Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finished Is Way Better Than Perfect

Katelyn decided she wanted to make her boyfriend a quilt for Christmas. She has been asking me to teach her how, so this was a good reason to embark on the challenge. The process went remarkably well, except she is a perfectionist (which drove me crazy at times). Annie, a friend of mine, reassured me that it's long as Katelyn doesn't mind ripping out seams. Annie went on to say that quilters who are perfectionists are the ones who win prizes at quilt shows. If this is the case and Katelyn keeps up this hobby, she'll have blue ribbons all over the place! I was more worried about getting the project finished by Christmas Eve. I think finished is way better than perfect :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Old School

Sesame Street Old School is one of the things Cody got for Christmas this year. The volume above has three discs and is from years 1974-1979. Watching these episodes with Cody brings a feeling of nostalgia to me. I use to watch Sesame Street with my younger brothers in the 1970's, back when televisions had about five channels and remotes were unheard of.

I love that Sesame Street characters and scripts are humorous for adults, yet still fun and educational for children. Remember when Snuffleupagus was invisible? And how about Baba Wawa and Guy Smiley. I'd love to see Guy host Dancing with the Stars or Hollywood Squares instead of Tom Bergeron; his head is just as big and I'm sure he'd be more entertaining. And then there was John John. He was adorable!

Check out the trailer for Sesame Street Old School. If you think you may be interested in buying one or all of the DVD volumes, you can find them at Amazon or eBay.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"We've Got Eleven Games Coming Up."

Cody loves spending time at his grandma's house. He really likes playing with her Atari. (Remember my blog post 'Toys From Christmases Past'?) Anyway, Cody likes to chant, in order, the games that he will play on the Atari when he gets to grandma's house. Apparently he started doing this in the year 2001. It took us about seven years to figure out that he was adding a new game each year. Now that I look back, it seems like we were a bunch of dimwits for not catching on sooner, especially after seeing it in writing...

2001- Yars Revenge
2002- Yars Revenge and Kangaroo
2003- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, and Pac Man
2004- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, and Pit Fall
2005- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, and Grand Prix
2006- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, Grand Prix, and Donkey Kong
2007- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, Grand Prix, Donkey Kong, and Centipede
2008- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, Grand Prix, Donkey Kong, Centipede, and Asteroids
2009- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, Grand Prix, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Asteroids, and Stampede
2010- Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, Grand Prix, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Asteroids, Stampede, and Q-Bert

Now Cody's talking about 2011 and has added a new game. He says, "We've got eleven games coming up!" then he continues with...

"Yars Revenge, Kangaroo, Pac Man, Pit Fall, Grand Prix, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Asteroids, Stampede, Q-Bert, and Circus Atari."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Las Vegas Bellagio at Christmas

Don and I went to Las Vegas over Christmas break. While we were there, we went to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The Bellagio creates garden exhibits around holidays and seasons. Everything is created with plants, flowers, trees and other items from nature. The attention to detail is incredible. I've never seen so many Poinsettias in one place. It was magical and I loved every minute of it.

One penguin is holding and reading a set of igloo plans while another puts an ice block in place. Adorable.

Water sprayed from the tops of these huge, shiny ornaments.

Santa's reindeer wrapped up and around the Christmas tree. You can see in the following pictures...

Don thought the reindeer were made out of seashells. I thought they looked like some kind of nuts. It  really doesn't matter what they were made of; they were remarkable regardless!

Check out the ginormous ornaments hanging from the ceiling.

Poinsettias were everywhere.

Don and (what I like to think is) the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pointless Yuletide Trivia

1) What does Alvin the Chipmunk want for Christmas?
2) Where did there arise "such a clatter"?
3) Which reindeer is never mentioned in 'The Night Before Christmas'?
4) What brought Frosty the Snowman to life?
5) Which carol demands figgy pudding?
6) Other than green and red, what are the two most popular Christmas colors?
7) In 'A Charlie Brown Christmas', what does Lucy want for Christmas?
8) To get back up the chimney, what does Santa have to do?
9) In Disney's 'The Santa Claus' with Tim Allen, Hot Cocoa is not stirred but________.
10) Who wrote 'A Christmas Carol'?


