Monday, April 28, 2008

Composting 101

I had a comment from Sherri asking for more info on composting, so here it is. If you haven't started composting, maybe this will make you think twice. What is composting? In a nutshell, it is a place where you put veggies, fruits, leaves, grass clippings, coffee grinds, egg shells where it will decompose and produce organic material for your garden. Basically it is giving back to the earth. Instead of throwing away the ends of your celery, your cucumber peels, banana peels, etc, you put them in your compost bin (or pile) and let nature take its course. No it does not smell. Once in a while you turn it, preferable with a pitch fork so as not to kill your herd (of worms that is) and then add some water once in a while. Soon, you will have rich, dark, organic compost to add to your own garden which give nutrients back, keeps soil moist, and keeps weeds down. And, if you live here in Gilbert, the Town will give you a compost bin for FREE! Gotta love that. They even deliver it right to your doorstep, with instructions, call 503-6400 for yours. We put it right next to our air conditioners/trash cans. We just had a compost pile in Mira Mesa. We used a far back corner and just started there. It can even be a plastic bin with holes poked in the botton so it doesn't get too wet when it rains (or cover it for added protection). We keep a small covered container on the kitchen counter and empty as needed. With the new juicer we are emptying that thing multiple times per day. It is a pretty simple was of giving back to the earth some of the nutrients that we take from it. You will gather worms who basically go in and eat the food and digest it into organic matter. And, it is pretty amazing how much heat is generated by this process! The great fresh dirt comes out the bottom and you put all the stuff in the top. I hate to waste food so I love the fact that ALL of our fruit and veggie scraps go to the compost. Between composting and recycling, we have about 1/2 of a trash can of trash each week. And we still have a child in diapers! I love that on average, we have about 1/2 - 1/4 the trash for similar sized families. Very little goes into the landfill from our house, I keep looking for ways to reduce that even further.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More info on baby food pesticides

Here are a few articles that I found on the pesticides in baby food:

I just googled "pesticides baby food", there were more articles too but I wanted to highlight more "credible", mainstream sources. The article from consumer reports looked like it even broke down which things to buy "organic" vs. conventional if cost is an issue. I would highly suggest people visit the Farmer's Market on Power just south of Elliot here in Gilbert. T.J. and Julie are the owners, they can tell you which local products are pesticide free and which aren't. And, the produce is much cheaper than "certified" organic. The main point is not eating pesticides, I could care less whether someone has the certified seal because quite honestly, that does not mean much more than they paid the $50,000 fee to be certified. There is a "certified organic" farmer who just bought 40 acres in Chandler and is going to be planting on it. Up until last year it was farmed cotton which means crop dusting. That doesn't sound very organic to me since it takes years for the pesticides to diminish. The local farmers who live and breathe farming are not happy with this whole certification process since many have always farmed without pesticides yet cannot afford the fee and then miss out on being able to charge more for their products. Or join an organic food co-op. I belonged to Protea Produce It was great, you could pick the size basket you wanted and then every two weeks you got a new basket brimming with organic produce. The large basket was $50. It was a TON of stuff. My main reason for quitting was that I frequently got things that we did not use often and quite honestly, I never made time to find a use for them before they went bad. And, I still had to get staples (bananas, lettuce, cucs, etc) that we run out of every few days. It seemed easier and more cost effective to go to the Farmer's Market for us.

If you can, steam and puree your own baby food. You don't need a real expensive food processor or a lot of supplies. Freeze puree in ice cube trays or old glass baby food jars for quick meals for your little one. I did big batches and just froze them in the trays, emptied the trays into big Ziplocs and labeled the food and date and it worked really well.

Wonder what to buy organic vs. conventional? I go by this rule: If it has a thick peel you can go conventionally grown, just make sure you peel it first (bananas, cucs). If it does not have a thick peel, especially root veggies (strawberries, apples, carrots and potatoes), try and go organic as much as you can. But, that consumer reports site had a good breakdown. I hope that helps!

