Tips for Special Needs Families 

Tips for Special Needs Families – From the Pros (Moms):  Making Lemonade is a support system for parents of exceptional special needs children.  Our goals are to share support, encouragement and resources with other parents.  Our children are not exactly alike, but as parents of exceptional children, we have a lot in common.  Being able to relate to each other and learn from each other is invaluable.  At the Making Lemonade weekly meetings we have an opportunity to express our joys and challenges with each other.  This is therapeutic and revitalizing.  Sharing resources is something else that we can take away from each meeting, blog post or email.

We have started a “TIP JAR”  at our local group meetings on Wednesday mornings.  This has been a fun way to learn about helpful tips that have been tested and proved to be effective.  These tips vary from helpful items to concepts that have proven successful. One week we did a “Real Food” recipe exchange.  


LOCK LACES - Some of our kids have difficulty learning how to tie shoe laces.  Whether there is a fine motor delay or the concept is hard to grasp, elementary school aged children with exceptions take longer to learn this skill.  Once a child passes kid’s size 3, it is very difficult to find shoes that velcro shut.  Lock Laces are an elastic shoelace and fastening system designed for runners and people with special needs.  The laces have a plastic slide that locks in place, no tying necessary.

IF YOU CARE - Unbleached, non-toxic paper baking products.  Their variety of products include muffin liners, parchment paper and coffee filters.  

LEGOS VS. CANDY  - Rather than candy in Easter Eggs, place Lego pieces in each egg.  No high fructose corn syrup or dyes!  Plus, how fun to be able to put together Lego’s after the Easter Egg Hunt. 



SYLVAN LEARNING CENTER TUTORING - Year round tutoring services for all grades and college prep.  They DO offer tutoring for EXCEPTIONAL LEARNERS!  Whether your child has a learning delay, autism or just difficulty in a particular subject, Sylvan instructors work with ALL types of students.  

PALEO “GIRL SCOUT THIN MINT” RECIPE - My all time favorite Girl Scout cookie in a gluten free version!  Find the recipe at Elana’s Pantry or click here:  Paleo Thin Mints



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Light It Up Blue For Autism April 2, 2013

Light It Up Blue For Autism April 2, 2013

Light It Up Blue

Light It Up Blue For Autism April 2, 2013.  Autism Speaks started the concept of using blue light bulbs for one day during April to kick off “Autism Awareness Month” and help in raising awareness.

blue light bulb

Home Depot – Blue Light Bulb $1.99

You can also go to my page that is set up at and donate to Autism Speaks.

Bulbs can also be purchased at most Walmart’s and lanterns can be purchased on .  A portion of the purchase price for “Light It Up Blue” will be donated to Autism Speaks.

Another way to show your support for is to wear blue on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 also.  These blue tees can be purchased through Autism Speaks for $12.00.  They are dark blue and GLOW IN THE DARK!

Blue glow in the dark shirt

Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are among the hundreds of thousands of homes and communities that take part to Light It Up Blue. Last year the Empire State Building was lit in blue lights!!

It’s easy and fun to Light It Up Blue! Register your Light It Up Blue events today. Whether you’re joining as an individual, or the manager of a building, store, school, cultural institution, restaurant, or media entity, you can pledge to Light It Up Blue!


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Adjusting Special Diets

Adjusting Special Diets - The healthier we eat, the healthier we are

Adjusting special diets has become a constant in our lives.  Just when I think I have it figured out we learn of a new allergy, sensitivity or get a reality check that I am not doing enough to help the well-being of my children.  I have always been aware that by keeping certain foods out of my children’s diet, their autistic symptoms could improve.  I saw this happen immediately when I took gluten out of their diets.  My boys are a testimony to how a gluten free, dairy free diet can clear up leaky gut syndrome, approve cognitive ability and improve overall health for some children that have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Now it’s time to take their diet to the next level.  Other helpful tips that I have been aware of, but have not fully abided by, are 1) eat only organically grown fruits and vegetables 2) serve only grass or vegetarian fed meats and 3) eliminate processed foods.

