Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Check us out on The Mighty

So, so excited to be a featured post today on The Mighty. This website is all about creating a community focused on changing the perspective on disability. Proud to be part of that today!…/why-i-wave-goodbye-to-my-daughters-…/

The unedited version of this post was my Mother's Day gift to other parents of special needs kids and is featured in Happy Dream & Wave Bye Bye.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tripped Up Daddy's new DIY project - Fireplace

He's so proud of the progress on the new fireplace treatment that he didn't want to go to bed last night. He just wanted to sit and look at his work. All we need now are the fluted pieces to make the sides look like columns, one cut tile for the left bottom side, the mantel shelf, and the painting job.

So, what color should the surround and the mantel shelf be painted? Options are:
  • White
  • Black
What color should the flourishes (on top and corners of surround) be?
  • Blend in with the surround's color (if it's white, they're white, if black they're black)
  • Sharply contrast with surround's color (if it's white, they're black, if black, they're white)
  • Stain the flourishes so there is slight contrast (probably a cherry stain or red oak stain - something to pull out the red of the tile).
  • Paint the flourishes a darker green than the room will be painted ultimately.
It's currently brick painted white but badly in need of re-paint or a change. Please provide thoughts on that as well.

Notes on room overall:
  • Hearth is brick painted white, but badly in need of re-paint (or a change).
  • End tables and coffee table are black and will stay that way. All incorporate tan/dark brown wicker baskets as part of the tables.
  • Black shadow boxes on wall next to fireplace (shown slightly in pic) will be moving to another wall.
  • We expect to paint the livingroom green (probably a version of sage, not hunter) and may use some shades of burgundy/brick red as accent colors.
  • Furniture is still old and will be changing, but for now it's shades of green and brown. 
  • Trim in room is white and the large picture window has a green curtain (a dark sage green).

You can give us your ideas via the comments here or email and we will post the finished photos as soon as project is complete.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa brought Mrs. Claus breakfast in bed this Christmas Eve

Apparently there are benefits to being the only one who wraps gifts and stays up to the wee hours to do it. Who knew?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Enjoy the smiles! The photo challenges of families impacted by autism.

Photos and autistics do not go together like peas and carrots - at least not in my experience. School photos, while always getting the best look of Sunshine triplet (who NEVER takes a bad picture ever) are generally crap shoots for Princess and Angel triplets. Catching Princess triplet in a candid smiling photo is also ever elusive.

A super fun time at Christmas tree farm.
That's why when I come across photos like the candids shot by a teacher during a class field trip, I can't help but want to share them EVERYWHERE. It's a natural, smiling shot of Princess triplet with her looking straight into the lens - great eye contact. This almost NEVER happens and this slice of HAPPINESS is too good to hide.

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with photos, not just with trying to get the typical picture postcard photo that in my world is a pot of gold found via rainbow, but also with the whole expectation for even owning that type of photo. I have young triplets, two of them have autism. I have a huge age gap between my oldest and my youngest three children and no one in between. On good days, Tripped Up Daddy and I can look more like grandparents than just older parents, because, well, we're just plain tired. Everything about our family is a little, well, a little odd. We don't fit into a box and sometimes I think photographers have a really hard time knowing how to even start with us.

Trips at two
So when there's a nice candid shot that I love, I share. And to other families who are impacted by autism, I strongly suggest seeking out a photographer who can also be a friend in your little world. You can achieve fun, beautiful, and honest photos that capture the loving memories of your family, but I think you need a photographer that will sign up for the long haul of a long-term relationship with you to make that happen.

Family pic - 2010
The endless tries to get 3 posed
on a couch at 3 years old.
Check with your local autism support groups for recommendations, interview photographers, check with friends, interview again, ask if you can do a trial run to help your kiddos get used to the whole idea. If you find a photographer who will come to your home, where your family will feel the most comfortable, that is invaluable. NEVER lose that photographer's number.

Family pic - 2012
I'm lucky. I have Sandra Ellen who I attended college with. Photography is her business, I'm just lucky enough to also have a relationship with her and she gets my family. I never had to go out looking for just the right photographer, she was right there waiting for me to call her. You may not be that lucky, but trust me, it's worth so much to develop a great photographer relationship.

