Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The snow in these pictures was a lovely distraction. The kids had a nice time playing in it. It wasn't a wet snow though, so despite his best efforts, Tigger couldn't get it to form into a snowman. :D We also had today's history lesson distraction--we watched the inauguration. Pooh loves history so he enjoyed watching.

Here is a little of their early morning adventures: (Pooh said they were shipwrecked on Antarctica.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

1/19/09 Menu Plan

I'm still at it! Can you believe it? It must be good, if I'm actually sticking with it. (Being easy to do helps too. ;D)

This week I'm laying out the plan first and will give a few comments afterward. Here goes:

B-French Toast Casserole
L-Chicken Sandwich or wrap
D-Shepard's Pie

D-Salmon burgers/roasted veggies

B-Leftover french casserole
L-tuna sandwiches

B-Crockpot Oatmeal
S-Rice cakes with pb
D-Black beans/rice

L-pb &j
S-cookies/hot tea

Last week we ended up having a leftover night on Wednesday which pushed the lamb to Thursday. So, tonight it's lamb taquitos by the King and I've moved the Shepard's Pie to tomorrow. With the menu planning it's easy to see and use leftovers and make needed adjustments.

My goal would be eventually to get all prep work done for the each day the night before. This would cut down on having to think so much in the morning of how to schedule in food prep for the day. Who wants to think about preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner at 8 o'clock in the morning? For instance, I would love to be able to do the following tonight:

Put chicken in fridge to thaw for Wednesday's Gumbo
Prep the French toast casserole so all I have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning.
Get chicken salad prepared for tomorrow's sandwiches.
Prep potatoes-wash, peel, cook, mash for tomorrow's pie.

I'll probably only get two out of the four done realistically. I also have 3 heads of hair to cut tonight. AND tonight is PBS's version of Wuthering Heights on Masterpiece Theater. I'm a bit of a Masterpiece Theater addict. I love how they've done all the Jane Austen novels lately. I think I managed to videotape all of them. (Satisfied sigh.....) AND I'm seriously behind in the laundry area. That's what happens when I cut down on watching a TV show before I go to bed, I forget to do the laundry. Eeeeek! Guess I need a new system for that! Yes, I'll be doing laundry while watching Wuthering Heights. LOL

Off to eat Taquitos!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Picture for Posterity

Tigger had a bump. A very Big Bump this week. This picture ended up highlighting it well once I switched it to Sepia view. You see that nice goose egg on his forehead???

We went ice skating. That should say it all. However, I will give you a few extra details. We went with a group of homeschoolers and I was happily talking with a few of the moms. I did have my skates on just in case I needed to help one of the boys on the ice or they needed me to take a turn with them, whatever. So, somebody suddenly gets our attention and then I heard it--Tigger yelling and crying. I sat with him for maybe about 5 minutes. The whole time he told me he hit his nose. "Um, ok, nose looks good, no blood. You're good to go." Off he skates for another 30 minutes before it was time to leave. (I'm not one of those moms that freaks out at that kind of stuff. Of course if his leg had come off, that might be a different matter.....)

As we're leaving he informs me he feels a bump on his head. It's under his bang area. I look and "Good Grief!" He may have hit his nose too, but what really hit was obviously the kid's forehead. What's that all about???? What you see in the picture is a little less of what I saw. By that time, it had actually gone down a little. We applied the ice pack I had packed for our snacks. He even walked through Lowes Foods carrying it before we got back to the house.

And, as a good mommy should, I Googled "goose eggs on forehead" and got back very helpful information to make sure he didn't have any major brain injury. ;D

Tigger tends to be our accident prone child due to his being so 'bouncy'. The bump is actually in the same spot that as a toddler he went diving off a couch and was stabbed in the forehead by a plastic spiderman finger. That should have had a couple of stitches but me, being a Dr-phobe, applied butterfly bandaids. The spiderman deal was not on my watch by the way. LOL I actually arrived at the sitter's house as it happened. You can imagine my joy to come in when blood was spurting out of his forehead. Sigh...... That's nothing though compared to the poor kid's hand after riding on a homemade go-kart. Another story, another day. Did I mention he was accident prone???

