Autism & Caleb
Today is the last day of April, and the last day of Autism Awareness Month.
I didn't post this month as much as I would have wanted to, but all that does is remind me that creating autism awareness doesn't (and can't, and shouldn't) only happen once a month.
Last year I created a video of Caleb in order to give a better understanding of autism in general. This year I wanted to do something different, and make a video that was just of Caleb from this last year.
I wanted to give a bigger picture of him as a young man who is living daily with his "Adventures in Autism" (as I often call it!).
This video doesn't show our daily struggles, or Caleb's meltdowns. It doesn't talk about the sensory issues a child with autism has, the special diet, or the communication barriers we fight through.
This is a video of how beautiful, sweet, and amazing Caleb is. It's a year of photos (and some videos) that lets you get to know Caleb as he learns and grows and makes my life (and the lives of many people around him) much, much better!
Caleb choose the song for this video, it's by Imagine Dragons, and it's called, "On Top Of The World".
I hope you take the 4 minutes to watch this, and to let Caleb and his brilliant smile make your day a little better. :)
Autism awareness is about getting to know the people with autism. Yes, it's also about knowing the struggles they deal with, but the "symptoms" are listed and can be found in many people with autism. If you want to really know about autism, let yourself get to know someone with it. It will change your life. Caleb has changed mine.
Hey there! It's Monday morning!....and I feel like poo poo...
It was a weekend filled with visiting people, staying up too late, and also dealing with an issue we had with Caleb (our oldest child), and trying to emotionally process that while carrying on with life 'as usual'. In a lot of ways, being busy was the best because whenever we stopped we started to really think, and thinking made us anxious. Everything will be fine, in case anyone is wondering, but we're just trying to get a hold of a situation and figure out what is best for everyone involved.
Anyway, on Friday night we stayed late at some friends who we don't get to hang out with nearly enough, then Saturday we had friends stop by first thing in the morning (...we were literally just rolling out of bed as they pulled in the driveway!), then I went to a friends for a girls night, and we had a great time chatting and looking through Glamour, Seventeen & Cosmopolitan magazines from the '70's and '80's (they were alarming, amusing, and educational!). Sunday night we went to a surprise birthday party, and had a great time.
Now, I'm pooped. I'm completely socialized out!!!
Today I have no rehearsal (phew...), but I do on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and I would on Friday too except the cast from my show is going to support another theatre nearby and see their show. If you live around here, The Pirates of Penzance is playing at The Regent Theatre in Picton this Thursday until Sunday!
Anywho, angel food cakes!
My husbands birthday was waaaaaay back in February. His favourite cake (because his Mom always made for him growing up) is angel food cake (with that fantastic sticky, white icing). Now, making an entire angel food cake if we have a group of adults coming over to help us eat it seems exceptable. Making one for our family seems excessive. Especially because Caleb is gluten free, I (mostly) eat paleo, and Adam doesn't actually like sweets that much. The girls would eat an entire cake to themselves, but they really shouldn't...
So, I wondered if I could make half a cake recipe into mini cakes? A lot of what I read (on the www) said that I couldn't without a mini angel food cake pan (who the heck owns one of those?!?), but I thought, "meh, I'm going to try anyway!".
I own some beautiful antique mini cake pans (they are really jelly moulds, I think) and thought they would make darling mini cakes. They did.
These cakes can also be made as mini cupcakes, or regular sized cupcakes (with adjusted baking times), but I think I will never go back to a fussy, full sized angel food cake. These were such a lovely size, stored easily, kept well, and made perfect little portions.
Now, the sticky, white icing is a dessert marvel! There are a few ways to make it, but my way is the best. ;) No big deal.
Most "7 minute icing" recipes need a double boiler, a candy thermometer, two separate steps of boiling the sugar and water, then whipping the egg whites, then slowly pouring on into the other, then whipping some more. Mine (a recipe from my Mum) uses NO candy thermometer, a metal bowl set over a simmering pot (a make-shift double boiler), and you just throw everything in all at once and stand there whipping it up. Ta-daaa!!!
Lovely, right? You have to (ok, you don't have to, but it's the best) to have some fresh, cut up strawberries to go with this. Yumm-o.
Alright, Monday, here I come!
