A Modern Day Fairy Tale: December 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: A Look Back

As the year draws to an end, I decided to join the many other bloggers out there for their year in review. 2010 has been quite the eventful year for our family- we had our ups and downs, made some great new friends, made a lot of progress with Shaun, it was a big year for us in many ways! Here are a few of the highlights!

-We settled into a new house (which we love). We had technically moved in December, but had only been in two weeks before heading home for the holidays. My house has continued to change and has become my favorite place we've lived since being married!

-Shaun's train addiction grew... and grew and grew. Leading mommy to completely redo his room in Thomas (while his playroom became a general train room!)

-My younger sister came to visit in March! We don't get visitors often usually so it was very exciting, and a great visit. Despite the rain. I think the sun was only out 2 days of the visit. (Which was wonderful during our trip to Hollywood, walking back to our vehicle in the pouring down rain...oh my!! But we ended up going the weekend of the academy awards and got to see Sherri Shepard (love her), Ryan Seacrest and Mr Jay!!) A fun experience overall.

-Easter brought our first California earthquake worth mentioning. And a few more to follow. Hmm, not necessarily our best experience of the year but worth mentioning at least!

-In June, we attended the TACA (Talk about Curing Autism) family picnic...what a blast!!

-In July, my husband was promoted to Staff Sergeant!!! He had worked hard for this and I was so proud. And I was given the honor of pinning his new rank on. We also traveled home later in the month for a rare summer visit for Matt's predeployment leave.

-August was a big month. Shaun turned 3, I turned 23. I got my kitchenaid I'd wanted for so long. But most importantly, Matt deployed. It was a rough month.

-In September Shaun started preschool!!! An exciting and scary time, but it has made a world of difference for him!!!

-In October, my best friend Erica came for a much needed visit and we walked for the Autism Speaks walk.

-In November, we saw Paul Walker at LAX. That was pretty much the highlight of the month. Haha. No pictures unfortunately. He was trying to blend so we didn't draw attention. He knew we'd recognized him though, he kept glancing our way, I think to see if we planned on saying anything.

-And finally, this month has brought new adventures as well, most importantly our train trip across country! And a great visit with the family!! What a way to end the year surrounded by those we love!

I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe new year and that 2011 brings lots of good memories! I look forward to what the year has to bring! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 2 Tuesday: Resolutions Edition!

I am linking up with a wonderful blog, Undomestic Momma, for Top 2 Tuesday, and this weeks theme is:


Yep, it's that time to start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year. Mostly I just hope to get through the year, or more specifically, the final 8 months of this never ending deployment!!! But I'll focus on a few specifics...it will make the time pass faster anyway, if I have something to keep myself busy, right? So, here we go.

1. Redecorate and Organize My House. Okay, maybe the redecorating is too easy- I'm always changing things here and there, but the organizing definitely needs a bit more work. Right now I have two main decorating projects in mind- my guest room and my kitchen. The guest room is mostly a blank slate and I have big plans for it now that it's empty again. I am sure I will post before and after pictures as I go! The kitchen will mostly just be a little rearranging a once again redoing the top of my shelves. I am planning on buying some new mixing bowls and putting the rest of my vintage pyrex that I still currently use up as decor and adding a few vintage cookbooks etc...basically, just give the kitchen more of a vintage look. Hopefully all goes as planned! I am also hoping to reorganize my son's playroom a bit. He has so many trains and tracks...they are hard to keep track of! It might take me all year!

2. Continue to improve in the kitchen. This has been my resolution for the past two years. The first year I didn't know how to cook at all really, but I taught myself and stuck to it and found that I actually enjoyed it. My husband would say I've come a long way. This past year, I have learned even more and started venturing outside of my comfort zone a bit more- homemade bread, desserts from scratch, etc. Like I said, I've come a long way, but there is always room for improvement, right? And so this year I will keep working on it!!

Some other things I'd like to accomplish this year: improve my driving (perhaps this should be on my top 2, I have only started driving again, for the first time in about 4 years, within the last 6 months or so- driving gives me panic attacks so it's been a challenge but I've pushed through and I'm getting there!), find time to do something for myself- whether that means reading a book, starting back on the Wii Fit or doing crafts- just something for me...this one might be hard to do!, save money, calm my nerves, get Shaun back into ABA and create (finally) some sort of consistency for him...and did I mention, just get through the year?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

What a busy few weeks it's been. And stressful. I will write more on our trip later when I have a bit more time on my hands, but for now, it's time to link up with Jamie for What I'm Loving Wednesday!!!

