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Monday, April 30, 2007

ANNOYED!!!!

Tomorrow we have the final election for mayor here in the fine city of Lincoln, Nebraska. I had pretty much made up my mind who I was going to vote for and then today my decision was confirmed.

I got SIX phone calls today (4 canned, 2 from people that could barely read what they were supposed to say) from one candidate (CB) telling me about how horrible the other candidate (KS) is for running a negative campaign. I don't watch commercials so I truly didn't know whether or not either of them had run a negative campaign. Now I know but I could care less. Anybody that is going to disrupt my day like this has got to go down. Policies schmolicies. He's not getting my vote.

The End...Or is it?

What a month it has been. I spent most of it hyper focused on the world of autism with a little bit of birthday fun thrown in the mix. I'm grateful for all the support I received for my fundraiser and also just the emotional support that was given to me through your comments.

*MUCH APPRECIATED!*

As of the writing of this post we are only $70 away from my goal of $300. If we don't reach $300 by the end of the day, that's okay. I'm amazed at what we were able to accomplish because truthfully, I would have been over the moon just to raise $100 and we definitely surpassed that! Don't let this keep you from donating if you've been waiting! By all means, do it!

I'm doing one last drawing and it is for another one of these:

The winner is Anne! Anne, contact me via email with your mailing address and I'll get this sent out to you. I've got so much mailing to do...I've set a goal for Wednesday to mail out what is left of the orders and also Gigi's prize (I've moved the sweater to where I see it everyday and can feel shame and guilt for not finishing it sooner).

So, we've come to the end of this exciting month and I'm going to try and take a break from blogging about autism for a while. What will I blog about tomorrow? Who knows. See you then.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Mormons

On April 30th and May 1st, PBS is doing a special 4 hour documentary on the Mormons. I'm curious to see what it is like and I'm sure I'll be blogging about it after I watch the episodes. I've always been surprised about a lot of the misconceptions many people still have about our faith--not the least of which is that we aren't Christian. This is so far from the truth! I'm especially anxious to hear reactions from my blog readers that aren't members of the church. So, watch it and let me know. Did you learn something new about us? Did you have some questions answered? Was something you thought to be true nothing more than a misunderstanding or falsehood?

Here is the "blurb" on the show from PBS.

The MormonsThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of America's fastest growing religions, and its influence circles the globe. The church has 12 million members today and over half of them live outside the United States. Yet the birth of Mormonism and its history is one of America's great neglected narratives. This four-hour documentary brings together FRONTLINE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in their first co-production to provide a searching portrait of this fascinating but often misunderstood religion. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Helen Whitney ("Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero," "John Paul II: The Millennial Pope"), the film will explore the richness, the complexities, and the controversies of the Mormons' story as told through interviews with leaders and members of the church, with leading writers and historians, and with supporters and critics of the Mormon faith.


I spent the afternoon at church today and was amazed at the response I got from people about the email I sent out publicizing the fundraiser and open house for Autism Awareness Month. I got slipped a few checks and got lots of hugs. I'll be submitting the grand total from all open house sales and extra donations tomorrow. I can't wait to see that total jump up! We're still a little short on my goal of $300 for the month (did you notice that it isn't $310 anymore? Yep, 30 days hath September...and apparently, April). Ha ha. So, if you've been waiting to donate...now is the time!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Generosity

I've been amazed at the generosity of all of you. But, you know what? I shouldn't be. I have amazing friends and family and now you've gone and proven it again!



The open house was a huge success. This is what I put together. I'm trying to come up with a good (and cheap) way to display my cards for the craft fair on May 11th. I've been swarming in filling outside orders and having people drop in today was a lot of fun. I have $80 ready to deposit into my sidebar banner. I will continue the fundraiser through Monday but all of these items will be available after that and what would have been donated to Autism Speaks will be donated to the "Caleb's therapy" fund.

I made a new item that just happens to be part of the prize for today. It's this really cool card holder that contains eight matching cards. The cards are all different (some thank you, friend, miss you, etc...) but matchy enough for this to be a really cool set. You know you want to get one for your mom for Mother's Day, right? You can get one for $15 (colors may vary and you can specify what type of cards you want inside--like all birthday, thank you, etc...).

Speaking of Mother's Day, mine won the drawing today (it wasn't rigged or anything!). Congrats, Mom! You will get this lovely card set in the mail and your choice of home decor items donated by Janet (Carl's mom). It is such the family affair today.

And now, I will go and spend time with my lovely family here. It's a gorgeous day and I'm totally rockin' my flip flops.

Come Back Later!

Check back tonight for the drawing and the grand total from my Open House.

One funny story--especially for Carl's family (although I think you all might find it amusing).

One night last week Carl watched one of his Macgyver DVDs with Eva. Now she can't get enough. She wakes up in the morning and runs straight over to where we keep the DVDs and she points and says "Gyver!". She carries around the DVD jacket with her and talks about Gyver. If I give her a choice between anything else and Macgyver...GYVER it is!

Nature vs. Nurture is at work everyday in our household. Let's chalk one up for nurture!

Friday, April 27, 2007

TV Turn-Off Week

This week is TV Turn-Off Week. Did you know? Are you participating? While I should participate myself, there is no way I could make Caleb get rid of TV for the week. That would induce meltdowns galore and take away some of his best learning opportunities of the day.

I found an excellent list from autism.about.com that lists some good reasons for allowing kids with autism to watch television and videos. I can't believe how well this matches up with how Caleb learns.

Here are the reasons. Any bold-type print in the explanations are my own additions.

1) Research Shows that Autistic Children Learn From Videos
Researchers have looked into the power of video modeling for children with autism. They've discovered that videos, which can be viewed over and over again, are actually powerful tools for teaching skills, concepts, and even emotional responses. Some video modeling has been shown to effectively teach life skills like tooth brushing, shoe tying and more! There is a Sesame Street episode that we have on tape that Caleb likes to watch over and over. It has a section on brushing your teeth. Every time he brushes his teeth he repeats the steps that were given on the show.

2) Carefully Selected TV Shows Can Help Your Child Connect to His Peers

Children with autism are idiosyncratic enough without being denied the common cultural language of television. Even if your child with autism doesn't fully grasp the humor of Spongebob, his knowledge of the characters and settings will provide him with better tools for connecting with his peers. This isn't really an issue with Caleb yet and I don't totally agree with this one. There are plenty of ways to connect with peers without having tv show characters in common.

3) TV and Video Can Provide Parent and Child with a Common Language

As you and your child watch videos or TV together, you can establish a common symbolic language. That language can provide the basis for shared imaginative play. Our son became fascinated with one particular Pooh video, and it has led to really meaningful conversation, role play, drawing, even puppet shows. I've seen this time and time again with Caleb. When I watch shows with him I know what he's talking about when he says things he's learned from there. We are able to have conversations based on what we've watched.

