Friday, October 31, 2008

Baby Boo Brownies

Here's a Halloween mini brownie recipe that is wayyyyy too good:

Make any regular brownie mix.  Set aside.  

In another bowl, mix up: 
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
5 TBLSP butter, softened
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBLSP flour

when this is mixed together well, sprinkle in some mini chips.  (If your brownie mix has chocolate chips in it, then leave the chocolate chips out of the cream cheese mixture.)

Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin papers  (cute!!).  Put in about a tablespoon of the regular brownie batter, then a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture.  Bake until done; somewhere around 25 minutes or so at 350.  These are very good and easy!


Hunt 'Em Up

Here are some pics of Mas as a pheasant hunter.  He is off to the pumpkin patch today, where he'll go on a hayride and hear a story, then back to school for trick-or-treating.  Should be a good day!  For the first time in our Halloween history, he seemed to enjoy getting his costume on today; even showing off a bit for the gang on the van...he may finally be starting to understand this whole "dress up and eat candy" holiday that happens once a year!  Very exciting!  I am going to be making a ton o' snacks for a card party tonight, while listening to scary movies on tv...yay!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

freeze frame, da**it!

Give me one moment in time....just one!  I tried to get pictures of the kids yesterday at the national monument that is only a few short miles from the house...about 2 of them.  Anywhoo, 14 cooperated nicely.  Mas, not so much.  He did begin to understand the drill, though; whenever I would stop along the path, he would stop, back up into the rock wall or large rock to sit on, and sit/stand there and wait for me to snap pics....of him looking over to where he could hear the water, or looking up at the birds flying, or look over at the deer leaping through the tall prairie grass...looking at mom was an option never really even thought of!  Kind of a hoot, in a way, but would have been nice to capture a few good pics.  The coolest, scariest, Halloween-y type moment was when I was snapping individual pics of Riley, hearing voices.  She said, hurry up, there are people coming up the path...the thing was, there was no one there...and we both heard the voices.  In fact, we got there 15 minutes prior to closing, and the lady let us go through anyway, knowing the building would be locked by the time we walked through....hmmm...wish Ghost Hunters had been along to do some EVP work!  But, I digress...Here are some examples of what I was working with...I always find more humor in the pics that don't work....(that, and the grandmas and grandpas read this blog, so I don't want them to see the "good" pics yet.)  As far as the "great" pics, we're not there yet.  Let's put it this way, I was hoping to get a pic to adorn our Christmas cards...didn't find that yet.  And by the way, if you're thinking, "I wonder if she tried this, or that, or taking his tiny stuffed buffalo zipper pull and having it perch on top of the lens, or singing dora the explorer, or saying please look at mommy's head, or what's on mommy's head, or please just work with me, or why aren't your guardian angels helping us out here....", yes, each idea was tried!  HAHA!  To her credit, though, 14 did very well and was very calm and cooperative...who knew?  I did snag some bee-yoooo-tiful pics of her alone, so the day was not a wash!  Here, are the pictures for you to enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

tales from the backseat

Heard from the backseat while driving away from grandma's house tonight, about 10 seconds of crying, followed by our speech therapist's voice on the GoTalk saying, "stay", "stay", "stay", "stay."  Mom:  "Mason, do you want to stay at grandma's house?"  Mas:  "stay", "stay", "stay".  Nevermind that the "stay" button has a picture of a person holding their hand out to a dog to make them stay, or that it is right next to the "Skipper" button, but my son knew enough to push this button to indicate he wanted to stay at his grandma's house.  Wow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Patrick, your genius is showing...

Oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a, comin' down the street, oh please, let it be for me!  Today, the wagon came for Mason!  His new, shiny Dynavox Palmtop3 is now here!  How bee-yoo-tiful!  It is just as shiny and nice as you might expect...come to think of it, can we just put it on a shelf and admire it's beauty, before it's covered in drool and teddy grahams?  Oh, I guess not!  I was able to sit down with his speech therapist today to have a seems very awesome and full of many options that some of them have to be turned off or dumbed down, for now, until he gets the hang of it.  It's amazing the capabilities the device offers...much more than I expected it would.  Now, to teach Mas about all of the lovely buttons.  Had a great story from his speech therapist....yesterday, she went to work with him in his room, and she asked him if he wanted to ride bike or swing.  He chose ride bike, so they left the room to head to the bikes.  He went the other direction, down the hall, so she followed him to see where he was going.  He proceeded to walk down the hall and stop in front of the elevator.  He pushed the button and stepped in.  She followed.  He pushed the button to go to the basement.  Once they got there and the doors opened, he walked down the hall to the day student's nursing office, opened the door, turned on the light, and sat down at their table.  His therapist said, "Do you have an owie?"  He pointed to the place on his right wrist where he was bitten by another student earlier this week.  (!)  Then, they sat and waited, since there weren't any nurses in the room at the time.  She finally said, do you want to wait for a nurse to come back, or go ride bike?  He got up, grabbed her hand, turned off the light and walked back to the elevator to get to the bikes.  HELLO!  A very nice AHA moment, witnessed by someone other than mom!  YAY!  I'm always glad when he shows his smarts to someone other than us....what a relief!  Anyway, once he figures this device out, watch out, 'cause he'll be a communicating machine!

