Still not the same

When I was growing up, the 4th of July was the holiday. We had BBQ’s, friends, family, pools, drinking adults, unsupervised kids, the lake, and fireworks. Oh the fireworks! The bigger, louder, brighter the better! We lived near a Native American Reservation. Do you know what that meant? Not only did we have fireworks, but we had illegal fireworks and lots of them. None of that “Safe and Sane” crap for our Fourth. We had the kind of fireworks that could blow your hand off. If by some chance we ran out of fireworks, we made our own out of gunpowder and aluminum foil. What? You mean you didn’t? I couldn’t wait to recreate these fun times with my own family.

(Hmmm, now that I’m looking back on this, maybe all that wasn’t such a great idea)

Fast forward 30 years and I am now a mommy to a special needs child. She does not like any bright lights or loud noises. Crowds and “different” foods are triggers of a meltdown. She doesn’t even like being outside for very long. The last time we celebrated the 4th of July was right after she was born, before her aversion to all the above became so apparent.

Our current celebration consists of BBQing at home and sending the older children to various places where they have a chance of seeing fireworks. We try to put Faith to bed early before the loudest BOOM‘s start so she does not get overwhelmed. Then hubby and I sit on our porch and hope for glimpses of other families fireworks.

How have your holiday celebrations changed from what you remember as a child? Any holiday at all. What do you do differently?

Recipe – Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad

Ok, these recipes are ones that I have made up on the fly. They are the ones that seemed to go over well with the family and I want to try to remember how I made them. I am sure that they are similar to someone else’s recipe, probably your great-aunt twice removed on your dads side. 😉

I don’t claim to own the recipe, I just want a way to keep track of what my family likes.

Maybe you will like them too!

Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad

1/2 store bought rotisserie chicken – shredded (save other 1/2 for dinner tomorrow)

1 C sour cream

1 red pepper, diced

2 tbs Franks Wing Sauce

1 pkg dry ranch dip mix

4 slices bacon – cooked crisp, chopped

1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Mix sour cream, ranch mix and wing sauce in a large bowl until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix. We served this with warm tortillas for the family, and wrapped up in a lettuce leaf for me. I could also see it working very well on bread or even mixed with cold cooked pasta for a quick salad. 

Water towers and off days.

I admit it.

I’m having an off day (week, month…). Things seem much harder than they really are. I have no energy to be creative or even friendly. I would actually just like to stay in my yoga pants, curl on the couch and watch a marathon of An Idiot Abroad.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere.

Like I said, I’m having an off day (week, month…)

I just spotted something on Facebook that brought back a flood of bittersweet memories.

Two words.

Water Tower.

Many moons ago, we lived in the tiny town of Smithfield VA. Known for Ham, History and Hospitality. (…and for the reek of the slaughter houses a few miles up the road….but you didn’t hear that from me.)

The two years we lived there were pretty darn rough. Hubby was deployed most of the time and Faith was sick quite a bit. Not like “cough, cough” sick. I mean “first name basis with the PICU nurses, inpatient for weeks at a time” sick.

It was also during this two year stretch that Faith was diagnosed with autism.

With 6 years between now and that moment….

…..the time standing still, I know she’s a little quirky, and for the most part only repeats lines from TV, and spends a lot of time flapping her hands and rocking, vomits when she touches anything with the texture of yogurt, and she poo paints, a lot, but what the heck do you mean she has autism moment?

Anyway, looking back, I can finally see some humor in our time in Smithfield.

Faith has had some pretty interesting obsessions over the years. Some memorable ones have been a spatula, a bar of soap and water towers.

Oh she loved water towers. Any size, any shape. Water towers were the highlight of her day. Luckily we had one right by our house.

When she would spot a tower, she would begin flapping her hands and making “Eeeeeeeee! Eeeeeeeee!” sounds. She would smile so huge that you couldn’t help but smile with her. She was 3. She had almost no communicative speech. But she could make everyone in the car with her laugh at how excited water towers made her.

During the time we lived in VA, we became water tower experts. We could plan a trip anywhere in area making sure we passed at least 3 towers each way.

Anyway….

The time we lived there I was miserable, depressed and always felt like a black cloud hung over my head. I was so happy to leave Virginia. I just plain did not want to ever look back on our time there.

