Each morning is almost the same at our house.  Up a little late, a hot shower, quick scramble for clothes and breakfast.  Then, I look at the boys, giggle at what they are wearing, help them fix it and wonder why the King is staring blindly into his side of the closet.
Is there a giant spider in there?
A monster actually living in the deepest darkest corners?
Perhaps the shoes have finally reproduced in the middle of the night and I have a new pair of peep toe sling backs?
Nope, not even close.
Another day and he has no idea what to wear.

I've always thought that having less in the options department would help a King out.  Guess not.  I've resorted to Pinterest in the past to help him conquer his daily struggle with the closet.  It was simply time to put together a few more wardrobe capsules so he could mix and match his way through the week.
Blues and Greys

Tans and Greens

The purpose of any wardrobe capsule is that you take a few classic pieces and then interchange seasonal or trendy pieces with them.

In the first capsule, the classics are jeans, leather jacket, dress shirt, boots and vest.  By adding in a henly, military sweater a pair of cargos and a sleek sneaker you end up with more than 10 other looks.

The second capsule is the same idea.  The classics are the dress shirts, a flannel, jeans and then boots and a suede oxford.  Add in different sweater, a quilted vest, some cargos and a sleek sneaker you have a span of items that go from office to weekend wear.

You can find both of these wardrobe capsules and a few more on Pinterest.

I know it's been forever since I've posted, and those of you that know me personally or read here from time to time know I've gone back to college.  I started back in January and have done 41 credits so far this year.  I'm looking to get at least another 6 in before the end of the term, and if I'm lucky 12.  I chose a competency based school (WGU) instead of seat hours.  I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying college at my own pace.  So much nicer getting paired with a stoner who never shows up to class and to whom your grade is tied to.

Happy Fall!
The stores are all adverting for back to school deals this time of year, and if you're like me, you're wondering what do I actually -NEED- for my minions this year?  

We do cyber school, which as far as I'm concerned is the best thing ever.  All the benefits of homeschooling with the added benefit of lesson plans, books, and schedules you don't have to make up!  This also means I don't have to worry as much over the big list of supplies (no more buying glue sticks by the case, yay!) the school is begging for this year.  I just have to worry about their clothes and fitting and if they have a few pencils, pens and paper to write and take notes with.

We don't have worries over Joey's shoes are cooler, or Bobby has better jeans than me.  We also don't have bullying issues, or worrying over when lunch is.  The minions come to work with us each day, have their own office to go to school in, and have to dress for the office too.  In our case it's business casual and casual Fridays.

 I've posted these lists before, and they are on my pinterest as well, but I thought I'd dust them off and get them out again.

My minions are responsible for their own clothes and keeping what's in them up to date with sizes - with some minor help.  The list to the left is great to give your kid(s) an idea as to what they need or should have.  The size card is great to keep in their wallets so they always know what sizes to buy.

Next week we'll be back to school shopping for whatever the minions determine they need based on the list and rules for the office.  We'll also be comparison shopping to get the most we can for the money.

What do you end up buying for Back to School?


Emily Perl Kingsley wrote this essay back in 1987, and I think it's a nice parting thought to start the weekend with.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
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Last year, I was contacted by Time4Learning.com to do a review of their service.  It was really great, by the way.  Last week, the good folks at Time4Learning.com contacted me again to review SpellingCity.com.  I'm actually excited by this, because one of my minions spells as well as I do.  Meaning, that without the aid of the thin, wavy, red line as we type, we'd be lost.  So without further delay, here is my disclaimer:

I've been given a Premium Membership to VocabularySpellingCity.com for a candid, personal, online review.  VocabularySpellingCity helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as Sentence UnscrambleHandwriting Practice,WordSearch, and FlashCards. Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of free teaching resources on topics such as Synonyms and Figurative Language. Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.
Om nom nom

I don't know how excited my minions will be that they will be doing spelling over the summer, but I guess they'll get over it.  It's probably better than pulling weeds, in the heat, with the bugs.
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Long overdue, but here is the second week of outfits for the 15 for 30!  The original post shows you the 15 pieces I started with.  All you have to do is find something similar in your closet and follow along.

Enjoy some spring weather!

Week 2

It seems like it's been forever since I put together any type of tutorial.  I miss having time to do things that are fun, just for myself.  I gave the time up for a good reason though.  I went back to college at the beginning of the year, and I'm already through my entire semester of credits.  Now, I'm working ahead.  Hence the busy and no time for myself thing.