4) TV and Videos Can Open the World to Your Child

Many children on the autism spectrum are fascinated by animals, trains, or other aspects of the real world. Selected TV and videos, such as Animal Planet and the Eye Witness videos can build on those interests. Next step: a trip to the real zoo to see real crocodiles, a real-life train ride, or just a visit to the pet store. Yep.

5) TV and Videos can Create a Link Between the Internal and External Worlds

At age three, our son's language consisted largely of memorized scripts. Some of those scripts came from a Canadian TV show called Theodore Tugboat which featured talking boats in a harbor. We had no idea how much he'd learned from the show until we went to a real harbor, where our three-year-old correctly pointed out real research vessels, container ships, tugs and more! This describes Caleb very well.

6) TV Provides a Much-Needed Respite for Parents

It's easy to feel guilty for plopping your autistic child in front of the TV. The truth is, though, that no one can be physically and emotionally available all day, every day. Even parents of special needs kids need a break. And carefully selected TV or videos, offered in a structured and limited manner, can be a sanity-saver. Amen. I usually have Caleb pick one of his shows to watch while Eva is taking a nap so I can get some down time.

7) TV and Videos Can Build Parent-Child Relationships

Even if you're not actively engaging with each other in a therapeutic manner, you can cuddle together on the couch. Those quiet, physically intimate moments together may be just as signficant to your child's development as high energy interactive play. It is so rare when Caleb wants to cuddle with me. He is always on the go. But, there are times when he will sit with me and let me hold him if we are watching something he really likes.

8) TV and Videos Can Stimulate Ideas for Therapy

If you are a parent who practices developmental therapies like floortime, RDI or Sonshine, you may simply run out of creative ideas. And very often, children with autism are not much help in that department. TV and Videos can stimulate your imagination with new images, ideas and scenarios. We don't practice these particular therapies but I agree that I can get good ideas from TV. I saw that there was a Blue's Clues show on feelings so I decided to DVR it to check it out. Caleb is working on learning facial expressions and we talk about how people look on the TV. For example, when Curious George (his latest TV "obsession") gets taken by animal control Caleb will always say "George is sad".

9) Autistic Children Relate Intensely to TV-Related Merchandise and Games

Typical children may tire quickly of Sesame Street toys. Children on the autism spectrum, however, are more likely to find real comfort and pleasure in toys that relate to their favorite videos. And those toys can become a wonderful source for therapeutic play. So can some of the video games related to PBS television program. In fact, the Arthur website includes a game which asks kids to connect facial expressions to story events! Caleb loves playing the games on pbskids.org, nickjr.com, and playhousedisney.com. He gets good practice from what he's been learning at school (shapes, letters, turn taking, etc...). This is something that he has a hard time "learning" directly from me.

10) Auditory and Visual Teaching Is Ideal for Autistic Children

Autistic people often learn best with their eyes and ears, while words may not sink in. Our son plays the clarinet, but it was tough to get him to play anything new. That is, until the Disney show Little Einsteins introduced the Mozart piece Eine Kleine Nacht Musik. Now, he plays like a whiz! The same goes for Pink Panther: we showed him the animation from the beginning of the Pink Panther movie; now he can play the piece with proper rhythm and intonation. It should be no surprise to most of you that Caleb learns this way. He started out talking by imitating conversations he memorized from TV. Right now we are able to limit his tv viewing and the shows he has access to but I can see in the future how this can be something we'll really have to watch out for. He is so impressionable and prone to memorization that I don't want him watching shows that teach him things he doesn't need to know.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What Kind of World You Want

This was mentioned in the comments here on this blog earlier this month and I thought it was worth putting it out here for all of you to see. You can go to this website and watch a video by Five for Fighting. A donation is made to Autism Speaks when you watch it. Make sure you scroll down to see view the Autism Speaks intro.

I've got another funny story about the kids. I was upstairs checking my email this afternoon and I heard Caleb go into the kitchen. Here is the conversation:

Caleb: Eva, you want some ice cream?
Eva: Yes.
Caleb: Eva, you want some ice cream?
Eva: Yes.
I come into the room and see him opening the freezer...
Me: Caleb, what are you doing?
Caleb: Mommy, you go play on the computer right now.
Me: Do you need a snack?
Caleb: Go play, Mommy.
Eva: CREAM!

They didn't get any ice cream but I was so impressed with the way Caleb was using his words.

Okay, one more. On our sliding glass door that leads to the backyard we have two locks and also a piece of wood that is up really high that keeps them from opening the door. One of the locks is useless. Both kids know how to open it. The second lock can only be opened by Eva. Caleb has yet to master it. Up until last week, they couldn't get to the wood. Now my two little angels work together to get out of the house. Caleb pulls over a chair and then jumps off of it to knock the wood down. Then, he asks Eva if she wants to go outside. She always says yes. So, he asks her to open the door and then she unlocks the lock. They are then free to run away. Which, they do. When Carl came home from his trip last weekend, I told him we had a major issue with our home security. He built a "wall" out of old computer towers and our wood pile. The kids can still get outside but it will take them a lot longer to breach the "wall" so I have a chance to chase them and get them before they make it down the street. They only try to escape when they know I'm otherwise indisposed (ahem, everybody's gotta pee sometime). Luckily the weather has been rotten these past couple of days so they haven't hatched any escape plans since Monday.

There are just a few more days of Autism Awareness Month. Please spread the word and don't forget to check out the items I have for sale for my Open House Fundraiser.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kiss and Say BOO!

Caleb's favorite game to play lately is a little something he made up called "Kiss and Say Boo!" Basically, we do just that. Caleb will kiss me and then he wants me to say "BOO!" to scare him. The louder I say it the better. He just laughs wildly and falls to the ground. Then he says, "You scared me, mommy!". Sometimes he likes to say boo and after he says it he'll ask me, "Did I scare you?". Eva is getting in on the game now and anytime she gets kisses she growls, "BOO!" (she has a very low voice). Then she says,"Scare?". It's all pretty cute. Sometimes to switch things up when Caleb asks to play "Kiss and Say Boo!" I let him kiss me and then I sing, "CebĂș!" (from the VeggieTales Song of the CebĂș) and then we sing the song. Fun stuff.

Speaking of fun stuff, I drew a winner for the latest prize. The prize is a 1/4" circle punch and a double punch circle from Stampin' UP! and a packet of scrapbooking materials. This was all graciously donated by Heather. And, the winner is JULIE! Email me your contact info, Julie and I'll get it to Heather so she can send you the goods.

I'll do the next drawing on Saturday. Here's how to enter. So far there are over 140 entries divided by just over 20 people. Not bad.

I've got some new things up at Sticks and Stamps. Check them out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What I Would Be Doing...

