Another Autism Holiday Giveaway!

Yes, I’m going to talk about Ning again!  Gotta problem wit’ dat?

Oh, yeah?!?!?

Well, I know people who know some people who know other people who can help you out wit dat lil’ problem.

Capiche?  {wink}

Sorry about.  My cinematic tastes, which includes movies like Scarface, GoodFellas, and The Godfather series, are as diverse as they come, and it’s obvious I’ve seen these flicks one too many times. {teehee}

Anyhoo, I’m here tonight to tell you about another wonderful holiday giveaway besides my own (which ends tomorrow @ 11:59 PM CDT, in case you forgot to enter! {wink}).

Model Me Kids announced on their Ning network that they were having a little soiree of the giveaway sort, and being a good neighbor, I just couldn’t resist jumping in and spreading the good cheer to all of you!

So, here’s the deal.

Win a 3-set of Model Me Kids videos for your favorite teacher for your child with Autism.

We will ship a 3-set of your choice of Model Me Kids social skills training DVDs to the winning teacher’s school address. Open to entries with US and Canada shipping addresses. All entries due by midnight December 19, 2008. One entry per member. The winning entry will be drawn and announced on the Model Me Kids Social Network for Autism and Asperger Syndrome on December 21, 2008.

How to enter:

1. Join the Model Me Kids Social Network for Autism and Asperger Syndrome by signing up at http://modelmekids.ning.com/
Note: Please use a valid email address when you join so that we may contact you if yours is the winning entry.

2. Visit Model Me Kids and note in your entry which of the 3 Model Me Kids DVDs you would like the teacher to win.

3. Answer the following in the reply area below:
“My favorite teacher for my child with Autism is [name] because…”

Now’s your chance to give back to the teacher that has done so much for your child.

Dontcha just love the holidays???

All Aboard for Autism! Choo! Choo!

**This post is not meant to be offensive.  If you’re offended, please accept my apologies.  I am merely sharing an experience.**

My family’s theme this holiday season is trains, trains, trains!  They are my son’s absolute favorite thing.

Do you know how Cookie Monster loses his mind whenever he’s given a cookie?  Well, that’s pretty my prince’s reaction whenever he hears or sees a train.

Last night, we surprised him by taking him to Dry Gulch, USA.

The property was purchased in 1985 and originally constructed to be an Old West movie set for feature family films. In 1996, Dry Gulch added a narrow-gauge steam locomotive to its list of attractions. The Christmas Train was launched later that year, and the attraction now welcomes an average attendance of 50,000 guests over the course of select nights of operation in November and December.

As part of an evening at The Christmas Train, you will experience the true meaning of Christmas amidst the sights and sounds of the season. The train ride itself features breathtaking artwork, several live reenactments, a multimedia presentation, and an original music score.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve seen The Polar Express one too many times.  I hear Christmas train, and I automatically think a group of dancing waiters are going to jump out & offer up some tasty hot cocoa.

The Christmas Train took us a ride we weren’t really prepared for.  It took us on a different kind of journey.

I love a good Christmas story like the next person, but there were a few parts about this journey that I found a bit troubling.

For one, the reenactment of the crucifixion was macabre, to say the least, and I was truly grateful that the bodies on the crosses were fake.  I wish I could have said the same about the Roman soldiers taunting the dying Christ.

The musical score became a bit frightening and really loud during certain scenes, and a few of the little ones on  the train were deeply disturbed because they were crying.

I was incredibly grateful my son was into the train and not tuned in to what was going on around him.  {Thank you, Autism.}

After the train ride, we were shuffled into a movie theater for a short film.   It is my understanding that the gentleman on the screen was the creator of Dry Gulch.  We never learned his name, but he seemed like a nice man.  🙂

The film was a brief synopsis of his troubling childhood.