Last weekend the King and I (not the musical) took the minions out for a day of photographic funtimes.  We had a blast while we were out, but as minions often do, they were starved by the time we got home.  The meal plan for that day called for sushi, so home we went to become master sushi chefs.

I won't lie, I feared the sushi process.  I was sure it was going to be a disaster.  Probably a disaster of epic proportions.  I mean who takes sheets of seaweed and ends up with something good?  Turns out - me!  I'm more than betting it can be you, too!

Things you need:

  • Bamboo rolling mat
  • Nori
  • Sushi rice
  • Avocado (or other yummy things to put in your sushi)
  • Sushi vinegar
  • Sharp knife (wet)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce (all optional)

The first steps are rather boring, so I didn't photo them.
Boil rice until done.
Rinse it lightly and drain.
Add some sushi vinegar (to taste) to your rice and mix it.
I added some black sesame seeds as well.  A healthy shake, maybe two, just for color and interest.
Let the rice cool, and chill it slightly.
Once the rice is cool, you're ready to start.
Lay out the bamboo mat.
Lay down a sheet of nori.
Add  rice to the sheet and gently spread it around.  It doesn't have to be perfect, but you want the rice thin and even.
Make a small valley in your rice to add your veggies or whatever you're adding.

Spread rice to edges on sides, but not top or bottom!

Add your veg.  I used avocado, thinly and evenly sliced.

Fill the valley of rice with your veg or other toppings.

Then, once you've filled the valley, you're ready to roll!
Roll the bamboo mat up and over the avocado until the nori is wrapped over the avocado.  
Squeeze the bamboo mat towards you and down, like you're wrapping a burrito.
Pick up just the bamboo mat, and roll it a bit more, away from you.  Again, pull it towards you keeping the wrap tight.
Continue until you're at the end of the roll.

Letting the sushi sit a bit before cutting gets the nori damp and pliable.

The nori I purchased comes five sheets to a package, and I had enough rice to make all five rolls.  I started with a cup of dry sushi rice.
Your ends won't be perfect, either cut them, or deal. 
Get yourself a good, sharp knife and keep it wet as well as free from rice residue as you're cutting.

Cut, cut, wet knife.  Repeat!

Make your pieces as even as you can, or if your nori has cut lines, and you can actually see them, cut on the lines.
Be sure to keep your knife wet as you're cutting.  It makes things much easier.

Tray of yumminess!

When you're done you should end up with something that looks like the above.
Serve with wasabi paste and pickled ginger if you have it.  Some people like soy sauce.  If you're GF, tamari is a nice substitute.  If you're GF/SF just add more wasabi ;)
We picked up a few sets of chopsticks recently.  It's made a huge difference in the minions willingness to try new things.  If I'd have know that was a factor I would have gotten chopsticks ten years ago.  The bonus is they're fun.  It takes a bit longer to eat, which gives you more time to talk to your kids.

Last week I gave you 15 pieces for 30 days worth of outfits.  Using just what I had in my closet, I picked out what I could easily use to transition to spring. If you've been stuck in a rut where you're just wearing the same things over and over again, I hope this will inspire you to try some of your 'old things' in new ways.
Here are the first week's outfits - enjoy!

Spring Wardrobe Week 1!
In an effort to get the minions to use their cameras more effectively and understand composition, we are spending the day taking photos.  Not just any photos, either.  We have an entire list of things to take photos of, a photo scavenger hunt.
Some of what I take today I'll be posting to instagram.  If you'd like to join in on the scavenger hunt, tag your photos with #datdscavengerhunt or stop by my facebook site and share them there.
Now then, there needs to be a list for the event so here are a few to get you started!

1.       Animal tracks
2.       Railroad tracks
3.       Sailboat
4.       Mimic a statue.
5.       Someone smelling a flower.
6.       A restaurant menu.
7.       A kiss
8.       Hay bale
9.       Do exactly what the sign says (any sign will work).
10.   Capture your reflections in an unusual place (no mirrors!).
11.   Make yourself appear really small.
12.   Can you find it? Photo (think iSpy).
13.   Firetruck
14.   One photo with all these colors in it:  red, green, blue, yellow
15.   Picture with an animal (the more unusual the better).
16.   A historical marker
17.   A pinball machine
18.   A Flag
19.   A butterfly or other interesting and colorful insect
20.   A cloud that looks like an animal
21.   Your significant other in mid-air
22.   A picture of 5 different types of things that are green.
23.   Something filled with water.
24.   Clock Tower
25.   Fire Hydrant
26.   Coins in a fountain
27.   Your name spelled with things other than letters! (use picstitch or something to put it together.)
28.   An interesting tombstone
29.   Wooden bridge (covered if you can find one)
30.   A person of Walmart
31.   Street art
32.   Bathroom graffiti
33.   Amusing vanity plate
34.   An Angel
35.   Shoes hanging over a power line

Hope to see a few great photos from everyone!

