In Memoriam

My Papa died tonight.  He was an amazing man and I was lucky enough to call him my grandfather.  I will always remember his wit and charm, his love of family and sports, as well as his perfectly coiffed hair 🙂

I was fortunate enough to visit with him this morning before his failing lungs and the morphine took his voice.  He told me I was a wonderful mother, and I told him it was because I had great role models.

As I looked into my son’s eyes tonight I was filled with both sadness and hope.  Sadness that my son will not remember his Papa.  But hope that a new generation will continue on and grow into a man as equally amazing as my Papa was.  It’s corny, but as I look at Trevor and grieve the loss of my Papa, I’m reminded of the “Lion King” and the great circle of life.  If it wasn’t for death we wouldn’t have life.  I hope that if I remember that then the sadness won’t overcome me.  And I know too that he is at peace now.  He can breathe again and is looking down at his family and smiling.

I love you Papa.

Christmas 2011 - So lucky we could spend it with Papa and Nan

Therapy Thursday: Bubble Wrap!

Here’s a new post, just in time for the holidays.  You know all the bubble wrap that your packages get shipped in or your new gifts are wrapped in?  Well don’t throw it out!  Reuse it.  Your child will benefit from the fine motor therapy and the planet will benefit from some recycling.  Well, at least until all of the bubbles are popped and it goes into the trash anyway 🙂  Popping bubble wrap is a great activity to help strengthen the hand muscles.  Also, it’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to hear that bubble go “POP!”

Tasty Tuesday: Goldfish Cracker Crumb Chicken Strips

This is for all the moms out there who have a kid who LOVES something one day, and the next day could care less about it.  For awhile Trevor was really into Goldfish crackers as his go-to snack food, so I bought a giant container of them.  Of course once you buy the value-size package of anything your kid is bound to go on a strike of that food/toy/activity.  Since the goldfish crackers were reaching their expiration date I searched online and found this great recipe using crushed goldfish crackers.  And the bonus of using soon-to-be-stale food is that this recipe only has 3 ingredients.  Now that’s my kind of meal 🙂

What you need:

  • Goldfish crackers (about 2 cups crushed)
  • Ranch dressing
  • Chicken breasts (or chicken tenders)

How to make it:

  1. Pour ranch dressing into a shallow dish.
  2. Crush goldfish crackers and put those in another shallow dish.
  3. Cut chicken breasts into strips (if you’re using tenders you can obviously skip this step).
  4. Coat a chicken strip in the ranch dressing, shaking off the excess.
  5. Coat the dressing-covered strip with the goldfish cracker crumbs.
  6. Place chicken in a greased baking dish.
  7. Repeat steps 4 -6 until all chicken has been used.
  8. Put baking dish in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until done.

These chicken strips were so delicious.  I usually take  pictures of what I’m cooking if I’m going to blog about the recipe, but Trevor was distracting me while I was cooking, and there were no leftovers to take pictures of.  You’ll just have to trust that I made this recipe without photo evidence, haha.  They were super yummy 🙂

Make-It Monday: Styrofoam Christmas Tree and Paper Plate Wreath

We made several more Christmas crafts over the last couple of weeks.  I thought I’d share 2 of our favorite ones with you 🙂

Styrofoam Christmas Tree

What you need:

For the tree:

  • Styrofoam cone
  • Green paint
  • Pine needles (optional)
  • Green glitter

For the star:

  • Foil
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Toothpick

For the skirt:

  • Felt (or paper)
  • Stickers

How to make it:

The tree:

  1. Paint Styrofoam cone with green paint (we used our hands and some cut Christmas tree branches to do this)
  2. Add the pine needles and glitter while paint is still wet.
  3. When dry, add star and set on tree skirt.

The star:

  1. Draw a star shape on cardboard.
  2. Cut out.
  3. Wrap and glue foil around toothpick.
  4. Add glue to one side of cardboard star and stick to foil sheet.
  5. Put foil-covered toothpick on top of the other side of the cardboard star.
  6. Add glue to second side of star/toothpick and top with foil.
  7. Cut out finished star shape.

Tree skirt:

  1. Cut a circle out of felt (or use paper).
  2. Decorate with stickers, or whatever else you wish to use.

It makes a great centerpiece!