Yet today I did. When I spotted the words “water tower” on Facebook.

Not only did I look back, I looked back and felt a flood of good memories.

The girl, she loved those towers. And she was so damn cute when she spotted one.

So maybe, just maybe, at some point in the future I will look back on this time fondly also.

Tillamook Light Yogurt. Really.

Mornings in my house are a wee bit crazy.

Ok, that may be an understatement.

My breakfast often resembles coffee.

Maybe because it is coffee.

I know, I know….I need to eat in the mornings.

I love yogurt but have you seen how much sugar is in a serving of flavored yogurt?

26 grams of sugar in a single serving of a leading blackberry yogurt.

Dude.

I was recently given the opportunity to try a new yogurt.

Tillamook Light Yogurt.

A serving contains 15 grams of sugar. That is much better

But….

Light? Ewwwww. Have you tried light yogurt? It always has a chalky taste and a yucky mouth feel. Right?

My samples arrived – vanilla and strawberry – and well….it’s light yogurt. I put it in the fridge and avoided it for a few days.

Because it is light yogurt.

But….I love all things Tillamook. Cheese, ice cream, sour cream, butter? Yummmmy!

Finally, I knew I just had to take the plunge and try it. Even if it is light yogurt.

When I opened it, it smelled pretty good. Consistency was nice – not watery like some other light yogurt I have tasted.

And this made me smile.

You can see the little vanilla bean specks in there….. nice touch Tillamook.

I’ve never been a big fan of plain vanilla yogurt so I added some fresh berries.

You know what? It is awesome. No chalky mouth feel at all. It is smooth, creamy and delectable. Vanilla is a huge hit!

I actually looked forward to trying the strawberry!

But it disappeared.

My kiddo says it was fantastic. 😉

I will be adding this to our shopping list with no hesitation.

{Mommy Rambles was provided a sample of Tillamook Light Yogurt. All opinions and yummy yogurt are mine. Except when stolen by my kiddo.}

Brush it off

I need your help.

Imagine you have a special needs child.

She has autism.

She has some pretty severe sensory aversion.

She has some fears.

She has super, crazy, thick, wavy hair.

She is going through a “water near the head equals screaming unless I’m in a pool” phase.

She also has severe dandruff.

And her hair is black.

Faith has been in a bit of a challenging phase lately. She does NOT want her hair washed. By that I mean that the sight of the shampoo can result in screaming, thrashing and throwing. I have tried almost every trick I know of. We have washed Daisy together, we have washed her stuffies, I have brought her in the shower with me. We have tried using the sink. We have read social stories. We have watched cartoons. We have watched Elmo’s world. We tried “dry” shampoo.

I KNOW eventually we will move out of this, but I need some advice for the here and now.

Her hair is a mess.

The dandruff is awful.

How awful?

This.

I brush her hair several times a day hoping to help loosen it and help it fall out. We have had a nylon bristle brush, but she said it was too scratchy and hurt. It also didn’t seem able to penetrate the thickness of her hair. She is ok with my using a plastic ball tipped vent brush, but it does not seen to help bring the flakes out of the hair.

Has anyone ever used a boars hair bristle brush. Are the bristles softer than the nylon bristles? They are kind of expensive but if they can get through the hair and help get the flakes out, I’m willing to buy one.

Get Clean! Plus a giveaway!

I am going to be honest. I went into this review opportunity thinking that I was smarter than the average bear. I already knew that there are things in the average cleaners. Yucky things. We had already made the move several years ago to cleaner cleaners. Our family learned the hard way that the stuff lurking in cleansers can be nasty.

At one point in our daughters young life, it was thought that she might have Kawasaki Disease. At that time, one of the possible causes of this disease was thought to be exposure to cleaners. As soon as Kawasaki Disease was on the table, I went on a mad rampage, purging nasty chemical cleaners. Pine-Sol? Gone. Lysol? Tossed. Windex? See ya. In their place I bought wonderful, natural cleaners. Like Method, Caldrea, and Mrs. Meyers.

