Monday, November 28, 2011

Two New Things More

First, James really wanted to hug and kiss me to say goodbye this morning at our back-to-school drop off. This was unexpected, new, and full of warm fuzzies (at least for me). He bounced right back into his routines and had a good day.

Second, I came home to get started on the kitchen clean up and noticed:
 I put this together with finding the kitchen scissors lying out of place on the counter this weekend and ... the boy's been cutting his own hair. Gah! He screams like a banshee and bucks like a tornado when I try to do it.

Speaking of things that will make him scream like a tin whistle ... behold, the deadly:
These, meanwhile, will make him cry:

He still has to eat some. This is when I turn up the radio.

Magic Marker Monday: Edible Art

James was invited to a former classmate's superhero birthday party. It turned out great! The party was at their house, with superhero games made and hosted by his family.

One of the activities was to frost and decorate cookies. This is a great party activity that I will need to remember. James held back at first, but then decided to try it.
It was nice for me to see him around the table with the others, joining in and having fun. And when it was over, he had a nice souvenier.

I asked how they handled the preparation and they said they helped make and roll out the cookie dough. They left in the fridge overnight and the next morning rolled it out and cut simple circles. They baked them before the party and had them ready to go with the toppings. One thing I saw that was new to me: squeezable frosting pouches with a spout -- awesome for kids to use!

Here's what they looked like -- James' is the smeary one in back, without Skittles:

For more scrumptious masterpieces or to share some of your own,
visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Autism Decorates!

Our town started a new tradition last year -- the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove. It's a fundraiser to benefit the District's Schools and music programs. We were invited to come over and help decorate the tree for Autism Speaks (North Bay).

Wow! When we got to the Town Green, it seemed as if half the population was there. It was such an upbeat, energetic crowd of people happily decorating. I heard they have 150 trees this year. It's certainly become a big hit.

I was proud of James. He did a great job of talking with people and hanging ornaments. There was an unfortunate interlude where he ran off with someone's scissors and didn't want to come back, but he finally responded when faced with the count of "1-2 ....."

We enjoyed wandering around, checking out the other trees. Here are a couple of our favourites:

We enjoyed gelato at Powell's after, sitting on an outside bench with friends. I let the kids run across the Green to climb, slide, and jump at the playground on our way back to the car.

Simple pleasures. Such a good time.

Next April 14th. We will be walking again to raise awareness, research funds, and support each other. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

SOOC Saturday: Fall Seasonal

It's Fall. Temps have dropped and cold and wet have moved in again. Mornings are misty and chill and strangely beautiful:


The cherry tree is the last deciduous tree in the back yard to change colour and drop its leaves. I hope for a good sleep, and many cherries come late Spring/early summer! Days and afternoons are fickle with sunshine and warmth, but make for breathtaking sights.

As the shortened days slip into sunset, the world loses colour, except in the sky:

This one photo is enhanced from the one above, so you can see
the rainbow's end that seems to be coming from under the moon.
Took this one in the Safeway parking lot. Unbelievable!
Meanwhile, indoors is a good place to be. It's warm and cozy. There are surprises to be found. And James is busy with writing projects at the homework desk.

Falling into another week of SOOC action at Marvelous Mommy's blog. If you want to check out our (mostly) SOOC Thanksgiving cooking pics, I've posted them here.
Come on over to see more or join in!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gifts on a Spectrum

It's Black Friday, and time to think hard(er) about gifts for the kids. Especially as big sister's birthday comes right before Christmas and James' is shortly after New Year's. Aaaaaand the property taxes are due right before then, so we really need to shop wisely because there's not much moolah to spare.

Add to that the fact that finding presents for James is a challenge. I've seen him rip and eat books, puzzles, and flash cards. He looks politely at cars and trucks, for the most part. If he can push buttons and have things light up and make loud noises, he's all over it for about 5 minutes at a time. Unless it's driving me crazy or waking the family, then make that 15 minutes, minimum.

He loves computers, clocks, and CD players. He also loves to rend them into pieces, if given half the chance. My little boy, the Destructor.