I've been working on a list of "spring-time clean up" things, though I'm a little stuck at the moment. I want to re-organize my pantry, but (hopefully) in June we'll be doing our kitchen re-do, and I want to rip this pantry out and build/create/acquire a more fitting to our house piece. I guess that's not going to happen for over a month, but I want to organize the pantry with baskets, jars, etc., but I don't know 100% yet what the new pantry will look like and if I will end up needing/wanting whatever I get now to organize the pantry...I suppose I could just use whatever I get now someplace else if they end up not being needed in the new pantry....I'm just rambling to myself, ignore me!
Have a great day one and all!
Mini Angel Food Cakes
*This makes about 24 mini cupcakes, or 12 regular sized ones (or 16 small jelly moulds)
White Sticky Frosting
*This icing should only be made when your cake is ready and cooled. It is very sticky, and develops a 'skin' after its been made and is sitting out. That's fine, as long as it's on your cake/cupcakes already! :)
Looking back on the last 10 years of raising Caleb, that sweet and sassy boy of mine who has autism, I realize there are things my current self would tell my former self. I'm going to share this 'conversation' with you.
First, I would tell myself that getting a proper, thorough diagnosis can take a long (long, long!) time!
We had a doctor who seemed afraid to tell us Caleb had autism, in fact he told us he seemed "fine", and was just a little quirky. Caleb didn't speak a word at this appointment, he didn't make a sound. He was 19 months old and sat for the entire appointment turning a toy set of gears that had spirals painted on them. Quirky? Sure. But we knew there was more there.
It wasn't until Caleb was 5 that we got a proper diagnosis.
I would also tell myself regarding the diagnosis to not be afraid of it.
During the waiting game, in the times Caleb went to his therapies, when I got asked 100000 questions from Doctors and specialists about what he could and couldn't do, and spending time at home with a beautiful young boy who seemed to care less if I played with him or didn't. It was all like an angry rain cloud, following us, building up and getting darker.
I wish someone would have said, "you don't need to be worried or afraid. Whatever the results, you will be alright".
I would also tell myself that it is ok to be angry.
I felt such shame and loneliness in the anger I had towards autism. I wasn't mad at Caleb, more at people who brought us down, therapists who didn't seem to care, with daily life, and angry with myself.
I thought maybe I had 'given' him his autism (the original thoughts on the cause of autism was that the child was reacting to a 'refrigerator mother'; a mother who was cold and uninviting). I had people who I trusted and who loved me tell me that maybe, perhaps I had given Caleb his autism while he was in the womb because I had gotten pregnant before I was married and I "didn't want him". I'm not lying, 2 different & very important people in my life uttered those hurtful words to me. The timing of the pregnancy was wrong, thats for sure, but I never felt any enmity towards that little person growing in me...but my trust in those people and their view of me and my life made me think, "yes, perhaps it is my fault, maybe I hated Caleb from the day the pregnancy test was positive and somehow that gave him autism...". The truth was, I was scared about being pregnant, I didn't know what life was going to look like for me, but I never thought "I don't want this baby".
What the current me would say to that former me is, "those people are liars! Don't let their words drag you down! You can be angry with them, what they said was hurtful!".
I eventually allowed myself to be angry, and to express that anger. Anger towards people who should have been supporting us but instead were making us feel thoroughly incapable of raising a child with autism, or telling us think it was our fault. Angry with therapists who judged Caleb poorly, and didn't give him a chance to shine or do his best, but seemed happy to let him flounder in the system (and made me feel dumb in the process).
But I also realized I was angry with autism.
To be 'allowed' to be angry with the struggles Caleb had on a daily basis, to be angry with God and question why anyone should have to wrestle with, what us neuro-typicals call, "simple things". Angry with myself when I put my head on my pillow at night, wondering if I had done enough for Caleb that day. Just angry. Just feeling free to be angry, and knowing I was not alone in those feelings and knowing that parents raising kids with special needs all over the world were feeling angry with me.
To my old self I would also say, "you don't need to stick with or even try every single therapy presented to you!"
I wanted to do everything I could do for Caleb when he was younger. Anything to make his life better, and hopefully easier, I was willing to try.
I know now that there are a lot of very valid and helpful treatments available for children with autism, and they are not all for us.