Time passed, and it turns out that Faith’s mysterious fevers and illness’s are from a rare genetic disorder called Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome. My revamp of our cleaners stayed, but I will admit, I haven’t looked too far into the implications of all those chemicals since our first purging. Have you ever looked at the Household Database? That is some scary stuff.

Meet my cleaner cupboard.

Ok, here is the reality of this shot. I have lots of help.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you also know I have lupus. What does that have to do with anything? Well, it’s twofold. First, I have limited energy and second, my skin is extra, super, crazy sensitive. Even when using the natural cleaners, my skin breaks out. My hands literally split and rashes creep up my arms. Because obviously something that does that to my skin is ok to be around my kids and pets, right? Right?  Add in the fact that with kids and pets, I’m doing a lot of cleaning. Not only does that hurt my skin, think of the waste. Empty plastic bottles. Landfills. Bad.

Where am I going with this? I’m glad you asked.

I was recently given the opportunity to review the Shaklee Get Clean system.

I figured I would be one tough cookie on this.

Meet the Get Clean system.

One of the most important things is what you won’t find in the Shaklee products, which have been reviewed and endorsed for their safety by Healthy Child Healthy World {http://healthychild.org}.  They believe that health isn’t just about what you put in your body; it’s about everything around you. They bring you a full line of natural and nontoxic cleaning choices that are Safe for You, Your Home, and Your Planet® called Get Clean®.

·         No harmful fumes or hazardous chemicals.

·         Outperforms 20 national leading brands.

·         You would spend $3400 for ready to use cleaners to get the same amount of clean found in the Get Clean Starter Kit!*

·         Features Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate – just 1/4 tsp. makes 16oz. of all-purpose cleaner for only 3 cents.

·         And when you purchase the Get Clean Starter Kit you also make a positive impact on the planet:

·         Keep 108 pounds of packaging waste from landfills.

·         Eliminate 248 pounds of greenhouse gas.

M’kay, that’s good to know, but…..do they work? I was originally going to focus my review on just one product in the Get Clean line, giving y’all the low down truth on how it performed. I took all the yuck cleaners out from under my sink and started using every part of the Get Clean line. By golly, I was going to find the weakest link in this and use that for my review.

This looks better. Now on to the flaw in my review plan. They all work. Not only do they work, they work great. Scratch that, they work amazing.

Laundry? Clean and soft.

Dishes? No spots or haze.

Bathroom? Fresh and clean.

My car? Dust and Cheeto free.

Windows? Streak free.

My review plan? Tossed out like those yucky cleaners. So instead here is what I want you to take away from this review:

My skin is rash free and soft. 

I have been using every single part of the Shaklee Get Clean System for over two weeks and my hands are perfect. I have (almost) begun to enjoy cleaning. Now, the products I was sent to review are part of the Get Clean unscented line, but after using them without an incident for a week or so, I took an additional step. I added a few drops of essential oil to my spray bottles. I added sweet orange to my window cleaner, lavender to my degreaser and orange, lavender and chamomile to the all-purpose cleaner. The aromotherapy was fantastic.

And my hands are fine!!!

A bit more about what you will and won’t find in the Shaklee Get Clean system.

The next thing I would like to point out is the lack of waste in this system. A little really does go a long, long way. The Super Concentrate? You literally use just drops of it to make the window cleaner. Drops! I have made and used 2 full bottles (in the provided spray bottles) of the All-Purpose, Window and Degreaser sprays and I have used almost none of my Super Concentrate. Let me put it this way:

To get the same amount of clean as one 16-ounce bottle of Basic H2, you would have to spend:

• Nearly $482 for the equivalent amount of all-purpose cleaner

• $12,250 for the equivalent amount of window cleaner

• $144 for the equivalent amount of degreaser

In terms of environmental savings, there is the waste saved from the landfills and elimination of 248 pounds of greenhouse gas with just One Get Clean Kit! Passing on one Get Clean kit to a friend is equivalent of planting 10 trees!

For more information about the system, check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTpBru2Oaj4

Remember way back in the title where I mentioned a giveaway? Of course you do!

How would you like to win a Shaklee Mini Household Kit? Shaklee is giving one lucky reader from each blog a Mini Household Kit!! {$46.95 retail value}. Want one? I knew you would!

