A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

(At)tempting To Cook

Since a few people have sent me messages about the experiments attempts recipes I've found and followed, I've decided to share them with y'all more regularly. I have a pinterest board where I typically post things I've made myself. I call it Made It Myself! I've also included some other non-edibles there, too, like my needlepoint and knitting. Have a little look!

Here are this week's tasty trials

Pizza Pockets with Crescent Rolls*

Asparagus with Parm and Panko Crumbs

Slow Cooker Granola

Fruity Angel Food Cake

Friday, April 26, 2013

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I made food out of pinterest recipes

When I find recipes online or on Pinterest, I pin them to my "I Can Do That" board. Then, when I'm ready to experiment a bit, I head straight to that board. Only once before did I post about some of the foods I made out of Pinterest recipes. Here are a few that I've had some success with in the past week (disclaimer: the word success is used liberally).

Roasted Cabbage

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Carrot/Zucchini Bars

GFCF strawberry shortcake recipe came from Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake box.
I really wish I'd taken a photo of the Bean and Rice Casserole I made last week. But it was so delicious, that it was gobbled up immediately!

And here's a picture of my beautiful assistant

Friday, April 19, 2013

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Innocence of Her Autism

Every so often I am struck by gratitude for my daughter's Autism. It happens when I think about the incredibly wonderful people I have in my life simply because Autism connected us. It happens when I think about the growth opportunity it's given me. It happens when I recognize that I'm way more aware and way more proud when she accomplishes something she's worked so hard on- something that comes easily to her typically developing peers.

It happens when I think about how little the outside world affects her. She has no need to keep up with the other kids' lifestyles, their wardrobes or their gadgets. She's not embarrassed of the braces she wears on her ankles. She has no shame or embarrassment that we moved from a big house to a small apartment.  She doesn't know or feel left out when she's not invited to birthday parties. She is totally content with our trips (or lack thereof) to visit family rather than the {seemingly} lavish ski trips or tropical getaways that my peers brag about post photos from (guess I'm the one that has some jealousy there!).

It happens when I see little girls in aviators, tight pants, high boots, and ANYTHING written on their little tushies. I am forever grateful that she doesn't feel the need to fit in, so hopefully, she will never blend in with the too-sexy-too-soon crowd. *shivers*

It happens when I see her flap or spin in a public place- totally oblivious to how she's being looked at, perceived, and judged.

And it happens on days like these, when everywhere you turn people are talking about tragedy. Bombs! Guns! Someone's eight year old baby boy! It's such a scary world to raise a child in. So much scarier than it was in the 90s 80s when my parents were raising me. Still, I knew a little too much.  I knew that sometimes airplanes got hijacked (not cool when your mom is a flight attendant stewardess), I knew there were wars (even begged my mom to come up with a family meet-up plan if war broke out while I was at school), I even knew there were people who intended to hurt and kill children (I was only 7 but knew all about California's night stalker) and I was afraid to sleep at night. Helloooo anxiety!

So, while there are great resources to talk our children about the scary things that happen in the world, I feel some gratitude that it's not really necessary here.... yet. Little Bird is pretty oblivious to the world around her. I do shelter her. We don't watch TV, and we don't talk about tragedies around her. (side note: this whole not watching TV thing has been really great for me, as well!) I'd really like to preserve her innocence and trust in her world for as long as I can. She's only eight (biologically). At her age, I didn't sleep. I worried all the time. I spent too much time in the nurse's office with physical symptoms of anxiety. I love that she's such a sweet, innocent kid. She never, ever means to harm, fool, or take advantage of anyone (sure she'll try to manipulate and negotiate her way to 5 more minutes on the iPad, but still!). For that innocence of Autism, I am forever grateful.

Photo by: Enchanted Photography by Marla Michele

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Victory in the ASD Classroom!

Here's my latest (and greatest!!!) post in the school sucks saga...

{shortest version possible: Little Bird was in the wrong program. I knew it. School district administration disagreed. I fought. The fought back. I fought some more. And even more. I think I won.}

Today is Thursday, so Little Bird has been in the new program for 4 days and so far, it's been an incredible change. She was in a mildly cognitively impaired class where she was largely nonverbal and having bathroom accidents almost daily. After an incredibly long fight, she was finally switched to an ASD program. I pulled up to the new school with some first day jitters. (Literally. My eye twitched the entire first day of school.) I pulled up and saw her and immediately looked at her pants to check if they were the same ones she went to school in. They were!! The teacher smiled and said, "it was a great day. she was very verbal and told us every time she had to use the bathroom." Ummm, are we talking about the same Bird? YES!

I'd wondered if when the teacher said she was "very verbal" she was comparing her to the other kids in the class (I'd been told they're mostly pretty quiet kiddos), but I realized that Little Bird being any kind of verbal was an improvement. Even though she has always been very chatty at home, she'd been largely nonverbal in the Mild CI room. So far, this is a huge improvement.

Everyone we've encountered in the new school has been awesome. The principal is totally on top of it all and really seems to get these kids. I'm sure it's incredibly helpful for the teachers and those who service the program to have that kind of support. As a parent, it sure does feel good!

All in all this is a WIN*

*you know, so far. I'm not exhaling completely just yet, but at least the twitch is gone.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Enchanted Photography Winner Is....