We have our garden going and I would encourage everyone to try one. A raised bed, some drip irrigation and a little time keeping the pests at bay can give you a bountiful harvest for very little money, and you know exactly what is not in or on your produce. We have tomatoes, corn, stevia, herbs, peppers and asparagus going. I love going out and harvesting our food, one of these days I am going to have a real farm, lol. I am sure people are laughing at me, there are many who would be very surprised to hear me say that!

Earth day, every day

In honor of Earth Day (yes I am late, hey it has been a crazy week as usual), I wanted to discuss Earth friendly cleaning supplies. I caught a segment on Good Morning America with (I think) Diedre Imus who has a book out (?). Anyways, she was talking about environmentally friendly cleaners. I was pleased to see she had vinegar and baking soda on her table! I use these as my primary cleaners around the house, along with some of the Method brand cleaners found at Target. In addition to being super cheap, baking soda and vinegar is totally fine for consumption. So, when I am scrubbing the tubs, you know, those big drinking vessels where my kids LOVE to fill containers and then drink their bath water, I feel confident that they are getting no toxic chemicals. The combo of the two do foam and the baking soda is a great abrasive. It is even a great combo to help flush out any slow moving sinks. Vinegar works great on toilet bowl stains, just let it sit for a while before flushing. Did you know vinegar is also a disinfectant? The acidity kills many bugs which is nice in the bathroom! And, when we have the "ick" going around, I throw some in with the laundry to make sure all the buggies are killed, especially on any soiled sheets. It negates the need for bleach. I knew bleach was toxic but in the brief spiel I caught on Good Morning America, Diedre was saying the bleach fumes collect at ground level, which is awful for our little ones running (or worse yet crawling) around. They cannot escape those fumes. I did not research this and we don't usually use bleach except for the case of raw meat drippings in the kitchen sink so please Google this yourself if you need more info. But, as a rule we keep the bleach to a very minimum. Diedre also mentioned (and this disgusted me) that there was a test done on commercial baby food (i.e. Gerber) and in 1 jar there were 16 different pesticides found. YIKES! What is all that about?? I didn't know anything about this stuff when I had Matthew. I made 99% of Emma's food myself and I wanted to with Matthew but I guess I just did not know how to get started. Looking back, I am so sorry I didn't learn more because I wonder what impact those toxins had on his system. Even baby foods (including those "Puffs" - I think I remember them having soy and trans fats, there was something bad in them) you have to watch out. It is sad that we have to check ingredients of baby food, those should be among the purest there are. But, moving forward, if everyone would use safer cleaners, walk or bike a little instead of drive, maybe start a garden and compost and recycle, maybe we can help the Earth and give back instead of just taking. Just a few thoughts in honor of Earth day.

My new toys

So I am a geek. Here are my new toys, both bought from Craigslist. The grill is so small though but we figured we'd start small to see if we liked it. We did hamburgers last night and boy did it get the fat out. I think I will try chicken tonight. And what can I say about my juicer?!?! I am SO excited!! It is a masticating juicer, not centrifugal. It leaves all the good enzymes intact, which is the point of drinking fresh veggie/fruit juices anyways. I have a funny story. We give Matthew enzymes and they smell awful. We also compost and Eric was emptying our compost container and said "Did you put Matthew's enzymes in here? It smells just like his enzymes". I had to laugh and said "What do you think fruits and veggies DO?". We do manufacture certain enzymes on our own, but we require lots of them from fresh fruits and veggies. Unfortunately the typical American diet does not contain enough fruits and veggies, which then creates a whole host of problems with digestion. So, Eric was smelling the organic version of Matthew's enzymes. That is why I have been so obsessed with finding a masitcating juicer and getting some raw veggies into my kids. They do ok with fruit but the veggies, only Emma eats them. Matthew will do cucumbers and tomatoes and that is it. I have to hide things like spinach and kale in spaghetti sauces, muffins, etc. But, those are cooked sources, which are better than nothing but you do lose some nutritional content and those awesome enzymes! So, Tuesday I picked up my juicer and promptly ran to the Farmer's Market. I got about 2 ounces in the kids Tuesday 4 ounces yesterday. I am so happy about this and even I feel better already. I will keep you posted!