Trips at 4

Sunshine triplet - 4
Lotte - Senior pic
Princess triplet - 4

Angel triplet - 4

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Little better every year

Caught our Mina kitty in mid-stretch.
So Lotte's home for a few days. She was pleasantly surprised to see the tree already up! Her quote? "It looks a little better every year, Mom." 

Better, as in not Occupy Christmas Tree anymore.

Christmas in the life with triplets, autism,and kindergartners.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our #AutismChampions!

The little girls are getting some attention on Twitter today :-) That's great because they're all Champions! It's part of a trend started by Autism Speaks to show our wonderful kiddos and all that they do and how amazing they are.

If you are against Autism Speaks for whatever reason and therefore think I'm horrible for participating in this PR/Awareness endeavor, please know I see many sides of the issues and would refer you to this well written post. Perhaps there's room for all of us and all of our shades of disagreement/agreement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When I said "let's talk," I meant "I will hurt you!"

It's a simple grocery store trip, well, as simple as running errands when triplets and autism are included as factors. But seriously, HAPPINESS is reigning, AND oh by the way, it's an after-school/before dinner errand - smack in the middle of the nightmare hours (4-6 pm). All is well, we even see one triplet's kindergarten teacher upon entering the store which makes said triplet giddy.

Then I decide to get smart, maybe smarter than you ever should be. Halloween is just two days away, and we haven't made it to the pumpkin patch yet. So I think, "I'll just pay for 3 grocery store pumpkins and then pull them out of the outside bins as we leave." Brilliant, right? As a good autism mom would do, I talk about the plan with the girls while checking out and as we move toward the door with our cart. I KNOW what an unexpected change in a typical routine can do. If we talk about it beforehand, it's less traumatic.

Imagine my surprise to find NO OUTSIDE PUMPKIN BINS anymore, just some potted plants. It's a fact I missed as I entered the grocery store. (A fact the cashier who helped me add the pumpkins to my order also missed, by the way).

So begins the end of my brilliance. With it comes the beginning of my REACTING, attempting to soothe and mitigate damage. My problem solving skills are pushed beyond my abilities and my inherited charactistic of sweating profusely when stressed threatens its ugliness.

A simple push of the cart back into the store to get help. (Where are those pumpkins again?) Princess triplet responds to this return into the store with immediate dissatisfaction. She begins to cry, relatively loudly, and stomp her feet on the base of the cart.

Princess triplet has autism and appreciates routine. She likes grocery store trips when they follow established patterns. Leaving the grocery store means riding in the cart (or walking with her hand held) back to the van. It rarely involves going directly back into the store. The change in routine rocks her world, it confuses her, and she doesn't like it. She is also potty training but has not really reached the place where she successfully verbalizes her need. She's beginning to independently seek out a bathroom to use (sometimes), but verbalizing "potty time" is quite difficult. This factor adds to her discomfort in this situation. (I learn this later, by accident, after getting home).

We spend about five minutes, at the most, attempting to quickly resolve the "I need pumpkins or I need a refund" situation, but the store and employees cannot provide the solution that quickly even though they are doing their best. (I have NO COMPLAINTS with the staff here at all. They were kind, courteous, helpful, and as quick as they could be).

During these five minutes, I quickly realize Princess triplet's dissatisfaction is escalating into an all-out autism meltdown. There is no calming her down. She is screaming at 100+ decibels and no one misses us when they walk in or out of the store. The staff is working hard, and those employees who aren't able to help personally keep smiling and apologizing. I continue vain attempts to calm Princess, but I know the only real solution is to leave the store and get back into the normal routine as quickly as possible. Once that is accomplished she will calm down almost immediately. In the meantime, I speak calmly to her and to her sisters as they are beginning their own shades of frustration with their sister's behavior. I also continue to work with the store employees, answering questions, getting ready to do whatever they need me to do in order to resolve it all quickly.

