Sunday, January 31, 2010

Experimentation with Recipes and Cole Slaw Mix

Two recipes for cole slaw inspired me to tweak them into one. Here's one from a Rachel Ray magazine and one from the blog Gluten Free Gobsmacked. One of my children is sensitive to soy, which means I'd have to modify the recipe from Gluten Free Gobsmacked in order to use it.

So, I used the dressing from the Rachel Ray magazine, a packaged cole-slaw mix, and added the chicken and dried cranberries from the Gluten Free Gobsmacked recipe. And I didn't have apple cider vinegar, so I used white balsamic vinegar, instead.

Here's what I came up with:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 pkg cole slaw mix
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
1/2 c. dried cranberries or raisins or both (I used both)
1.5-2 cups cooked chicken - I "cheated" by using canned chicken breast

Pour dressing over salad and mix. Yummy. It's good w/o the almonds, too.

Tips For Beginning a GFCF Diet

I'm amazed by the number of folks who have contacted me in the past two weeks who are looking for advice for themselves or for a friend about how to start a GF or GFCF diet.

Gluten (the "G" in GF, or gluten free) is the protein found in the grains wheat, barley and rye. Most oats are on the list of grains to avoid, due to cross-contamination issues; however, gluten free oats are available.

Casein is the protein found in milk. (Soy is similar enough to milk that you may choose to remove soy with milk/dairy. It is easier to add soy later than remove it later.)

One friend of a friend was diagnosed with celiac sprue and needs to make changes immediately. Others have begun the GFCF diet for a child with autism and are feeling overwhelmed and unsure about food options. And yet another plans to make dietary changes in about a month and are taking some time to research options and prepare.

IF YOU ARE THE PARENT OF A CHILD ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM AND WANT TO DOCUMENT CHANGES IN THE CHILD (OR LACK OF CHANGES), BEFORE YOU IMPLEMENT THE DIET, COMPLETE A CHECKLIST THAT YOU WILL COMPLETE AGAIN AFTER YOU BEGIN THE DIET. One checklist, that is for Dr Neubrander's patients and B-12 injections, is good for documention before and during the diet as well, is here. It is called the Methyl-B12 Parent Designed Report Form and Documentation Letter.

Every time I give advice from my own experience (I am NOT a doctor-I am a mom) to someone, I think of something else I'd like to add to what I told them. So, I decided to start a blog post that I may add to when I think of something else.

I chose not to implement both parts of the diet at the same time. I chose to go GF first. Going gluten free was intimidating to me. Now, I think being simply GF would be easy, a "piece of cake!" (pun intended). We are GFCFSF plus a few more frees.

This post is meant to give you a starting point -- it's not a comprehensive "how to". I'll point you to some solid resources that have been helpful to me the past (almost) nine years toward the bottom of this post.

Find enough foods and meal combinations for *at least* four or five days -- you need some solid choices to fall back on when you're too busy or too tired to look for recipes and read labels. Here are some ideas to get you started (I have recipes in my "quick reference" section in the upper right sidebar of my blog):

1. hamburger pattie, 100% ground beef (no bun, call it a "hamburger steak) , baked potato, or baked beans, green salad w/ "safe" dressing, pickle spears on the side. We like Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce.

2. pot roast w/ potatoes, carrots etc, salad or green beans (use coffee as your broth -- seriously, it's tasty, and GF! It's an easy crock pot meal, too.)

3. roast chicken, baked or fried apples, corn (as per Paula Deen's cookbooks, roast the chicken at 425 for the first 45 min, lower to 350 the rest of the cooking time -- it's great with a lemon squeezed over it, then stuff the lemon into the cavity, lightly salt the chicken and roast that bird!)

4. salmon patties & rice (easy to convert your recipe using crushed GF rice cereal in place of bread crumbs. Caution: make sure your mayo is GF if you use mayo in your recipe - sometimes, I use cornmeal as breading)

5. deli-meat roll-ups (turkey breast, roast beef, ham, rolled up, toothpicks optional:

6. For those who tolerate eggs: scrambled eggs (no milk, use water), bacon, hash browns

7. Ribs (spread 'em w/ French's mustard and top w/ brown sugar, bake 'til fork tender) w/ Bushes baked beans or baked potato on the side

8. Chicken salad served w/ fruit - I have several recipes, with one in the "recipe box" on the blog
9. Homemade turkey sausage - gluten free, casein free, egg free, soy free, MSG free

10. Turn a sandwich into a salad. Here's one example: BLT SALAD (make a BLT, minus bread/croutons, into a salad)

11. Apple turkey burgers (see my blog for recipe in recipe box in the quick reference section); serve the bunless w/ the sauce on the side for dipping

12. If you tolerate soy, buy a wheat free soy or tamari sauce and make teriaki chicken, serve steamed brocolli and carrots on the side, and rice (recipe in recipe box on my blog)

13. A simple mixture of apricot jam/jelly and honey mustard (I use Boar's Head) spread on chicken breasts or a whole chicken cut-up is a nice entree for dinner with leftovers diced on a salad for lunch tomorrow.

There are lots of GFCF waffles and pancakes on the market today (more than when we began in April of 2001). Find them in the freezer section at your supermarket. If you have a waffle or pancake and cereal in the house, you've always got a quick snack idea.

Finding a bread substitute is a booger, because GF bread generally stinks. Kroger sells a tortilla/wrap made from TEFF -- it's across from the deli w/ the wraps at the store near my house. Whole Foods sells a wrap from Food for Life made from rice. At Whole Foods, the wraps are located in the refrigerator section by the cheese substitute and other refrigerated wraps.

Here's a bread recipe I intend to try.