As a parent of a child with autism, I need to use good judgement when it comes to what to 'try' for Caleb. Sometimes, in the process of raising him, things seemed so crazy, and so bad that I wanted to do everything I ever heard of or read or saw, and implement it into our lives.
We did a lot of the 'normal' things like speech, occupational, and physical therapy with Caleb. It became clear very early on though that he wasn't in need of a physical therapist at all. Caleb is not the least bit un co-ordinated, his gross and fine motor skills are (and always have been) 'normal'.
However, he needed occupational therapy for many years. An occupational therapist works on things like attention span, transitions to new activities, play skills (yes, playing is a skill!), responses to touch or other types of stimuli, some motor skills such as learning to use scissors, hold a pencil, or type properly, dealing with aggression, and interactions between Caleb and the people in his life caring for him.
Speech therapy for Caleb was tedious and sometimes felt pointless....because he had no speech! But my instinct was to stick it out because the therapist Caleb had was sweet and wonderful, and Caleb seemed to enjoy visiting her. She helped him (and me) understand that "language" or "speech" is more than the words we are saying. We can speak by our facial expressions, our body language including using gestures, with pictures, music and singing, and also by using sign language.
Caleb learned to understand that words had meaning, and words had power. Caleb's speech and language pathologist offered a radical idea to us that echolalia (a condition that people with autism often display where instead of using their own words, they simply echo what they have heard you or a movie or the radio, etc. has said) is not such a bad thing, and perhaps should be seen as an encouragement with Caleb and his development up to that point. What she said about his echolalia was (and this was not a known idea or popular thought at the time) that it meant that Caleb's process of hearing words was working, and his brain was also capable of saying words. This was a revelation, and a great boost to us in the process of helping Caleb improve his long-term quality of life.
Bleach enemas (yup, drinking bleach as a means to rid the gut of the bad bacteria that 'cause' autism), ingesting whipworms, hyperbaric oxygen chambers and chelation therapy (which removes heavy metals from ones system with chemicals) are just some of the "non-conventional" therapies offered (or peddled...) to help in the quest of making life better for those with autism.
I agree that an immune system that isn't properly functioning can have an effect on people with autism (which is what the above therapies are meant to heal), but that doesn't mean I will, at all financial and physical costs, try everything out there.
I think there are genetic, environmental and even dietary reasons for autism and it's varying symptoms, and it's part of being a caring, concerned parent to want to try things that may help your child, but exercising caution and wisdom is key.
One 'weird' treatment for the symptoms of autism is a hot bath. The idea first came when it was noticed that autism symptoms were lessened while the child was sick with a fever.
Researchers, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, studied how it works, and one possibility is that it switches on genes that dampen down an overactive immune system, allowing the child to not need their usual stimulation (hand flapping, spinning, head banging, etc.) to feel calm.
It's a little whacko, but it is a simple idea. There isn't any harm in it, and in truth, Caleb loves a hot bath anyway (well, loved. We now only have a shower, so he loves hot showers!).
Not every treatment is worth it, not every treatment is legitimate, and not every treatment is meant for life.
Caleb no longer has speech therapy, and the occupational therapists who would see him at his school have discharged him because his written output has improved and increased, and his sensory needs are being met through the school.
The last thing I would have told myself is two-fold.Part One: autism is part of a spectrum of disorders, and one child with autism is not going to be like the next child with autism. And two: don't compare your child to any other child-with or without autism!
"A horse is a horse, of course, of course"....the theme song from "Mr.Ed"? It goes:
"A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed".
The truth is, "a horse is a horse" is false. Horses are ridiculously different from one another, whether they can talk or not!
The same is true for people with autism. Because autism is a spectrum, you can have highly functioning and very verbal individuals with autism, and people who are mentally & physically handicapped with their autism.
Though, I do like the song in some ways because I like to think of my Caleb as Mr.Ed in a field of (regular old) horses. :)
Just because you've met someone with autism doesn't mean that you now fully understand and know autism. I felt scared at times meeting people with very low-functioning autism and thinking, "oh no, Caleb is destined to a life of solitude and loneliness", or feeling happy meeting high functional people with autism and thinking, "Caleb can be that great". The thing is, both thoughts are wrong and can be harmful. Just because an individual is low functioning doesn't mean they are isolated or lonely, and a high-functioning person does not greatness make. I needed my new self to tell my old self, "Caleb is unique, he is your Mr. Ed in a pasture of horses (and all the other horses are someone else's Mr.Ed!). Take each encounter with other people with autism as encouragement, motivation, and an opportunity to learn and grow in the understanding of autism and how varied it is".
