Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The hope of babble breaks

Princess triplet surprised me yesterday when I realized her normal babble of "Princeeze" had actually broken into "I didn't do it, I didn't do it" in English. It took a second or two to realize that's a line from The Polar Express which she hasn't seen in a week or so. Rather than say this is an autistic behavior of random language usage, I'm choosing to believe she was actually asking to watch the movie. Does an out of context full sentence count as a child using sentences? Maybe not, but it does give me room for hope.

Hope is one thing I've really started to embrace in this land of special needs where I live and raise my kids. It's always a little different in families where there are kids with special needs and as parents we can often feel isolated (usually not in a good way). Lately I've been trying hard to switch my perspective on the toughest parts of the daily parenting experience of kids with autism (of preschoolers with autism, of triplets - 2 of whom seem to be in perpetual toddlerhood). Switching my perspective means looking at the things that drive me crazy, switching the lens, and choosing to see a benefit within the struggle itself. Suddenly this lens change, this change of perspective has brought me more into hope overall. It's also allowed me to see that as a special needs parent, I get to hugely celebrate the littlest milestones of my kids without anyone groaning. Nobody minds when we throw hopeful parties over here.

So yesterday's (and today's so far) hopeful party was all because of a break in babble, a break in babble into English.

And guess what? It doesn't matter how irritating that kid is in The Polar Express who repeatedly says, "I didn't do it." I can hear that from my Princess triplet for the next 2 days straight and be really excited about beginning speech patterns every single time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Up to my ears

Click here to get Images & Strawberries Pictures - Pictures
in berries!

My wonderful mother-in-law knows how much her granddaughters love strawberries. Yesterday she made sure we got 4 quarts of ripe berries that need to be used fairly quickly. Since my girls like muffins and the like, I started poking around for a yummy strawberry muffin recipe. Here's what hit our fancy this morning. And I think strawberry cream cheese spread might be awesome instead of butter :-)

A few notes: I used olive oil instead of canola. I added some milk because it seemed way too dry. Others on the site chose to reduce the amount of flour. I also saw later that others had added some vanilla into the mix, and I wish I had thought to do that. I also added some flax seed meal in the mix for its overall health benefits. For me, the recipe filled a standard 12-cup muffin pan, and we still have 5 muffins left for later this week. In this large family home, I really LOVE recipes that are easy to double, but I don't like to double on the first try. This one is a keeper, and I will double it the next time.

Print Recipe

Strawberry Muffins

Course: Breads
Serves: 8


  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oil an 8 cup muffin tin, or use paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oil, milk, and egg. Beat lightly. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Toss in chopped strawberries and stir to coat with flour. Pour in milk mixture and stir together.
  3. Fill muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 minutes, or until the tops bounce back from the touch. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 233
Fat: 8.2g
Cholesterol: 28mg
Sodium: 283mg
Carbohydrate: 35.9g
Fiber: 1.1g
Protein: 4.2g

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The dreaded A word

Stress and the Tripped Up Family seem to go together like peas and carrots, as Forest Gump would say. It's right up there in the header, in the mathematical problem we use to describe us. (3 cats + 1 teen girl + ggg toddler triplets + 1 computer geek dad + 1 writer mom) When you add all of our variables up, even on our best days, we end up with a medium to high stress quotient. And now we just walked some more stressors right in through the front door, or perhaps we just better defined ones that have been here for a while.

I've been tipping my hand on Twitter with this but haven't blogged about it because we didn't have any official statement. Now we do. Yes, the A word is part of our world. Can you guess it? Since April is Autism Awareness Month, it's probably not a huge leap to go to the word autism. Yes, you'd be right with that thought, although sometimes I think it can also be Anger, Anxiety, Apprehension, Alarm, Aversion and many other adjectives describing the mixed emotions of getting an autism diagnosis.

