Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Graham Cracker Dessert - Post 2

Here are pictures of the positively divine "Graham Cracker Dessert"!



Three*Sixty*Five

I have a new blog -  Three*Sixty*Five - which will chronicle my journey into "Project 365" - check it out and follow it if you'd like!!!

Thanks!!!

Graham Cracker Dessert

I made this yummy pie for Christmas and decided talking to Karl last night to make it again but change it up a bit....so I have decided to share the recipe here....it's divine...you'll be hooked, I promise!!!

Graham Cracker Dessert

4 Dessert Bowls

4.5 Graham Crackers (4 full crackers and then half of a full one)

Crumble 1/2 graham cracker into small pieces into each dessert bowl - set aside.

Crumble the remaining half graham cracker and set aside for later.

In a medium size bowl, gently whisk 3 egg yolks and set aside for later.

In sauce pan, combine 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3.5 tablespoons cornstarch and 3 cups milk.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly till mixture boils and thickens.

Add 1 tablespoon butter (not margarine) and 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract - mix.

Slowly add some of the hot mixture to the whisked egg yolks to temper, so eggs don't scramble - then add that back to the sauce pan and mix all together well - return to heat and boil one minute more.

Pour evenly into each dessert bowl filled with graham cracker crumbs.

Top with remaining graham cracker crumbs and refrigerate for several hours till well chilled.

Serve topped with homemade whipped cream.

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Homemade Whipped Cream

1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Confectioners Sugar

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form.

Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form.

The key to making homemade whipped cream is to chill your beaters and bowl for at least half an hour or more in the freezer - you want your bowl and beaters really cold!!!

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Now if you want to make this as the pie, you would follow the same directions as above with the exception of the graham crackers. Once the filling was made, you'd pour it into a graham cracker crust and top it with meringue and put in a 400 degree oven for 7-8 minutes to brown the meringue.

Either way you can't go wrong! It's fabulous!!!

I'll post some pictures later!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Christmas of 2009

Another Christmas has come and gone in the Casey household - thank goodness! I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy that all the hoopla is done and over! As exciting as Christmas is, I am glad to have my house back to normal and to be resuming a much more normal pace of life.

Two days before Christmas I started my holiday baking - I made 3 different kinds of cookies, Oreo balls, buckeyes, some caramel candy, and peppermint bark...oh and a graham cracker pie. Once again, I made too much - the cookies have all but been ignored. Next year I think I'll skip the cookies and stick to the yummy confections and the pie.

Christmas Eve we ventured out to Karl's mom and spent the afternoon and early evening celebrating Christmas with her. The kids were able to open their gifts from Grammy Casey and enjoy some candy and act plain silly! Trevor got his new Spongebob bedding and Victoria got her Tinkerbell bedding. They were two very excited and happy children!

Here are some pictures from Christmas Eve at Grammy's house:











Christmas Day the kids woke up around 6:30am and we came downstairs and immediately began the task of opening all the gifts. The kids were wide eyed with grins plastered all over their little faces when they came down the stairs and saw all the gifts. We don't put any gifts under the tree until they go to bed Christmas Eve, so as you can imagine it was quite the shock to see so much had magically appeared, as well as learning that Santa had paid a visit just as promised.

This is the tree before they tore into it Christmas morning...

                                        



It took the kids about an hour and half to open everything. Vicky did well at first but quickly tired of opening the gifts and started requesting my help. Had I known that I'd be opening half her gifts or more myself, I would never have wrapped them! LOL!!

Unfortunately, Karl and I got into an argument at breakfast time Christmas morning, which put a damper on my day. It was nothing serious or major - just over what time to have Christmas supper - but my emotions have been on high lately with the kids fighting over everything and missing my dad, that I just took it to heart and totally flipped out. I spent most of the day sad to say in a pissy mood and it brought me right down.

And as I mentioned a moment ago, this was our first Christmas without my dad and that played a huge part in my emotions this past week - I'd have given anything to have had him here one more time - to have him see the kids faces light up as they opened their gifts - to have enjoyed a meal with him - to have him tell his funny stories about Christmas' past. Unfortunately all I have left now are their memories that I hold close to my heart. I just hope and pray he was looking down on us and smiling with delight as he watched the kids and their silly antics!