For part two, I would tell myself that comparing my child to any other child is absurd!
I spent so much time crying and being upset at play groups when I would size up my special needs child to the other, neuro-typical children. It's like comparing cookies with steak! They are not even close to similar or comparable at all! What a waste of my emotional energy comparing my child to others and feeling disappointed in him. Disappointed in Caleb, as if it was his fault! What a waste! I wish I could go back and not give a crap! Just to be in places with him, to enjoy his company (even if he was 'ignoring' me!), to nurture him and invest into his life instead of fretting over his inability to sit at circle time! What a silly young Mum I was.....
So, old me, learn some lessons from new me! Well, that is impossible, but I am glad for all that I've learned, and I honestly hope that I can help a new autism parent not feel so alone or confused. I want you parents to know that it will be o.k., that you can feel angry and sad, that you can decide what is best for your child (and your family) regarding therapies, and that you shouldn't waste your emotional energy on comparison! You have your own amazing, special (special!) needs child, a child quite unique, probably full of mysteries, so just love on that person!
I love Caleb with all my heart. He is full of trouble, but I like to see that sometimes....he's started calling me "weirdo", which makes me laugh. He has a heart full of love and empathy (and shows this in many ways), and he is truly, 100%, without a doubt, one of a kind. He shines brightly in my life, and in our family.
New me, tell the old me that everything that is to come will be worth it.
Way back in the day....as in, June of last year, I posted a non-paleo cinnamon sugar cookie (the snickerdoodle), and had been hankering for a paleo version. I love cinnamon in general (in my coffee, with honey when I'm feeling a cold coming on, on fruit, just to name a few ways I love it), but having it on a cookie seems to make the cookie more....healthy? Haha, what a fool I am. I could sprinkle cinnamon onto a huge bowl of ice cream and it would not redeem the ice-cream at all as a food worth eating! Anyway, FYI, there are two main types of cinnamon, Ceylon (the kind we generally use here in Canada), and Cassia-which happens to be the name of my husbands sister (who passed away). My daughter's name, Keziah, is the Hebrew for Cassia, or cinnamon. So, I love cinnamon for a lot of reasons! :)
Cinnamon is a serious super food though, for realz. This site, Cooking Detective, has a super thorough article called 29 Surprising Health Benefits of Cinnamon that is well worth the read! A quick Google search though will show you that cinnamon has a
ba-zillion health benefits. So, if I'm going to eat a cookie anyway, adding cinnamon is a good way to amp up the quality of the treat. : )
Anywho, I started thinking about paleo snickerdoodles again though because of wanting to make some paleo & egg free cookies for a fellow The Drowsy Chaperone cast member for a rehearsal treat.
So, make these, enjoy them, share them, hoard them, whatever!
Paleo Cinnamon Sugar Cookies (aka-snickerdoodles)
Makes about 14 cookies using a small (1 Tbsp) scoop
To roll the cookies in:
* You can also just roll them in cinnamon and skip the sugar
The rest, they say, is history. I'm not sure why I said that...?
It's a fantastically rainy day here in the fine town of Tweed, it's crazy windy too! When I went to do the chores this morning the horses were running around like whackos because of how howl-y the wind was, and the chickens looked hilariously pathetic all wet from the rain.
Anyway, have a great day wherever you are, whatever the weather!
Last March I spoke about disclosure & advocacy in autism and finding that balance between sharing about the disability and not sharing. I'm just going to un-load my brain about advocacy today, and how it needs to be turning more into self-advocacy for Caleb's sake as he grows up.
Caleb is older now, and has learned a lot in the last year. However, he stills seems unaware of "his condition". I'm 100% sure he knows he is different, but I'm not sure he could put a name to it. I have talked with him on numerous occasions to help him see and understand himself better (I feel that a child with a special need should know that they are different because they already feel it and letting them know it's legitimate can be liberating), but when I mention "autism" all three of my kids have blank looks on their faces. Geepers.
