Mammograms

Mammograms.  Not what I usually write about.  But last year I experienced my first after finding a lump.  Thankfully, after some additional testing I was cleared.  However that same week my Mom went for her annual mammogram and was diagnosed with breast cancer.  What a year 2018 became.  It became the focus of our family and I’m so grateful my Mom lives with us and we were able to be of support to her through treatment. (I cannot imagine how someone living alone could manage cancer treatment!)
Through the year in talking with close friends I found that pretty much all of my friends have yet to have a mammogram.  I am almost 40 and many of my friends are in their mid to late 40s.  I found this totally shocking.   I think of all the things I see women around me doing for their health, going to much expense of time and money.  Expensive probiotics, marathons, eating well, vitamins, I’m sure you can think of many more too.  And yet so many women choose not to get a mammogram.  Cancer could care less how fast you ran your last marathon.  Or the status of your gut health.
This simple fast and easy test can save your life.  And can save you from needing more extensive treatments by catching cancer early.
Many doctors are now recommending women wait until they are 50 before starting annual mammograms.  Why?  Because insurance companies research shows not enough women are saved.  I’m not even going to say anything else about that.

1 in 6
Breast cancers occur in women aged 40-49

2 years
Mammograms show cancer up to 2 years before patients and doctors would detect it.

40%
Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality rate in the US by nearly 40% since 1990.

3/4
of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and are not considered high risk.

30%
Even for women aged over 50, skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers.

I promise to get back to sharing my favorite recipes soon.  In the meantime, schedule your mammogram!

Where have all the manners gone?

Soooo, April is autism awareness month.  I feel like I should acknowledge that but I want to keep this to the point and short.
Many people I meet are divided into 2 groups.

GROUP #1: You’ve seen commercials about how autism is some thief that comes in the night and is the ugliest, scariest thing you can imagine.  The very mention of the word sends chills down your spine.

GROUP #2: Your neighbor’s cousins son has high functioning autism and you think you’re an expert.  And bonus for me, you want to bestow all your knowledge and advice, and more importantly, your judgement,  on me.  Yay!

To group #1: Autism makes life kind of difficult at time.  But my daughter is not a scary ugly monster.  She’s sweet, loving, and the first to give someone a smile.

To group #2: Every situation is different.  And the most valuable gift you can bestow on almost anyone is withholding judgment and keeping your advice to yourself.  A simple smile and greeting will go much further, trust me.

To the world: Where have all your manners gone?!  As my daughter is getting older I’ve seen a shift in the way she is treated by those we meet.  When she was younger it seemed people  either ignored her or passed off odd behaviors more.  (Not always, of course.)
But now she is almost 12 and taller than me.  My Amelia is social, friendly, and loves to say hi to new people.  In fact, if she had her way, she’d probably hug every person she came across.
She loves to run errands with me (depending where we are going, of course.).  Often times, in the grocery store, or wherever, she will stand in the middle of someone’s path and smile at them, say hi.    I’m saddened to say this is very rarely met in a positive way.  And I understand somewhat.  There is a stranger, tall enough to be an adult, with puppets on her hand and big smile on her face, standing directly in your path.  Maybe you are uncomfortable.  I get it.  I even have family members who are uncomfortable with autism.  We rarely see them, or when we do they avoid Amelia and ignore her greeting.  It breaks my heart.  Because you know what you miss?  You miss out on the best, most contagious giggles you’ve every come across.You miss the chance to have THE BEST hug of your life.  You miss the chance to hear her say “Nice to meet you!”    And we only worked about 4 years on that sentence.  Amelia didn’t speak until she was over 6 years old, and I’m talking about one word here or there.  Any language she has now has been due to years of tears and hard work.