Since the triplets were about 15 months old, I've had concerns about their speech development and actually other potential delays. Ultimately we contacted the Early Intervention group in our state to see if there were delays. Indeed there were. We began the suggested programs for them at 19 months. We've been actively involved with the Early Childhood Special Education programs in our public school district ever since and our entry point with all of this was the label Early Childhood Developmental Delay for all three.

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The dreaded A word has always been in the back of my head. We mentioned it here and there to various professionals connected to our kids, but until recently, were always told things like: "they're triplets," "they were preemies," "they probably have their own language," "they'll catch up," "every child progresses at their own rate" etc. If only it were that easy. Finally, I saw an article with a list of autism symptoms in bullet points, and I realized that our Princess triplet had some levels of every single one. Additionally, our Angel triplet also had some of the symptoms. My head was filled with raging questions: Why do we assume they're exempt from autism again? Why is that word never brought up by any of the professionals working with us again? This led Tripped Up Daddy and me into a new season of more dedicated advocacy for our children, which brought us to an autism center where we received a provisional Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis for both Princess and Angel triplets.

So there it is, the A word. There really wasn't any shock connected with it. In some ways, there was relief. At last, I could acknowledge there was something going on beyond the "they're triplets" and "they aren't parented the same way as singletons are." (A fancy way of saying - you're not a great parent, but you have triplets so we can't really fault you too much) Finally, I could cut myself a break and realize it wasn't because it's impossible to parent multiples utilizing the best practice techniques that child educators, pediatricians, child psychologists and speech pathologists recommend for singletons. I could stop blaming myself for the lack of one-on-one time, for too much PBS or other TV, for not providing enough freedom for them earlier to encourage exploration, and on and on and on.(Oh by the way, if there are best practice parenting techniques for parenting multiples, somebody send me the list or link, I'm afraid I've lost my copy).

In mid February we changed the preschool for Angel and Princess triplets to one where they will have more intensive services. We're already seeing improvements in regard to an interest in socialization and attempts at communication. These are positive signs. Our little girls need additional intensive therapy that our insurance currently will not cover, but because of some changes in Michigan law, we expect it to be covered in January. We hope we can provide enough early intervention through school and at home in the meantime so Angel and Princess will have the best possible outcomes.

The dreaded A word in our world comes with a lot of baggage. I'm realizing lately that I can choose for that A word to be Awesome and Amazing as I look at the progress my daughters make each day. For they do make progress and because of how much work each step takes, we have the opportunity to celebrate much more often than you might with a neurotypical child. (NT for short - you see, I'm already learning a whole new language with this diagnosis.)

I have much to learn about autism itself and how it presents in each of my daughters. You know the old saying "if you've seen one, you've seen them all?" Autism is not like that. If you've met a person with autism, you can say, "I've met one person with autism and seen it manifested in one way." The recent statistics from the CDC say 1 in 88 children have autism - 1 in 252 girls more specifically. Each of those cases is incredibly unique - just as unique as our Princess is from Angel.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tasty Thursday - Macaroni Beef Skillet Supper

Now that I am a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) and anticipate becoming more of a Work at Home Mom (WAHM) someday, I realize how much my life revolves around FOOD. Whether it's the planning of a meal, the serving of it, the food consumption management for the speech delayed triplets (this is a whole thing really, and I'll probably do a whole post on it soon) or the cleaning up after it, FOOD takes up hour after hour of every day, I swear.

I think every mom is constantly on the lookout for recipes that are healthy, quick, and tasty. If you can add to your "go-to" recipe box, you would right? So that's what today's post is about - a go-to recipe for your basic hamburger (or ground turkey, ground chicken - I've substituted both before and it works great). This dish is endlessly variable and makes a great starting point when you have to answer the "what's for dinner" question quickly. I personally like to add more Worcestershire sauce than it calls for. I always use fresh mushrooms, like mini bellas, and I often will throw in some veggies hoping my children will end up eating them without even knowing it. Modify it as you wish - add different spices - whatever you'd like. I just firmly believe this is one of those basic recipes you simply have to have in your head/recipe box. I've made this entree regularly since the late 80s, and it originally came from a grocery store recipe handout that the American Heart Association put together. So here it is, a go-to meal that all my kids will eat, is cheap, relatively healthy and easy. Sounds like a Tasty Thursday to me!

