Tag Archives: SN Parenting

Homeschooling: Special Needs Table Time

Today, our best pal Lindsey is back.  You need only search the Guest Bloggers Tag to find many other posts she has shared with us.  Today she speak directly to my path.

 

Today I was having a chat with one of my favorite homeschooling mamas, she was feeling, in some ways, a bit of defeat. Her son is special needs, but they haven’t figured out a definitive diagnosis. I think any of us who have special needs children? Have been there. I remember just wanting to be justified- I remember thinking, “Something is *wrong* with my son, why can’t anyone tell me what!” I remember doing everything I could for him, and getting him tested for Autism, and then? I felt better, “HA! I TOLD YOU!” But, the truth is? His diagnosis? REALLY didn’t matter so much.

Here’s why:

You can slap a label on anything, children included. I am not AGAINST labels actually, because they help in school atmospheres, they help get help for our kids, but I certainly? Leave the labels to the professionals. For me? My middle son’s “symptoms” are what matters most.

So he has Autism. His technical diagnosis is: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Severe Sensory Processing Disorder, probable ADHD. You know what is kind of funny looking back though? I waited 6 months for an Autism test- on a waiting list, yet at the first MENTION of Autism by my pediatrician? It gave me a starting point- and I just flew with it.

I remember getting him in speech RIGHT away, he wasn’t speaking at the level he should be, I had known that but a previous pediatrician had essentially told me to stop comparing him to my other son because all children develop differently. Anyhow, once I had the tools, and the referrals I called the same day, within a week someone came to my house to assess my son. He didn’t “have Autism yet” on paper, but I told them based on the research I had done? I was fairly certain. The therapists were OH so careful to not say he did, or he didn’t fit the criteria, “I’m not saying he has Autism, but this behavior is common among those who have Autism, and here is how we would recommend you work with him.”

I did. I worked with him like crazy, and you know what? *TECHNICALLY* – He didn’t even have Autism- yet. Not on paper- not solidified in my mind- no proof- but yet? I was treating the ‘symptom’, in this case the symptom was that he lacked verbal skills. I was doing all this? And not even realizing it, because I was still focused on the diagnosis aspect.

If I could go back, and tell myself ONE thing, it would be, “Stop googling ‘symptoms of Autism’ and start googling the behavior you see!” Why? Because the diagnosis of Autism? Did NOT change my child. If I had googled the “symptom” or behavior rather, I would have seen how to simply address that ‘issue’.

Fast forward almost 6 years now and an official diagnosis. Sometimes? I just laugh at how much my mentality has changed, the constant hoops and loops of trying to get inside my son’s brain – figure out the why of his actions since he lacks the verbal ability to express them. He sure can talk now though- but putting his feeling into words is still a real struggle.

I am constantly having to translate, in many ways? It comes easily and naturally. Sometimes? I get stumped and reach out to my closest friends who ‘get it’ for advice. Those times, where I can’t translate myself? Are incredibly disheartening. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get this? What the heck is going on inside of him? It’s the most extreme level of frustration, and if I don’t figure it out for a long period of time it can lead to quite a depression in some cases. I usually step back at that point, get back to basics, cut out anything that isn’t needed and start at the base. As I build up? We usually find that there was a loose brick in the wall, and if we hadn’t fixed it? Everything would have topple down.

Notice I said, “We find.” WE, my child and I, this isn’t an “I am the parent and should figure this out” kind of ‘problem,’ this is a, “Okay kiddo, you have my undivided attention, let’s work this out.” Kind of thing. And when I listen? I have to translate. Almost ALWAYS the behaviors are not defiance, or even anger, MOST times, the behaviors? Are pure frustration. Imagine you are in Spain, but you only speak English. You are hurting, and you keep telling people why and they just look at you. Over and over you tell them yet they aren’t helping you like you think they should. How would you feel? Then you meet one Spaniard, he speaks very broken English but is able to deduce the gist of your pain, and then he helps you.

This is what it is like being the parent of a child with Autism, at least for me. He is always being perfectly clear- but I sometimes? Lack the ability to speak his language, and my broken dialect makes it harder for me to figure it out- but with enough faith, and enough effort? We get to the bottom of it, and afterwards? I understand his language a little bit better, until next time.

