Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mealtime Madness


I've pureed, chopped, diced and skewered countless vegetables and fruits in hopes that Noah would not turn up his nose.

I've paired them with condiments.  Read about our debacle with ranch dressing here or my ideas for how George Lucas could help my cause by expanding his merchandising into sauces and seasonings here.

I've tried dressing up their names to make them more beans were really just green french fries.

There was even a period of time when I regularly transformed the kids' plates into comical characters made from a medley of foods with carrot eyebrows, grape smiles, and red pepper noses.  Initially, my surprise tactics worked somewhat.  Noah allowed the items on his plate without protest, but very little of my efforts actually ever made it past his gums.

 After awhile I gave up the fight and decided I could live with him only eating a couple choice fruits and no vegetables.

Then, Natalie brought home a book from the library called "Grandpa's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Cookbook" by Judi Barrett.  As she perused the book she got excited when she came upon a recipe featuring meatballs shaped like cubes.

"Mom! I bet Noah would eat these because they are like Minecraft," shared Natalie.

Hmmm...what if I transformed an entire meal that represented his love for all that is cubed.  Natalie was super excited too and got right to work creating signage.  She's all about the presentation.  Go figure.

All in all the meal was a success...Noah tried and liked "slimeballs"...a.k.a green grapes. And, Natalie my meatless wonder, enjoyed not one, but three beef cubes.

Monday, September 8, 2014


As much as I try to be a process person...I'm just not.

I can't help but love results.

I need feel centered and "on track".

It's so hard for me to enjoy the right now without leaping into a time table for completing a task or project. Whether it's a favored activity like drawing, baking or party planning or one that sucks the life out of me like kids' homework, laundry and dirty dishes - it doesn't matter.

Without even trying I set challenges and goals for myself.  Because time is important.  There are only so many hours in the day. This is probably why I enjoy baking so much.  Follow the recipe and you'll be rewarded for your efforts.

In a previous life I worked in  marketing for a franchise called Benjamin Franklin - The Punctual Plumber.  Let's just say -- I fit right in.

Then along comes Noah. My firstborn. The one who made me a Mommy.


Actually, that's not completely true.  He gets the concept of "five minutes"...

*  We're leaving for school in five minutes.
*  Dinner will be ready in five minutes.
*  In five minutes, you need to get into the shower.

Raising a child with special needs has challenged me to honor the process. When Noah was a toddler, a mother raising her autistic teenage boy, shared that our journey would not be a sprint race... rather, a marathon. 

I did not like her words...but over the years I've learned to embrace them. 

A few weeks ago our family participated in Action for Autism - STL 6th Annual Family Fun Walk.  Thanks to generous family and friends, our team brought in nearly $700 to fund camps, therapies and education for area children and their families affected by autism. 

Normally, the walk involves lots of cajoling and begging on our part to get Noah to complete it. However, this year we heard ZERO complaints from our freckled-face funny man.  In fact, when he finished the race, he turned to Steve and said, "Thanks for taking me, Dad."

It has certainly been a process...but dang! I love the results.

Natalie spreads her smile and wings at the event.
Noah and Natalie stand at Noah's foot marker.
Ninja Noah
We made it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Day Delivers

While early reports predicted a soggy Labor Day weekend, Mother Nature decided to give St. Louisans a least until after the kids were put to bed Monday night.  About 11 p.m. she treated us all to a free light and sound show, but I'm not complaining because we had a wonderful weekend.

We didn't have plans to get out of town.  Our social calendar was not filled. We simply did our best to enjoy a weekend completely free of labor and worries. On Saturday we took advantage of the mid-70 temps to enjoy a romp at Queeny Park.  The next day we met up with some of our favorite people, the Brauns, who treated us to a day at DesPeres Lodge.  That day, my friend, Barb and I often split up to keep better watch as our six cuties were never all in the same place at the same time.  The kids coasted down the lazy river, rode waves in the indoor wave pool and blasted down various water slides. It was truly a whine free day. In fact, it could be said that everyone got along just swimmingly.

