Monday 25 September 2017

Blueberry Pie and A Beautiful Drive!

Yesterday, I went for a drive all by myself. I feel like this shouldn't be news, but usually I have C in tow, and although he makes road trips entertaining, it's really nice to get out all by myself.

I wanted to get some blueberries and pies from McKay's Wild Blueberry stand for the freezer. You need blueberries for "Surpise Pancakes" and muffins, and McKay's are the best. It was such a nice day; I thought I'd jump at the opportunity.

After a really busy week and starting to feel better after being struck down by a cold (maybe a little too dramatic!), it was so nice to enjoy a little time by myself, turn up the radio and take in the scenery.  Of course, my mind is always racing with a never-ending to-do list, but flipping back and forth between the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s channels on the radio really helped to clear it. Elton John's "Benny and the Jets," the Bangles' Manic Monday, Pras and Mya's "Ghetto Superstar," and a little NSYNC were exactly what the doctor ordered. Sorry to the people who drove past the crazy lady singing and dancing in her car. I couldn't help myself.

McKay's was busy! I think I was in line for about 20 minutes, but the ladies that run the stand are awesome, and it doesn't seem like it's that long. There is one older lady who is a reason to stop there all by herself. She is spunky!

The wait also gave me a chance to plan to add more to my order. (I'm sure if C had been with me, it would have felt like hours... that boy doesn't have patience yet.)

I picked up two bottles of jam - wild blueberry and bumbleberry. They're both delicious!

I also bought a 5lb box of frozen wild blueberries. For freezer treats, I picked out 4 pies. They are uncooked and frozen, so when you feel like having pie, you just pop it in the oven, still frozen, and a little over an hour later, you have a yummy pie! My favourite is Raspberry-Blueberry, so I bought 2 of those, and also picked 2 Harvest pies. I discovered those a couple years ago - blueberry, apple, and pear. So good! (This picture is from a couple years ago. I am definitely a repeat customer!)

To make sure I had a treat for the drive home and snacks for lunches this week, I snatched up a dozen buttermilk blueberry muffins. They are to die for... the little sprinkle of sugar on top puts them over the edge. You have to get them when you see them, becuase they go fast. Often, they're still hot!
It started off as 6...

But one disappeared! 
On the drive home, I was driving behind someone from North Carolina. I often wonder what draws people from far away to come to New Brunswick. I know some drive through to get to other parts of Canada, but many stay for a visit. What's the appeal? While driving, I really took a look around me. Sure, things are starting to look a little brown and grey with fall, but really, our province is beautiful. The highway was surrounded by evergreens, sprinkled with a few hardwood trees starting to turn colours. Passing by the rolling hills, waterways, and rock faces, I realized how lucky I am to live in a place with such a diverse landscape, ever changing with the seasons. And this was inland! Don't even get me started on the beaches and tides. I guess I shouldn't wonder why people would want to stop and take it all in. 

New Brunswick is filled with little gems, like McKay's Blueberry stand. With new highways rerouting traffic flows, it's too easy to pass by. I'm glad I know where to find it!

Sunday 17 September 2017

Don't Spin My Positives Into Negatives, Please!

You know what my biggest struggle is? When people turn the things I love about my son into negatives.
I think that was the biggest problem I had when he was diagnosed with ASD. The professionals would say, "See how he gets down at eye level with the table?" or "See how he lines up those cars?" These would be followed by a sympathetic look and a little nod, as if to say, "That's the autism." I hated that. I hated that I started to look at these things in a bad way.
I love that he gets down so his eyes are peering over the table, to get a closer look at his favourite toys.
I love how particular he is about lining his cars up. I love how he turns everything into a car or train adventure - crayons racing around a placemat at a restaurant, pillows lined up on the floor. Right now, I'm watching him carefully loading a car into the back of a transport truck and using a little wrench to "change" the tires on his cars, all while kneeling down on the floor, up close to the table, to get a close-up look at his work. He's so detail oriented.
I love all his big feelings, even when they are hard to deal with and may make others uncomfortable.
I love that he's such a good judge of character and doesn't get super friendly with just anyone. If you are welcomed into the C Club, then you must be a pretty special person.
I love how he notices text everywhere! He will spot letters and numbers and want to stop to check them out. He can sometimes read letters backwards, when inside a store with window lettering that faces outside. He loves books so much; I know he is going to be a reader.
Over the past year, I have learned to mostly ignore comments and looks, but sometimes they sting. Badly.
Here's the bottom line. All these things are not negatives. Don't feel sorry. They all add up (with lots of other wonderful things) to make Little C who he is - a smart, loving, funny, energetic little boy.