1) Hoola Hoop
2) On the lawn
3) Rudolph
4) A Magic Hat
5) We Wish You a Merry Christmas
6) Silver and Gold
7) Real Estate
8) Lay a finger aside of his nose and give a nod
9) Shaken
10) Charles Dickens

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grandma's Cheese Ball

2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1- 8 ounce package Velveeta cheese
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated finely
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 teaspoon, Worcestershire sauce
ground pecans
parsley flakes

Combine the cheeses in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature until soft enough to work with. Add grated onion and Worcestershire sauce. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine nuts and parsley flakes and set aside.

When the cheese's are soft enough to work with, mix (with your hands) until well blended. and shape into balls. Roll in the nut/parsley mixture, wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator. Let set overnight before serving.

Makes 3 or 4 balls.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gooey Chex Mix (i.e. Christmas Crack)

Mix in a large bowl-

1/2 package Golden Grahams cereal
1/2 package Rice Chex cereal
1/2 package Corn Chex cereal
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Boil the following ingredients for 2 minutes and pour over cereal mixture:

1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sick and Homeless at Christmas

A few years ago, just before Christmas, I found out that a child in my Kindergarten class was living at the Care and Share, a place in town that takes in homeless people. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I had met the little girl's mother and sister and they didn't have the appearance of being homeless or poor.

What I didn't realize about the Care and Share, until this time, was their rule stating that those staying at the facility had to be out of the building by 8:00 a.m. No exceptions. This was quite a burden for the mother and her young daughters.

About a week before Christmas, the little girl in my class got very sick; running a temperature too high for her to come to school. Since they had no place to go, her mother did the only thing she could think of. She took her sick child to a store and lay her in a shopping cart so she could sleep; pushing it all the while until it was late enough in the day that they could go back to the facility they called home.

That particular experience causes me to reflect upon the many blessings my family has that often go unnoticed; such as having a warm, comfortable home, a bed to curl up in when we are not feeling well, and an abundance of food and clothing.

Marelisa Fábrega said the following:

“Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations."

I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Dupery

Students and staff at the Oregon School for the Blind put on a Christmas program every year for their families. It was always an evening performance and afterwards parents were allowed to take their children home for the holiday break (nearly all the students, including Cody, stayed in dorms during the week and went home on weekends).

Cody was really good on the piano. His music teacher, Mr. Mendro, had an incredible gift of teaching visually impaired people. Naturally, Cody was expected to play a song or two as part of the program.

Even though our family looked forward to attending each December, we had one dilemma (there usually is a hang up of some kind where Cody is concerned). Cody refused to perform if he knew we were in the audience. Don and I made this mistake only once and quickly learned that in order for everyone to enjoy watching him play, in his cute little suit and tie I might add, we had to sneak into the auditorium. We could give no hugs, kisses or words of encouragement to Cody beforehand like other parents were able to do with their children. It was only after everyone performed that we could make our presence known.

 Oh! The things we resort to for the sake of Autism :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Brainteasers

The DJ on the radio this morning was playing a game he called "Christmas Realist". He described a realist as a person who would take it literally if someone said "I'd let him eat crackers in my bed any day." or "I've got a lot on my plate." or "Who let the dogs out?"

The DJ read a Christmas song title the way a "realist" might say it and if you knew the answer, you could call in and win a prize. For example: The DJ said " Adorn the Rooms" and a caller answered with "Deck the Halls". Follow?

As I was listening, I thought, "Hey. This is how Cody communicates!" Everything is a guessing game with him. (Too bad I was driving my car at the time. I could've totally kicked butt with all the experience he's given me.)

I decided right then and there that I wanted to blog about this. There's got to be other "Autism mom's and dad's" who are good at this! some of the song titles the radio station used with a few "Codyisms" thrown in:

1) Higher on the Dwelling Peak
2) Zilch Holiday Ash
3) Left in a Trough
4) Frigid the Flurry Guy
5) "I'm excited to see Ho, Ho, Ho!"
6) "Did you get dust up your nose?"
7) Rattle Chimes
8) Elation to the Earth
9) "I will listen to Along Comes a Woman on if it doesn't run out of batteries."
10) Zero Divine Darkness
11) "Don't let the bumble in."
12) Kris Kringle Infant


1) Up on the Housetop
2) O Christmas Tree
3) Away in a Manger
4) Frosty the Snowman
5) "I'm excited to see Santa Claus!"
6) "Did you sneeze?"
7) Jingle Bells
8) Joy to the World
9) 'I will listen to Chicago on my iPod."
10) O Holy Night
11) "Don't let the bee in."
12) Santa Baby

Please leave a comment and let me know me how well you did, even if you don't have a child with Autism :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nineteen Years Ago

My daughter celebrates her 19th birthday today. Here are some of the things that happened in 1991, the year she was born.

