Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bar Success!

Yummy Pumpkin Goodness!


There are many holiday recipes that have become an important part of the season. Pumpkin bars are one of them. Though I've never really understood why they are called pumpkin "bars". It's really more of a cake than a bar. I guess the name comes from the fact that you are to cut it into bar-like squares before serving. When I think of a bar - I think of brownies, blondies, and things like that. Nevertheless - Pumpkin bars are a must during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
So...I was determined not to miss out on that one -but was afraid that perhaps it wouldn't adapt to my gluten-free flours. Fear no more! I mixed up the batter this afternoon and just a little while ago we gave it our best taste test. Chuck went back for a second taste - just be sure his taste buds were not deceiving him on the first serving.

Yummo!!! Moist and flavorful - perfect! Perhaps a bit too much of the frosting for our tastes but that's an easy fix!

I've posted the recipe on my cookies and bars page - Cookies and Bars

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm a Snob


“You’re a snob”. I was told that once by someone I loved and looked up to. Well – she didn’t tell me that to my face. I overheard it and it was devastating to me. Looking back I understand now that she didn’t know the hell I was going through and how that comment would push me deeper into a trap I was attempting to get out of by my apparent “snobbishness”.  She didn’t know I was trying to avoid moving into a hole in the wall where my hell would be hidden from outside eyes. I was trying to get back to the person I knew I was supposed to be. The little voice inside me said I was no longer listening to my heart – listening to what I knew was right for me.

I believe we are all born with a unique personality. I always felt I was different than those around me. I was a shy, unconfident young person. I felt I had a certain common sense given to me. Learning came very easy to me. I tended to isolate myself from others though. Other people confused me. I didn’t understand how or why someone would lie. I couldn’t do it – and still can’t. I’m a terrible liar. I can’t hide my feelings very well.

Even though we are all born with a unique personality, our environment plays a huge part as well. We all have things in our young lives that shape us into who we are. I was no exception to this. I was very much affected by people and things around me as I grew. I can honestly say one thing made a huge impact on my personality and actions throughout the rest of my life. It crept into and ruined so many days of my young life and then tainted my feelings of so many experiences to come. This thing was alcohol.

I saw nothing good from alcohol as I grew up. It was at the root of pain, hurtful words, poor judgment, tears, wasted money, inappropriate behavior, horrible memories, and much more. Yet I seemed to be surrounded by it. I was a child and there was little I could do. I withdrew more into my own world – isolated myself somewhat. As I grew up and my adult life began that turned to loneliness. I craved the fun and happiness a saw around me at college. I gave in and told myself I was being silly – a prude – allowing my disgust for alcohol to prevent me from having friends, love and fun. I figured I was wrong on what that voice inside me told me was right. I figured the life I saw growing up must just be the life I deserved. So I buried that voice and let go of inhibitions.

I allowed someone into my life that contradicted everything that little voice said to me. Even though the red flags were going up – I desperately needing something and I figured this was what I deserved. So into a trap I fell quickly. Lies were told…I didn’t question at first…I was na├»ve. I didn’t lie so why would others. The demon alcohol played a major role. It was again the root of pain inflicted – mental and physical, poor judgment…the list goes on. Only saving thing for me is that I never fell to it personally – I rarely drank. That voice was still there muffled, but it was loud enough to tell me I didn’t want to succumb to that demon myself. I was ruining me enough just being around it. I was losing who I knew I should be.

That’s about the time I was called a snob. I had clawed myself out somewhat and the little voice was getting stronger – yet I felt trapped. I was afraid to let anyone know what I was really going through. I could not support myself, or my child, at the time and was very ashamed of what I had gotten myself into. I felt it was my fault – I had let it happen. The snob comment pushed me back down. I gave in and moved into a dump of a place where the hell became even worse.

I spent about eight more months in that hell before the last hard blow to the side of my head brought that little voice to a scream – and I left. From that moment on I vowed to never let that voice be silent again. I was gong to be the person I felt I was meant to be no matter what. I was never going to let anyone or anything, specifically alcohol, make me feel uncomfortable or hurt again!  If that meant I would be alone so be it! I also vowed to never put my children into the situations that I was put in as a child. They would not be surrounded by that demon.