Saturday 16 September 2017

What a Difference a Year Makes!

A couple weeks ago, C and I went to his one year follow-up appointment with the pediatrician. Last year's appointment led to a trip to the developmental clinic to be assessed by the Child Development Team.

This appointment went much smoother. I kept thinking about our first appointment a year ago while we were in the waiting room. I was watching him play and listening to him talk up a storm and started to tear up. It's amazing. What a difference a year makes. I feel like I say that a lot, but it's so very true.

One Year Ago...
So much has changed. When I look at photos from last year, he has physically grown so much. I feel like he has entered boyhood, leaving the baby days behind him. (Insert sounds of this mama sobbing that her little boy is growing up too fast.)

I've talked about his struggles with speech, (here and here and here) and I have to tell you that he talks NON-STOP now! He loves singing and loves to tease and joke. His sentences get longer every day. Yesterday, he said something, and I stopped to count... it was an 8-word, perfectly formed sentence. Amazing. Things have just started to click.

He's also not as shy or upset in new situations. It's not smooth sailing, but he is much more willing to try new things. I think we have also learned the best ways to support him through new situations and make sure he feels secure. We allow him to take his time. Other people don't get it, but we do. People will expect him to accept their big, loud hellos when they see him, and he is not having any of that! He needs space; he needs time, and he needs understanding.

He is still super independent and has never ending energy. He's also gives the best hugs in the world, which he saves for only his favourite people. I'm always grateful that I'm on that list!

I'm so excited to see what the next year holds!

Friday 25 August 2017

Hand Dryers (aka ear torture devices)

Have you ever noticed how loud public washrooms are? I remember when the super strength blower hand dryers first started popping up in public washrooms. They were so cool! The air was so strong it would move your skin! Your hands actually dried, unlike the older, slower, colder models.

Great right?

Well, I used to think so. Now? Not so much.

I have come to realize that these dryers are like weapons of torture for many. Little C hates public washrooms because of all the loud noises. When he was a baby, he would cry anytime that I would take him into a public washroom to use the change station. I always thought it was because washrooms are often very echoey and cold. Now I know that it was an early sign of his over-sensitivity to some sounds. One of the struggles many people with ASD have is sensory sensitivity. Something I hear as an annoying sound can be painfully loud to him. I find those hand dryers really loud, so I can't imagine what it sounds like and feels like for him.

I've gotten pretty good at avoiding the crazy hand dryers - holding hands over his ears, quickly washing hands and drying with paper and leaving, etc. Unfortunately, that's not the only ear torture. The auto-flush toilets are also horrible for anyone with sensory sensitivity. First, they are also really loud. Even worse, they auto-flush... whether you are ready for it to flush or not. Paired with how loud it is and a child's noise sensitivity, it's terrifying!

I can certainly appreciate the fact that businesses are trying to avoid using paper towel and probably trying to keep their washrooms clean by making sure there isn't paper on the floor and the toilets actually get flushed, but come on! Couldn't we think of little ears - whether they are sensitive to sounds or not, it must be a big harsh for many.

It has made toilet training a bit tricky. At home? No problem! When visiting friends and family? Piece of cake! Public washrooms? Challenging. Usually, I can avoid public washrooms with shorter trips or knowing where single stall washrooms are, so I can control the noise levels.  There have been a few instances when they couldn't be avoided and I would have to hold my hands over his ears during our "visit." Usually it ends up with him upset and me teary eyed, feeling horrible that I had to make him endure auditory torture.