Monday, October 20, 2008

thoughts dropping like leaves

We just found out Mason's augmentative communication device was shipped today....wooOOO-hooOOOO!!!  Now, for him (and us) to figure it out.  And, to worry about getting the $3500 device dirty, having drool spill on it, taking it off when he goes to the bathroom, etc.  I can hear it now...."Don't drool on that--it's $3500!!"  "Clean that spilled oatmeal off of it right away--it's $3500!!!"  "Watch out or he will throw it in the toilet when he goes to the bathroom--and it's $3500!!"  Ahhh, such fun things to end up in our vocabulary.  Just so something ends up in Mason's vocabulary, eh?  If we spend more money now and Mas is able to learn how to effectively communicate in all situations with anyone, and that enables him to reside in a group home someday as opposed to a nursing home with a one-on-one aide or in the care of the state, then that is money well spent, is it not?  I saw an article on Yahoo this morning about autistic parents fighting insurance companies to get their children's therapies covered.  It's amazing to me that our country has not yet learned how to take care of our people with special needs.  If we can't take care of our weakest parts of society, i.e. the handicapped, elderly, those with addictions, etc., then what kind of society are we, really?  We can all sit there in our smugness and say, "Well, I'LL never have a child with a disability," or, "I'LL never be disabled."  But, the sad truth is, we are all just one minor accident or one scary virus away from being handicapped or having a child who is handicapped.  This affects all of us, folks.  If you are one of those people who are blessed with a healthy family, children, and friends, just hang on to your hats, because the day will come when you or someone you love will be affected by a disability.  The other frightening fact is, autism is an example of one of those disorders that shows no sign of letting up; it's not going anywhere.  If anything, it is getting worse.  If we don't get a handle on autism today, who knows where we'll be with it 20 or 30 years from now.  If a person with a completely healthy family gets pregnant and does everything right, barely even taking a Tylenol during the 9 months of gestation, can have a child with a brain that has a myriad of things wrong with it, let me tell you it can happen to anyone.  So, take a minute to read those articles about insurance companies and autism, or insurance companies and any other disorder, because the failure of insurance companies and society to care for our weakest is only going to leave all of us weaker in the end.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the dung beatle

Ringo Starr has a new You Tube clip out (peace and love, baby) asking you to no longer send anything to be signed...he no longer has the time.  That's right, folks, the biggest joke of a musician ever, the weakest Beatle by a long shot, the one with tone deaf ears and absolutely zero charisma, (and a voice to match) has mandated that he will no longer sign anything after October 20th.  My question is, who in the world was asking him to sign things before?  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

all's quiet with the shepherds...

Am reading "Seeing Voices" by Oliver Sacks, a book about sign language and language acquisition...I wouldn't really recommend reading it unless you know someone with no speech/language, or are that is quite "jargon-y" and written in a very left-brained manner.  To me, it is a much harder read than his "Awakenings", or "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat", but that could be because they both contained case studies, my favorite method of learning about anything.  Anywhoo, in this book Dr. Sacks mentions King Psammetichos, an Egyptian ruler in 7 BC who was setting out to prove that Egyptian was the world's oldest language.  To attempt to prove this, he gave his newborn twins to two shepherds, instructing them not to speak to them, or in front of them, at all.  The infants were kept in total silence continuously, away from their family, until at age 2 one of the twins said "bekos", which means "bread" in Phrygian.  He then concluded that Phrygian was the oldest language.  What the experiment really ended up proving, (besides the fact that Egyptian kings are wacko and this man was a complete, raving lunatic) is that language is situational, meaning it is dependent on input in a child's environment.  (By the way, where was the mother in all of this?!)  It did kind of knock me in between the eyes as far as whether we have done enough to help Mas learn to communicate...I will say I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed considerably, just knowing we have tried just about everything we have known to try.  We at least have one up on Egyptian Kings from 7 BC.  As we wade through the red tape required to get Mas his latest communication device, I still can't help but appreciate the fact that most people are given the ability to speak.  My nickname growing up was "Motormouth", so it is even more odd that I should have a child with no voice!  And green eyes!!  And blonde hair!!!  Just a nice little reminder that sometimes we have to let go of the handlebars and let the universe do the driving, if only to illustrate to us that we can't control everything.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

What Price Voice?