We learned that his mother took him and his brother away from their father and moved them from a rural town to a “big city”.  We learned that she became an alcoholic and attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills.  We learned that he was the one who ran miles, barefoot, to his grandmother’s house to get his mother help.  We learned that, even today, he can still hear the sounds of the medical team pumping her stomach.  We learned that at age 17, he, too, became an alcoholic.  We learned that during a school visit, a man told him the true meaning of Christmas, and it was this visit that turned his life around.

The commercial for the Christmas Train doesn’t prepare you for the true train experience.  It shows people smiling while riding on a well-lit train.  However, the train was not lit; in fact, it was pretty dark, and no one was smiling.  (I’ll admit a lit-up car would have been distracting.)

It would have been nice if the experience was open to all faiths & beliefs.  My husband comes from a line of Sephardic Jews, and he was a little offended.

All in all, I didn’t think the Christmas Train was a bad experience because being on a train made my son smile.

His smile made it all worthwhile.

(more…)

Unhealthy Toys Are Making Our Children Sick.

So, what’s a parent to do?  Christmas is creeping up on us…

What can we do to ensure our children remain healthy this holiday season?

Besides eating healthy, what are our other options?

Do we even have any?

Earlier this year, I donated about 98% of my son’s toys.  Anything toxic has been banned from his room… and this house.

Our home is as healthy as I can make it without going completely apey!

I already told you about HealthyCar.org in a previous post, and during a conversation with a friend today, I learned about another groovy organization.

Allow me to introduce you to HealthyToys.org!

It’s another project of the Ecology Center, and it’s goal is to educate consumers of the toxins harboring in children’s toys and other products.

Why Do We Need Healthy Toys?
HealthyToys.org includes test results for more than 1,500 toys and children’s products. This site is a first step in providing parents, grandparents, and others who care about children with the information they need to make better choices when purchasing toys and other children’s products.

Below is just a sample list of some of the worst toys out there.

Please don’t slack off on one of your more important duties as “Santa” this year.  Check out HealthyToys.org to see if your gift choices made the nice list.  Actually, be sure to check your list… twice!

Toy Rankings: Sample High Toys

Note: Only products tested via the XRF method are listed.

Examples of Toys Containing Lead

Product Level (in PPM)
2 Hearts and HM graphic Necklace
Disney (F.A.F., Incorporated)
406,510
Halloween Pumpkin Pin
The Christmas Tree Shop
190,943
Bracelets Collection
The Christmas Tree Shop
81,085
Just My Style “It’s So Charming” Jewelry Charm Bracelets
Just My Style Jewelry
9,254
High School Musical crown necklace
Disney (F.A.F., Incorporated)
7,963
Leapster2 / Wall.E
LeapFrog
4,251
Fairy & Flowers Sandals
HuanCheng
4,113
Thistle Blocks
Edushape
2,446
Turbo Wheels – Lime Green
Greenbrier International, Inc.
2,441
High School Musical “HSM” necklace
Disney (F.A.F., Incorporated)
2,337

Examples of Toys Containing Bromine

Product Level (in PPM)
Road Racers with Play Mat
Fun Club
30,831
Lightning McQueen Racing Chair
Disney (Marshmallow)
25,562
Lift-it Luke
Wow
22,634
Disney Fairies Fold-out Chair & Sleeping Pad
Disney (Marshmallow)
22,287
Princess Jewelry
Brand name was not recorded
12,550
4 Necklaces
Unique
9,307
Table Top Champion Ping Pong
International Playthings
7,430
4 in a Row
International Playthings
6,865
Little Princess Flashing Magic Wand
D.M. Production
6,341
Speed Racer Remote Control Mach 5
Hot Wheels
5,409

Examples of Toys Containing Cadmium

Product Level (in PPM)
Halloween Pumpkin Pin
The Christmas Tree Shop
3,847
Totally Me! Dressy Rainbow Jewelry
Geoffrey, Inc
3,269
Ball Track, Large Basic Set
HABA
981

Examples of Toys Containing Arsenic

Product Level (in PPM)
Halloween Pumpkin Pin
The Christmas Tree Shop
4,765
Totally Me! Dressy Rainbow Jewelry
Geoffrey, Inc
1,202
Best Friend Bands
Alex
630

Examples of Toys Containing Mercury

Product Level (in PPM)
iFlops
Jay at Play
3,048
8 Mini Twist Up Crayons
Alex
783
Bath Letters & Numbers
Little Tikes
46

I Still Believe.  Do You?

