About Me

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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Am In Auditory Processing Hell!

B has sensory processing issues - auditory and tactile.  A challenge, yes, but all parents have to pay attention to their children, figure out what makes them "tick", and those of us who are smart and value our sanity work with our children's idiosyncrasies to find a balance.  And I most certainly do not mean tiptoeing around my child or caving into his preferences or demands.  But, just like any good manager at work, it's in everyone's best interest to find out what your charge's strengths and weaknesses are, what motivates them and what shuts them down.

B has a low tolerance for loud noises (i.e. vacuums, blenders, flushing toilets, air hand dryers, loud TVs, lots of vocal children in one room) and certain pitches (i.e. the sound of his public school kindergarten teacher's voice).  He loves the feel of the wind on his face through the window of a moving car but can't take the sound of said wind.  So he has developed coping mechanisms for those times when his hearing or feeling senses are overwhelmed.  He'll invade other's personal space by pressing up against, brushing up against or bear-hugging them (similar to the pressure that some on the autism spectrum need) or he'll make noises to drown out the noise that is upsetting him (i.e. humming, singing, guttural noises in his throat or, as his kindergarten teacher so "eloquently" put it - "your son has Tourette Syndrome!")  I will not lie; B has had his "Whoop!" moments.  The more I learn about B and how he ticks, the more I learn about myself and why I have acted/been like "me" for as long as I remember.  Nature vs. Nurture is so fascinating to behold if you take the time to watch, realize and learn!

The hubs, also, has auditory "issues".  According to him, his older brother "purposefully" made loud noises at the dinner table - chewed with his mouth open and, basically, was disgusting in the hubs' POV.  His mother, also, was "noisy" while eating.  It's possible that he, too, has auditory processing disorder.  We know he has learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, that are hereditary and that B has displayed.  We all carry "issues" from our childhood into adulthood.  And, if we're lucky, we find a partner that we are comfortable with and can let our idiosyncrasies out of the box.  The hubs cannot stand anyone making noise when they eat or drink.  However, it is a fact of life!  Even he makes noise but he believes he does not.  Either he has auditory processing disorder or he is "scarred" from childhood.

Either way, he has to have a radio or the TV blaring when we share a meal to cover any noise of anyone eating besides him!  But here's the rub: B cannot handle the loud TV or radio and it upsets him.  So he copes and soothes himself by making the same noises that irritate and set off the hubs!  HOLY CRAP!!!  I am caught in the middle of a vicious cycle that the two of them are creating, when the solution for both of them would solve the problem for each other!  I had to abandoned my dinner tonight and go to different floor of the house, shut myself in a room and be in silence to maintain my own sanity.  I am in auditory Hell!

My Breakfast Sandwich

I prefer ham in my breakfast sammies.  I love bacon, but prefer to eat it in strips on the side.  I like sausage, but only in links; I don't like patties (weird, I know).  I really have to be in the mood for an egg to eat one, and I'm rarely in the mood.  Usually, the thought of eggs makes me sick to my stomach, but when I happen to be sick to my stomach (not from thinking about eggs) I crave eggs (weird, again).  I was in the mood yesterday, so I made this beauty.


Chiffonade (cut into ribbon-like strips) 2 slices of Wegmans Brown Sugar Ham and sauté in a little butter until desired color/crispiness.

Beat 1 egg, a little salt, a little pepper, a splash of water.

Now, if you scramble the eggs, they'll fall out of the sammy with every bite.  So, just pour them in a heated pan with a little melted butter and let it cook flat. It's a thin layer, so it won't take long.

When almost cooked through, I tried to fold the egg in half, but it did not make it all the way over. I think that worked out better! SoI folded over the other side just to meet the first...

...then folded it in half and took it off the heat.

My English muffin was toasting while the egg cooked. I just love the reflection of me and my kitchen in the glass; makes me feel all artsy.  :o)

I put a slice of American cheese on each muffin half b/c that is what the hubs does.  He has a cheese obsession.  I realized that was too much cheese for me and next time I'll just use one slice.  Then the egg and the ham.

YUM-O!  I wasn't able to finish the whole thing.
So, tell me what your favorite breakfast sandwich meat is - bacon, sausage, ham, Canadian bacon, something else?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recipe: Sautéed Chicken with White Wine and Shallots

I made one of my kick-ass dinners tonight.  I won a Weight Watchers cookbook a while ago; I believe it was a book of recipes from 2007.  I no longer have the book, but this recipe is a staple in my house and I highly recommend that you add this to your rotation.  It's not complicated and is very tasty!


