Saturday, April 30, 2011

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

I recently moved to a new home.  As we have worked to settle into the home we’ve worked to do something far more important, build a community in the new neighborhood.  Where we lived before we had built great relationships with most of the neighbors.  My 3.5 yr old had friends both younger and older than she was.  My husband was the go-to guy for bike repair and rescuing toys from the storm drain (the trick was a long pole and double sided masking tape).  Adults and kids knew that we were great sources of nature knowledge and science facts.  We even helped them star gaze.  Groups of us could often be found having impromptu picnics and barbeques.  It was a small loop of homes and easy to hang out.

Now in our new location we work to find ways to build that great community.  There are many homes interconnected by paths that lead to parks, woods and other play areas.  So the people we encounter may or may not live in our small loop.  Most of the homes also have decks and nice backyards so people often prefer to let their kids play there instead of out front of their homes.  This move has me really wondering how people feel about their own neighbors.  Do you know their names?  Their pets or kids?  If your child wandered outside without you would you trust that someone would know who they were and where to bring them?  If you saw a child would you know where to take them?

A poster hangs in our playroom to help us remember that there’s a world outside of our 4 walls.  It reads “How to Build Community: Turn off your TV. Leave your house. Know your neighbors, Look up when you are walking; Greet people; Sit on your stoop; Plant flowers; Use your library; Play together; Buy from local merchants; Share what you have; Help a lost dog; Take children to the park; Garden together; Support neighborhood schools; Fix it even if you didn't break it; Have pot lucks; Honor elders; Pick up litter; Read stories aloud; Dance in the street; Talk to the mail carrier; Listen to the birds; Put up a swing; Help carry something heavy; Barter for your goods; Start a tradition; Ask a question; Hire young people for odd jobs; Organize a block party; Bake extra and share; Ask for help when you need it; Open your shades; Sing together; Share your skills; Take back the night; Turn up the music; Turn down the music; Listen before you react to anger; Mediate a conflict; Seek to understand; Learn from new and uncomfortable angles; Know that no one is silent although many are not heard. Work to change this.”

What are you doing to build community?

*poster available for sale here 

-From Heidi-rose (HrCreuzi) Promotions Manager
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Fling photo fundraiser!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The "A" word

Autism.  6 letters.  An “A” word.  Doesn't sound so complicated.  It's simple, right?  Not when it stares you in the face, every day.  Yes, I'm an “Autism Mom”.  I'm also a “Twin Mom”.  My girl/boy twins are both autistic.  And we have our “normal” daily lives.  But that is probably considerably different than what most people would EVER consider “normal”.

The funny thing is my 4 year old twins don't LOOK autistic the way the general public seems to perceive autism.  They're not like the Dustin Hoffman character in “Rainman”.  And they're not like Max in “Parenthood” (although that is a quite realistic portrayal of an Aspergers individual).  They act like my children.  They have that twin magic that all parents of multiples get to see watching them grow.  But they're different.  And anyone who spends any time with them, recognizes this fact.

We have to think through every little detail of our day.  Even the slightest change can throw off a routine in such a way that we may not be able to recover from without a series of tantrums.  Our best example is when I take boy twin with me to pick up his older brother and his friend from kindergarten.   Every day, as soon as he gets off the bus from his full day of special needs preschool, we get into the car and drive down the street.   He doesn't want this.  So out come the gummy bears.  I make sure I have a green one in my hand.  He's crying, but he climbs in the car.  Then he sits on the floor.  I tell him to choose a seat.  He refuses.  I show him the gummy bear.  Then he starts cataloguing the seats. “Ball Seat”, “Cow Seat”, “Brown Seat”.  Then he sits on the floor again.  I tell him to choose, once again showing him the gummy bear and taking a quick glance at the clock.  He starts to tease, standing by a seat and calling out it's name and showing signs that he's about to climb in.  But as soon as my hand reaches in to give him that final boost, he goes to the far door and smiles.  Another glance at the clock.  Eventually, I count down from 5 and forcibly put him in a seat.  No matter which one I choose, he will call out for a different one.  But he gets strapped in, I give him the green gummy bear and we head down the street.  We always park in the same place (which is why I have to watch that clock).  And we wait.  We usually sit in the car for about 10 minutes listening to music (Laurie Berkner Band and Wiggles are among the favorites) and play some games until it's time.  Then I tell him “Last Song!” and turn off the player and the car and walk around to open his car door.  I open the door with another gummy in my hand and he happily climbs out of the car.  When he's on the sidewalk, he gets the next gummy bear.  Then we walk to the corner to cross the street to enter the school grounds.  We wait for the street to be clear and then cross.  He MUST walk on the left-side line of the crosswalk and he treats it like a balance beam.  We finish crossing the street safely, another gummy bear.  Then we walk to the school.  He has to walk on the grass rather than the sidewalk.  We get to the next crosswalk, he has to step on the pile of leaves or grass debris just off the sidewalk.   Then we cross again, but this time a distance from the crosswalk.  Another gummy bear.  We come to Bus #152.  He has to climb on.  He stands at the top of the stairs and smiles at me.  Then comes down.  Then we walk into the kindergarten playground.  We walk to Room #18.  He announces, “18!”.  Then when I repeat, he says “16!”.  So we walk to Room 16.  He leans against the door and announces “17!”.  So we head over to Room 17.  That's big brother's classroom, so we look inside to see if he's there.  Then he announces “18!” and we head back to Room 18.  We repeat this cycle (with periodic gummy bears when requested) until the kindergarten classes are dismissed.  Then a new routine begins.