Then it happens. "The horrible, awful, no good, very bad" moment (trust me Alexander from the book or the movie has nothing on us right now) turns downright ugly. A customer, single gentleman about my age or a little older, checking out in the 12 items or less self-out checkout lane decides to leave his lane so he can, in a very loud voice no one in any of the 25+ checkout lanes would miss, order me to "TAKE HER OUTSIDE AND LET HER DO HER SCREAMING OUT THERE, NOT IN HERE!"

A hush falls upon the store and I hear people murmuring, can almost pick up some of the words. "Oh no, he didn't." "Glad someone said something," etc. I ignore him and the hush for that moment because the employees have just informed me of my next step in this process. I have to go to the Customer Service desk in order to get a refund for one pumpkin (they did succeed in finding me two - don't even ask how I'm going to make two pumpkins work for three children) and I'm more concerned about making sure I've got everything as I head over to the desk.

As I pass his checkout lane, it's like a button gets pushed internally and I know I'm going to react, I'm going to tell him something. This is a dangerous spot because I'm not sure I have any real rational thought anymore. (Keep in mind, Princess triplet is still loudly unhappy, although moving the cart instead of standing still does seem slightly better for her). I hear myself say, without any effort to be discreet, as I'm walking by him, "You know what, sir? She has autism, DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?"

He doesn't even look at me. He just waves me off while he continues to do his checking out, as if we are flies or insects to be rid of.

Then a few of those People Really Are Amazing if You Give Them a Chance moments happen. As I manage to arrive at the Customer Service desk, a woman approaches me as she's leaving the store with her family.

"I'm so sorry that man was so rude to you, and I'm so glad you told him off."

At that moment as I'm looking for the actual receipt which had been in my hand & somehow moved into my purse, I realize a stranger sees how painful and rough all this is and acknowledges my vulnerability. We all know what happens then right? Yes, Tripped Up Mommy starts to cry, while attempting to hold it all together. The stranger gives me a hug and says she has a son with CP (Cerebal Palsy, I believe) and that people are just stupid and don't understand. "Hang in there and God bless you!" she says as she exits.

One of the previous employees working with me comes up and hands me a little Dum Dum sucker and says, "Will this help?" I smile and say, "Thank you, but I can't give this to her now. I can't actually reward this behavior." (Oh I know how everything would be so much easier in that moment if I would have, but if I did I think our Behavior Analyst would have shot me.)

Then two young girls come up to me, maybe they're in fifth grade but certainly no older than 7th grade, and one of them is carrying a pumpkin.

"Excuse me," the shortest (maybe youngest too) of the girls says. "Do you need a pumpkin?"

Shocked, I simply say, "Yes, I do."

She puts the pumpkin into my arms and says, "Here you go, have a nice day," and the two of them turn and walk away.

I stand there and look at the employee who had just been trying to come up to speed on everything.

It happens so fast I don't know if I said thank you to the young girls. I don't know exactly what to do and then make a quick decision. I put the pumpkin into our cart, tell the employee I think we're all good now, and move my big bench seated cart filled with groceries and three kindergartners into the pathway to the door. As we go out the door, Princess triplet is still upset, but it's lessening. We end up directly behind the customer who had screamed at me. He never acknowledges me or says another word. I wonder if he's embarrassed or if he's just a complete jerk. Then I realize I don't care. The whole event couldn't have lasted more than 10 to 15 minutes in total time. That's really not a huge amount of time for any adult to handle, is it?

We get to the van, and as we begin the typical unloading of cart and buckling of kids in seats Princess triplet's mood changes. She is still loud, but now she's singing, she's laughing. You see, we just entered back into a world she understands. She knows what to expect so there's no reason to scream, there's no reason to attempt to tell someone that something bad is going on, because all of a sudden she understands her world again.

I should be exhausted and in fact am asked by another stranger if I am, but surprisingly I feel more accomplished than exhausted. I don't know if it's the adrenaline of getting yelled at or the support of perfect strangers that has allowed me to avoid complete depletion but I'm glad everything's done.

As I drive home and then explain the incident to Tripped Up Daddy I realize I was confused by my own words when I "told off" the unhappy customer.