Costco's rotisserie chicken is GF and $4.99. Boston Market has a GF menu. Red Robin and UNO Chicago Grill, do, too. Many restaurants offer nutritional information online - which includes allergen information and gluten free options. Do some homework before you go out for a meal.

I keep Ian's gluten free products and S'Better Farms products in my freezer.

I'm experimenting with Sue Gregg's blender batters.

Check out my posts under the labels GFCF Diet and GFCF Recipes

TACANOW has a big GFCF info section HERE

Check out - here's "deciding to start the diet"

Join the yahoo groups GFCFKids and GFCFRecipes

Cookbooks by (alphabetically listed)
Peter & Kelli Bronski - recipes on their blog
Chloe Chrysler
Stephanie Hemenway
- recipes on her blog
Lisa Lewis
Lisa Lundy - recipes and video "how to" on her blog
Cybele Pascal - recipes on her blog
Barrie Silberberg - e-mail her for a free "how to start the diet" paper

Bloggers are a wonderful resource. I have quite a few in the sidebar of my blog. Scroll down to the section of blogs that I follow and check out some heavy-duty GF and GFCF bloggers who share some great recipes.

Here's a helpful post from a blogger who compiled a list of blogs:

A lot of companies offer newsletters with tips and coupons along with sales. Here are a few:

Beth Hillson's
Living Without magazine
Jules Gluten Free

Add your tips in the comments section for other newbies. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

UNO Chicago Grill's GF Pizza

Last summer, while traveling with a tournament baseball team, we stayed in a city with an UNO Chicago Grill. They had just introduced a gluten free pizza. I ordered one for my girl.

This week, she reminded me of that pizza, telling me how good it was.

A quick trip on the internet revealed that the nearest UNO is a half hour away. I phoned ahead to make sure that this particular store has the GF pizza crusts, and the manager said to ask for him when we arrived. The girls and I headed there for supper. The service and the food were spectacular.

My GFCF+++ girl got her pizza...
...and she ate the WHOLE thing.

MSU researcher advocates new way to treat autism

MSU researcher advocates new way to treat autism

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Children with autism would likely receive better treatment if supporters of the two major teaching methods stopped bickering over theory and focused on a combined approach, a Michigan State University psychologist argues in a new paper.

Full story here:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Overheard - Don't Be a Bother

We were finishing our meal at a fast food place, and one employee, a woman, probably a supervisor or manager, was giving instructions to another employee, a man. The man happens to have Down Syndrome. We see him wiping tables, sweeping floors or gathering the trash when we're there. Someone is usually telling him what to do, and not always in a friendly or respectful tone.

This day, he was sweeping floors when the woman told him to wipe tables, instead. He said he'd wipe tables when he was finished with the floors. She told him that people could stand on unswept floors, but they wouldn't eat on dirty tables. I like the way she worded that.

He asked her if _______ was coming to the store today, and she said _______ was coming just to pick up her check, not to work, because she had to go to the hospital to be with someone who would be hospitalized for a very long time. And then the supervisor told the man with a tone that I can't say was pleasant, "When she comes in to get her check, DON'T BOTHER HER."

I hated the way she worded that. "Don't bother her." "Don't be a bother."

I think it would have been better to say, something like "She'll be in a hurry. You'll be able to say hello and that's all." Leave the editorializing out of the tone and the words, please.

Don't be a bother. Hmmmph.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The High Cost of Autism

Friday's New York Times features a story about the Sell family from Houston. The Sells are raising twin boys, both diagnosed with autism.

I could write for hours about the costs of autism.

The costs of autism are high. One of the costs is financial. We pay for many therapies out of pocket. There are emotional and psychological costs for the family, including the sibs. Relationships with family and friends, with the community suffer. Interaction with school districts create yet another cost of time and energy (and often money when parents provide items for the school or therapies not offered by the school that the school should be paying for).

Many children with autism are *sick*. They are in *pain*. Treat the illness and pain, and the "symptoms" of "autism" decrease. Thousands of parents have seen that happen.

There's an "anti" camp (anti-treat, anti-recover, anti-cure) with an in-your-face attitude that says we should *accept* our children as they are. I disagree with that attitude. Let's rule out pain and illness as a cause for behavior.

Here's an excerpt from the NYT article about pain and behavior:

Mr. Sell found himself fighting for such coverage for Ben, his nonverbal son. The insurance company had denied the claim for gastrointestinal testing, saying that because Ben’s behavior problems were related to autism, the testing was not covered.

Mr. Sell, convinced Ben was in pain and could not tell anyone what was wrong, appealed and won. The tests showed that Ben had ulcers and lower-intestine problems that still occasionally flare up and require treatment.

Doctors and insurance companies who refuse to look for and pay for illness are evil, discriminatory, and criminal, in my opinion.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Christian Keyboarding's Keyboarding for the Christian School, a TOS Crew Review

Keyboarding -- I thought we were getting a program to learn to play a musical keyboard. I've got to "get with the program" and fast-foward my own connotation of "keyboard" to mean "computer keyboard". I guess we're not calling it "typing" any more.

My public schoolers began keyboarding in upper elementary school. They participated in laptop programs in 5th grade where they become proficient at typing keyboarding their own compositions.

I learned to type in high school, in Mrs. Wilson's class, on a typewriter with blank keys so that I could not look at the keys to see the letters, and with the help of music on a record that I can still hear in my head if I think about it. "J, J, J space. J, J, J space." (Some goofball before me scratched the numbers into the blank number keys and I always looked at them, which means I didn't learn to type numbers without looking at the keys.) Thinking to self: I wonder how a keyboarding class will "work" when the students can see the letters on the keys?