This was not an easy task. This meant I avoided gatherings where I knew alcohol may be a factor in. I literally cringed when I was around anyone who was drinking in access. I feel uncomfortable, nervous. Horrible memories flow into my thoughts and make it a very unpleasant experience for me. Now – I’m not talking about having a glass of wine or wine cooler with family or friends at a gathering. But when alcohol plays a major role in the event or gathering or people drink in excess – I don’t want to be there.  Overreaction? Maybe – but that is who I am and I am now happy with that.

I believe my choices since escaping my hell have been good ones.  I was blessed by God with the arrival of a wonderful person into my life shortly after I turned 30. That is when I truly became the person I knew I was supposed to be. I thank God every day for that gift and continue to vow to remain true to myself. This sometimes means that I appear to be a snob once again. I avoid going out with work friends when I know that demon is going to be the main source of fun. I avoid gatherings where I know people will be getting drunk and causing painful memories to stir. I’ve lost out on possible friendships…I’ve probably missed out on some really fun times…I’ve made family members upset with me for not attending special events. They have a right to be upset – but all I can say is that I have to be who I am. If you love me you will have to understand.

We all face our own demons in life. We all have our own quirks and all make mistakes. During this time of Thanksgiving I am thankful most for those loved ones and friends who have the ability to accept and love me for who I am. Even if that is a “snob” every once in awhile. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Let the Holiday Fun Begin!

It's been quite awhile since I posted on this blog. We are into the second quarter of school and I've once again preoccupied myself with work. I've made several blog posts on my art ed blog http://splatsscrapsandglueblobs.blogspot.com/ and have worked really hard to create a website that students and parents can use to see what creative things are going on in my Art Rooms. http://www.artwithmrsg.com/

I need to find the balance that is so hard for me to find during the school year. My goal is to enjoy every moment of these next couple months. As much as I love the summer - this time of year is very special. As the weather gets cooler and decorations for the holidays go up the fun of the season seems to begin...shopping for or making gifts for loved ones, baking lots of goodies, enjoying cozy nights at home, and visiting with family and friends both near and far.

Chuck and I really love to fill the house with holiday decor and lights - just makes everything seem more cozy and fun. I do believe that even though Thanksgiving is 3 weeks away, our house will be filled with the signs of Christmas soon!

Baking this year will be a bit more of challenge finding just the right way to adapt all the yummy desserts to our gluten-free life - but I'm up for the challenge!  I just may have to try out many recipes that my friends at Washington, Roosevelt, and Willard schools will have to taste test for me. I bet they are up for that challenge.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Too Yummy Not to Share!

Tacos that are super yummy and gluten-free!

Tonight I made tacos for Chuck and me for dinner. I've made this same meal 2 or 3 times before and every time we enjoy it so much that I thought this was too good not to share.

Now I know that the majority of you don't have to eat gluten-free like I do, but if you try this recipe for GF tacos your will not miss the tortilla. Sure we could have used a corn tortilla and still maintained the gluten-free status - but we are also trying to cut out as much sugar and unhealthy carbs from our diet. Honestly, I think they taste fresher without the shell.

So here's what you need:
Romane lettuce leaves (these will be your "shells") be prepared - have enough for 2nds or even 3rd servings!
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mild Organic salsa (Hy-Vee brand is awesome!)
For every pound of ground beef (I highly recommend buying grass-fed organic beef. The quality/taste is so much better and much, much better for you!):
Mix together 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground oregano, 2 teaspoons chili powder, & 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Set this aside until needed.
Chop up 1/2 of medium-large sized onion

In large skillet, add a bit of olive oil and cook onion just until translucent. Stir in your seasoning with the onions. Crumble the ground beef into the seasoning/onion mixture and cook until throughly browned. Depending on the fat content of the beef, drain any excess grease from browned beef.

Now to put these yummy guys together -
Take a Romane lettuce leaf and add the meat. Top with shredded cheddar and a tablespoon of the salsa.

Then Enjoy!!!

The seasoning combination and the onions cooked with the beef as it browns really adds so much flavor to the meat. Much better than browning your meat and then adding the seasoning.