  • To enter the blog giveaway I want you to look under their kitchen sink to see if you find any of these ingredients in your cleaning products: kerosene, phenols, cresol, lye, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, sulfuric acid, petroleum distillates, ammonia, sodium hydroxide, butyl cellosolve, phosphoric acid, formaldehyde, chlorine bleach, morpholine, and phthalates?

Did you? Leave a comment on what you discovered and why you need a green cleaning makeover! (Mandatory entry)

Additional entries, separate comment below for each entry: (Limit 5 entries TOTAL per person please!!)

Liking the Shaklee Facebook Page http://facebook.com/shakleecorporation (One extra entry per person)

Following @ShakleeHQ on Twitter http://twitter.com/shakleehq (One extra entry per person)

“Share” this review and giveaway using the buttons below on either Facebook or Twitter (Two extra entries per person total)

Official rules: http://blogger.myshaklee.com/us/en/about_giveaway_rules.html Giveaway ends April 19th at 11:59 EST. One winner will be chosen from all eligible comments via random.org.

**************WINNER************** 

This review and giveaway was made possible by the Shaklee Corporation & Mom Spark Media. Incentives, product and support were provided. Thoughts are my own.

 

 

Responsibility? Really?

I will be the first to admit that I have been pretty vocal about a certain business’s lack of what I see as responsibility.

The lack of stepping up. Saying, “Dang, something is not right here.”

Today I would like to tell you about a different company.

In 2005 I bought a Tempurpedic Mattress. It was a huge splurge for us. We agonized over it for MONTHS. Shortly before hubby was deploying to the Mediterranean, we took the plunge and bought it.

Can you say “Totally worth every penny!”?

This was such a huge investment for us that we wanted to protect it. Tempurpedic has a special protective cover for the mattresses that when purchased at the same time as the mattress itself, has a 10 year warranty.

Fast forward to June 2011.

Faith, as she does every night, crawled into bed with us. But this night she had an accident. Ok, no biggie, everything is protected and washable.

Except it wasn’t protected. The protective cover didn’t protect. Oh nos. :(

We called Tempurpedic and we were told that there had been a few production issues with the protector we had, but they would send us out a brand new, much improved protector.

M’kay, sounds good.

New one arrived and whoa nelly it was different! We put it right on the bed and life went on.

Until a couple of weeks ago when Faith once again crawled into bed with us and had an accident.

The super-duper new and improved protector didn’t work. AT ALL.

Ewwwww.

We called Tempurpedic once again because….THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

And do you know what they told me???

Ready?

Grab a coffee so you have something to spit on your keyboard when you read what they told me.

Got it?

Ok, they told me….

We made a mistake.

Can you imagine? A huge company admitting that something got past their careful vetting. That an error happened.

It turns out that the super-duper mattress protector we were sent was actually a bed cover and is not designed to provide any protection at all.

What is Tempurpedic doing to fix this?

They are not only sending us an entire new bed, they are upgrading the bed.

Admitting a mistake AND fixing it?

You spit your coffee didn’t you?

Mushrooms? Seriously?

When someone says the word “mushroom”, the first image that comes to my mind is the can of button mushrooms we always had in the house while I was growing up. They were slimy. They were salty. They had a strange texture. I did not like. Now that I’m the grown up, mushrooms have not been a part of my culinary repertoire. There have been times while walking in the produce department that my eye has strayed to the displays of fresh mushrooms. They certainly didn’t look like the ones I ate while growing up. They actually looked pretty interesting. But all I knew how to do with mushrooms was open the can, dump into spaghetti sauce, then pick them back out before eating. So I kept walking.

Recently I was contacted by The Mushroom Council, a group of U.S. mushroom growers. They are promoting National Nutrition Month (March) as the perfect time to “get your plate in shape” with mushrooms.

Mushrooms huh?

The hook? 

“Increasing the intake of lower calorie foods, specifically mushrooms, in place of those higher in calories, like ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing calories and fat while still feeling full and satisfied after a meal. This approach of replacing some ground beef, turkey or other meat with mushrooms is known as “swapability.” It works because mushrooms’ hearty texture and rich flavor allow them to blend seamlessly with meats. The mushroom and meat “swapability” technique is an economical way to make family meals more nutritious and works great in family favorites like lasagna, burgers, tacos or chili.”