(Yes, that's the Latin King in the picture. Now you know what he looks like!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Keeping Warm and Saving Pennies

It's the coldest here it's been in 4 years. Tonight's low is expected to be around 9F. Yep, single digits. What's an ex-Florida girl to do???

Prepare lots and lots of hot drinks. Hot cocoa, hot tea, hot SoyFee, even hot water with lemon added.

I mentioned before about how we're trying to cut back on power usage by keeping our house temperatures a bit lower. 64F is chilly to me! Anyway, the way I've figured things is, if the temps are in the 50's or above, we heat the house using our baseboard heaters in the basement only. (We have a split-level with a half-basement.) The heat rising thing keeps the whole house reasonably warm. If the temps are below 50F, then we crank up our kerosene heater and turn off the baseboards. My last power bills shows our usage down from last year by $.88 a day, potentially saving $26 per month. This is all, of course, subjective seeing as how I haven't analyzed the difference in daily temps from last year. However, I love still being able to see a 'credit' on my power bill. We pay equal monthly payments and have a settle up month in August. Usually, we get money back. I'm always aiming for as much money as I can get back. I also try to delay putting in our window AC units for as long as possible in the summer. I usually break down and demand them to be put in instantly by mid-June. :D I just can't sleep when I'm hot.

The 'No Flushing' is still going strong in our house. We're down 5 cu ft per day from last year this time. I didn't have to pay the water bill this month because I make equal monthly payments to them too throughout the year so I don't end up with a whopper of a bill in the summer months when watering the garden. This year I hope to be able to get some rain barrels installed to off-set any drought periods. A dear friend let us have theirs when they had to move. They are just used soap barrels from a car wash, but we're re-purposing them into rain barrels. Here's a great document showing how to do it. (it's a pdf)

I promised some pics of my greenhouse and while it's still a bit of a mess inside and out, here they are:

If you look towards the back, you can see a one white and one blue barrel. These will be the rain barrels. We have a total of seven.

I'll have to make sure and take pics in the summer when there are actually things growing around here. LOL

This is the baker's cart/rack that we got for free. The King then made several 'shelves' with wood and wire that can hold trays of seedlings or plant pots. I wish this picture were better because the King did an absolutely fabulous job on these! I was soooo impressed! (What can I say? I'm easy to please. ;D)

Radishes, brussel sprouts, cukes and cabbage are up. Some other things either aren't going to come up or are just taking their sweet time.

Lettuce that will continue to grow in this window box for fresh winter time salads. (I hope! This is the first year of trying it.)

Going along with the "Keeping Warm" theme, this is how I keep the greenhouse warm enough to grow stuff. I open the basement window and have a regular fan on low to pull warm air from the house into the greenhouse at night. It can get turned around during sunny days to pull warm air from the greenhouse into the basement. The greenhouse can easily heat to 90F-100F on very sunny days where the outside temps are in the 50's-60's. Even today with the outside temp at 28F for a high!, the greenhouse heated up to about 70F.

I also placed a space heater at the window for nights like tonight. It will need that extra boost of heat to keep it above 40F.

Sorry for the quality of the photos. I have a dinky digital camera that was a freebie from the phone company when I signed up for something a couple of years ago. I'm planning on a newer one, hopefully in the next couple of months. One where the batteries last for more than 30 pictures and where automatic picture taking will really automatically adjust the light and everything. I just don't have time to mess with a bunch of controls. If anyone has any suggestions for under $150, let me know!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

1/12/09 Menu Plan

Ok, on to week 2 of using a menu plan!! Last week was terrific and made my life so much easier. As one commenter pointed out, the menu plan helps in actually making stuff ahead of time so it's ready and there's no last minute stress on getting things together. The boys continued to be ruled by the planner for the whole week, so hardly any complaining. Which, frankly, is a minor miracle as far as I'm concerned.