All this brings me to the story of my chat this morning. A friend of mine was feeling a bit frustrated with her undiagnosed special needs kiddo. I know she feels that a diagnosis would at least give her some understanding. I know she feels this way – because I was there. I have since learned that my son’s diagnosis of Autism, just enables me to explain him to other people, who still, won’t ‘get it’. To me? He is just like any other kid, but I have to work a little harder to raise him because, he doesn’t run on the same batteries as the others. Just a different “model” if you will. One that makes me think a little harder and keeps me on my toes.

One thing, he will not do? Is sit still. I home-school and I often get frustrated because I feel he is behind. I feel he is doing work beneath him. Both my older children were in public school, I know how it all works, I pulled them out because the school wasn’t helping either of them. I know, that if my son was in Public School right now he’d need a constant aid, and he would be put in a special room because there is no WAY he’d keep up with the 1st grade pace. I started really getting worried- he couldn’t add, and I didn’t understand why! I worked with him and it appeared he couldn’t sequence, he couldn’t add, and he didn’t know his numbers. I freaked. Maybe I’m not doing so well at this, maybe I shouldn’t have pulled him, and maybe I am totally screwing this up. I quickly purchased over $40 in computer software, because that is what he prefers to work on. I loaded it up, I told him he had to sit there and do it.

He mastered all 4 games, in a matter of 30 minutes, clicking answers before the question had even finished verbalizing itself. Adding, Subtracting, matching, sequencing, and more. All of the things I didn’t think he could do.

Are…you….kidding?

Then? I realized- those worksheet? I was reading to him? The fact I was expecting him to do the work at the table? Was too hard for him. It couldn’t keep his concentration! I also realized that this is why I decided to home-school, so that I didn’t have to expect conventional methods of teaching to work for him.

Now we do only 10-15 minutes of writing a day. 3 worksheets. Split up, one at a time. He needs the fine motor skills, but I am much more worried about him knowing how to add, than being able to write the answer, at least at this point. We’ll get there, but since writing takes SO much out of him? I’d rather focus on the skill itself. Spelling on the computer, reading, and doing math is good. We also play word bingo, phonics bingo, math bingo, and other toys that go along with our subjects.

I was trying to find a way to explain my reasoning of this. How “table time” can be a bit stressful for kids with special needs and here is what I came up with.

We have all had to fill out important paperwork, such as insurance paperwork. We know all the answers for the most part, so it’s not hard in that aspect, but we do have to think hard on it. We sit down, we begin to fill the forms out, our brain is going, then a child comes up with the, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom….” And we react by 1) Ignoring the child for a moment all while he/she is still highly distracting. 2) We react with frustration, “JUST A MINUTE!” Or 3) We get up, take care of the child and then sit back down, when we sit back down? It’s work to get our brain back to where it needs to be.

We are capable of filling out the forms.

We know all of the answers.

So WHY? When we are all done and stand up? Does it feel like we breathe a giant sigh of relief, why does our brain feel so tired? Why are we seemingly more irritable than we were prior to this ‘easy’ paper work? I mean after all- it should be easy right? We already know all the answers.

For children with ADHD or Autism, table time can be just that. They know what the number 5 is. They know how it looks, but even just sitting and working to write it? If they lack fine motor skills, or are slower at using their fine motor skills? Then it becomes just like that insurance paperwork. You know the answer, but it requires maximum concentration.

Every sound in the house from the fan whirring, to a distant TV, to the hum of the lights, the clang of the dishes as you clean the kitchen; all these things? Are the same as the, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom,” factor. Taking a break? That only works if one task is done, stopping in the middle of the task, sitting back down? Your child is doing the, “Okay now where was I?”

I am not saying that table time should be ignored, but short quick intervals with sensory breaks (when one task is done) can do wonders. Finding alternate things that will teach the same skills is by far the best. For writing, I like the sensory mats, where you trace a letter or number in the gel using your finger. Doing math in shaving cream is SUPER fun! Each child is uniquely different, but for those who have attention issues, or occupational issues I think we have to constantly adapt our *typical* mindset of methods, to what will work best for that child.

We may not speak their language fully, but we are more capable of translating than anyone else. We have to work hard at it, we have to constantly put ourselves in their shoes, and in the end? Never be afraid to say to your child, “I want to help you, but I don’t know how. Can you tell me how I can help you?”

You just may be surprised by the answer.

