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.

Friday, May 31, 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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Little Bird, Big Impact


Recently, Shalom Sesame's Word of the Day is "Gibor" (or in English, "hero").

Little Bird's Hebrew name is Giborah. When I gave her that name, I had no idea how beautifully she'd grow into it- and at such a young age. She has made such an incredible impact on so many people's lives. Some as simple as learning that fingers in the ears can be for comfort, not just because something is too loud; Other ways by influencing teachers and others to go into special education or get ASD certifications to teach that population. She's also shown many people all the beautiful things that can happen when you try try try.

It's astonishing that she can do half of what she can do with the very very very low tone she's working with. She couldn't move for the first year and a half of her life. But she was determined and she worked. Hard. She couldn't get the words out for many years, but she worked hard and today even when she can't find the words, she has very little trouble helping you understand.

So, while I had always known I wanted my daughter to feel fierce and strong and able (especially on the inside) like a hero, and I picked her name to reflect that, I never expected that she'd be the one to teach me a thing or two about heroism.

Halloween 2009 


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learning to skateboard using ABA!

I just read a great story about a great place in Las Vegas. Sport-Social is a fairly new company that serves 200+ kids with Autism by teaching them social skills through games and sports. The owner's idea behind the facility is that if kids gain confidence in a sport or activity, they are more likely to become more social. Last month when I saw Temple Grandin speak, she emphasized (like she always does), the importance of helping our kids find and interest and then find outlets for being social that are tied to those interests. What an incredible idea.

Andrew Devitt, who started Sport-Social, wanted to use ABA-type therapy to teach kids to skateboard, scooter, and ride bikes. He even gives kids prizes for using common kid language like, "dude" and "sick" (ed note: 'sick' means cool). It's important to help our kids find ways to blend in so that they feel more confident. I'm not talking about making them be something other than who they are, I'm talking about giving them chances to find interests and form friendships around those interests.

Sadly, last month the facility was burned down. Seven separate fires were set- yes, set- by a "rogue" employee of another facility aimed at working with kids on the spectrum. While there is some insurance coverage, it's only enough to cover about half the damages.

They're currently up for a $100,000 grant which would help them fund their programming and make a huge difference in the lives of kids with ASD. Voting is open! Visit http://ves.to/sport-social/ for more info.

Dude, it'd be totally sick for you to help them make this happen! (did I sound cool there, or what??!)



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tasty Tuesday


Parmesan Garlic Quinoa (amazing!!!)
Candied Walnuts
Candied walnuts are so easy to make (in the slow cooker!) and are a great treat to add to salads, on top of pancakes, vanilla ice cream, and even just to snack on here and there. 

Candied Walnuts
2 C shelled half walnuts
1/4 C brown sugar
2 T butter (or vegan substitute)
Throw it all into the slow cooker on high for one hour. Stir it up in all its gooey glory, then carefully pour onto parchment paper for about 15 minutes while the nuts cool. Enjoy!




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tasty Tuesday

Cinnamon Applesauce
I hide so many supplements for Little Bird in applesauce, that she calls this dish "cinnamon applesauce medicine".
Cinnamon Applesauce in the slow cooker
4 apples (Granny smith are great. I like honey crisp, too) peeled, cored, cut into fourths
1/3 C sugar
1/2 C apple juice (I love using fresh cider during cider mill season)
1 T butter (or alternative)
1/2 t cinnamon

Throw it all into the slow cooker on high for about 2 hours. Mash up the apples to whatever consistency you like. Enjoy!


Red Beans & Rice

Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup (i'm disappointed the picture sucks)
5 carrots sliced, salted, and roasted at 400 for 30 minutes (turn them over 1/2 way through). Cut them up, place in blender and slowly add 2 cans of broth (I use vegetable). Heat it up on the stove. So easy, healthy, and comforting.

hummus arugula wrap
I get into these grooves of finding something I love to eat and then eating it every day for weeks. Until I get sick of that and I move on. This wrap is my thing right now. Tortilla, hummus (I'm into roasted red pepper hummus right now), arugula, cherry tomatoes, cashews. Roll it up, and it's a delicious, easy-to-eat-with-one-hand (sometimes necessary) vegan lunch.

Peanut Butter and Jam

Little Bird was throwing a tantrum trying to decide what she wanted for lunch, and I was throwing out way too many options and one of them was a PB&J sandwich. I totally expected her to say no, like she had to every other idea I'd offered. I had some PB in the cupboard and some strawberry jelly in the fridge (both store bought). She ate the whole thing. If this is something she'd be willing to eat, I'll gladly make her more. So, I did the most logical thing I could think of... made strawberry jam and peanut butter from scratch. Both delicious! 

Peanut Butter
1 C peanuts (I go for raw, unsalted)
2.5 T sunflower oil
1/2 t salt (or whatever, to taste)
honey (ditto, to taste)
All in a blender until it's smooth. Drizzle in more oil or honey if your consistency is off.







Monday, May 20, 2013

It Could've Been My Kid

Have you ever been in the grocery store or the mall with your child and in a split second you turn around to discover that your kid isn't right there two steps behind you anymore? I know you have. I have. We all have. It happened to me last week. My heart leapt into my throat, I stiffened. My blood pressure rose and I could feel the cortisol begin to pump through my veins. I called out to Bird. Started rushing around the aisles. It'd been seconds but felt like hours. I called out again. This time she answered, "I'm here. Here I am." I exhaled. She's verbal. Thank gd she's verbal today. Your typically developing child likely is, too. But if you're raising a school- aged child with autism in the us, like 1 in 50 of us is, yours might not be verbal. Fear. Panic. 