I would love to know: how do your kids find those super strength hand dryers and super sucker toilets? If they are bothered, what tricks do you have to avoid them, or make it less traumatic for your child (and you!)?
When the air is strong enough to move
your skin maybe it's too strong!

Thursday 17 August 2017

Poor Mya

Almost two weeks ago, we had to say goodbye to our sweet, crazy puppy dog, Mya. It was a tough decision that my heart seems to be struggling with each day that passes, but my brain knows was the right one. She had been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease a month ago and was not responding to the treatment plan.

SLO (Symmetric Lupoid Onychodystrophy) affects dogs' nails. It is painful and causes their nails to to split, peel and fall off. We had brought her to the vet because she had cut one of her nails and we had noticed that she was licking her feet a lot. They decided to remove the affected nail, and had to put her under anesthesia. When they started to work on her, they realized that all of her nails were in the same or worse shape. They were splitting and were actually falling off in their hands. When I called to check in on her in the afternoon, I could tell the vet was worried. When a vet tells you she is researching to figure out how to treat your pet, you know that this was a big deal.  When my husband picked Mya up that night, the vet showed him a jar of her nails that had fallen off in her hands. I'm glad that I hadn't gone to pick her up, because I could tell that it was tough for my husband to see that. Mya also had a bad reaction to the anesthesia and had become snarly and aggressive, which is a side we have never seen in her. We knew that this was going to be a tough road for poor Mya.

We introduced a comprehensive treatment plan with the hope that we could remove some
components over time. She would need to take many pills each day - 6 antibiotics, omegas, vitamins, and probiotics.

Little C thought her new shoes were pretty cool, but kept saying, "Poor My-ee. My-ee is very sick."

He was right. Poor Mya was in rough shape. She never really grew out of her puppyness, so she was still very excitable. The problem was that every time she got excited and ran around, her nails would start to bleed. Every time she'd play outside, her nails would start to bleed. Walks became dangerous.

We were still optimistic, but were starting to wonder what type of life poor Mya would have. When she hurt her nail two weeks ago, we had to take her to the vet and have a tough discussion. SLO is pretty rare. Many dogs respond well to treatment. Some only need an Omega supplement and they're okay. Mya didn't seem to be that way. I didn't think that she was improving, but I it was still an unexpected to have to face the decision to let her go. With her quality of life was poor and it seemed like her level of pain was high. So, on August 5th, with her head in my hands, we said our final goodbye.

Mya was 7 years old.

She joined our family as a pup the year after my husband and I were married, two years after we purchased our house. I still go to the door to let her in, or look for her to come upstairs when I'm going to bed. I still try not to trip over her bowls in the kitchen and look for landmines in the backyard.

Mya made a huge impact on our lives and I miss her. Every few days, Little C asks, "Go pick up My-ee?" to which I have to say, "No buddy, remember, Mya got really sick and she's not coming home." He usually says something like, "Oh yeah, Poor My-ee was sick."  It's hard to explain to a 3 year old. Sadly, he has had quite a bit of loss in his short life, and seems to have a bit of an understanding of loss, even if death is.  I'm sure we'll have to keep working through it.

It's amazing how pets become such an intricate part of your lives. How lucky we are to have had her in our family.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Tie-Dying T-Shirts... And Hands

The fog finally lifted last week and we saw the sun. Little C and I took full advantage of the weather and spent a lot of time in the backyard playing. One day, we dug out a tie dying kit we had bought at Michaels a few weeks ago and got to work.

The kit we bought was made by Tulip a few weeks ago. It was a one step Tie Dye Kit. We used a 50% off coupon, so we got it for a pretty good price. They have many different sized kits. They even have one for a tie dye party! We chose one with 5 colours. 
After buying the kit, we headed to Walmart for some cheap t-shirts. We found some great plan white tees on the clearance rack. You don't have to buy new t-shirts thought. I remember tie dying everything I could find when I was a kit - white t-shirts, socks, underwear, anything! 