"Do you want to talk about it? What did that even mean? I have no idea. It made no sense," I tell Tripped Up Daddy.

He disagrees, "No, it made perfect sense. You were telling him that you were ready to fight him if he was stupid enough to keep picking on your girl."

And so there it was. I was the Mama Bear.

I don't harbor resentment against the man, and I've gotten over the feeling like I robbed two little girls of their pumpkin without saying thanks (I think I did actually but it wasn't profuse enough for me to feel like I did enough I guess). Honestly, I don't know that he was an actual mean man or anything, I think he was just being a Shit and haven't we all been there at one point or another? Thankfully we had a lot more Amazing people to not just balance the Shit out, but to actually outweigh him.

Does this change how I will do grocery store trips or any other public errand in the future? Will I make sure I have explanation cards on hand so if there's ever another moment like this again I can give them to any stranger who seems confused? Will I choose to stay home and hide, only going out in public when I have at least one other adult to help?

I think the answer to all of that is no. I think this world is going to have to deal with The Tripped Up Family as we are. I strongly believe in the way I'm parenting my daughters and exposing them to normal life (which includes grocery store trips and much more) will continue to happen. I don't know that we're ready to take on a formal classical music concert or go fly in airplanes yet, but I will keep bringing my daughters (all of my daughters, autism or not) out into the world and living life. I just hope we will continue to meet the Amazing People in greater numbers than the Shits.

Note: If you're in the local area, Meijer gets a plug for being fairly autism-friendly. I have no complaints for the store itself. In fact, I was pleased by all the employees' attempts to help. Kudos to the Rockford Meijer.

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Prematurity Day - 11-17

Triplets within the first two weeks after coming home from NICU
Did you know that 1 in 9 babies are born prematurely? Thankfully research and medical advances ensure many of these babies survive & receive the best possible care. Many go on to thrive, like our triplets who were born at 34 weeks and spent 2 weeks in NICU before coming home.

A recent snuggletime
Tomorrow our lovely ladies will turn six years old. There's no doubt when you add triplets, prematurity, speech and language delay, and autism (for two out of the three) all together you have a world of unexpected challenges, however, amidst the crazy, hectic life we lead, we are also surrounded by beauty and joy in triplicate.

On one day in 2008 our 3 person family became a 6 person family. We'd never want it any other way.

Our undying gratitude goes to the March of Dimes, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Spectrum Health Maternal Fetal Medicine and Baylor College - Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

All four of our girls.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Unexpected gifts

This past weekend was filled with the unexpected. One of our favorite surprises was the warm Michigan weather that allowed our littles to play outside without coats and (for two crazy littles who couldn't be convinced otherwise) barefoot. The other favorite is shown in this picture above, seems like a fairly typical photo, but it's pretty special at the Tripped Up Castle.

Description stolen from Tripped Up Daddy's Facebook account:

Enjoying the air glider together. We've gotten close a few times earlier, but this was the first time it was initiated on its own.

Autism progress for the little Angel triplet!

This moment is brought to you through hours and hours of ABA therapy, occupational therapy, Floortime therapy, and the fantastic teachers in the ASD room. (Thanks too to the foundation provided in the ECSE programs we've used since the girls were 18 months old).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Norwex to the rescue!

Imagine parenting a child who is drawn like a magnet to the most dangerous things in your home. Drawn to put magnets, batteries, razor blades, broken glass, and far more into her mouth to explore them. Drawn to eat non-food items or at least chew them to the point that she might as well have eaten them. Drawn to the idea of sucking on any spray bottle, especially window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and hair detangler. A little girl who is also smart enough to outsmart (or even out climb) any childproofing device or strategy employed. Child lock is working today? Wait a few days or a week, she'll figure it out and get to what she wants leaving your child lock in the dust.
This used to be a good option...

If you've followed this blog at all, then you know this is the world of The Tripped Up Family with one of our 6-year-old triplets - Angel Triplet who has autism. No amount of teaching has resolved this situation because for some reason her little body craves these sensory experiences and her autism keeps her from understanding the immense danger she puts herself in.

