Friday, June 28, 2013

Sweet Stories

As Lily gets older, I'll admit that taking her out to certain public places can cause me some anxiety.

Especially those places where other children might try to engage with her, to no avail.

As parents, we so wish for our children to have playmates but when your child is not easy to play with, it's no wonder that most kids give up and move on.  And we often hear terrible stories about special needs children being left out or teased or even bullied so it's a constant source of worry - the desire for friendship, which can be risky, versus the desire to just isolate and protect because its easier.

But every now and then, when you least expect it, people can surprise you.  And restore your belief in the goodness of society.

When we were in Aspen, Lily's two favorite places to hang out were the porch off our condo and the Aspen Recreation Center.

The ARC is just a short walk from the condo so our morning routine consisted of a leisurely breakfast, followed by a brisk walk along Government Trail for Ryan and I with Bird in the BOB jog stroller, and ending up at the ARC for a swim.

The Rec Center has a huge indoor kid water entertainment area with sprayers, slides, drenchers, and a lazy river and no part of it was too deep for Bird.  I think she did that little blue slide 500 times by the end of our two week stay.

The lighting inside the ARC is terrible for pictures but I think you can see that Lily Bird enjoyed herself.

Because we usually arrived fairly early, it was never crowded.  In fact, a couple of times, we pretty much had the whole pool to ourselves.

One day, a group of probably 10 year old girls were hanging out in the pool.  I was sitting on the deck and Ryan was in the pool. Bird was making her usual verbalizations and they were kind of echoey and loud.  I saw the girls look over at her a few times  but they more or less ignored her, which was fine with me.  I just didn't want them whispering and pointing.

So imagine my surprise when a girl swam right up to Ryan and Lily and said, "What's her name?"

Ryan said, "This is Lily.  She doesn't talk, though".

And this precious girl then said, "Oh.  That's ok!  There's a boy in my class who doesn't talk either but he's very nice."

Ryan conversed with Kayla just a minute more, then we got ready to leave the pool and she swam off to join her friends, having thoroughly stolen our hearts.

I so wished I could've met her mom to tell her how proud she should be of her sweet daughter.

Lest you think all the nice people are in Aspen, let me tell you another quick story.

Just the other day, Ryan and I took Lily shoe shopping.  After purchasing some brand new kicks for Bird, we headed next door to Elevation Burger for some lunch.  

The three of us are standing in line at the counter, with Ryan and I are intently studying the menu, waiting on our turn to order.  Unbeknownst to us, Bird turns around to the table behind us and helps herself to a cup of ice water.  

Which would have been perfectly fine had it not belonged to another customer who was already eating lunch.

As Lily turns back around, drinking the water, Ryan and I both look down, see the cup, and start trying to figure out where on earth she got it.  We both turn around and see the table sitting right there behind us, like a Birdie Buffet.  And we also see the couple sitting there, staring at us and our kid who just swiped a free drink off their table.

I immediately begin apologizing profusely, worrying about how these people are going to respond.

I have my hand on this woman's shoulder.  Ryan is offering to buy another drink.  Lily is digging for ice in the "stolen" cup.  We are all up in their personal space.

And this sweet woman grabs my hand and says, "It's fine.  Just fine.  It was just water.  I hadn't even drunk any of it yet."

I'm still apologizing.

She's still just calmly reassuring me it's not a big deal and to quit worrying about it.

And you know what?  She really means it.

We have a good laugh with this sweet couple, then we move on to get our own lunch, keeping a closer eye on the Bird.

With a much greater appreciation for the patience and understanding of total strangers.

Sometimes, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard to remember that most folks really are just nice people.

Here's hoping we all take a few minutes to notice it this weekend.  

And maybe even get a chance to put a little kindness into action ourselves.

Quote by John Lubbock

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Redneck Summer

It's summertime.

And summer in Austin, Texas is HOT.

Finding ways to stay cool is not just a fun pastime, but rather a matter of survival.