There are a few specifically designed diets that are associated with aiding in the recovery from autism.  I began to research these diets to determine which would be the best fit.  The fact that my family has many allergies to foods needed to be taken into consideration when choosing a diet.  When visiting with a friend of mine that owns a bakery dedicated to making foods without allergens, she told me of a diet that she and her daughter are on.  They too suffer from multiple allergies, which is why she started her specialty bakery.  The Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet or GAPS Diet is a VERY specific diet designed to heal digestive disorders.  Same concept as what I did with eliminating wheat from my boys’ diets to heal their leaky guts.  By healing the gut, you improve the function of the brain.  This is an extremely restrictive diet that I could not see my children attempting in any way.  My youngest son would not touch a fruit or vegetable with a 100 foot pole.  I know it would be great if they did, but I needed to ease into healthier eating.  The GAPS Diet is based upon another diet that I had heard of helping children with autism, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

When I had the privilege of visiting with Martha Herbert, MD, PhD, author of “The Autism Revolution” I mentioned the GAPS Diet to her.  She stated that I should also investigate the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that GAPS diet evolved from.  The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is based on the book “Breaking The Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall.  This diet also removes grains from the diet, but uses dairy as a protein source.  My children are allergic to dairy and I would like to slowly eliminate grains like rice.  I could probably work best with this diet, but through my research, I found another diet that sounded appealing.

A close friend of mine was researching these diets with me and ran across the same diet that I did and we both decided that it would be best for us, at this time.  100 Days of Real Food started as a blog by Lisa Leake.  Her family made a commitment to eat only REAL food.  Nothing processed, all organic, dye free and grass fed meats are the premiss for this plan.  She provides some simple Real Food Rules such as “it is not real food if the label list more than 5 ingredients”.  Lisa even offers the 100 day challenge that her family took on her site.

100 Days of Real Food met some of the criteria I mentioned earlier: 1) eat only organically grown fruits and vegetables 2) serve only grass or vegetarian fed meats and 3) eliminate processed foods.  This diet includes some dairy and whole wheat, which we can not include in our diet.  I am adjusting for these exceptions.  I am using a organic gluten free flour blend rather that whole wheat flour.  Also, I use a organic butter substitute and organic ghee rather than real butter.  Another exception is for milk.  Occasionally I will use coconut milk for the foods I make for Davis and Jackson.  I can still use milk for Eric and I.

My girlfriend, Carey, is adhering to the 100 Days of Real Food diet much better than I am.  She is actually on fire!  But as we embark on yet another journey together, we are cleaning up our home as well as our diets.  In a previous post on “Home Safe Home”, I discuss ways to eliminate toxins from your environment.  Carey and I have both switched to using stainless steel, cast iron or stoneware cookware.  We are also changing all of our cleaning supplies as well as what we use for personal care.

Yesterday I cooked most of the day preparing REAL FOOD in stoneware and stainless steel cookware.  I made Spinach Quiche Cups (found on Manila Spoon – click here for recipe), Roasted Chicken Breast, Turkey Chili with White Beans and Homemade Popcorn for snacks.  All ingredients are organic and real!

Spinach Quiche Cup


Turkey Chili


Roast Chicken Breast

Homemade Popcorn


4          Organic Split Chicken Breasts

2          Organic Carrots – cut into 1-2″ pieces

2          Stalks Organic Celery – cut into 1-2″ pieces

1/2      Medium Organic Yellow Onion – Cut into 1-2″ pieces

Sea Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Wash each piece of chicken.  Trim off any excess fat, leaving on the skin.  Pat dry and place into 8 1/2″ x 11″ stoneware pan.  Salt and pepper each side, leaving skin side up.  Distribute carrot, celery and onion pieces throughout chicken.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.  You can serve as whole pieces for a meal and use remaining chicken for soups, salads, etc.

Not only am I having a great time preparing foods in advance for my family, I feel so much better about what is (and what is NOT) going into their precious, sensitive bodies.  Every day we come another step closer to removing symptoms of autism from my boys to creating healthier, happier young men.

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Home Safe Home – Cleaner Living For Your Family

Home Safe Home – Cleaner Living For Your Family

Home Safe Home – Cleaner Living For Your Family.  I have been a busy little bee lately.  We are making some necessary changes in our home, for the better.  These changes not only apply to the food we eat, but how it is cooked, how we clean up after and how we clean ourselves.

