autism awareness month-busting the autism stereotypes

April is Autism Awareness Month. As a mom to twins on the Autism Spectrum I want to take this month to share my story and spread awareness.Autism Awareness

As with anyone with a physical or mental disorder, autistic people deal with a wide range of reactions from others, from full support to uncaring ignorance. Unfortunately, even those who support autistic family members, co-workers, and friends may not understand autism very well. This leads to stereotypes, which can result in hatred, embarrassment, or other unhappy situations. By becoming educated about autism, you can help others in your community cope with this disorder.

It is most important to note that not all autistic people are the same. Other diseases and disorders have their own sets of rules, but autism is such a complex medical condition, that everyone reacts differently to it. Autistic people are usually rated on a functional scale, with high-functioning people being able to hold jobs and low-functioning people needing 24-hour-a-day care. Symptoms include behavioral challenges, uncontrollable movements, speech and communication difficulties, and emotional inadequacies. Some show all symptoms, while other show few, and still others may have most under control to the point where you cannot tell they have autism at all.

Because every person is different, no one thing can be said about autism and be true overall. However, most autistic people have trouble communicating emotions. This does not mean that an autistic person does not feel. He or she simply cannot express this feeling. It also does not mean strong relationship bonds are not possible. On the contrary, many autistic people are happily married and in love. Forming relationships is more difficult for most, but can be accomplished over time.

Many people believe that being autistic coincides with being a genius in some aspect. While it is true that some autistic individuals have extraordinary math, music, and art skills, this number is nowhere near the majority-in fact, relatively few autistic people function outside of the normal range in any skill. This stereotype is perpetuated in the movies and on television, because the story of a talented person fighting disadvantages (such as autism) makes a good plot. However, this is not the norm, so nothing more than the best they can personally do should be expected from an autistic person. However, it is important to note that autism is not a form of mental retardation. Some autistic people are mentally retarded as well, but most are not and should not be treated as such.

In the end, the most important lesson to take away from your studies on autism is one of tolerance. You will probably need to be patient when dealing with autistic people, but by understanding a little more about the disorder, perhaps this will be easier. Learn what you can and spread the knowledge to those you know to help create a more tolerant setting for autistic individuals in your community.

Read my post called Love is …Different about dealing with holidays like Valentines Day when you are on the Autism Spectrum.

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yummy friday- veggie adventures for kids

Veggie Adventures | How to Get Your Kids to Actually Eat Them

 Everyone knows that veggies are good for you, but how do you teach kids to actually LIKE the stuff?

Well, it is possible. Here are a few pointers.

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1. Don’t let kids think green stuff is bad. That’s right. If everyone in your family eats broccoli and doesn’t make a big deal out of it, your child won’t realize that anything is amiss. This includes both parents. If one parent happens to really hate that poor innocent broccoli, maybe that parent needs to re-visit the yumminess for themselves. Kids notice everything, and if the veggie in question never appears on someone’s plate, they will know.

2. Have a “Try It” rule. All vegetables, new and old, must be tried at least once (or twice, depending on your rule)  every time it appears on their plate. The standard excuse of  “I tried it last time and didn’t like it” will not work. In fact, studies show that repeat exposure to new tastes and flavors is often necessary before kids will like a new food item. In other words, the more often they try it, the greater the chances that they will like it until, one day.

3. Take them Shopping: Have a grocery store adventure where each person has to pick out a new vegetable to try. Make it a game. Research the vegetable online when you get home. Look for printables to color, the history of the vegetable, its origin and cultural traditions or even the tastiest way to cook and eat it. Involving kids increases your chances that their curiosity will be piqued. Jicama is a great veggie to test out this way. It is unattractive and resembles a potato. In actuality, you peel it like an apple, slice it and dip it in low-fat ranch dressing.

4. Think of creative ways to cook each veggie. If you have only ever served zucchini raw, try it sauteed in butter or olive oil. You can even make zucchini bread for a healthy snack. Cauliflower is good steamed and sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese and Italian breadcrumbs.

5. For younger children, host a family “color” night. Plan ahead and serve only foods in that color. Purple cauliflower or yellow squash might slide right by when the little one is having fun. The point is to make a game of it and not let anyone have the chance to think about it and complain.

6. Brave a Messy Kitchen and let them Cook. Most kids learn by doing and this is no exception. For younger children you can start by mashing cauliflower instead of potatoes or even adding vegetables as ingredients to other dishes for older children.

7. Give your Creations a fun Name: Vegetable Pizza is still healthy and full of veggies, the suggestion that it might actually have something to do with PIZZA may be enough to get your offspring to try something new!

vegetable bars

 

 Recipe for Vegetable Pizza can be found HERE.

What tricks and advice can you share for helping your kids go on a Veggie Adventure?

Easter treats; great gifts for your celebration

You’ve been invited to several Easter celebrations and you really don’t want to show up empty handed. But, what to bring?

Easter

Happy Easter!

Here’s some quick and yummy ideas to make a great impression without a lot of muss and fuss.

