Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well, He IS everywhere...

I was trying to get Jack to go potty before his nap. He was sitting on the toilet and I was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, across from him. I was singing "Away in a Manger" with him, trying to pass the time and see if something could get accomplished. Here's how the song went...(sung by Jack)

"Away in a manger,
No crib for a bed.
The Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky
Look down where he lives in the potty."

and then...
"There's Jesus in the potty!" (said as he's putting his head between his legs, looking into the toilet bowl.)

We both had a good laugh.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Little Elves

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 4, 2008

First School Picture

Oh my word. This is Jack's first school picture, taken a couple of weeks ago. I hope this isn't the beginning of a trend.

I think they caught him in the middle of saying "Cheese!"


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

About that...

I realize that I was a little vague in my post about Jack's diagnosis of Asperger's and his starting preschool. So, I will try to be a little more specific this time. :)

We first started noticing that things were "different" about Jack around the time that he turned 2. He screamed a lot when he couldn't effectively communicate and he was a very difficult toddler. He often played by himself and was rarely interested in what other kids were doing. A lot of things just seemed "off." But, we decided to wait until he was 3 to pursue anything - just to see if we were dealing with normal toddler "quirks" or something else.

By the time he was 3, things were getting worse. He has a large vocabulary, but doesn't quite know how to use it correctly. He says things that don't make sense. For instance, I will ask him "Jack, is that a good cookie?" And he will say, "Did you wait for the bus today?" Almost everything he responds with is a question. He has a very difficult time answering questions. If someone asks him "What is your favorite color/cartoon/toy?" He has no idea what to say back to them. He has a lot of sensory problems. He hates trying new things. We have to listen to/watch the same songs and movies over and over and over and over again. If we try to introduce something new to the mix, we encounter huge tantrums and fights.

Why haven't I mentioned anything on the blog? Well, I like to keep things somewhat light on the blog. A lot of family reads the blog and I don't want to take up a lot of time venting about problems we're having with Jack and what a difficult child he is. Plus, people have a lot of opinions about Autism and "labeling." We've encountered several negative attitudes about Jack going through evaluations and being put in preschool. So, I try to be careful about who we talk to and what we share. This is a time when we need encouragement, not criticism.

To an adult that doesn't spend much time with Jack, he appears to be a pretty normal kid. He laughs and is silly and says a lot of words. He is very comfortable around adults. He says "hi" and smiles. But, if you spend some good quality time with him, you can see that some things just don't "click" with him. So, we're working on that. School has been fabulous. He is doing so well and is really enjoying his time there. We've already noticed some progress with his communication...that has been very encouraging.

Sorry if this post is a little choppy. I'm trying to organize my thoughts and put out as much information as I can...but I feel like I'm not doing too well with that! :)

If you'd like more information on Autism/Asperger's, here are some great links...

http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=life_aspergers

http://www.autismspeaks.org/navigating/index.php

http://maapservices.org/Publications/Stephen_Bauer_Article.asp

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grandma & Grandpa



Last week, Grandma and Grandpa (Lonnie's parents) came for a visit! Unfortunately, I forgot to take our camera with us most places, so we didn't get too many pictures. But, we had a lot of fun visiting with them! Jack had a blast being spoiled and loved on.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh. Hi.

I have a blog? I've forgotten about it for the past 11 days? Oh. Sorry about that.

Regular posting will resume soon. Lonnie's parents have been here for the past week and life has been a little hectic. In the meantime, let this adorable picture hold you over.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!!!


So, here's my menu plan for the next 2 weeks. I am sticking with not assigning each meal to a day - it seems to work better for us that way. Then I don't feel like I'm not following the "plan" when I switch days. (I know, I'm weird.)


Fried Rice with frozen eggrolls

Buffalo Chicken Dip (Crockpot)

Chicken and Dumplings (Crockpot) - RECIPE BELOW!

French toast (homemade sweet bread) with bacon and eggs

White Cheese Pizza

Black bean burritos

Taco salad (using black beans from burritos)

Chicken Caesar Salad (with homemade french bread and croutons)

Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Crockpot)


Nasty Nachos with lentils

Autumn Sausage Casserole (Crockpot)



I also bought 3 frozen/convenience meals for the next two weeks. Sometimes there are days where I just don't feel like cooking and we figured that eating a frozen meal is cheaper than going to eat out. We're trying really hard to cut down our eating out budget. Really hard!
I also am trying to plan more meals in the crockpot...that way I can start dinner in the morning to avoid the "what's for dinner" rush in the evening.