At one of my Making Lemonade support group meetings a few weeks ago, we had a guest speaker, Angela Woodward, give a presentation on “Home Safe Home“.  Angie is the Patient Family Liaison for Integrative Pediatrics of Ohio, Dr. Allen T. Lewis here in  Columbus.  The purpose of the presentation was to discuss better choices you can make for your home to lower toxin exposure for your family, and why this is important.  

Prior to Angie coming to speak at Making Lemonade, my partner in crime on our path to recovering our children from autism, Carey, and I had made a commitment to feed our family healthier choices.  We started by investing various diets.  Specifically, ones that are often linked to aiding in recovering children from autism.  The three we looked closely at were the “Specific Carbohydrate Diet”, the “GAPS Diet” and the “100 Days of Real Food” program.

There were many factors that went into making our decision.  For me it was the combination of several allergies, super picky eaters and the concept of starting with a simpler change.  Maybe through time, our diet will progress into a stricter option.  But until then, I had many challenges to face and needed a simple choice.  Carey had her own reasoning but together we made the same decision.  We would begin our new journey on our path to healthier eating with “100 Days of Real Food”.  I plan to go into much deeper detail on this journey in future blog posts (Posted Adjusting Special Diets).

Soon after deciding to only eat real, organic, non-processed food was when we heard the “Home Safe Home” presentation.  It all made sense.  Eating a cleaner diet coincides with living a cleaner life overall.

Angela Woodward provided some resources and suggested reading that she bases her presentation “Home Safe Home” on.  The first book she suggests is also called “Home Safe Home” by Debra Lynn Dadd.  The second suggest reading is “Is This Your Child’s World?” by Doris Rapp, MD.  Another excellent resource that Angie provided to us during her speech is a website dedicated to protecting public health and the environment,  Environmental Working Group.  What I like about this website is that I can find ratings on anything from cookware to sunscreen.  I can find out what is safest for my family to use.

Some of the highlights from the “Home Safe Home” presentation were the following:

- NO MORE Non-Stick cookware.  Stainless Steel, Cast Iron and Stoneware are best.  Be sure to research which ones are actually safest, especially with stoneware.

- Use non-toxic cleaning supplies to include dishwashing detergents, laundry detergents and multi-purpose cleaners.  I found Seventh Generation products that were rated highly on the Environmental Working Group website.- Use clean water by choosing the right water filters and sending filtered water in stainless steel water bottles with your children.

- Use organic foods.  NO processed foods.

- Find organic, non-toxic body wash, lotion, toothpaste, etc.  Our body is very absorbent.  I have a friend that introduced my to Lemongrass Spa products made with essential oils.  The smell is soft and pleasant.  Most products are gluten and dairy free.

All of these choices, and more, can effect your child beyond what is obvious.  If we continue to load our bodies up with toxins, it doesn’t matter how many vitamins or supplements you take.  A biomedical, or integrative medicine, approach along with ceasing to feed toxins into our body is the ideal answer for maximum results.





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Autism Support Group Successes

Autism Support Group Successes

Autism Support Group Successes – Parents are the best resource.  I’ve said it many times and truly believe that connecting with other parents is a crucial piece of the autism puzzle.  For more than one reason, parents need each other.

Morning Coffee

Good Morning!  I have my coffee and have a calm and relaxing day planned.  It is President’s Day and my boys are home with me!!  I love it when we can sleep in just a little and not rush off to school.  I also love having my boys nearby so that I know that they are okay, comfortable and not facing any challenges.  They can be in an environment at home that helps them to unwind and relax.

I offer a parent support group here in the Greater Columbus, OH area called, you guessed it, “Making Lemonade”.  It is a support group for parents of exceptional children with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, learning and developmental delays, sensory processing disorder, etc. that offers support, encouragement and resources.  When I started Making Lemonade with the help of a foundation I work with, we came up with the description for our support group.  Six months later, it has become just what I had dreamed it would be.  Our group is still small, but it is powerful!!!  I am humbled to believe that God has worked through Making Lemonade to not only reach other parents, but bring parents together to support each other.

We have had several success stories about parents being pointed in the right direction to get their children the help they need.  We have new moms that weren’t sure what exactly was going on with their child get an evaluation.  There are moms going to appointments with their children and starting them on supplements with success.  All of us have been able to laugh and cry together and know that we are not alone in our walk.  I am going to share a few specific examples of how successful our support group is that will warm your heart and hopefully inspire you as they have inspired me.  I will change the names, but the details are accurate.