Have you ever heard of Mikaela Lynch? How about Owen Black? Drew Howell? They all had Autism and they all wandered away from their families one way or another and were all later found dead. They were all somebody's baby.  If you have a child with Autism, you probably already know this. You probably followed their stories and refreshed the pages constantly just hoping for an update with good news. Did you know this is actually a fairly common thing in the Autism world? This happens all the time. ALL THE TIME. It's one of the very worst nightmares of those of us raising autistic kids. Every time we hear somebody's child is missing, we feel it as if it were our own. We feel that fear, that increased heart rate, that panic. We want to join the search crews, hug the parents, and find that baby safe and sound. 


A few years ago, I got Little Bird an ID bracelet. Her speech is still very unclear and back then she might've tried to tell you her name, but there's very little chance a stranger would have any idea what she was saying. 

Here are some other great resources for keeping our kids a little bit safer:
ID Tags Online
Tattoos With A Purpose
National Autism Association's Big RED Safety Toolkit 

Those of us in the Autism community are hyper-aware and follow these stories with great interest. There has ben a beautiful outpouring of love for the families affected by these tragedies. Unfortunately, there have also been some very negative comments, some very irresponsible "reporting" and a whole lot of judging of the parents. Please remember that these were peoples' babies. They were loved and cared for and will be forever missed. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

School Doesn't Suck Anymore

Here's a pretty overdue update on the school situation (formerly known as the school sucks saga). Little Bird has been in the ASD classroom for 5 full weeks now and ohmygod I can't even believe how much she's thriving. She's happy and seems very comfortable there. In the first couple of weeks, both her new teacher and the new speech therapist informed me that we'd need to meet to establish new goals because she'd already been able to demonstrate her ability to accomplish the ones previously set. Yes! I always knew she could perform these tasks set up for her, but she wasn't doing them in the old placement. That was one of the biggest reasons I knew she was in the wrong place- she wasn't able to do the things I knew she could do; she wasn't able to be herself.

I have written before about feeling like she wasn't wanted in the classroom and feeling like I was going to throw up every time I drove to the school to pick her up. I don't have those feelings anymore. I DON'T HAVE THOSE FEELINGS ANYMORE!!!! Amazing. 

In fact, just this week I asked her teacher if she felt like this was a good fit and without missing a beat, she said, "Yes! I love having {bird} in my class!" How fabulous. There are 6 kids in the class, one teacher and two paras. Bird spends a lot of time in the general ed class doing the calendar and talking about the daily schedule, as well as reading and science. She also goes to a gym, art, and music class with them. Of course, the big difference is that in the ASD program, kids mainstream with support and the Mild CI kids went on their own (because they could). Since Bird couldn't mainstream alone, it was a huge barrier to her success in that environment. Now, it's alllllll happening!!!

Yes, there have been a few accidents at school. Yes, she gets overwhelmed and shy when typically developing peers call her name and say hi. Yes, she's had to leave the general ed setting a time or two for not being able to sit and pay attention, following rules. Still, she feels way more comfortable in her skin than she did before. She likes going to school and she likes the other kids in her class. She likes the therapists and the teachers. She can tell that I feel so much better, too. This is a WIN all around. 

Now, obviously the school year is almost over. But, she'll remain in this program and in this classroom next year. The groundwork is laid and she's comfortable in this building and in this setting. So, I'm really hoping that next year will be an awesome year for her. Of course I'll just obsess over that all summer long....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tasty Tuesday

We made sushi! 



We used cucumbers, sweet potatoes, avocados, cream cheese, and made crab salad too!



Slow Cooker Artichokes

Asian Slaw
Asian Slaw is one of Little Bird's Favorite things. 
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2T sesame seeds
4 sticks green onion chopped
1 pkg ramen noodles
1/4 C vegetable oil
2T sugar
1t salt
3T apple cider vinegar
1 package finely shredded slaw

Toast almonds and sesame seeds. In a large bowl, combine slaw, noodles, onions, seeds/almonds.
Dressing: mix together oil, sugar, salt, vinegar.

Lemony Orzo
Lemony Orzo is an easy, delicious side dish to accompany just about anything. 
1 Lemon
1 C orzo
1T olive oil
2 scallions thinly sliced

Use a vegetable peeler to peel 1/2 lemon (avoid white pith), them thinly slice the peel. Squeeze 2T lemon juice, set aside. Bring large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and lemon peel. Cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot. Add lemon juice, oil, scallions. Toss to combine. Yum.


And now, for desert...

Personal Rice Krispies Treats

A bird and her Rice Krispies Treat
Got this quick and easy recipe from my extraordinary friend Marnie D, who always finds great recipes for tasty and easy GF/CF foods.
1/2 Tablespoon of butter (or alternative- I've used coconut spread)
2-3 marshmallows
1/2 C Rice Krispies (they make GF ones, you know)

Melt butter in microwave. Add marshmallows to melted butter (about 7 seconds per marshmallow). Add cereal immediately and mix it up. That's it. No, really. That's it! YUM!
(Marnie, did I do that right?!)

Friday, May 10, 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


Friday, May 3, 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

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