So I have  simple request.  If you meet someone who seems different from you, bestow them a gift.  Withhold your judgement and just mind your manners.  Say hi.  Smile.  It won’t hurt, I promise.   (Oh, and adults? Your kids are watching.  When you are uncomfortable and judgmental, your kids will surely be as well.)
Children AND adults with special needs should be treated as what they are.  People.  With feelings.  Every person you meet started out the same, someone’s baby.  Maybe not yours, but that doesn’t mean their feelings matter any less.  So if someone with special needs makes you uncomfortable ask yourself why and figure that crap out.  Because you are being rude to the very group of people who are most likely to accept you exactly how you are, and the first person to give you a hug.

Besides, WHY ON EARTH, would anyone see this smile and not want to return a greeting?!
amelia

 

Amazing Amelia

In “honor” of autism awareness month I’m going to attempt to give a quick version of our autism journey..

When my Amelia was born it wasn’t under the best circumstances.   My organs were shutting down and to save both our lives I had to deliver her almost 2 months early.  When she came home from the NICU she was only 3 and a half pounds.
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Somehow, she gained weight quickly.  Even though she would stop breathing every time she ate and seemed to spit up more than she took in.  Her pediatrician nicknamed her “Amazing Amelia”.

When Amelia was 18 months old she came down with RSV disease and pneumonia.  It was scary.  Heart wrenching.  I slept by her bed every night with a timer to administer medication.  She seemed withdrawn after that.  Any language was gone.  For awhile we thought it was just from the trauma of the illness.. from being a preemie…  and then the diagnosis process began.  About a year later, after multiple groups of specialists sufficiently prodded and poked we received the diagnosis of Autism.  I didn’t feel upset, it was almost relieving to have a label to explain some behaviors.  I remember a “good” friend once turned to me and said “Is Amelia just slow?”.

We were all ready doing therapy, occupational at first and then speech as well.   The first assessment Amelia would hardly do more than bang her head on things and wanted to leave.    Gradually, things got a little better.  But therapy was still hard.  And I was at a breaking point.  I was exhausted from dragging her there, quite unwillingly.  When I had our second daughter we took a few weeks off and I was considering taking a longer break from therapy but we decided to try again, at least for a little while.   And it was like something clicked.  All of a sudden she wanted to go.  Things started to fall in place.  Not everything… I still remember sitting with her speech therapist and crying my eyes out, asking her if I would ever hear her say “mommy” again.
But as Amelia gets older, the thicker my skin gets too.  I know I have to fight for her at times, and be willing to wait as long as it takes to see her progress.  And just keep going.  And then go some more.  And then something magic happens.  When I am at my lowest point, exhausted (did I mention Amelia doesn’t really sleep?… well, not much anyways..)  and overwhelmed Heavenly Father gifts me these little windows.  Windows of Amelia in her true state.  When she takes my hand and says she loves me.  Or hugs me tightly.  I always felt that for Amelia the most important thing we could work on was affection.  Being okay with receiving and giving affection.  Because imagine you are a young child whose skin feels like it’s on fire simply because the tag on your shirt is itchy.  Now imagine you aren’t okay with going to your mom or dad for comfort.  Instead you just hit your head on a wall.   To stress “socialization” so heavily for children with autism seems backwards to me.  After all, if you are so uncomfortable with your OWN skin, how can you be comfortable with someone else?  For us, that has worked.
Amelia is sweet, loving, and a daily reminder of all that is good in the world.   Is it always easy? Nope.  But nothing worth anything is ever easy.
As she grows older, I am becoming increasingly aware of how those with disabilities are treated as adults.  It is one thing to bestow understanding on a child.  But adults?  That seems to get grey for some unfortunately.  And while people are increasingly aware of autism, it has become common for high functioning Asperger’s syndrome to be referred to as autism as well.  So it is difficult for some to understand the difference, and be understanding when Amelia can’t do the same things as someone with Asperger’s can.   Even children with the same disease will not all look the same, and react to therapy and treatments the same.
So I want to remind you, the next time you meet someone who seems different from you, remember they are someone’s baby.  And they are more than their differences.  I want to share some things my girl loves, maybe you’ll see something there you can relate to as well.

1.Winter.  Everything winter.  The lights, the snow hats, scarves, and gloves, decorating cookies and gingerbread houses.

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2. Glamour.  Does this picture not say it all? She has even put this tutu on her dog so they can be fancy together. 🙂

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3. Her Charlie boy.  It’s hard to believe this little fur ball is now over 100 lbs but I’m sure that’s in part to her making and sneaking him peanut butter sandwiches.

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4. Birthdays.  This was her 7th birthday and the first year she enjoyed being sung “happy birthday” to.  She beamed and seemed to all at once understand that this was a special day for her.

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5. The beach.  Amelia is a different girl at the beach.  She loves to feel the wet sand in her toes and collect seashells.  I can see her shoulders drop and a calmness come over her at the coast.

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6. Her little sister.  Just when they both couldn’t drive me more crazy I catch them doing this.

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7. Her rhino trike.  This girl can’t get enough of it!  No matter how we tried Amelia couldn’t ride a bike.  But thanks to her occupational therapist, Amelia discovered the joy of a bike.

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8. Mr. Rogers.  I think it would be impossible to find a bigger Mr Rogers fan.  Proven by her Mr Rogers Birthday party here.  Sometimes if Amelia is having a hard time doing something I just have to tell her some encouraging words “from” Mr Rogers and she can get through it.

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9. The Aquarium.  She would go every day if given the option!

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10. Glamour, again.  Seriously, this is how we look for school time many days!

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11. Snuggles.  I catch my two babies doing this all the time and it makes my heart so happy.

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12. The zoo.  Okay, pretty much all animals.  Farm animals as well.  She finds chickens to be insanely hilarious.

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And one last thing.  People.  She loves people.  Saying hi, offering a hug to a waitress or cashier, or telling the little boy in a wheelchair “cool chair!”.
This girl finds the rose on every thorny bush.  I pray the world will see for the beautiful rose that she is, and understand some thorns will come with that.

 

 

Lazy Boy

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I can’t say I approve of public shaming of kids, but I have to admit “dog shaming” gives me a chuckle.  After our dog spent hours sprawled on his back (taking 2/3 rds of the couch) the other day we decided to make our own version.  Our Charlie-dog is one spoiled dog.  Unfortunately, he knows it.

 

Meet Lionetta

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Meet Lionetta the baby lion.
Okay, you got me.  It’s not really a baby lion, rather my 5 year old, Lucy, who loves to pretend to be all sorts of people/creatures.   Within a 2 hour period, she could be:
1. Millie the ice cream truck driver
2. Woofster the superdog
3. Beaver Boy
4. Millie the dinosaur
5. Lionetta the baby lion

And about a dozen others.  Millie tends to be a popular choice.  For some reason I think I should be posting at least 3 times a week, but balance seems a bit more important these days.  Between homeschooling, dealing with the challenges of having a child with autism, a VERY busy 5 year old, running a household, and all my crazy ideas I come up with (this last week I decided I need to build about 9 tall bookcases and 2 china cabinets and a buffet…), anyways you get the idea.
I will still post 3 days a week in good weeks, but I’ve decided not to feel guilty if it’s only once or twice a week some weeks as well.
And of course, there’s my cookbook.  Okay, my “possible” cookbook.
I have an idea for a cookbook that I would love to publish, that I think would be so helpful to friends and family.  So I’ve been spending alot of time creating the recipes/plan for that… now just to get it published! 🙂
So I’ll see you around, just maybe not on a strict schedule 😉

Kitchen Addictions

Is this normal?… wait, don’t answer that.
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I think I have a problem.  Do you have a kitchen addiction?  Mine is displayed in cute little glass jars (from IKEA, in case you need some).  I love how they look all lined up.  And it makes it super easy for little hands to find just what they need to perfect a creation. 🙂  What’s your kitchen addiction?
(And that vintage pink pyrex pan holds cute twine, washi tape, and tags ready to decorate little bags of goodies for friends… don’t get me started on vintage pyrex either…)

“Happy” Autism Awareness Day!

