Behind starburst eyes

Come hell, high water or $5,000 fines the kids were having a lemonade stand for Sick Kids Hospital

For the last 3 years my wee ones have had a lemonade stand on Canada Day. They make lemonade, cookies, jam, and candles and sell them to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital. This year’s experience was NOT what I’d hoped for them.

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It started great, we put up signs, made strawberry lemonade with strawberries we’d picked as a family at a local farm (Pingles) made original lemonade, each child got to take a turn at squeezing lemons into the pitcher. We made gluten-free cookies the night before. They helped to make jam a few days ago from the strawberries we’d picked together on Summer Solstice. I guided them on making star-shaped candles which they did with great pride and excitement and used the broken bits from their little brother’s crayons to color each one. We ran around the neighborhood and they would watch the lights for me from the corners of various streets as I would dash across the cross walks writing with sidewalk chalk across the entire thing “Lemonade Stand 4 Sick Kids Hospital” and an arrow pointing towards our home. Each child would excitedly want to be the one to pour the lemonade when a customer came, or to offer the cookie that was free with each cup.
Starting at about 1pm my son was waving a sign 4 houses down the street at the cross walk of the highway and our street and yelling “Lemonade Stand, all the money goes to Sick Kids Hospital” as cars drove by. A woman who lived across the street from where he was standing came out and told him to stop. She was not nice about it, he came back almost in tears. My brother came by to help support the kids in their endeavour was NOT happy that C was yelled at for trying to raise money for charity. So he stood at the corner with hin while my son did his best to convince every person that went by that they should buy a glass of lemonade to help out a charity that is VERY near and dear to our family.

The lady came out again and yelled again about them stopping, my brother told her that his nephew was allowed to try to help a charity and that he wasn’t harming anyone. She eventually came BACK out AGAIN and tried to give C $5 to go away. He told her “No thanks, I don’t want your money, I just want to keep doing my thing for Sick Kids” She was determined that he take it, and he was determined that he wasn’t going too. Finally, he told her “I’ll take it for Sick Kids, but I’m not going to stop, I want people to come to our lemonade stand so we can give lots of money to them”

My brother had to go so he walked C back to me, and I walked him back to the corner. This is where things got really crappy. A police car slowed down and stopped just past us. The lady had called the cops to force us to stop. As soon as I saw the police cruiser stop I told C to go back to the lemonade stand. The police officer asked a few questions and then told me he was sorry but that he had to ask us to stop as we were causing a disturbance and we didn’t have a vendors permit to run a lemonade stand. I walked back to our front yard to talk with my husband and saw that C was in tears. He was afraid that I was going to be arrested and that he’d lose his mom. I assured him that while the police officer was well within his rights to fine me but that he couldn’t take me to jail.

I then took the sign from my husband and started to walk back to the corner again. My husband asked me why I was doing it and I told him the truth “How can we teach our children to stand up for what is right and to stand strong in their convictions if we cow down instead of standing up for our own personal convictions. My conviction is that what the kids are doing is RIGHT and that they should be allowed to try to help out a charity. I will NOT back down, I will stand up for their right to be kids, to be good people, and to try their best to do good deeds. If they want to call the cops back again than so be it, I’ll pay the fines because standing behind my convictions is more important that being popular or the money it might cost us. They are worth it, the kids knowing no matter what that I support them is worth it!”

I then proceeded to yell at the very top of my momma lungs “Lemonade Stand for Sick Kids Hospital” while waving the sign at the corner for 45 more minutes, until it started to rain.
Stubborn? Yes! But wrong of me? NOPE If I don’t show them that their beliefs are important, that they are important, that I respect their efforts and that I WILL stand behind them come hell, high water or police officers with fines then how can I expect to raise adults that will be honorable, and strong enough to stand up for what they believe no matter what? How can I teach them to root themselves strong in Mother Earth and stand tall no matter the storm for whatever they believe in.

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Chocolate Transforms Chickpeas!