If I wasn't so busy using Eva's naptime to make up cards and nugget boxes, I would be able to share this with you and let you know about my immense excitement about this upcoming movie. I've been so busy making cards that I don't know when I'll be able to find the time to watch this trailer 5 times and write this blog post.

We're Over Halfway!!!

Have you noticed the tally on my donation banner going up up up? It's amazing. Thanks to all of you! But, I'm holding on to all of the proceeds from my Open House until after Saturday. If I were to add those in today we'd be at $180. Unbelievable.

The Autism Family Network is having a craft fair on May 11th. So, I'm trying to make as much as possible for this Saturday and then know that I can take what is left and have time to remake the best sellers for that event. The booth proceeds for that event go directly to the Autism Family Network. I'm donating 20% of my proceeds (after I get back my inital booth fee) to AFN at this event. I'll be sure to let the locals here know the time and place when it gets closer. There are going to be a lot of vendors there and it is for a good cause!

This crafting and autism awareness month has been taking over my life these past few weeks. I'm sure I'll have other things to write about soon.

Don't forget about the contest! The entries keep rolling in but I'm sure we can do more! Spread the word.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Nick News

Did you watch it? I was so very impressed with the Nick News show. I found it really informative and I can see how kids watching this could get a lot from the information. Did you see Matt the pianist? While Caleb has some clear musical ability, it isn't in the savant category...at least not yet. He does still continue to amaze me with his ability. He is starting to play Fur Elise now. He has the right hand perfect. He still needs to learn to play the correct notes with his left hand but he does have the rhythm and basic tonality down. It's amazing.

I'm still recovering from my long single parent weekend. I was SO GLAD to see Carl show up to church yesterday. I missed him a lot...and not just because he wasn't around to help me with the kids. We spent all afternoon just chilling tomorrow. This explains why I never came back to the computer to finish my post from yesterday.

I have a lot of work to do this week getting ready for my Open House on Saturday. Check out my sticks and stamps blog to see what is available!

Plus, there are still drawings to be done! I will do the next drawing on Wednesday for some Stampin' Up products including some punches (donated by Heather).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Prize Winner!

Gigi (still blogless, for now) won the drawing for the Arbonne sea salt scrub. This prize was donated by Deb. Lucky you, Gigi! I love this stuff.

The kids are up already (AGAIN!) so I don't have time to do the rest of my post for today. Maybe later after church when Carl is home.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bed Bugs

I wish I was asleep right now. I stayed up late last night (close to midnight--late for me!) to work on some cards thinking that I would be able to sleep in until the kids woke up this morning. Caleb woke up at 5am. He didn't go back to sleep. Eva woke up at 6am but I put her back to sleep with the promise of more milk. I have Caleb downstairs watching Curious George (his latest favorite movie) and I tried to get some sleep. It's not working. I have a feeling we're all going to be cranky later this afternoon and it isn't going to be pretty. Carl will be back tomorrow. He's going straight to church from the airport.

I have posted some of the items I have available for my fundraiser on my other blog, Sticks and Stamps. I will be adding new items daily.

There is still time to enter the drawing for the Arbonne sea salt scrub.

Thanks to Audra, I know to set my DVR. Tomorrow night on Nickelodeon, they are doing a 30 minute special on autism that is geared toward kids. It's on at 8:30/7:30central and then they are replaying it again around 11pm. Chances are, your children know someone with autism. This should be an informative show for them to watch with you.

Happy Saturday! Zzzzzz.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Now Is the Best Later

I never did get back to my blog yesterday with the time I needed to do this post. I know I can handle things around here by myself but I'm always sad when Carl is gone. The morning routine is especially difficult without him here since he is the one that usually wakes up Caleb and gets him in the right mood for the day. We'll see how things go for me this afternoon when Caleb gets home from school.

Caleb does really well when he has a routine and a schedule. Don't we all? Here are some of the things that we've been using with him.

This is a bracelet similar to the ones that his teachers wear at school. This is actually one of their old ones that they gave me. I never know what kind of reaction I'm going to get when I use the bracelet. Sometimes he responds immediately and other times he gets upset when I'm trying to tell him to stop yelling or to sit down. The good thing about the bracelet is that I know he understands every picture on there and if I just show him the picture, I don't have to worry about whether or not he heard me or understood what I said. Sometimes I let him hold the bracelet himself. This works well at church and I let him take it to Primary. The teachers say it helps a lot.

One thing that Caleb is using at school that we're trying to use more in our house is a picture schedule.


The grad student from UNL that has been coming this semester for one of her classes, made it for us. I also hired her to work with me 10-15 hours a week. I was joking with Carl that he should start calling me Professor Mom now that I have my own grad student. Anyway...this is similar to what he uses at school to help him know where to go next. Our use of this at home is not very rigid. It is helpful when Caleb gets bored or when he has done something for a long time and I want him to change activities. I tell him to check his schedule and I have a little check mark card in my pocket that I give to him. He takes it to his board (this is attached with velcro to the side of our entertainment center at Caleb's eye level) and sees what is listed. He doesn't always choose what is first on the list and that is okay. The main thing is he has the choice of what to do next, he shows me, we do it, and then he puts it in the "DONE" folder. He always says, "[piano] is D-O-N-E, spells DONE!".

You still have time to get in on this next drawing. A little bird told me that there is an Arbonne sea salt scrub ($26 value!) ready to go out to someone that has spread the word about Autism Awareness! Click here for contest details. I will draw a winner on Saturday night for announcement on Sunday's blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Maybe Later

This is the blog post where I was going to let you know how I use pictures to communicate with Caleb. It's going to have to wait. Carl just left to go to Las Vegas for a conference, Eva's screaming in her crib, and the camera with the pictures of the pictures is downstairs.

How about I just remind you about Autism Awareness Month and how you can enter the drawing for prizes? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of you out there that want some Arbonne. Find out how to enter here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reading Rut

For the past month I have been in a rut with my reading. I can usually knock out 2-4 books a month. I can't remember the last book I finished. Last night before book group (no, I didn't read the book) I decided to go to the library. I think that was all I needed to get out of my funk. I came home with three books and I'm excited about reading again.

This isn't one of the books I got at the library. I actually own this one. If I did my html correctly, you should be able to click on the book for the link. I found this book to be really helpful as a parent. There are sections that would be good for grandparents, caregivers, and teachers as well. If you aren't directly impacted by autism, this book probably isn't for you. It talks a lot about the process of diagnosis, different treatment options, coping with all that comes with a diagnosis, and how to move forward.

If you're looking for books to read that give an overview of what it might be like to live with autism, here are a few I would recommend:

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This is a fictional story of a teen with Asperger's Syndrome. I've written about this book before on the blog and it is one of my favorite books.