—–

Paper Plate Wreath

What you need:

  • Paper plate
  • Glue
  • Green tissue paper, torn into pieces
  • Stickers
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon

How to make it:

  1. Cut the inner part of the paper plate out, leaving the outer ring intact.
  2. Spread some glue on the paper plate ring.
  3. Press the green tissue paper pieces into the glue (you can do this one at a time, or follow Trevor’s lead and dump the container of tissue paper pieces on your plate and cover it in one fell swoop).
  4. Once the tissue paper has been glued down, add your stickers (or any other decorations you’d like.  Trevor was only interested in stickers the day we did this.  I also set out pom poms and tinsel, but he wasn’t interested in those).
  5. Add some more glue over the top of your decorated wreath, and sprinkle glitter over the top.
  6. Once dry, hang with a ribbon.

Therapy Thursday: Wheelbarrow Walk

As I’ve said before, one of Trevor’s biggest obstacles in gaining new gross motor skills is his lack of core strength.  His poor trunk control even affects gaining new fine motor skills, because when he’s sitting his body is working so hard just to sit that he has a hard time being precise with his hands.  One of the exercises we are doing to help strengthen his trunk is the Wheelbarrow Walk.  The Wheelbarrow Walk is also helpful for kids with sensory issues, as it helps stimulate the vestibular and proprioceptive senses.  I hold Trevor at his hips to do this, as his trunk control is so poor.  But as he gets stronger (or if your child has better core strength than mine), you can support him  further down the legs – at the thighs, knees, shins, ankles, and eventually feet, as control improves.

Tasty Tuesday: Peppermint Bark

With Christmas less than 2 weeks away I was looking for a yummy recipe to make holiday gifts for all of Trevor’s teachers and therapists.  They work hard and are so helpful that I wanted to show my appreciation.  I found this recipe for peppermint bark and decided it would make a great gift.

What You Need:

  • 1 bag chocolate chips (I used a bag each of dark and white chocolate)
  • 5 candy canes, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

How to Make It:

  1. Melt the chocolate chips according to package directions.
  2. Stir in the peppermint extract.
  3. Spread the melted chocolate onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
  4. Crush the candy canes (I put them in 2 Ziploc baggies and pounded them with an ice cream scoop.  Great therapy, BTW!)
  5. Sprinkle the crushed candy on top.
  6. Place in freezer for 5 minutes, or until hardened.
  7. Break into pieces.

Melted chocolate…yum!

Chocolate spread, candy canes sprinkled, and ready to go in the freezer:

The chocolate has hardened and it’s ready to be broken into bark:

All broken up and ready to be devoured, I mean boxed up and given away 🙂

Don’t forget about the white chocolate peppermint bark too:

I also made peanut butter bark by melting Reese’s peanut butter chips and sprinkling crushed Reese’s on top:

I boxed the bark up into those reusable plastic containers that lunch meat comes in.  I separated the layers of bark with more waxed paper.

And remember those Cinnamon Dough Ornaments we made?  Well I painted the backs of some of them with red acrylic paint and wrote thank you messages on them with silver pen for all 6 of the people on Trevor’s team that I wanted to thank (those are his PT, OT, SLP, teacher, swim teacher, and FRC).

Then I wrapped the boxed bark in plastic tissue paper (that Trevor picked out) and attached the cinnamon dough ornaments with ribbon.

Everyone loved their gifts and they were fairly simple to make.  The peppermint bark was so delicious.  I’m definitely going to make more so that we can enjoy some before the holidays are over!

Sensational Saturday: Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

You gotta love when you get fun therapy assignments, and from 2 different therapists to boot!  Trevor is supposed to work with different types of dough to help build up his fine motor strength as well as improve hand-eye coordination and work on sensory integration.  Since Christmas is almost here and he loved making the Salt Dough Ornaments, we decided to make Cinnamon Dough Ornaments as well.  Trevor loved this project!  And he ate so much dough, he smelled like cinnamon for hours afterward, lol 🙂

What you need:

  • Cinnamon
  • Applesauce

Yep, 2 ingredients is really all you need!

How to Make It:

  1. Mix together equal parts applesauce and cinnamon until a dough forms.
  2. Roll or pat the dough flat.
  3. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
  4. Poke a hole in the top of each one so that you can hang them.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet and let dry.  (Ours took a few days to dry)

These are so easy to make!  To make one cookie sheet full of ornaments we used one cup of applesauce and one cup of cinnamon.