What I like about this kit is that it's easy. The instructions are easy to follow and there are lots to pictures to help.

Step 1 - Wash your items. You can tie dye dry fabric or wet fabric. I decided to go with the wet method. I think the dye is able to spread inward better, although I'm really not sure.

Step 2 - Tie up your fabric. There were lots of suggestions in the instructions that came with the kit, so I showed C the shirt and he chose a design to try.  This is what our shirts looked like after I had them all tied up with elastics. We tried to do a big bulls-eye, some smaller bulls-eyes, a swirl, a crumpled up ball, and some stripes. The best part of this project is that anything goes! You can't really mess it up... it may not look like the picture, but it will still look okay!

Step 3:  Now, take a deep breath, because it's time to get messy. The kit we bought came with these awesome squirt bottles. The dye was already in the bottles. I just had to fill them with water up to the line, put the cap back on and shake, shake, shake. Easy.

Step 4: start applying the dye. Here is my big piece of advice. Use the gloves. Actually, get yourself a better pair of gloves before you start. The gloves in the kit weren't the best. They didn't fit my hands well, and they definitely didn't fit C's. We started with gloves, but they were soon dropped on the grass. Big mistake. Dye really works. Even on skin. Ugh. (Over a week later, I'm still cleaning dye out of my nailbeds.)

Step 5: Wait. Wrap your clothing up, so the dye can do its job. I put each project in a ziplock bag to make sure that it didn't leak. 

Step 6:  The next day, take each item out and rinse out all the extra dye. There will be a lot. I was surprised, and sure that the shirts would be white when I was done. Luckily, they weren't! It did take a LOT of water to do this. 


Step 7:  Dry time!  I would suggest washing again, with items of similar colours. I have a feeling they will run for a couple of washes. 

This was definitely a fun project for outdoors. Grab your coupons, head to Michaels, and then search your closet for white t-shirts for some budget friendly fun!

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Killer BBQ Brushes!

Have you heard that wire BBQ brushes are dangerous? I had no idea! Last year, I started hearing about the dangers of using the wire BBQ scrapers. I remember thinking, where did this come from? In my experience, there has always been a wire brush sitting next to all of the barbeques in my memories.  If it was really that bad, why hadn't I heard of this before? Well, apparently, it has been an issue -- to the point that Health Canada is looking into whether they should be pulled from store shelves. (See an article from yesterday, from CBC: Saint John BBQer Swallowed Brush Wire w/ Burger ) The idea of swallowing that gives me the heeby jeebies, so I chucked ours in the trash. 

Of course, then I had to figure out what to use. I was at Costco one day and saw this scraper:
It was a bit pricey, but we decided to give it a try. Luckily it works, and I don't think it will injure me or my family!

I still wondered what other people use, so I had done a little research and found a few ideas online:

1.  Half of an onion - This surprised me, but I could see how it would work!

2.  Wooden Scraper, like the one above - The "Great Scrape" works awesome, but I feel like you could probably make your own, by just using a piece of wood or maybe even a cedar shingle. 

3.  Aluminum Foil - crumple it up, and rub it against the grills using a pair of tongs. Easy peasy! 

4.  Other scrapers - I've seen ones that look like scrubbers you would use when doing dishes

5.  Burn it off! Leave the BBQ on for a bit and burn off any food remnants. Of course, this doesn't always do the trick and can leave burnt bits, so a scraper would still need to be used. No one wants burnt bits on their food! 

Basically, do what you need to, but throw out those metal wire scrapers! No one wants to serve metal at their summer BBQ!

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Thinking back on the last 9 months...

Little C was diagnosed with autism exactly 9 months ago.  I have been thinking a lot about how things have changed since that assessment. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. Other times, it feels like just yesterday. 