Chicken & Dumplings

4 chicken breasts (boneless skinless)
2 cans cream of chicken/mushroom soup
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 large can refrigerated biscuits

Put chicken, soup, butter and onion in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.
Now, you can do the dumplings a couple different ways. A half hour before serving, you can tear up the biscuit dough into pieces and put them on top of the chicken in the crockpot. Set on high and let them cook for 1/2 hour. This will cook the biscuits thoroughly, but they will still have that "wet" dumpling texture. OR, you can bake the biscuits separately in the oven and then serve the chicken and sauce on top of a couple of split biscuits. This is our favorite way. :)



Don't forget I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menus!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The thing I haven't really talked about yet

At Jack's 3 year well-child checkup, we filled out a questionnaire for the pediatrician, just answering questions about tasks that Jack could accomplish, his language/comprehension skills, and his overall development. As it turns out, he was pretty behind on almost all of the areas that were measured (4 out of 5). So, we were referred to ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) which is through our local school district. Jack went through several evaluations, all done at our home, and they compiled all of this information into a report. He went through speech, psychological, autism and occupational therapy evaluation. After they were done with this process, we were informed that Jack meets the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism. Specifically, high-functioning autism, or Asperger's.

We experienced so many emotions when we received his diagnosis. We felt relief, because we knew that we weren't crazy and that other people noticed that there was something "off" about Jack too. We felt anger, because who were these people that barely knew our son to come in and tell us that there was something wrong with him? We were sad, because our only son was not "normal." We were guilty, because there's a part of you that wonders if you were the cause of these problems.

Jack's main symptoms include problems with language comprehension, echolalia (repeating what he hears us say, whether it's immediate or delayed), sensory issues, problems focusing, being very schedule-oriented, not being interested in other children, and having a hard time with transitions or new things.

All of this to say...Jack started preschool this week! He is going to the ECSE preschool, 4 days a week in the morning. He started on Tuesday. Today was his first day taking the bus. So far, it seems like he's really enjoying it. He really likes his teacher and she is an awesome lady. Today he actually named some of the kids in his class for me! There are 8 kids in his class (including him) and 4 adults...so he really gets a lot of quality attention. He meets one-on-one with a speech therapist and also gets some time with an occupational therapist.

When we dropped him off yesterday, he waved "bye" to us as he walked into the classroom and had a big smile on his face! When we put him on the bus this morning, he was so excited to ride the bus, but once he realized that we weren't going with him, he got a very concerned look on his face and didn't smile as they were driving away....but he did great and made it home safe and sound!

Here are some pictures of my BIG boy and his first couple days of school!!!



Standing at the front doors of the school.





Oh my gosh, he's gotten so big. When did this happen?




Putting his backpack in his cubby with his teacher.





Talking to the bus driver as his friends were getting off the bus.




Waving bye!





All buckled in! First time on the bus, today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Away!

Jack dressed up as "Super Jack" for Halloween. He loved it! We had a hard time coming up with a costume this year. We couldn't find a store-bought costume that we liked and I ran out of time to order one online. And I didn't want to spend $30 for a costume that he would wear once. So, we ended up coming up with Super Jack and I managed to put it together myself! Unfortunately, someone didn't really like wearing the mask, so it ended up being up on his forehead most of the day. But, he was still super cute! His favorite thing to do was grab his cape and pretend he was going to fly and say "Super Jack - AWAY!"










Jack also received a Halloween surprise in the mail from Grandma! He got a very cool car toy that shoots cars down ramps, some candy, a pumpkin cup and some cookies to decorate. He loved it all and the car toy is one of his favorite toys now. Thank you, grandma!





Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The day I don't want to talk about.

It snowed. On October 26th. It snowed. It started at about 10:45 am and didn't end until sometime in the late evening. Thank goodness it melted quickly and didn't stick around. It is beautiful and sunny today, but it is freezing. It appears that winter has made its way to Minnesota. I am pretty grouchy about it, but trying to get over it. Really.




Our crazy dog loves the snow.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Viral

We've discovered that Jack loves watching funny cat/dog videos on the internets. Unfortunately, this means that we have to be very careful about what we click on when we're visiting youtube. Some of those (OK, A LOT of those) videos just aren't appropriate for a 3 year old - let alone a 30 year old.

Anyway - here is some video of Jack laughing at this video.


video



And here is another one of our favorites. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spiderman

It seems that Jack caught the "climbing bug" a little late. Most toddlers start climbing fairly early (18 months - 2 years old?), and we thought that we were fortunate that Jack didn't seem to be much of a climber. Oops. We thought too soon. Here's some pictures of the latest mountain Jack has conquered.






Friday, October 17, 2008

A Moment of Awe

As I was unloading the groceries the other day (one of my least favorite jobs), I was awe-struck. I am amazed at how God continues to provide for our needs...and how often we fail to realize that. It is so easy to complain about what He doesn't provide, that we fail to recognize all that He does provide. I have the ability to drive my vehicle to the grocery store, walk through the aisles, pick out what I "need" and purchase them with cash and make meals for my family.

We've recently cut waaaaaay back on our "eating out" budget and that is a big deal for us. We enjoy eating out and sometimes eating at home just isn't as fun. But we know that we need to be good stewards of our finances...and spending $20 on mediocre food (when we could have the same meal...much healthier and tastier at home for a fraction of the cost) just isn't accomplishing that goal. I spent quite a bit of time coming up with yummy menus that we would enjoy eating...but that were also low-cost. Sometimes this feels like a horrible chore to me. I would much rather just buy what I want from the store without having to think about cost or the budget. I grumble and complain about having to watch what I spend and what store I have to spend it at. Way.Too.Often.