 

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responding to an allergic reaction

Tonight we started allergy training with both our boy; more correctly allergy response training.  Little Brother’s bee (and stinging insect) allergy is life threatening and since we met with the allergist and have a plan for sting / reaction care it is necessary the boys be fully able to play their roles. Little Brother has already spent one night in the hospital due to a sting.  The real fact is Little Brother’s life maybe in his own hands or the hands of his brother.  Little needs to know how to take care of himself, and Big Brother needs to know how to either guide Little or seek care for him, or if he has to, to care for him.

We talked about what to do if Little is stung; what Little needs to do and also what Big Brother needs to do.  We talked about looking for an adult; and clearly telling the adult Little has been stung, is allergic and needs his medication.  We talked about what to do if the adult just wants to comfort the crying Little and doesn’t react to the fact he needs medication.  We taught them lines to say and we role played.  We role played not only interactions with the adult, but the administering of the EPI PEN (Thanking God for the no-needle trainers that they send with ever Rx).

We went over, time and time again, the correct response:  look for an adult, tell the adult, insist the adult give Little the medication and call mom.  If there is no adult we went over how to administer the EPI PEN (either to himself or to his brother).  We talked about after EPI PEN is chewable allergy medication.

We talked that the whole care plan (below) even though we made it clear that Momma or Daddy or Grandma will take care of most of the ‘list’; we don’t want them to worry about taking care of everything, we just want them to be able to meet the urgent needs right after a sting.  We explained that in each “EPI PEN pack” there would be the PENS, as well as the chewable medication Little needs.  There will also be written directions for any adult to see and follow.

We will have to do many more nights of role playing and repetition but for the first night of going over it the boys seems to respond well.  With enough practice they both successfully used the mock EPI PEN on themselves and an adult.  We role played enough times that they got though the lines we have created for then without prompting.  Tonight was one the first of many night, especially of role-playing; but it was a good start.

Allergy reaction instructions for XXXXXXXX (DOB 10.29.07)

As of 9.20.13 Emergency phone:  417-XXX-XXXX 2nd 417-XXX-XXXX

Immediately after sting

Epi pen

25 mg of Benadryl

Pepcid or Zantac (either one)

Head to ER

10 minutes after sting

2nd epi if the reaction is still getting worse or he is having trouble breathing

Possibly 12.5 more Benadryl

Hour after sting

Zyrtec 10 mg

Repeat every 6 hours for 24 hours

Benadryl and Pepcid / Zantac

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30 Day Eating Challange

We are on day EIGHT of a 30-day eating challenge.

A week ago I made a deal with Big Brother.  If he would try a new food each day, for 30 days in a row, I would get him a reward.  I told him he could earn a 20 dollar reward, and Daddy upped it to $29.  It has to be 30 days in a row of trying a new food, the agreement (not sure he will want to hold to it, now that we are in it) is that if he misses a day, or refuses a day, he has to start over at Day One.

I have waited to blog about it, or really to talk about it, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.  But we have seven days under our belt and are on day eight!

I am so excited that Big Brother is finally getting to a place / stage / age where earning a reward works; for the longest time star charts (tracking behavior) and working towards a  reward just didn’t click with him, or at least not ‘long term’ enough for it to help us accomplish anything.  Now, however, he is starting to engage in ‘earning’ rewards be it money or legos or a new book (once, a mom can hope though, right).

With the prompt of earning a sticker, and working towards his reward Big Brother has tried BRISKET and STEAK (both of which he has discovered he loves) as well as Mac and Cheese (which he really did not like).  It comes as no surprise to me the boy that loves crab meant would love steak.

There have been a couple of nights when it was really a challenge for him and he got rather stressed about it; but for the most part he has been willing and cheerful about trying his new food.  Even asking me “Have I tried my food yet today”.  The foods he discovered he liked (not pizza) he has willingly eaten more of; eating an adult sized serving of steak to my surprise and joy.

I am hopeful we can make it though all 30 Days.  I don’t have grand expectations; and I am trying my best to help him.  Last night he did not want to try rice and chicken, so I let him try a fresh peach.  It WAS a new food, he has never (since being a baby eaten peaches but, as Daddy pointed out, it is not like the other foods he has tried.  Nevertheless we are trying to create success not failure so I am willing to be agreeable.  I really want us to make it all 30 Days so Big can earn his reward; I feel that will set the stage for future success, and I feel that is as important, or maybe even more important, than getting 30 new foods into him in 30 days.

If we make it though the 30 days; my next challenge to him is going to be 3 to 5 bites of a “not his standard” (non-preferred) food (something from the general family dinner).  It won’t have to be a totally new food (like this 30 Days) but it will have to be something he generally doesn’t eat.  But, I get ahead of myself; right now I am hoping to get though 30 days.