Keith is a friend of my oldest son’s that he met in school.  Keith is on the spectrum and was attending the public school that my children do with the help of an intervention specialist.  Keith’s mom realized that more guidance was needed for him to succeed in school and had him placed in the same special education class that Davis is in.  Keith’s mom and I started visiting with each other and discussing some treatments and therapies that I have tried with my boys.  Davis and Jackson have come so far and continue to make progress.  Keith’s mom attended my very first Making Lemonade support group meeting.  That particular day, Keith and his mother had some emotional and trying issues at school.  Their challenges seemed to be piling up with no relief.  Through our friendship and the support group resources, Keith’s mom got him in to see an integrative medicine physician that Davis and Jackson have seen.  In a matter of 2 weeks and a few supplements, this family began to see signs of relief.  Keith started doing better in school and trying new foods!  A few months later, the progress continues and his reading is improving.

Doug is a friend of my youngest son’s from school.  Doug’s mom had suspected for a few years that Doug had some issues and suspected that he may have ADHD and sensory processing difficulties.  When Doug got into first grade, the school was calling home frequently with problems that Doug was having in class and on the playground.  Through a referral to a reputable psychologist that I was able to give to Doug’s mom, Doug received a diagnosis so that his mother can focus on the proper care to provide to her son.  The diagnosis placed Doug on the spectrum which was a surprise to this family.  They are now going through a learning process and having to digest this new information.  I believe that the support group and the resources that we are able to provide can help Doug, as well as his family, get the support they need.  Doug is scheduled to see an integrative physician and prayerfully will quickly see positive results as Keith has.

There are several stories to share, but I will end with a one that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  The tears are happy tears and thankful tears.  One evening, shortly after I had started Making Lemonade, I was sitting alone in a therapy room waiting for anyone to arrive.  I said a little prayer and asked for God to bring anyone that needed to hear the information that I had to provide specifically on gluten free diets.  I had felt led to present specifically on this topic.  Within five minutes a smiling face walked into the room.  We began to visit and her friend that told her about the support group arrived.  The three of us discussed the difficulties and concerns that she was facing with her son.  A pediatrician let this mother know that he believed that her son, David, has ADHD and possibly oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).  Without any prompting, David’s mother looked at me and said “You know what I would like to learn more about is a gluten free diet.”  I shed a tear right there and then.  David’s mother has since regularly attended Making Lemonade meetings and is moving forward to help David.  She has already seen an integrative medicine physician and has started David on supplements to help with calming. She has also taken high fructose corn syrup out of his diet as well as gluten.  David’s mom is very positive and is making strides for her son!

I have a confession to make.  When I first learned of autism and the fact that my children were on the autism spectrum, a support group was that last thing that I wanted to do.  My husband and I walked our trail alone and had to discover each step ourselves.  We had no one to guide us and encourage us.  Through our process, it made me work harder and research more than I knew I had the strength for.  I have seen my own boys grow, develop, recover, improve and succeed.  It would be selfish of me to keep all that I have learned to myself.  Through Making Lemonade, I hope to make other families road not nearly as difficult as it could be.  The more we can learn and the faster we can learn it means that our children will lead more fruitful lives sooner rather than later.


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Meeting Dr. Herbert, Autism Specialist

Meeting Dr. Herbert, Autism Specialist

Meeting Dr. Herbert, Autism Specialist.  I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Martha Herbert, MD, Ph.D. yesterday!  Not only did I get to meet her, I got to visit with her about several topics.  This was a unique opportunity that was also unexpected.  If I had know, I would have been more organized in my thoughts.  But, maybe it was best this way.

The Autism Revolution

As noted on the back flap of her book cover “The Autism Revolution“, Dr. Herbert “is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she is the director of the TRANSCEND Research Program.  She also sits on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Autism Speaks.”

I love the full title on the front of the book, “The Autism Revolution, Whole Body Strategies For Making Life All It Can Be“.  By meeting Dr. Herbert and being able to visit with her for approximately 30 minutes, I walked away with answers to concerns, valuable information and enthusiasm.  I did not realize who I was meeting at first.  As our conversation proceeded, so did the realization that I was with someone that held a wealth of knowledge!