It's not an unusual occurrance for kids with autism (or for those with sensory integration or processing issues) to seek these types of sensory experiences and struggle with pica-like behaviors. The hard part is that because the disorders are so varied in their outworking for each person, the solutions for typical issues are just as varied as each person struggling with the issue. Once again the old adage of "if you've met a person with autism than you've met one person with autism" rings true. While we have tried many different solutions for Angel triplet's mouthing obsession, we have never had anything work beyond the first month or two of novelty (at the longest). Once she gets bored with a new solution, there's no convincing her to use that coping mechanism and she's back to the typical mouthing patterns.
How does this NOT
look like candy?

Nearly two months ago, Angel triplet discovered how to break into a cleaning products cupboard and decided to place the dishwasher pouches into her mouth. After all, they sure look like they could be candy, right?

That was my last straw. Our cleaning supplies had to change. I can't successfully figure out how to keep them under a child-lock mechanism that my daughter can't outsmart. Instead of hiding the materials and thus making the materials even more interesting (because what kid doesn't always want exactly what you say they can't have?), I decided the cleaning solutions have to be safe even if she does ingest them.

And that's when Norwex came to the rescue. I had heard about Norwex and its amazing cloths before. I had even attended a party, but I never actually used a cloth myself. The whole key was that I could clean without a cleaner - just with water and a microfiber cloth embedded with silver. This cloth and water would clean up everything and make my home really clean without bleach or other harsh chemicals. I decided to try it myself finally. I began with an Enviro cloth and a Window cloth. I was amazed at the cleaning power, but even better was the idea of removing dangerous items from all of my girls' hands and mouths.

It wasn't too long before I realized I could earn free cleaning items and help others do the same by becoming a consultant myself. I love the flexibility it offers.

Since I'm still a fairly new consultant, I'm doing a Fall Open House with Norwex this weekend and invite all local area folks to stop by. There will be free food, interesting demonstrations, and plenty of fun. Let me show you the magic of cleaning with only water and let you in on how you can get you some free product as well! Just email me for all the details.

Not from the local area? Don't worry, we can connect and do a home party via Skype or Facebook. I will work with you and make sure you get as much free product as possible. Contact me now to book a party.

Norwex offers the best microfiber cloth available
and the company makes it so easy to earn free product. Don't miss your chance to remove harsh chemicals from your home and clean better than you thought possible.

Don't worry, this blog will not turn into a Norwex blog. It remains a parenting blog that offers a special focus on autism, special needs, mulitples, and triplets, However, Norwex is making a huge impact in our home because of the autism complexities and Norwex's simple cleaning methods. Please don't be offended if I periodically share that with you, because honestly, if it's making a difference in our world in a positive way, it just might do the same for someone else.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Slippery Fish or It's the little things that aren't so little after all

If you've never experienced kids with delays or special needs this might not mean much to you. If you know the struggle of meeting even one milestone amidst delays, read on.

While going potty this morning, Angel triplet (yes, I did say GOING POTTY) starts singing this song and doing the motions. Then her sister Princess triplet joins in. Yay for ABA therapy and for daily progress!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Everyday Confetti - Book Review

This year round guide to celebrating holidays and special occasions offers ideas and recipes for both major and minor events. Throughout its 12 chapters the authors, Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer, provide readers with a constant stream of ways to integrate the Christian faith into daily life with fun and excitement.

The goal is to create lasting memories that instill Christian values into your children throughout their lives. Appropriately then, many of the holidays are from the traditional church calendar and those that originate from a secular origin are given a Christian slant. This is a book written by Christians and mostly meant to be used by those of the same belief system. The authors are connected with Proverbs 31 Ministries which has the mission to help women deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ.

An autism mom's thoughts

When I was provided this book by the publisher, Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group, I was specifically asked to review it from the perspective of a mom or family raising kids with autism. So as I was reading, I simply asked myself the following questions: Would this integrate well in our household? Do I know of other autism families that could utilize this idea? would it be worth it for an autism family to purchase this book? Is this particular idea enough? Are there enough ideas that could easily be implemented in an autism family?

