Thursday, October 29, 2009

Adventures in holiday baking

This past month has really been my first opportunity to start practicing baking. If you even remotely know me, you know that I absolutely hate to cook. Unfortunately, since I am home now, I have been working on learning how to cook, beginning with the very basics. I still hate it and just don't feel very creative when doing it.

Baking, however, makes me feel very accomplished, even though I am still learning. With my family, there are so many opportunities every month to bake, so I am getting really excited to continue working up different things. The bonus to this is that even though Caleb rarely eats anything, he loves any kind of baked product. I started with homemade blueberry muffins, then went to banana bread, then to cupcakes and cookies, and now to cakes. Caleb will eat all kinds of veggies as long as they are shredded up in a muffin/bread/cake. After the holiday baking is finished this week, my goal is to make something new for Caleb to eat each help fortify his lunch of granola bars, goldfish, and fruit.

Can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas. MAJOR baking times for home and for school. Am I the only one who is completely in love with doing things for my kids' schools? I love putting goodie bags together, baking cookies and cupcakes, wrapping up holiday gifts. This is my FAVORITE time of year!!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Einstein Debacle

Am I the only one that feels the rebate for Baby Einstein expectation is completely ridiculous? I used to let Caleb watch Baby Einstein in the wee hours of the morning when he would wake up. I would get up with him at 4 am, feed and change him, and put him in his bouncy to watch Baby Einstein while I napped on the couch. It was the only thing that would calm him down and it was so welcomed.

Did I think it was going to make him genius? No. Do I think that simply watching any TV show is going to raise your IQ points to amazing levels? No. TV shows and movies are not supposed to replace the interaction, education, and bonding that the parent is supposed to provide.

Don't let yourself feel jipped because your child is not a genius. Do not let your expectations for your children affect sound judgement. My child has Autism. Is he brilliant? Probably not. Is it because I thought Baby Einstein was going to make him a Rocket Scientist? Nope. My kid is what he is. If I want to help give him the best start possible, I have to work with him...not sit him in front of the TV with classical music and toys. Did it hurt him watching Baby Einstein? Nope. Am I going to get a refund? Nope.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Caleb the Gamer

Boy is Caleb ever a gamer. Since he was 2 years old and a family member introduced him to the magical world of Mario games, his life was dramatically changed. We bought a Game Cube back in the day and soon found that Caleb's obsessive nature was magnified when playing Mario Kart. The child could beat any of us, and he wasn't even three yet. So we set a time frame for him. Once he turned 5, he could have his own DS and could play video games. The time came, we got him a DS, and it has been his source of comfort, his incentive for positive behavior, and my life line to have a peaceful phone conversation with a friend.

The down side to this is that he is a "spectrum kid". The nature of Autism is that they escape into their own world and shun the opportunity to engage meaningfully with people. This DS has allowed him to do just that. I want to provide him the opportunity to escape into his favorite past time for brief periods of time, while at the same time providing him with opportunities to expand, interact, problem solve, etc.

We have put him in so many social situations from playgroups, therapies, art classes, Kids College. Each has had its positives and negatives. He has never been coordinated, nor has he shown any interest in any sport. Until now. He took Jansen's place in U6 soccer, thank goodness he made the age cutoff, amongst a small group of 3-6 year olds. It has been great because he lights up when he plays! He seems to be on the same emotional level as the kids that are just a year or two younger than him. This is giving him an outlet for his energy, a chance to socialize with other children, and an opportunity to boost his self esteem. AND he scored a goal in his very first game!!! I am just blissfully, tearfully, proud of this child!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bargain shopping...

I love a good bargain. Historically, I am the saver in our family. I enjoy being careful with my money, making lists, and searching for the right deal. To me, that is the part of shopping I love best. It's a matter of necessity for us, but even if is wasn't, it would be a choice for me. I love to shop, but my version of shopping includes only what I need at the time, not just shopping for retail therapy. My choice comes in when I can find some good deals on the things we need so that the extra money we have left afterward can be used on fun stuff for our family.

People don't like to talk about money and I have always wondered why that is. Suze Orman has always advocated learning about your friends and families (and your own) financial worth...but not so that we can lord it over eachother. And in these unsure economic times, it is important to be aware of what we do and don't have, and how we can help others, and become wiser financially.

Last year, Josh and I decided to get serious, tackle our debt, and become better financial stewards of the money that God has blessed us with. For years before Josh got his degree, we struggled, last year, it hit us. We were both working, and there was no point in prolonging the inevitable. We attacked it, using Dave Ramsey's plan, and suddenly, this became a game for me. We payed off student loans, payed off a vehicle, and two credit cards, leaving us this year (now on one income) with one credit card, one loan, and one car payment, besides our mortage. The repayment will be slow. One income makes it more difficult.
I love Dave Ramsey. But we are not living it to a T, but pretty close. I highly recommend checking into the 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom.

But back to today, I spent a grand total of $26.56 for my loot. I got 2 2L bottles of soda (to be donated to our school for Fall Festival), 2 bags of pretzels (for Fun Friday), a bag of M&Ms, a head of lettuce, a 2 pound package of lunchmeat, 2 divided dishes for the boys, a white serving platter, 2 Old Navy shirts, a Gymboree vest, a Tony Hawk shirt, and an inflatable Football goal and football (for a birthday gift.) These are all things that my family needed...not just things that I bought because I had a coupon for it.

Now to find Josh a Christmas present!!!!