P.S. I'll be posting this week's outfits based on last week's post later this evening, so stay tuned!
The last few months have been rather hectic with the whole real job thing.  Most days I'm busy with just running a business.  It's not helped matters that I went back to college and have two minions either.   The good news is, I've managed to get through 2 classes, and I'm working on the 3rd one now.  I just got my first paper back and got an A.  Not too shabby for not doing the college thing for, yeah, we're not going to talk about how long it's been.  So if any of you ladies are thinking about going back to get a degree or finish one, do it.  It can be done.  Choose your college and degree wisely though.

Now, to the point of this post.  As if there ever is a true point to any of these posts...
Spring is just around the corner, and already sprung for those of your in the warmer climates.  It will start warming here over the next month or two so I've put together an entire month of outfits, based on 15 standard items from my closet.  Each week I'll post a weeks worth of outfits  from what I have pictured below, including weekend wear.
Yes, I know I have more than 15 here, shoes, bags, accessories and undies don't count, or we'd all be walking around half naked.

Spring Wardrobe for 30 Days of Outfits!

If you'd like to play along, clean out your closet, and find some things that can sub in for what I have pictured.  Not every body looks good in the same colors and styles, so use what works for you!

I'll see you all next week with outfits - Week 1!

I write about my minions from time to time.  If you've been following along you might recall minion anecdotes from posts such as The One With the Rain, Man! and Half Tutorial, Half Rant, Half Bad at Math, but All Good in Showing You the IEP Process  and that's just some of the craziness we deal with here in Autism land.

Today I'm touching on another silly thing called the PSSA's.  Pennsyltucky uses a standardized testing system for their no child left behind compliance as well as a determinate factor in school funding.  What you may not know is that your child's school has probably spent the last month or more not teaching your child new material because they are reviewing for the PSSA's (or whatever your states testing is).

I'm sure you're all aware at how dismal our education system is in comparison to the rest of the world, so you should be horrified that the school spends a month or more at the beginning of the year reviewing old material and another month or more doing it again.

The school tells you as parents, and also tells your children that they are required to take the tests.  That's not quite true.  You as a parent have the right to use PA Code 4.4 and exempt your child for religious reasons.  I don't know about you, but my God(s) wouldn't think putting my autistic child through a test that would upset and confuse him, give him anxiety, not follow his IEP and generally destroy his week is a good idea.  Would yours?
Your child can also simply refuse to take them.  They cannot be persecuted for it by anyone as per PA Code  Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.24.  They also can't be told they won't graduate or pass if they don't take it.  As with everything else directly concerning them, they have the right to say no.

I know you as parents may not care about one test that takes up a few days out of the year to take.  I do hope you care about the month to month and a half of learning your child is missing out on because of a nonsense test.

Explore your rights and exercise them!

After a houseful of sick men this week, I didn't have much time to blog.  So, I'm offering up a few outfits in lieu of something of substance.

Valentine's Week Outfits
Monday I got to go to work while the king stayed home.  By Tuesday, the evil bug had been given to the minions and they were hacking up their little lungs.  So, I got all fancied up and stayed with them that day.

Sick Day

By the end of the day Wednesday, the temps had dropped and it started to rain, then snow right after. Apparently it snuck up on the weathermen in Pennsyltucky.

Surprise Snow Day

Valentine's Day was spent at a job fair. No, I'm not job hunting, trying to recruit some new blood. We may have one victim candidate.

Valentine's Outfit

By Friday all I wanted was to be warm and comfy. A few layers of clothing accomplished it nicely, plus I got to wear my new shoes!

Casual Friday

Today, I got to join a few of my new friends for a morning out at the farmers market. It was fun to wander about the stalls and see what was available, even if I couldn't eat much of it. I think my favorite thing were the bite size donuts one group was making. They were unbelievably cute.

Farmers Market Saturday
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I started watching Downton on a sick day while browsing Netflix.  I didn't know it would suck the King in too.  Let's just say Violet had him when she was describing Downton "Really. It's like living in a second rate hotel where guests keep arriving and no one seems to leave."  I also didn't know how truly lovely the costumes were going to be, or how much I was going to covet being tall and stick-like to carry those costumes off.  Since I won't be growing or losing my girly figure any time soon, I'll have to improvise.