2. Elijah's Cup. This is a memoir written by the mother of a boy with Asperger's. A caregiver is also autistic so you get a good sense of strategies adults use as well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

WE HAVE A WINNER!

We have a winner. Mary, you got it. I'm sure it will probably be difficult for you to think of how to spend your $25 Stampin' Up gift certificate. ;) Congratulations and thank you for spreading the word! Carl did the dirty work of drawing the name out of the basket. For all of you with entries, they will rollover to the next drawing that will happen on Saturday. I'll announce the prize for that later--but it will be good, no doubt about that!

Want to know how to enter? Read about it here.

Are you all sick of hearing about autism? Me too! Unfortunately, Caleb has to live with it every day so I'm going to keep talking about it and doing all I can to help get him everything he needs.

Spread the word.

Also, I can't let the events of yesterday go without mention. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families out at Virginia Tech. Hollie's husband goes to school there and one of our friends from Purdue is an engineering professor there. Hollie's family is okay but we still haven't heard about the other. We're assuming no news is good news for the moment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Prizes and Paperwork

Here's a recap of how you can enter the drawings. The first drawing is for a $25 gift certificate to Stampin' Up. You have the rest of today to earn entries and I'll draw a winner from a hat before I post tomorrow.

It was brought to my attention that if you don't have a blog, you don't have as many opportunities to enter. For shame! Why don't you have a blog? ;) An email to a few of your friends will do the trick. Just direct them to this site and don't forget to add me to the email so I can give you credit for it.

We've got to spread the word about Autism Awareness Month!

1. Write a blog post about autism, link to me, and let me know about it. This will earn you 5 entries into the drawing.

2. Encourage your readers to comment on my blog. If they let me know where they came from, they get an entry and so will the person that referred them.

3. Share something autism related in the comments and you'll get an entry. This can include a link to an article you read or a new store that gives proceeds to autism related charities or whatever. There is no limit to how many times you do this as long as the information is unique each time and hasn't been shared by someone else already.

4. If an item you shared (from #3) makes into one of my daily blog posts, you'll earn an extra 3 entries.

5. If you donated to an autism related charity this month, let me know and you'll get 5 entries. This includes donating through my side banner (or someone else's), sponsoring somebody for an Autism Walk, giving an extra few bucks at Toys 'R Us, and items you've purchased through my little fundraiser. So, if you bought some cards...you get some entries! I obviously have no way of verifying this (other than the purchases through me personally) so please be honest. If you've donated a prize for this contest, you also receive 5 entries.

You can contact me through the comments or email me directly at:
sra_nelson AT yahoo DOT com


Providing Caleb with the therapies he needs can get kind of expensive. I've been trying to supplement our "free" services through the school district by working with him myself but we realize that this is not the ideal situation for either of us. In an effort to defray some of the costs, I have taken on a part time job filling out paperwork. I have a mound full of forms that can potentially help us pay for some of Caleb's extra programs. Respite subsidies, Social Security Disability, etc... I don't know if we'll be able to qualify for these but I'm taking the time to fill them out just in case. We're not grad student poor anymore but we're certainly not living it up on an inflated salary or a two-person income. Hopefully we'll qualify for some sort of monthly stipend that can cover co-pays or help fund a student to help out.

This is part of the reason that raising awareness is important to me. Our lawmakers need to know that we are not being served. Insurance doesn't cover therapies. Doctors need to be better informed. Teachers need to be trained. Parents need help.

I feel a great responsibility to help Caleb as much as I possibly can. He's not only our son but he has a birthmother that wanted to give him opportunities that she wasn't able to provide at that time in her life. We had no idea that autism would be a part of the picture but I know that it is something that I can handle. I have a supportive husband and I'm able to stay home to take care of our children. This has got to count for something.

Please consider how you might be able to spread the word about autism. You can send a message to your Senators here encouraging them to support funding for the Combating Autism Act and to have them co-sponsor autism friendly legislation. Let me know if you wrote to your lawmakers and you'll get some entries in the drawings as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Inaugural Walk for Autism

Want to win a $25 gift certificate to Stampin' Up? Click HERE for details.

Today is the inaugural Nebraska Walk Now for Autism. I'm a little disappointed that I won't be able to attend but that was the main catalyst for me doing my own fundraiser for Autism Speaks so I would feel like I was doing my part to contribute. Even though my sidebar banner doesn't reflect the current total yet, we've earned over $100. I can't tell you how pleased I am with that. My goal for the month is $310 so we have a ways to go. I hope you will help me spread the word!

I know of at least one blog reader that will be at the walk today. Please comment and tell me how it went!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Craft Heaven

The spare room in our house is my craft heaven. When we moved in here last year all the guys that helped us by bringing in our boxes and furniture quickly learned the name of that room. I think they thought I was a little crazy but I bet all their wives would want a craft heaven if they don't have one already.

Craft Heaven has gone through a few incarnations. We traded the bed that was in there for a twin that we'll use for Eva. So, now there is more room for an extra table and chairs for workspace.

I put my state and county fair ribbons on the wall. Not bad for one year, right?

My cubbies need some work. But, they are coming along. I like having the room semi-organized now so I can work on the things I'm making for my Open House. On April 28th from 2-5pm, come by the house and see some of the things I've created that are available for purchase (40% of all proceeds to be donated to Autism Speaks). If you're not close enough to drop in, I'll send out an email letting you know how you can get some of the items if you're interested.

This is another example of one of the cards I have.

I have always been somewhat crafty. I prefer to make things myself when I can. I've been stamping a lot lately and knitting kind of took over my life right when Caleb's behavioral issues started. I think having that creative outlet has really helped me these past couple of years. Having a hobby or interest outside of the home is really important and even more so when you may have a family life that can be so physically and mentally draining (whether your child has special needs or not!). I'm glad that I've found a couple of hobbies that make me happy and take the edge off.

What are your hobbies?

Want to win a gift certificate to Stampin' UP!? CLICK HERE to find out how to enter my drawing for Autism Awareness Month.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Won't Worry My Life Away

Did you hear about the giveaways? Find out how to enter here.

The concert last night was pretty sweet. Wendy already did a post about it, too. She saved some of the funny stuff for me to share on my blog.

First, I was surprised about how many people I knew didn't know who the heck Jason Mraz is. He was on heavy rotation on VH1 there for a while so I think this video might refresh your memory.



This isn't my favorite song of his, but it is probably his most well known.

At the concert he dedicated one of his songs to the "Older Ladies". Wendy and I are the same age. We didn't know whether or not we were to be considered part of the older ladies category. Anyway, he tells a story about how he was on a date with a girl that said she just turned 29. A couple of days later he was with her and she told her friends that she just turned 34. Oops. So, he wrote a song about it called Older Love Undercover. I guess we do qualify to be "older Ladies".