I had not considered how, if, when I might begin to give my homeschooler some keyboarding experience. I have been waiting until I see a better grasp of language and writing, but perhaps she could compose more efficiently if she had some keyboarding skills. (I've also been looking at voice recognition software that would type what she speaks aloud to take the keyboarding aspect out of the composition picture.) My gut instinct tells me that my homeschooler is not developmentally ready. She's just beginning to make up stories on her own, telling them aloud. I'm not going to push her to the keyboard too quickly. I'll type for her, first, as she experiences what it's like to see her words, stories, and thoughts on paper. When we begin teaching her keyboarding, I'll use the elementary version of Christian Keyboarding. The course for grade 6 and up is a handy reference for how to format pages that I don't format very often.

The Christian Keyboarding files arrived in pdf form via e-mail.

There are 32 lessons and 87 pages in the elementary course (yellow cover); the material covers Alphabet Keys, Number and Symbol Keys, the Number Pad, Centering, Enumerated Lists, and Timed Writings.

There are 43 lessons and 107 pages in the course for grades 6 and up (purple cover), which covers the same material in the elementary book plus Tab Key, MLA Reports, APA Reports, Cover Page, Works Cited, Bibliography, Personal-Business Letter, Business Letters, Envelopes and Proofreader's Marks and Tables. (Table of contents is HERE.)

The lessons are short and sweet. I like that.

Each lesson begins with a related reference to Scripture. The first lessons in the elementary e-book, which introduces the student to the two letter keys at a time, reference 1 Corinthians 6:13, which mentions the phrase "letters of introduction". The references are meaningful and clever and I have to look ahead at each lesson to see what Scripture is matched with the title.

Beitel puts Scripture front and center in each lesson. For example, the lesson on centering has the student type four of the Psalms to center. Students learning to enumerate text type the steps for having a personal relationship with God as practice.

The elementary version is $12.95; the version for grade 6 and up is larger and is priced at $15.95. Extra costs include your paper and toner or printing costs, binding costs (optional) and a stand for the pages or e-book.

Leanne Beitel's experience and credentials are here and she offers freebies and samples, here.

To read what my Crewmates have to say about Christian Keyboarding, please go here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

GFCF Onion Rings

In case you're wondering, YES, Trader Joe's GF pancake and waffle mix can be used as a breading for onion rings. No photos (we ate them too quickly). I began with the mix and rice milk and added corn meal to my second round of rings. A pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder -- that's all. I fried them in several inches of safflower oil.

Consequences of Adults Talking Too Much by Dr James MacDonald

Wish I had met Dr Jim much earlier in my daughter's journey.


Why is this a problem?:
Not enough practice for a conversation habit.
Learns to be passive.
Learns to talk only about others ideas.
Fails to learn turn-taking.
Believes his ideas are not important.
Partner usually gives talking models that are too complicated.
Conversation are short lived when one person runs the show.

What can you do to help?

Wait silently for partner to have his turn.
Clearly expect and anticipate him to participate.
Allow his turn at times to be physical and nonverbal.
Accept and respond to a turn even if it is unclear.
Let person know that you want the conversation to continue.
Remind your self that he will learn more when you do only half.
Your child learns language best in conversations.
Make conversation out of physical interactions.


MOM: Your birthday’s coming. What do you think you will get? I bet Grandma will get you clothes again. Who will get you toys? What toys do you want?
Child: Computer games. The ones that...
M: Interrupting. Oh not more of those. you just hide way and get stuck on those.
C: You can play with me on the computer.
M: Oh you know I am always busy. And I don’t understand what you see in them.
C: You could learn.
M: Oh I have too much to do.


MOM: Birthday’s coming. Waits looking at child.
Child: I want a train cake. With an engine and a caboose.
M: Any tender cars?
C: Yes one for pigs and horses.
M: They might fight together.
C: Okay, lets have two tender cars.

James D.MacDonald

From the yahoo group "communicating", a list comprised of parents and professionals who are currently utilizing or are interested in helping children with various learning disAbilities learn to communicate effectively by using the methods of Dr. James D. MacDonald of "Communicating Partners." Dr Jim generously allows members to share his tips and advice with others. Thank you, Dr Jim!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pet Peeve at the Grocery

The locally owned grocery on the corner has a big gluten free section that continues to grow, which adds convenenience to the lives of us who shop for someone with food allergies.

My pet peeve is how the store employees continue to put the price sticker ON the ingredients lists of packaged food, making my job as label reader and scrutinizer much more difficult.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A cold or sore throat can unsettle our days. A cold or sore throat tends to send self-awareness, self-regulation and self-control plummeting without a parachute.

There was a time when we'd see just a few days without a cold or sore throat before we'd head back into another one.

Since we've returned to DAN!, looking at labwork to guide supplementation and diet, we're seeing longer periods between these cycles of colds and sore throats.

We have another sore throat thingy happening here. I see progress has been made in the self-awareness, self-regulation, self-control areas. We still have work to do -- that is *clearly* visible -- and yet, there is clear progress visible, too. And for that, today, in the midst of the sore throat thingy, I celebrate.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Busy Couple's Guide to Sharing the Work and the Joy, a MamaBuzz Review

As part of MamaBuzz, I was given a review copy of The Busy Couple's Guide to Sharing the Work and the Joy by Kathy Peel with advice for men from Bill Peel, 220 pages, list price $16.99 from Tyndale .

I'm not sure if my getting this one to review is ironic or serendipitous. More probably, it's another example of my being given exactly what I need at the right time. A God-incidence.

I figured this one would send my guilt soaring and overwhelm me.