Macaroni Beef Skillet Supper

Rich and flavorful!
Source: American Heart Association (Words Worth Eating)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Cook Time:
45 Min

Total Time:
45 Min
Serves: 8


  • 1 Cup Elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 Cup onions diced
  • 1 clove garlic mashed
  • 2 tablespoons vegtable oil
  • 2 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon italian seasoning


  1. Cook the macaroni in boiling water according ot package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Saute the meat, onion and garlic in oil until the meat loses its pink color and the onions are tender. Add pepper, tomato sauce, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the cooked macaroni and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Amount Per Serving

Calories: 270

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The myth of parental control

You know those moments when you're feeling confident, seeing connections being made on little faces and are rewarded with a beautiful smile? Those moments when you say “I can do this! And why in the world did I think raising triplets and dealing with developmental delays was so hard?” Then you walk out of the bathroom holding the hand of a clean toddler whose teeth are freshly brushed only to discover another 3-year-old also had a discovery of her own, which left a trail of your morning coffee all along the kitchen floor, dripping down the counters through every crack and crevice? 

And there she is looking out the window, cup still in hand. It’s then you realize, as you are cleaning the “thank God it was already cold” coffee up on your hands and knees with paper towel because the mop is just too far away to grab, that not only does your floor need a better soap than coffee, but you also need a 24-hour maid. 

Then the next realization comes, the one that again admits defeat and says, parental control and 3-year-olds don’t even belong in the same sentence. At that point you clearly understand that the only parents who believe in parental control are those who HAD 3 year olds... emphasis on HAD... like maybe 3 or 4 years ago or 3 or 4 decades ago, and have forgotten reality. Or, maybe they never had 3-year-olds at all, perhaps their children miraculously went from innocent, delightful cooing baby to adorable pre-schooler in one fell swoop, skipping toddlerhood altogether. (I don't know what pill they gave their kids, but I might pay big money for one to make that happen. Of course, I probably couldn't afford it anyway since I'd have to buy it bulk to provide to the multiples crew that roams this house.)
30 seconds alone with a purple marker

It reminds me of the mom who went to the bathroom, leaving her 3-year-old and 1-1/2 year old to fend for themselves for about 5 minutes apparently much too close to a 5 lb bag of flour. I know many people believe this particular video was staged, and I won’t comment on that, but I do know what my own Sunshine triplet did with a simple purple marker just during the time I typed in “3 year old flour mess” into youtube to find the video.

Perhaps the naysayers and disbelievers have never met my Angel triplet, or any strong-willed toddler, or any exploring toddler for that matter. You see, my own mother has a story that involves flour and herself at about 2 or 3 years old. Back in the 1930s in a farming community of northern Wisconsin, my grandmother bought flour in bulk (20 lb bags) and kept the bag in her bedroom closet because she didn't have room in her kitchen. One day, my mother, little Jeanie, was playing in her mom and dad's bedroom. Can you tell where this is going? Little Jeanie had created a whole town with hills, roads, a school, a church. The building medium? Lovely white flour, found magically within reach in the closet. Thankfully she didn't think to mix it with water. It's a story I've heard for years.

These moments happen every single day here. It keeps me humble. It keeps me grateful that I don’t have to be perfect, and that I happen to believe progress is actually made in our human weakness, thank you Jesus. But I won’t say it’s not frustrating. Thankfully I have Tripped Up Daddy who knows how the chaos can be debilitating and will take 10 minutes before leaving for work to help clean up a mess here and there, just to make my day easier. 

Then there’s posts like Let's Stop with the Mom Guilt by The Happiest Mom Meagan Francis that also reminds me to ditch the negativity and frustration to the curb (as far as this pastor’s daughter and former Catholic organization employee can actually do).