Here's the recipe:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 large shallot, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced or pressed*
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme, parsley**

Season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper and dried thyme and let sit.

Heat oil in a sauté pan; add garlic, shallot and tomato.  Sauté for a few minutes until shallots are softened.

Add chicken and cook halfway.  (I buy the 10 lb bag of Perdue Perfect Portions chicken breasts from Costco.  They are approx. 5 oz each and are fairly flat.  Therefore, they only need to cook 2-3 minutes/side.  Thicker chicken breasts will need to cook longer.)

After cooking chicken halfway, turn chicken over, add wine, cover and cook chicken the rest of the way.

Remove chicken to platter and continue to cook sauce to thicken to your taste.  Add more salt and pepper to taste, if you like (I never need to), and add some parsley and the tbsp of butter.  Once butter has melted and incorporated, pour sauce over chicken and serve.

See?  I told you it was pretty easy, and the taste really is kick-ass.  I served this tonight with rice and green beans.

*FYI - I usually double the amount of garlic called for in all recipes.  I mean, come on, 1 clove of garlic?!

**I do not buy fresh parsley and I feel that dried parsley is a waste of time b/c it is flavorless.  I have never tasted the difference in a dish with parsley in it so I don't bother with it.  If you feel differently, please add it.  Also, I am allergic to olive oil, so I substitute Wegman's Basting Oil.

I passed this recipe onto a friend of mine and she and her husband loved it.  While eating it, the husband wondered aloud if it would be great with shrimp, too.  They tried it with shrimp and said it was fabulous.  I can't wait to get some East Coast shrimp this Summer and try it myself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Watching the Space Shuttle Discovery Land on April 17, 2012

Can you see the flag? The pilot of the carrier plane opened the far cockpit window and hung up a flag!
(If you click on this picture, it will open in a bigger screen and you can click through all pictures in one space.)
The hubs called and woke us up at 7am to tell us we should get dressed, grab some breakfast and head out to the Udvar-Hazy Center.  I won't share with you the language I used to express my, "No".  He then proceeded to call every 10 minutes to tell us to go outside with the camera and make sure to take pictures.  His last call, around 10am, was to tell me how excited he was that Discovery had flown over his office building and he got to see it out the window.  He also told me to put on a local news channel that was tracking the route.  I did that and found that it was flying over The Capitol building in DC.  "You have to get outside now so you don't miss it," he exclaimed.  "Uhm, it's not even in our state and it's cold out.  Stop calling," I replied.

B was upstairs, having just gotten out of the bath after spilling a bowl of cereal and milk in his lap.  *sigh*  I called for him to come down and watch the Discovery coverage with me.  According to the news, the trip was ahead of schedule and Discovery would land at Dulles at 10:30am instead of 11am.  At 10:25am, B says, "Let's go see it, Mama!"  Thoughts that went through my head:
  1. It's supposed to land in 5 minutes and we'll never get there in time
  2. I have not showered
  3. I'm still in my PJs
  4. I still haven't dealt with the spilled cereal and milk that had, by now, soaked into the couch
  5. Traffic is stopped on all major roads and bridges and we'll never get through
I hopped up, ran upstairs, grabbed some socks, a zip-up and a hat, ran back downstairs and yelled, "Let's go!"  Luckily, B was already dressed appropriately.  We back out of the garage at 10:28am and I just knew it was too late.  But, he wanted to try and I said yes.  He couldn't ask me for anything more than that.  I had planned to get as far as traffic would allow on the main road leading to Udvar-Hazy, but at the last minute decided to head into the airport.  I figured I would pay to park in the hourly lot in front of the terminal and stand outside the car.

As we drove up, there were cars lining the roads.  It was amazing to see so many people out there.  On my way to the hourly lot, there was a lighted sign directing traffic to a designated Discovery viewing spot.  It was a parking garage to the right of the main terminal.  We parked on the top level and walked over to the designated viewing end that was blocked off to cars.  People are talking with their friends, kids are running around and most spots at the railing are taken.  I see a plane in the distance, directly in front of us, coming toward the airport.  I asked B to come over and the gentleman in front of us told B to go up to the railing in front of him.  "I can see over him," he said and I thanked him profusely.  It turned out to be the shuttle!  It flew over the terminal and the hourly parking lot next to us and then turned around and flew over Loudoun County, Virginia.






Then it came back toward the airport at the same angle, straight at us, and landed on a runway on the far side of the terminal from us.