Because the government was making improvements to intervention and changing service providers, it took a LONG time to get intervention started. Too long. I was excited about the changes, because I felt like C would get better service and support, but I hated having to wait. It was stressful, and I often felt like the I was failing him, especially when all you hear about autism is how important early intervention is.

That changed a two months ago, when we finally started intervention. We were so lucky to be matched with a great supervisor and interventionist. It was such a relief! I see him growing even more. It's also a great feeling to know that Team C has grown. 

Looking back, I think I was probably a little hard on myself. It's not like we sat back and just waited as the months passed. We work really hard with him, while making it fun. We also visited a private speech language pathologist every other week, which helped me learn more strategies to work into our day. We have actually been going for almost 2 years now, and over the past six months, C's speech has exploded. He's gone from single words to five or more word sentences. He talks NON-STOP now. Half the time, I can't understand him, but it's like listening to music. He's so funny, too. I always knew he was funny and I knew that he was a thinker, but it really makes me wonder what has been going through his head all of these months. 

I see so many changes everyday. He is also becoming more friendly with people and talks to them. He has always been a bit shy, but was starting to get really shy around the time of his diagnosis. It usually takes him a less time to warm up now. Sometimes, he really surprises us and jumps right in. 

As his speech progresses, he opens up so much more. He comments on everything, asks questions, and makes a lot of requests (especially when something sweet is involved!) He's recognizing emotions in others, and says, "Sorry!" when he thinks he has upset you. When he gets excited and gets a little rough, it's always followed up with, "Sorwee, Ma." The other night, I was putting some greenish goop to my face (a mask), and he said, "Ma, WHAT are you doing?" He cracks me up! 

Of course, some things don't change. He climbs everywhere and is always able to figure out how to solve any problem he encounters. What a dare-devil! He always pushes the limits, in a very calculated way. It's pretty rare that he fails when taking risks. He is also the most loveable kid you could meet and gives hugs and kisses so freely to those he loves. He is a great judge of character. 

All of the worrying I had a year ago has been fading. He has come such a long way. This time last year, he had one word. ONE. He didn't say mom. He couldn't tell us anything he needed or wanted, and was so frustrated. We were frustrated. Now, with each day gets easier for us. This summer, we enrolled him in soccer. The first night was a disaster, but it gets better each night. I guess, that's what I have reminded myself over the past year - stick to it; keep working; it gets better... and it is SO worth it. 

Life is good. Really good. 

Sunday 21 May 2017

Chatbooks: Photo Books for Busy Folks

I used to love scrapbooking. Well, let's be honest. My scrapbooks were not those creative creations that some talented people make. I actually used to call my scrapbooks "fancy photo albums." Heavy on pictures, with some pretty paper and stickers. The photos were the showcase, not the layouts. 
The problem? I don't have time to scrapbook. I'm currently working on a scrapbook from my trip to Disney World, back in 2012. Yup, 5 years ago. 2012PC (Pre-Little C). I don't really have the space to lay things out, nor do I have the time, even though I love taking pictures, getting them printed and then putting them in albums. 
I do post pictures of my family adventures on Instagram and Facebook all the time. It's kind of become a digital photo album of sorts, but I like the idea of having a physical book on the shelf though. 

Cover of My Instragram book
- a frosty bedroom window
I recently found a solution! It's as easy as posting online, but you also get a book for the shelf! It's called Chatbooks. Have you heard of this? They offer different options, but the best is the ability to connect your Facebook or Instragram feed to your Chatbook account, so it automatically updates your Chatbook. You can choose your cover photo and include the date and caption from each post too. Then, you can open your Chatbooks app, make any changes to the order that you want, and exclude any pictures you don't want. This is great if you make business posts or post funny pictures you probably don't want in a family album. 