Christmas evening we went over to my sisters to visit her, her daughter and my mom for a bit. The kids got more gifts to open from Nana and some more candy and goodies. Vicky got her first bottle of perfume - Love's Baby Soft - I remember that being my very first perfume too! Never thought I'd have a little girl wearing it too someday! She also got her first lip gloss, which she quickly plastered all over her lips and anyone else's lips who was willing to let her do it! LOL!!

More pics from Christmas - sadly I barely took any this year! 

 


And that my friends was our Christmas!

Now we look ahead to the New Year and hope for good things to grace us in 2010!!!

Another tooth bites the dust!

We woke up the day after Christmas to find that Trevor had lost yet another tooth. He now has two and half teeth missing- yes one of the top middle teeth is half way through. This child is strange - he pulls them out when they are starting to get loose.

The kicker is we can't find the tooth - he showed it to us that morning but his room is, or was I should say, a mess again at the time. So, we couldn't find it in his room when we cleaned it up. We had to use this as a time to teach him a lesson about keeping his room clean - we explained that the tooth fairy doesn't come when rooms are dirty and now that the tooth is lost, she most definitely can't come. So he lost out on $$$ from the tooth fairy. Honestly he doesn't seem bothered by the fact she hasn't/isn't coming, but I am sticking to my guns.

I spent an hour or so in his room yesterday making him clean it up - this was after he got a spanking on his butt with the belt for not listening and back-talking me about it. I despise spanking him, especially when it doesn't seem to affect him - he actually will laugh at me, but truth of the matter is, I am at my wits end. I don't know what  to do in terms of discipline with him anymore. I've been told I am too soft and then I've been told I am too hard on him - what the hell?! Parenting Trevor is beyond difficult....I am at a loss.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Victoria's First ER Visit!

It was bound to happen sooner or later, right?

I was washing dishes yesterday morning while the kids played in the living room...though it sounded more like WWF then playing....sigh.....but alas, back to the story at hand. So there I am washing dishes and Vicky starts crying, so I drop everything to go find out what is wrong. I go into the living room and see her nose is dripping, and she's crying about her nose. I figure it was just a runny nose like I had woken up with yesterday morning. Truth be told, I thought she was just being overly dramatic about what was "just" a runny nose. She came running over to me, still crying about her nose that hurts. So I look into it, and sure enough I can see something up one nostril. Can we say panic? I must admit that I don't do emergencies very well...definitely not when it comes to the kids. I tried to get her to blow her nose....no go...she just kept sniffing it up further. I tried to see if I could grab it but with my hands that wasn't going to happen. I called my sister Gail who was just up the street thankfully, and she said she'd be right over. At this time I know we are now going to be going to the hospital....more panic!

Gail arrived as I was getting Victoria dressed, meanwhile she's still crying. Then Trevor goes into panic mode - asking if Victoria is going to die. ACK!!! I left Gail to finish getting Victoria ready while I run upstairs to dress....yes, the one day I decide to lounge around and haven't showered or anything....I was a real sight for sore eyes....no makeup....no hair done...I threw on sweats ...said to hell with the bra! LOL!!  I call Karl real quick at work to tell him that we are headed to the ER.

I run back downstairs and start getting the kids jackets on  when Karl arrives. I am extremely thankful that he works just a few minutes down the road. So Gail leaves and takes Trevor with her so that we can take Vicky alone.

We went to the walk-in clinic first - but they couldn't get it out. By that point, it had gone up even further and with all her squirming and what not, they didn't feel comfortable trying to get it out, etc. So they sent us off to the ER.

We had to wait a bit in the waiting room and again in the exam room but finally a doctor came in. She looks up Vicky's nose, checks her vitals, tells us a story about her son years ago stuffing tissue into his ears....and while it's nice to know it's not just your kid that puts foreign objects in the nose and ears, etc, at the same time I just want to get this thing out of Vicky's nose.

The doctor explains that the first thing they do is block the clear nostril and make a seal around the mouth and blow into the mouth to try to get it to basically fly out the nostril. So while Vicky is on my lap the doctor covers the clear nostril and I put my mouth over hers and blow into her mouth ...we do this a few times and it loosens it a bit but not enough. So off she goes to get another doctor...

She returns along with another doctor who also now checks Vicky out and then they disappear again to get some tools....they come back and now they need a nurse who will swaddle Vicky....so there I am laying back on the gurney with Vicky on top of me swaddled, with the nurse holding her arms and legs just to be sure she can't break the swaddle, a doctor on each side of me, and me holding her head as steady as I physically could. Finally it was out! A little piece of plastic that was angled on one end which was getting hung up in there. We figured it was off some toy....Karl stuck it in his pocket so we could investigate when we got home. Her nose bleed a little bit, which strangely enough fascinated her! LOL!! After 10 minutes or so, she was back to her normal silly self!