 Then it turned around, went back behind the main terminal and stopped on the other side, where the pilot hung the flag out the window, and we got cool, closeup shots.



This is the little plane that accompanied the shuttle.  When it was in the air, we thought it was a fighter jet escort.

 On the move again, heading over to the cranes which will lift the shuttle off the carrier plane.



Now it is parked in front of the cranes.
People movers showed up.  Who was in them?
Wheeling the stairs over.



Told you he was dressed appropriately. Just gotta find him the leather helmet...

Another mom was kind enough to take this with the shuttle in the background, behind the huge UPS plane close in.

The excitement was tangible and the adults were more excited than the kids.  I saw goosebumps on many arms besides mine.  The animation in our voices as we talked to perfect strangers and the consideration shown to get out of the way after one person got their pictures to make way for others was amazing.  Why can't we all treat each other that every day?

I am so glad B asked to go and that I didn't listen to all my reasons why we shouldn't.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Couple of Humorous Moments Today

I gave B a big, noisy smooch on the cheek.
B: Ow, Mom!  That hurt my ear.
Me: Love hurts.  Ask anyone who has delivered a baby.

B was laying on his stomach on the floor working on a poem. I was sitting perpendicular to him and rested my feet on his butt.
B: I feel like a pig.
Me: Why?
B: In Alice in Wonderland, the queen always says, "I NEED A PIG!" and one runs over and she rests her feet on it.
M: Are my feet too heavy for you?
B: No.  But they do have some weight to them...

And the winner is...


I want to thank all of you who entered my $20 restaurant gift card giveaway!  I feel like a winner, too, because I got some great dish recommendations to try in my future eating out endeavors.   The winner, chose by Random, is Heather P.!  Congratulations!  I'll be contacting you to get you your GC as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Texture Breakthrough Tonight!

I made "Mac 'n Cheese" tonight with quinoa, instead of pasta, for the 1st time. Guess who didn't like it?  I have been struggling with B's dislike for quinoa for a couple of years now.  He doesn't like the texture.  He also does not like brown rice because it's texture is more firm and crunchier then white rice.  However, tonight I realized that when we went to a friend's house last year, and she sprinkled a sesame seed and sea salt mixture over the brown rice she served, B gobbled it up!  I am now thinking his mind thought the firmness, or texture, came from the seed/salt mixture instead of believing it was the brown rice, itself...


After a bite or two of the quinoa 'n cheese tonight, B said, "Mama?  I'm sorry, but I don't care for the mac 'n cheese with quinoa.  I really don't like the feel of quinoa at all."  Then I thought of something.  I served My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe, which contains quinoa, for dinner on Friday and he ate the entire serving I gave him - no complaints.  In fact, it dawned on me that he's eaten that dish every time I've served it with no complaints.  When I said to him tonight, "It's funny that you say you don't like quinoa at all, because you ate your entire bowl of My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe with quinoa Friday night."  His eyes got big and he said, "I didn't know that had quinoa in it!"

So, what is the issue?  Does he not like it when he is told there is quinoa in the dish or is it truly a texture issue?  As I've pondered this over the last 4 hours, I think it is a moisture issue (which falls under texture, as far as I'm concerned).  I make My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe with pureed, thin, runny salsa in it, making it a fairly moist dish.  Homemade Mac 'n Cheese, however, has a thick cheese sauce that clings to your starch of choice and definitely tastes differently.  I am so excited with this breakthrough!!  Quinoa is not off the plate; I just need to make sure it's served in moist dishes for him.  Do you know what it is like to "unlock" a mystery in a child with special needs or sensory processing disorder or learning disabilities, etc?!  It ranks up there with unsolicited hugs/kisses/"I love yous" from your child, winning the lottery, best day of your life moments!  I'm so excited, I don't know if I'll be able to fall asleep tonight and I can't stop grinning!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter

How was your Easter?  Ours was relaxing and thankful.  I usually work on Sundays, but since the previous Tuesday was my last day at work, I was home, doing what I love best - spending time with my mens and cooking!  The kitchen is my happy place; can you tell?  ;o)  The Masters played this weekend, so the hubs watched that all day while B spent 9 hours outside, playing with his "brother from another mother" as he calls his best bud from up the alley.