I'm currently suffering from a very congested head so I hope that my current plan doesn't fall apart in actually doing it. We'll just have to see. I'm not thinking the clearest right now. I do know that Monday's snack #2 will be on the road. Wednesday I plan on taking leftover drumsticks, carrots and the granola bars with us on the road for munching, but also know that we will be hitting McD's in the afternoon due to several errands I'm running that day (and i'm meeting someone there so pretty much have to plan a meal there ;D).

Last week's make-aheads included getting the crock pot going the night before for the oatmeal, leftover homemade bread for the french toast casserole, preparing the tuna salad sandwiches while preparing breakfast so they were ready for our lunch out (same day as the nature walk---that worked out wonderfully well!), and muffins made ahead of time. Also, I'm able to see what needs to be thawed from the freezer in plenty of time to use it and marinate if I so desire.

This week I'll make ahead bread, muffins, thaw bagels for Friday's breakfast, thaw this week's meat. Pancakes are already made for tomorrow's breakfast.

Here's the outline for this week:

L-pb & j sandwiches
S-cheese n crackers
D-bratwurst, cabbage, potatoes, salad

B-hot cereal
L-tuna sandwiches
D-chicken drumsticks/veggie/rice

L-eat out
S-granola bars
D-lamb shoulder/rice/veggie/salad

B-eggs/bacon/english muffins
L-hot dogs
S-rice cakes/pb
D-shepards pie

B-bagels/cream cheese
L-cheese tortillas
S-hot tea/biscotti or cookie

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

The boys are in the bath and Tigger yells, "Can we have a bubble bath?"

I yell back “No!”

Tigger then talking to Pooh about the situation of not having a bubble bath.

Pooh says: Mommy says no”

Tigger: Well, mommy is crazy a lot.”

Pooh: Yes, sometimes mommy is crazy”

Mommy “Sigh…..”

Get in Gear for .......Birds!

That's right everyone. It's already time to start thinking about this year's Great Backyard Bird Count. The dates are February 13-16. I'm going to start now getting the boys in gear by having them do at least one 15 minute bird watch each week. This will help us to get a bit of a refresher in identifying our birds. I will also be teaching them as we go along some of the rules of the count. For instance, that we only count birds in multiples in one shot. This means that if you see two cardinals at the same time you can count two. However, if you see a cardinal, it flies away and then 'another' one comes, you still can only count one cardinal. Make sense? This would be why we need to practice ahead of time. They can get easily confused. LOL

Last year the boys turned in one report each and I turned in several. It's so cool to be able to see how how well our area is represented by the number of reports turned in. Go to your area and check it out!

Don't forget to put a button on your blog as a reminder to everyone to participate!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ok, I Give Up!

I've tried doing the winter walk post three times. The preview keeps showing me the way I want it but once it posts to blogger it gets messed up. I'll leave it to you to figure out which words go with which picture.

sigh.......I guess I won't try putting pics on the left anymore. Anybody else figure out the answer to this problem? Just always put the pics in the center?

Winter Walk--Photo Intense

After Pooh's Art class today we decided to go on a winter walk. The weather here lately has been very wet, so I should have been prepared for how wet the woods were. There was mud everywhere and oodles of puddles. Right up the boys' alley. Before we got to the creek area, I managed to squeeze in a bit of tree study. I was commenting on the different bark we saw and on the fungi that was growing everywhere. Funny how the fungi seems to flourish during this cooler weather.

Here are some photos of some of the different bark we saw:

The trees of love.

This is Tigger with the piece of bark he found on the ground. I believe it is from the American Beech tree that I fell in love with. The Beech tree has great color for winter contrasts and would, I believe, make great black and white photos. It has a very light gray bark with some darker spots on it. Then the faded yellow leaves were still on the tree. If you look in the background of this picture you can see the only tree back there with leaves is the Beech tree.

Left: Anyone know what that one is? Very interesting bark. When you push it, it has a very spongy quality to it.

Right: The park labeled it as a Virginia Pine. (although I have my doubts from looking at the tree guide book I have.)

Here are some photos of the fungi we saw growing on the bark:

This pine tree had two seemingly different fungi growing on it. One a lighter green that was growing in between the bark pieces and the other was a moss growing at the base of the tree.