So I've done something I thought I would never do.  While my redneck-ness hasn't ever been a real big secret, it's never been quite as obvious as it is at this very moment.

Want proof?  Here is my backyard:

Yes, against all my husband's protests and against all neighborhood restrictions, we have a 1000 gallon, 10 feet wide, blue kiddie pool complete with filter and debris cover right off our back porch.

And if that isn't enough, we have bonus water features:

We're not in Aspen anymore, y'all.

So why did I succumb to my inner redneck and buy this tacky pool?

Because of this:

And this:

Let the Homeowner's Association come tell that face she can't have her pool in the backyard.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Back in the Saddle - With Paleo Recipes


I am having such a hard time getting back in the swing of things since our return from beautiful Aspen.

Two weeks with not a schedule, calendar, or to-do list in sight can really do a number on your motivation when that two weeks is up.

So I'm taking the easy way out today and giving you a couple of great recipes that are perfect for the hot summer.

First up - Almond Crusted Fish Sliders.

photo courtesy of The Urban Poser 

I made these Wednesday night and my entire family gobbled them up.  Even my picky 16 year old who has yet to jump on the paleo bandwagon.  They are that good.

Mind if I offer you a helpful hint that might make things a little easier for you?

I would make this meal in steps, just so things are nice and relaxed right up to supper time.  I did everything in the hour before the family was ready to eat and it was little hectic.  

Bake the fish early in the day.  Make the slider mixture while the fish is baking, then add cooked fish to slider mix, whirl up in the food processor, make your sliders, then put everything in the fridge.  Closer to supper time, take out the sliders, do the dipping/breading steps and fry them up.  Stick the sliders in the oven until you're ready to serve.  If you do this, you'll be less stressed and your kitchen won't look like a bomb went off, like mine did.

Rather than slider style, I served mine stacked.  I laid some large lettuce leaves on a plate, set a fish patty on top, added some sliced tomatoes, then some shredded cabbage, and drizzled homemade tartar sauce over the whole thing.


On the side - Pineapple Cole Slaw.

Now, I am a cole slaw hater.  Drippy, mayonnaise-y, mushy, yucky cole slaw.  I have never liked it.
Until I married Ryan and my mother-in-law served it.  Her version is the only cole slaw I will eat.  Seriously.  I encourage you to give it a try, even if you're a self-proclaimed hater of cole slaw.  You just might like it.  Also, this just might not be paleo.  Like, not in the least.  Oh well.

For dessert - The Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

These are paleo and the best CCC recipe I've found yet.  And believe me, I am trying them all!  Reagan passed these up in favor of eating ready made cookie dough from the store but that's her loss.

And as a special bonus because I love all of you so much - Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Bars would be a nice Saturday morning treat for the family.

photo courtesy of Real Sustenance

These paleo bars are almost too pretty to eat.  They are fresh and light tasting with just the right amount of sweetness.

Click on the links below to get the recipes:

Almond Crusted Fish Sliders
Homemade Tartar Sauce
The Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Bars

Pineapple Cole Slaw

1 large package coleslaw mix
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 package mini marshmallows
salt & pepper to taste

Combine coleslaw, pineapple chunks, and marshmallows in a large bowl.  Add enough mayonnaise to make a dressing - go lightly here!  You can always add more later.  The combination of the pineapple and mayo makes the dressing.  The longer this sits, the more the flavors meld together.  YUM.

There.  Now you don't have to waste any time trying to decide what to cook this weekend.  I just did everything for you.  You are very welcome.

Have a lovely weekend, dearies!

Friday, June 7, 2013

10 Little Reminders for the Overwhelmed Mom  is an awesome website that serves as an interactive companion to the much read and much loved What to Expect series of books by Heidi Murkoff.  It's a great resource full of helpful pregnancy and parenting information for moms and moms-to-be.