The answer to most of those questions is a resounding MAYBE. While there are plenty of times the authors expressed that readers should adapt ideas to fit their own families (and gave examples on how they did just that themselves), there wasn't even a single example of a family with special needs considerations utilizing any of the ideas. So, if you do have kiddos with special needs, autism, developmental delays or any other similar challenges, you should plan on having to adapt nearly every idea to fit into your family's world. Of course, that in and of itself is not unusual for an autism family (or a family with twins, triplets or more for that matter), but it is a situation that gets old when it's constant. Sometimes it's just nice to have something actually FIT in your world. This book will not alleviate any of that frustration, in fact, it may simply add more. It is however a creative spark and if that's all the authors intended then they succeeded.

What I liked

1. An encouragement to live with intentionality

The authors say in the Forward, "Life goes by too quickly and at the end of the year we can look back and wish the simple moments had been celebrated more. We wish there'd been a few more pauses. We wish we'd made more opportunities to look into the eyes of someone we love and say, with words and actions, 'You matter. I value you.' ..."It's the little touches that say, 'I remembered.' It's celebrating effort. Rejoicing together in success. Supporting each other when discouraged. These are the times that weave our hearts together."

Personally I need constant reminders to live with intention. Why? My world is filled with managing occupational, ABA, and speech therapy appointments (times 2), constant mad dashes to pull something out of Angel triplet's mouth, countless trips to the potty that still end less than successfully (times 2), transitioning into a parent of an adult at the same time as parenting kindergartners, and all the other variables and levels of chaos that only an autism family with triplets could enjoy every day. Reflection and Intention fall victim to Survival and Urgency every single damn day. While a reminder to live with intentionality doesn't mean I will do so to the level I really desire, it does help me re-focus my mind at least for a while.

2. Celebrating dinnertime and birthdays

For me the first way of being intentional in honoring your family is by protecting and encouraging dinner around the table together. The tradition of eating together as a group brings about more than a tendency for healthier eating habits, it also provides a consistent opportunity for communication and support. Dinnertime was really important when I was growing up too and while I believe strongly in the concept, the actuality of it in my current family is less consistent than I like.

In the first chapter, the authors suggest some ways to celebrate each family member (both in a birthday situation and also just because) and it also elevates the dinnertime tradition at the same time. One of these that I really liked was having/using a Family Honor Plate that a family member would get to use at special times throughout the year (you choose the times). Use it as positive reinforcement for desired behaviors, the passing of milestones, or simply to say "We love that you're part of our family." Make the plate somehow special, you could even decorate it at one of those paint your own pottery places.

Another idea mentioned that's similar to the honor plate is to celebrate each family member on their own name day. Some names actually correspond to feast days and you can use that day as an honor day for that family member. There is an American calendar for name days as well, but if your family member's name isn't on it, just make up their own special name day.

There is a whole chapter devoted to birthdays which can be a difficult day to celebrate for many kids with autism. Delays in social awareness, communication and relationship building are common for many kids with autism, so birthday parties and other celebrations can be quite overwhelming and complicated to plan. In the birthday chapter, I found some ideas (like creating a special place mat or tablecloth with pictures of the family member to honor) could be easily used to make a special day a little more special without causing too much chaos. That's a huge win for an autism family.

3. Christmas evaluation

The authors propose a wonderful idea to help reduce the stress and craziness of the Christmas holiday season. They suggest a family meeting before the season begins. To do what? Simplify and make sure what you're doing is right for your family. You can help assign tasks and make sure everything you're doing is truly meaningful for your family. I am definitely doing this idea this year, because with one child at college, I know our holidays are undergoing a whole new perspective.

"Gather everyone around the kitchen table to answer questions about your family celebration. Encourage everyone to be honest with their responses and promise no hurt feelings. The goal is to discover your unique way of celebrating the holidays and help alleviate some of the Yuletide 'Yikes!'"