Dealing with insurance right now, trying to get a new communication device for Mas.  What a joy, dealing with paper pushers...called two people at our insurance company, got two completely different answers.  Just a tip to those of you out there that make calls to desk jockeys:  get their name before you go any further...have them spell it if necessary.  This way, you can have all the info you need when you have to call back later.  We are talking about a lot of money to give Mas his voice...would have been easier if the guy upstairs had given him one of those...would have been free and would have been portable.  Is it "that which does not kill you makes you stronger," or "that which does not kill you probably will eventually?!"  (insert meek laugh here)  I'm not sure of the answer, but I know I don't like dealing with insurance companies...especially when the answers vary depending on whom you talk to.  Be glad you got your voice as a package deal at birth; much easier to deal with that way!

Friday, October 10, 2008

unfriendly crafters

Had an interesting experience at the fabric store in Sioux Falls today.  I am stocking up on blue fabrics that have things Mas is interested in on them; hot air balloons, airplanes, clouds, stars, penguins, space, etc.  Spent about 10 minutes picking out fabrics, then went to wait in line for them to cut it.  There were two cutting tables, one on each side of the store.  There was one person on each table.  In front of me at the time were two people; a woman with a cart FULL of fleece and material, ($450 worth!!) and another woman with her arms full of material.  I thought, no need to stand here for half an hour and stare; I'll just walk around some more and go check out the patterns, to see if I'm crazy enough to sew a costume for Mas for Halloween...(I'm not!)...went back after about 10 minutes of browsing to see the woman with the full cart is about halfway through her pile, and the other woman is gone.  I decided to buckle down and stand in line, since time was getting away from me and I knew I had to get going.  The person cutting her material had to go on in great detail about each fabric, coughing up her lungs on each one and commenting on the print, pattern, or texture.  I was trying to be patient, realizing I wasn't the only one in a hurry.  Then, they started on the fleece pile for cutting, and the woman "just wasn't sure" how much of each one she needed...which required cutting lady to go into a long, monotonish-diatribe about fleece blankets and how much fleece is needed....agonizing, to say the least.  After 20 minutes (yes, 20!) standing behind her, she was finally finished and they got to my pile.  The cutting lady pulled up my fabrics, then sighed and called someone else over to cut it so she could go have her lunch.  That woman came over, and proceeded to write each number on the end of the bolt down, so she could begin cutting.  (I was thinking, even Wal-Mart manages to have the little bolt guns that scan those numbers in!!  Hello?!)  I made small talk with two other women behind me, who were commenting on my material and sharing in my waiting (writhing?!) pain, but both were very graceful about it.  Finally, I was done, and made a beeline for the checkout...where the fleece/fabric queen was paying!  10 minutes into it, her check would not clear the little machine, so they had to call the manager over to deal with it (i.e. stare at the check and make frustrated faces).  Eventually, the lady behind me commented how she can't believe how little help they have, how no one should come there on their lunch hour, etc.  I sat and quietly commiserated with her, wondering how much longer this could take, when another checkout person showed up and said, "I'll help whoever's next."  Lo and behold, the 5 people behind me ran over to that line and cut me and the one behind me off!  HELLO!  How rude is that?  The lady behind me said, "I always thought quilters were nice."  (LOL!)  I said, not so much!  Finally, after grimacing at the check long enough, the manager slipped it into a small hole and it was my turn.  I managed to (quickly) pay and get out of dodge.  The moral of this story is, crafters are crafty, and not necessarily in a good way!  

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

partners in crime

Interesting side note:  made two loaves of pumpkin/chocolate chip bread for us and some friends of ours.  Left the second loaf on the island for the hubby to remove from the pan once it was cool.  Came home and learned that Mas helped himself to the loaf, coating his face and hands with chocolate, and then managed to drop the rest of the loaf on the floor, where the dogs inhaled what was left.  I can only assume they all enjoyed it!

does he have a headache?