I Still Believe. Do You?

I am thankful for a little piece of spam email that I received back in 2005.  It was from Santa Mail.org!

I am thankful for the wonderful memory this company gave me.

That year, I got to see the most wonderful expression cross my son’s face when I told him he had a letter from Santa.  It was priceless!  He was beyond excited!

Here’s a screenshot from this company’s website.

The letters are personalized and are postmarked from the North Pole.  You can choose from a Traditional or a Christian letter.

There are even letters for Baby’s First Christmas!

And for $9.95, it’s worth it!

Since 2005, I’ve been adding the Good List Certificate to my order because lil’ man is the best kid ever!

One of the items I would LOVE to order, but will have to wait until we move to a climate where it frequently snows, is their exclusive “Santa Was Here” kit.

Very original these folks are, and they’re definitely worth checking out!

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of Christmas favorites when it comes to movies.  One of them stands out more than the rest.  It’s the The Polar Express.

It’s a wonderfully and beautifully created film about a little boy who rediscovers the joy of Christmas.

In one scene, another little boy who’s doesn’t come from the other side of the tracks (meaning his family is considered “poor”) is found singing the following song.  It’s beautiful and touching!

And there is nothing more beautiful than hearing my son sing along with him and the young lady that joins in.

I don’t know when I’ll stop ordering from SantaMail.org nor do I know when I’ll tell my son that Santa isn’t a person but more a beautiful thought that comes not necessarily from the fact that you get presents this time of year but more joy one receives from giving joy and hope to others.

I definitely won’t take the “Santa’s not real, so grow up!” approach, but I know I’ll have to say something eventually.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this…

Although, Christmas is only celebrated once a year, the spirit of it should remain with you…

If You Just Believe!

Being Thankful for Autism.

Thanksgiving is that time of year when folks, miraculously, take time out of their busy schedules to gather ’round and be thankful.

Blaring car horns…

Phones ringing off the hook…

Folks rushing by to get nowhere fast…

All seem to slow down if only for one day.

This day.

For some, parenting a child with autism can seem daunting, even down right frustrating.

For others, parenting a child with autism brings wonder to each day because you never know what’s going to happen.

I, for one, am thankful for autism.

I am a more patient, tolerant, and compassionate person… all thanks to autism.

I am a more caring, kind, and empathetic person… all thanks to autism.

This year, I am not faced with the hustle and bustle of making a grand meal for all to enjoy.  (Last year’s headache of not having an oven remains a bitter moment for me.)

This year, I am not faced with having to dash to one family home to another.

My holiday season will seem relatively calm compared to most, and this year, my son won’t be overwhelmed because there’s not much going on at our house.

Even though, all will be peaceful (yay!), I still have much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the kisses my son slobbers all over my face… every day.

I am thankful for those moments when it seems like he’s eyeballin’ me to death when he’s really probably trying to figure me out (good luck, kid!  Others before you have failed miserably with this one!).

I am thankful for the scripting he does because words are words, even when their not his own (he does have an extensive vocabulary, and he does speak his own words but scripts more.)

I am even thankful for the flailing (hand flapping) because he seems to express himself through it.

Basically, I am thankful… for him.

So, as you gather ’round with loved ones, please stop and take a moment to soak in the events unfolding before you.

Hear all the laughter.  See all the smiles.  Receive all the hugs and kisses.

Because life’s too short not to be thankful for the little gifts it brings… more often than not.

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