No bump in OUR road....

Higley Groves folks, sorry to say the Town will not put speed bumps on Park because it is a "collection" street. That means it was designed to be the main through way for ambulances, fire trucks, etc. I do know how important that is but on the other hand, how do we get the majority of the cars that drive through there on a daily basis to stop at the stop signs and to SLOW down?? Any thoughts??

Yes, I made it!

Sorry for the long delay in posts. But, I MADE IT! I completed my first Triathlon and lived to tell about it. I actually did better time-wise than I thought I would. It was an amazing experience. They were delayed about an hour and a half which was not fun. The organization could have been much, much better but oh well. I was supposed to start my swim at 8:38, I wasn't in the water until 10:00 am which meant I was running at 11:00 am or so, so it was HOT! I was tired and a little dehydrated but other than that, GREAT! My arms were a bit sore, that 50 meter pool really does make a difference. Note to self: Find 50 meter pool to train in for next one. Everyone was so encouraging along the route, lots of "Keep going, you're doing great!" and "Way to go!", what a positive and friendly group, for the most part. We did have a late comer push their way in between our bikes in the transition area. She was frantic and looked kind of out of it and TOTALLY took over our space, to the point where I had no room. I had to laugh at the gall and absurdity of it all. I was doubled over laughing because it was just too ridiculous and too over the top for me that early. So, all in all, it was a wonderful experience. I am so glad I had Kate and Kim to share it with, that made it all the better, taking that picture at the finish line together!! :)
PS - Elan, I was going to send you the email I sent out but only have your email from Grancell. Can you email or comment me and give me your personal email??

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

GREAT recipe!!

OK - it has been a tough day...for whatever reason, the kids just went nuts tonight. They are both asleep so I am catching up on half finished blogs and posting them all while I have a chance, that is why there is so much activity tonight.

Anyways, for dinner I made fellow Higley Groves resident and blogger, Shari's, Caribbean tacos. All I can say is YUM-O. I wanted to eat all of it! Seriously. The kids did not like it which surprised me because of the honey but whatever, more for me! So, I am bootlegging it, passing it on because everyone should try this. I am going to make up a huge batch and freeze with some of my Sprouts chicken!! :)

Here it is from her blog:
Caribbean Tacos

4 T. Honey
3 T. Fresh Lime Juice
1 T. Oil
2 tsp. Chili Powder
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1 - 1 1/2 pounds shredded and cooked chicken

Mix marinade and toss with cooked and shredded chicken. Take soft corn, table tortillas (these are the kinds that fold without breaking) or you can use regular corn tortillas, just fry them a bit or get them real crispy If you want to eat them saucer style.Fresh and Easy has cute mini corn tortillas. layer a little shredded green cabbage , chicken and some fresh mango salsa. I bought some great mango salsa from Costco. Vitamin A source. I wanted my tortilla a little crisp but didn't want to fry it so I put it in the toaster.It is very low fat that way.

I did it a bit different because of running Matthew around for his appointments. I boiled up 2 large chicken breasts early this afternoon and then put them in the fridge before running out the door. When I got home, I cut them into chunks and then mixed the marinade and added to the chicken in a pan, set on low. Meanwhile I did fry up the corn tortillas (in coconut oil of course) so they wouldn't break. I shredded some lettuce and grabbed the Herdez salsa. Open a can of beans or make some spanish rice or just have the tacos with a side salad and viola, dinner! I made the kids theirs tostada style but they just ate the lettuce and some tomatoes I chopped for them. Crazy kids. It was ridiculously easyand too great not to try, I promise you!