I am loving:

how much Shaun loved our train trip! It was not without it's issues- last minute change of plans that left me worried we weren't going to be able to get to the train station, a few meltdowns at the train station, etc...but once we were on the train, all was well! If you know my son personally, or if you've been following long, you know my little guy is obsessed with trains and so this was heaven to him. He thought I was the best mommy in the world!!!

I am loving:

being able to spend time with my family and friends. Even if I cannot spend the holidays with my husband, at least I am surrounded by people who love us.

I am loving:
these songs!

I Celebrate the Day by Relient K.

I love Relient K, and this has to be one of the most perfect Christmas song, and a great reminder of what it is we are celebrating.
"And the first time that you opened your eyes did you realize you would be my savior? And the first breath that left your lips, did you know that you would change this world forever?And I celebrate the day that you were born to die. So I could one day pray for you to save my life."

Bring Him Home Santa.

This one is very sad, especially for those with deployed loved ones, but absolutely gorgeous. I know I would certainly trade all the gifts in the world to have my husband home with us for the holidays.

The Christmas Shoes by Newsong.

This is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs, even after all this time, it still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Amazing.

And these are just a few of the many! I truly just love Christmas music- Grown Up Christmas List, O Holy Night, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing...so many to name and you can't go wrong!!!

And finally I am loving this poem!!

Autism Night Before Christmas
by Cindy Waeltermann

Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse

We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract

The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When nightmares of terror
Ran through my OWN head

Did I get the right gift
The right color
And style
Would there be a tantrum
Or even, maybe, a smile?

Our relatives come
But they don’t understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from flapping his hands.

“He needs discipline,” they say
“Just a well-needed smack,
You must learn to parent…”
And on goes the attack

We smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The argument is moot
Let them all take a side

We know what it’s like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
Achievements, regressions…

But what they don’t know
And what they don’t see
Is the joy that we feel
Over simplicity

He said “hello”
He ate something green!
He told his first lie!
He did not cause a scene!

He peed on the potty
Who cares if he’s ten,
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again!

Others don’t realize
Just how we can cope
How we bravely hang on
At the end of our rope

But what they don’t see
Is the joy we can’t hide
When our children with autism
Make the tiniest stride

We may look at others
Without the problems we face
With jealousy, hatred
Or even distaste,

But what they don’t know
Nor sometimes do we
Is that children with autism
Bring simplicity.

We don’t get excited
Over expensive things
We jump for joy
With the progress work brings

Children with autism
Try hard every day
That they make us proud
More than words can say.

They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach a star in the sky

So to those who don’t get it
Or can’t get a clue
Take a walk in my shoes
And I’ll assure you

That even 10 minutes
Into the walk
You’ll look at me
With respect, even shock.

You will realize
What it is I go through
And the next time you judge
I can assure you

That you won’t say a thing
You’ll be quiet and learn,
Like the years that I did
When the tables were turned…….

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meet Me On Monday

I have several new followers (thanks in large part to my being features on Simply Sunshine and Daisies!) so I found 'Meet Me on Monday' here, and thought it would be a wonderful way for my new readers to get to know me a little better!

1. How do you order your steak?
Not at all! I don't eat steak. Or any meat, only seafood!

2. Are you superstitious about anything?
Jokingly, yes! I'll kid around about common superstitions, etc so those who don't know me well, might think I really am, but in reality, not so much!

3. Who is your best friend (not including your spouse)?
I have been lucky enough to have a few friends whom I consider my best friends. But there are two people in particular who have been there for me through everything, regardless. So to keep this as short as possible, I'll only write about them.
The first is my friend Brittany, who I met back in the 8th Grade. After coming back to school from being home schooled for a few years, she made me feel very welcome. We've had a few disagreements over the years, but through it all, we've stood by one another. She is one of my oldest friends and I am forever grateful for her friendship. She has become a part of my family and I love her!
The second is my friend Erica whom I met at church camp oh so many years ago. We have been through many of the same struggles in our lives, and because of that she understands me in a way that no one else can. I would not have made it through without her in my life.

4. When is the last time your wore a dress (for the guys...a suit)?
I wear dresses often really! I would probably wear them more if they didn't make it a bit more difficult to chase after my little guy!!