I was prepared to not like it when it sent my guilt sky high as I went into "extreme overwhelmed" mode. (I'm overwhelmed to begin with-I don't know why I think a book would make that worse.)

And you know what? I am pleasantly surprised.

Kathy Peel and Bill Peel have packed the pages of this book with information, facts, anecdotes, forms and worksheets. Yes, you'll need a pen or pencil, a highlighter, and maybe some sticky notes as you read this one. The intro is available here.

Page 42, left side bar, has a "CAUTION!" for us: "The every day tasks of home life have become so burdensome that one in three Americans say some days they would rather sta at work than go home and face their list of household to-dos, according to iRobot Corporation's 'Balance at Home' survey."

And this book breaks down and tears apart the little details and big details of how to make home life NOT so burdensome. The Peels begin with relationships (the introduction is called, "Getting from Me to We"). (If you're familiar w/ the intervention often associated for autism, RDI(r), the authors and this book remind me of an RDI(r) Program Certified Consultant for the HOME and FAMILY.)

After the introduction, readers are given nine chapters:

Chapter One: The Business of Doing Family
Chapter Two: Managing Your Time and Schedule
Chapter Three: Managing Your Home and Property
Chapter Four: Managing Menus and Meals
Chapter Five: Managing Relationships with Family and Friends
Chapter Six: Managing Your Finances
Chapter Seven: Managing Special Events
Chapter Eight: Managing Yourself
Chapter Nine: Family Team-Building Workshop

The Peels give readers a section of resources in the back of the book.

In the "Busy Couple's Guide", the Peels compare running a family to running a business. They set up a family model based on the model that successful businesses use, beginning with the seven family manager departments (chapters two through eight are developed around the seven departments).

The Peels give me permission to read the book out of order (I tend to read books like this out of order anyway). They tell readers in the introduction, "Don't try to make too many changes at once!"

The Peels write as if they're chatting with me in the family room, and they share anecdotes from their own marriage, which makes them authentic to me. I relate to a lot of what they tell me.

Suggestions are simple and practical, and there are some that I think I can make right away without feeling overwhelmed. (My mind wanders to Charlotte Mason's philosophy of habit formation, and the Peels are right to tell readers not to make too many changes at once. We want to get some new and positive habits established, habits that will stick.)

I'd like to have two copies, one for me and one for my husband, to work through at the same time. It's not exactly Bible study material, although the Peels do incorporate scripture and Biblical foundations, yet, I think it would be a wonderful book for a small group study.

Reflection on our situation: In the "Managing Your Time and Schedule" chapter, Peel makes a comment about a time when "Mom and Dad were readjusting to the nonnegotiables of a small baby." Autism sent us into that time of "nonnegotiables" for a much longer time that is typical, that added more to our "to do" lists of things to manage and schedule. That was a time when I was under an incredible amount of stress that seemed unmanageable. The Peels don't address special circumstances that can create even more unbalance in a family such as a child with a disability like autism. When my daughter w/ asd wasn't sleeping much (the first five years), I spent the bulk of my time, attention, and energy on her needs (from therapies and therapists to diet to all things biomedical). I look back and don't know how I'd have done anything any differently. We needed another person or two to stand alongside and help us.

The timing of my receipt of the book is really good for me. I've recognized the need for some changes; I'm read to tackle some of the changes; now I've got the book to help me prioritize and begin.

The book's focus on relationships and on the family as a "team" hits close to my heart. As the challenges of autism decrease at home, we as a family are more equipped than ever to grow into a team. We're a little bit delayed (by the challenges we had in the past), but that doesn't mean we're out of the game.

I google everything. (I google; therefore I am. *wink*) I found Kathy Peel's web site HERE, where she offers free forms and information.

Publisher: Tyndale House
Price: Softcover $16.99

Author Bio (from Tyndale Site)
Kathy Peel

Kathy Peel is founder and CEO of Family Manager, a company that trains women in the art of family management. She has written 21 books, selling more than 2 million copies. Her latest works are The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home (winner of the 2009 Gold Mom's Choice Award) and Desperate Households. She is AOL's Kids & Family Coach, and she contributes to many publications, including FamilyFun, Parents, Woman's World, Family Circle, and HomeLife. A popular speaker and media personality, Kathy's Family Manager makeover stories have appeared on programs such as Oprah, The Early Show, The Today Show, and HGTV.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Food For Thought - MLKJr

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I feel the same way about all things autism, including anything from the fact that most of the children are medically sick to the vaccine controversy to public school and special ed to insurance coverage and lots in between.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program CD from Zeezok Publishing, a TOS Crew Review

I had no idea what to expect when I learned I'd be getting a program called "Presidential Penmanship Italic Style". My middle schooler said aloud what I was thinking, "Why would we want to learn to write in italic?"

My homeschooler struggles with penmanship. Penmanship requires motor planning, some fine motor, some gross motor, some thinking about letter shapes, spelling, planning so you don't run out of space at the end of a line in the middle of a word, all at the same time.

I'm considering the purchase of software that types what we speak to simply bypass the penmanship challenge altogether. I'm not in the market for another how-to-teach handwriting program.

And I'm pleasantly surprised that "Presidential Penmanship Italic Style" is not a how-to-teach handwriting program. "Presidential Penmanship Italic Style" is a supplemental program on CD for handwriting skills that covers grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High." It's basically copywork using scripture and quotes and speeches from the docments, leaders and presidents of the United States of America, where the quotes are leveled from easy/short to longer/more challenging to memorize as the grade increases. And yes, the copywork part of it is sooooooooo a workbox item, one of those rare finds that I can use to grow my daughter's experience with independent work.

