, swapped stories and ornaments.  But since we are all over 50 , we also forgot to take pictures. Below is a pic of my Rosan and me about 5 or 6 years ago at a cookie exchange we hosted.

Friends--they are what's for lunch!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Dry Apples and Oranges for Inexpensive Christmas Decorations

Oh what to do with all those apples and oranges you find on sell and buy this time of year.  If your family is like mine, I sometimes have so many, they all don't get eaten! Whether yours eat them up as fast as you can buy them or not, drying apples and oranges for Christmas/Winter decorations is cheap and easy!!  (My two favorite subjects)!

I've been drying both for years.  You can add the dried slices to potpourri, flower arrangements, Christmas present toppers (tied on), string in a garland, hang as ornaments , or just sitting in a bowl or mason jar as a decoration.

Below is a tutorial followed by pictures of the finished product!!


Pizza pan with holes OR cookie sheet
parchment paper
1 medium sized apple --6 slices
1 medium size navel orange--6 slices
lemon juice
ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg  (optional)
Raffia in any color you like (I like the natural)

1.  Line the pizza or cookie sheet with parchment paper (so the slices won't stick).  My pizza pan is well worn!  I like the pizza pan because it has holes on the bottom and aids in the drying time.

2. Slice the apple and the orange as thin as you are able making sure it is a whole slice,  Arrange on the pan.

3.  Brush or dab lemon juice on the apple slices to aid in keeping their "white" appearance" as they dry.

4.  Sprinkle lightly the tops of the slices with ground cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg.  This is optional.  One of my bff's does NOT like the smell of any of those spices so this step would be cut out for her!!

5..  Now there are two ways to dry these:  Air dry, which will take several days OR using your oven which takes about 6 hours set at 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.   The air drying is cheaper of course. Turn after one day.  Oven drying, turn over after a few hours and sprinkle with spices again.

When you are finished drying, using raffia or jute string, string through the natural holes that the fruit makes and knot. 

You can also add the dried oranges and apples to potpourri, dried arrangements, or whatever you wish.  Simple, cheap, easy.  And they smell divine!! 

(The pinecones are from my own yard which makes this arrangement even cheaper!!!  Feliz Navidad!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Griswold's Christmas Vacation

Our holidays have ALWAYS been like a scene out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  There are the in-laws and parents, the cousin Eddy, and misery to share! "It's Christmas and we're all miserable"--Ellen Griswold.

And yet we can look back and laugh.  Because holidays are about family.  Whether good or bad-they are about being together and sharing that experience and making memories.  As I shared in an earlier post, last Thanksgiving was a difficult one for my family.  My mother showed critical signs of dementia and the need for  nursing care.  As I also shared, my father finally put my mother in a nursing facility that could care properly for her.  That has been difficult. We tried to have a good, normal Thanksgiving this year. And for the most part, we did.  We enjoyed all our children home.   Food, laughter, and movies.

Yesterday (Black Friday), my mother was rushed to the ER for extreme swelling in her legs.  After a series of tests, cancer was found in her stomach and throughout her body.  They sent her back to the nursing home to manage her pain and make her comfortable. It won't be much longer.

My mother had breast cancer 10 years ago and survived it.  We thought the cancer had been beaten.

I thought the Alzheimer's would be her ending legacy.  However, it looks as if I was wrong.  I just want my mom to be released from the extreme pain she is in.  Somehow, someway, I will make this a Christmas free of misery. 

Damn cancer.

(If you were looking for an uplifting post, sorry--this one wasn't it).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The easiest and cheapest Christmas Ornament TUTORIAL!!!!

Yep--It's that time of year again.  Never fear--help is here!  At least in the cheap crafts and decorations department!!

As the kids were growing, I loved decorating for Christmas AND involving the kids in it.  I also didn't want my house to look like something out the Addams Family album!!  Over the years, I've found and invented lots of cheap holidays decorations that you can do with the kids or by yourself AND spend very little money doing it.