Some of the best toys for him have come from therapy sessions. We've gotten more mileage from an ice cream scooper and tongs with a bowl of cotton balls than the expensive LeapFrog read-along electronic gadget. It took 3 years before he became engaged with the super LeapFrog magnetic fridge Word Builder.  I could go on .... and end up with the sad memory of James' Christmas just before he turned 3, when he looked at the presents, but did not get excited about them, let alone want to open them. I seriously cried that Christmas morning because he'd recently been diagnosed, and this was like a knife in the heart.

But things got better. James became more engaged, and this year he's reading, doing math, and started some imaginary play. I've scaled back my expectations and become more philosophical about what will make this child happy.

I'm still thinking of toys, however!

So I was very happy to see this Special Needs Toy Guide by Emily Vanek, mentioned in Five Minutes for Special Needs.  We've already had good success with a number of items listed in her guide. There were some misses too, but that's because kids are different and special needs means, well, the antithesis of "one size fits all."

Oh yeah - he loved these things for years!
Here's what James has liked: Connect 4 and the piggy bank (although we just used a regular one that we had lying around the house). Sensory balls and ordinary balloons have been huge hits. My husband found one of those Fischer Price play kitchens at the Salvation Army and brought it home for our daughter.; both kids ended up loving it. James also loved the Singing Popup character toys.

He did not care for the large building blocks (or wooden blocks or regular Legos). He likes Play Dough but starts to crumble it all over into tiny bits. It's just not work the clean-up for me.

I think I'll take a more focused look at what James has liked. That will not only help me zero in on what might be good to get him, it could also help others.

What kinds of toys have been great for your special needs kiddos?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Baking: A Timeline

5:00-9:30 Fuel injection (aka making and enjoying a pot of Peet's Holiday Blend). Trying to keep a damper on my darling (loud) boy.

9:30-10:00 Assemble and bake 2 pie crusts. TV is off. Big sister is entertaining herself. James is stimming loudly and playing with his alphabet puzzle. Also butting in to ask for milk while I am up to my wrists in floury dough. Go away. I love you. Later!

10:00-10:15 Chop and prep ingredients for an egg white veggie quiche. Because the custard tart only uses egg yolks. There is no way I am either going to keep 12 egg whites in my fridge or toss them! Keep after James to turn it down as he stims "AAAAAAHHHH" and "EEEEEE." These disciplinary admonitions are met with dinosaur mutterings and scripting from Squidward.
I am keeping the red eye. This little stinker woke me up at 5am!

10:16 Send husband out for eggs. Could have sworn recipe called for 10 eggs. Nope, it's 12. How many do we have? 11. #chefFAIL

10:35 Husband returns ... with mint chip ice cream too. I love him!

10:30-11:00 Cheer Girl Child on as she squeezes tangerines for custard tart. Body count: 13. Glad I bought the whole bag. We've counted 23 seeds in one half - yikes! So glad she thought to strain as she squeezed.

Meanwhile: James helps stir the egg whiles and cream for the quiche, then runs off to the trampoline to yodel and jump some more. Bizet's Carmen is playing on the classical music station -- Yay!! Explaining themes and motifs to my 8 y-o daughter. Husband pulls James into back bedroom. I love him even more!

11:00-11:30 Quiche is in the oven and baking. Totally guessing at quantities, heat, and bake duration. Meh. Finish citrus squeezing and assembling materials for cooking the tangerine custard. Break out to fix lunch for family.

11:30 Start cooking custard and watching daughter do a fashion show for what to wear to dinner tonight. Exciting!

11:36 Quiche is done. guess what I am having for lunch? Mwa-ha-ha!

11:45 Custard is really starting to cook.
With my fabulous All Clad pot set, I scoff at a double boiler!
 11:50 Added final ingredients to custard.

 12:45 Poured custard into pie crust. Clean up time! Garfield and Scarlotti are duking it out in the family room, sound-wise. Assemble materials for Corn Souffle.

1:00 Custard pie in fridge. What is a scallion? Is it more like a green onion or a shallot?

1:01 Google sez: green onion!

1:01-1:14 Assemble ingredients for corn souffle. Love my hand slicer/mincer. Just like Grandma Lee's!

1:15 Corn souffle in oven for an hour. Time to rest my feet. Hoping I got the temps right because .. look what happened to our controls a couple weeks back during a cleaning?

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!