The program is priced at $39, covers elementary school to senior high, and allows users to print only what is needed. Additional cost: Purchasers will need a printer, copy paper and toner in order to use the program, or purchasers will need to take the CD to an office supply store to have the needed sections printed.

You'll need Adobe Reader to access the files. Adobe Reader 9 is included on the CD for you. There are nine pdf files on the CD:

First grade = 75 pages covering 36 lessons
Second grade = 75 pages covering 36 lessons
Third grade = 111 pages covering 108 lessons
Fourth grade = 109 pages covering 108 lessons
Fifth grade = 109 pages covering 53 lessons
Sixth grade = 112 pages covering 108 lessons
Junior high = 111 pages covering 108 lessons
Senior high = 111 pages covering 108 lessons
The ninth file is a product catalog.

We are concentrating on the first grade file at my house. The first grade quotes are short, simple. I like the way that the program at this level offers four opportunities to practice. The first time a student views a quote, the student can finger trace it. The quote is next presented in a kind of outline form, where the beginning points are represented with dots, and students are told to begin tracing at the dots. The same quote is present a third time, in what I'd describe as a shadow to trace. Last, the student copies the quote to blank lines, either from memory, or from copying one of the existing versions.

The lines spacing is generous for young children and children with fine motor delays that affect handwriting.

The quotes can send you off on some interesting "rabbit trails" as you look up the definition of a new vocabulary word with your child or you look up a person or document and add to your knowledge of history.

For my homeschooler, we are working to memorize the quote and author before she sees the copywork sheet. One reason is that she is less likely to protest if she already knows the line she's about to write. Here's another reason: Did you watch the tv show, West Wing? The characters from that tv show were always quoting a long-dead president. I wondered to myself if real legislators quote like that. And then, my representive in Washington DC met with constituents in the home of someone I know who invited me to come. And yes, as he listened to our concerns and interacted with us, he quoted from our founding fathers quite a few times. I left the meeting thinking, "They do talk like the characters on the West Wing!" *grin*

The italics that I'd wondered about when I first heard about them are gentler, more forgiving than some handwriting styles and programs, and I suspect italics may actually be easier for children who manage fine motor challenges every day.

Is it a good value? Here's how I think about it: For $39, for first grade through high school, I can pop the CD into my computer, print the page or pages for the next lesson to memorize and be done. No searching for an appropriate quote, no typing it into the gadget that prints it into the kind of lined copywork paper I need. Yes, that's a price I might pay for a product like this one. It's not a product that I'd have looked for, though, because I didn't know it existed.

Zeezok Publishing sent TOS Homeschool Crewmates, free, to review, a variety of products. I received the Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program CD. Zeezok Publishing sent a variety of products to Crewmates, so be sure to check out the link HERE that takes you to all of the Crew reviews for this company.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recipes From the Observation Room

I was in a tiny observation room while my girl was in one of her therapy sessions. I browsed a magazine, of all titles, "Working Mother". How ironic.

I spotted two recipes to try later -- fortunately, they are online. One is GFCF+++ and the other is easily converted.

Georgeous Grape Gelatin and Animal Pasta Salad with Rainbow Veggies are, according to information at the bottom of each page, "excerpted from The Fussy Eaters’ Recipe Book: 135 Quick, Tasty and Healthy Recipes That Your Kids Will Actually Eat, by Annabel Karmel, published by Atria Books, copyright © 2007". I wonder if my library has that cookbook?

Big Night Out

Hubby and I attended a charity event last night, one of our rare nights out each year. (We get to go as part of an organization). The event raises millions for children's charities in our metropolitan area, including three that serve families with a child on the autism spectrum. It is a fun night of people watching and climbing in and out of cars in an evening gown.


Truck on the ceiling

Car on the wall

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blessed Are...

Thanks, Elaine, for sharing this with me on facebook.

I. Blessed are those who stop and listen to my chatter. You may not understand me; but I love when people talk to me, for I long for companionship, too.

II. Blessed are those who take my hand and walk with me when the path is rough, for I easily stumble and grow weary. But thank you, too, for letting me walk alone when the path is smooth, for I must learn independence.

III. Blessed are those who take the time to tell me about special happenings, for unless you make special effort to inform me, I remain ignorant.

IV. Blessed are those who wait for me. I may be slow, but I appreciate your patience.

V. Blessed are those who are not ashamed to be seen in public with me, for I did not choose to be born thus. It could have been you as well.

VI. Blessed are those who do not pity me, for I don't want pity. All I want is understanding and respect for what I have learned as well.

VII. Blessed are those who notice my accomplishments, small as they may seem to you. I must work long and hard to learn many of the things you take for granted.

VIII. Blessed are those who include me in their games, even though I may not understand the rules, I still like to be included in your activities.

IX. Blessed are those who think of me as a person who loves, and hurts, and feels joy and pain just like you do, for in that respect I am normal.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


"Harvests were always wonderful occasions...."

"Harvests are a time to remember your sacrifice."

p. 173, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lessons about development from an article about music

I read an article about music and development that offers some profound insights about learning, not just learning about music. The article reminds me that "age appropriate" is not always "developmentally appropriate", and that we need to be mindful of "developmentally appropriate" and ignore "age appropriate", a concept that applies not only to music, but to other functions in development, as well.

Here are a couple of the passages that stood out to me:

"Comparing music learning to language learning is an effective way to conceptualize and understand how musical skills are acquired, and it can help us interpret the musical responses of infants. When I ask my college students to identify the sequence of language development, they often cite babbling as the first stage. However, they fail to recognize that prior to babbling, babies have been listening for many, many months. Listening is a prerequisite for language learning. Listening, therefore, is a prerequisite for music learning and the first step toward music acquisition. For all young children, particularly infants, silence should be understood as a developmental response rather than as a child being 'unresponsive'. This is particularly important to consider for children whose exposure to music begins in the primary grades. Some first-grade children, for example, may be chronologically six years old, but musically they are infants."