After he sang "Geek in the Pink", he showed that he bought a pink Nebraska shirt and if said that if he took his shirt off there would be no dictionaries left in Nebraska. We were like, "HUH?". Then he said, pointing to his abs, "Because I've got all the definition right here!". *rim shot*

I don't think me writing these down is as funny as it was last night. It might have had something to do with the fact that we were two old ladies up past our bedtime on a school night. The music was great, the seats were hard, the view was fine...great concert!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More PRIZES!

I'm getting super excited about the prizes that are getting donated for my end of the month extravaganza. I'm so excited that I can't wait until the end of the month. It's going to start soon!

I really want to spread the word about Autism Awareness this month. For you to be eligible for any drawing for the rest of the month, you need to do at least one of these things.

1. Write a blog post about autism, link to me, and let me know about it. This will earn you 5 entries into the drawing.

2. Encourage your readers to comment on my blog. If they let me know where they came from, they get an entry and so will the person that referred them.

3. Share something autism related in the comments and you'll get an entry. This can include a link to an article you read or a new store that gives proceeds to autism related charities or whatever. There is no limit to how many times you do this as long as the information is unique each time and hasn't been shared by someone else already.

4. If an item you shared (from #3) makes into one of my daily blog posts, you'll earn an extra 3 entries.

5. If you donated to an autism related charity this month, let me know and you'll get 5 entries. This includes donating through my side banner (or someone else's), sponsoring somebody for an Autism Walk, giving an extra few bucks at Toys 'R Us, and items you've purchased through my little fundraiser. So, if you bought some cards...you get some entries! I obviously have no way of verifying this (other than the purchases through me personally) so please be honest. If you've donated a prize for this contest, you also receive 5 entries.

You can contact me through the comments or email me directly at:
sra_nelson AT yahoo DOT com

Sound simple enough? We'll start accumulating entries starting now and we'll have a drawing for a prize on Monday. If you don't win, all of your entries will rollover to the next drawing. I will limit it to one prize per person, though. So, once you win--that's it!

The first prize is: A $25 Gift Certificate to Stampin' Up! (redeemable through me only)


p.s. I'm going to be living it up at the Jason Mraz concert tonight! Happy Birthday to me!

While I Have Your Attention

I'm sure a lot of you that commented yesterday in my contest might not read my blog on a regular basis. So while you're back to find out if you won my awesome prize, I'd like to turn your attention to Autism Awareness. We're observing Autism Awareness Month at the crafty conservative by raising funds for Autism Speaks through my side banner and spreading the word about the disorder so people can be more informed and choose how best to act on that information. This post I did less than a week ago explains a lot about how Caleb got diagnosed and some of the things we deal with on a daily basis. Chances are you or someone you know is affected by this disorder through a family member, co-worker, or neighbor. I've set a goal for myself to raise at least $310 this month through the blog. This is one $10 donation a day for April. Please consider helping if you can...even if it is just spreading the word to as many people as possible.
These statistics are from Autism Speaks.

Incidence vs. Private Funding
  • Leukemia: Affects 1 in 25,000 / Funding: $310 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 20,000 / Funding: $175 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 8,000 / Funding: $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $130 million
  • Autism: Affects 1 in 150 / Funding: $15 million

National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation
  • Total 2005 NIH budget: $29 billion
  • Of this, only $100 million goes towards autism research. This represents 0.3% of total NIH funding.
I know my little fundraiser isn't going to be able to contribute thousands but I'm trying to do my part and I really appreciate all the support and help that all of you have given me and my family. At the end of this month I'll have another contest and will give as many prizes as there are donations. Do you have something you might want to donate as a prize? Let me know. I'd love to be able to give away an assortment of goodies and have it be a real celebration at the end of the month!

And now, the winner of the most awesome assortment of goodies from me! This is what will come in the mail to the lucky winner!

What is all this stuff, you ask? In the very front are 3 magnets, a couple of hand made cards, a spool of ribbon, a Kit Kat (my favorite--along with Twix), a butterfly garden seed packet (I HAD to include something from the Target $1 spot), a Pampered Chef i-slice (the BEST thing to use if you clip coupons), some air freshener (this one is Method Lavendar & Lemongrass--I usually stick with Febreze but they don't have lids so don't ship well), and some dishcloth cotton.

Okay, okay. Who won?

DEANNA said:
My guess is 148.... it started with 150 then Caleb ate at least two before getting caught :)

The actual number was 149 and then it got down into the 130's after snacking some yesterday! But, this was a contest for how many it was in the picture. Either way, Deanna wins! Congratulations! I already have your mailing address, Deanna, so you don't have to do anything but be surprised when you get a little something in your box!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's My Birthday but I'm Giving Presents!!!!

It's my birthday today and in celebration, I'd like to give some lucky reader a present.


Guess how many jelly beans are in this box. The box is 4 inches square and there is about 1/2 inch at the bottom of plastic grass. The person that guesses the closest (you can go over--this isn't The Price is Right) wins a present from me. So, you want to know what you're playing for? Who cares? It's a prize! Actually, I haven't totally decided yet. I know it will include some of my favorite things...and it will be worth it! Put your best guess in the comments. You have until midnight (Central time) tonight (April 11th). Good luck!

Autism Awareness Month continues!
Yesterday I signed up at the Interactive Autism Network. Basically it is a site where we fill out some questionnaires and our information is provided to researchers. From their website:
IAN will provide tools that help you monitor your child's progress over time and explore how your child is similar to (or different than) other children affected by this disorder.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Young Man, There's a Place You Can Go

My birthday is tomorrow. Usually I make a super huge deal about it and this year I was hoping to have a Sweet 16 X 2 party. If you can do the math, you'll know how old I'm going to be. Anyway, these past couple of weeks have been such that I couldn't even really think about it. So, no party. That doesn't mean I'm not doing my fair share of celebrating. I'm going to lunch tomorrow with some ladies I visit at church (one of them is celebrating a birthday this week as well). Carl is even coming home to watch the kids so I don't have to take them along! We don't have plans for tomorrow night. I think we might go out or get take out or something. I don't know. Thursday night I'm going to the Jason Mraz concert with Wendy and on Saturday we will be getting pedicures. I can't really be feeling too bad about not planning a party. It should be a good week.

I'm still more confused than ever about my hair. I guess I just can't be bothered with a label of blond or brunette. I'll just describe my hair color as "fabulous" and leave it at that!