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Another guest blog

Lindsay is back …. this time touching on the media coverage of the possible ASD dignoas of the shooter from the  Sandy Hook Elementary School horror.

 

This morning I was on a thread when a woman asked a question. She pretty much asked why – “our community” (the Autism Community) was getting so upset about the “Lanza-Asperger’s” Comments- She also pointed out that the Media didn’t outright BLAME “Asperger’s” as a cause of the shooting. – I like answering respectful questions- but it occurred to me? That many friends on my page may have the same question- so let me answer it for you- here is what I said: …

For me? The hurt comes from years of advocating and trying to educate people as to what my son having Autism means, fighting tooth and nail for people, peers and even teachers to accept him. I have had so many instances where people were incredibly rude to me because they thought I merely had a “brat” and CLEARLY I sucked as a parent. I have spent many hours crying about how people treat me and my children since I had my child with Autism. I have lost friends, fought schools, and had to even educate some doctors – because SOME of THEM don’t even know what Autism means. For many of us- the fight is constant- many of us don’t always talk about it- but it’s there. It takes time to realize that while we know- you can’t KNOW what it is like to have a child with Autism if you don’t- or you can’t know what it’s like to have Autism unless you do- we tire ourselves fighting for one thing- not understanding nearly as much as acceptance. It has come a LONG LONG way since my son was first diagnosed nearly 4 years ago- and – because of how people read into this? It’s undoing much of our hard work.You are SO right that they didn’t “BLAME” Autism- but unfortunately not everyone pays attention to that fact- Not everyone sees it as you do- and let me just say thank you – for that- but others who WANT something to blame- have grasped on to the fact “Aspberger’s” was mentioned- and they THEMSELVES have now tied that to violence. Our children are already so displaced in all reality- they want acceptance – as parents we want that for them too- we want acceptance for us as Parents – and the sad truth is- that usually? We have to FIGHT for that.

Also the media has chosen what they say about Autism ALWAYS- it’s not always the most *educated* news out there. The truth is? Will people remember “Oh Light it up blue” as that is the extent of media coverage we get from time to time – or will they remember “1:88 is diagnosed with Autism” – No- now- the majority of those will remember “Oh Autism- Adam Lanza had that” – And I feel this put a target on me and my family in essence- should I still deck my house out in blue lights this year in April? Or do I have to fear ignorant people who will then see- and know- in THEIR mind- I may be “raising a killer” in my house- I assure you- it is a cause for concern on more levels than I can even mention- and I hope – that all my friends have read enough about what I have said over the last four years to at least know- they do NOT need to FEAR my children- they do NOT need to FEAR AUTISM.

♥ ♥

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Supplements for ADD and depression (and normal brain support too)

Big Brother’s supplement list is growing as we expand to try to address reduced appetite, ADD / agitation, mood support, as well as support health child and brain growth.  This will have to be redone in a fw weeks as i talk to a few more professionals and do some more research; nevertheless here is what i have for now:

As of 8.22.12

  • Zinc (3 tabs) = 24 mg = insomnia / agitation and appetite
  • “Green foods” (2 tabs) (veggie complex)
  • Immune C (L’il Critters)  (2 chewies) = 126 mg Vit C, 3 mg Zinc = immune support
  • Fruit and Veggies (L’it Critters) (2 chewies)
  • Calcium / Vit (3 chewies) = 600 mg Calcium, 600 IU Vit D
  • Children’s Multi-vitamin (3 chewies)
  • Omega 3 Chewies (3 chewis) = apx 420 mg = for brain and mood
  • Magnesium (3 pills) = 750 mg = for mood, agitation and sleep
  • L-theanies (4 chews) = 400 mg = mood, agitation and sleep

On order

  • Vitamin B-6, B-12 & Folic Acid -Chewable

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GF / Dye-Free Christmas Cookies (and baking)

I am excited today to have my dear buddy, and fellow SN parent, Rebecca Hunter posting for me about.  Rebecca has a lot more expeince than I do in the kitchen. I have been trying to get a blog of her for a time and glad to finally have it done. 

(sorry, not the most professional decorating job here in this picture, but probably reflects your average baker)

After several of Aimee’s recent Facebook posts and my own family’s food restriction issues, I bought a set of all-natural plant-based food colorings from IndiaTree via Amazon.com and told her I would view this product for her and all of you.