Dr. Herbert is a pediatric neurologist that has evolved into a specialist in the world of autism.  My youngest son Jackson gave us a scare last year.  Actually, it was a pediatric neurologist that provided us with results from a MRI that was done on Jackson that gave us the scare.  In his words “There is a spot in the center of his brain that may grow.  He will need to have another MRI in six months to see if the spot grows”.  My husband asked him point blank if that would mean a tumor, and he answered “yes”.  I spent the following six months holding Jackson in bed each night praying over him.

Long story short, the neurologist we had seen said the spot did not grow after he reviewed the second MRI.  In doing our due diligence, we got a second opinion.  The new neurologist reviewed both MRIs and told us that he did NOT see a spot at all.  So, both answers relieved my anxiety.  This “spot” had either not grown or did not exist at all.  I gave it a rest, but continued to watch for any symptoms that would cause concern.

By having this chance meeting with Dr. Herbert, she was able to look at the pictures of Jackson’s brain and provided some much needed relief!  She explained not only what the spot could be, but why there could have been to different opinions.  Both essentially being the same answer.  It made perfect sense.  BUT, only because she is an expert in pediatric neurology AND autism, could she provide the complete answer.  The mainstream neurologist and radiologist that reviewed the MRI results are not familiar with the world of autism and are not trained to see past their what I consider to be black and white world.

This was so valuable and enlightening to me to be able to have this conversation!  Previously, I had told my husband and a close friend that I wish I could present all of the information about my children to either a panel in one room or ONE person rather than hopping around to many physicians.  Only a few of the doctors that I work with understand autism, the others do not and they are never in the same room.  Imagine that.  Dr. Herbert was an answer to prayer.

Wait, it gets better!  We also talked about the hopeful future of education in autism reaching to more professionals in the medical community.  In addition, I was able to discuss the benefit of specific diets and the idea of working with national organizations through Making Lemonade.

I am elated and my head is spinning!  I purchased her book “The Autism Revolution” right on the spot. I am thrilled with what I have read so far.  I totally agree with her philosophy, and have said many times myself, that approaching autism needs to be done from many angles, not just one.  It is so irritating that I have to put the book down to do things like feed my family and shower. I know, I crack myself up.

Do not walk, but run out to buy this book!  It is not just specific to autism as the title may imply.  Dr. Herbert’s approach can be applied to many neurological issues such as ADHD, SPD, etc.  The whole body approach that is presented by Dr. Herbert in this book can provide positive results to the many issues and challenges that your child is dealing with on a daily basis.

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A Day In The Life of a Special Needs Parent

A Day In The Life of a Special Needs Parent – Living with Autism


A Day In The Life of a Special Needs Parent brings to mind a variety of descriptive verbs. Challenging, rewarding, busy, exhausting, joyful and repititious are a few words that apply many days.  I realize that some of these words are antonyms of the others.  My point exactly.  Most of my days are full of mixed emotions.  I experience successes and challenges often at the same time with my boys.  I know this is true of raising any child, but living with special needs and autism seems to kick it up a notch.

After what feels like beating my head against a wall for a year, we finally found a school for my oldest son that is a good fit.  Now take that same experience and relive it.  I had to go through the same painstaking process with my youngest son.  Through all of the trial and error I had with my first son, you would think that I could skip the difficulties with my second son.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Each and every child with autism is different from the other.  Davis and Jackson only have a few challenges in common. The rest of the differences have to be approached uniquely.  There is not one blanket answer for all of the individual goals that must be met for each child.

Every challenge that must be met takes research, trial and lots of time to see if the solution will be effective.  Some days I can concentrate on one issue for one child.  There are other days that I am facing, or battling, multiple issues for each boy.

When my husband and I first learned of the disorders and delays that our boys have, I felt as if I were living a double life.  One moment I was optimistic that we could do everything possible to help them grow and recover from autism.  Then there were the moments that were more depressing and that caused high levels of anxiety.  What if my boys could never grow out of all of their symptoms?  I had no idea what lied ahead for my children and what our life would be as a family.  To this day, and to my disappointment, I can not see the future.  But the good news is that all of our life’s have improved over the course of the last six years.