At the kids' school a few weeks ago there was a presentation on autism, and when I was talking to the kids about it after I said, "well, you know Caleb has autism, right?". The girls responded with some vague, "......oh, yeah. Now I remember!". So, clearly we've missed something here with teaching our kids what the heck we're living with!
The key (I think) to really getting a child to move on from having his/her parents & other non-special needs adults advocating for them is early teaching.
Now, as mentioned above, we're failing at this early teaching bit...
However, I can say without a doubt that Caleb has learned one important thing in this last year involving disclosure and advocacy: he knows he's on a special diet.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me! It means he is understanding his own limitations (even if it's only a food related limitation!). Small victories here people. :)
He doesn't need to say he can't eat wheat because he has autism, he can just say, "I can't eat wheat". Well, actually, what he really says is, "This will not have wheat?" (that's how he questions a food item), and then "Caleb will not eat wheat for really tummy will be sick". So, it may take some de-coding, but most people understand what he's trying to communicate.
There is a wonderful (wonderful!) woman at the Belleville noFrills who loves on my kids whenever we're in there. She's our grocery store Grandma. :) She comes and talks with us, tells the kids how nice they look in their Sunday clothes, and then she'll give them a treat. These treats are always different, some are hilarious (she once bought them each a litre of ice-cream because it was on sale!), and sometimes she'll bring them into the staff room and let them have a snack from there (usually freezies or popsicles or cookies). So, freezies and popsicles are ok for Caleb to eat, but the cookies? Not so much.
One day she brought the kids back to get a treat from the staff room, and they came out a few minutes later; the girls with crumbs on their faces, and Caleb, holding an Oreo.
Our grocery store Grandma said, "Caleb won't eat this cookie, and he said something about wheat and a tummy ache?". I was so proud! I explained that Caleb doesn't eat wheat (she already knows he has autism), and so our wonderful grocery store Grandma bought him a pack of Tootsie Pops. Caleb was pretty stoked about that!
Just this year at Easter, Caleb was doing a treat hunt at his Grammie & Grampies, and he found a huge Twizzler (liquorice) in a tree. Caleb happily pulled it out the tree, and said while retrieving it, "This will not have wheat? This will have wheat for Caleb's tummy is so really sick".
I was standing at a distance (taking the pictures you see above!), and was so proud of Caleb! He maybe needs to work on how exactly to get his restriction across, but he knows there is one, and that is the first, and most important step in being a self-advocate, not just having Adam and I (or his sisters) do it for him.
The food restriction is a great example of when we (or Caleb) don't need to explain that the food restriction is a way of coping with his autism. Especially in today's day and age where everyone is on some sort of food restriction diet (peanut-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, etc., etc.), it's fairly common to come into contact with someone who isn't eating something for any number of reasons! So, saying, "Ooohhh nooo, he can't eat wheat because he has autism and it effects his gut, which then effects his brain....(yadda yadda yadda)". You can see how this would just create more questions and make things way more complicated than they need to be. That is not helpful for Caleb or the person who's stuck trying to figure out what the heck we're trying to say.
This past winter, Caleb had a "situation" involving another young boy. The phone call I got was, "Caleb's bit someone. We've talked to him about it, we've told him that his next recess he won't be allowed to go on the sledding hill (where the altercation happened) he's apologized, but we needed you to be aware of it". I hung up and was a mix of angry, sad, confused, and so I just started crying.
In all of Caleb's years, he has never NEVER bit anyone! Ever! He's never even hit anyone on purpose. He'll wrestle with Adam or the girls, or his cousins, but he's never gotten so pissed that he just let them have it.
When he got home I asked him about the phone call I had gotten. I said, "did you bite someone?" He said, "yes". I said, "did you punch someone too?", he said, "yes". There was no mention about punching in the phone call I got, I just made it up so I knew right away he was just saying "yes" because he thought he should?
I asked him if someone made him angry at school, and he told me someone did, and who it was. I asked why he was angry at this boy, and he said (something like), "(so and so) was so very bossy to Caleb and doesn't let Caleb on crazy carpet". So, maybe this other boy was just trying to keep the sledding hill organized to keep kids from running into each other and going down before the hill was clear. Or maybe he was strait up being bossy to Caleb and being a turd, I'm not sure?! Caleb's communication skills aren't so great that he can sit and tell me a story about his day, and the only "witnesses" to this biting incident were a bunch of other boys, so the story is blotchy at best.