The Internet was made available for unrestricted use and the number of computers on the net reached one million.

Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album with the hit single Smells Like Teen Spirit was most popular and signified the start of the Grunge era, which dominated the music scene up to the mid 90's.

Along with Nirvana, the most popular musicians were Pearl Jam, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Guns N' Roses, Gloria Estefan, Boys 2 Men and Garth Brooks.

Home Improvement premiered on television.

Britney Spears appeared on Starsearch.

The New York Giants won Superbowl XXV.

The most popular movies were Hook, The Silence of the Lambs, Father of the Bride, Sleeping with the Enemy, Beauty and the Beast, Backdraft and Beethoven.

Happy Birthday Katelyn! This is for you...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dirty Deed or Hilarious Hoax?

Sometimes Cody gets in trouble at his Day Program for tripping people or laughing at others when they sneeze or cough. I must admit that I felt better when I read Lynn's blog post,  Fight! Fight! Fight! Bite! Bite! Bite!: The Itchy & Scratchy & Audrey Show at  . Lynn revealed that her daughter also thinks it's amusing when people get hurt. It's nice to know that Cody is not alone in this socially unacceptable behavior.

I received a phone call this afternoon from an employee at the Day Program. (I cringe when their number comes up on caller ID). She informed me that Cody now thinks it's funny to take the soap dispenser off the bathroom wall. Apparently it's loose, so he removes it then laughs his butt off about it.

Cody would not do this kind of thing at home; he knows that we wouldn't put up with it. So.....the only idea I had for them was to tell Cody if he does it again, he has to call and talk to me on the phone. He won't want to hear my "angry" voice on the other end, so I really think this particular behavior will stop. At least I hope so but I never hold my breath where Cody is concerned :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's the Difference?

Every December my husband's place of employment holds a Christmas Party. The crew and their spouses get together for socialization, food and a gift exchange. Some years we have a Chinese Gift Exchange while other years it's White Elephant. Now for those of you who may be wondering what the difference is, let me explain...

At a Chinese Gift Exchange, everyone brings something new with a set maximum price. All of the gifts are arranged in a central area and each person is given a paper with a number on it. To begin the exchange, the person who drew #1 picks a gift and unwraps it. #2 can either take #1's gift, or pick a wrapped gift. The exchange continues consecutively, each person being able to take a gift from any previous exchangers, or a new wrapped gift. If your gift gets taken, you can then take a new wrapped gift, or take someone else's, but not the one that was taken away from you. The exchange continues in this manner until everyone has a gift.

A White Elephant Gift Exchange is played pretty much the same way except instead of bringing a new gift, you must bring something used that you have laying around the house. For example: a half-burned scented candle, worn out pair of flip-flops or a crocheted Ball Warmer (Yes, you read it right and it's exactly what you think it is. My husband got this at a party one year and gave it away the next).

Anyway, last night I ended up with this...

A few of the other gifts exchanged were a Bass Fish truck hitch, package of flashlights, Christmas home decor, bracelet and a Marshmallow Shooter with marshmallows.

As far as I am concerned, I got a good deal :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Question- This is a Place Where Cody Hums to Relieve Stress. Answer- What is the Dentist Office?

Cody went to the dentist for his six month check up and cleaning today. It's not his favorite thing to do, but really, who actually enjoys it? Thank goodness we have a dentist with the patience of a saint. And his hygienist is just as patient, probably more so since she spends the most amount of time in Cody's mouth.

When Cody was younger, around six years old, he had to be put to sleep for dental work that required numbing and it took two of us just to hold him down while the dentist, Dr. Lax, merely looked in his mouth. (This was discovered when I was holding Cody's arms and he figured out he could use his legs to kick Dr. Lax in the head!)