Labor Day Monday we lay like broccoli until I decided we all needed to get out to enjoy the sunshine.  I challenged Steve to take us some place new where we could walk and the kids could find creepy crawly things.  He delivered by taking us to Russell E. Emmenegger Park a.k.a. Emmy Park located in Kirkwood. We spent the afternoon skipping rocks along the Meramec, walking trails and watching the kids catch toads, daddy long legs and other creatures.  The kids worked up an appetite and Natalie tossed out the word "donut".  Steve and I just looked at each other and shrugged.  "Why not?" So, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon we rounded out our day with a trip to Krispy Kreme. Since it had been years since we last set foot in one - everything was new for the kids.  They marveled at the conveyor belt and ooh'ed and ahh'd over the selection of treats.  That evening when I tucked Natalie into bed she shared that she wished she could rewind the day.  Her response served as another reminder for me --my kids don't need a lot...they just need their parents to be present in their lives. 

Dear God: Thank you for showing me the beauty of relishing the present.

She's just needs to learn to relax more.
Noah and Carter share a double tube on the lazy river.
DesPeres Lodge Cake

Catching toads at Emmy Park
Mussel Man
A toad it is.
Getting Schooled in Rock Skipping.
Natalie finds another friend.
"Look! A cave!" said Noah
"I'm gonna call him Todd."
D O N U T S!

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Know What You Mean #22

Natalie: "Stop it, Noah! You're being a smart owl."

Hmmm...while owls are often portrayed as being wise or smart, I think the word she meant to say was smart aleck.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Sister Natalie

Today while cleaning out Noah's room and purging half-used notebooks from last school year.  I came upon an essay he wrote...suddenly I no longer care that my dryer conked out this morning.


She is nice
Natalie is a good friend.  She never gets mad at her friends.  She has a lot of friends because she is kind.  She plays with friends in her class at recess even though her old friends are in a different class.  She calls people to come over to our house.  She gives my mom and dad hugs and she hugs me.

Natalie is friendly to other people
She talks to everyone.  Sometimes she sits at lunch with someone sitting by themselves and probably makes friends with them.  She is helpful to mom and dad when she does her chores.

She is funny
Natalie makes me laugh.  She calls me nicknames. Sometimes she gives me huggies that make me laugh. When we play a Wii game sometimes she falls or dies on purpose to make me laugh.  She does silly things on the game.  She is crazy.  She makes up funny things when we are playing with toys.

She plays with me
We play together on the Wii or with toys.  Sometimes we can play multi-player on the DS.  We play together at friends' houses or outside and sometimes in the pool.  We make stuff outside and we catch bugs with her bug catcher.  We make stuff out of cardboard boxes that my dad brings home to us.

Natalie is good at making things up with toys
She is good at making up house and we make up stories with stuffed animals.  It makes me laugh when she makes her stuffed animals do crazy things.  She helps when I'm bored.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Deep Thoughts From Noah #49

Noah: Mom, look at this!
Me: Noah, please don't put the Silly Putty on the furniture.
Noah: I'm not...I just put it on the chair.

Natalie: Noah please chew with your mouth closed.
Noah: I am!
Natalie: Fine. I'll just turn my head so I can't see you.
Noah: Mahhhm! Will you tell her to stop looking away from me?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Postcards From the Peanut Gallery Wks. 11 & 12

"I can't believe it's over!...can't we have just one more week?!" said Natalie.

While our summer vacation has been memorable, I'm not sure I share her sentiment.  Tomorrow is the first day of school for both kids and I'm ready...
 1. School supplies have been purchased and teachers have been met - Natalie was thrilled to get Mrs. Raymond this year and shared with me "Did you know a cool fact about Mrs. R. is that she is perky!"
2.  Noah is beginning 5th grade at a new school and while he is nervous, he is also excited.  However, when I asked him what he was looking forward to most, 'making new friends' was not the response I heard. Instead he said, "maybe I'll meet a girl."
Say what?
Both kids have grown so much this summer.  Last week we visited Grant's Farm and during the Animal Encounter Show Noah raised his hand to be volunteer.  I couldn't believe it.  Normally, when anyone asks for a hand, Noah is practically hiding under the seats.  Later in the day he said yes to riding a camel...a camel! 

Feeding hungry goats at Grant's never gets old.
Noah was part of the "rat race" at Grant's Farm's Animal Encounter Show.
Noah took a couple laps with Gumby.
Noah was invited to explore the Museum of Transportation with his new friend.
My favorite view that day. The two boys chatting about their train adventures.
Noah and Natalie cashed in on their free Magic House tickets earned from the library's summer reading program.
This week Steve made me 8 jars of blackberry jam.
I haven't been good about rationing it.
We spent Sunday afternoon fishing at Suson Park with my brother's family.
Noah surprised us all by picking up a pole.
He was so proud of his catch.