“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

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!!!