So dear readers I’m sitting here eating my second cupcake, knowing that I won’t be sick from it because it’s gluten free (it’s also dairy free) as I was making a tester batch of cupcakes for a friend’s upcoming handfasting that are both gluten free and dairy free, to ensure that some of the guests can still enjoy them as well. I topped them with a chocolate hummus instead of icing to continue the dairy free theme, and fresh cut strawberries. SO GOOD!!!

Let me tell you, these are without a doubt the BEST cupcakes I have ever had in my life, and trust me, I did NOT get this curvy from avoiding delicious baked goods ūüėČ

While I’m posting a link to the recipe, please note that I did make a few changes for mine:
1) I used applesauce instead of oil
2) I forgot the water
3) I used soy milk instead of cow’s milk.

http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2011/07/gluten-free-chocolate-cupcakes-made.html

I started with the chocolate hummus recipe found at the bottom of that same page, but made changes, I added about 2tsp more cocoa powder as I like a really rich taste, I added a 1/4 cup of coconut milk powder, and I used pure cocoa powder (from before they add milk ingredients to it) instead of nut butter.

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a kid on a leash!

imagesCA0TBJHUWell tonight I finished modifying N’s little blue backpack into a harness style backpack complete with a “tether strap” as it’s called when one is selling it apparently. (I looked online but figured why pay that much money for one when I’ve got everything here to convert a regular toddler sized backpack instead) In reality it’s a leash and it’s attached to my child via the backpack. I have fought doing this for a while, and each time we went out I would faithfully ensure¬†I had the stroller and he was buckled in. Once in a while¬†I’d walk holding his hand, but with his aversion to touch so often holding hands is NOT something he’s in to doing, and letting him just roam and hoping I can catch him when he darts out onto the street in less time than it takes for a car to hit him is NOT something I’m cool with. In fact it terrifies me, and while I KNOW I’ll get the inevitable backlash for “treating my child like an animal” (trust me I had this reaction with C, and I hated it. I hated that no one could see I JUST wanted to keep him safe.) And I know I’m going to upset people with doing it with N.

Here’s the thing though, I can’t NOT do it. Well I’m sure I can in fact, but my heart is pounding from the moment we walk down our front steps. I’m sweaty and nervous as I carefully grip his wrist/forearm (he won’t hold hands at all) I’m watching every direction, frantically¬†looking all around us and trying to watch him at the same time. All the while I’m still holding onto him for dear life. I try to get to our destination as quickly as I possibly can get him to go, and frequently ask him if he wants me to carry him. Why because he doesn’t understand danger, and that makes me terrified. He runs towards moving cars because he’s so fascinated with cars in general. And trying to just say “No” or “Stop” does NOT work with him. especially since he’s often overloaded auditory wise and covers his ears, but doesn’t ever stop moving.

Now, tonight we went on a little walk with his new modified backpack. I held his forearm while he was walking down the stairs and then I let him just walk. He got to choose where we went because¬†I was just enjoying watching him finally have the opportunity¬†to discover his neighbourhood at his own pace. We stood at one point and watched a cricket and I told him about how the cricket makes music. He loves his backpack, and insisted we put cheese in it for our walk ūüôā He’s not upset by it, even when he tried to dart towards the street and it stopped him (he didn’t fall or anything, he just couldn’t go any further than a few feet from me) he just looked back at me and then pointed at the cars speeding past and smiled saying “brooms!” which is of course his word for cars. So yes¬†I loved the peacefulness with which we were able to just “be” together, in each other’s space, experiencing an evening walk together, marveling at all the things that I would have forced him to miss in my haste to get him somewhere safe prior to his new backpack.

Alright dear readers, I’ve taken a deep breath, let me have it.

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A blue hiker, red hat, and yellow pants

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Well today C played most of the day at his friend M’s house, so it was mostly just N and G with me. I decided that I needed to get N a new sun hat as he’s fair and burns easily and already the one I bought¬†a few months ago is too small. In keeping with trying to exercise regularly I decided that I’d not only walk with the two of them but that I’d put G in the single stroller and N in the blue hiker that I haven’t used since right before I found out I was pregnant with G. N was¬†a great deal lighter then! A two-hour walk with 30+ pounds on one’s back when you’re not used to it is definitely a work out lol.

