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This post is a day early but I’m sure many of you reading this won’t seem to care about that after you read it……

I would like to take a moment to thank all those who don’t always get thanked and are normally over looked for what you do. Thank you to the moms who do the work of two not because you wanted to but because you had to for your children as a single parent. Thank you to the moms who are truly there for their children and put themselves dead last after everyone else even strangers are taken care of. Thank you to the moms who were scared when they found out they would be a mom but have blossomed into a wonderful loving and caring mom. A special thank you to the dads who have to act like moms because single parent dads get over looked all the time.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom to be or a mom to a living baby, have had the horrible misfortune of having a miscarriage, still birth, or your little one (some times not so little ones) died due to some terrible accident. To the step parents, grandparents, aunts / uncles, foster parents, adoptive parents and other people who are a mom to someone they didn’t give birth too I would like to wish every mom ( and single dads playing two roles) out there a very happy Mothers Day.

Now put down the technology and spend the day with your loved ones making new memories and having fun. Maybe also take a moment to be thankful for the moms who aren’t around anymore, they still matter as well because if not for them you wouldn’t be here or be who you are.

 

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What you will need:

1 cup flour , pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/4 cup  maple syrup
1/4 cup  sugar
1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chocolate chips, semisweet 

 

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Preheat your oven to 350F (176C)
2. Prepare a muffin pan by lining the cavities with paper liners or greasing them with cooking spray or oil. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they become slightly frothy before whisking in the yogurt, maple syrup, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix until well combined before folding in the grated zucchini.

5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

6. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling until they’re about 3/4 of the way full. Top with additional chocolate chips, if desired.

7. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for ~10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

 

.:Side Notes:.
You could also make this with all purpose flour or use a mix of 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all purpose.

You can sub this with regular brown sugar.

I like to place a handful of shredded zucchini between two paper towels and lightly squeeze it over the sink to get some of the liquid out. You don’t want to get it all out, but you don’t want it to be wet and soggy either.

Being a parent you will get asked some random questions, most of the time it’s by our kids wanting to know things like “But why can’t we have a pet wolf? I’d love it and pet it” or “Cookies have food groups in them so they must be good for breakfast“.  However parents of  children with special needs (in my case a child with autism) the random / weird questions I get often come from people in our lives or total strangers. The questions only get more odd once they find out I’m a single parent to boot. Here are some of the things I hear along with my response.

Person – “Have you tried a specialized diet?” 
Me – “Have you ever tried dressing a snail?” {insert pause} “Oh you were serious. How would a diet help my child? He already eats pretty well and I’m lucky that he loves fruits”

Person- “Really? He has autism?  He looks so normal”
Me – “Well I could throw some wolf ears on him if it helps but I’m pretty sure we both rather just have you understand that not all disabilities are visible”

Person – “But he’s so happy and full of energy”
Me – “Yea…..because he is a kid. Did you assume that he is going to be miserable lump on the ground just because he has Autism?”

Person – “I’m sure it’s just a faze and he’ll grow out of it”
Me – “I didn’t know you specialized in children with Autism, please tell me more because the professionals we go to every week say other wise”

Person – “Are you sure?”
Me – “Of what…life? or that I really should or shouldn’t be buying my fourth coffee of the morning?”

Person – “I’m so sorry”
Me – “Why? What did you do?”

Person – “And you’re doing it all on your own, how do you manage to do it?”
Me – “Have you heard of caffeine?”

Person – “I’m sure there’s a nice man out there just waiting to meet you and help you with your son”
Me – “…yea……doubt that. Most people run when they hear that I’m a single mom let alone a single mom to a child with autism. So if he is out there he can find us because I’m not spending any of my limited extra energy looking for them”

These are just a sample of the questions I get, yes they are random and as you can tell I reply mostly with sarcasm because unless it’s a real question about autism I’m not going to give it any real attention. Now I should make it clear that I didn’t write this entry to be rude / vent. My goal is that people will remember that it’s ok to ask questions just don’t ask judgemental ones or ones that are just dumb. Instead when you see a parent (because it doesn’t matter if they’re a single parent or not) say something like this…..

“Your son/ daughter is really lucky to have you as their advocate/parent”

“I hope you remember to take a breather for yourself at some point today”

“You’re doing a great job”

“I hear so much about autism but don’t know that much really about it, what can you tell me?”