Tigger with his stick on which we found bright orange colored fungi.

Another tree with the green fungi.

(Bet you can tell which one of the boys is the 'ham'! LOL)

Here are the photos of their favorite part-water play:

Right now, the thing they like to do best in the streams is to reroute the water. They clear out paths of debris (sticks and leaves) and watch the new route the water takes. They could play at this for hours if I let them. Especially Pooh. He's always loved the water.

Some other cool things we noted about the woods today, were the wind and the sounds. The wind was gearing up to be enough for weather warnings so the tops of the trees were really swaying. It made the trees have these eerie creaking noises. You could even hear one tree hit into another. I told the boys the trees were kissing. I got big smiles and "Eeeeewwwwww" s. LOL One of the pictures above was of two completely different kinds of trees growing right next to each other, as they tend to do. I told the boys that those trees were in love. :D

One part of the woods is very dense with trees. Somehow, despite all of them pretty much looking dead, it is very dark in that area. Tigger said it was 'spooky'. I started telling a little story about "A sad, lonely bear entering the deep, dark forest with it's muddly, puddly creek" a la Bear Snores On. I love those books. He even tried coming up with his own little description to fit the story. So cute! (no, i don't remember what it was. i have to learn to lock it away in a memory somewhere.)

The trail is about a one hour walk. I like the way it winds and the different kinds of areas it encompasses. It keep us eager to see around the next corner.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Power of the Menu Plan

You know, I kept hearing people raving about how wonderful a menu plan is. My response has been characterized by: Uh huh. Whatever. I'll get to it one day. How great can it really be?

There's POWER in the menu plan. Amaaaaaazing power. I'm in awe. And I've only been at it for two days.

There are two powerful aspects of the menu plan that I've experienced so far. (My experience is very limited and there may be many more that I haven't discovered yet.) The first power operates on me. I can look at my simple list located on the frig and know what's happening. So simple and yet so profound! I'm not hunting down recipes an hour before dinner is supposed to be ready, wondering what on earth I'm going to do with the leftover ham. I know! I don't have to think about what I'm feeding the kids for snack. I know! It's so freeing! I have a different breakfast planned for each day. I'm using that butternut squash that's been sitting in the pantry for 3 weeks. I'm using the quinoa I've had in there for forever too!

This was all planned around food I already had in the house. No shopping or even last minute runs. If I didn't have exactly what I wanted, I substituted. My ham and potato casserole turned into a Ham and Sweet Potato casserole. (There's a lot of ham in our menu this week due to wanting to use all our leftovers from baking a spiral sliced ham on the weekend.)

The second power to be noticed was the one that was exerted over the children. Ahhhhh. This is something I've never seen mentioned in the accolades of the menu plan. This is a big secret. Are you ready?

If it's on the menu plan, that's what we eat.

No arguments, no griping. A simple "I'm sorry. Cookies aren't on the plan. It says we have to eat carrots for snack this morning." AND THEY DO IT! No kidding! They may say "ooohhhhh, I wanted something else" but it doesn't change the fact that we follow the plan. I think Pooh will even start reading the plan himself soon. He's kind looking there when I say "hmmmm, it says we're having waffles for breakfast". Pooh is also the child more willing to try foods and will at least partially eat things even when he isn't crazy about them. Go figure!!!

I'm not making two separate sandwiches for lunch. "Today is ham, tomorrow is tuna." I was amazed at how fast they ate. The only thing that didn't go over well was the Crockpot Oatmeal. That's because they both dislike oatmeal. I told them they needed to learn to like it. :D Today they had French Toast Casserole for the first time ever and gobbled it up. They ate the butternut squash. The quinoa was a bit iffy and so was the ham casserole on Tuesday's dinner. BUT, they're trying it and they are eating more than they would have if I hadn't done a menu plan.

So I consider this a success. Now I just have to keep it up. Consistency has never been my strong suit.

For those that wish to know, I'm including my plan for this week. It's only a M-F plan. Also, the meals are listed in this order: Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner. They usually have another snack before bed, but I didn't include that one because it's never an issue.