After we moved and became patients of Dr. Denos, Cody found a way to cope with his much dreaded check-ups; he hums the Jeopardy theme music the ENTIRE time someone is poking around in his mouth. Whatever it takes, right?

This is what Cody says DENTIST stands for...

N-no singing Jeopardy loud
T- teeth
I- inside
S- surprise

Saturday, December 11, 2010

La La La La Life Goes On

I was skimming throught the channels on Sirius Radio this morning, trying to find something Cody might enjoy listening to, when I came across the old Beatles song 'Ob-la-di Ob-la-da'. My thoughts automatically went back to the early '90's and the television program 'Life Goes On'. Anybody remember it? I loved it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hot Cockles Anyone?

Would you like some new game ideas to play this Christmas season at social gatherings and family get-togethers? Well, I've found two great party games from between the 16th and 19th centuries for you try this year!

The first one is a game called Hot Cockles, which involves placing your blindfolded head in someone’s lap while guessing who is hitting you from behind. It used to be a wonderful Christmas pastime.

The second one, Snap-dragon, was another popular game from that era. It was played during the winter, particularly on Christmas Eve. In this game, Brandy was heated and placed in a wide shallow bowl; raisins were placed in the brandy which was then set on fire. Typically, lights were dimmed to increase the eerie effect of the blue flames playing across the liquor. The aim of the game was to pluck the raisins out of the burning brandy and eat them, at the risk of being burnt.

Don't these games sound like loads of fun? Why sit around playing modern games like Mad Gab and Scattergories when you can liven things up a bit!

Now, the only thing I ask is if any of you really try playing either of these games during the Christmas season, please let me be the first to know:)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How the Cat Stole Christmas

Jill is my best friend. You may be thinking "What? Her best friend isn't her husband?" Well, let me explain. He's just not the same kind of best friend. More than likely, only those of you with life-long best friends can understand. Jill and I were inseparable growing up. Even though we have lived in different states, miles and miles apart for many years, when we do get together there is no "warming up" or getting "re-acquainted". It's as if nothing at all has changed.      

I tell you this because I was pondering December blog topics, trying to remember if I had any bad Christmas memories. I couldn't think of any, other than occasionally being sick with the flu and whatnot. However, I remembered my friend having one very sad Christmas growing up. Jill came from a large family and all she asked for that particular year was a bird. When Christmas day came, Jill called me on the telephone and tried her best not to cry as she told me Santa had indeed brought her a bird. BUT...her cat ate it that morning! At first I thought she was joking, but she was dead serious (no pun intended).

I wonder if she has ever shared that memory with her children? If she hasn't, she should :)

Friendship Royalty Free Stock Images - Image: 22061629
Photo Credit-

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toys From Christmases Past

I was a little girl in the 1970's and these are a few of the toys I remember getting from Santa Claus...

Stay Alive
Talking Baby Tender Love
Incredible Edibles
Malibu Barbie (and Skipper and PJ and Ken)

Barbie Camper/ Motorhome

Paper Dolls

Gnip Gnop

Great memories!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Temple Grandin/ A Must Watch for Every Parent of an Autistic Child!

Katelyn's friend Bo had to watch this movie for one of his college classes, so he brought it over last night. We LOVED it and I couldn't wait to share!

Half-Hearted Gingerbread House

I asked the kids to make me a gingerbread house this year.

The two of them came home with a Gingerbread Village Kit.

They started out liking the project, then soon became tired.

This is what they came up with.

(Not exactly what I had in mind.)

I was picturing something more like this...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Merry Christmas Versus Happy Holidays

Political correctness is filtering its way into our lives to the point that we have to censor ourselves less we offend someone. People who work in retail, among others, are told they must replace "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" when interacting with customers.

During the month of December, I celebrate Christmas, not the holidays. I have never wrapped holiday gifts, don't hang holiday lights, never put up a holiday tree. I don't prepare and serve a holiday dinner and I have never read "Twas The Night Before the Holiday". My family and I celebrate Christmas.

If I happen to wish someone a "Merry Christmas", and they don't celebrate like I do, why be offended? I don't go around wishing people "Merry Christmas" just to tick them off, and it shouldn't be taken that way.

When other people celebrate a religious holiday according to their beliefs, I don't get offended. In fact, I admire that they have devotion to their religion. If someone were to wish me "Happy Hanukkah", I wouldn't feel insulted, even though it is not my faith. And if someone has no spiritual beliefs, why not at least be at peace with Christians who are celebrating joy and happiness, without getting all worked up?