Since B has food allergies, the Easter Bunny does not fill his eggs with candy; B gets coins.  The eggs could be empty, for all he cares; it's the hunt that he loves and I'm sure your kids are the same.  This year, B received coins in most of his eggs, but 10 of them contained coupons.  My friend, Julie, a fellow homeschooler, shared these Easter printable coupons on her Pinterest account, Creekside Learning.  They were a huge hit!  B shook every egg he found before opening it.  The 1st egg with a coupon in it did not shake.  He thought it must be empty, but opened it anyway.  After reading the coupon, he was so excited.  After that, the eggs that didn't shake were more valuable to him than the ones with coins in them because of the anticipation of what the coupon would offer him.  I totally recommend them for next Easter; print one page, cut out and stuff in the eggs.  No running to the store, no spending money.  And B didn't even realize that this year, there were no gifts in his Easter basket.  The Easter Bunny left his empty basket hanging on the inside doorknob of B's room so when he got up, he grabbed the basket and started scouring the house for eggs to put in it.  Win-win!

Work, Cooking and a Gift Card Giveaway

After 4+ months as a WOHM, last Tuesday was my last day.  The nature of the customers I dealt with was unlike any I'd ever experienced before.  Rudeness, disrespect and interruptions plagued most of my interactions, no matter how friendly and respectful I was to them.  It took a toll on me physically and emotionally and affected me outside of work.  Plus, the hubs and I sat down and went over the budget and discovered that the cost for me to work was not worth it.  55-60% of my salary went to gas and tolls and another 30% went to daycare expenses for B.

I don't think I can express just how happy and relieved I am to be back home!  I have been cooking non-stop and the hubs made me stop b/c we ran out of room in the refrigerators and freezers.  LOL  I've made spaghetti sauce, a new salsa recipe I found on Pinterest, a double batch of the perfect Italian meatballsMeatball-Stuffed Garlic RollsMy Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe, pizza, ham, hash, green bean casserole with homemade mushroom sauce, brownies...I'm in Heaven, back in my kitchen!

Meat-ball Stuffed Garlic Rolls - YUM!

My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe.  I used a homemade salsa this time, a copycat recipe of Chili's yummy salsa!
And I want y'all to share in my happiness.  So, I am giving away a $20 restaurant gift card good at Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.  It was awarded to me by my employer for excellent customer service.  :o)  To enter my giveaway, leave a comment stating your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant (does not have to be one included in the gift card) under this post on my Facebook page or reply to this post on Twitter.  Entry posts must be made by 11:59pm ET on April 15, 2012.  Winner will be randomly selected and notified on April 16, 2012.  Good luck!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Homeschool Notes and Laundry

A few weeks ago we read Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld as part of a History lesson.  I really did not like this book but B, of course, did.  The 1st sentence on the back cover is, "A hilarious whodunit in Ancient Rome."  Not.  I did find one line, near the end, funny but nothing was hilarious.  I'm glad we're done with it.  But, once again, love that I am pushed out of my reading comfort zone to expose us to new works.

Recently, B was spending forever on a creative writing assignment one day and we were not able to get anything else done that day.  I was getting impatient, but then realized he is just like I was with creative writing assignments in school.  I remember the days in elementary school when we were given a Xerox (do kids nowadays know that word??) picture and told to write a story about what was happening in that picture on one side of loose leaf paper.  While some kids struggled to fill a page, I was on page 4 and still going when the teacher told us time was up and we had to turn in our one-pagers.  I consistently got marked off for my lengthy stories.  The teachers said that, although they appreciated my creativity and ability to spin a tale, I was unable to follow directions and contain my story to one side of a sheet of loose-leaf paper, so I lost points.  I will gladly postpone B's History and Science lessons now to allow his creative juices to flow...

B was recently reading to me about weather and I was following along.  He came to the word, "disappear" and read "disapperate" instead, and I thought nothing about it!  We seriously need to detox from Harry Potter.

B told me the one thing he misses from public school is yearbooks.  He looked forward to getting those at the end of the year and getting his friends', and teachers', signatures.  So, we are going to have to make us a yearbook!


B and I were in the car and One Republic's song Secrets came on the radio.  A line in that song is - "I'm gonna give all my secrets away."  B says, "Maybe one of them will be the lady's secret from Moves Like Jaggar and we'll finally know what her secret is."  LOL!  I love how that boy connects dots!

The hubs is notorious for spilling whatever he is eating or drinking on his clothes.  And over the years, out of necessity, I have become an expert at stain removal.  Since I have been working on the opposite schedule as the hubs, he hasn't been able to communicate to me what clothes of his have stains.  Evidently he's been placing the stained clothes in places where he thought I would see them.  I haven't seen them.  So recently, I discovered his new strategy - he placed his stained clothes in my hamper.  LOL!  Very smart of him!