 I , for one, detest the spend, spend, spend attitude that the media portrays.  It's getting worse every year with more stores being open Thanksgiving Day for you to spend that money you don't have on stuff you don't need.  IT'S NOT ABOUT THE STUFF!!  It's about the time you spend with friends and family.  THAT'S one of the messages you want your kids to have about Christmas-not who goes home with the biggest and most expensive present.

So here's a tutorial for a Christmas ornament that is inexpensive, easy, and fun.


Supplies: Tea Ring cookies, homespun material OR ribbon, scissors

I have used these tea ring cookies many times over the years.  You can find them at most dollar stores.  I found these particular cookies at the 99 cents/less store in California but I know other dollar stores carry them-and they cost--well--a dollar!

First, tear or cut 1/2 inch to inch strips of homespun fabric. Cut as many strips as ornaments you want to make.  I am a crafter so I have lots of material hanging around.  If you don't have any, Walmart carries fairly cheap fabric.  If you don't like fabric or don't have it, but do have ribbon, use that.  You can also use raffia or jute string.  It's whatever you prefer.
Second, cut about a 14 - 16 inch strip, fold it in half and knot it at the end.
Next, stick the loop through the hole (doesn't matter if it's the knotted end or the loopy end).

Then, put one end through the other and pull gently.

You now have your ornament!!  You can add buttons, spray with glitter or fake snow, or glue a child's or pet's picture on it.  Easy and really cheap!  I leave mine just as they are since I have unruly dogs who tend to get into things when I'm not looking. Also, it's hard to see in the picture, but the cookies have sugar crystals on them that sparkle with the lights.  I added some small pinecones from my yard and now have a cheap, easy, and pretty tree decoration.

Make new memories with your kids or with your friends or by yourself.  Enjoy and get crafting!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to make a Rice Bag Heating Pad TUTORIAL

A few years ago, I had a knee operation for the osteoarthritis in my knee.  One of the things that really helped when it was hurting was heat.  Electric heating pads are okay but not very portable.  At that time, a coworker of my husbands made him a rice pack to give me to put on my knee. Heat it up for a few minutes i the microwave and presto!Instant heat. I loved it!  Economical and green!  Perfect.  Since that time, I have made several of these in different sizes and have given them to family and friends. 

Here's a tutorial for those of you that want to make one for yourself or others.

1 kitchen towel (I picked one from Walmart for 98 cents)
1 bag of rice (not instant)
sewing machine

Fold and cut in half.

 With right sides together (that's the 2 printed sides for those of you non sewers who don't know what that means) stitch on 2 sides.  My picture shows contrasting thread so you can see the stitching. 

Turn inside out with the wide opening as shown.
Fill about 1/4 of the bag with rice.  You do not want it too full as remember it is going to need to lay on a knee or some other body part!Stitch close.  You now have a heating bag.  Heat in a microwave for 2 minutes or however hot or cool you like it.  Be careful if you use on kids (of course)!.
I have found Terry cloth kitchen towels work the best and are the best shape.  If you want smaller bags you can cut in fours and follow the same directions. They could be used to warm up chilly hands , feet, etc!! Below is a picture of the one my husbands coworker made me years ago.  She even included a small carrying bag!!

Great gifts too.  Or maybe a project for a Sunday school class.  I'm sure those in nursing homes would appreciate such a thoughtful gift. Endless possibilities!! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In the beginning...

As I stated with my initial post, this blog is going to be about everything.  However, for many years I have wanted to write a book about my experience as a mother of a child with Autism.  Many over the years have encouraged me to do so. It always seemed so overwhelming to write a book but yet I do have experiences that I would like to share.  A blog seems to be the perfect outlet--at least for now - for me.  So I will give you my experiences as a mom with a child who has Autism.  Also, I will only blog about Caleb once in awhile.  There is so much more to my life.  So much more.

