Comments from the Peanut Gallery

Taking one day at a time...

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  • Tuesday, July 31, 2012


    This past Sunday afternoon, I made Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, but I did something different with them.  I substituted the cup of butter with a cup of expeller pressed refined coconut oil instead.  They turned out amazing!  There was absolutely no coconut taste or smell at all, which is what I was afraid of in the first place.  Hubby didn't notice at all, but I did tell him what I did AFTER he ate a few of the cookies.  They turned out pretty well, I must say.

    I like to use the unrefined coconut oil for things other than cooking (hair conditioning, body moisturizer, diaper rash, etc.).  The refined stuff is much better for cooking and baking, in my opinion.  I'm going to hunt around the internet and see what cool recipes I can find using coconut oil.  I really like the lightness of its texture.  It's not cheap, though, especially if you're buying the kind I like.

    This is going to be so much fun!  And yummy, too!

    Monday, July 30, 2012


    Every brain dominance test I've ever taken has either told me that I'm right down the middle or leaning toward the right just a little more.  I happen to think I'm right-brained, except for the part of me that is the control freak; Liesl and Liv take after me, so they are probably right-brained, too.  I think Jack, Leia, and Hubby are left-brained.  I can't say I'm surprised.

    What is your brain dominance?  Any idea?

    Sunday, July 29, 2012


    Even though I am a seasoned veteran in regards to autism (at home and in my own classroom), it never hurts to keep these basic reminders in plain view.  I have this in my kitchen, as a reminder to myself (and everyone in this house) that autism is not the end of the world; it's just a different way of life and we adjust accordingly as we go along.  That's all there is to it.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Easy Peasy?...

    If it were so easy to beat depression by eating the right foods, everyone would be happy and no one would ever need meds.  It's a good thing I like chocolate, leafy greens, nuts, bananas, smoothies, oatmeal, and cayenne pepper.  I smile a lot; I walk a lot; I love spending time with nature; and I drink plenty of water.  This, however, does not mean I'm about to stop taking my Zoloft.  Heh.

    Friday, July 27, 2012


    OMG, this is hysterical!  Who DOESN'T love Betty White?
    I totally want to be HER when I grow up.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Put It In Writing...

    I always have to see things in writing to remember them.  I'm just sayin'.  ;)

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012


    Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mom!
    I could never have asked for a better mother and have learned so much from you over the years.
    I love you with all of my heart!
    Never doubt just how important you really are to all of those around you.  Without you, the world would be a very cold place. 
    Thank you for

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Coconut Oil...

    A friend of mine recently told me that she uses expeller pressed virgin coconut oil on her daughter's diaper rashes and it works like a charm.  It got me thinking about what other benefits there might be to using coconut oil.

    I bought a jar of refined and a jar of unrefined and decided to do some experimenting.  The refined coconut oil does not smell like coconuts, so it's best for cooking, especially if you don't want the food to taste like coconuts.  The unrefined has a distinct coconut scent and is good for using on your hair, your skin, makeup removal, etc.  I like using the unrefined coconut oil on my daughters' hair because it's easy to wash out and leaves their hair smooth and soft.  I also like using the unrefined as a moisturizer. 

    As far as cooking with it, I haven't tried it, but I am researching websites that give me recipes for using coconut oil as a substitute for butter.  It is a solid at room temperature, but liquefies easily in your hand.  I found a website that cites 80 uses for coconut oil, internally and externally, as well as household.  I'd like to try some recipes with it, preferably without Hubby or the kids knowing.  I'd like to see what they think of the flavor.  I was thinking of chocolate chip cookies, replacing the butter with coconut oil, as a safe start. 

    Like all fats, I think everything should be consumed in moderation.  I would not replace butter with coconut oil completely.  I guess I just like the idea of adding some variety into the mix of the day-to-day routines.  If you see any ideas for recipes, float them my way.  I'm not afraid to try something new.

    Monday, July 23, 2012


    What?  Pinterest doesn't count as professional development?
    I'm constantly finding cool ideas to use in my classroom from Pinterest.
    Walk into my fist if you think I don't work all year round.

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Sad Face...

    In a few weeks, we'll be going to the Northwoods for our yearly vacation.  I cannot tell you how much I need this.  Of course, every time we come back, I always say that I need a vacation from my vacation.  Heh.  Traveling with four young children is never easy.  This time, however, we'll be leaving our dog home.  I'm not happy about it, but the kids are getting bigger, space is limited in the car when we're all packed in now, and the dog is getting older.  I think the ride would be hard on her.

    I'm looking forward to the time away, but I'm going to miss my dog like crazy.  I don't know if I can do it.  She's one of my babies, too, you know.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Can You Hear The Music?...

    This is one of my favorite quotes by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, despite the fact that some people don't think it originated with him.  I can relate this quote to my experiences with my son's autism.  Neurotypical people just don't hear the music.  It doesn't mean that people with autism are insane; it simply means that the depth of their knowledge is so vast and complex that neurotypicals cannot even fathom it. That's what this quote means to me.