Higley Groves Update

I know there are a few ladies in my neighborhood who read my blog. You may already know this but in case you do not, here goes. On Friday, an 11 year old boy was hit on Park Avenue just past Richard. He was riding his scooter on his driveway and went out onto the driveway skirting/street and a person hit him. The person thought he hit a trash can so didn't stop at first. The child was taken by helicopter to the hospital. Torrey and I were coming back from a run along the power lines and I just knew the helicopter had landed in the field at the end of our street based on its trajectory and proximity to the ground. That is never a good thing. The boy sustained breaks to both legs and some liver damage that they are debating doing surgery on to stop the bleeding. In any event, it brings up a few issues here.

Now, I am speaking STRICTLY as a mother and resident on my blog, not as a Board member, so my thoughts and feelings are my own and DO NOT reflect that of Higley Groves HOA.

Recently, I have seen increased negilgence on our streets, specifically Park Ave. Not only do people drive too fast but people will drive the wrong way down the one way street to get to their home 2.5 seconds faster, yet endangering people and property along the way. I had an alercation some of you may remember, I was called a B*&^% for telling someone to stop doing this. My ghetto-ness kicked in and after several choice words she promptly threw her hands up and said "OK OK I won't do it anymore". Well, as another Board member was in that area, they saw someone from that same household do it again!

We happen to live on a cul-de-sac that ends at the large park/field. During soccer season our street is FILLED with cars as parents from other parts of the neighborhood drive to practice. Our normally quiet street turns chaotic. Well, for those on Park (and some of the other streets that go all the way through) this is everyday. Our kids MUST be safe from racing cars, cars failing to stop at stop signs, and people constantly parking on the one way streets (which are not wide enough for cars to be parking on anyways, none of our streets are for that matter) which block visibility. Of course, we as parents have a responsibility to teach our children to stay out of the street but we have tons of kids in this neighborhood, many who do play on our sleepy streets with moms watching on. Little ones DO dart into the street after a ball. It just happens. So, there is already one petition going around for speed bumps.

What happens is, the town needs a petition of at least 10 homeowners. Once that happens, they will do a "study" to determine what streets need them, what the traffic is, etc. Then, if they decide they are necessary, they tell us where they need to go and bill our association for $3000, per speed bump. Now, I am all about keeping our assessments low (speaking as a homeowner here) but, is there a better use of money than keeping people to a reasonable speed and hopefully reducing the accidents like this one? I have asked for my own blank petition. My thought is, if we have more petitions than just one, maybe, just maybe the Town will listen and respond quicker. We have inquired about speed bumps before, a Board member's son was hit at that same intersection last year on his bike on the way to school. Luckily he was fine other than being shaken up. We were told there was nothing we could do, the Town owns the streets, etc. But, given the severity of this boy's injuries, they may think twice about that answer again. There was another homeowner who recently came before the Board to request them on his street too. With Highland Park being built, we DO have more traffic into and out of our community. It is a lot busier, especially down Park and really any street that does go all the way through. So, if you are a homeowner and would be interested in signing my blank petition, email or comment me. I will make sure I see you when I get it. Hopefully we can keep our streets a little safer for all of our children!

GDA (Good deal alert)

Anyone locally should get to Sprouts. They have fresh, boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.88 per pound. It is normally $4.49 per pound. I have not done the research on this chicken yet, we will soon be going totally organic for the chicken but as far as I know the Sprouts chicken is good. Time to stock up and then do some cooking/freezing to save yourself time for dinners in the future. Happy shopping!

Pizza Meatloaf "Muffins"

I found this recipe in Womans Day and figured I would give it a try. It was a hit with my picky eaters (Matthew and Torrey) and not such a hit with my psuedo-vegetarian Emma. But, it was super easy and I plan to make and freeze a bunch for easy last minute meals, at least for the older 2.

Heat oven to 375. Spray 8 muffin cups with cooking oil.