The point of this entry is to remember people (single parents or not), autistic children/ children in general, any one young or old with a disability (visible or not) we are all human beings — every judgment you make about them, even more so in front of them, affect them it doesn’t matter if they react to it or not. They think and feel things just as everyone else does, sometimes they can just feel them in different ways. Every parent of an autistic child can spend a great percentage of every day of their life advocating for their child, and if it isn’t apparent to you that the child is autistic — that might just show you how hard everyone is working together to make the life of the child fuller, easier and happier all around.

Easy Food Hacks…

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1.) Cooking bacon with less mess
Place a rack in the lower third of the oven then preheat the oven to 400°F: . If you’re cooking multiple sheets of bacon, position a second rack in the top third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil (this makes cleanup easier) and arrange the bacon on a baking sheet. Bake until the bacon is golden-brown and crispy, it should take 15 to 20 minutes. Exact baking time will depend on the thickness of the bacon and how crispy you like it. Begin checking around 12 minutes to monitor how quickly the bacon is cooking. The bacon fat will sputter and bubble as the bacon cooks, but shouldn’t splatter the way it does on the stove top.

2.) Keeping that take home food order warm until you get home
Keep a hot water bottle / bag (like the ones most of us use for injuries or for the ladies the ones we use to help with cramps ) in the vehicle and when you go to pick up your order ask for some hot water. Put said hot water in the water bottle and place it under your take out order, between the heat from the food and the heat from the water bottle your food will stay warmer twice as long.

3.) The egg slicer has more than one use
–  If you have an egg slicer, did you know it also works wonders with slicing mushrooms, strawberries, grape tomatoes and many other small food items.

4.) How to quickly remove burnt bits from bread or other baked items
Did those cookies/biscuits you made get a little burnt on the bottom, no need to toss them all, just use a microplane grater on the bottom of them. All the yummy goodness of your freshly baked goodies without the burnt parts.

5.) No more cutting up butter for baking
– When a baking recipe calls for  butter, such as a fruit crisp or a breadcrumb-covered casserole (it adds richness and helps browning), grate chilled butter on the large holes of a flat grater to create uniform pieces that are easier to distribute.

6.)  Defrost meat on an aluminum tray
– If you can’t defrost in water (still the fastest method), aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and will cut the defrost time by about 30 percent, according to Serious Eats – much faster than a ceramic plate or plastic cutting board.

7.) D.I.Y cooking spray
– 1 part oil + 5 parts water + squirt bottle = cooking spray for half the cost of store bought

8.) Squeeze spinach with a sushi mat or potato ricer
– Smooshing thawed spinach in a strainer or wringing it out in a paper towel is messy and not very effective. You can easily remove the excess water in thawed spinach by rolling it in a sushi mat lined with a paper towel or gently squashing it in a potato ricer. This trick comes in handy when you’re making something like Easy Spinach Lasagna, spinach dip, spanakopita, and other recipes that call for frozen spinach to be thawed and drained.

9.) Save $200 and vacuum-seal food storage bags with a straw
– Use a straw to suck out excess air in a zip-top bag. Removing the air from storage bags protects the food better and helps it last a little longer. Note: You might not want to use this trick if you’re sealing up a bag of raw meat.

10.) The smarter way to chill wine
– Stop using ice cubes to chill your glass of wine and try throwing in some frozen grapes instead. All the greatness of a nicely chilled wine without it getting watered down.

11.) Make your banana’s last longer
– Tired of buying banana’s and having them ripe faster than you can eat them? Next time just wrap some plastic wrap around the top part of the bundle, it will slow down the process of them getting ripe.

12.) Minced garlic every time
–  Instead of trying to chop a clove of garlic into super small piece try using a microplaner instead. You’ll get perfect minced garlic every time.

 

 

So to keep up with April being Autism Awareness / Acceptance month I wanted to share this animated video.

In my opinion it is by far one of the best videos for children of all ages to see so those who are on the spectrum get a little more compassion/understanding.

 

 

 

At first I wasn’t sure how / if I was even going to share this on the blog but with today being the start to Autism Awareness Month I think it would be rather fitting to finally share it.