Determination, prayer and consistency have proven to be effective tools in having many successes and miracles.  I also have to give a majority of the credit to biomedical treatments.  Each of my boys have come so far from when they were 2 years old.  All children grow and mature. When faced with a disorder, this naturally occurring process becomes much more difficult.  Through a lot of hard work on Davis and Jackson’s part, and a lot of research on mommy’s part, they have gone from being delayed by two years in every aspect to performing academic work at grade level.  WOW!  I still can’t believe that I can say that.  It has been a very long, bumpy road full of peaks and valleys.  I constantly wonder if I have always made the right decisions.  When I see how far each of my boys have come, I feel as if I must have done something right and I am grateful that I had God’s help along the way.

Our journey is far from over.  We will always be on this road and I will never stop believing that their live’s can be more successful every day.  Some successes are larger than others, but each one makes a difference in their every day living.  I hope that I never take a single success for granted.  Each one is precious.

Along with the successes we experience as individuals and as a family, come continuous trials.  I can also never stop meeting these head on for the sake of my children.  My boys are my responsibility and I am their advocate for life.  In the last year I have found myself reveling in the success that they are having at school, which is nice, but I have also found this last year to be one of the most challenging.  Davis and Jackson ARE recovering from autism, but as they age, their challenges change.  Social differences are more noticeable and academic challenges are increasing.  Being consistent in doing what it takes behind the scenes to make these challenges easier is crucial.

Along with the adversities we face, there are other issues that must be faced as well.  Lower immune systems and health issues are more common with children on the autism spectrum.  Anxiety, illness, depression and physical issues need to be addressed and dealt with as well.  An article from USNews discusses the higher rate of gastrointestinal problems faced in children with autism. We tackled gastrointestinal problems with biomedical treatment and special diets and won!  That doesn’t mean that we were in the clear health-wise.  While working on our taxes for last year, we added up our additional health expenses that we have beyond what insurance has covered.  This includes foods for special diets as well as mileage for doctor appointments and therapies throughout the year. It was enlightening to see the facts and figures. Not as staggering as it may be for some, but drastic to us none the less.

Our year consisted of the usual therapies and special needs summer school.  However, in addition to the normal running around, my boys have faced more than usual health issues.  We have had a sudden onset of strep throat this year.  We had a brain tumor scare with Jackson and spent time having MRIs and meeting with multiple neurologists.  The flu hit Davis so hard, twice, that he didn’t eat for seven straight days each bout. Our latest discovery is that one of Davis’ legs is longer than the other.  This explains the years of foot pain that he has been complaining of.  Many mornings he will wake up and ask for a wheel chair because his feet hurt so bad.  We are in the middle of determining through x-rays if the cause for the discrepancy is bone or muscle.  The solution will be either a shoe insert for life or physical therapy, or maybe a combination of both.

Through it all, I grow to love my children more and more every day.  The Berna Boys manage to be happy (most of the time) and move forward facing each and every day with love in their hearts.  I get a hug and an “I love you” every day.  I feel blessed beyond my wildest imagination.  I had lunch with a dear friend the other day who also has a young boy that is on the autism spectrum.  We were discussing the wonderful traits of our children when she said “I love my son’s autism”.  I may not like that fact that their life may be more difficult for them because of their differences, but I DO like the fact that they are beautiful humans inside and out.  Over the weekend Davis came to me and said “Mom, I have a new motto that I want to tell the world.”  He proceeded upstairs to the desk in his room to make a sign.  When he came back down the stairs, he asked if I would hang his new sign outside for all to see.  ”Keep Moving Forward”.


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Gluten Free Super Bowl Appetizers

Gluten Free Super Bowl Appetizers

Gluten Free Super Bowl Appetizers are the reason for the Super Bowl?  Right?  I mean, Beyonce concert appetizers.  Hee Hee!

So much for pre-planning. I sat down this morning, THE day of the Super Bowl, to devise a list of gluten free appetizers to serve my family.  With sooooo many diet restrictions, I did a lot of soul searching (and internet searching) for the perfect combination of ideas.  The largest appetites win out with the largest variety of nibbles.  I want to include my children in on all of the excitement, so I need to add some bite sized goodies to the menu for them.

Here is a list of each individuals allergies and diet restrictions just to give you some insight into what I am working with:

Me – Gluten

#1 Son – Dairy, Gluten, Eggs, Pork, High Fructose Corn Syrup

#2 Son - Dairy, Gluten, Nuts, Beef, High Fructose Corn Syrup

Hubby – Anything healthy.  He is a firm believer that “Football Food” must be high in fat and calories.  Deep fried is best.