"Second, the interaction between parents and their children is critical. Beyond the emotional, cognitive and sensory benefits that music provides, it must be understood that the one-to-one musical exchange is what develops musical skills. We learn to talk by talking; we learn music by "music-ing."

We learn nonverbal communication by "non-verbaling"; to emotion share by emotion sharing; we learn to reference by referencing; we learn reciprocity by experiencing reciprocity at a non-verbal level; we learn gaze shifting by gaze shifting; we learn attention shifting by attention shifting...and so on and so on and so on.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Buddy Break

Buddy Break has arrived in our state. A church not too far from us has a gigantic heart for families with children with special needs, and launched a Buddy Break program yesterday. It's been in the works for a while. Check out the About Us page for more information.

Families must register by completing an extensive application, which is available on-line. Then families must attend an orientation session that includes time with a nurse, before the child may attend a Buddy Break. The process is quite thorough.

The introductory video that we were shown at the family orientation is HERE.

So yesterday was my daughter's first visit to Buddy Break.

She went inside and never looked back at me.

The energy in the church building was exciting and contagious. Most of the seating in the sanctuary had been removed, and there was a maze of cardboard boxes on one side for children to crawl through or hide inside. There was a pop-up tent and maze in the room. Huge balls to bounce, throw or sit on. Face painting. And a band. Some of the men from the church were playing music. They thought the music was too loud and they'd turned it down for the children. I did not see my daughter cover her ears. (I'd forgotten to bring her noise canceling headphones. arg.)

I had to pack a lunch for the three-hour morning. My daughter ate almost nothing. She told me someone was eating a banana in the room and it grossed her out. She doesn't like to look at bananas. She was starving when she was finished. ;)

They had a game room of gross motor activities, a craft room, a balloon man came for a show (and made each child a balloon monkey that is adorable), and, when I arrived a few minutes before dismissal time, the children were being entertained by a dance group who performed, and then taught the children a dance.

The three hours flew by for them and for me.

The hearts of the volunteers has touched me. The volunteers were so excited to be there. I could see it on their faces. I know a few of them. They're parents, too. They gave up more than a 3-hour morning to be there. The sanctuary and building had to be prepped and then put back together afterwards. What a gift of time for children with special needs and their families!

Thanks, Buddy Break. You've given me a new hope and put a smile in my heart.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shifting Gaze and Shifting Attention

This anecdote happened in front of me not long after the "Baby on the Airplane".

I was in the line to check-out at a warehouse club, the kind where the cart goes on one side of the conveyer belt and the member goes on the other side of the conveyer belt.

In front of me was a mother pushing a cart with an older baby strapped into the seat. I'd guess the baby girl was between 12 and 18 months old.

The mother put her items on the conveyer belt, left the little girl strapped into the seat of the grocery cart, pushed the cart on the "cart" side, moved across from the cashier and waited for her turn.

The membership cards in this warehouse club have the member's photograph on them. The cashier accepted the mother's membership card, and he looked at the picture on it, turned to the little girl in the basket, smiled, held up the card so that she could see it, waited for her to see the card he was holding up, and asked her, "Who is this? Do you know who this is?" and he froze in place, waiting for her to respond.

The little girl looked at the cashier, then at the photo on the membership card he held (with her mother's picture on it), back to the cashier with a shy smile, then looked at her mother, and then back to the cashier. Without a word, she told him that, yes, indeed, she did know who that is on the card, it's her mom, and she's right over there.

The cashier was delighted with the "conversation", made a comment about, "yes, that's your mama!", and proceeded to scan the mom's items.

I watched, enthralled. What a magical moment. He slowed his pace, naturally matched her ability to respond, waited, allowed her to participate in an active way with him. She responded naturally, effortlessly.

I never know when my next demonstration of "the dance" is going to happen, but when I slow down and watch, I see it everywhere, reminding me that in a do-over, I must slow down and be with my child where she is, developmentally.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vision Exam

Today, my homeschooled princess and I had our yearly vision exams. For the past several years, we have seen a developmental optometrist across town. The staff somehow remembers us and my children are comfortable there. The bonus is, that because there is a developmental optometrist on staff, they see a lot of kids w/ special needs.

I tend to hover. My princess might need me to intervene for her. Interpret for her.

I realize that I may be contributing to some learned helplessness.

Mama's radar is not easy for me to turn off, some times.

One staff member took my daughter back; another took me back. We both had a puff of air blown into our eyes; a peripheral vision test; some sort of acuity test; had photographs taken of our eyeballs, among other things. My daughter was taken into one room and I into another for a few minutes. I was anxious about my girl needing me cool, calm and collected, confident they'd come get me if they needed me. They didn't need me.

We came together again as we were taken to the exam room, where we waited for Dr. P. to arrive. I climbed into the exam chair first, and at as we began, my daughter was standing between me and the chart that is projected onto the wall. My daughter noticed that she might be in the way, and said she'd better move, and did. Talk about perspective taking!!!

The most challenging part of my daughter's exam has been the actual one-on-one with the doctor. Dr. P. asks, "One or two, which is better?" "Three or four?" If a person didn't understand the doctor's perspective, that she's changing the lens each time, looking for insight into how the patient sees, the patient might get upset about answering a question she's already answered a time or two.

Allow me to take you back in time for a moment. This background is important to today's experience. You see, when we did ABA, my daughter would become quickly frustrated with too many trials. Once she'd answered a question, she did not like to be asked again.