A few weeks ago, I was given the wonderful opportunity to be a Word of Mom blogger for   

Word of Mom is "a place for ideas, insights, mom-to-mom wisdom and unconditional support from those who've been there, done that, lived to tell about it…. and tell it like it is", according to WhatToExpect.

And today, I'm excited to let you know that my first post, 10 Little Reminders for the Overwhelmed Mom, is now live!  

Click here to read it.  And if you have a minute, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Have a wonderful weekend, sweet readers!

*PS - Just in case you missed it, I posted yesterday, too. Click here or scroll down.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Dream for my Daughter

At this very moment, Ryan and I and the girls are in Aspen.


So maybe I've got just a little too much free time right now.

Or maybe I'm on a "Rocky Mountain High".

But I've been thinking just a bit about the Bird's future.  I mean, way-off future.  Since thinking about what the future might possibly hold for Lily typically produces nothing but a bunch of anxiety and fear in me, I try to avoid it at all costs.

I think it makes me nervous because there is so much unknown.  Will she talk?  Will she graduate from high school?  Will she drive a car?  Will she ever live on her own?

I just don't know.

Raising a child with special needs is challenging.

Challenging because our kids don't fit the mold.

They are different.

And the general population doesn't always know what to do with different.

Yes, we've come a long way since people with special needs were sequestered away from society in asylums.  Or when parents were told to place their children in homes because they would never progress and would be a burden on the family.

Yes, we have learned that many of these special needs individuals are highly intelligent and very capable of learning.

Yes, there are many services available today for our kids to help ensure that they can be contributing members of society and have a bright future.

But here's where my thinking starts to veer off course just a little.

Many of those services are about conformity.  Teaching our kids how to function in society with their peers.  How to sit in a classroom with others without causing interruptions.  How to write with proper pencil grip on lined paper.  How to appropriately walk the halls of a school.  How to check out a library book.  How to do a project for the science fair.

Yes, exceptions are made so that our kids can participate in these tasks and be successful.

But at the end of the day, the goal is to end up completing those same tasks as their peers.

Our kids may take a different route but the final destination is the same - do what their peers are doing.

Now, I don't have a huge problem with that.

Our kids do have to learn how to appropriately attend school and all that entails if they are going to attend school.  I don't believe we should be sending them to school for free babysitting.  There should be active learning taking place, even if the starting place is simply learning how to behave at school.  Let's face it - it's going to be hard to teach a kid how to read if he can't sit still.

But it is an undeniable fact that our kids work hard.  When a typical child attends school, things like lunch, recess, and PE are essentially breaks.  For a special needs child, there are no real breaks.  Lunch, recess, and PE are just more opportunities to practice skills that help them "conform", to blend in and be more like their peers.

As long as a child is continuing to learn, to meet educational and behavioral goals, and is progressing successfully, then there is no reason to assume that the course of "conformity" is having any negative impact on him.

But I can't help thinking beyond the school years.  To the time when Lily is 18 or 20 years old.

What if she doesn't want to conform anymore?

What if she's still nonverbal and doesn't really want to use a special device for communicating?

What if she's happy just doing something simple, something that gives her immense satisfaction and joy, but doesn't really count towards the statistics showing that she could be a highly functioning member of society?

For example, what if sketching all day long makes her happy?  Or tending chickens and goats brings her joy?  What if writing stories makes her feel peaceful?  Or gardening makes her feel productive?

Will I be ok with that?  With allowing her to do just that?

Or deep down inside, do I want her to keep pushing, to keep working so very hard, to keep "conforming", like I might expect her to do if she didn't have special needs?

While I obviously can't see 12 years down the road, and many things will change between now and then, I do want to reach the day when Lily is able to make her own decisions.  And when that day comes, I want to be respectful and supportive.

I want to help her achieve whatever it is that brings her joy.

I am not concerned with my child being a special needs success story in the eyes of the world.

I am concerned with my child being a special needs success story in her own eyes.

And in the long run, isn't that what really matters?

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