 

 

 

 

After visiting a couple of stores we finally found a hat N liked, a plain red fisherman style one that I promised him I’d put a truck on. Of course while at the store N pointed out every single thing that was “lello” because everything yellow is somehow exciting. Not denying that yellow is a fantastic color, just not sure where his recent love of yellow has¬†come from. For the last few days when I get him dressed in the morning he keeps saying “lello¬†pansh” (yellow pants)

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Once home I sewed on a patch that had a big 18-wheeler on it onto his red hat and he seems happy with it, which is great! Then I decided I’d go through my bins of fabric, convinced that I had some yellow cotton somewhere. Indeed I did, and so I proceeded to make him some yellow pants. He was thrilled when I told him I was making him yellow pants. He watched me cut the fabric, he insisted on sitting on my lap the entire time I sewed his yellow pants. Pleased with myself at making him something he so clearly wanted I presented him with the finished product. Only to watch him have a meltdown because apparently the pants I made are NOT what he imagined when he kept asking for yellow pants. Now I’ve made dozens of pants for C, myself and many others so I know it wasn’t that I didn’t make them correctly in general. So I now have a pair of¬†yellow pants that he refuses to wear, but¬†hey in another year or so they should fit G¬†lol. ¬†

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Two Seagulls, a payphone operator & chick peas

¬†“I’m not laughing at him, just the fact that you can’t make shit like that up!” ~ My husband after I was finished telling him the craziness of my afternoon with the boys.

It all started out innocently enough, G was napping and so I took the two boys to the YMCA for Family Gym time. They had a blast, as they always do ūüôā Well there was a bake sale helping to raise money for a local school to buy new sports equipment, and the boys wanted a cupcake each. Totally reasonable, only I didn’t think when I used all my change to donate for the cupcakes that I still had to¬†call home when we were done to be picked up.
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We go to the payphone and I realize, I just spent all of the cash I had on me so I tried to call collect, it wouldn’t let me, got an operator on the line and was told my number was blocked from accepting collect calls. SO I tried to do a third-party¬†billing first to my home phone and she wouldn’t let me do it cause it was the same number for billing as calling so I tried to call my sister-in-law with my number as the one to pay the charges only to be told her number doesn’t exist. I beg to differ, I call her every day of course her number exists!

 

 

 

 

 

MH900227656So fine, we’ll walk home I decide since I can’t call home to get a ride. We get outside, N starts to run, wipes out on his head, his cupcake goes flying, two seagulls swoop down from nowhere and gobble up his cupcake, and while I’m trying to deal with the scrapes on his head he’s bawling “cake, cake, no¬†bid no!” (Bid is his version of bird right now) Back into the YMCA we go, and I tell the receptionist what happened, she sees his head and kindly lets me call home. My mom brings $5 for me to donate for the new cupcake I get N.

 

imagesCAM66FYAWhile getting N’s I see a sign in front of some chocolate cupcakes that says gluten-free. SO deciding I need a treat as well I grab one, the guy tells me they’re made from chick peas. Now my darling, lovely, wonderful husband has made me food with chick peas in it before and to be polite we’ll just go with “its¬†not to my taste” so privately I’m thinking I am going to totally NOT enjoy this cupcake now, but being polite I smile and say “oh wow, that’s fantastic!” and then I ate it. OH MY GODS! Whoever made those was a culinary GENIUS! They were the most delicious chocolate fudge cupcakes I have ever had in my life! And let’s be¬†honest dear readers, these curves aren’t ONLY from pregnancy, they’re also from a deeply committed relationship with chocolatey goodness ūüėČ Now I am on the hunt for chick pea chocolate cupcake recipes because those will be the new chocolate cake/cupcakes that are made in this house!
If any of you happen to have a recipe for gluten-free¬†deliciousness please pass them along ūüėÄ