This photo is from a few months back. I made this plate up for one the kids and put the salsa on the side in case they didn't want it. But put it on! It really adds another layer of flavor to the taco.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Time for a New School Year!

The time has come once again to begin a new school year!

The first day of official work for me is August 15th, but every teacher knows there is a ton of work to do before the students walk into the door. Every year I tell myself that I will work throughout the summer on school things...when in reality I know that I won't really do much until August 1st. The school year is so hectic and stressful for me and I really enjoy just relaxing and doing whatever with my wonderful husband and our kids. This summer I made sure to enjoy it because of what lies ahead this school year. It will most likely be the hardest of my 17 years teaching.

Changes have come to many school districts around the country and mine is no different. Cuts in funding meant cuts in staff. Cuts in staff means changes. Our group of 7 elementary art teachers is now down to a group of 5 to provide our art program to 12 elementary schools. This means that we had to realign how to cover all those school among us. We all have 3 schools to go to. We still see our students for 45 minutes a week - we just have to squeeze many more classes in each week.

I had to leave a school that was new to me last year that I really loved being at to go to another school brand new to me. I also will be returning to a school that I had taught at for many years in the past. I have mixed emotions about these changes. I'm excited about this new school...it has it's benefits and I'm happy to see my old students and staff that I missed last year at the school I'm returning to. The one constant is my "home school" - that didn't change except for having one whole less day to teach there.
Along with the change in staff, this year I will no longer teach 6th grade - they have been moved to the Jr. High buildings.

So this week I began working to get all 3 schools ready for the start of the year. My number one priority is my new school. Because it is new to me, the room is a blank slate that needs to be set up and organized for the hectic year to come. I have to have an organized and pleasant environment for the students and myself so that we can all succeed.

Here is a few before photos of my new room:
 Yes - There are some nice tables here! That's a +

Oh...It's an actual chalk board. And where's my projector? =(

The first thing for me is adding some color!!  An Art Room can't be boring white. 
Stay tuned for After pics!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 41 pic-a-day

Molly versus the power washer

Chuck spent the day power washing the deck. It was amazing to see the difference. As he was finishing up rinsing off the chairs the dogs came out to see what was up. Molly absolutely loves water. And it didn't matter that this was no ordinary hose. She just shoved her way into the spray of water. Toby gave it one try and then backed away when he felt the hard spray of water - not Molly - she kept coming back for more.

This picture shows her jumping up to try and grab the spray of water in the air.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 40 pic-a-day

Trying to download Lion. UGH!


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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 39 pic-a-day

There is a big train festival in downtown Rock Island right now. We caught this steam engine crossing Arsenal Island today. The sound and sight of a steam engine is a great experience.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 36 pic-a-day

It seems our newly planted flowers have invited the butterflies into our backyard.


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 35 pic-a-day


I love the way this light casts such an interesting glow. 

We were enjoying these lights and some new furniture we placed in our new landscaped area Until - what Chuck thought was a raccoon poked it's head through a corner of the fence, LOL! 
Turned out it was more likely a possum but we didn't stick around to make sure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 34 pic-a-day

It's Doggone Hot Out There!

Good thing Chuck finished the work on the deck railing and new landscape area. There is no way you could spend much time out there working in this heat! But I will say it many times - I will always take 100 degree heat over 20 degrees any day. I love the summer...winter - not so much!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 31 pic-a-day

A Creepy Excavation
Today was another day of work out in the back. Chuck went at creating a boarder for our "Texas" area using some of the old bricks that were originally part of a sidewalk back when this old house was first built. As he dug away the area for the bricks this strange little guy was uncovered. It's a creepy looking "Chuckie the murdering doll" like toy. CREEPY!