Last week was World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day and once again, I invited people to post pics of themselves wearing blue to show their acceptance of individuals on the spectrum.

Everyone who sent in photos was entered to win a mini-session with Enchanted Photography by Marla Michele!

Random.org has spoken and the winner of the FREE mini-session is...

The Tighe Family!!!

Visit Enchanted Photography's webpage to view some of her great work. Here's a beautiful moment she captured of my sweet Little Bird:

Friday, April 5, 2013

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yes, I Lit It Up Blue

Here's an asterisk to yesterday's post:

First of all, I didn't really Light It Up Blue since I didn't put a blue light bulb in front of my home. Partially because I don't have my own home, I live in an apartment. Also because I didn't want to have to buy something. Also because I was not in town during the big Light It Up Blue day. Still, I wore blue. I explained a bit about why I'd planned on it a few days before, but after reading so much negative rhetoric from people in the ASD community, I'm bringing it up again.

For me, wearing blue and encouraging others to do the same isn't about supporting a particular organization; it's not about an agenda to "cure" Autism; it's not about promoting certain kinds of research. It's about saying, Hey, I'm raising a kid with Autism, and as a result, life's not always easy for me, and it's certainly not easy for her. I'm not trying to change her. Rather, I'm trying to change the world around us- trying to help people understand the way she functions and why, so that they can help us make accommodations to make navigating the world a little bit easier. Each person who sent me a picture of him or herself wearing blue to show their awareness and acceptance for those living with Autism (including the parents raising kids on the spectrum) is part of my village. They're the people I am relying on to understand that there's nothing weird, crazy, dysfunctional, or unacceptable about my Little Bird.  I need that. I need them. I need to know that the world will be loving and safe for my girl.

Yes, Autism Speaks is behind the Light It Up Blue campaign and the World Autism Awareness Day stuff, too. It's also likely that the goal of the campaign is to raise money for their non-profit. You know, because that's what businesses do, whether they're for profit or not. Do I always agree with how Autism Speaks runs their business? No, but you know what? I bought some food at Whole Foods last week despite the fact that I'm uncomfortable with their CEO's outspoken disdain for Obama. Some of you might even be pro-choice but still order pizza from Domino's despite the fact that their founder contributes heavily to anti-abortion causes; or you might believe in equal human rights but still shop at Walmart despite the fact that they refuse to provide benefits to domestic partners except in states where it's required to by law.

There are many self-described Autistic Self-Advocates who resent the language that Autism Speaks uses, which can be interpreted as looking to "cure" something. As well, there appears to be no one with Autism on their board or in leadership positions within the organization. I get that.

I respect the Self-Advocates and their great work to remove the stigma of the Autism label and move toward a more inclusive, neuro-diverse environment. I am so grateful that there are adults with Autism who are willing to be so outspoken and to make a difference in the world around them. I also recognize that the spectrum is broad- so so so broad. While many Autistic Self-Advocates might share the same diagnosis as my daughter, many of them seem so different from my daughter. I hope that one day she, too, will be able to speak and/or type and express herself and her points of view, feelings, etc. But for now, she cannot. That's one of the many reasons I just don't feel like she and I (we are living this life together, after all) can relate to everyone in the Autism community- and that's okay, by the way. After all, that's what diversity is all about, isn't it? I do very much appreciate the work Autism Speaks has done to raise awareness about Autism and educate the public (read: those who aren't living with or raising someone with Autism).

So, thank you to everyone who joined me in raising some awareness for the fact that there are many different kinds of people with Autism in the world- many would say there are more today than ever before- children and adults alike who deserve to live in an accepting world. We don't all have to get along with each other, but we do have to get along. So, you know, let's just do that.

I'm not taking a stand with any one faction or movement or organization or group of people. I don't participate in the name-calling, blog-trolling, or in-fighting that goes on within the Autism community. Ain't nobody got time for that. For reals, though. I'm too busy raising a kid who has a tough time figuring out the world around her. Because that's that what Autism is like here in my home.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

World Autism Awareness/Acceptance Day 2013

Welcome to World Autism Awareness *and Acceptance* Day 2013!!!!!
Every year on April 2nd, people around the world wear blue to show their support, understanding, and acceptance for the Autism community. I invite friends I know and maybe don't know to show me their blue. I post them here and then feel super supported or something like that.  

Please send me a pic of YOU in BLUE to

TheRealDaniG (at) gmail (dot) com 
and then check back throughout the day to see your mugshot and more friendly faces in BLUE.  

Feel free to check out all the BLUE from 20102011, and 2012

**Don't forget!! Everyone who sends me a photo sporting their BLUE will be entered to win a FREE mini-session from Enchanted Photography by Marla Michele!  

Little Bird's Grandma 
Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bob

Logan and Nora

Michelle and Finley

The Bailey Family

Jacob (the bird's bf)


The Lovy Kids

Lainie's toes :)

Terri, Paige, and little Louie!


Connie's Boys!

Beth Ann

Jessica (and baby!!)


Tighe Family
Elizabeth and Daniel




Snoop with Lola (Lola always supports Autism Acceptance)

Aunt Kelli with Cousin Savannah and Baby Cousin Leoben Loki
Noah and Hannah!!!  

Marnie and Sparky!!


Lori (blue nails and everything!)

Chris and Sarah
Leah (and baby Pepperoni)
The Blumstein Kids

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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)