Let the creative juices flow.  Tick Tock, Tick Tock.  Creating my list took about two hours.  One, because I didn’t want to forget anyone.  Two, and most importantly, because it’s fun to me.  Now that I’m showered and Eric has taken the boys out to play in the beautiful snow, it is time to begin.  I do realize that my list is a little lengthy.  The plan is to have leftovers to give myself a break tomorrow after cooking so much today.


Spinach Dip - because mommy loves it and I will always have spinach dip when serving appetizers.

Warm Sausage Dip – see recipe below - a family tradition served anytime we get together and have appetizers.  Most commonly used for game nights and nights before holidays when preparing food for the next day’s big meal.

Hot Wings - of course.  I’ve found a brand that I am loyal to because they are not breaded and gluten free.  Plus, they are delicious!  Must serve with a chunky blue cheese dressing.

Broiled Shrimp with Thai Peanut Sauce – this gives me a lower calorie option.  Plus it’s quick, easy and delicious.  Doesn’t even need a fancy recipe.  Brush shrimp with gluten free teriyaki sauce and broil for 3-4 minutes.  Serve with Thai Peanut Sauce (make sure it’s gluten free). Voila.  Can also be served over rice noodles.

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogssee recipe below now I can check fattening foods off of the wish list for my sweetheart.

Mini Hot Dog Muffins – maybe overkill on the hot dogs, but I am craving corn dogs.  I do that, often.  It’s a result of growing up driving through Sonic in the summers in Oklahoma.  I am making these with a gluten free cornbread recipe.  I have extra batter that I can make some cornbread muffins to serve with a meal in a day or two.  Use a mini muffin pan, cornbread batter and 100% beef hot dog pieces.  Place a teaspoon of batter in each hole, insert a cut up piece of hot dog.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 11 minutes.  I think I’ll use a spicy Cajun mustard for dipping.

Corn Dog Muffins

Apple Slices with Brie - Mmmmm, Brie.  The world would be a better place if every meal included Brie and/or Goat Cheese.  No recipe required for this one.  All you need is some apple slices, slices of brie, walnuts and honey.  Stack in that order.

Brie and Walnuts

For the Kids:

GF Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets – a treat for BOTH kids that are never able to eat fast food chicken nuggets like their friends.  Simply dredge pieces of chicken breast into gluten free flour seasoned with seasoning salt, garlic powder and black pepper.  Deep fry in pre-heated canola oil over medium-high heat.

Tater Tots - simple, yet bite sized so they can feel a part of the festivities.  Another Sonic vice.  I will melt dairy free cheese onto Jackson’s and he’ll be thrilled.

Apple Slices – for Davis I add some peanut butter.

Tortilla Chips

Gluten Free Pretzels

Note that the only vegetable you see is the spinach in the Spinach Dip.  Thought I’d get crazy and serve some apple slices with the Brie.  This should meet my husband’s “football food” criteria while making me feel better about myself.


Warm Sausage Dip

1 – 1 Lb              Breakfast Sausage – roll

1 block               Cream Cheese

1 – 16 oz             Sour Cream

1 – 14 oz             Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies

In a large skillet, crumble and brown the sausage until fully cooked.  Add cream cheese and stir until melted.  Add sour sour cream and tomatoes.  Stir and cook until bubbly.  This can keep in a crock pot set on low.  Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

14                    100% all Beef Hot Dogs

14 slices         Bacon

1 1/2 Cups     Barbecue Sauce – gluten free

1/4 Cup          Brown Sugar

3-10 shakes   Red Pepper Sauce (depending upon taste)

Set oven to broil. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside.  Spray broiler pan with cooking spray. Cut each bacon slice crosswise into 3 pieces. Cut each hot dog into thirds. Wrap each piece hot dog with one piece of bacon.  Secure with toothpick and place onto broiler pan.  Broil with tops about 6 inches from heat 12 to 16 minutes, turning once, until bacon is crisp.

Meanwhile, heat your favorite homemade (or store-bought) gluten free barbecue sauce in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add brown sugar and red pepper sauce.   Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until warm.  Barbecue sauce already has sugars, but the extra brown sugar thickens the sauce and creates a caramelized texture.  I like the sweet and spicy combination of the sugar and pepper sauce.