I am so thankful that it didn't require anything more than that....that was traumatic enough for me! I was afraid they'd have to put her out to get it out and I don't know if I could have handled seeing that.

So that was our first ER visit with Victoria...hopefully that will be our only one for many years!!! A mommy can hope can't she?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thank you Kim for the wonderful reminder!

As I alluded to in last nights blog and in previous blogs, I still struggle with Trevor's diagnosis and all that comes with that....endless doctors appointments, medications, case managers, therapists, evaluations, etc. There are days that despite the smile, despite the joking, despite it all, I am crying inside...screaming more like it....struggling to keep a grasp on my life as I know it.

This week has been no exception ...seems to be nothing but a series of highs and lows....just when I am flying high emotionally, it all seems to come crashing down...another meltdown....another incident....and I find myself literally trying to scrap myself off the floor in between sobs and wishing that my life was very different.

And then tonight I received a message on Facebook from my friend Kim ....and as I read, the tears streamed down my face....

Kim had found something online today and thought of me - she reminded me that I am an amazing mom and person...something that admittedly, I forget quite often.

So I asked Kim if she would mind if I shared it and she said she didn't it....

HEAVEN'S VERY SPECIAL CHILD

A meeting was held quite far from Earth.

It was time again for another birth.

Said the Angels to the Lord above --

"This special child will need much love.

"His progress may be very slow,

"Accomplishment he may not show.

"And he'll require extra care

"From the folks he meets down there.

"He may not run or laugh or play,

"His thoughts may seem quite far away.

"So many times he will be labeled

"'different,' 'helpless' and disabled.

"So, let's be careful where he's sent.

"We want his life to be content.

"Please, Lord, find the parents who

"Will do a special job for you.

"They will not realize right away

"The leading role they are asked to play.

"But with this child sent from above

"Comes stronger faith, and richer love.

"And soon they'll know the privilege given

"In caring for their gift from heaven.

"Their precious charge, so meek and mild

"Is heaven's very special child."

(I changed the she's to he's, etc.)

Thank you Kim...thank you for being a shoulder to cry on...thank you for being someone who laughs with me too!!! And thank you for helping to remind me of the person I am! I love you!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trevor and Aspergers

I find I am often asked about Trevor and the "signs" that we knew something was wrong. As I sat down today to talk with his case manager and two gentleman who came to do an evaluation for in home support services, I explained it all again, and I realized I really should have this down for those that ask.

Granted, I was a first time mom, but being the youngest of 8 children and having lots of nieces and nephews, I knew things seemed "off", for lack of a better word.

Trevor started walking at 10 months old...it was Christmas eve to be exact...talk about an awesome Christmas gift for two first time parents. I still remember to this day watching him toddle back and forth between us as we cheered and clapped him on. He was so proud of himself! From the beginning of his walking, he would do a *lot* of toe-walking - he'd curl his toes right under and walk on them. He'd even stand on his toes like that to play. At the time when we really started to take notice of how much he was doing it, I recalled reading something about children with Autism who walk on their toes, but I admit, I didn't know much and dismissed it.

By 14 months of age, he began to have tantrums that I had never seen the likes of. I remember watching him bang his head into the floor over and over when he was upset and again, this didn't seem normal to me.

I remember bringing both of these issues and more up to his pediatrician, but was always assured it was just normal toddler behavior. At one point the doctor even said that the toe-walking could be from a tendon that was too tight, and if it didn't get better, we could opt for surgery to cut that tendon.

Every time I brought up his behavior to the doctor, I was kind of just brushed off - it was always just explained as him being high strung and strong willed. It wasn't till his 3 year check up that the doctor finally said if nothing had changed by his 4 year check up, he'd send us for another opinion. Of course, nothing got better....matter of fact, things only got worse.

I seriously questioned if I could ever handle another child...I had always wanted a big family but Trevor's behavior left me feeling  like a failure as a parent and thinking that having another child would be a mistake. There were days that I spent my time crying, wondering where I had gone wrong....truth be told though, I still have those days. Despite my smile, I am very much struggling with this.