I wished in that situation Caleb would have the self-advocacy skills to say, "I didn't bite him!", instead of seeing/sensing there is trouble, being asked, "did you....(fill in the blank)?", and he just says "yes" to be co-operative. I honestly still don't know the real story, but I do know Caleb. I've seen him at his very best and his very worst, and even at his worst he has never acted out violently towards anyone.
I want Caleb to be able to stand up for himself and who he knows he is, and feel confident in defending himself if the need arises.
As a "normal" person, if someone accused you of something you didn't do, you would say, "that's not true", right? Imagine not being able to? You can't make the words form and come out of your mouth because your brain and mouth are not always in synch, and your brain is also firing on all cylinders all the time, and now, in the middle of a stressful situation, all you can say is, "yes", and "I am so very sorry", things you've memorized because you know it can help make the craziness stop.
What a horrible place for anyone to be in, and Caleb is there often. As he gets older I want to know he's being trained up in the skill of self-advocacy (and disclosure and knowing when to share his diagnosis with others).
In the meanwhile, I will still stand up for my Caleb (& for all my children), but with a more focused goal of creating a young man who doesn't always need someone sticking up for him, a young man who is bold about who he is; a wonderful, funny, and sweet young man with a big heart.
DIY Chalk & Cork Board
Last summer we replaced the windows in our house. There were 16 windows total (so, 32 small windows-ya know? They were double hung?). Anywho, When the guys working on the windows went to load up our old windows, I came out in a panic, "No, no! Oh please, leave me these windows!". The guys thought I was hilarious/crazy. Both are pretty accurate.
I gave a few windows away to friends, and worked on a few to sell. I (....my husband...) remembered that these windows were the originals to our circa 1880 farm house and they would be more special if kept here and used around our own house.
Anyway, I've since bought a bunch of windows from a few different & favourite antique dealers around me, and even found a beautiful one at the Tweed dump. I know, yuk, but I've found a lot of seriously wonderful things at the dump that other people thought were trash! And, as a bonus, an older man saw me dumpster diving for the window and gave me his phone number and address because he had a whole bunch of old windows he would sell me. Do you think I would have gotten that awesome window connection without rooting through trash at the dump? Nope. :)
Anyway, wherever you find an old window, snatch it up! I have a few hanging in my house as plain old windows, and some made into new and useful things.
Today I run you through a cork/chalk board window. Enjoy!
Measure the cardboard, adhere it to the glass and paint the window. I use cardboard to back the cork board because otherwise the cork is too thin and any pin or tack you use is too long. You'll end up with a tack that is sticking out from the cork too far. And cork DOES NOT stick to cork without an enormous amount of glue in varying types. Trust me....
Keziah was home from school one day while I was working on this and she gave this Ikea mouse a home in the cork roll. :)
Like I mentioned in the method, I used twine to cover imperfections. Measuring the cork and cutting it carefully and hoping it fits just so is stressful...so I cut myself some slack and used twine to trim out the window. It was an extra step, but a relatively easy one.
I like to pre-drill a hole for the screws for the hooks to be sure the screws go in without splitting the windows.
When I give a window away or sell it I include anchors and screws for hanging the window up. I know I said to measure the hardware to 16inches so you can hang the window to studs (without needing anchors), but if your window ends up in between studs for some reason you will need anchors. An antique window with original glass is very heavy and you don't want it ripping a hole in your wall and crashing to the floor!
Here are some other windows I've made, some as full chalk boards, some as full cork boards, and some half and half. The bottom left photo was made special and because they wanted it exclusively as a menu board I used acrylic paint to write to the word "menu" as well as the abbreviations for the days of the week, that way it could be wiped and cleaned with the menu and days staying put. The other windows just had some fun fall-themed chalk art to make them pretty to sell.
So, the task of converting an old window to a chalk or cork board, or both, can be a little time consuming, but it's worth it (I think!). I take custom orders, btw, and can make one for you ('you' being someone within a reasonable driving range of me!). :)
If you take on the task of making one yourself, share your results with me!!!