As a disclaimer, I am just a mom.  I am not a licensed anything--(except I do hold a license to teach elementary education but that's another story and I have not taught fulltime in many years).  My experiences are mine alone and are not intended to diagnose or treat anyone anywhere.  I am merely sharing.  Take away what you will and share with others who may be in need of knowledge. Many years ago, when Caleb was first diagnosed the information age was not as available as it is now.  I longed for information and to connect with someone who was going through what I was.  I hope this helps someone out there who feels the same way.  If you are that someone reading this or know someone who needs this, please have them comment here and we can connect through private messaging.  No one should feel alone on this path of Autism.  I am always more than happy to share what I can.

Caleb was born in 1989 a normal, although large, 10 lb baby boy.  He was delivered by C section and was so big that the nurses had a betting pool as to how big he was going to be!  He was the second child and boy I had.  My first child, Zach, was normal size at birth, and so Caleb's size was totally unexpected. 

As Caleb grew, he developed quite normally.  He passed all the physical milestones.  Later after his diagnosis, I would look back and see small subtle clues to his impending Autism. He cried when I left him from a very young age.  He was only a few weeks old when I noticed this.  My mother cared for him for a few hours while I shopped and he cried from the time I left until I returned.  Once I was home, he stopped.  He was not a fussy baby at all so this behavior was perplexing.  He would do this with everyone-no matter who cared for him including his own father
 Also, although Caleb walked early. climbed early, ran early; he did not point at objects like other 9 month old babies did.  He never waved bye-bye no matter how hard we tried to teach him.  None of this really bothered my husband and I.  I was busy working and caring for 2 young children and motherhood didn't really allow me to think about small nuisances. 

When Caleb was 2 yrs old, he contracted rotovirus- a nasty disease that landed him in the hospital for four days.  It was during that time, I really began to wonder exactly what was wrong with him.  He still did not talk or make any sounds that even sounded close to words.  He did not look at you when you spoke to him.  He never came when his name was called.  As the nurses in the hospital attempted to engage him , and couldn't, I knew something was off.  But what? 

I should have taken him to a doctor at that point.  But I didn't.  I pondered his behavior.  Every morning, I awoke and prayed to God that he would speak that day.  I felt that if he just talked, all would be fine.  He never uttered a word. My husband and I waited six more months to do anything. 

An aunt of my husband's was visiting and noticed Caleb's odd behavior.  She thought we should have his hearing checked.  He must be hearing impaired. As odd as it sounds, I prayed he was just hearing impaired.  I knew if it were something more, it must be bad.

So we took him to an audiologist who performed various tests on him.  He was not hearing impaired.  As a matter of fact, the audiologist said he had extraordinary hearing and could hear sounds others couldn't!  So now what, we asked her?  She referred us to a state program that served children under 3 years old.  We contacted them and when the social worker came out, she assessed Caleb for several hours. 

Very gently the worker suggested that Caleb could possibly have autism.  She then referred us out to a pediatric neurologist. After his 5 hour assessment, he made the diagnosis.  Caleb had autism.  My life and my family's life changed that day.  I thought it was over.  I was devastated.  Little did I know....

I'm going to end my story there for now.  I will resume it in another blog.  For those of you out there that have just had your child diagnosed with autism or within the last few years, I want you to know, your life is not over.  It is not the end of anything. I know you are hurting now.  I know your grief.  I've been there.   You are going to take another path now, but it is not a bad path, just a different path.  There will be days when the path is rocky and you will want to give up.  But there will be joy too.  I promise you.  There will be joy. 

You won't understand this now but someday you will:  If I could give a magic pill to Caleb that would instantly cure his Autism, I would not give it to him.  It would change everything I have experienced and it would change who he is.  A mother with an autistic adult son told me that once when Caleb was 3 and I did not understand.  But now that Caleb is 23 , I totally understand.  And I concur!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winnie the Pooh is a big bee for Halloween!!

His name is Caleb.  He is 23.  He is an adult living with Autism.  He's my son. 

The name of this blog is named after him.  He became obsessed with Winnie the Pooh around the age of 2.
Our lives really have been in the Hundred Acre Woods.  I'll write about it sometime--especially for those of you who have little knowledge of Autism and/or living with someone who has it or for those of you moms and dads that just came upon this blog and are looking for answers.