But...he did not hinder the work. As usual Chuck (my Chuck - not creepy doll Chuckie) worked extremely hard. Tomorrow...we should be completing the majority of the work, with the exception of power washing the deck and a few creative projects that I'd like to add to the area.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 30 pic-a-day

Chuckie and the Big Black Chair
Couldn't help but take this photo today as Chuck and I needed to make a Menards run for supplies. What was even funnier about this chair was that it has 6 cup holders.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 29 pic-a-day

Homemade GF Egg roll
I have been craving an egg roll since having to go gluten-free. I can easily go without bread or buns...but I so wanted the yumminess wrapped up in an egg roll. Creating the filling for the egg roll was the easy part. The ingredients are naturally gf (with the exception of making sure to have GF soy sauce). The wrapper is another story. Most egg roll wrappers are wheat wrappers. So with some research I found that you can use spring roll wrappers that are rice and tapioca based. They worked like a charm. They don't fry up as brown and crisp as the wheat ones...but they were great. Must of been pretty good - Chuck had 5! Now that I know it will work, I can play around with the filling contents.

Day 28 pic-a-day

I forgot to post yesterday's photo! Here's my guys working hard shoveling rock.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 27 pic-a-day

  
Kiss of Approval
At the end of working all day on the deck railing, Toby jumps up on it to give Chuck a kiss of approval.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 26 pic-a-day

My Hard-Working Man and His Tan Head
I'm so appreciative of how hard Chuck works to make our home the best it can be. He worked the entire day out back on creating a new railing for the deck. He doesn't complain about how hard the work might be...he just goes at it. 

As usual nothing goes easily in this house and extra work had to be done to get things the right way...but we are making progress - perhaps not as much as expected today- but progress. We only went to Menards 2 or 3 times today. And he's developing quite a nice tan on that wonderful head of his!

If weather cooperates we should get lots more done tomorrow!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 25 pic-a-day

Today we took a drive to Starved Rock State Park to do some hiking. Starved Rock is in Utica, IL - about a 90 minute drive from us. Not all of us...just Chuck, Chris, and I. Shawn and Sara had no desire to go hiking miles through the woods. Honestly - I don't think Chuck was too thrilled with it either. After shoveling 5 1/2 tons of rock the last few days - he's was probably a bit worn out. But Chris and I do have a tendency to wander off trail a bit to climb up or down parts of canyons to see cool rocks, interesting tree roots, or frogs in a stream. So someone had to come along with us to call for help if needed, lol.

The weather was perfect. It was nice spending the day with my youngest boy - who is not so young anymore. As a 17 year old teenager we really don't see him that much. He's in and out of the house...as many teens his age are. Hiking is an interest that him and I share, so I really wanted to go at least once this summer. And this summer is flying by!

It was a fun time...but my body is feeling the miles of hiking and several hundred stairs climbed today! Tomorrow will be a sleep-in morning and then helping Chuck with work in the backyard. But I definitely will not be moving fast!

Day 24 pic-a-day

This day was spent looking for plants and flowers for the back yard. This lily was not chosen - but I couldn't help but photograph it's beauty.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 22 pic-a-day

  
Lemonhead ground
Those of you who know Chuck and I know that during our breaks from school there is most often a project going on in or around our house. This summer is no exception. We had been discussing doing something in our backyard to make it a more pleasant area. It currently has nothing but weeds that are kept mowed down and a fire pit. We wanted a more landscaped area with paths and plants.

So...Super Chuck begins his work. He planned out some paths, sitting areas, and planting spots...drew out a map...and the digging began. He spent the last couple days of digging out the areas for crushed rock to go and tomorrow it will be delivered.

I'm not much help with this project. After moving just a few bricks from the fire pit I was banned from any of the heavy bending, lifting, or digging because of a back issue that is driving me crazy. This is hard for me...I stayed out of the last major project (until the painting stage) because I was busy working on my Masters in Ed degree. But to have pain put me out of helping - does not make me happy.  So other than being a water girl and giving moral support...so far it's all Chuck! Oh wait...I did spray paint the guide lines (I know how to handle a can of spray paint).