    Remember that many geniuses we know of have lived their lives on the autism spectrum.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Temple Grandin, Abraham Lincoln, Vincent Van Gogh, and many more.  Never underestimate the power of the spectrum.

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Dance, Sing, Floss, & Travel...

    I know this is an ad for Lululemon Athletica, but it's a very catchy one.
    We should all remember these things.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    I Am The Silo...

    This pretty much sums up how I'm feeling right now.
    I am not the tornado; I am the silo.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012


    I couldn't have said it better myself.  Thanks, Pema!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Wood Shop...

    Jack made this during Wood Shop at Day Camp.  It's so he can catch insects and put them in there.
    Pretty cool!

    Liv is currently working on a picture frame during Wood Shop.  I can't wait to see the finished product.
    She's decided to put a picture of her sisters in it.

    I love that the kids are so active in so many different things at Day Camp.  Today, they'll be going to the beach; that's a good thing because it's going to be 100 degrees out!

    Day Camp...It's a very cool thing!

    Monday, July 16, 2012


    I pulled a muscle in my left groin.  I don't know how or when I did it, but I know that shortly after I woke up yesterday, my groin was hurting.  I may have moved wrong, but I don't really know.  I put ice on it and took some Advil, but it only remotely feels better if I'm not moving at all.  The minute I move, ouch!

    Add that to the list of everything else that's pissing me off.  WTF?!

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Drawing Autism...

    by Donna Williams, The Outsider

    This painting can be found in the book, Drawing Autism, by Jill Mullin.

    "Drawing Autism celebrates the artistry and self-expression found in the drawings, paintings and collages created by individuals diagnosed with autism. The work of over 50 international contributors exhibits unique perspectives on how these individuals see the world and their places in it.
    Author Jill Mullin, a behavior analyst and educator, has assembled a staggering array of work from established artists like Gregory Blackstock, Jessica Park and Ping Lian Yeak to the unknown but no less talented. Their creations, coupled with artist interviews, comprise a fascinating and compelling book that makes visual how autism manifests differently in every diagnosis.
    Mullin’s introduction and the foreword by best-selling author Temple Grandin provide an overview of autism and advocate for nurturing the talents, artistic and otherwise, of autistic individuals."

    I truly love the painting above.  It speaks volumes to me.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Happy 50th Anniversary To My Parents!...

    Happy 50th Anniversary to my parents!
    What an amazing ride it has been!  We love you so very much!

    Friday, July 13, 2012


    Just when you think you know what stupid looks like, someone comes by and reinvents what stupid really looks like.  And it's so much worse than you ever imagined.  Yeesh.

    People say some really dumb things on Facebook sometimes.  I'd laugh, but it's so sad.  I truly believe that I'm witnessing the downfall of Western civilization when I go through my newsfeed sometimes.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Special Needs...

    Contemplate what this says for a moment.  Which child do you have?
    Education and embracing individual differences can go a long way...for parents and for their children.
    Just my PSA for the day.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Duct Tape...

    I took Liv for her 6-year check-up yesterday and to get this thing on her hand looked at. It's a wart and her doc told me to use OTC stuff and duct tape every night until it comes off. Uh, okay, but it seems pretty deep, if you ask me. I'm no doctor, but it's the largest "wart" I've ever seen and I don't think it'll be as easy to take off as he might think. We'll do what he suggests and see where we are two weeks from now. If it's not significantly better in two weeks, we're definitely going back to the doctor.
    Liv weighs 46.5lbs and is 46" tall. She's in the fiftieth percentile for height, weight, and BMI. She gained 5lbs. and 2" since last year. Awesome! Healthy!
    Does anyone have any recommendations for quick and effective wart removal, especially when the wart looks like this? Her friends at camp are starting to ask her what's wrong with her hand, so she's really self-conscious about it right now. Any advice will help.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Create Value...

    My favorite is #7.  No one can tell you what something is worth to you or how much it means.

    Monday, July 09, 2012

    Monkey Bars Are The Devil...

    Tomorrow, I'll be picking up Liv early from Day Camp so she can go to the doctor.  We're a little late on her six-year check-up, plus I want him to look at what you see on the palm of her hand in the picture above.  At the end of the school year, she was playing on the monkey bars a lot at school and developed a large blister on her palm.  We never popped the blister; we chose to leave it alone.  It hardened and looked more like a callous a few weeks later.  Now, however, it looks like a palmar wart (palmar meaning on the palm; plantar meaning on the foot...both are the same thing, but their locations are different), with roots and red streaks in it.  It's painful and embarrassing for her, so off we go to get it checked out.  I'm hoping they can freeze it and dig it out so that it doesn't take months of useless Rx's that won't take care of the problem fast enough.  Everyone knows there's no money in a cure, but if he keeps her coming back over and over for more methods of treatment, then he makes more money at her painful expense.  Let's just get this over with.  She has no idea what to expect and we're not talking about it until we know what our options are.  It only really took a little over a month, six weeks tops, for the blister to progress to what you see above.