A little background:  I am a 35 year old special needs mom of 3 kiddos, living in rural South Dakota.  My oldest son, Charlie (8 years), has Autism and Leaky Gut Syndrome.  Because he is highly addicted (yes, like a drug addict) to Gluten  (wheat protein) and Casein (milk protein) we have him on a totally Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet.  He has been on this diet for approx. 14 months and has been “clean & sober” since last Feb.  We can always tell when he’s gotten hold of something he’s not supposed to eat, because he begins exhibiting severe withdrawal symptoms within 3 hours of ingestion of prohibited foods.  He also reacts with hyperactivity to FD&C red, orange and yellow dyes.  My 6 year old son, Henry, has as yet undiagnosed (ADD /ADHD???). Henry reacts even more severely to food coloring, the entire spectrum including Carmel color results in not only severe hyperactivity, but also oppositional- defiance behaviors.  My youngest, almost 4 month old Anna is allergic to milk protein.  Thus as a family we are experiencing some fairly drastic food limitations.  This year is the first year I’ve felt brave enough to do much in the way of holiday baking, which for me seems strange as I am normally very accomplished in this area.  I first began decorating cakes/cookies at the age of 5 years when my mom took a Wilton Cake Decorating class and let me practice with her.  I’ve been using these skills for over 30 years, self-taught in the more advanced parts of the Wilton Method of  Pastry Arts and have been occasionally doing professional cakes for others since about the age of 15.  In 2002, I even baked & decorated my own wedding cake.

Earlier this month, Charlie had to bring 8 dozen cookies to his 1st 4-H meeting for his 4-H club annual fundraiser.  The actual baking of the cookies wasn’t really an issue (we did some Peppermint-Chocolate Chip shortbread cookies… my problems doing these were that I ran out of propane for my cook stove and was baking them 6 at a time in a small electric toaster oven!  And some “eggnog” flavored sugar cookies… just GF/CF sugar cookie dough to which we added rum extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.) Our problems came with the boys getting totally bored with plain white cookie icing.  (I did relent somewhat and said we could use the last of the sprinkles/colored sugars… just to get rid of it… I hate throwing away perfectly good baking supplies… as long as they didn’t eat any of the cookies that were decorated with them.)

After that experience, I went online to Amazon and bought a set of the India-Tree all natural plant based  food coloring (set of 3 “red” , yellow and “blue”).  When they FINALLY arrived via the mail (really the shipping was fairly prompt… no issues there…. The kids (and me too) were just chomping at the bit to play with this stuff!) and the baby was down for her evening nap, I whipped up a large batch of  poured cookie icing (aka ColorFlow icing)… this is just a Royal Icing (water, powdered sugar, meringue powder, vanilla) to which I add a little light corn syrup.  (I’ve not tried doing this icing for  those w/ egg or corn sensitivity yet, but if that is a problem one could experiment with egg replacer powder and maple or agave syrup.)  This icing is very “white” in color, so it takes quite a lot of coloring to tint it, especially in vibrant colors compared with a butter/shortening based icing.

We proceeded to try out our IndiaTree food coloring.  Overall I got the approximate results I was expecting after my years of cake decorating and my work in the last few years with using natural dyes on my llama wool and in mineral cosmetics.

The India Tree “red” food coloring is made from beets (if you’ve cooked beet you’ll know they turn everything they touch a pretty reddish pink), so I got the “Barbie pink” I was sort of expecting using the red dye at 30 drops in 2 cups of icing (I chose not to “waste” these rather expensive food colorings attempting to make this darker… who says mittens have to be red-red anyway, right?)  The yellow dye is made with cumin and tends to separate in the bottle… you really have to shake it up to emulsify this one to get an even color.  It did not take much to get a pretty yellow (10-15 drops in about a cup to cup & half of icing for a nice lemon yellow and a little less for butter yellow).  On the far right was our attempts using the blue which is made from red cabbage (this is about 35-40 drops of the “blue” in 1 ½ cups of icing)  obviously it is not really a “blue”, but we got a really pretty pale lavender with it…lovely on it’s on but it wasn’t what Henry was really wanting for snowflake cookies which he saw in a magazine I had.  In the picture our “green” looks a little more olive than it did in person.  I was quite disappointed with using this set to make green (you may or may not have the same result… I had another way to get where I wanted to go, but I’ll talk about this more in depth in a bit, I didn‘t want to use up the entire set in one night trying to get this one to green, as we have some birthdays and Valentines around the corner).  The attempt at green that we had resulting in icing in the grayish-yellow color you’d typically find on the outside of a boiled egg yolk… not really where we wanted to go for Christmas Tree and Wreath cookies… but then again after using Wilton’s Food Coloring Gels for 30 years, my standards are extremely high… I’m quite used to being able to take a paint chip sample and being table to match it with icing to an almost exact match.