Back to my moment of awe - as I was unloading bags and bags of groceries, I was brought to tears by God's goodness. His grace and mercy. I've been doing a Bible study at church on the life of David and we've been talking about having a "Who am I?" moment with God. A moment when you stop and ask God, "Who am I? That you have blessed me and my family so much?" (2 Samuel 7:18) Last week we were asked to recollect a time when we've had one of those moments...and I couldn't think of anything...which made me sad...and upset that I haven't stopped enough to recognize what God has done for me. So, on Monday, God gave me one of those moments. It's such a small thing - groceries. Something we almost always take for granted. But as I watched my pantry, refrigerator and freezer get filled up I asked, "Who am I?" While there are families all over the world - in my community and across the globe - not able to provide food for their family's next meal, God has graciously given us the resources to have more food than we'll ever need. He is good!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Renaissance Fair - Minus the Sarcasm

So, the real reason we went to the Renaissance Fair last month was to spend time with my dad and his wife. Unfortunately, I didn't get that many pictures of all of us. Here are a few, though.




Jack chugging some of Kiki's lemonade.




Jack and Abuelo watching the jousting.










Huh?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Boy and His Dog - Part II

Jack has been sick this week, so we've been spending a lot of time inside. Buster's new "bed" is the couch (unfortunately), so Jack's enjoyed snuggling with Buster when they're both in the mood to be still (which is almost never). And, I think Buster secretly enjoys it too!









I was telling Jack to be nice to Buster, so Jack assured me that he would "just hold his tail." So he did.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Overachiever!


I am trying something new this time. I came up with 2 weeks worth of dinners and I am just going to pick each day from the list. That way there isn't a meal assigned to a specific day - it just seems that it wasn't working too well that way. So, here you go!

*Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken

*Stroganoff (with tofu instead of ground meat) with Green Beans

*Nasty Nachos (with lentils instead of ground meat)

*Red Beans & Rice

*Tuna Casserole with Garlic Bread and a veggie

*Meatloaf (with real meat!) with Crash Hot Potatoes

*Tacos (with lentils) with seasoned tater tots (like Taco John's!)

*Crockpot Chicken Soup

*Oven-baked Corn Dogs with slaw (Rachael Ray recipe from 365: No Repeats)

*Banana Pancakes with Bacon & Eggs (We had this last night, but without eggs...we were out!)

*Buffalo Chicken Wings with Fried Pickles (copycat Hooter's meal!)

*Tater Tot Casserole with Green Beans

*Veggie Burgers with Potato Wedges


Since we've been cutting out a lot of meat lately, I've been forcing myself to eat beans. It's tough! I've never liked beans (probably because of an incident in my childhood when I stuck a kidney bean up my nose...that's all we'll say about that), but they are a great replacement for meat and they're so healthy. Red beans and rice will really be a stretch for me. But it doesn't get much healthier (or more frugal!) than that.


Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menus.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sometimes you have to lighten up

It seems that lately God is teaching me about letting go. Sometimes I need to have some fun - even when (especially when) I'm having "one of those days." So, here's some video for your enjoyment. Lonnie & I were trying to teach Jack how to roll down a hill. We were at a state park and were having a really difficult time with Jack. We stopped what we were doing and ran around the grass and rolled down the hill. It was the best medicine.


video





video

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!!!


Monday - Chicken Pot Pie (but, with this instead of chicken....shhhhhhh)

Tuesday - Butternut Squash Soup with garlic bread

Wednesday - French Toast with eggs and fruit

Thursday - Lentil Haystacks with green beans

Friday - Homemade Pizza (Canadian bacon & pineapple) and breadsticks

Saturday - Pasta Salad of some sort

Sunday - Eat out? Please?


Don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for many many many more menus!

Homemade Pita Bread



I am never buying pita bread from the store again! It is so easy to make it at home - and much more delicious, too!

Pita Bread
(adapted from The Fresh Loaf)

3 cups bread flour (I'm sure all-purpose flour would work fine, too)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 packet yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the oil and 1 1/4 cup water and mix ingredients in mixer (with dough hook). All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water. Allow mixer to knead dough for about 10 minutes. (Or you can knead by hand for same amount of time on lightly floured surface.)

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn't necessary.

Eat them!!!

**As you can see from the pictures, not all of my pitas puffed up like they were "supposed to." But, they still turned out awesome. They were just more like flat-bread than the pita bread that we're used to buying at the store.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Why everyone should have a kid...





Because we all need a good laugh once in awhile.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Boy and His Dog

We've had Buster for over a year now. Jack has grown to love him and loves playing with him. He has even started bossing the dog around. We figure that since he doesn't have a sibling, he needs someone to boss around - so the dog gets to be the brunt of the bossing. Here are some pictures of my boy and his dog playing in the yard this morning.



Chasing Buster.




The Stand-off.




"Buster's maybe kinda tired."




The good dog.





Here's my other "boy" and his dog.