1. Candy Flowers

This is one of those gifts that looks impressive, but is not too hard to put together. Here’s what you need:

* 1 large flower vase
* Floral foam
* 1 package bamboo skewers
* Hot glue gun
* Wrapped candy (candy bars, wrapped hard candies, taffy – pretty much any size and shape of wrapped candy will work)

Glue the wrapped candy to the blunt end of each skewer. You’ll be gluing the candy to the side of the skewer toward the end. Glue several small wrapped candies in a row. Then stick the pointed ends of the skewers into the floral foam to make a tasty arrangement.

2. Cherry Cordials

You can make cherry cordials with a lovely liquid center! If you prefer a creamy center, leave out the invertase in the recipe below.

Ingredients:

* 1 20-ounce jar of maraschino cherries (no stem)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
* 1/4 cup soft butter
* 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
* 2 tablespoons liquid from the jar of cherries
* 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon liquid invertase (this is an enzyme that helps sugar to dissolve into a liquid – find it in the baking or candy-making section of your grocery or local retailer)
* 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
* 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid. Pat cherries dry with paper towels and allow cherries to sit on paper towels on a wire rack while you make the fondant.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons cherry liquid, almond and vanilla extracts, and invertase. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar and mix on the lowest setting until the mixture forms a ball. It should be about the consistency of soft play-dough, but not as stiff as modeling clay and not too soft and sticky to handle. Add a bit more powdered sugar if necessary.

Mold a quarter-size amount of fondant around each cherry and place on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. When all the cherries are covered, place them in the refrigerator for about half an hour while you melt about the chocolate in a double boiler. If possible, don’t let the chocolate get above 115 degrees F. This makes for a much smoother coating.

Using a fork, dip each fondant-covered cherry in the chocolate and coat thoroughly. Place on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet and seal any holes in the chocolate coating by dabbing on more. Allow the cherries to harden and store at room temperature while the fondant liquefies. It should take about a week. Taste-testing is the fun part!

3. Classic Chocolate-Covered Toffee

This recipe is simple, but precise.

Ingredients:

* 2 sticks butter
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)

In a heavy saucepan, combine butter and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the butter is melted, and then bring the mixture to a boil. Stirring occasionally, simmer until it reaches 285 degrees F. It will be a rich, amber color. Then pour the mixture onto a parchment paper-covered jelly roll pan and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. After a few minutes, spread the softened chocolate with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for an hour or so, then break into pieces and place in an airtight gift container.

Delish!

a jump start on spring cleaning-making a spring cleaning maintenance plan

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So you’ve been making great headway on your Spring Cleaning..

AWESOME!!

But after all of your hard work spring cleaning and organizing your home, it would certainly be a bummer if things went back to the way they were in a matter of weeks. Staying organized takes a little work and is certainly a learned habit, but for this small amount of daily effort, you will have a cleaner home and a happier family. Try some of these tips to help keep your home looking like you just wrapped up your spring cleaning efforts.

Time to form a plan of MAINTENANCE.

  • Keep a small basket in each room for things that do not belong. Get in the habit of checking the basket as you leave the room for items that might belong in your next destination.
  • Keep all of your cleaning supplies together, along with rags, paper towels, scrub brushes, and any other items you may need to complete any cleaning task. Using a bucket or cleaning supply caddy will make grabbing the necessary tools a snap when it is time to do your daily chores.
  • Sort through your mail each day when it is brought in. Immediately throw away junk mail, saving only important letters and advertisements that you are planning to use. Place all the mail in a designated area and file the bills away after they are paid.
  • When choosing containers for storage, look for lidded boxes, bowls, and bags that are clear. When you go looking for an item, it will be easier to find if you can see into the containers without opening each and every one.
  • Every night after dinner, make sure that all the dishes are cleaned and put away, or at least rinsed and put into the dishwasher, until there is a full load. Don’t let the dishes get away from you or you’ll find yourself in the midst of a marathon cleaning session.

Other Ideas:

Wipe counters and tables after each meal, knocking the crumbs to the floor. Sweep up after washing the dishes each night and use a damp rag to wipe up and spots, splashes, or spills on the floor.

There’s something to be said for a clean, sparkling sink. After washing the dishes, wipe it out well and dry it to prevent water spots.

Set aside a little time each week or on the weekend to do a more in-depth cleaning. Check the fridge and pantry for expired food, wipe the stove, cabinets, table, and counters thoroughly, and clean the floor well. If you have kept up on your daily straightening ritual, you will be shocked at how quickly the kitchen cleans up.

When you get up the next morning, you will be able to start your day with a fresh start (without having to worry about yesterday’s mess!).

Ready for more Spring Cleaning Tips? Grab your copy of the Hillbilly Housewife’s Spring Cleaning Guide today at http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/ebooks/springcleaning.htm

HillBilly HousewifeNot only do I highly recommend this ebook (this one has helped me A LOT) is Moms In A Blog’s 30 Day to an Organized Home. This awesome resource has given me a guidebook on how daily tasks can help keep clutter and chaos at bay (and my blood pressure DOWN!). Go HERE for more info or to grab your copy.

organized home guide
Get Your Chaos Under Control!