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Favorite Children’s Books for Children with ASD

help me be good seriesI LOVE author Joy Berry’s series “Help me be good”. It’s a fairly large series, there are 29 books in all. It originally was published in 1988 and I read every single one of them as a child myself. Fast forward an undisclosed amount of years to when my eldest son was 3 years old and we were at our local library. Every time we’d go I’d check out the books they had for sale as each was only $0.25. One cold morning I spied the¬†entire collection all in pristine condition on their sale shelf. Excited doesn’t even begin to describe my¬†reaction. I scooped up every¬†single one of them!¬†Why do I love this series so much? Because each book deals with a common behavior, discusses how others feel when¬†a child is choosing that behavior, what a child choosing those behaviors might be feeling, and other positive ways of dealing with those emotions, or situations, all in¬†easy to read, direct language that doesn’t use metaphors or confusing sub-text that a child on the spectrum¬†might not pick up on.¬†From the day we brought them home I read one every day to my son for the better part of a¬†2 years. Each day he would pick a¬†book for me to read and I would pick one of Joy¬†Berry’s books to read to him. He loved them. They helped him to understand social concepts easily and without feeling bad at not getting them without the books as it was never “about him” it was always about “another child” one from her books.

Interupting Joy Berry BookThe book about Interrupting says “You are interrupting when you talk when other people are talking… Try not to interrupt people who are talking to you. Allow them to finish talking before you speak. Say “excuse me” if you must interrupt them. When someone interrupts you, you might feel angry or frustrated. You might think that person is not fun to be with.”

At the end of each book it always says “It is important to treat people the way you want to be treated”

See, easy, clear explanations of what the behavior is, how people feel, and how to avoid doing it with simple blunt instructions on what is socially acceptable and what is not. I’ve already started to read them to my younger son, and while he’s not super keen on them yet (he won’t be 3 until Oct) with him already being diagnosed with ASD I think it just makes sense to start early.

After all a large part (not all but a big part) of ASD is a deficiency in social development and understanding. If my child had massive issues with math I’d do my best to focus on helping them improve their math skills to the best of THEIR abilities. No I wouldn’t expect them to get a PhD in mathematics but I’d help them to learn as much as they could to help them thrive to the best of their abilities. Teaching social skills from an early age in a more intensive or focused manner just makes sense to me for my boys with ASD. Their brains are hardwired differently, but different doesn’t mean they can’t learn, it just means they might need different ways of being taught and more time to learn the same things as a child without ASD.

For those that are interested, if your local library doesn’t have this¬†fantastic series it is available on places like Amazon.com or¬†Chapters.ca
Chapters also has her other series: “Let’s talk about” and “A fun and easy way” both of which I’ll be getting for the eldest to read and eventually reading with the youngest. ūüėÄ

If you’ve read her books, let me know what you thought. Were they a helpful book series for children with ASD? Or even helpful for children in general? (I personally read many of them with the kids I looked after in my daycare years ago that weren’t on the spectrum because I thought they were great for all children in general but especially ones that have social skill deficiencies.)

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The mystery of crayons

Another box of crayons has been unwrapped. N still loves very much to unwrap each one. His slow methodical precision is fascinating to watch. No piece of paper is left, no matter how small. I wish he could type or sign or say what he appears to be looking for when he unwraps each crayon. It’s certainly not an absent-minded action on his part, for each movement of his little fingers is deliberate and sure. His eyes never look anywhere but at the crayon as he unveils it in its entirety. Is he making sure that each part of it is the exact same shade? Does he think something else might be hidden underneath the paper? Or does the feel of the paper it’s wrapped in scratch his hand when he tries to color with it? Is he removing an additional sensory stimulation he does not find appealing? One day when he can answer me, I’ll ask him and listen with bated breath as I’m given more than just a glimpse into the thoughts and inner workings of his precious mind. Until then I will marvel at his concentration, and at the deliberate movements of tiny fingers busy at work. I will marvel at how his eyelashes flutter as he stares so intently upon the unveiled crayon and carefully places it with the others, only to pick up another paper covered one and start again. He won’t be done the task he’s set himself upon until the box is finished, and I won’t ever be done watching him in awe as I get glimpses into his breath-taking mind.