In any event, I do understand that someday I will have parental control over my 3-year-olds. You know, about 3 or 4 decades AFTER they’re through the 3-year-old stage, when I have managed to remember life a little differently.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What do you do while they're in school?

The day is a race from 7:00 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. - sometimes it starts earlier, but somehow it never means I've gotten ahead of the curve. It's still a race to get three 3-year-olds fed breakfast, dressed, diapered, fed lunch, cleaned up and off onto the school bus.

Here's a look at today's last sprint, actually, right before finish line, a race that made me email Tripped Up Daddy demanding a medal, more money, better benefits, or at least lots of presents. Be forewarned: Motherhood is messy, sometimes it takes a lot more than Bissell to clean it up.

Time: 10:50 to 10:55 (I like them to be sitting down for lunch by 11 - I'm running a little late, but it's because I've been playing with them & I know lunch will be quick to do) - bus comes at 11:40 (may be late, but you always have to be ready by 11:40).

Princess has already taken her pants off, which should have been the tip off, but I knew she was just wet. I was changing Angel's dirty diaper, getting her dressed and her hair done (which is long and curly). Just about to shift to Princess (she was already dressed before breakfast because of an accident I discovered with her sleeper/diaper when I got her up earlier). I suddenly realized why her now dirty diaper smelled so bad. It wasn't so much in the diaper as it was a toddler/preschool version of play doh or modeling clay. All over her hands, bare legs, around her mouth, all of her shirt filled with it, piles on the living room floor, Tripped Up Daddy's favorite floor pillow... all that was lacking was some hay or straw and I would have been sure we lived in a barn. 

"Oh dear Lord, please show me how to best handle this one the most efficiently and with the most love for my daughters - without throwing up." (I think it became a recurring prayer through the rest of the race today and I must say it did calm me down).


11:20 - Princess has had a quick bath (which she hated because there were no toys and mommy kept saying "we don't play in poopy"), new clothes on (for her & me), floor is mostly cleaned up, do Princess's hair amidst major tears while everyone watches Sid on PBS.

11:30 - Lunch is mac & cheese (leftover from yesterday, which only Princess really touched today) and goldfish, which everyone ate, plus whatever drink I can get my hands on. I know, it's the model of pure healthy food choices for my kids. Socks and lace-up hiking boots going on children as they eat. 

11:40 - Sunshine and Angel in coats, clean up Princess from lunch and put on coat. Sing all possible verses to the Wheels on the Bus while holding Princess's hand to keep her from scrounging off from the still messy table. (Perhaps you see the theme that Princess is our sensory focused child who is about as far from potty training as you can imagine. All of my girls have some delays in development, but Angel and Princess are still learning how to follow basic instructions. Sometimes the delays get a little challenging - you feel like you're raising kids who are at 18 months or 2 years sometimes in a 3 year old body, but I digress.)

11:43 - Bus arrives, open front door (work chain and deadbolt while commanding attention of all 3 so they don't run away into kitchen, or other parts of the house). Sunshine goes ahead out the door, sits down to get down the first step of our porch, does the next 2, then is off and running to the bus. Thank God the bus driver expects her to do that, is right at the bus steps encouraging her and ready to help. (Perhaps now I should mention we live on a well-traveled street, and I'm really thankful for the lights on the bus that cause motorists to at least be on the lookout for children traveling to the bus). I hold Princess and Angel's hands, helping them climb down the stairs and walk them to the bus.

The answer to my demand for a  medal
11:47 - Back in the house, deep breath, email Tripped Up Daddy demanding some kind of kudos and now... I have a disaster to clean up - and the teens (mine & her best friend who hangs with us most every day for a couple of hours) get here at 3 (better if it's clean by then). 

But first, I will take a lunch break - 30 min. to an hour - after all, no one's here. And the disaster? I think it will still be there when I'm done recovering.