Why did I just describe that in such detail?  Because THAT'S THE ROUTINE!  There can be no variation.  If there is, his world comes to an abrupt halt and he doesn't know what to do.  He can't function.  I have to jump through hoops in order to get him to understand that it's OK and that we can keep going.  Our daily lives are full of such details.  Predictability is what they need and expect.  And that's what they get.  We do very little around here that isn't pre-planned.  Spontaneity left my life just over 2 years ago when we learned they were both “on the spectrum”.  Our lives became a series of non-variable routines and activities.  And you know what?  We like it that way!

-Ilene (DRS_Are_Best)
Children with Special Needs Moderator 
Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Monday, April 25, 2011

Let's talk yard sales!

It’s yard sale season! My daughter, Miranda, and I have a Saturday (“Sevenday” as she insists we call it!) morning ritual of bagels at Starbucks, then on to yard sales. Wednesdays I peruse the Gazette for ads, then Fridays I get the listings off Craigslist. I put the addresses into my GPS for the following morning. We have so much fun looking through all the treasures! Miranda’s favorite toys are cars and we almost always find at least one or two on our hunts. Then we come home and show it all off to daddy!

As Spring and Summer progress, the sheer volume of yard sales can seem daunting. Here are some “tricks and tips” to finding the best sales for your needs and wants.
  1. Search for key words of what you’re looking for. Often a place that is selling antiques or “vintage” isn’t going to have baby clothes.
  2. Estate sales contents tend to be an entire household of goods after the owners have passed on.
  3. Try to limit your search to areas/neighborhoods close to your own home. Not only will you spend less time driving around, but their tastes will be more in line with what you’d like.
  4. Make a list off all the sales you want to go to, and number them in the order you want to take them in. Mark them on your map (there’s probably a fancy app out there to use, too) so you spend less time driving around. Be sure to note the opening times as some don’t open until 9 a.m. or later.
  5. Yard sale signs say a LOT about the sale. If they are small with way too much info on them, hard to read, or don’t point you in the right direction, most likely the sale isn’t worth your time and effort.
  6. Community yard sales are great as far as having plenty of places within walking distance, but they also tend to have many addresses that are pretty sparse. Do a drive through the neighborhood to get an idea of what’s offered.
What are your tips & tricks?  What amazing find have you made?

-Colleen (cocopitz) Events Manager
Saturday, April 23, 2011

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.


1lb. asparagus (about 19 stalks), trimmed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 paper-thin slices of prosciutto, halved lengthwise

Snap the dry stem ends off of each asparagus and place on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Roast until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Wrap each asparagus with one piece (about 1/2 a slice) of prosciutto, exposing tips. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.

**Tips from Traci (izzysmom7), you can use ham if you are not a fan of prosciutto. Just make sure it is paper thin. I've also found that my stoneware baking sheet works best.**

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
Show: Everyday Italian
Episode: Dinner Party Delivery
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day challenge and contest!

This year's Earth Day theme is "A Billion Acts of Green". Each act, no matter how small, really does make a difference. Let's all pledge one new green act in honor of Earth Day April, 22nd! Then in the NL/AP forum to let us all know what you did.  I'll be entering all of our green acts on the Earth Day website under North Metro D.C. Mommies, so that they can be officially counted! Here are some VERY easy ideas for green acts, or you can come up with your own:

- Wash a load of clothes in cold water

- Hang clothes out to dry

- Consolidate trips to save fuel usage

- Walk/bike/take public transportation instead of driving

- Use cloth diapers

- Replace one regular light bulb with a CFL light bulb              

- Unplug all household appliances when not in use

- Recycle

- Use natural personal care or cleaning products

- Shop local/organic

- Reduce meat consumption

- Plant a tree

- Shop with reusable bags

- Turn off water while brushing teeth

- Go outside instead of watching TV.

There are so many things you can do. Let's get creative! Please post something that you're not already in the habit of doing daily. The point of this is to try something new, see how it feels and maybe even start a new habit. 

If you submit your green act in the Natural Living/Attachment Parenting Forum, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a gift bag filled with eco-friendly 7th Generation products.  Drawing will take place on Saturday evening, 4/30 at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Spring into the World of Eric Carle" Photo Contest!!

Enter a photo of you and your family or members of your family during their favorite weekend activity. Label all entries "Spring Contest" and send to winners will receive a wonderful "World of Eric Carle" prize (10 winners picked) Contest ends very soon so get those cute pictures sent in!!

“World of Eric Carle, best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar™, consists of a broad range of children’s products. Inspired by Eric Carle’s vibrant artwork and beloved stories, the range enchants children, while appealing to moms’ desire for fun, quality product for their little ones – leaving them ‘very hungry’ for more!” to check out all of Eric Carle's neat products to find a chapter near you our blog

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great mom's event

Come visit us at this free event in Gaithersburg.  There's a lot of neat give-aways and information.

You can RSVP here:  so they have enough cupcakes.

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