With your hands mix in a bowl:
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (I use Laura's lean ground beef, found at Super Target)
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs (for GFCF I used the Almond/Rice bread and cut into small pieces, sprayed with olive oil and seasoning and broiled for a few minutes until toasted, they were a hit on their own!)
1/2 cup pizza sauce (I used the chunky veggie pasta sauce from Fresh & Easy)
2 eggs

Pack into cups. Bake 25 minutes until cooked through. Optional (We left this part off and they were still great!) Top with pizza sauce, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and some dried oregano. Bake 2 minutes until cheese melts.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Good reading for parents

I know I have wondered why Autism rates (and other disorders affecting children) have skyrocketed. You may have heard that there was a victory for at least one family in their fight against vaccine companies. I have always been pro-vaccine, even after finding out about Matthew's disorder. However, it was always based on fear. The "what would I do if my child caught something and died from a preventable disease?". I know other moms in the exact same boat as me. However, I started learning more about the immune system and our bodies and what is actually IN vaccines. This comes about 4 years after I noticed significant reactions to vaccines in Matthew. At his 4 month shots, he stopped sleeping. Just stopped. The month before his shots he had been actually starting to sleep 8 hours or so and we were thrilled. The day of his shots the child stopped sleeping and wouldn't get back into the groove until his next round, which then disrupted his sleep again. When I told my doctor he said that was odd, he'd never heard of that before. But, in talking with other parents, it was not so odd. Some remarked that their child's personality changed with vaccines. Now THAT is odd. When a child suddenly STOPS sleeping, not a good sign. It would mark the beginning of a very long period of sleeplessness for Matthew (and us). I still stuck by vaccines and faithfully took my children in. But, quite honestly, I am one of those "weirdos" that has stopped vaccinating until I learn more. I use the term "weirdo" because that was how I looked at people who didn't vaccinate. The fear is now greater for me as to what the vaccines will do to my child rather than save them from. Now I sit at home with my 4 1/2 year old (without his 4 year shots) and my 2 year old (without her 2 year shots) and breathe easier. Now, could we be exposed to something bad that is preventable, absolutely. I will be devastated. However, I am now trying to work through whatever damage HAS been done to Matthew and let me tell you, the nervous system and gut is HARD to fix ladies and gentlemen. There is no ER I can rush him to, there are no easy tests for us to take to give us the truth as to what it at work. Most doctors have no clue as to what to do, so you find out on your own and hope you are right. My job is to fix what has gone wrong and try and make sure the same does not happen again or to Emma.

And now thankfully because of Matthew's disorder, I know more about what DOES truly fight viral and bacterial illnesses than I ever thought possible. We are armed with some of the very best things to help the immune system fight the daily attacks we come under, and the best thing is that they are natural and not going to harm anyone. In fact, many of the preventative things are good diet, proper hydration and sleep. And we have an arsenal of "supplements". You know, those scary things that the FDA wants off your shelves (so they can regulate i.e. charge 50 times more than they cost now). We (as a human race) relied upon herbal remedies since day 1. There ARE things out there that are better for us than Zocor, Claritan, Crestor, Lipitor and any other "or" out there. All these medications have serious side effects, and quite a huge strain on our livers. I am not saying ALL drugs are bad, I think we rely on them too quickly and for too long. Lifestyle changes can help SO many things, as can cutting artificial sweeteners, MSG and other toxins in our food. Stress management, good sleep and exercise go a long way in good health too. And, we are giving kids TOO MANY MEDICATIONS! And, those meds start on hour 1 of their birth with Hep vaccine. You know why they give kids Hep vaccines? Because a very small percentage of women have Hepatitis B when they deliver. Hep B is transmitted through bodily fluids. It would be relatively easy to screen soon to be moms. But no.....they will just inject your kid when they are born, same thing with antibiotic ointment in the eyes. They come into contact with STD's in the birth canal and so this kills it. Well.....both my kids were (unfortunately) c-section babies and so they did not GO through the birth canal. And, I DO NOT have hep B. So, why should my children routinely be given this vaccine, which they do not need for the very, very small percentage of kids where this would help them???? What is wrong with this picture?? I can't remember the numbers, maybe 1 in 40,000 would be effected so we immunize all kids so that 1 in 40,000 won't get Hep B. Like I said, I can't remember the exact figure, check out Dr. Mercola's site for the real figure ( It is unreal to hear some of this stuff.