Crockpot Oatmeal
Cheese n Crackers
Mac n Cheese
Delicata Delish (allrecipes)

French Toast Casserole
Ham Sandwich
Ham & Potato Casserole (with broccoli)

Pb crackers
Tuna sandwich
Split Pea Soup

Eggs & Bacon
Mac n Cheese
Pasta and roasted root veggies

Hot Cereal
Hot Dogs

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Bed Post

I finally got around to finishing a post I started in October about the beds King made for the boys. I didn't know how to change the date on it so it's showing up in October's posts. If you want to have a look, go to the Home label. It's about the 3rd one down.


Anger issues are pretty common with autistic kids. Due to their inner anxieties and not understanding social 'rules', they can become rigid, inflexible, controlling and angry. This is what they use as a buffer to keep the big, bad, scary world from invading their world.

Pooh tends to have problems with this in phases. I haven't ever been able to pin down any specific time/reason for it. Currently, his phases are a couple of normal days and then a couple of grouchy/angry days. (Right now, my mood is swinging right along with him unfortunately which can make for one irritated mommy.) We use homeopathy with him and this can help him in many ways but it doesn't take it completely away. Pooh has never been on meds and I hope to keep him off of them.

I wanted to share this site for anyone who may benefit from it. I have been looking it over and it seems to have some helpful tips. In the For Kids section, there are little slide shows with audio that show some different coping skills and it has the children actually act them out while watching. It's something you'd want to do with your child. I did it with Pooh yesterday and he seemed to enjoy and get it.

I want to work on him accepting responsibility for his anger. The Teacher section has several articles that I'm looking over to help me help him. When he's angry, it's 'all our fault'. He has issues with us 'bossing him around'. Although he knows he's the child, that obedience is required, etc. he still acts out when we have him do/not do something. It's unknown what will set him off. You can tell him 'no' about one thing without a complaint, yet tell him 'no' about something else and he flips out.

A current example is a candy example. We were at someone's house who leaves candy out for when the kids come over. All of a sudden Pooh asks me if he can have a certain candy. I looked at him and knew he already eaten at least one so I asked him. He had eaten two. I told him "no, you already had enough for today." That set him off. He was mad about it for about 2 hours. Now, he's learned not to hit me or anything. However, he'll come at me with hands raised, growl, cry, whine, stomp his feet, slam doors and just generally be rude, disrespectful and obnoxious. Once he's there, there's no reasoning with him (unless you give him what he wants). I just have to remain calm, reiterate the rules, make sure he doesn't hurt others or anything and keep it to a low roar instead of a dino roar. ;D

I've tried teasing him out of it, fake crying (not always convenient in a crowd), being very stern and I'm sure several other things I can't think of right now. It just doesn't help. It makes him more angry.

So with the help of the articles from this site, I'm going to try teaching him more responsibility in dealing with it. I'll be there to help, of course, but only he can use the tools to calm down. I've tried the counting to ten and deep breathing before but he doesn't want to hear about it in the middle of his tantrum. To thwart that, we're going to watch the slide shows a couple more times, practice when calm, use the positive wording recommended ("I'm a good boy even when I'm angry") and maybe that will help. They also teach them places to tap while they use the positive phrasing that seems to be targeting the acupuncture points. I'll try anything. LOL

Frankly, right now I'm tired of dealing with the demanding nature of his anger. It's a "if you don't do what I want, I'll make you sorry/miserable" kind of thing. It works. But I'm not giving in. I may need an escape now and then. I may need to cry. I may need to step back and reroute our course. But he's not going to win by bullying us into being scared of making him angry. I want to help him, but he has to do the work too.

I'm sure you see the whole host of emotions that runs through me in all of this. It's par for the course when you're the caregiver of a special needs child. I'm sure they'll be more to come. This is what's on my mind now. In any given day, I can go from being very proud of him and what he's been able to accomplish to be sick and tired of being around him.

King and I watched the old Bill Cosby Himself video last night. I think I might need to do that more often. ;D

Proud Day! His first bible reading in the congregation.