This Saturday is my mom's tea party/birthday present, so Mom, if you're reading this, stop now, or the surprise you want will be gone.

I'll be wearing a blousy, dolman sleeved, lace number.  Mine is actually a blush color, not black, but one can't fight Polyvore.   For fun, I think I'll even try some Marcel waves in my hair.

Downton Inspired Tea Outfit

The invitations that went out specified wearing fancy hats, I chose a fascinator.  Something I didn't own but ran across and decided it would be fun.  The rest of the outfit is Downton inspired, but without wearing an ill-fitting dress for my body type, I wasn't going to go all the way.

I've planned out a tea buffet with teas from a local tea shop called One Good Woman.  The king has been gracious enough to offer a hand and the minions will probably offer up some service as mini garçons.

Smaller scale but same idea
We'll be dining on tea sandwiches like cucumber with dill spread and hummus with sprouts.  I'll be making scones, because you can't have tea without them.  I'm thinking a sweet scone, probably pumpkin with maple icing because it's my favorite, and a savory one like olive and rosemary.  Some lovely little cupcakes (carrot) done up like hats.  Strawberries in a lemon lavender syrup to put something remotely healthy on the table and either french macaroons or cut sugar cookies.

cute cake I did last year
My mother 'gifted' me with my grandmothers china some time ago.  I lovingly refer to it as the ugly china.  We'll be using it for tea.  Yes, it's ugly as sin, but it's my sin.  My sins include way more pieces than I started with as I filled in broken and missing pieces over the years.  I have everything from berry bowls to teapots covered in pink 40's style flowers.

Homer Laughlin Priscilla Eggshell Nautilus 
I've been stumped on decorations, I'll admit.  I'm a total black thumb and don't do well with any plant that's alive, or even was alive at one time.  I know I like the big puffball flowers, and I adore the look of this table.  Obviously I'll scale it down as it will be on my coffee table and not at a large scale wedding. But I think I can manage some candles and fake puffball things in a vase.

Puffballs are pretty
No party is complete without something for the guests to take home, so mom and I have been collecting old tea cups and saucers from thrift shops all over the mid-state.  Each guest will be going home with a one of a kind candle in a teacup.  I just have to find a couple more, and soon.  Seriously people, donate more cups!

thrifty gifties!
And that's it for this week's post that covers everything from my personal crazy to fashion to food.  In there I think there might be some sort of tutorial for throwing a big girl tea party.  And don't forget, there is a link on a previous post for the printable invitations.

We all try to impart things to our kids, be they morals, values, or just things you need to know.  I've taught mine how not to dress like an idiot, that chores aren't for suckers and why it takes all of us to keep things going.  But there is more to life than just the basics, and some of the emotional things, and things that aren't needed in the here and now are more difficult to teach.  Luckily, I've picked up a few things as I grew up and learned a few hilarious things from friends with teenagers.

Here are the things I hope my kids leave the nest with:

1. Scissors are to be used for opening bags of chips, not for your hair, on your head, or otherwise.  And if you decide girls don't want hair in their mouths - use shaving cream.

2. Cleaning is not experimental chemistry - mixing chemicals will kill you. Just use white vinegar and other things like I taught you.

3. Learn to cook a few basic meals, girls like that.  Also, learn to use a fire extinguisher - I've seen your cooking.

4. Do not tell a girl you love her unless you really do.  There's a lot of responsibility that comes with the word Love.

5. Good friends are there through thick and thin.  They have your back and know your secrets. Keep them forever, because they now know your secrets and murder is illegal.

6. Be prepared to hear everything running through a girls head when you ask her what she's thinking about.  And for the love of all things, you don't have to fix them all.

7. Your metabolism burns off all that pizza now.  It won't forever.  Learn to eat and like green things.  It's just a veggie, get over it.

8. Jumper cables, learn to use them.

9. Look at a girls' eyes and smile at her BEFORE ogling her boobs.  It's the polite thing to do.

10. Drinking hard alcohol from the bottle won't go well for you, ever.  You'll either never drink it again, or be too dead to worry about it.

11. Using your credit/debit card and waiting for the end of the month bill isn't budgeting.  Remember the lessons you learned with your allowance and apply it to real life.

12. You know what you wash with white clothes? White clothes. Also, Fels Naptha gets stains out of anything.

13. Learn basic first aid.  Someday you will be out in the woods, a mile from nothing with a kid who has a stick through her leg.  No wait, that was me.  Still...learn first aid.