Heat oven to 350°F. Transfer the hot dogs from your broiler pan to the reserved glass baking dish. Pour sauce over hot dogs; turn to coat with sauce. Bake about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

I hope everyone enjoys their “football food” for the Beyonce concert as much as we will!!

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April is Autism Awareness Month


April is Autism Awareness Month!  What is your school or community doing to raise awareness?  Please share your ideas with a comment!!!

Here in Columbus, Ohio Autism Speaks has a large presence.  There is an annual walk that raises approximately $1 million dollars each year that is used for research and awareness.  The Special Learning Centers in our school have created our own t-shirts and walk together as a team at the Autism Speaks walk.

The National Autism Association conducts fundraisers across the country to support families.  The Southeast Ohio NAA chapter raised approximately $60,000 that is offered as grants to many families in their area to get biomedical treatment, therapy and iPads.

The National Autism Association will receive proceeds from the purchase of this adorable Autism Awareness T-Shirt.

NAA Autism awareness tee


$8.95 Each

Show support and help raise awareness for Autism with these “Accept – Understand – Love” t-shirts with colored puzzle pieces.

* Personalization is free on orders of 12 or more personalized shirts. Different personalization styles cannot be mixed in the same order. The same text appears on each shirt in your order. Visit ourPersonalization section to learn more.

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Pizza Night, Gluten Free Style

Pizza Night, Gluten Free Style

Gluten Free Meatball Pizza

Gluten Free Meatball Pizza


Pizza Night, Gluten Free Style.  Oh, and must be Dairy Free.  Oh, and one child is allergic to beef, the other pork.  One son loves red sauce, the other despises it.  Then there’s the meat-loving, gluten and diary eating husband.  By the time it comes to me, I just give up.  Pizza night was not a weekly dinner tradition in our family.  My boys would hear about other families having pizza night on Friday’s and their school serves pizza for lunch every Friday.  Birthday parties are the same.  There is always pizza and birthday cake which are considered special treats.  Our family has gone for years without being able to take part in these traditional rituals.

Enough is enough.  It is my responsibility to make an extra effort to accommodate my children’s special diets.  I needed to step up to the plate.  Batter up!!

This challenge really isn’t that big of a deal once I quite trying to make a big deal out of it. I tried making homemade gluten free crusts as well as a regular crust for my husband.  I had flour everywhere and wasn’t even sure the crusts would turn out.  You see, baking IS NOT my forte.  Then, I had to decide what to top the crusts with.  It was easy for my husband – meat, meat and more meat.  However, my boys have allergies and one’s allergy is not the same as the other.

Solution:  Purchase the crust, have toppings on hand and make Eric pick his up on the way home.  Simplicity is my new motto.  I end up spending all day in the kitchen between cooking and cleaning so I can serve different meals to serve picky children with special diet restrictions.  That is fine, sometimes.  But there are days when I either need a break or have a million other things to do.  I need some simple solutions in my back pocket since driving through fast food restaurants is not a good option for us.

I wish I would have taken a picture of Davis and Jackson’s faces the first Friday night that I announced pizza night and they both had an entire pizza to themselves.  Even if I would have taken a picture, the pure joy on their faces would have been difficult to capture.

I have two separate recipes for pizza night.  Each are super duper easy and inexpensive.  I buy one package of gluten free pizza crust that contains 2 crusts.

D’s Turkey Bacon Pizza – Gluten Free and Dairy Free

1               Gluten Free Pizza Crust

1/2 Cup   Organic Pizza Sauce (make sure it is dairy free)

4 slices    Turkey Bacon

Place crust on cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Spread with pizza sauce covering entire crust.  Cut up uncooked turkey bacon into bite sized pieces and evenly distribute over entire pizza.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.

J’s Meatball Pizza – Gluten Free and Dairy Free

1               Gluten Free Pizza Crust

2 Tb        Dairy Free, Gluten Free Butter Spread

1/2 tsp    Garlic Salt

1/2 tsp    Italian Seasoning

5               Meatballs (see recipe under “Recipes”)

1/4 Cup   Dairy Free Mozzarella Cheese

Place crust on cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Spread with pizza butter spread covering entire crust.  Season with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  Cut meatballs into quartered pieces and evenly distribute over entire pizza.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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