Tasting the applesauce:

Watching the cinnamon get measured out:

Tasting the cinnamon:

Playing with the dough:

Smelling the dough (it smells soooo yummy!):

Making ornaments:

Enjoying making a mess with the dough:

After adding some sprinkles, we let them dry:

When they were dry I added ornaments hooks and hung them on the tree with Trevor’s salt dough ornaments:

Trevor had so much fun doing this, we might even make more before Christmas is here!

Therapy Thursday: It’s My (Christmas) Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To

Today Trevor went to a Christmas party thrown by his Early Intervention Program, the Progress Center.  As much as I’d like to write that Trevor had a blast, I can’t.    He did have fun decorating a picture frame…

And eating a cookie…

…but other than that he had a hard time.  He couldn’t do the cake walk, or make an evergreen centerpiece, or sit with Santa.  He was just too overwhelmed by the lights and noise and people.  It hurts my heart that he has so much trouble in large crowds and unfamiliar places (the party wasn’t at Progress Center, but at a different location).  And of course he even had trouble doing the things he wanted to do – decorating the frame and eating the cookie – because he has a difficult time sitting in a regular chair by himself.  Ugh.  All I want for Christmas is for my baby boy to be able to go to a Christmas party and enjoy himself the entire time!

—–

He did love the decorations though.  He fell in love with this moose:

And kept giving it hugs:

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Chicken Fajitas

Time to share another tasty (and easy) recipe.  I found it here.  It’s called Baked Chicken Fajitas.

What you need:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 t. salt

How to make it:

1.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish

2.  Cut your chicken into chunks or strips and add to the dish, along with the onion, pepper, tomatoes, and green chiles.  (Since I hate cutting up onions I always cheat and buy the frozen, pre-chopped ones.  I added about a cup of those.  I also used pre-chopped frozen bell peppers.  Yep, I’m lazy, lol)

3.  In a small bowl mix together the oil (I used olive oil instead of regular vegetable oil), and your spices.

4.  Pour the oil/spice mixture over your chicken/veggie mix and stir to coat.

5.  Pop that into a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the veggies are heated.  (Since I used frozen veggies and my chicken wasn’t quite defrosted – again, I’m a slacker – it took 35 minutes to cook.)  Doesn’t that look delicious?  I love that the picture captured the steam rising off of it – just like the sizzling fajitas they serve at restaurants!

6.  Serve, topped with cheese, on warmed tortillas.  And if you plate it up with some homemade refried beans and Spanish rice?  Yeah, you’re in spicy heaven 🙂

Make-It Monday: Salt Dough Ornaments

Trevor is so in love with our Christmas tree.  He enjoys looking at all of the ornaments, so it inspired me to let him make some ornaments of his own.  That way, if he wanted to play with them, he could!  I searched online and found this recipe for salt dough ornaments.

What you need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup warm water

How to make them:

  1. Mix together the flour and salt.
  2. Add in the warm water and combine the ingredients until a dough forms.
  3. Lay the dough on a floured surface (or use a Silpat like we did).
  4. Roll or pat the dough flat.
  5. Using cookie cutters, cut out designs for your ornaments.
  6. Put cut-out dough on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  7. Using a toothpick, poke a hole in the top of each ornament so you can hang them.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 4 hours, or until hardened.
  9. Once cool, decorate them however you’d like (We used fingerpaints and glitter).
  10. Attach ornament hooks or ribbon, and hang on your tree 🙂

Trevor and I had so much fun making these ornaments together!

Checking out our supplies:

He thought the flour/salt mix needed to make friends with the cookie cutters:

Helping Mommy pat the dough flat:

It’s no fun unless you eat some dough:

Choosing a cookie cutter:

Pushing the cookie cutters in the dough:

All ready to go in the oven:

Checking out the baked ornaments for the first time:

Time to paint!  I had brushes and sponges set out for him to use, but he decided to dip them in the paint instead.  I love when he guides the project in his own direction.

He was having so much fun dipping them in the plate of paint that I had to get a second plate for him so that he’d have more room:

Because an art project isn’t complete without a little glitter:

The finished ornaments, complete with hooks.  (After the paint dried I added a coat of Mod Podge so that the paint and glitter wouldn’t come off when Trevor handled them):

Checking out his beautiful creations:

LOVE that cheese face 🙂

Showing Mommy where to hang an ornament:

Trevor and Sadie checking out his finished Christmas tree: