Wednesday, February 29, 2012


As I may have mentioned, I'm a mommy to a set of boy/girl twins who are about to turn 3. My son was diagnosed with severe autism in January 2011 and has been on a gluten-free diet since December 2010. I cannot even tell you the difference it has made in his behavior- it was really a miracle, if I do say so myself! I was never under the impression that this diet change would "cure" him, but I figured it didn't hurt to try it out- any improvement was reason enough for me.

About a month before we started the G-Free diet, R-man was constantly head-banging. I'm talking 50 times in an hour, or more. He would have these "episodes" where he would be head-banging, screaming, and rolling on the floor for 1-4 hours at a time, with no way to calm him. If I was lucky, this would only happen once or twice a day, but more often than not it was happening 3-4 times a day for hours at a time. In comes the G-Free diet and out went the "episodes".

He was checked for Celiacs disease twice, but those tests were negative. It's obvious he has an intolerance or "leaky gut", so we have kept up with the diet. Luckily, he was only 20 months old when we started the diet so he really doesn't know what he's missing. I spent so much time on the internet looking for good recipes and it was hard! Then Pinterest entered my life and I started my board "Gluten Free Goodness". It's actually pretty popular- with almost 5,000 followers. If you're looking for good gluten free recipes head over there and check it out. I love that people interact with my board so much, too! Leaving tips after they've tried recipes and letting everyone know if it was a success or a major fail.

My plan is to bring some of the recipes from the Pinterest board over to the blog. Taking photos and giving tips along the way to help make the best of the gluten-free world. I learned very quickly that there are many good recipes and also many "not so good" recipes. It's hard to distinguish and adjust recipes to your liking when you're not too familiar with process.

Are you living G-free, or do you have questions about it? I would love to answer any questions you may have about the gluten-free diet and Autism, or gluten intolerance in general!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pick Your Plum

I have a little obsession with cute, craftsy things. Enter: Pick Your Plum- a daily deal site that is sure to win over any Martha Stewart wannabe.

Today's pick are these wrought iron handles. I'm trying very hard not to purchase them, because I think I've gone a bit overboard on PYP lately. But, in case you heart them as much as I do, click the photo and it will take you to the PYP web site where you can purchase them!

Photo from Pick Your Plum. Click on the link to be directed to their web site.

What I also love about PYP is that they have a Pinterest board that has all kinds of crafty ideas that use the products they offer. So, if you're looking at these handles wondering, "What the heck would I do with those?" you can head over to their Pinterest board for some enlightenment! 

I have purchased all kinds of things in the last few months- chalkboard vinyl, dry erase vinyl, chalkboard books, personalized address stamps, personalized name stamps... the list goes on and on! Most if it is still sitting in my craft closet, unused because, well, you know, kids kind of get in the way of my crafting time sometimes. :)  

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Elephant Toothpaste"

"Elephant toothpaste" has become a popular science experiment in our house, thanks to Pinterest and KK's ECFE class. What, exactly, is elephant toothpaste? It's a mix of active dry yeast, hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and food coloring. Super simple and the kiddos love it!

Elephant toothpaste

1 20 oz. bottle
1/2 c. hydrogen peroxide (we used 3%, although I think you'd get better results with 6%)
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
3 tbsp. warm water 
Squirt of liquid dish soap
Optional: food coloring

Add the peroxide and food coloring to your bottle (I used a funnel to make it a little easier, although my funnel was tiny and didn't work as well as I had hoped!). Squirt in some liquid dish soap and give the bottle a swirl or two. In a small dish, mix together the warm water and yeast- be sure all of the yeast dissolves. Lastly, add the yeast (using funnel again) to the bottle and watch the "elephant toothpaste" go all over the place! To keep things as clean as possible, I set the bottle on a pizza pan to contain the mess. It also allowed KK to play with the bubbles afterwards!  :) 

 It's a super quick project that your kiddos will love!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Day I Yearned for Caribou{Coffee}

For years I have been head over heels in love with my husband Starbucks. It all began when I was working at the YMCA (it's ok, go ahead and take a minute to belt out the song, I get it!) in southern California. I received a promotion right before a very important audit was to take place, and the only way to get through all the extra hours of work was to count on a venti skinny iced caramel macchiato. Skinny vanilla latte. White chocolate peppermint mocha, skim milk, sugar-free, extra hot. Iced skinny caramel-vanilla latte (2 pumps vanilla, 2 pumps caramel because 4 of each is too much!).

I would frequent Starbucks on a daily basis- sometimes twice in one day, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes I would top it off with an orange Monster energy drink- you know, for good measure. Ask my co-worker how well that worked for me at the end of the day when we had 84 kids to tend to and I was coming down from my crazy caffeine fix. Hiding by my desk, hands shaking as a typed out attendance records. ;)

When I was pregnant, staying away from the Starbucks was hard. When I first found out I was preggers, I swore off all caffeine, but I quickly had a change of heart when trying to get through my work days. A couple days a week I would head to get my (usually) decaf drink. Then Starbucks stopped carrying decaf mix for their Frappuccino's. Aye! I convinced myself that it was ok on occasion, and any time someone came to visit me during my 3 months of bed rest I requested coffee. Any kind. (I know some mama's out there don't agree with caffeine intake during pregnancy, and I totally respect that!)

The morning after I delivered the twins, my hubby's first daddy duty was to get me some Starbucks! Coffee became a must-have when feeling like a zombie for the first year of the kiddo's lives.

Admittedly, losing Starbucks was one of the things I wasn't happy about when we decided Minnesota would be our forever home after my hubby was discharged from the Marine Corps. To get a good specialty drink, I have to travel 30 miles! The only Starbucks available there is at the Barnes & Noble or Hy-Vee- there isn't an actual Starbucks building. On a whim I tried Minnesota's popular coffeehouse, Caribou Coffee, and wasn't too impressed. Back to the Sbucks kiosk I went. Until recently.

Enter Carbiou's "Mint Condition's". It's basically a peppermint mocha- you choose what type of chocolate you want, mix them together- whatever! I opted for a skinny white chocolate mint condition...and it was heaven. I felt guilty being such a loyal Starbucks fan all of these years, and then quickly got over it.

Coffee is one of "my things". You know, everyone has "their thing(s)" in life and I just so happen to love me some book browsing and coffee sipping while someone else is watching my kiddos. What is "your thing" in life? I wanna know!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The One with the Boy at the Lunch Table

Today I took KK to her weekly ECFE class at the local elementary school. Her class runs for 90 minutes, and at the half-way point we always take a break to wash hands and get ready for snack. The hand-washing break always lands around lunchtime, so we end up walking through a swarm of hungry 4th, 5th, and 6th graders on the way to the restrooms. I normally don't think too much of it- KK is usually telling me some silly story or making some outrageous request! Today was different. Today I noticed something I had never noticed before...

There was a boy sitting at a table all alone, eating the lunch his mom or dad lovingly prepared for him.( I am not one to judge or make assumptions about people, but my heart was telling me he had some sort of disablity-whether that was autism or something completely different, I don't know.) When my eyes shifted over to his table, my heart just sank. Like the Titanic. I didn't feel pity for him, but my heart just broke into pieces for his boy I have never noticed until today. I tried to shake the feeling as KK tugged and pulled me to the sink to wash her hands, and I couldn't,  knowing we were about to walk through there again. I hoped that in the 2 minutes that it took to wash hands there would be another kid at the table with that boy, but I knew in my heart that was highly unlikely. Dammit, I was right.

KK was rushing back to the classroom excited to eat her Teddy Grahams and apple juice amongst the company of 7 other kiddos who love to play with her. She really doesn't understand how lucky that makes her. Of course, I don't expect her to understand- she is young and hasn't developed the skills to grasp it.

My hope and intention for her is to be compassionate. To care. To look past differences and embrace everyone for who they are. To not leave a kid at the lunch table alone. Most parents probably have the same hope for their children, but how many of us are parenting with intention? In order for KK to be some or all of those things I just mentioned, I have to be very intentional in my parenting from here on out.

Although I was thinking about KK and everything I mentioned above, most of my thoughts went to R-man. I hope he isn't the boy alone at the lunch table, and if he is, I hope there is a kid who will reach out to him. R-man is in a nice little bubble at school for a couple more years- the kiddos in his class are all dealing with Autism and there is no judgement there. What happens when he is thrown out into the world with kids who don't understand? As a mother, I will never be able to stop worrying about this no matter how much I try. It's hard enough for kids who are "typical" to escape teasing, bullying, and feeling left out. To not be left alone at the lunch table.