Autism Awareness month continues...I was asked to be on a committee at the YMCA to help develop programs and help them be more accessible to patrons with special needs. Our first meeting was last night. I'm the only one with a child that is young. Most of the other people involved have teenagers or are professionals that work with kids with special needs. I hope that by the time Caleb is old enough to take advantage of a lot of what the Y has to offer, some of these programs will be in place. He does well in the child watch area but I did mention that I would like it if they had special sections of some of the classes that have limited space so there is a better teacher to student ratio (like gymnastics and swim lessons). We're going to work on that. It feels good to be involved and help advocate for other parents that might have the same wants/needs. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be asked to give my input.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I Could Just Dye

I'm supposed to be in my therapist's office right now. But, I got mixed up on the times. I thought my appointment was at noon. I don't know why because in my planner, I wrote down 1pm. If only I looked at my planner. I found a sitter for the kids from 11:30am-1:30pm. I can't get a hold of them by phone to see if they can keep my kids another hour. So, I cancelled my therapy appointment and came home to blog about it. This will be my therapy for today and the kids can keep playing.

About therapy--it's been going really well. I'm surprised, actually, at how much it helps. We talk a lot about how I have this blueprint in my head of how I want or think things should be and how my life just isn't working out like that. Oooh. Deep. The more I think about it, the more I realize how right he is. I had an idea of what it would be like to be a parent of a typically developing child. Now that I don't have a typically developing child I need to change my views of what it means to be a successful parent. This is really difficult to do. But, I'm trying and I think it is working. I feel a lot more confident and calm as a parent and I think Carl can see a difference, too. We attended a class on behavior issues put on by Caleb's preschool teacher. Having Carl hear other people tell him some of the strategies that I've been trying to tell him about really made a difference. I think it has helped him become more confident and calm as well. With Caleb, that is key. Calm. It's hard to be calm when his tantrums include grabbing his little sister by the neck or pulling my hair out clumps at a time. But, we've been doing better and we have seen Caleb make really good improvements. I'm proud of our family and what we've been able to accomplish so far. Really, I can only be optimistic about what the future holds for us.

I have no clever way to change the subject to my hair.

I have always been under the impression that my hair is blond. Sure, it's not as blond as it used to be but it is still blond.

Or, is it?

Carl told me yesterday that it wasn't blond...that it was light brown. The thought of having brown hair isn't displeasing to me in any way. I just was surprised, that's all. Do I need to stop thinking of myself as a blond and embrace the fact that I'm really a brunette?

What do you all think? Am I blond or brunette? I have been wondering whether or not to dye my hair again but every time I look at it in the mirror I love it (whatever color it is) so I can't bring myself to changing it just yet.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday. We've had an interesting day. The kids were pretty good at church and they looked really cute despite the fact that this was the best shot of the two of them I could get. I didn't get Caleb anything new to wear. His dress clothes are still holding up quite nicely and he's been wearing 5T clothes since last year. We did find out this morning that his size 12 (yep, that's right!) dress shoes are too small. He's actually been wearing that size shoe since he turned 3. He had a super big growth spurt and has slowed down a little. There for a few months I was having to buy new shoes every few weeks it seemed. Eva got a new dress for her birthday from Grandma and Grandpa Greer. Lucky for us it came with a little sweater because it is still really cold around here.

I didn't get around to filling their Easter baskets with what I got for them. They had long ago found the toys (mini see-n-says) so there were just a few little things to add. They are still working on their candy from the egg hunt yesterday so I'll ration it out as long as I can. I'm glad I don't like jelly beans (except black, mmmm) or plain chocolate. The candy is safe.

I have to end this post with a huge THANK YOU to the knitting group I belong to. I've been making cards to sell at an upcoming open house with 40% of the proceeds going to Autism Speaks. With my small selection we raised $22 in a matter of minutes. Plus, they got some pretty cute (in my opinion, of course!) cards. I'll be adding the money to the total on my sidebar at the end of the month when I'm done with my card selling fundraiser. This is one of the cards. I can only make up to 100 of these with this particular image because of the copyright on the stamp. It's a 3X3 card perfect to throw in with a hand knit gift!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Bunny

Last night we decided to have a family activity dyeing Easter eggs. In any family with toddlers this takes major planning for it to work. In a family with Caleb, it takes a miracle. We didn't have a miracle, but we made it through virtually unscathed. We all have dyed hands and I got a fat lip but we have dyed eggs and we did it together. I thought that maybe since Caleb had already done it at school he would be familiar enough with the process that we could replicate it at home. Maybe next year.
This picture is of Caleb after he calmed down but he was still too sad to smile so he made his sad face. Aaah. When he was having a meltdown he looked a little like the Incredible Hulk because his hands were green.
This morning we braved temperatures in the 30s to do a little Easter egg hunt with some other kids from church. We were pretty darn cold but I think the kids enjoyed it. They are very into jelly beans at the moment so the thought of collecting eggs full of them was appealing. Each kid brought 12 eggs and then each one got to go home with 12 different ones. Despite the cold, it was a lot of fun.

Here is my autism "bit" for the day. This comes from The Autism Society of America.

Children with autism are frequently seen as aloof and uninterested in others. This is not the case with Asperger's Disorder. Individuals with Asperger's Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others; they simply don't know how to do it. They may be socially awkward, not understanding of conventional social rules, or may show a lack of empathy. They may have limited eye contact, seem to be unengaged in a conversation, and not understand the use of gestures.

Interests in a particular subject may border on the obsessive. Children with Asperger's Disorder frequently like to collect categories of things, such as rocks or bottle caps. They may be proficient in knowing categories of information, such as baseball statistics or Latin names of flowers. While they may have good rote memory skills, they have difficulty with abstract concepts.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Oprah Show

New questions and answers added at the end of this post!

Okay, did you watch it? The documentary Oprah kept referring to is found at the Autism Speaks website. I posted a link to it sometime last year. I found the episode to be pretty basic and informative. It certainly made me cry. I have a lot to be grateful for. While Caleb exhibits a lot of the characteristics mentioned in the show (and some others that I wish they could have gotten into more), he is high functioning so I can expect him to make great strides in these critical early years of his development.

Do any of you have any questions for me? I thought it might be a good time to have a Q&A blog post so you can ask me things you may have wondered about.

Here are some things you might be interested in to start:

Does Caleb have special therapists?

Yes. Caleb goes to preschool every morning and his teacher is a speech pathologist. She is very knowledgeable about autism and is an excellent resource for our family. Caleb also sees an occupational therapist during the school day to work on his fine motor skills. Once a week I have a speech pathologist in our home to help with some of the issues we deal with around here. I am also trying to find a way to come up with a couple extra hundred dollars a month so I can hire a university student to help me with Caleb 3-5 days a week.

Is Caleb potty-trained?

No. He will go pee in the potty in the morning and at night. He used to go in the potty all the time but has regressed some. He has never gone poop in the potty. He hates the sensation of sitting on the potty. He has always gone pee standing up. I hope that someday we'll be able to have him trained completely but for now that just isn't in the cards. Changing his pull-ups during the day is a battle that I dread. I'm pretty sure Eva is going to be trained before Caleb.

Can Caleb dress himself?