14. Happy, that's what you need to be when you grow up.  What your job is doesn't change that fact.

15. Sex is like power, it too comes with great responsibility.  If you're not prepared for all the emotions, attachments and potential disasters, wait.  Your penis, and sex aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

16. Learn to tie a tie properly.  Suits and ties, or just a guy dressed really nicely is like lingerie to a woman.

17. Don't ever start a fight, but if you can't talk yourself out if it, know how to win one, quickly and without too much damage to either of you.

18. Learn to write thank you notes, love notes, and general letters.  Texting just isn't the same.

P.S. If I ever catch you walking around with your boxers hanging out, and pants hanging off your ass claiming to be a gangsta - I'm ripping your ears off.  You can claim it was a gang related injury if you want to be a gangsta so badly.

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Have you ever had something happen to you that you just didn't even want to tell the truth about because it's so unbelievably dumb?  Sometimes I swear my life is a comedy of errors that I get to wear around.  This weekend was no different.
It all started off so innocently.  I was watching one of my guilty pleasures (The Dead Files) on Friday night, and I fell asleep with my glasses still on.  According to the King, Tucker, the fuzzy cat and I were fast asleep and just before midnight the Tucker let out an unholy screech, jumped up from a dead sleep, landed on my face, smashing my glasses into my eye and chaos ensued.
I sat up, not exactly realizing what had happened yet, other than my face/nose was hurting.  Then I realized there was blood, a lot of it.  After running to the bathroom and accessing the damage I came to a few conclusions.

  • My cat is a fuzzy jerk, who has nightmares.
  • Face wounds bleed like you've been mauled by a bear.
  • Makeup ain't gonna cover that.
  • Blood doesn't come out of white duvets.
  • Wearing glasses to bed is both a good and a bad thing.

The next day, I had planned to do some ice skating, meet some new friends, etc.  Which worked out, we all giggled and decided that I took a hockey puck to the eye.  While walking around later with the King, we ran into a police officer we knew and of course they decided I had been assaulted, but I had it coming.  Sunday, as the eye was looking worse, we had another couple over to pick up some wood and mercifully, the wife thought it was a car accident.  The husband however... He was impressed that I didn't need to be told twice to do something (if you've heard that joke).
Accidental cat mauling just sounds lame...

The King thinks I should use the story of a bear attack - and we're eating the bear next week (rawr! I ripped it's throat out with my bare hands).  A few others have insisted roller derby was the way to go.  Either way you look at it, having a cat frightened by a nightmare land on your face while you're sleeping doesn't make for a good tale to tell.

Having a cat land on your face, and do some damage is a joke in itself - somewhere.  Being abused, living with abuse, or knowing someone who is in an abusive relationship is not.  Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.  If you, or someone you know is in need, please make that call.  You could be saving a life, maybe your own.  1-800-799-SAFE

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The holidays have come and gone, finally.  The new year has begun, and no new blog posts?  "What's up with that?", a few people have asked.  It's a lot of reasons, but here's what it's not:

  • Planning to end the blog.
  • Fallen into a cement mixer full of quicksand (thank you, Train)
  • Autism was cured
  • Baked my last cake or made my last meal
  • Finished my home decorating and now live in a museum (minion #2 would love that though)
  • Stopped caring about fashion
  • Never travelling again
Life swallowed me whole for a while.  It's funny how mundane things suck the life out of you when you're not paying attention.  Stress lurks in dark corners and fear of the unknowns tends to make you turn inward.  As you do that you tend to do some serious thinking.  You think about a lot of negative stuff because it's what hits you first and foremost, and sometimes you dwell on it a bit.  Eventually you start finding the things that make you happy, or will make you happy.  Some of the happy things I've been putting off a long time.  A long, long, L O N G time.  So here's what's really going on around here:
  • I've gone back to school.  I'll have a masters when I'm done.
  • Finding a BFF and just some girl friends.
  • Taking better care of myself.
  • Constructing new chore charts and implementing them.
  • Making menu plans each week with new things to try.
  • Planning a tea party birthday for my mom and her friends (there are hats involved).
  • Letting go of people and things that make me unhappy.
Tomorrow I'll be posting our new chore charts as well as a tutorial on how to get your household to run a little more smoothly without you having to do everything yourself.  In the meantime, below is a sneak peek at the Tea Party Invite.  If you have Photoshop or GIMP and would like the one with all the layers on it, just leave a comment and a way to contact you.

Anyone else a fan of hats?

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