Sorry for the rant, I am having supplement "issues" in getting my Dr. to write a letter of medical necessity so I can use flex spending to help with some of the costs so I am frustrated. We parents KNOW these things work for our children. If it were a prescription, absolutely it would be covered. But, because it is natural and over the counter, no such luck, it burns me. But, if you are interested in reading about the court battle over vaccines, here is info on the case that has settled.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Small changes....

If you are looking for some small changes to make for yourself or your kids, here are some you may want to try:

Switch from fruit roll ups and fruit gushers which have zero nutritional value to all organic Fruitabu or the Stretch Island Fruit Leathers. Both companies are one and the same. You can buy the big variety packs of Fruit Leathers at Costco - the Mango one is the only one with "natural flavors", all the others list a specific flavoring that has been added, or just use fruit juices. I just avoid the mango ones. The Fruitabu can be found at places like Wal-Mart and are all organic with just fruit and juice, pretty easy.

Switch from the bagged microwave popcorn to the Whirlypop popcorn. You cook it the old fashioned way, with a hand crank, use coconut oil for even more healthy goodness. Popcorn is a whole grain and kids LOVE it anyways. The coconut oil adds a hint of buttery yumminess without the butter and coconut oil is SOOOO good for you! And, per Sparkpeople, one cup of oil popped popcorn has only 55 calories!!! Add in 1/2 cup of popping corn with 3 tablespoons oil, crank handle until popping slows and viola, enough popcorn to fill a huge bowl and the whole family can enjoy. Unless you have a husband and son like I do and then you are lucky to get a snack sized bowl full for you and your toddler to share! Oh well, I can always make more! We found ours at Cost Plus but I have seen them at Target too! I send this as a snack for school often.

Healthier beans....I found this off brand of refriend beans at Fry's today. I cannot remember the brand exactly but it has beans, salt, water, cottonseed oil. No soy, no lard, no trans fats, no MSG. I could not believe it, and they were CHEAP. So, look at labels, read what is in there and stay away from the "natural flavors" and other hidden forms of MSG.

Healthier salsa.....I have always been a HUGE fan of Herdez salsa, that is when I don't have time to make my own. It has tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilatro, salt. NOTHING bad and it does NOT taste like ketchup!! You can find it anywhere, grocery stores or Target/Wal-mart. Sometimes they have it in the mexican food section and not with all the other salsas but usually that is just at Target.

Most tortilla chips are OK but avoid the ones made with canola or soybean oil.

Speaking of oil - hot tip for this week, if you are local and shop at Fry's, run don't walk to their sale! They have the spectrum organic coconut oil on sale for $4.99!! You save $3.30 per 16 ounce container. That is a screaming deal. I snagged their last 2 bottles (Val Vista and Baseline) and got a raincheck for 15 more!!

Fruit cups, packed in pear juice. I have been sending these as snacks for school or just for around the house. The kids love them and they are handy! I make so many things from scratch it IS nice to have something already prepared that I did not have to chop, cook or bake. We all need SOME conveniences. Same thing goes for the UNSWEETENED apple sauce. Even most stores have their own brands that are about $1.50 for a 6 pack or so.

And one of our all time favorites...LARA Bars. Our favorite farmer's market, Guadalupe Farmer's Market on Power just south of Elliot brought those in for us (they also sell them at Sprouts and Fry's). If you haven't been down and met T.J. & Julie, the owners of the Farmer's Market, you need to. In addition to being amazing people, they have always been so nice at bringing in items I request. They have awesome produce, most local (and therefore organic) but very economical and fresh. They carry most of the LARA Bar line. What are these? Dense (and I mean dense) bars that are all natural, non-GMO, no dairy, no wheat, no junk whatsoever!! They are even raw and vegan!! My favorite is chocolate coconut chew, yum! Matthew loves the banana cookie and my friend Amie loves the one with Pistachios. Their base is usually dates, then nuts. The chocolate coconut chew has date, almonds, walnuts, cocoa powder, period. I love these for my purse, in the "emergency" bag in the car for snacks on the go and at home too. It is packed with heart healthy omegas with the nuts and great protein. My kids love them. They cost just over $1 per bar and have about 200 calories, and all the right calories too. If you haven't tried these, you need to!