 However for today, I have no answers for you.  It is Halloween, and Caleb dressed up for work. He's the only one still living at home AND the only one in our family who still dresses up for Halloween. I complain (and loudly) every year that I still have to make stupid costumes.  I'm a "bah humbug" when it comes to Halloween.  I don't like the trick or treating, or dressing up, or eating and giving candy.  But for Caleb, who sees life through the eyes of a 5 year old, life is still simple, and fun. 

So Buzzzz and TRICK OR TREAT!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An "Uncooked Banana Pudding" kind of day!

Fall is usually the season for apples.  Applesauce, apple pie, carmel apples, apple betty, apples, apples, apples.  But I woke up and felt like bananas.

I'm a no-cook kind of cook.  I like to cook as long as it doesn't take too long and there isn't much of a mess. So this recipe suits me just fine.  Here's what you'll need:

8 ounces sour cream
1, 8 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1, 5 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups milk (original recipe calls for whole milk but I found that even skim works)
1 16 ounce package vanilla wafer cookies
4 bananas , peeled and sliced
1 8x8 glass baking dish OR 2 quart round glass baking dish (I have a really old Pyrex that I use)

In large bowl combine sour cream, whipped topping, pudding mix and milk. Stir well by hand. In the bottom of your glass serving dish, put a layer of cookies, then a layer of pudding mixture, then a layer of bananas. Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Save out about 5 cookies and smash in a baggie until crumbs.  Sprinkle crumbs on top for decoration! Refrigerate until serving.  Makes about 8-10 servings.  

Fast, easy, and I promise they will all love it!!

Stay tuned for my next blog.  The closer we get to Christmas, the more Christmas crafts I'll be featuring.

Happy Fall!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I am part of the sandwich generation.  My kids are grown and my parents are aging.  Just when you think you are done raising your children, you find yourself making decisions for your parents. 

About 10 years ago, I began to notice a decline in not only my 72 year old mother's health but in her mental state.  My mother had always suffered from depression.  My earliest memories are of her crying in her bed.  In recent years, however, better anti-depressant medications had evened out some of her behaviors and the crying spells seemed to have been curtailed. 

There were little indicators at first.  She complained often of aches and pains .  She started frequenting doctors on weekly visits.  She had migraines, heart disease, fibromyalgia, and knee pain.  All were real and treated by doctors.  I don't mean to be callus, but I have to confess there were times when I just didn't pay attention to all her aches and pains.  Then she had breast cancer and a few years later, cervical cancer.  She survived them all--but not for the stronger. 

A few years ago, my husband and I both noticed an obvious change in her mental state.  She made odd remarks and often seemed confused.  She cried often to which the doctors upped her anxiety medications. She became forgetful and often could not remember words.  She blamed it on the meds.  But I wondered.  Nothing seemed to  really help. 

It perplexed me.  My father did not seem to notice her behavior nor did her friends.   Then 2 years ago , at my daughter's graduation from high school, her behavior could no longer be denied.  In the middle of an important day for my daughter and us, on the bleacher's of the football field, my mother threw a toddler temper tantrum.  We were sandwiched in the mass of people watching the graduation.  We could not get out.  And my mother began to announce loudly she was thirsty and she wanted a drink right now.  I was past annoyed.  I told her to be quiet that we would get a drink when the ceremony was over.  She protested for awhile longer but finally settled down.  Immediately after the graduation, I had my older adult son "take grandma home". I knew and my husband knew but helping my dad understand was at that point, useless.

I did not see my parents again until they came for Thanksgiving 2011.  What a nightmare that was!  My mother cried constantly, carried on, and was confused and dazed the entire weekend.  My father admitted her behavior had been declining steadily for months. When they left (and I was relieved) I told my father, he could not bring her back until he took her and got some help.  That was the hardest thing I had to ever do--forbid my father from my house--but I wanted to wake him up.  The next week, I called different agencies and tried to set up services for my father.  They called him but he still refused all help. 