In reviewing this product for you all, I’d have to say that if you have little girls or want to use this for cookies, cakes and cupcakes or whatever in the warm color spectrum from yellow , orange, pink-red, pink or purples, you’ll be really happy with the 3 color natural food coloring set from India tree.  If you  have boys who aren’t into pink/purple or want cool colors of blue and green or need Christmas red-red, black or brown (or some more unusual colors like gold or silver) look for another way to get there in advance of your baking project.

And now for the alternate method of how I got where I wanted this project of baking GF/Dye Free Christmas Cookies for the Kindergarten and 2nd grade Christmas Parties today to go.

Being too frugal to throw out our “frosting mistakes”, we used another type of product we had on hand (which most people probably don’t have in their pantry unless they also make their own mineral makeup) to tweak our “mistakes” into something we could use.  In my home-business I make goat’s milk bath/body products and also make handmade mineral makeup… so guess what groovy product I have a lot of on-hand?  If you guessed  Lip-Safe (aka edible) colored mica/mineral pigment powders, you are correct.  In years past, when I lived in Independence, MO as a teen/college student, we had a Cake Decorating Shop that carried food-grade mica and mineral pigments for this use, so I put 2+2 together and got 4.  I buy all my mica powders for making makeup from TKB Trading in California ( www.tkbtrading.com) and am friendly with the owner of this business having met Kalia at the Falls Park Farmers Market  (Sioux Falls, SD) in 2010 when she was visiting for her nephew’s wedding.  Typically lip-safe micas are used in lipstick/lip balms as well as foundation, blush, eye-shadow etc.  TKB Trading carries hundreds of these colored pigments.  Just be careful in ordering that they are all lip-safe colors if you will use them for baking/food uses and it really doesn’t take very much mica to get a nice result.  It is usually sold by the ounce and there are quite a few teaspoons of product in an ounce of mica.  Please be careful to check the additional info link on each mica color before ordering (especially the greens & blues) to verify they are lip-safe and therefore edible, as many of the purples, blues and greens are NOT LIP-SAFE because some of them contain ultramarines and/or chromium greed dioxide (these are eye, face, nail safe in makeup/nail polish, but NOT FOR LIPS/EDIBLE).

The pink we got with the India Tree dye on the left in the green container was o lovely we left it alone.  Most of the other colors (except our “green” which that gray-yellow was pretty scary looking… let‘s just say it was off putting enough you didn‘t want to eat it, especially if you still have a baby in diapers!) were pretty enough if they’d been what we were working for, but we really wanted something a little more vibrant, so we tweaked them to get where we wanted to go.

Gold icing (2nd from left) =1 cup of our India Tree yellow icing + 1 tsp of TKB Trading’s “Gold Basics” mica powder
Christmas Tree Green icing =  (20 drops India Tree yellow + 30 drops India Tree blue = grey-yellow “green”) + 2 tsp TKB Trading’s  “Green Apple Pop” mica (lip-safe green)  + 1 tsp TKB Trading “Blueberry Pop” mica (lip-safe blue)  Please note: I think you could skip the India Tree color in this one, use just a bit more mica and get a similar result.

Light blue icing = 1 ½ cups of our lavender (30 drops India Tree blue) icing + 2 tsp TKB’s Blueberry Pop mica powder

Christmas Red icing = 2 oz our India Tree dark pink icing + 1 tsp TKB’s Colorona Bordeaux mica (*TKB has a number of gorgeous reds to choose from that will get you in the red color group with your icing… however if you are vegetarian, please check the additional info link to double check the red you are ordering is a vegan pigment.) 

Silver Icing= 2 cups icing (w 30 drops India Tree blue) + 2 to 3 tsp. TKB’s Polished Silver mica + 1 tsp TKB’s  Pearl Basics mica.

One of the nicest things I found in my experiment of using my mica powders to tint icing was that in  Royal Icing or Colorflow cookie icing we got a slight shimmering  finish because the mica itself reflects light, so you can get “metallic” and satiny finishes with this method of coloring.