When he did have his 4 year check up, the pediatrician finally agreed that it was time to explore this further. We were moving at that time, so it was put on hold till after we moved and settled in and had insurance and a new pediatrician for him.

Let me tell you that the move was hell on him and in turn all of us. Knowing what I know now, I can look back and understand how the Aspergers affected him. He doesn't do well with change especially when it's not explained in detail ahead of time, and here we'd had another baby, and moved all in a matter of a few months. To top it all off, the house we were supposed to move into when we moved, fell through and we were stuck staying with my sister and her teenage daughter for about a month. The four of us in someone else's house, without the kids toys and what not, was stressful. Trevor was acting out so much - having what I come to realize were meltdowns.

Looking back there were other things we should have probably picked up on, but truth is, at least for me, deep down you don't want to admit to yourself that your child might have something wrong. One of those things was his complete and total obsession with vacuums. We just thought it was a odd, but cute fascination. Not once did it cross our minds that it might be a sign of something bigger. And really by itself, you wouldn't think anything of it...combine it with all the other things and suddenly you start to get this bigger picture. We got Trevor his first toy vacuum when he was 26 months old...he had been begging for one for a while. He loved that toy - it was the only thing he played with consistently...other toys came and went, but the vacuum was a constant. There were times I'd find him curled upon the couch watching cartoons and that vacuum would be right beside him on the couch. He would watch Oreck infomercials over and over...he'd beg to get on the computer and go to the Oreck website. It finally got to a point where we had just DVR'd the infomercials so he could watch them anytime he wanted, and we gave him a log-in on the computer and set it up so that he had an icon on his desktop to access Oreck without us. I had an Oreck for my job and he was forever getting that vacuum out and using it. Since that first toy vacuum he's had a total of 3 toy ones. If I asked him tomorrow morning if he'd like to vacuum, he'd be more excited then most kids are on Christmas morning.

His other love is the computer. We were just talking today about what type of learner Trevor is, and so I told them of how starting around 2 yrs old, Trevor would watch us on the computer and he'd only have to see something once, and he had it memorized and could do it himself. When he was around 3 yrs old, he downloaded and installed Norton Antivirus....something that a lot of adults I know, couldn't do. This year, at 5 yrs old, he purchased a conversion van for me on Ebay - $6000 - I had to contact the seller and explain the situation. Poor kid didn't understand why I wasn't excited that he had gotten me a van for Mother's Day. The crazy thing is, he had to log into Ebay, then make his way to the Autos, then search for a handicapped accessible van and find one that was "Buy It Now". He is forever downloading games and installing them. He changes his desktop around, changing his wallpaper, etc. He will talk to adults about things on the computer and they have no clue - he knows so much with computers!

Trevor is incredibly smart - has a photographic memory - is able to learn things so quickly - when we had him evaluated up here at a Developmental Preschool he scored in some areas off the charts - at levels for a child much older. He is so gifted in so many ways.

We still have our problems but we are getting help and we also have used medication. I know some people seem to have this crazy notion that all parents who choose to use the help of medication do so without a care and just jump on the medication bandwagon out of laziness. But that is not the case - we thought long and hard before we made the decision to try medication. It wasn't something we did because we are too lazy to parent - far from the truth. I wouldn't be so stressed out about all of this if I didn't care...I'd say the hell with it and go about my day, but the fact of the matter is I am doing all I can to get him all the help he needs. It's a process to try to find the right medication at the right level that works for him. We are making progress from where he was before medication but we have a ways to go.

Ok, must end for now....goodnight all....

My dirty little secret!!!

I come from a family of "brand snobs", and what I mean by that is, they don't care what car they drive or what jeans they wear, but they will "curse" you for using Hellman's over Miracle Whip or store brand flour over Robinhood, etc. They are essentially "food brand snobs".

I admit, there are a few items that I truly do prefer over their generic counterpart, but I've found for a lot of items, there is virtually no difference.

So if you recall I made Victoria's birthday cake last month...everyone ranted and raved over how delicious it was - it was very moist -shoot, I am drooling just thinking about it.

So what is the secret you ask?

It consisted of store brand cake mixes, store brand pudding mixes, store brand oil, store brand shortening in the frosting....

Yep, that is right...my delicious cake was made from *gasp* store brand ingredients and not their more expensive counterparts.

So I've come to the conclusion that either my family was b.s.'ing me when they said it was great or they really don't know the difference and their brand snobbishness is all in their head!