As usual, Chuck is doing an awesome job!  After viewing his progress today - I had to give part of his dug-out area a face....and so became the Lemonhead ground area!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 21 pic-a-day

Happy 4th of July! 
Chuck and I enjoyed some all-American burgers for dinner. 
One of the many things I love about summer is the smell of whatever is cooking on the grill.
How do you like your burgers? Cheese...no cheese...plain...loaded with extras?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 20 pic-a-day


I decided this afternoon that I really should make some cupcakes to celebrate the 4th. Nothing fancy...but oh so yummy. A gluten-free chocolate cake with espresso cream cheese frosting. I tinted some of the frosting red, some blue, and left some white and piped out a super quick firework-like top for the cupcakes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 19 pic-a-day

Chris and Chuck worked very hard today at clearing some overgrown trees. 
Here is Chris on the other side of the fence in the neighbor's "jungle".

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 18 pic-a-day

This beautiful flower is a Phantom Petunia. It and a few other artistically colored petunias were given to me by my thoughtful mother-in-law. I love to photograph and paint flowers. One of my favorite artists is Georgia O'Keeffe because of how she painted flowers so large and close-up. I will have to do a Phantom petunia painting soon!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 17 pic-a-day

We enjoyed the Keith Urban Concert at the iWireless Center tonight. 
It was a nice way to spend our Anniversary.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 16 pic-a-day

One last shot of Copper before we left Carterville. I love the shadows in this photo!
A big Thank You to Rich and Janie for opening their home to us once again. We always enjoy spending time with you and the rest of the family!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 15 pic-a-day

We had a nice afternoon drive up to Bald knob to see this cross. The weather was perfect!


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 14 pic-a-day

A Cozy Cooper --


What a life this little guy has! I have to say I enjoyed the time he spent cuddled up on my lap.
Our two labs (Molly & Toby) are certainly not lap dogs like Cooper!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 13 pic-a-day

I'll go anywhere as long as you are there to hold my hand.


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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 12 pic-a-day

Our last day in St. Louis was spent exploring the Art Museum and then Grant's Farm. As soon as I saw this big guy from a ways away I rushed over to see up close. There were actually two there. Such huge interesting creatures!


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Location:S Greenbriar Rd,Carterville,United States

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 9 pic-a-day

I loved the sculpture park we walked through today. Funny the mosaic cat was the first I saw and my favorite!


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Day8 pic-a-day




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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 6 of Pic-a-day This is Heaven in a bite!

Is this Heaven? No...it's cheesecake!
Have you ever woke up thinking about something you can't wait to eat? I'm not talking about breakfast but about a sweet treat that you know is waiting for you. This morning was one of those mornings. I woke up wanting to pull one of the mini cheesecakes I made yesterday out of the freezer and have at as soon as I could. But....I showed restraint and waited until after lunch to finally indulge in what I think is the absolute best concoction ever created.   Cheesecake!!

Cheesecake is not something we have a lot of and we haven't had any since going gluten free. The filling of cheesecake is naturally gluten-free but the traditional crust is made with graham crackers which are a no-no for me. 

Yesterday I was a bit bored and of course that usually leads to me doing some baking. Also Sara was here for the weekend and she enjoys eating my sweet treats - which is a win-win for us. The more she eats (with the fabulous metabolism of a teenager)...the less left for me and Chuck to eat (with the not so fabulous metabolism of a 40 something).

I've had a couple packages of cream cheese in the fridge and had thought about coming up with a cheesecake recipe that would be GF. So I began to wonder what I could use for the crust. I knew I could always just skip the crust all together - but I really like to have a bit of a crunch to go along with the creamy goodness of the cheesecake. I could have gone to the store and looked for some gluten-free graham crackers, but I really wasn't wanting to do that. I first spotted some GF pretzels and thought that might work, but then I remembered that I saved the left over GF chocolate sandwich cookies from the cupcakes I made for Shawn's graduation. Perfect! What's better than a graham cracker crust? A cookie crust! There wasn't a bunch of cookies left - but just enough to make a batch of mini cheesecakes.  They were so very good! I do believe there are about 3 still left in the freezer...but I'm betting they don't last rest of the day.

The recipe I came up with can be found on my Gluten-Free Cupcake Recipe Page.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 5 of pic-a-day A walk through Augie

I make no effort to hide the fact that I would love to one day move out of this house of ours for many reasons - but one being the neighborhood has changed quite a bit since I when I grew up in this same house. It's by no means a dangerous neighborhood but has it's increasing downfalls. One of the big ones is the increased number of rental houses where those that live there and own the property really don't seem to want to take care of it. Along with the increased number of rental houses also come the noise of college students living in these houses and walking to and from them (never quietly and often at 2 or 3 in the am).