Not completely. He is just starting to learn how to do buttons and he learned how to put his coat on and take it off just a few months ago. He can take his shirt off but can't put one on. If I put his head through the hole he can usually get his arms in. He can't put his pants on but he is finally getting better about being able to pull them up. Eva is more advanced in this particular skill set than Caleb at the moment.

How did we find out about Caleb having autism?

Caleb showed a lot of signs early on but we had no idea he wasn't developing normally at the time. I think that maybe if he wasn't our oldest, we might have caught on sooner. Caleb was always a little moody, not interested in playing with me one on one, etc... We used to think it was really cute when we would move one or two cars out of his line and he would then stop whatever it was he was doing and put them back. I also thought his speech was developing normally because he had so many words! Unfortunately, all his words were taken from tv shows, commercials, or songs that he had heard. He rarely responded to his name. He wouldn't answer basic questions for people. I always thought this was normal and that two year olds just don't do that anyway. He was always big for his age and I just thought people were expecting a lot from him because of that.

When we got Eva, things started escalating. Caleb got more violent. His outbursts were more frequent and more aggresive. Again, I blamed the terrible twos. I also figured that this would get better once he could communicate better with me.

When we moved to Lincoln, there were a couple of families at our church with sons that have autism. One of the dads asked us if Caleb was autistic. At first I thought that was a rude thing to say to someone--especially someone they don't know very well. Then, someone else at church asked us again. I'm pretty sure I even blogged about how ridiculous it was that everyone kept asking us if Caleb was autistic. I mean, he would look at people in the eye, he was always very friendly, etc...He had some very good skills that some kids with autism don't have. But, it got me thinking. I did some research. I thought that maybe they saw something that I couldn't recognize.

When Caleb went in to the doctor for his 3 year old checkup (Jan 2006), I mentioned his behavior issues and she validated me by saying what he was doing was extreme and that she could refer us to the early intervention program for further testing for possible delays. Autism was never mentioned.

Still with me? Sorry, this is a long answer.

When Caleb started his evaluations with the public schools in February, it was becoming more and more clear to me that autism was definitely something that could be affecting him. They labeled him as developmentally delayed and started giving him services. Technically, he still has this label at school (we are trying to change it now to autism so he can qualify for some other services) but he was officially diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome back in November of 2006.

What is politically correct?

Kayli asked which is the politically correct way to refer to someone with autism. The most politically correct way at the moment is to use people first language. This goes for all disabilities (and adoption, too). I certainly am not offended if people say that Caleb is autistic. I've said it to people before. One thing I don't do is introduce him as my adopted autistic son, Caleb. I wouldn't want anyone else to refer to him like that either.

What about vaccinations?

This is still very controversial. The research that has been done has all pointed to the fact that there is no connection between autism and childhood vaccinations. There are many people that do not believe this and are convinced that vaccines have something to do with the fact that their child has autism. For me, this is not the case. Autism is just so puzzling (hence the logo) that people grasp at whatever they can. Just like there are so many different kinds of and causes for cancer, I think it is the same for autism. Genetics, environmental factors, brain damage, etc...could all be contributors. Frankly, I don't care how he got it. I hope the researchers can figure out the causes someday so we can help lower its prevalance but for now, I'm more concerned with helping my son. He has autism. Now, let's help him.

Is there a support group in your area?


There are support groups. I'm trying to become more involved in The Autism Family Network. I have met a few other moms from there and went to a meeting. The only thing that is difficult for us with that group is that most of their fun activities for the kids are held on Sundays and because of our religious beliefs, we just don't do that. There is a message board on the website that keeps me connected with other parents in the city and there are a few upcoming events that are being held on days other than Sunday.

I don't have any family members close by so I depend a lot on my friends. I try to keep my spirits up by going to activities like book group and knitting group. Carl is really good at recognizing that I need these "breaks" from the house and makes sure I get to attend. Those take precedence over just about anything else that could come up. There are also the other parents at church that know what we are going through and we are able to support each other as well.

How is Caleb doing with piano lessons?


Ginger, the amazing newly dubbed "National Certified Teacher of Music" in piano, asks this question along with a few others. His lessons are quite atypical at the moment. Frankly, he gets little out of them at the moment and this has nothing to do with the teacher. We just need to keep him going and get him used to the structure of the lessons. He would much rather play his own thing and not do what someone else is telling him to do (wouldn't we all?).

Is the teacher experienced with teaching music to autistic children?
No, she's not. I'm doing my best to help her understand how to best work with Caleb. She wants me to stay there with him (I also have to bring Eva) and he doesn't do well with me around him. We'll see how it works out in the future.

Is she trying to teach him how to read music eventually?
We're using the Suzuki method with him. We will try to have him read music eventually but I don't think he is going to be the kind of pianist that will want to play compositions by people other than himself.

How are his fine motor skills doing? Is he able to play a pentascale for instance?
He can play a pentascale and while his fine motor skills are lacking in some other areas, it doesn't seem to be holding him back with the piano.

Is he a visual learner?
He is a visual learner. He also needs a lot of repetition before something becomes "natural" for him.

Good luck with your student, Ginger. He's lucky to have a teacher like you!



To Be Continued... post your questions in the comments section and I'll answer them as I can.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter Goodies

Today is the last day of school before Easter so I sent some treats to be passed out to the kids in Caleb's class.

I totally stole this idea from Skip to My Lou but she took the idea from someone else, too. Anyway, I can't (or wouldn't) take credit for these darn cute "carrots". I got the cake decorating bags with my 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby, bought some Cheetos, raided my wrapping paper closet for the ribbon, and went to town. If you decide to make these, I recommend wearing a glove or using a ziploc bag to handle the Cheetos. I just stuck my hand in a ziploc bag and it worked great.

I thought I would make something else for the teachers. I had 12 Hershey Nuggets left from making nugget boxes before and I needed to make 4 little boxes. So, they each got three pieces of chocolate. I used the double-sided designer paper from Stampin' Up (this paper is no longer available), Wishing You the Best stamp set and some white grosgrain ribbon. I really like how they turned out and they were so quick to make. I'll probably make a bunch more to have ready for my next craft fair.

I'm OVER THE MOON about the donations. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thanks to Deanna for letting me know about the Oprah show that will be on today. It is going to feature some families dealing with autism and also some people from Autism Speaks. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Chillin' Like a Villain


My kids miss Spring. They keep wanting to go outside. It looks okay out there from the inside but once you open the door, it's a cool 40 degrees. I had the kids playing in my room yesterday so I could keep an eye on them while filling out some paperwork online (more about that in another post). They kept opening the door to the deck and going out there. There isn't anything out there that they can hurt and they like looking down into the neighbor's yard where they have a dog. Eva always pats her legs and says "Here, Doggie!". Enjoy it, Eva because that's as close as we're getting to owning a dog around here. Anyway, they were out there for a while and were really quiet. This is always a red flag for a parent. If they aren't bugging you every two minutes for something, they are doing something they probably shouldn't. I went out there and saw them sitting together on the one chair we have out there. They were huddling together because of the cold. I came back in to get a blanket and a camera. I asked them if they wanted to come inside and they said no. They stayed out there for over 30 minutes just sitting in that chair. I couldn't believe it.