    Poor Livie!  She'll never do the monkey bars again.  I swear, that kid has picked up more illnesses, viruses, and germs in kindergarten than she has her whole life!  Geez.

    Sunday, July 08, 2012

    USA Spider Chart...

    I don't know how prevalent spiders are where you live, but I think it helps to have this chart handy, just in case.  Perhaps you will find it useful, too.

    Saturday, July 07, 2012

    My New Ring...

    I ordered this ring the other day from here.  I can't wait until it arrives!

    Friday, July 06, 2012

    Really Fucking Early...

    I may need to start going to bed when my kids do. Yeesh.
    It was easy when it was just one or two of them awake early in the morning.  Now that the twins are in their toddler beds, they get up and come downstairs on their own.  They just don't stay in their beds after Livie leaves the room.  So, all four kids are up before 7am every day.  Jack and Liv need to get up early to get ready for day camp, but the twins could sleep as late as they want; they just never do.  Gah!

    Thursday, July 05, 2012


    I think I'm melting.  It's been uncharacteristically hot here in Chicago lately.  For the second time since 1871, it was 102 degrees on the Fourth of July.  Unbelievable.  All last week, it was in the upper 90's.  This week has been all upper 90's and three days in a row of three-digit temps.  Surreal.

    It's as if I'm not really living in Chicago anymore.  This is Phoenix weather WITH suffocating humidity.  I literally had to throw ice into our pool, which didn't really do much good.  Our pool water is about 85 degrees.  The babies' pool must be 90 degrees, hotter than a bath.  It's more like a hot tub.

    Yeesh.  I'm rockin' a killer tan, though.  Heh.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2012

    Too Hot To Even Sweat...

    Holy shit.  It's been so unbelievably hot here lately and it won't be letting up for days.  At this point, I consider 90 degrees cool.  We've been in the upper 90's and lower 100's for several days...WITH insane humidity.  The pool feels like bath water right now.  That's just not right.  Yeesh.

    Friday is supposed to bring relief...if you consider 88 degrees to be relief.

    Mark my words; in six months, I'll be complaining about the cold and snow.  Heh.  Ya gotta love Chicago.

    Tuesday, July 03, 2012

    The Coolest Use For Oreos...

    During my Internet travels, I came across the coolest thing ever and wanted to share it here.  Since we have a neverending supply of Oreos in this house, I have found a new way to use them and teach my kids something at the same time.  I never would've thought to use Oreos to teach the phases of the moon.  What a fun activity this is going to be!  Yay!

    Monday, July 02, 2012

    Never Bored...

    I've had two glorious weeks off from work, so far, and I haven't run out of things to do.  That's a good thing.  Jack and Liv are happy at day camp; Liesl and Leia are happy with Mama being home all the time; Hubby is happy I'm here to share the load.  It's all good.

    I need to buckle down and tackle my basement in the very near future.  I can't ignore it much longer.  Liv's counting on me to make that art studio for her and, frankly, we need another play area for the kids.  I have another seven weeks off or so (unless we go on strike...then I have more time.  Heh.).  I'm enjoying my summer and taking things one day at a time.

    It's nice to have that "down" time, even though it's not really relaxing.  I'm really just relieved of my work responsibilities until the end of August, when life will become more chaotic than it is now...if that's even possible.

    Sometimes I don't know how we do it.  Really.

    Sunday, July 01, 2012

    You Have No Idea...

    I always thought having Jack and Liv fourteen months apart was like having twins.  And then I had Liesl and Leia...three years later.  Having two kids close in age is NOTHING like having a set of twins.  In fact, having a child in 2005, another one in 2006, and a set of twins in 2009 is NOTHING anyone can even fathom, except those who are in that boat, too.  Add to the fact that the first child is a high-functioning autistic...yeah, you have no idea.

    I love having all of my kids so close in age.  It is thrilling, exhausting, exciting, exasperating, and wonderful.  They will always have each other, no matter what.

    I cannot, however, be judged by what looks like chaos to an outsider.  My life has demands that few others' lives have that I know.  It's a wild ride, but it is always, always worth it.  My kids are happy and so am I.  My kids are messy, get a lot of boo-boos, have their own distinct personalities, and walk around like they own the place wherever they go.  None of my children fit into any cookie cutter type mold of what a child is supposed to be like.  They each have their own characteristics that may make them a genius, an artist, an athlete, and a nurse.  We have our own modified Breakfast Club of characters.  We may create a lot of noise, make a mess, and run around like crazy, but at the end of the day we all sleep well knowing that we're loved and safe with each other.  That's all that matters.  My house is not full of crazy, undisciplined kids; we simply have a system that works for us, even if others don't see it.

    Things are not always what they appear to be.  Remember that wherever you go.