4. Trove of ideas

As I read through Everyday Confetti, I marked up the book - things I liked and things I didn't, questions, comments, sometimes I even carried on a conversation with the authors (well, one-sided anyway) and basically made the book my own. I went back and counted up the ideas I found interesting and potentially fun enough to figure out how to do in my own family. After counting up the "I want to try this" notations, I came up with 34 ideas which doesn't include any of the many yummy-sounding recipes. The book offers anywhere from 5 to 10+ recipes per chapter (and there are 12 chapters). So even for an autism family I found 34 ideas that I'm interested in exploring plus I know I will want to try some of the recipes. That's not too bad for a 182-page book.

What I didn't like

1. Narrow perspective

If you are hoping this book will broaden your perspective or horizons around holidays, you need to know it probably won't. It may provide new ideas, but always from within the same cultural perspective. What is that perspective, you ask? Well, I couldn't see that anything was coming from anywhere besides a nearly complete white bread, Protestant Christian, middle class, American, suburban to rural perspective overall. Okay, so yes, the Tripped Up Castle is filled to the brim with white, Protestant Christians, but I don't want to raise my kids with the idea that this perspective is the only one that matters. 

I will credit the authors for at least mentioning other groups, but it seemed to be from the tone of we need to understand our other brothers and sisters and their culture so we should celebrate Black History Month, Native American Day, Cinco de Mayo. It came off as a sort of "I'm writing to people just like me about those other people, the ones not like me but who believe like I do so they're okay" type of tone. This narrow viewpoint may be partially due to the expected market/audience for the book - predominantly Evangelical or even Fundamentalist Christian or a Protestant Christian who have conservative political and economic leanings, but I believe the authors themselves would indicate they want to reach out to as many people as possible with their ideas, especially those who consider themselves Christian, conservative or not. That larger group includes a lot more diversity than what's represented in this book. Christians are African American, Native American, Asian, Latino and much more. Our skin color is all shades. Our heritages are from many different places not just Western Europe, so it really bothers me that there was such a lack of diversity presented. That's not the "confetti" I want to spread in my household.

2. Special needs unrepresented

This really goes hand in hand with my number 1 of what I didn't like in the book. Many families have unique situations, not just autism, but many other special circumstances which require them to plan and carry out activities very carefully in order to best serve the needs of their whole family. I never felt there was even a thought of "how will this actually fit in the family confronted with special needs every day?" Specifically, I think of autism and sensory integration issues that were completely ignored (because, of course, that's the world I live in). It's as if the writers never even had a thought that many families (potentially 1 in 61 these days according to the latest CDC numbers) may be struggling to celebrate any holiday at all in the midst of a sensory minefield. This misses a huge segment of people.

There are at least 20 ideas or more that are deal breakers for those with autism or sensory integration issues or both. It was never suggested anything be toned down. Nothing was presented that would tell readers the authors understand many people can't even approach any celebration without serious anxiety.

While there are plenty of recipes in the book, there's no mention of any that might be suitable for families struggling with food sensitivities or allergies. If you're an autism family attempting to follow a gluten free lifestyle, you will have to adapt these recipes on your own. Vegetarians and vegans likewise do not exist in this world the authors discuss.

3. No photos, not even one

I'm not sure who made the call on this one, authors or publisher, but I don't agree with it. Photos help people understand what you're presenting, especially when you're talking about decorations and holiday ideas. If they were trying to keep the purity of thought so that readers could imagine the idea more effectively in their own family, I guess I can see it somewhat. But what about all those recipes? Perfect opportunity for some yummy looking photos! (Please understand I HATE cookbooks without pictures. What's the point if I can't see how it's supposed to turn out?) Mostly, however, the lack of photos in this instance comes off to me as a cost-savings measure in publishing. Also, when the book is pitched as Pinteresty idea book, then the lack of photos seems silly.

4. Every day is a holiday or special occasion

While I do like the idea of living with more intentionality, I'm not sure I'm all on board with the idea of making every single day some kind of a special day. I recently finished reading A Thousand Days in Venice and while the author of that book is preparing for her upcoming wedding, one of her vendor's tells her that a little suffering (or a little misery) brings out the sweetness of life. Later when the author reflects on how perfect her wedding day and life is at that moment, she thinks about how grateful she is for that little bit of misery or suffering which also occurred because it truly did make her more aware of when life is sweet.