Many of you know that for a long time Caleb was obsessed with the Teletubbies. His affection for them has waned somewhat but for me, his diagnosis and first year of services will always be linked to them. He lined up his 4 Teletubbies, he carried them around, he watched the show, anything that was purple was Tinky Winky and so on.

The Teletubbies are celebrating their 10 year anniversary right now and have teamed up with Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now. A special eBay auction is going on right now with 5 handbags designed by Isaac Mizrahi. They are all a little out of my budget but I thought they were interesting enough to share.

THANK YOU for your donations and especially for all the emotional support I get through this blog. *cheese alert* You build me up!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Primary Day

Today is our primary election for city-wide positions, including mayor. Let me tell you, it is really important that I get out and vote because only THREE people on the ballot (total--all races--THREE) are not going to make it onto the general election ballot. But, I'm going out there to exercise my right to vote. The man I'm supporting for mayor could probably really use my support. No, it's not Mike for Mayor. He lives around the corner from me, drives a van for a living, and did no fundraising for his quest to become mayor. He did spray paint a sign to put in his driveway and he did actually make it onto the ballot. I'm not supporting the Republican candidate, either. I don't know what it is about him that makes me uneasy. He hasn't given me enough reasons to support him for me to get over the feeling that I don't want to vote for him. So, I'm going out to support the Independent candidate. Everything I've read and seen about him seems good so he gets my vote. I don't know if I've convinced Carl to go and vote for him today, or not. We've been split votes before (the great Nelson/Ricketts campaign--I "won").

Oh, who am I kidding? I really just want to take Eva to Van Dorn Village (a lovely retirement community full of people that shop at SunMart) to see what they have to say about her hair do. I might have to redo it before we go. It's a little frizzy now.

I thought today, in honor of the elections, I would post some information about legislation that has been passed and is working its way through Congress at the moment.

The Combating Autism Act of 2006

Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act


And, a big THANK YOU to all that have donated so far.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Is This Thing On?

Hello? Did I scare everyone away by asking for donations? I'm feeling a little concerned that for most of the day the only comment I got on yesterday's post was from me.

I'm going to blog a little about autism every day this month. It won't always be the main theme of my posts but there will always be a little something. Today I want to show a picture of one of the stamp sets that is being sold by Technique Tuesday. The puzzle piece is the international symbol for autism.

A portion of the proceeds of this set is being given to Autism Speaks. I don't know exactly how much per set. They are also having a contest for cards or scrapbook pages using these images.

I know at Paperlicious, she is also holding a contest for cards related to autism awareness. That contest uses a stamp set that you can find from Gina K's Designs. She will donate $8 from each set sold to Autism Speaks.

Links to these stamp sets are now on my sidebar.

In other news...

We had a wonderful conference weekend. We watched the talks from the comfort of our (almost bubble-free) couch. The kids were pretty good. The neighbors were not. We have neighbors on one side of us that have a pool table in their garage. On nice days when he doesn't work he has his buddies over, they turn on REALLY loud music and smoke (so I can't open my windows without having the whole house smell like smoke). Today the loud music only lasted for an hour. The other day it was more like 4 hours. I had just finished looking up the city's noise ordinance online and was ready to call the cops before he turned it down.

Watching 8 hours of conference talks really gave me a lot of knitting time. I FINALLY finished the back of Carl's Drunken Argyle sweater vest. I bound off the back right after the last session ended. I can't bear to start the front yet. "Extra spicy" knitting is not something I can do on a daily basis. I'm almost done with the 2nd baby surprise sweater but I ran out of yarn with 18 more rows to go. I had ordered another skein and hoped it would arrive on Saturday. No such luck. I'll be glad to get it tomorrow or Tuesday.

I lost my mind Saturday. Well, I thought I might have. I went to Sun Mart. It's the grocery store closest to my house. It is also the closest grocery store for all the retirement communities in the neighborhood. Let's just say I'm almost ALWAYS the youngest person in there. They also have the most expensive prices around (except for maybe Wendy's local store, Leon's---but Sun Mart isn't 'posh' or have excellent service). Anyway, I check the ads (because I'm Carl's wife and it makes him really happy) and I saw that they had a super deal on cereal this week (buy a certain amount of Kelloggs cereal and get free milk). I had coupons, the store had a sale, and I got free milk. Win, win, win situation. I went there to load up on cereal. I went through the checkout and wanted to get some cash back. I asked for $20. She gave me my receipt. She gave me the coupons for free milk (3 GALLONS! WOOT WOOT!). I went out the door. I drove away and reached into my pocket so I could move the $20 cash into my purse. I couldn't find it. Did I drop it? Did I put it in the grocery bags with the receipt? I pulled over (still in the parking lot-thank goodness) and checked the car, the trunk, the path I took in and out of the store, etc... I went in and had to resign myself to leaving my name and number and hoping the lady cashier didn't make any other mistakes that day because I needed her drawer to be $20 over. I had bad dreams about it all night. I didn't even want to tell Carl about it (I did---I tell him everything even when I don't want to---it's a compulsion). They called me Sunday morning. The cashier was exactly $20 over so that money is MINE! I'm going to go pick it up this morning along with 2 out of 3 gallons of free milk. Love it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Autism Awareness Month

Some of you may have noticed that I placed a badge on my sidebar asking for donations. All donations using that badge go directly to Autism Speaks. I was hoping that I would be able to raise money for Autism Speaks by walking in Nebraska's Walk for Autism. That isn't working out this inagural year because of things out of my control. But, that isn't going to stop me from trying to raise as much money as I can through this blog. Please consider donating. There is a $10 minimum to donate in this way but in the next couple of weeks I'm also going to unveil some cards I'm making to sell and all combined profits will go to Autism Speaks.


I never thought that autism would be a part of our family. We're lucky we caught it early and Caleb's prognosis is pretty good. He's making such great strides in his communication skills. He is forming new sentences daily and we're seeing progress with his agression. This is something that Caleb is going to have to live with for the rest of his life. It affects the way he thinks, relates to people, and communicates. It also is providing him with some great gifts---his innate musical ability and memory. I didn't ask for this, but I certainly wouldn't change it. It makes him who he is and we love him. A lot.

Did you know…
  • 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism
  • 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum
  • 67 children are diagnosed per day
  • A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs the nation over $90 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism
  • From www.autismspeaks.org