However the downfall of living near Augustana College is also one of the only positives of where we live.

Augie holds a special place in my heart. Of course it is my Alma Mater but it is also a place I explored as a young child both in and out. My mom worked many years in the college center food service. She was loved by coworkers as well as professors and students. It is also a very beautiful campus. Ever since Chuck and I have shared this house as our home we have taken hundreds of walks through the paths and walkways of the college, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with the dogs. If we ever do move from this house it will be something that I miss a great deal.

Since I graduated in 1992 there has been one addition to the campus after another. My Alma Mater sure believes in progress and certainly knows how to spend their astronomical tuition fees!

This path was a very nice addition that I enjoy a great deal!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time for another Photo-a-Day Challenge - Instagram style!

I have been loving my iPhone so much since we made the switch this spring. There are so many things I love about this phone. I don't know why I call it a phone - I use it for making calls only about 10% of the time - the other 90% of the time all the other wonderful apps are utilized. It's been a lifesaver to help me figure out if something is safe for me to eat when buying groceries or finding a restaurant. There are so many great apps - I feel inclined to share the ones I like and how I use them.

I'm going to start with my hands-down favorite app - Instagram. Since the first minutes of getting the iPhone my favorite thing is to take photos and use one of the many apps that help transform each photo into a work of art. I have to admit that I continue to find new photo apps each week to try. The iPhone makes it so easy to share photos to facebook and Twitter. Instagram makes it even easier. Along with being able to instantly apply some really cool filters to the photo this app uploads it to the Instagram feed where it can be seen by everyone. You can simply upload it to Instagram alone or choose to have it also appear in your Twitter feed and facebook wall. You can find facebook and Twitter friends to add your Instagram feed. You can "like" or comment on photos in the feed. Looking at the Instagram feed you get a pictorial glimpse of where people are and what's going on around the world. Love it!!

So since there usually isn't a day that goes by that I'm not taking a photo - I thought it was time again for a "Photo-a-Day" challenge. This time the photos will be taken or edited using Instagram. I'm not going to put a time limit on this one. Perhaps I will shoot for the whole year...perhaps just the summer. Some days I will only post the photo and nothing more. Other days I may use the photo to reflect on the day's events.

So...Here's the first photo....

Chuck and I have been trying our best to purchase and eat foods that are good for us. We picked up this yummy looking pineapple today. I just love the look of fruit - the perfect subject for art...Mother Nature's work of art.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Graduation! Yay for Shawn!!!

This past Sunday my oldest son Shawn graduated from high school.


My first-born son has not had the easiest hand dealt to him in life. He's faced the challenges that come along with having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. As the prevalance of Autism has risen greatly over the years (current statistic is 1 in every 110 children have an ASD) I'm sure that many of you have come into contact with, know of, or even perhaps parent a child with Autism. I'm very proud to say that Shawn has faced those challenges head on - usually with a smile on his face. He has grown to be a very fine young man. He has a huge heart and always wants to make people around him happy and proud of him. (Except for the occasional screaming match with his brother over a video game or the pigsty of a room they share. But hey - isn't that what they call "brotherly love"?)

Shawn knows what he wants and makes every attempt to go for whatever that is.
After graduation on Sunday he posted on facebook "I am happy glad that my years in school are over TIME TO GET A JOB!".
That's the Shawn we know and love. We love his little language quirks and his ambition to meet his goal. This goal is not an easy one. Though Shawn is perfectly capable of learning the skills needed for most jobs, in this economy getting someone to give him that chance may be a real challenge. Even if the goal of getting a job may take a while - we are very proud of him and all the accomplishments he has made in his 18 years so far!

Of course I wouldn't let an celebration opportunity go by without doing some cupcake baking. Even thought the gluten-free diet has made it a bit of a challenge, I'm slowly creating some GF cupcakes that are just as delicious as the regular ones. I made some chocolate espresso cupcakes with chocolate frosting - all from scratch. They were a success!