Swapping some of the meat? That sounds pretty interesting. 

Mushrooms and Meat: The Perfect Partner

Replacing some of the ground beef, turkey, or other meat with mushrooms is an easy technique called “swapability”

Mushrooms’ hearty texture and flavor make them compatible with meats both as a complement or replacement

Swapping in mushrooms for a portion of the higher-calorie ingredients, like meat, in a dish reduces calories, fat and sodium without compromising on flavor

The “swapability” approach is an economical way to make family meals more nutritious

This simple three-step “swapability” strategy is perfect for family favorites like burgerslasagna pizza, chili – or any dish that calls for ground meat:

o    Chop up your favorite mushroom variety to match the consistency of the ground beef or turkey;

o    Cook and season mushrooms the same way you would meat;

o    Combine the cooked meat and mushrooms and use the mix to complete your recipe.

I think I could try this. It sounds easy enough, and they provided links to several recipes.

RECIPES:

Crab and Mushroom Cakes with Chipotle Aioli

Mushroom Burger Wrap

Cremini and Pork Meatballs

Chocolate Chili

Mushroom Flatbread

Almost Lasagna

Mushroom and Beef Bulgogi Tacos

Chocolate Chili? I am willing to try anything that starts with the word  “chocolate”. Heh heh. Mushroom Council – Your challenge is accepted!

Using half my normal amount of ground beef.

Beefy

Next I carmalized the onions.

While the onions were doing their thing, I contemplated the next step. What do I do with these?

I chopped, and took a deep breath, and added them in.

The mushroom/beef mix. It smells really, really good!

Then I added in the beans, tomato sauce and spices.

Then I did this. Oh yes I did.

I simmered for about 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. That is such an awesome word. Meld. 

Verdict? Total yum! Do you see that happy face? No, really, it IS his happy face. He’s 17, this is ecstatic. Teen boys don’t show much emotion. This is a recipe that will have a solid place in our menus…..and…..I WILL try a few more mushroom swaps. 

Interested in learning more? Join us at a Twitter party on Monday, March 12th at 8:00 PM EST. The event hashtag is #Mushrooms and there will be prizes awarded. (US and Canada, 18+). RSVP is available at: http://resourcefulmommy.com/8634/mushroom-channel-twitter-party/

 

{{Mommy Rambles was compensated for this post by the Mushroom Council and Global Influence, but the yum was all mine!!}}

 

“What is it” and a giveaway

The Pepsi Pups stuff is so frustrating. I think I need to switch gears for today’s post.

How about we play a guessing game. Just for fun let’s toss in a $15 Amazon gift certificate.

This currently lives on the bathtub walls. (Mostly) drawn by Faith.

What is it?

What am I?

(It was Sandy from SpongeBob!!)

Leave your guess in a comment below. One guess per comment. Three guesses per person.

Tweet or share on Facebook for one additional entry per person. (Total of 4 per person – one comment per entry)

Comments open until 9pm EST on 02/28/2012. I will use Random.org to chose a comment and the lucky person will get a $15 Amazon gift certificate as my gift to you. Recipient will be posted on 02/29/2012. Please use a valid email in your comment so I can contact you! 

(This post is not compensated by anyone, the gift certificate will be my gift to the lucky recipient. I’m bored.)

WINNER! #8 – Ashley! Winner winner chicken dinner.

Stop covering up – Pepsi Pups

Even if you are sick of reading about this mess, please read this.

Want to hear something that sent shivers down my spine in light of how hard we all have been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of placing dogs trained, and I say trained very sarcastically, in homes with autistic children? Children who are unpredictable and often cry, flap and poke things.
In the past 4 days, two children have been KILLED by Huskies. TWO CHILDREN KILLED.
Why are you not listening to us, Pepsi and Global Giving? This is not a joke. It is not a game to be “won”. This is lives of children. We already know Lea Kaydus has lied about so much, including her previous training and placement history. ONE dog has been placed by her, and that dog was so poorly socialized and untrained that the family had to start over with a new dog.
Today I would like to share with you a post from a fellow Pepsi Pup family, Speaking4Sam
Standing Up For What Is Right….
February 18, 2012