I am writing this in hopes that someone can help or perhaps a bunch of people can help. I’ve already contacted many children’s charities, autism foundations as well as big name companies only to be turned away and I’m starting to feel deterred in even asking for help anymore. Like many parents with children who have Autism daily tasks that are simple and enjoyable for other children can be a huge task to even start for our family (like going for a walk when it’s nice out). For those who have read my blog before you are aware that my soon to be eight year old little man is on the spectrum and was diagnosed a couple of years back with being high functioning autism. Even though he is a happy, healthy little boy like anyone on the spectrum has his challenges it’s why I’m asking for help with our GoFund Me to help make his life a little easier. You see we are without a vehicle and when we had a vehicle (it was under Keegan’s biological fathers name and when we divorced he sold it) Keegan loved going on nature walks, special events (mostly train or animal related), camping and going on other random adventures that little did he know were educational all while being fun. Since 2013 Keegan and I have had to rely on family/friends for help, however since a majority of them work a standard 9 to 5  we can only get transportation help on weekends which means that during the week Keegan and I take public transit. This is overly tricky for Keegan since he gets overstimulated by the sounds/smells on public transit. Since we have no other option and are stuck to rely on public transit Keegan regularly shows up to appointments physically tired from being overstimulated, can’t focus at the tasks that need to be done and has mood issues/out bursts. If this wasn’t an issue in itself he has also missed out on school field trips, birthday parties, specialized events (like the ones held by the Canucks Autism Network and Pacific Autism Family Network) and even after school programs such as soccer, swimming lessons, gymnastics..etc. I know that asking for help with a vehicle is a lot to ask for but hopefully someone can help so Keegan can help feel like a “normal” kid and partake in things that he shows interests in.

I’ve already contacted every children’s charity, autism support group/organization/charity, Justin Trudeau /my city mayor / city counsel / other branches of the government, every local vehicle dealership and big name companies…etc all to be told “We’re sorry to hear about you and Keegan story but at this time there is nothing we can do to help” . Charities (like Variety, United Way, Presidents Choice Children’s Charity..etc) say “Funding is limited” or ” We don’t help with transportation have you tried contacting local companies“. Meanwhile those companies reply with “Sorry we don’t help individuals only charities , have you tried them?“.  I have even applied for disability grants, low income grants and children’s with disability grants all to be told they can’t help with transportation either. I have well over a hundred e-mails (No, I’m not exaggerating) to show that all these places that claim to help children with disabilities don’t really want to help ALL the children with disabilities even if their parent has letters from professionals (like their child’s pediatrician and speech therapist) backing up their request for help along with every piece of medical history showing that their child does in fact have autism.  Even our GoFund Me hasn’t had much help, don’t get me wrong I am very grateful for any donation no matter how big or small but I just though that perhaps with it being shared well over 200+ times we would of had more donations by now (as of writing this we’re at $20).

I’ve started asking for help and applying for grants at the start of this year and every day since then I’ve heard some sort of “No, we’re not going to help your son” even when asking if they could just share our GoFund Me link. I’m a mixed of emotions (angered at the so called children’s charities / autism foundations, frustrated at the situation as a whole, saddened by the fact that it seems like I really am doing this all on my own which feels like it’s going to take forever since we’re considered / are low income…etc) and as much as I feel like giving up I know I won’t/can’t because it truly would make my son’s life so much easier / better for him . It’s just now getting harder for me to stay true to myself when I am then asked for help by those in my son/my life or even complete strangers (Yes, I’m that person who will give a stranger my shirt or buy a homeless person a warm drink / meal…etc )because even though it’s easy to turn people away or leave someone in the lurch some times the smallest gesture can give someone hope and help them better themselves even if it is just for 24hours or perhaps change their mind about helping out others when they see someone in need of a helping hand.

If you want to read more about my son and my story or help our GoFund Me (by sharing or donating) our story can be found here :

https://www.gofundme.com/letsmakelivingwithautismeasier

I don’t really know how else to end this blog entry other than by saying that it really is true that parents will try to do everything / anything to help their children and to those who may be in a similar situation as my son and me don’t give up. I know you feel like you want to but don’t do it, you will find a way ❤

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Has something ever shown up in your social media feed and hit real close to home. Well that’s what happened to me last night. Like most people I was laying in bed, gwacking at my cell phone because I couldn’t fall asleep and after mindlessly scrolling down my feed I came across a blog post by another mommy whose words rang so very true. Here is what she wrote….

“More often than not, there are days when no coffee in the world can touch your exhaustion. And when you’re ready to tag in your partner, oh wait…that’s you. You’re it.

There are times when things just don’t seem fair, and you know what, it’s probably because they aren’t. But you rise above anyway.

There are moments, many moments, when you question whether or not one person is capable of all you are called to duty for, and whether a human body is equipped for it or not. But somehow you find a way.

There are evenings when all is quiet in the house, and you feel not only a sense of relief, but also pain from the deafening silence. It seems inconceivable that someone could feel both of these things simultaneously, but it is indeed possible.