Happy Autism Awareness Day!  I had started writing this long post, then realized I was really just venting. 🙂  Which I suppose is fine occasionally, but today, I just wanted to ask everyone who reads this to try to be a little more aware of both children and adults around them who might act a little “different”.  As my girl is getting older, (or taller rather, at 9 she’s all ready as tall as I am!), I’m noticing its harder for some we come in contact with to be understanding of her behavior.  She may not answer you if you talk to her.
She might say “Hi!” to a total stranger in a store, or ask someone for a hug.
So please, remember that if someone doesn’t act or talk like you do, maybe there’s a good reason.
And adults with special needs are still someone’s baby.
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And for pete’s sake, if you have advice keep it to yourself unless you really have something useful to share.  The mountain of advice I receive on a daily basis is ridiculous.  The most offensive is from complete strangers who think that just because they have a neighbor who has a cousin who has a son who has a friend with high-functioning Asperger’s that they would of course know way more about what is best for my daughter than I would.  I mean, who knew you could put pink glasses on a child with severe autism and cure them?!  Thank you complete stranger!
I so appreciate the support and love we get from friends and family, and don’t mind their questions or sharing something they read about or whatever.  But those are people who know and love me and my girl.
So if you feel the need to help someone you don’t know, just remember that usually the best thing anyone can give anyone else is non-judgment.
Okay, so I ended up venting a little.  Sorry.
Give a smile to a stranger today, for my Amelia.   She would give you one.

New obsession

I am the product of a teacher and library supervisor.. so when I find a book I like, I don’t just read it, I OBSESS about it.  And cookbooks are no exception.  I will study a good cookbook, reading it front to back entirely.
I particularly love cookbooks that include history about that type of cooking, even reference cookbooks.  My new favorite is Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland’s Heritage by Darina Allen.
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The pictures are beautiful as well…
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I’ve been reading this book for a couple days now, and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes.  I love the history of Irish foods she gives, and the historical recipes too.
My dad was very proud of his Irish heritage but had never been to Ireland.  When I was 18 my dad and I decided to go to Ireland together (I had caught the traveling bug having been travelling around the US with my job.)
Unfortunately, he passed away before we could take that trip.  Being the youngest of 5 I was kind of my Dad’s shadow and so I have always had a soft place in my heart for my Irish heritage.
I’ve always planned on making that trip, and hopefully one day I will.
Every year we have an Irish dinner party and I have to say it’s one of my favorite meals of the year.

Sick Days

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We don’t usually get the flu vaccine.  But this year we did.  And it’s been our worst winter ever for viruses.  After almost a month of straight misery, we are finally all on the mend.  It seems many of our friends and family have been been hit by the nasty bugs lately, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes for those miserable days.

Honey Water: Place a couple spoons of honey in a teacup (with a sprinkle of cinnamon if you like).  Pour boiling water into coup and stir to dissolve honey.
Sometimes I add a fresh squeeze of lemon as well.

Jello Water: I know this might sound strange, but I grew up having this when I was a kid.  My mom always made it for us when we were sick, and it always seemed to help!  I still have it sometimes when I’m sick!
Prepare Jello (for some reason we always made the red varieties, like strawberry or raspberry, but any should be fine) by adding boiling water, but add about double the amount of water, and drink while warm.
(You can even just put a spoon of dry jello mix in a cup and pour boiling water over it).

Celery Soup– I make this all the time when we’re sick, and it just seems to help so much.

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken Noodle Soup

 

Facebook… finally

Well, I did it.  I finally made a facebook page for My Stained Apron.
It only took me.. a few years. 🙂  Technology is not my strong point, as you can probably guess from the eye-catching “design” of my site.
You can find me on facebook here, and I’ll be sure to keep it updated with new posts and ideas, and feel free to let me know if you have any recipe requests as well!  I love a challenge! 🙂

 

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