Wondering what is going on with the Animals for Autism/Pepsi Refresh mess? The answer is nothing. Animals for Autism has pulled their facebook page (their website was already pulled down). Other than a mass email sent to some of the families weeks ago with no answers to anything, asking us to REQUEST our dogs if we still want them, no further contact has been made.  According to the last we heard from Global Giving and from Ms. Kaydus, dogs will be ready  for “delivery” starting this spring. I am not sure what the term “delivery” is supposed to mean. I have an image in my head of somebody driving by the homes of the children and pushing a dog out as the driver continues on. I am also unclear as to what kinds of dogs will indeed be available since they have not discussed training details with any of the families. Unless there is some mind reading powers I am unaware of, it seems impossible to train for a child’s specific needs without ever talking to the families about what those needs are.

It is now the middle of February. Flower bulbs are coming up in my garden as even the earth makes preparations  for the coming of spring, but preparations for service dogs remains unknown. Pepsi and Global Giving are sitting back hoping everyone just forgets about it. Other than my son (through the generosity of 4 Paws for Ability), it looks as though the children are going to be without the service dogs their families tried so hard to provide them with. Pepsi’s funding of the facility continues despite the fact that the families have been forgotten.

It seems as though the bad guys may indeed have won this particular battle. The ugly fact is we live in a fallen world, and sometimes bad things just happen to good people. It is not fair, but it is life. Despite that, I serve a God who remains in control and He has not forgotten these children. Perhaps things have not turned out the way we all would have liked, but the sheer fact that all of the families involved have been made aware before actually taking an untrained dog into their homes is indeed a sign of God’s protection.

A child with autism is already at a heightened risk for things like dog bites  (Siberian Huskies rank #4 as the breed most likely to bite) because of their unpredictable sounds and movements that could easily spook a dog that was not properly bred and trained to work with such a child. Our children could have actually been placed in danger from taking one of these dogs. One of the things most of the families were counting on in a service dog was for the child to be able to be tethered to the dog when out in public, so as to help prevent the child from wandering off, but still give them a bit more independence by allowing them to walk with the dog and adult team rather than ride in a special needs stroller. Can you just imagine an untrained dog out in public tethered to a child and seeing something as simple as a cat that it would like to chase? The results could have been disasterous. What about a child having a meltdown, screaming, kicking, hitting their head on the floor because the world has become too stressful and a dog sits there beside them…  an untrained dog that has not been properly breed or even socialized…… As terrible as all this has been, it could have been much worse.

So what now? Some of the families have been burned so badly in this that they have decided they will no longer pursue a service dog at all, others are making preparations now to find another organization and sit on a waiting list for years. Some are making plans to raise needed funds, a difficult task for families that had already asked their communities to support them when they were raising funds for a service dog from Animals for Autism or for families who were publicly portrayed as receiving a free service dog already.  Almost a  full year has been wasted for some of these families. A year that could have been spent obtaining a real service dog.

Why we are we all so upset with Pepsi and Global Giving? Because they changed what the funding was to be used for and when we brought our concerns to them, they assured us everything was fine. They told some of us we  simply had a personal problem. I myself was actually told by a Pepsi representative that they were, and I quote, “honored to work with her.” They told us to just sit and wait…. And be quiet. When the truth came to light, they covered things up rather than admitting a mistake. They are large organizations. They are hard to fight. They have millions of dollars at their disposal. We are just a handful of special needs families. The odds are on their side, but sometimes standing up for what is right is not about winning or losing…. It is about what is right.

My family is boycotting Pepsi. I ask for the rest of you to join us in this boycott . Until Pepsi pulls their funding from this “project” and stands for what is right, Pepsi will not enter my home. I have seen in the news other projects where they retrieved their funds, so they can do it in this case as well.

I am just one, but this one can affect another one who affects another one, and together we CAN all demand better for the families in this mess. I was just one when I voted for Lea Kaydus to get a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Program. She needed my help then, and I made a difference (an action I regret in that case). Hopefully this time I can make a difference for something good. Perhaps it will not matter to Pepsi at all, but at the very least, I will take a stand for what is right. I will be saying to my son and the other children involved…. You matter to me. After all, the children are what this was all supposed to be about.