And there was a lot of anxiety with question, because in ABA, there was ONE.CORRECT.ANSWER. If you and I had to answer questions all day and get the ONE.CORRECT.ANSWER, we might have a lot of anxiety, too.

That anxiety is much better today, but the residual is still there, even though we have not done ABA in 5.5 years. We're still undoing some of the harm, still unraveling some of the twisted web we weaved.

During past vision exams, my daughter interpreted all the "One or two is better?" "Three or four?" as though the doctor were asking her the same question over and over, expecting the one correct answer again and again. Anxiety went up, comprehension plummeted, and we had to settle for the reading on the machine that estimates a person's vision (thank goodness for that machine!).

Today, however, was different. The doctor said my girl was answering her correctly, including which lines were darker (the horizontal ones or the vertical one) and telling the doctor when two items lined up or became one.

Anyway, I'm tickled to say that today, my girl made it through the exam, answering pretty much all of the questions.

And Dr. P. says my girl is tracking better than she has ever seen her track, all the way around, and smoothly. (!!!)

The staff, the doctor, all amazed and happy about that. ;)

They didn't really need me; she didn't need me. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hard Work Despite Frustration

Some days are real boogers at home. My homeschooled princess is moody and her frustation tolerance ceases to exist. Today was one of those days. I don't know what, exactly, was going on with her.

She's had "those" kinds of days days (like today) on a skating day, where she begged to go to her lesson. And I took her. And she excelled on the ice. (Go figure. -- Maybe I should say, "go figure skate!". I crack myself up.) Anyway, today was a skating day, too, in addition to being a no-to-low frustration tolerance kind of day, where she gets to the ice and excels kind of days.

There are other skaters and coaches on the ice when we are there. We see them every week and they see us. They have watched my princess's progress over time. This week, some of them stopped by my front row seat on the sidelines to comment about how much improvement they're seeing.

The princess worked hard today. Here's a snippet from the lesson. I think it's nothing short of amazing, especially considering the whole issue children w/ motor planning challenges have in crossing the midline.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

GFCF+++ Cornbread

My GFCFSFer doesn't get cornbread very often. I bought a mix once, a long time ago (eight years ago, I'd guess) , and it was rubbery and horrid. I keep forgetting to start the blender batter cornbread early in the day.

I don't have a corn stick pan. My grandmother used to make cornbread sticks. I want a cornbread pan.

So, tonight, I used Cybele Pascal's recipe for corn sticks, 'cept I fried them in oil in a pan on the stovetop.

They're not the prettiest thing in the world, but they taste pretty good, if I do say so myself. My glutenfreecaseinfreeetcetc girl ate quite.a.few of them. :)

(My Studypod book holder comes in handy in the kitchen.)

PS: The fried cornbread is reallyreally good cold...

Bizarre Meeting at Kroger

The hot water heater died tonight.

Hubby sent me to get a long, flat pan to catch the last drips as he drains the tank, one of those disposable foil pans.

I went to Kroger. I rarely shop at Kroger. Kroger does not stock many of the items I need for my GFCF+++ girl. (I have to say, Kroger is getting better.) But, tonight, it was convenient.

At the checkout, I rather obviously eavesdropped on the conversation the cashier was having with the customer ahead of me. The cashier was working her first evening in a long time, mentioning how unusual it was, how different it felt. The customer works for the USPS and commiserated, mentioning she'd had her hours changed, too. Both mentioned that they are happy to be working, pretty upbeat for having their schedules changes so drastically.

My turn came, "is plastic okay?" she asked me, followed by, "do you work?" to continue the conversation from the previous customer. I sighed, said, "I homeschool a child with autism," and was going to whine say, "and tonight I'm buying a pan because our water heater died" but was cut off by the cashier.

When she heard the word "autism", she interrupted my thought and told me the name of the diagnosis of her son. He's in his 30's now, she told me, but his seizures began at the age of eight. He's on many medications, she said.

I felt tears rising to the surface and I stuffed them down. "Have you considered any diets?" I asked her, with a ketogenic diet first in my mind, gluten free, casein free, second.. Go HERE for a thread on GFCFkids where parents were discussing gluten and seizures in the past week or so. I'm sure there are other threads about the topic, too. GFCFkids is a good place to search any term you might think of regarding developmental delays and diet, if you want to hear from parents before you talk to your doctor (always talk to your doctor -- GFCFkids does not offer medical advice and neither do I).

Her mouth dropped open, her eyes widened, as she said, "Someone else just asked me that!"

No, they haven't tried dietary intervention. Of course they haven't. He's in his 30's. Dietary intervention is relatively new, and is certainly not mainstream. She says he's picky, doesn't eat a big variety. Oh, if she only knew how many mothers have said those exact words and learned that a restrictive diet is often a clue that changing the diet may make a huge difference.

I suggested she google it, gave her my e-mail addy and by blog addy. I have some information I'd like to share with her, especially since I rarely go to Kroger but I went tonight, which happened to be the first night she's worked in a while.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Establishing a Regulatory Pattern in the New Year aka A Page-a-Day Calendar

I have procrastinated completely avoided making goals and resolutions for the new year. Here's one of the few goals I sortakinda thought about.

I usually buy the children their own page-a-day calendar for Christmas. My baseball player got a baseball-themed calendar, my middle schooler who loves all things art got an arts-and-crafts themed calendar, and this year, my homeschooler got an Origami calendar.

RDIers are always looking for ways to establish and incorporate rhythms and regulatory patterns into our days, where we can give our kids experience with "same but different, different but same", variations on a theme. Calendars are a practical way to incorporate a pattern, whether you are marking Xs through the days and weeks of a wall calendar or you're ripping off a page from a page-a-day calendar.