Paleo Fish Sticks
I love fish....when it's battered and fried! I know, I know, that totally ruins how gosh-darned healthy fish it, but I can't help it! We do eat fish occasionally in a healthy way, and we used to a lot more when Caleb was younger (he's 10 now!), but over the years we'd stopped eating it on a regular basis.
Anywho, a while ago we went to a lovely restaurant in Belleville, "The Boathouse", and I ordered fish and chips (yummy!), anyway, the girls tasted it, and talked about it for days! Seriously! "Mom, remember that fish you had that you let me taste? That was really good, you should make it sometime" was the gist of what I heard.
I was happy to oblige since I do love it so much...but I wanted it to be a paleo version so that gluten-free Caleb could eat it, and also so that it wouldn't have to be for a treat day.
And that's that. Through serfing the web for different ideas/recipes, and experimenting, this perfect batter was born, and it made a seriously tasty fish.
Paleo Fish Sticks
These fish sticks turn out soooo good! I even like them the next day cold.
Anywho, really, it would have been appropriate to post this fish recipe last Friday, a day in which a lot of people eat fish as a "fast" (from warm blooded meat), and to mark Good Friday, the day observed as the death of Jesus.
Last Friday we were in Brantford having a fish fry (a wonderful tradition that involves a big ol' deep fryer out on my sisters' front porch). We batter and fry fish, chicken, mushrooms, pickle spears, and this year we also battered and fried Oreo cookies, Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Mars, and Snickers. Oh, and fresh cut potatoes got a fry up too. Sound like a huuuuuge tummy ache? It was. It was a glorious tummy ache! :)
So, I'm signing off! I've got rehearsal (again.....) tonight, then am looking forward to a weekend with Adam home from work and whatever random last-minute plans he comes up with! This is a marital issue I am overcoming! I like to stay home, visit no-one, plan nothing. Adam loves to socialize and do things. So, on his days off I am mentally prepared for a, "Hey! Let's go to..." scenario. On the days he works I get to have my own time, quiet time, plan nothing time. :)
Anyway, that was just a random annotation about my life!
Have a great weekend!
Autism & Staying Focused
We had years and years where every day was a serious struggle with Caleb. From sensory to communication problems, the day in and day out of raising this young man with autism was exhausting.
Then something happened. It wasn't sudden, it was very gradual. Caleb started to improve at things like communicating, and life got a little easier. And then, we lost focus.
It was like because things had gotten manageable and the day to day seemed like it was going ok, we settled in. We were coasting along, just in maintenance mode, and getting lazy.
We rode that wave until Caleb's regular E.A. at school was away for a few weeks, and then things fell apart. He was misbehaving for his substitute E.A's and acting like a child who couldn't listen, sit and focus, follow direction, or just be decent. I got called often during this time for his bad behaviour, and I even ended up going to the school on one occasion to get him in trouble myself.
He had been grabbing his iPad or laptop and running off with it and not giving it back if asked by his substitute E.A or teacher. They called me, and told Caleb they would, but that didn't spur him on to give it back. I have spoken with him on the phone before to verbally scold and direct him, but in this situation he wouldn't even come to the phone. He was being a full-on brat! Yes, I know he has autism, but he knows right from wrong, he knows to listen (and is capable of doing so), but most of all he knows he can't grab his special school equipment and run off with it and be a bugger.
When I got to the school and walked into the room he was in.....oh boy, his face turned red to white in an instant, and he knew he was in trouble.
I took him to another room and talked with him about being kind, making good choices, and being a young man that makes God and his Mom & Dad proud; a boy who listens to his teachers, works his hardest, and tries his best to make his life and others lives better.
He looked so sad, and started to cry. I told him he needed to apologize to his teacher, and also to his E.A., and that I expected him to do better. Not that I hoped he would, but that I expected it.
The time without his regular E.A., and this situation where I needed to go into the school to reprimand him snapped Adam and I out of our daze. Caleb may be doing "better", but he's not a finished piece yet.
He's getting older, more mature and smarter. These things are good...but they all offer new challenges we need to overcome.
We realized that in his genius he can turn his "handicapped' switch on and off depending on who he's with and how well they know him.