There are mornings when you wish you could ask for just a few more minutes, but no, those little humans are waiting and ready and depending on you. When you’re called up to the plate, there is no substitute.

There are situations where you simply stop dead in your tracks and ask, “Why?” followed by a quick, “And how will I…?” Despite usually not getting your answer, you still put one foot in front of the other and off you go.

You’re one person for a job that requires more like four.

You’re one caretaker who yearns for the day when you, too, will be taken care of. But until then, you will push on.

You’re one provider living in an economy where the majority of the time it takes at least two incomes to even scrape by.

You’re one parent who is beating the odds, more often than not doing what seems unmanageable even when there are two.

But while you’re one, you’re doing it. Some days are harder than others, but here you are—one more day. Just when you say you can’t, seconds later you are living “I can.”

To all single parents: You were, you are, and you will. You’re incredible.

Here’s to one more day of being a gladiator.”

I don’t know if it was because of the lack of sleep, caffeine levels being very low or the fact that I just found out my washer decided to demolish itself from the inside out but what she wrote was something that I needed to hear. I’m a single parent and yes there are times where I wish someone would just tell me “You know you’re acting dumb, but I still love you” while giving me a kiss on the forehead and a much needed hug. However that’s just not in the cards  for me right now (by my own doing) and you know what that’s ok, it doesn’t change the fact that I will doing anything for my son or change how much I enjoy the time we spend together.  It also doesn’t change the fact that I’m doing the work of many on my own, which even though I’d enjoy a vacation I’m oddly ok with. All this being said I hope that her words make you feel better as well.

Here is the link to Regans’ original blog post:
http://www.scarymommy.chttp://www.scarymommy.com/single-parent-pushes-on/om/single-parent-pushes-on/

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Popcorn is a yummy snack but can some times get boring, here are some ideas to change it up. I haven’t tried these with microwavable popcorn so here is my go to way on how to pop popcorn kernels.

What you will need:
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons canola oil

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil along with a few popcorn kernels to a large, deep pot, and set on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Those few kernels are the key to knowing when the oil is hot enough to add the rest.

2. Once the first kernel pops, add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to the pot. Cover the pot with a splatter screen, or partially cover with a lid.

3. Gently shake the pot to prevent the kernels from burning, and cook until there’s about four or five seconds between pops. By that point, just about all of the kernels should be popped.

.:Side Note:.
A half-cup of kernels doesn’t seem like a lot, but it roughly makes 10 cups once it’s all popped.

 

Honey Brown Popcorn
What you will need:
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare popcorn as directed above.
2. In a small saucepan brown the unsalted butter.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in  honey and salt.
4. Drizzle over the bowl of popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well-coated.

 

Matcha & Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt
What you will need:
3 ounces of good-quality dark chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons of matcha powder
1 teaspoon of flaky sea salt

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare the popcorn as directed above.
2. Combine 3 ounces of good-quality dark chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan, and melt over low heat, stirring constantly.

3.Sprinkle matcha powder over the popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well-coated.
4. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Eat immediately or chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the chocolate set.

 

Dill Pickle
What you will need:
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup of unsalted butter

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare the popcorn as directed above.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together ground coriander, dried dill, ground mustard, 1 garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, citric acid, salt.

3. Melt the unsalted butter over low heat then drizzle the butter and sprinkle the herb mixture over the popcorn, then stir until the popcorn is well-coated.

 

Cookies & Cream
What you will need:
10 ounces of white chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil
12 Oreos (1 sleeve), crushed

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare the popcorn as directed above.
2. Combine the white chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan, and melt over low heat, stirring constantly.

3. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn, top the crushed Oreos, and then stir until well-coated. Eat immediately or chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the chocolate
set.

 

Buffalo Wing Style Popcorn
What you will need:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce (your favorite hot sauce will work just as well)

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare the popcorn as directed above.
2. Combine the butter with the Frank’s Red Hot sauce in a small microwave-safe cup.
3. Heat on high power at 15 second intervals until completely melted.
4. Toss with popcorn in a large bowl and serve.