Friday morning: noticed a slight runny nose; no color, no cough, no fever.  Used a zicam swab and hoped for the best.  Saturday morning: noticed same symptoms, used zicam swab and again hoped we had caught it early.  Sunday morning: ditto.  Monday morning: send him to school with some motrin; wondering if he was really sick or if this was going to be "just a cold" and not turn into anything else.  (Wouldn't that be a wonderful, miraculous world?!)  Monday at 5pm: take him to the doc, where he shows a temp of 98.9...go to great lengths explaining the fact that myself and my kids never reach a temp above 96.1 unless we are sick.  Finally, the doc comes in, takes a look in his throat, and says, his left tonsil is just huge!  Then, looking in his left ear, says, his ear is infected and is the color of your shirt!  (that would be bright red)  So, here we were, low grade fever, no cough, acting and eating pretty much normal, but walking around with an infected ear and a huge tonsil.  Poor kiddo!  The best part of the appointment was the nurse asking me, "Does he have a headache?"  Ummm.....I have NO IDEA because he DOES NOT SPEAK!  Hello?!  HAHA!  I fought the urge to use sarcasm; instead, explained he doesn't have a button for "headache" on his GoTalk, so I have no idea.  (the new device will have pain and body buttons, to show where it hurts)  Tomorrow he is off to a neurology appointment....first one in 5 years.  Wonder if they'll have anything exciting to bring to the table?  14 had an upright bass lesson tonight...wondered while I was carrying it up to the 3rd floor of the music building whether flute might have been a better instrument to learn!  :o)  She told me how she thinks it would be interesting to work for NASA and design things to investigate planets, or be a coroner, or be a research scientist to study diseases.  Man, what a strange ying/yang world we live in!  One kid going to the doc for the problems in his brain, the other one looking at an open vista of possibilities because of the good things in her brain.  What a wild ride.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

if freddy krueger owned a dog spa...

Decided today was a nice enough day to give Skipper a nice shave outside...mind you, whenever I decide to do this, the wind is from the "blow fine pieces of black and white dog hair into your nose, eyes, and mouth" direction.  Today was no exception.  As I shaved him and tried to do my best Cesar Milan imitation to keep him still, I noticed the shaver was changing pitch and volume...looking down, I noticed I had lost the protective blade, so I was basically shaving off ALL of his hair...right on top of his head...where everyone can see it.  I figured I could even things out by shaving more of it, but here's what:  that is impossible to do with a dog shaver.  It just kept making uneven little cuts next to the other uneven little cut...argh...decided to move on to his neck.  I was concentrating on keeping things even, enjoying the cool weather and blue sky, and then, hmmmmm, why is the pitch changing again?  Because the cover was off...AGAIN!  His neck had nice little uneven cuts....all over the place.  I tried to even it out, but to no avail.  I finally decided to go ahead and cut his belly hair short (he is basically Cousin It if he isn't given a shave now and then...) and thought I could do it without the blade cover, since I wanted it short there anyway.  Right.  It didn't work as masterfully as I had hoped.  Now, his belly is full of nice little uneven cuts all over the place.  Let's just say a bath with whitening shampoo and a lot of sweat and laughter later, he doesn't look much better than when we started, but he is cooler, although now he has to stay inside to avoid being mocked by the neighborhood dogs.  I guess I won't be getting a job as a dog groomer anytime soon.  And they make it look so EASY on tv!  Go figure.  This picture is a pre-shave photo...couldn't bare to post a current one!  But just look at that face!  Hopefully he will understand!!  :o)

a place in this world

Had a sobering thought the time Mas is 18, I will be 47.  47?!?!  When did that happen?  I will finally be able to become a productive member of the workforce again, but no one will want to hire a dried up 47 year old stay-at-home mom!  I can see it now...what are your qualifications?  Hmmmm...I can change 10 diapers a day, feed an octopus-armed child without it spilling, I can take care of 3 dogs, I can answer phones, take messages, take pictures, play trumpet, pick up a multitude of toys from a vast variety of locations, mow, pick up dog poo, and sometimes make something resembling supper.  I don't know what this would qualify me for...probably being a mom!  Ironic, eh?  While I am blessed to be able to stay home and raise my kids and take care of my family, I can't help but think that my myelin sheath is slowing down and my nerve impulses are starting to dry up...I wish I could challenge my brain a bit more while I am still able.  As I struggle to find my place in this world, I guess I need to remind myself that the world needs all types, and I guess this is what I was put on this earth to do.  Can't help but think about now that the whole working-my-behind-off-in-college-to-get-my-degree route could have been avoided for my current vocation.  I guess hindsight is definitely 20/20.