5. Do you have any trips scheduled?
Yes! Which is why I'm posting this today instead of Monday! (Though by the time most of you read this, it will be Monday!) But anyway, we leave tomorrow for a cross country train trip to be with the families for the holidays! Two days, alone with a toddler on a train! I'm in for an adventure that's for sure! But as I've mentioned before, he loves trains so it will be an amazing experience for him. Now, if I can get over this illness, all will be good! Unfortunately I've been fighting colds for a few weeks now, and just when I was starting to get better, it hit me again yesterday worse than before- fever, all over aches, the works! We could certainly use all the prayers you can send that this trip goes well, and that Shaun transitions fairly easily in all the upcoming changes! This might very well be my last post for a few weeks while we're out of town, so if so I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday! (My Favorite Things!)

It’s Wednesday yet again, which means I’m linking up with Jamie for ‘What I’m Loving Wednesday’! Today’s edition should really be titled ‘A Few of my Favorite Things’! (I never understood how this was considered a holiday song, but whatever!) But anyway, today as always I am loving:

Vintage Pyrex

I have a nice little collection already, my current favorite being the butterprint cinderella bowls. This is still a work in progress, but as you can see what I have so far is currently on display in my kitchen. I have a few that I actually use as well, but I think I will be replacing those with some new bowls and putting those up as well! Any excuse to get new bowls- I love bowls/dishes in general really, but these vintage pyrex are definitely my favorite!!

There are also several patterns that I look forward to adding to my collection in time!! Check out this awesome blog if you're a pyrex fan too!


I’m addicted to cute aprons! I have a small but growing collection! My absolute favorite is this *I think* authentic vintage apron. Would you believe I bought it at a yard sale for 50 cents? The lady said it belonged to her grandmother! I thought it felt old (if that makes sense) and tried to find it online and while I didn’t find this exact print, I did find another with the same style that said it was from the 50s…regardless, it’s absolutely adorable, and one that I rarely use! I seriously need to learn to sew though…if you’ve never looked at the cuter aprons- they are not cheap!!

And in case you hadn’t guessed
I just love vintage things period!
Of course, the 50s are my favorite. I tell people that I was born in the wrong time! (Which was reaffirmed when shopping at the Dollar Tree, I found myself having the same conversation with my sister in law as these two little old ladies were having…I’m 23 going on 70!!) Things seemed much simpler back then! And the clothes, how can you not love the clothes? Cute little dresses, cardigans, pearls…you can’t go wrong!

I'm also loving: my Kitchenaid! Seriously, the best gift ever! My husband bought this for me for my 23rd birthday back in August and I am so glad he did. I had been wanting one forever, but I'm not one that likes to spend money, so he made me get it (honestly, he just wanted homemade bread;)) I have been using it a lot this holiday season and it makes things so much easier!!

And finally, the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's…say what you will, but you can’t deny the woman has style!! Here are a few favorites:

Hmm, in retrospect, maybe I should have just summed it up with, "I love kitchen things!" Hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday and enjoys this holiday season!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper: Christmas Sugar Cookies!

I love the holidays: the music, the decorations and of course, the baking! I have found myself doing much more baking than usual this year. (I'm going to blame my husband for buying me a Kitchenaid for my birthday in August! But I love it and him for it!) The trouble with baking though is that it's not easy to do with a hyper 3 year old! But as these pictures will show you- it at least makes for a fun adventure!

Shaun was throwing handfuls of flour in the air, shouting out "Christmas!" My entire dining room was covered in flour but at least he had his fun.

And then it came time to decorate. At first I was trying to make them cute and perfect...and then things started going wrong and Shaun decided he wanted in on the fun so I figured, why not!? I think their special recipient will appreciate the thought!!

I used a few basic recipes, but for anyone interested, here you go!

Christmas Sugar Cookies:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks salted butter softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt.
3. In large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add flour mixture and blend until just combined.
4. Gather dough into ball, flatten and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in fridge for one hour or until firm.
5. On a floured surface, roll out to 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes.
6. Bake 13 to 15.

(Recipe from Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever)

You can find the icing recipe here, though I used vanilla extract since I had it on hand!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday baking as much as we have been! I would love to hear what everyone else has been making as well!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An Autism Mommy's Worst Nightmare: Elopement!

When anyone comes to visit my house, one of the first things you will hear me say is to be sure to lock the chain lock at all times. Perhaps to some, that sounds like paranoia, but if you have a runner like my Shaun, you understand all too well how serious this is.