If I still just had all boys (and with all my nieces living far away), I probably would not consider ordering the India Tree food coloring again, because I can get Valentine‘s pinks and reds other ways.  But now that we’ve recently added a daughter to our family, I will probably order it again for the girly girl stuff, as it was easy to use and less messy to work with (the micas are easier to spill unless you also get some little jars to store them in … and if somebody sneezes there is going to be a big mess to clean up… happened several times as I have a cold right now.)

**Please verify all mica’s you order don’t contain epoxy (some of the duo-chrome micas do have this and I don’t recommend using them in lipstick or food), don’t contain FD&C dyes (as a few of TKB’s micas do) and that none of the mica’s you order contain bismuth (main ingredient in Pepto Bismol, and many people have sensitivity to it on the skin.)

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I love this message

In reading today I came across, again, the letter Sarah Palin crafted for her family, about Trig.   Originally this message came out in the “secret e-mail” scandal.  The UK Daily Mail printed it; a letter Palin sent to her family; framed as a message about the blessing of Trig from God. 

I simply can not read this message and not cry.  I had to share it here, for all my momma buddies.  it is not new and i did not create it, but i do love it.

To the Sisters, Brother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends of Trig Paxson Van Palin (or whatever you end up naming him!):

I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you. I’ve heard your prayers that this baby will be happy and healthy, and I’ve answered them because I only want the best for you!

I heard your heart when you hinted that another boy would fit best in the Palin family, to round it out and complete that starting five line-up. Though another girl would be so nice, you didn’t think you could ask for what you REALLY wanted, but I knew, so I gave you a boy because I only want the best for you!

Then, I put the idea in your hearts that his name should be “Trig”, because it’s so fitting, with two Norse meanings: “True” and “Brave Victory”. You also have a Bristol Bay relative with that name, so I knew it would be best for you!

Then, I let Trig’s mom have an exceptionally comfortable pregnancy so she could enjoy every minute of it, and I even seemed to rush it along so she could wait until near the end to surprise you with the news – that way Piper wouldn’t have so long to wait and count down so many days – just like Christmastime when you have to wait, impatiently, for that special day to finally open your gift? (Or the way the Palins look forward to birthday celebrations that go on for three, four days… you all really like cake .) I know you, I knew you’d be better off with just a short time to wait!

Then, finally, I let Trig’s mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT. They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for. At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing . But I gave Trig’ s mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!

I’ve given Trig’s mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that. I’ll give all of you the same happy anticipation and strength to deal with Trig’s challenges, but I won’t impose on you…

I just need to know you want to receive my offer to be with all of you and help you everyday to make Trig’s life a great one.

This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters . The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven’t experienced yet. He’ll show you what “true, brave victory” really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is “normal” or “perfect”. You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will be born along with Trig.

Trig will be his dad’s little buddy and he’ll wear Carhartts while he learns to tinker in the garage. He’ll love to be read to, he’ll want to play goalie, and he’ll steal his mom’s heart just like Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper did. And Trig will be the cuddly, innocent, mischievous, dependent little brother that his siblings have been waiting for in fact Trig will – in some diagnostic ways – always be a mischievous, dependent little brother, because I created him a bit different than a lot of babies born into this world today.

Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it “Down’s Syndrome”, and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!

Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!

Trig’s mom and dad don’t want people to focus on the baby’s extra chromosome. They’re human, so they haven’t known how to explain this to people who are so caring and are interested in this new little Alaskan. Sarah and Todd want people to share in the joy of this gift I’m giving to the Palin family, and the greater Alaska family. Many people won’t understand… and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won’t be considered “perfect” in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider “perfect” or even “normal” anyway? Have you peeked down any grocery store isle, or school hallway, or into your office lunchroom lately? Or considered the odd celebrities you celebrate as “perfect” on t.v.? Have you noticed I make `em all shapes and sizes? Believe me ,, there is no “perfect”!)

Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.

I know it will take time to grasp this and come to accept that I only want the best for you, and I only give my best. Remember though: “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!”

I wrote that all down for you in the Good Book ! Look it up! You claim that you believe me – now it’s time to live out that belief!

Please look to me as this new challenge and chapter of life unfolds in front of you. I promise to equip you. I won’t give you anything you can’t handle. I am answering your prayers. Trig can’t wait to meet you. I’m giving you ONLY THE BEST!

Love,

Trig’s Creator , Your Heavenly Father

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