When I went into the school that day and talked with him, his teacher afterward said (something like), "hearing you talk to him that way was eye opening. I could tell he was hearing every word you said and you didn't dumb it down at all". He had been doing just enough to get by, but not enough to shine (as we know he can). Now, most of the 10 year old boys in his class are a little lazy, kind of stinkers, and like to see what crap they can get away with. So, to a degree we know it's "normal", but Caleb has never been "normal", and we don't necessarily want him to be! We are looking for a family standard of behaviour, not a disabled version of it. I don't want any of my children being bad listeners or making poor choices.
We are in a place now with Caleb where we need to look ahead more than ever. In a few years he will be in high school (ahhhhhhh!!!) & getting a job, then after that perhaps a post-secondary education or just continuing to work and become more independent.
Whatever his life looks like in the next few years, we need to know his foundation is solid. That includes (and is not limited to) having the self-control to make good choices, understanding the importance of listening to and following orders/directions from those in charge, being a solid communicator (whether verbal or by trying/writing), and having excellent reading skills.
Our focus for so long was to just get life to run smoothly...(ish). And then when it was, we stopped the work. We forgot that our real goal was not just 'get through the day!!!', it was to raise a beautiful, genuine, caring human being.
So, we're back on track. We're pushing Caleb to do his best and be his best. For him (right now) that means having "blue listening ears" (blue is positive in Caleb-speak), making good choices which means using manners, being patient with his sisters, and not back-talking, and to continue to push him to read and write better.
The day in and day out of life with Caleb still has it's struggles. Things have improved though, but we want more. We want exceptional. We want it from all three of our kids, and it means different things for each of them. No cookie cutter behaviour or goal will work, but rather an individualized version of our standards. And Adam and I need to be focused on this daily. It's about correcting with love, finding teachable moments, and living by example. If our focus for Caleb is on his long-term good, we won't ever rest or become lazy. I want to look back and know that I was always doing all that I could to propel him into the life he was made to live.
Autism & Being Just Like You
I missed Autism Awareness Day! Ok, I didn't miss it, but I missed posting a blog about it.
Life has been nutty lately, and yesterday we headed out early to visit family for the weekend, and I just never got a chance to sit at the laptop and write. I'm writing this post from my phone using the Weebly app, but I'm not super familiar with it and am not sure how this will work!
Anyway, what I really wanted to do yesterday was to post a video a friend sent to me. It's a bit long (20 minutes), but I found it to be one of the best videos on autism tht I've seen in a long time.
The video has 3 different young people who each have different autism from one another. It is a great example of how autism can be so many things to so many people.
Anyway, I 'missed' Autism Awareness Day, but this month is Autism Awareness Month, and I will be sharing about our lives raising an amazing young man with autism and about the struggles we encounter, the disappointments we've had, and our hopes we hold onto.
Today is April Fool's Day, but today also marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month!
I have been woefully negligent of my blog lately....my life is suddenly very busy! I always like to keep busy, and that often included working away at the blog, but lately I've been for realz busy, and haven't had any time to sit and blog! Thumbs down emoji.
Anyway, I really, really, really plan/hope to at least get some autism posts up every Thursday of this month (Thursdays are/were my usual day to chat and share about raising a boy with autism), because I want to keep making more and more people aware of autism and what it is, what it looks like & how to 'handle' it.
Anyway, I'm way off base from french toast right now!
French toast! A delicious meal idea made better by turning it into a "monte carlo" type french toast. A monte carlo is when you make a meat and cheese sandwich (with mayo and mustard), then dip it into an egg and milk mixture, and fry it until it's golden and delightful. This breakfast version has nut butter and banana made into a sandwich, dipped in an egg and milk mixture, then fried with a sprinkle of cinnamon, then you eat it with syrup, as you would any french toast!
Banana & Nut Butter French Toast
So, as I mentioned in the ingredients list, this super-filling monte carlo style french toast can be adapted a few ways. We've used peanut butter, cashew butter, & almond butter. We've also used sprouted grain bread, 'regular' bread, and gluten free bread. And one of my favourite variations is to use thinly sliced apples in place of the banana. So good.
I have, incidentally, never made an actual monte carlo sandwich, but perhaps I will some time. It seems like it would be very yummy!
Alright, well, that's it!
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
Read more about me by clicking here!
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