Over the last year, my mother's health and mental state has continued to decline.  My father did come to visit one more time in June of this year but again it was a horrible visit.  My younger brother , who also came, both sat my dad down and told him, he must get help because he was compromising his own health trying to care for her. She could no longer make meals or eat unattended.  She had difficulty getting dressed.  She definitely could not hold a conversation.  And she was beginning to have trouble toileting herself. And often she got into her medications and took them without anyone's knowledge. Yet my father STILL refused help. 

They have been married almost 55 years.  I understand my father's reluctance. How do you put someone you love in a nursing home?  And yet she was no longer that person. 

Two weeks ago my father called me.  He asked me to come.  It took four days but we managed to admit my mother to a good nursing home close to my father's house. 

I talked to my father this morning.  He said my mother cries everyday and wants to come home.  She doesn't understand.  When I helped admit her to the home, she only had moments of clarity.  Yet some part of her knew enough, she wanted to be home.

Alzheimer's sucks. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

White Vinegar and Lemon Juice--the cheap girl's cleaner!

Where I live, hard water is a fact of life.  It corrodes everything.  The sinks, the dishwasher, the refrigerator water dispenser tray, faucets-well, you get the picture.  Hard water cleaners, though, can be quite costly to buy and use.  Some of the cleaners cost between $4 and $5 for one bottle.  Yikes!  Too much for this frugal gal. 

About 2 years ago, while watching an episode of "How Clean is your House" (you can find them on youtube based out of the UK), Aggie and Kim, the two cleaners, shared their cleaning secrets.  White vinegar and lemon juice.  That's it.  So I bought myself a sprayer and began to use it.  And I have to say , it works better than any commercial cleaner you could ever purchase. 

A large gallon bottle of white vinegar is about 3 dollars.  A large bottle of lemon juice is about the same price unless you get it at the dollar store like I did! You do the math.(Yeah, math was not my thing).

Everyday Cleaner/degreaser:

 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon Dawn liquid soap original (I only use Dawn --it has tons of uses itself), 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Mix and use.

This is the formula that has worked best for me but play with it and make your own formula that works for you and your family. I use it on everything--kitchen, bathroom, and even the floors.  (Check with your manufacturer to see if it is safe for your floors or test it in an innocuous spot). I have even used it to clean spots on carpets but again, test it before you use it. You can also use vinegar in dishwashers to take off water spots.  Again, check with the manufacturer to make sure it doesn't hurt your appliance. 

This morning I used vinegar to take off burnt spots on a pot.  I poured straight vinegar on the pan, let it soak about 30 minutes, and then scrubbed. The burnt on food came right off. 

White vinegar--the cheap girl's perfume!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just Begin it!

I've been wanting to start a blog for ages. It is always there in the back of my mind. Of course, like so many other women, moms, wives, daughters, sisters, etc... I had a million and one excuses.  It was always on my to do list.  A blog was just one of those that never got crossed off.

I am one of those people who has a bunch of ideas and projects that I'm going to get to tomorrow.  But like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, Tomorrow never comes.  I've started sewing projects, writing projects, and home repair projects.   A few I have actually finished.  However, in order to finish something, you actually have to begin it.

Pinterest seems to have fueled those never started and unfinished projects --at least for me.  I love Pinterest.  But to be honest, I've yet to do even one of those things I've pinned-- except for some cookies a few weeks back.

Then this morning, I woke up and decided.  I'm doing it.  I'm starting a blog.  It's not going to be a specific blog.  Not a blog about just recipes.  Not a blog about just sewing.  Not a blog about being a mom, or a DIYer, or being frugal or anything.  Just a blog.  I'm going to include in this blog stuff I am doing or am thinking about or am going to do.  I may even include a few bucket list items.

So stay tuned into this blog for recipes, sewing projects, diy projects, short stories, etc, etc, etc...Maybe you can take away something you can use.  Maybe you can't.  I will give you little glimpses as we both go.

In the words of Winnie the Pooh,  oh bother!!!!