As I looked over the selection of calendars in the wholesale club, I decided to try an Origami calendar, again. I bought one several years ago, but my homeschooler was not developmentally ready to join me in folding a page a day. She needed more experience in "joining" first. The calendar went mostly unused, despite the wonderful opportunities it offered in "we go" and fine motor skills.

This year, she is more ready than I am. She brought me the January 1st page on, you guessed it, January 1st, to fold into something. (It's the nightinggale on the left in the photo above.) And on January 2nd, she brought me (wait for it!), yep, January 2nd, which, to my delight, actually LOOKS like what it is supposed to look like, a dog's head:

If you are looking for a way to incorporate a regulatory pattern into your day, try spotlighting a pattern that already exists, by using a calendar. And a lot of calendars are on sale right now.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Mama's Love Organic Skin Care Review

I have had eczema all of my life. One of my children apparently inherited that vulnerability from me. She happens to be the child with an autism diagnosis.

The more I learn about toxins, the less I want gasoline on my skin. Every time I read the ingredient "petrolatum" or "petroleum" on a label, an image of a gas pump pops into my mind.

For years, I used prescription and over-the-counter steroid products on my eczema. The minute I stopped, the rash returned. Seems the steroid temporarily suppressed my rashy reaction, but didn't cure the rash. Now, I know that the skin is the largest organ, and it is important for detoxification. Rashes are viewed as part of the detoxification process by some alternative and complimentary professionals who don't advocate suppressing a rash with a steroid cream.

Still, my skin and my daughter's skin is dry, and, while we've gotten a handle on the foods that contribute to our eczema, we still need a soothing something, sometimes, a soothing something that does not contain chemicals, certain allergens like soy or sunflower, and that is organic.

I'll stop right now and make a disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.

I am a mom who has struggled with eczema my whole life who avoids products like petroleum jelly and Vick's Salve because of the petroleum, but who misses petroleum jelly and Vick's Salve. I'm a mom who has wasted spent lots of time in supermarket, health food store, and department store aisles reading labels on lotions and ointments, trying to find a skin care product that is organic, contains no chemicals, and no products on our list of allergens.

Leslie McCann is a mom who understands. She created a concoction for a child, who like me and my daughter, is challenged with painful and itchy rashes. She came up with an entire line of organic, chemical free products. And now McCann is making her products available to moms like me.

Allow me to introduce to you her company and product, My Mama's Love. McCann sent me at no charge, in order to review, a 1.7 oz jar of Complete Skin Ailment Curative; a 1.7 oz jar of Mama Nose Best; and two .50 oz tins of Fixx-My-Lipz, one peppermint flavored and one orange flavored. The full product line is here., with lists of ingredients, which you can browse from the comfort of your computer. Shop here.

Complete Skin Ailment Curative is priced at $9.oo for a 1.7 oz jar.
Mama Nose Best is priced at $10 for a 1.7 oz jar.
Fix My Lipz are $3.50 per .50 oz screw-top tin.

I like the products that McCann sent me. The nature of the oils she used in each formulation means a little goes a long way. There are no chemicals or artificial ingredients, and the jars are glass. (Plastic means more exposure to toxins. From what I've read as I've researched, glass containers are better.) Remember when Vick's Salve used to come in heavy glass jars? They're heavy -- McCann wrapped them well -- and the cost of shipping concerns me, but I locate the bubble-wrap-lined-envelope and shipping on the package of four items that McCann sent me is under three dollars. McCann tells me that "the .50 and .85 ounce sizes are $1.50 to ship and the 1.70 and 4.0 ounce sizes are $2.00 to ship." The company facebook page mentions a new option to recycle their containers for reuse.

I am tickled to pieces to find a Vick's Salve / Mentholatum substitute! I missed those products. My husband, whom I very rarely include in my blog (his preference), tells me matter-of-factly as I am playing with the jar of Mama Nose Best, that, "Vick's is all about the scent." when I tell him it's an organic and chemical free substitute for Vick's Salve. (He misses Vick's, too, I think.) I opened the jar of Mama Nose Best for him to sniff -- he says it's pretty good. ;) He generously gave me permission to share that with you. (He is testing the Complete Skin Ailment Curative with me, too.) The scent of Mama Nose Best is more subtle than the store petroleum brands and I like the hint of mint in it. Mint is not as strong as eucalyptus. I used it on my sore nose this week during a bad cold/cough, and I rubbed it on my chest at night. It's nice! ;) Mama Nose Best is scented with essential oils (not synthetic scents).

I'm using the Complete Skin Ailment Curative on some stubborn dry spots that tend to flake. It does not break out my skin or irritate my skin and it's soothing. It's firmer at room temperature and melts in my hand. I use it at night, and yes, I feel an improvement in my skin. I need to get in a routine of using it every night.

Fixx-My-Lips lip balm is soothing, not too heavy, and the peppermint flavor is not too minty. One natural brand from a trendy specialty store known for natural products is too minty and burns my lips -- Fixx-My-Lips does not give me that burning sensation. I prefer a stick of balm, but the ingredients in Fixx-My-Lips are probably not firm enough to make a stick. I gave the orange flavored Fixx-My-Lips balm to my middle schooler. She likes it and says it soothes her lips.

I like products made by moms, particularly when those moms understand our situation because they live it, too.

If you're avoiding petroleum products, looking for natural and organic, and have a long list of allergens to avoid, check out My Mama's Love Organic Skin Care - Leslie McCann's probably got a product that fits your needs.

Leslie McCann blogs here. You can become a fan of My Mama's Love on facebook.

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