If you choose to do one of these linked series, once the book fills with 60 pictures, it will automatically charge your credit card and send it to you in the mail. 
The Spine:
My Instragrams
Dec 2012-July 2014
Of course, I just set up my account a month ago, so I have LOTS of pictures I want in books. That's why I love the series option. I set my account up to send me one book a month from Instagram. These are hard covered books, which cost a few extra dollars. My first book arrived last month and my next one is on the way. I can't wait to have a cute little line of books on my shelf. 

I just set up my Facebook series and decided to opt for the softcover book, and have 5 books sent per month to catch up. They are now on the way. 

If you want to try Chatbooks, please use my link. You get a free book and I get a discount on my next book! 

Take a look inside my first Chatbook!

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Snow Days Get Creative with a Wayfair Colouring Contest!

Winter hit us this week. All of winter... in one week. It's been horrible! There's so much snow, it's actually hard for Little C to play, because it's so deep. The drifts are way over his head, and our entire backyard is a drift. If Little C walked into the back yard, he would sink down, about 5 or 6 feet. It's hard to believe that a week ago our yard was bare grass. Mother Nature is playing a horrible game with us.

Needless to say, I've been on the hunt for fun activities to keep us entertained. There has been a lot of Play Doh, games, painting, cookie decorating (and eating!), reading, and singing. There has also been colouring... or maybe scribbling would be a more accurate term. Little C is more a free-spirit when it comes to art. Accuracy is not always a priority. 🙂

A couple days ago, I came across something that mixes two of my favourite things:
artsy fun AND contests! has released a free downloadable colouring book, the WayZoo Colouring Book. It's great for kids (and probably adults!) of all ages. It features 10 scenes of animals around the home. To celebrate the launch, they're holding a contest, for a chance to win an art supply prize pack, which looks awesome! It includes an easel, chalk, markers, and paint. There will be five winners!

To enter, you submit a scanned copy or photograph of your child's favourite colouring page. The entries will be displayed on their website, so they'll get a little fame from their artwork!

There are only 6 days left in this contest, so make sure you download the WayZoo Colouring Book and start colouring today! Submit your picture to them by February 27th.

To go to WayFair's WayZoo Colouring Book page to read all the rules, get your colouring book, and get started, go here.

I submitted Little C's picture... do you think it's a winner? (It is in this mum's eyes... so it's going on my wall at work!)

Monday 20 February 2017

Random Thoughts: Kids in Restaurants

We were sitting in a restaurant for lunch last weekend, and I got thinking. 

I always thought it was cute when kids would stare you down from a neighbouring table or when they leaned over the back of the booth, practically putting their chin on your shoulder. I was also be super impressed when I saw kids who were really well behaved, silently praising their parents for a job well done. At the same time, I'm sure that I got annoyed with kids in restaurants at times.  I'm embarrassed to say, I was probably a little "judge-y" of the parents with kids were a little less well-behaved.

Well, last weekend, my kid was the one who was a little less well-behaved. 

I admit, as soon as I had a child, I had my eyes opened. I find myself saying, "When you know better, you do better," a awful lot lately. This is just one more example of one of those situations. Now, I'm so much more open minded and find myself defending and supporting other families, when I see kids having a moment in public. 

As an outsider looking in, I don't know the full story. 

We've always taken Little C out to eat. Sometimes, it's at McDonalds, but we also try sit down restaurants. We think it helps him learn what is expected of him in public places and gives him opportunities to practice. We certainly don't expect him to be perfect. He's 3! 

Every so often, I see posts online about being annoyed by kids in restaurants. I know that kids can be loud and energetic, but they're also learning. Restaurants can be boring and overwhelming with all the forced sitting and new sights and (often loud and unexpected) noises.  They'll get better and better, but if they are never taken to restaurants, how can they work on behaving in restaurants? 

Now, when I see families at a restaurant enjoying a meal together (or trying to...), I always try to give an understanding smile and shrug to let them know that I get it. 

Blueberry Pie and A Beautiful Drive!

Yesterday, I went for a drive all by myself. I feel like this shouldn't be news, but usually I have C in tow, and although he makes road...