 

Cool Ranch Popcorn
What you will need:
2 tablespoons powdered buttermilk
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon popcorn salt (or 2 teaspoons kosher salt)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare the popcorn as directed above.
2. Combine the powdered buttermilk,  ground black pepper, dried dill, and popcorn salt .
3. Drizzle the popcorn with the extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl and toss to coat.
4. Add the seasoning mix and toss again. Serve and enjoy

 

Lemongrass Chili Lime Popcorn
What you will need:
2 teaspoons grated zest from a lime
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon popcorn salt (or 2 teaspoons kosher salt)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemongrass stalk (the pale green and purple inner parts only), finely chopped

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Prepare the popcorn as directed above.
2. Combine lemongrass, lime zest, cream of tartar, sugar, chili powder, and popcorn salt. 3. Drizzle the popcorn with the extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl and toss to coat.
4. Add the seasoning mix and toss again. Serve and enjoy.

Being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life, but it also is one of the most challenging experiences one can possibly face. From the sweet moments of laughing and watching your little one discover new things to the difficult moments like an unexpected tantrum over the wrong color cup. No matter what you are always there for them… and sometimes, it can be really easy to get worn out.

I came across  Bethany Jacobs in my news feed and saw a letter she wrote where she describes some of those highs and lows. The lows can feel unbearable, but Bethany has three words for the moms (any parent really) who feel they’re failing: “You are enough”. I’ll share her letter below, it has already touched the hearts of so many moms– and dads- out there.

” To the mom hiding in her bathroom, needing peace for just one minute, as the tears roll down her cheeks..

To the mom who is so tired she feel likes she can’t function anymore and would do anything to lay down and get the rest she needs…

To the mom sitting in her car, alone, stuffing food in her face because she doesn’t want anyone else to see or know she eats that stuff…

To the mom crying on the couch after she yelled at her kids for something little and is now feeling guilty and like she is unworthy…

To the mom that is trying desperately to put those old jeans on because all she really wants is to look in the mirror and feel good about herself…

To the mom that doesn’t want to leave the house because life is just too much to handle right now…

To the mom that is calling out for pizza again because dinner just didn’t happen the way she wanted it to…

To the mom that feels alone, whether in a room by herself or standing in a crowd…

You are enough.
You are important.
You are worthy.

This is a phase of life for us. This is a really really hard, challenging, crazy phase of life.

In the end it will all be worth it. But for now it’s hard. And it’s hard for so many of us in many different ways. We don’t always talk about it, but it’s hard and it’s not just you.

You are enough.
You are doing your best.
Those little eyes that look up at you – they think you are perfect. They think you are more than enough.

Those little hands that reach out to hold you – they think you are the strongest. They think you can conquer the world.

Those little mouths eating the food you gave them – they think that you are the best because their bellies are full.

Those little hearts that reach out to touch yours – they don’t want anything more. They just want you.

Because you are enough. You are more than enough, mama.

You. Are. Amazing. ”

The original post can be found on her Facebook page (it’s also posted below), if you’re looking for a group that was originally founded out of a moms need for support and community in the early days and months of motherhood than I think her page is one you should check out.
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It’s that time of year again but this year instead of a necklace you can show your support via these lovely earrings. They can be bough at any London Drugs location across British Columbia and Alberta, are only $20 and the proceeds go to the newly built Pacific Autism Family Centre

The puzzle piece to me has many meanings the most important part is that it is a small piece to help represent my son. No matter what he will always be my son, my world, my heart and my reason for doing a lot of the things I do. Without him I wouldn’t have a complete picture and don’t think my life, much like a puzzle, would ever be complete.

Autism is something we’re still trying to understand since everyone who is effected by autism is affected differently, even if they are on the same part of the spectrum. I’ve mentioned the following groups / sites before for those looking for support / information or just to see that you’re not alone and your child (or yourself) will be just fine even though they have autism. Autism doesn’t need a cure it needs understanding and less ignorance by those who don’t have it in their lives either by themselves, family or friends. There are many successful people who have kept their autism quiet in fear or being judged or thought less of. We hear about some of their stories but in the end anyone autism or not are capable of wonderful things and can be/do anything they work for.

In case you missed the links to the group / sites I normally mention when I bring up autism awareness here they are again.

Pacific Autism Family Centre,
a centre of excellence / network of supports for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (both young and old) and their families across the province.
http://pacificautismfamily.com/

Bryan’s’ group
, it is a great source of support for those with Autism or parents / friends of those who are living with Autism:
https://www.facebook.com/AspergerSyndromeAwareness/

Autism Speaks Canada, has lots of information and goes into deeper detail then I ever could.
http://www.autismspeaks.ca/

Canucks Autism Network (CAN), they provide year-round, high- quality sports, recreational, arts, and social programs for individuals and families living with autism, while spreading awareness and providing training in communities across British Columbia.
http://www.canucksautism.ca/