Shortly after moving into our new home, we faced every parents worst nightmare firsthand. Shaun has always been really quick with figuring out how things worked. He was two at the time, but had already figured out how to lock and unlock doors. In our old apartment, the lock had been higher and just out of his reach. This was not the case in our new home and I did not realize this in time. While he was watching a movie in mommy and daddy's room, mommy was working on decorating his room, checking every few minutes or so because, well, he's a mischievous little booger. So imagine my surprise when just a minute after my last check in, the doorbell rang and I came to the door to discover it had been unlocked and cracked open. We were extremely lucky that the one neighbor who knew who he was had seen him strolling down the street and brought him back to us quickly. But in that moment your mind races with all of the what ifs- what if he'd been kidnapped or worse? what if a cop had found him? What if? What if? What if? We went to Home Depot that night and called housing to come install chain locks, high enough that he cannot reach. As he gets older and taller we will add alarms, bells, whatever it takes. He has tried to push screens out of windows and sneak out that way, so we only leave open windows that are partially blocked by our couch or that are high enough he cannot reach. He has recently learned to unlock windows, but at this point does not have the strength to open them on his own. Nonetheless we will be looking into ways to 'autism-proof' those as well. Whatever it takes to keep him safe and sound in our home will be done. We also use strollers nearly everywhere we go. Sometimes he'll do okay with holding hands, but most often he will try to wiggle free and given the chance he will run off. He has no sense of danger, no fear or strangers and very little communication if he were to be lost in a crowd. It's a very scary reality and we do not take it lightly.

For as lucky as we were, others have not been so lucky. The trouble with these situations is that all too often the children (or even adults) do not have the communication skills to help others find their way home. Some are completely nonverbal. Others, like my Shaun, have plenty of words but can't always use them to communicate much. He can tell you he wants something, and sometimes answer yes or no questions appropriately, though not always, and that's about the extent of it...unless you want a verbatim play by play of his school day or one of his favorite movies, but really how is that helpful. And let's not even get into the idea of running off in the nude- oh yes, it has happened. Shaun is most certainly a nudist!

I write this today because I woke up this morning to discover that someone had left my chain lock undone and while Shaun did not notice before I did, all of those emotions and what ifs still come flooding back. Perhaps it's one of those things that people truly don't understand, and maybe you really can't until it happens to you, but one of the goals for this blog has become to raise awareness about autism and special needs and so, this is definitely something worth knowing. If you know any parents of children with autism, and they sometimes seem a little strict on things, know that chances are they are strict on these things for a reason. There is never room for brain lapse when it comes to autism and safety, and we only do what it takes to help our children in every way possible.

For more information on autism and elopement/wandering, click here!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I've been featured!

A little bit ago I was contacted by an awesome blogger, Liv Kit, to do an interview on her blog 'Simply Sunshine and Daisies'. She has been doing features on bloggers with less than 100 followers and I was one of the chosen, so for anyone interested in reading that interview, you can find it here. Enjoy!!! And while you're over there, check out the rest of her blog as well:)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday!!

It's time once again for WILW with Jamie!

I am loving that we leave to go home for the holidays in less than 2 weeks! Where does the time go!? I am super excited about this, but we could use all the prayers you could send our way for this trip- cross country train trip alone with an autistic child- oy, what have I gotten myself into. But Shaun loves trains and I am certain this will be a fun experience for both of us! Besides, the destination is certainly worth it! When I told Shaun we were taking the train for Christmas, he heard the few parts he understood- train, Christmas- and put together then idea that we are going on the Polar Express...hmm, I hope they serve hot chocolate...maybe do a little song and dance.

I am loving my homemade Christmas gifts! I decided to be creative this year and have been working on these things since October and am getting close to finishing up! Obviously, I cannot share photos of these just yet, but I've taken them to share once the holidays are over. Homemade gifts are always so much more personal. And when you have a lot of people to shop for, much cheaper as well.

I am loving Smallville! Yes, I'm a dork that way. lol. I bought the 9th season on DVD on Black Friday for $10 so I've been catching up since then, starting at season 5. This is one of the shows that Matt and I agree on...even though he is more of a Batman fan...seriously, what's wrong with him? ;)

And finally, I am loving that doctors are not always right. To be fair, I have plenty of complaints about this same thing being true- always with Shaun- from his pediatrician telling me that a child as social as my Shaun at a year old could never be autistic, to an ER doctor telling me I was crazy and letting Shaun get so dehydrated they couldn't even get an IV in him (you can read about that here). But this one case makes all of that seem like nothing, because four years ago tomorrow, we were told it was unlikely Shaun would ever be born. I won't go into that because I covered that a bit earlier this week in this post. He is my everything and I truly don't know where I'd be without him.