I, for one, will not be wishing anybody "Happy Holidays", this year as I celebrate Christmas. If, by chance, you don't celebrate Christmas, a simple "thank you" will suffice for me wishing you peace and goodwill. Please just smile back, nod politely and we can go our separate ways.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brain Strain

Here's a little encouragement for my daughter and other students feeling the stress of finals at this time of year...

"Higher education trains your mind to feel good later by making it feel terrible now."      
Alan Harris

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
vanilla frosting of your choice
small candies of choice (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from refrigerator and leave in bowl for approximately 1 hour before rolling out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters and place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350* for 8 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Decorate as desired.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Traumatized Tree

Chase holding his cousin, Kayden
Nov. 2010
This is Chase, my second son. He is three years younger than Cody (my son with disabilities), but took on the older brother role early in life. Chase was my easiest child (with the exception of having colic during his first three months). He was obedient, happy, kind and anxious to please. Chase was four years old when I was pregnant with Casey, son number three. I had morning sickness around the clock and Chase would entertain himself by playing Legos, putting together puzzles, coloring, and watching Sesame Street or Pee Wee's Playhouse (I know. I know.) Yep. He was pretty much my angel child.....except for one incident that occurred when he was around six years old.

The month was December, and Don and I had taken the boys to one of many Christmas Tree Farms in Oregon. That year we picked out a Noble Fir and even paid extra money to have it flocked. Sometime, after we decorated the tree but before Christmas, I was persuaded to have a Tupperware Party at my house. I remember afterward, as we were cleaning up, my husband walked into the room, stood right in front of the beautiful, decorated Christmas tree and preceded to make conversation with me and the Tupperware lady. Out of nowhere, Chase walked up to his dad as if he wanted to ask him something, and pushed him! Don was caught completely off guard. He lost his balance and fell backward into the tree. Ornaments and flocked snow went flying everywhere. We were flabbergasted to say the least! (Don was also mad as hell.)

To this day, Chase cannot give us an answer as to why he pushed his dad into the tree. Our angel child was temporarily possessed :) I do wish we would've had it on film. In those days, I could have sent it to America's Funniest Home Videos. I'm sure Bob Sagget would have loved narrating that moment in time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twas an Autism Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house

The creatures were stirring

Yes, even the mouse

We tried melatonin

And gave a hot bath

Asleep early for Christmas? unlikely path

The children were finally

All nestled in bed

When visions of Christmas

Ran through my OWN head

Did I get the right gift?

The right color and style?

Would there be a blank stare

Or even, maybe, a smile?

Friends & family come

But they don't understand

The pleasure he gets

Just from bending his hands.

"Just make him stop it," some say

"Just tell him "no",

You must learn to be tough.."

On, and on they do go...

We smile and nod

Because we know deep inside

The debate is moot

Let them all take a side

We know what it's like

To live with the spectrum

The struggles and triumphs

Achievements, regressions

But what some don't know

And what some don't see

Is the joy that we feel

Over simplicity.

He said "hello"!

He ate something green!

He looked me in my eyes

He did not cause a scene!

He peed on the potty!

Who cares if he's ten;

He stopped saying the same thing

Again and again!"

Some others don't realize

Just how we can cope

How we bravely hang on

At the end of our rope

But what they don't see

Is the joy we can't hide

When our children with autism

Make the tiniest stride

We may look at others

Without the problems we face

With envy, with wonder,

Or even distaste,

What we want them to know

What's important to see

Is that children with autism

Bring simplicity.

We don't get excited

Over expensive things

We jump for joy

With the progress work brings

Children with autism

Try so hard every day

That they make us proud

More than words can say.

They work even harder

Than you or I

To achieve something small

To reach a star in the sky

So to those who don't get it

Or can't get a clue

Take a walk in our shoes

And I'll assure you…

That even 10 minutes

Into the walk

You'll look at us all

With respect, even shock.

You will realize

What it is we go through

And the next time you see us

I can assure you

That you won't say a thing

You'll be quiet and learn,

Like the years I learned too

When the tables were turned."

This poem was written by Terri Kinne, mother of a child with Autism.
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