The authors state at the beginning, "Our desire with this book is to spark your creativity and provide you with ideas for planning and implementing wonderful holiday and holy day celebrations with your loved ones. But we don't want to stop there. We hope that with a little ingenuity and a slight shift in your spiritual perspective, you will learn to toss a little confetti into the everyday too - to be on the lookout for days and ways to make the ordinary extraordinary."

When I mentioned the idea of making every day more filled with confetti, Lotte (almost 18 now) said, "That's stupid, Mom. If you make every day special then you won't even recognize the specialness of the days you really designed to be special."

Too much special, too much of a good thing leads to a lack of gratitude in my eldest's eyes. I'm not sure I completely disagree. I do think an additional sense of embracing the magical and the special of even normal days is vitally important. Finding joy in a sunset, the beauty of a child's laugh, the amazingness of a child speaking words they've never spoken before... However, even King Midas learned that too much of his favorite thing was just plain greedy and actually led to more discontent. The key is balance I think.

Overall, I give the book an OK to Good rating. I think there are some good ideas, but as a Mom with two children with autism, it will require a lot of adapting to fit any of the ideas in our home. Honestly, I'd probably be more interested in a book that addresses celebrations and how to really enjoy them while minimizing the meltdowns, explosions, and emergency situations they can bring on. And, while the ideas are good, I'm not positive some good Pinterest research wouldn't provide you the same result complete with photos. A quick Google search led me to another book I'll be adding onto my reading list & hopefully reviewing as well.

Want to see more book reviews? Well, I love to read, so comment with suggestions and I'll add them to my list. I'm always reading about eight to ten books at a time. Have suggestions for great books for autism families? Please comment with those ideas too!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Licking the bowl clean

Dinner tonight was a gamble. Using up some frozen shrimp and scallops that had been in my freezer for a while. And I served it to five-year old triplets no less. A few adjustments along the way, of course, but don't ask me what they were. I can't remember. All I know is Angel triplet liked this soup so much she literally licked the bowl. Apart from bad table manners, it makes a Mama feel awesome when her kid enjoys the food so much that licking the dinner bowl clean is even thought of.  

In other news, Princess triplet merely smelled it, and Sunshine took 4 bites.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kindergarten for triplets

Our Level 1 road is currently down to one lane for resurfacing.
The Kindergarten triplet first day of school pictures didn't happen. I mean they didn't happen as a group. And that's a big day for triplets. And it's the reason for wearing matching outfits in the first place, right? The picture? The picture of three cute little girls all holding hands with their cute little backpacks on... yeah, I don't have it, maybe we'll try again tomorrow. 

In the midst of road resurfacing which has taken out the whole far side of our street (don't ask me how I'll get out of my driveway later this afternoon to pick up girls from school for therapy), getting three littles ready for two different bus schedules, accommodating the brand new "cold turkey" potty training approach which eliminates the safety net of pull-ups for any daytime hours for our two with autism, the following photos will have to do for 1st Day of School shots.
Angel triplet
More Angel triplet

Princess triplet says NO MORE PHOTOS!
Princess triplet

Sunshine triplet
More Sunshine

Monday, August 25, 2014

One in college and three entering kindergarten

Today is a big day for me, but a bigger one for Lotte. No tearful college dorm drop-off this year since she's spending her first two years at a community college. 

She will move out and live with her dad soon though. It's closer to college and out of some of The Tripped Up Castle craziness, which will make it easier for her to focus on classes, lessons, practicing, rehearsals, performances, and a job. Not to mention the whole, making new friends and "figuring out the rest of her life" as she puts it.

I don't want to say a lot about today because I don't want to get all teary again. (I think I've done enough of that all summer long). I'm still amazed at this girl, this wonderful, nearly perfect in every way girl, who is all grown up now. 

She's awesome. She's compassionate, loving, kind, talented, smart, and hopeful. She really is on her way and going to all sorts of fabulous places. (And hold onto your hat because the little three go to kindergarten next week.)