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Organizing Foods

MH900430659¬†N gets very excited by how foods are presented in bakeries, delicatessens, and the like.¬†¬† He’s happy to try many different foods from these places, but when presented with these same foods at home he is unwilling to eat them. I was speaking with a friend who asked me an absolutely brilliant question about it. She asked me if I thought it was because of how visual he is and how neat and organized the foods are in those types of places that he preferred them. She asked me if I’d put his food into lines on his plate before and if so what did he do. To be honest I hadn’t done it before. I’ve made pictures with his food (happy faces or cutting roasted potatoes in the shape of cars) but I hadn’t actually taken his foods and made lines on his plate with them. With how much he loves organization, and lines in general I am actually quite hopeful that this just might work to help him eat better/more. Considering he’s currently on supplementations¬†of various vitamins as well as a meal replacement drink due to his lack of current food intake I’m totally excited at trying something that just might make a positive difference in the amount of healthy foods I am able to get him to eat and enjoy! Wish me luck dear readers, this momma’s about to get the mandolin out to make some super organized veggie and fruit lines ūüėÄ

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Workshop: Informing The Village

Informing the VillageMy workshop “Informing the Village: A How To Guide On Informing Others About Your Child’s Autism” is in 10 days! I can’t wait to help other parents learn various ways to talk about their child’s diagnosis, and what it means specifically for their child with the different people in their child’s life. I’m really excited about it. I’ve gotten all of the handouts and samples ready to go!

It’s being hosted by Lindsay Asperger Autism Support and is being held at the Loblaw’s Community Room (located upstairs) at 400 Kent Street Lindsay Ontario.

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Autism is NOT a death sentence

Just over a month ago C and I made cookies for his home school group at the YMCA to help promote Autism Acceptance.¬†With how positive of a reaction we received from them I asked one of the people who helps to coordinate the Orientation for Parents of Children Recently Diagnosed with Autism at Grandview Children’s Center if they would be interested in having some at their next orientation. She spoke with the her colleagues and they said yes. So today I went and got more business cards for the packages I’ll be dropping off Saturday morning. I’m happy that they said yes to them as I feel they do have a positive message to them. So often I hear of parents being absolutely desolate about their child’s diagnosis, and I think our perception as a society needs to change about that.

Last year on C’s 8th birthday his father and I were not with him. The night before, I called everyone that was supposed to come and told them that we had to post-pone his birthday party. Why? He’d done NOTHING wrong. We had to cancel his party and leave him with his Nana¬†because we had a funeral to attend. A close friend’s 23 month old daughter had passed away. Now that was something to be absolutely desolate about. Her’s is a place that will forever be empty at their table, the memories of that beautiful precious little girl are what her parents get to hold instead of her. That is a truly devastating loss. One that those two parents must bear.

But to perceive a diagnosis of Autism as the same level of tragedy as the loss those parents deal with every single day is in my mind an insult to both¬†the little girl who will never have a second birthday, as well as to the child diagnosed! It is NOT a tragedy that¬†one’s child¬†has been diagnosed with Autism, it is not something they will die from. Will there be some areas of their lives that are more challenging because of how¬†their neuro-pathways work? Yes. But that’s what parents are for, to help their children to¬†thrive to the best of the child’s abilities.¬†Now I understand that some people would argue that a child classified as “Classic Autism” or as “Low-Functioning”¬†does not have the same level of abilities to function as a child that is classified as “High-Functioning” I’m not arguing levels of¬†abilities, but I am arguing that Autism is not a death sentence and should not be approached as one. ¬†Yes there will be times that are hard for both parent and child. There will be times when as a parent you might not be sure how best to help your child. There will be times when they are judged negatively by others, when your parenting choices will be called into question by others, but all of those statements are true for parenting of any child!!!

To mourn the loss of the child you thought you had, the one that won’t _______ because they have Autism is unfair to your child. They are still the same child as they were prior to a diagnosis. They still have feelings, thoughts, dreams, wishes, fears, hopes just like any other child. Will they need different kinds of help or parenting than you originally thought you’d have to provide when you learnt you were going to become a parent, perhaps yes. But our job as parents is NOT to dictate what they need, but to observe them and their ways of communication to understand what each unique child needs us to provide them with and help them with.

These¬†children¬†can and do go on to lead lives that are happy and fulfilling¬†for them, perhaps it’s not your definition of happiness and that’s okay because it’s not your life, it’s theirs. As long as your child is alive, and happy what on earth do you have to mourn???

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