Another "ready made" snack, especially for those with allergies or intolerances is the Enjoy Life brand. Again, T.J. & Julie brought these in for us, Sprouts also carries them. They have a whole line of cookies and "granola bar" type things. The sugar content is a little high (12 g per 2 cookies) and our rule is generally 10 per serving MAX and then only 1 serving total per day (unless it is a raw food like the Lara Bar which has higher sugar content because of the raw fruit/nuts so your body breaks those down slowly, without the major insulin crisis caused by processed sugars). But, the forms of sugars in the Enjoy Life products are usually things like raisin paste, date paste, fruit juices, etc., it just varies based on the product. But, no soy, no dairy, no wheat, no MSG. The kids love them.

So there you go, some alternative snacks for kids, you, your spouse, whoever. Now you can eat healthy, even on the run or for those school lunchboxes!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

World Autism Awareness Day!

In addition to April being Autism Awareness Month in the US, today is also World Autism Awareness Day. I will be highlighting certain things about Autism all month long in addition to the other stuff I talk about in this blog. As more and more children are diagnosed each day with some form of Autism, the world needs to wake up and figure out just what is going on. These children are amazing, creative, loving, brilliant children, some stuck without the ability to communicate all that is in their heads. The more I know about Matthew's Autism, the more I realize I don't know about other childrens' Autism necessarily. There is a saying, "once you know 1 person with Autism, you know 1 person with Autism". It is so easy to look at the news stories or Dr. Phil or whatever media outlet is trying to sensationalize the disorder du jour but really, each person living with Autism has different challenges. Not all people with Autism are non verbal, not all of them bang their heads and rock back and forth, not all of them avoid social contact, not all of them want to be alone all the time. There is a new face of Autism, pretty much the child next door.

Autism is a neurological disorder. Just as the brain is a compex network, Autism can be just as compex. Certain things may effect one child that don't another child. Matthew has extra sensitive hearing and perseverates (focuses, obsesses) on sounds, like the lawn mower outside or a truck driving by. If a fan is on, the sound of it blowing can distract him from his school work. He cannot differentiate that doing his school work is more important than that sound and therefore, ignore it. He also craves vestibular input (jumping, swinging, hanging upside down). Matthew has low tone in his body and face which makes chewing somewhat difficult and mealtimes often torturous. He also dislikes certain food textures which adds to the fun. The bottom line is that Autism is as unique as the individual living with it. But one thing remains true, integrating into "normal" society can be challenging, regardless of the severity. Our society is built up heirarchies and "fitting in". That can be very hard for people who have certain things going on in their brains that others do not. OCD and anxiety often go hand in hand with Autism as well.

On the flip side, now that we are immersed in Autism as it relates to our family, we have found ways to look at the situation with humor. And, other people with Autism (especially adults!) also often find humor in their compulsions. Here are some funny things we've seen/read, although I warn you, you may need to be intimately aware of Autism to get some of these:

1) Yes, I have Autism, stare if you must, I am not paying attention to you anyways.

2) Eye contact is overrated.

3) Be patient with me now and I will be kind to you when I write my book.

4) Autism never sleeps (so my mom is cranky).

5) My child has Autism, your questions are encouraged, but your parenting advice is not (unless you also have a child with Austism) **** My favorite one!!

6) My child has Autism, what the hell is wrong with YOUR kid?

7) Autism effects 1 in 150, but I think my son is 1 in a million!! ****My other favorite!!

8) If at first you don't succeed, perseverate!