Monthly Archives: June 2016

Lizzie’s Starry Night Sensory Jar

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Sometimes kids like to look at things that help calm them down, especially kids with Autism, and that is why sensory jars are so awesome.  I made this one out of a glass jar for Elizabeth.  For children on the spectrum, especially if they are prone to meltdowns, I recommend plastic.  I would not have made these for Matt and Sam at all.  They threw and broke everything they could and giggled about it while they did it.

We started out with a regular glass jar with a lid.  It could be any jar you want to use, it just needs a snug fitting lid.  Then, we filled that 1/3 of the way with Kayro syrup.  This makes the water thicker so the objects will float back up or remain suspended for a minute.

Next, we needed something to put in the water.  We used assorted confetti stars.  They are foil stars of assorted colors and sizes that you can get from Walmart.  You could use any kind of glitter or foil confetti, it really makes no difference other than the appearance.

To get the Starry Night color of an almost deep purple, we added two drops of blue food coloring and one of red.  You can do any color combination to match your foil.

Say your kid is a fan of Dallas Cowboys.  Then you can make it blue.  Maybe they like Red Socks and you want to go with red.  If they like tractors, you can do green.  The possibilities are as endless as the interests of each individual on the spectrum.  If I could have made these for Matt and Sam when they were younger, I would have gone with cars and a light color like yellow so they could easily see through it.

When we finished putting the confetti in the jar, we tried to hot glue the lid on the mixture.  This did not work out.  I had to re-open it and remove the glue because it leaked.  Without the glue, it works fine.

This is a very simple project.  I know a lot of parents with children with autism, or without, can benefit from having calming bottles and other sensory toys, so we will probably be doing a lot of these projects in the future.

Some examples of stimming behavior my boys exhibited when they were younger were:
lining up Hot Wheels across the room or in elaborate patterns for hours
turning bikes upside down and spinning the wheels with no interest in riding the bikes
tapping everything
repeating simple words and phrases
hand flapping

Keep in mind, stimming is an important behavior for people with Autism.  It helps them deal with their environment and it really is not harming anyone around them.  It is a coping mechanism.  They never do it for attention, and often may not be aware they are doing it at all.

Stim away.


White Cake with Chocolate Pudding

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I was looking for a chocolate cake recipe that was not too rich, and not too sweet.  I had a white cake mix in my pantry, and a box of chocolate pudding.  I thought, there has to be a recipe to combine these two.

Turns out, there is.

What you need:
1 box of cake mix
1 box of pudding mix
4 eggs
1/ c of oil
1 c of water

You mix all the ingredients for 2 minutes, then bake it at 325 for 25-35 minutes.  It is so fluffy, and it really does not need icing.  It is not rich, it is not really dense.  It just turns out perfectly.

Olive Garden Waco Drive


I do not go out to eat a whole lot, so when I do I am generally excited and having certain expectations.  While we were out last week at Richland mall shopping, we decided we wanted to stop in at Olive Garden for the endless soup and salad.  It was lunch time, and nothing else really sounded that appealing.

We walk into a pretty much empty restaurant, and the hostess is just leaning forward on the podium with all her weight.  She barely looked up to tell us, “We are cleaning off the tables, be with you in a minute.”  She didn’t smile.  She didn’t stop leaning.  She just grumbled.  We sat to wait.

It was not very long until the hostess grumbled the tables were ready.  Our waitress, with a tag that said Jake, bounced over to take our drink order.  We ordered teas, which I shouldn’t have touched, because I did not get a refill until we were out the door.

When she asked if we wanted cheese and we both replied no, she acknowledged we did not then came back and started grating it on my plate.  This was not a big deal at all.  Her giggling reaction kind of was.  I did not ask for a new plate.  I just shrugged it off.

So, Jake, AKA Naomi, came by all the surrounding tables offering tea, to go and otherwise,  as my glass sat on the edge of the table.  Empty.  She ignored my saying excuse me three times. Now Naomi has a great and bubbly personality, but that did not refill my drink.

All else was great.  The soup and bread was as good as always, and the salad was their usual amazing salad.  It just seemed that the people working in there neither cared for their job, nor the fact that I really do not get out much and have certain expectations.

A Church at Westphalia, Texas

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On a road trip last year to Austin, we came across this church in Westphalia, Texas, and I just had to take some pictures.  This beautiful church is the Church of the Visitation.  It was built by German settlers after they purchased 100 acres for a church and school.  After the initial two buildings were destroyed in the 1880’s, a Christmas Eve meeting of the community brought up the idea of building a larger church.  When they were able to do it, the stone foundation came by rail from Muldoon, Texas; the wood from Waco.  The community built the church with these materials for free.

This is the beginning history of this particular church.  The windows were all shipped from Westphilia, Germany, which is where the town got its name.  This is a very interesting place, historically.  It is also a very beautiful place, aesthetically.  For more information on the church, or the town, here is the website of the congregation and a little bit from the actual church.

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A Free Way to Teach and Tutor Math at Home


My kids are pretty far behind in Math, and that has been a homeschooling frustration of mine for a pretty long time.  I know they are behind, and even worse, they know they are behind.  This is an eternal struggle with special needs kids, they are on so many different grade levels and their ability to comprehend different subjects is all over the board.  There never really seems to be a definitive answer.  Yet, there are many programs I have found to narrow that widening gap they are constantly slipping towards.

I was not a fan of Easy Peasy Homeschool at first.  I think I have said that in former blogs.  It is all laid out for you, grade by grade, day by day, and that is all good and well, but when you have kids that are on multiple levels, it really leaves gaps in the ability for them to follow that particular curriculum.  What I have found, that I LOVE, is the way the math is laid out for you.

The steps to get to it can be confusing, but I will go ahead and do it step by step from where Matt and Sam are at this point.  First, you go to the home page for Easy Peasy.   Then you go to the grade level for your child.  For Matt and Sam, this is 6th.  The link is at the top of the page.  Next, you go to the day of the school year in which you are teaching.  That day is 171 in our home.  Scroll down to your day.  Click on the Math link.  From there, scroll down to Middle School Math (5th through 8th).  There are several steps there.  We are on Step 1.   As you can see, Khan Academy is offering free courses in Math.  Scroll down to the child’s level.  Our level is Basic Multiplication.  As you can see, this page is a complete teaching tool.  It has videos, tests, pre-tests, practice, it has it all.  We went from adding double digits to this in about three weeks of homeschooling.  This is something the public schools were unable to do.  I do believe, finally, I am impressed, Easy Peasy.

I am sure this can also be a wonderful tool for those of you with children at home for the summer who are struggling with Math.   This would be an excellent tool for tutoring.

The Two Sites That Put Money on My Amazon Account

Lately, I have been buying the kids a few shirts basically for free on Amazon.  How have I been doing that?  Fairly easily.  I am always looking for a place that gives out samples for review, and that is how I ran across Crowdtap.  Crowdtap is a little different from the other sample pages I have found in a whole lot of ways.  The first way is you do things to earn rewards.  These things are as simple as taking a selfie or letting a product put a sponsored ad on your social media.  For each of these tasks, you get points.  For every thousand points, you get a $5 Amazon gift card.

I guess a concern would be for someone busier than I am, but I think anyone can do this in their spare time.  You just click and answer polls and questions about products.  It is kind of like a survey site with samples they occasionally send out.  I qualified for two of those, I am waiting now.

The most important thing to remember is when you get that notice that you got 1000 points is to go to your email right then to get the codes for your gift card.  I accidentally deleted mine twice then had to dig.

The second one that gives me money is MySurvey.  This one has a quick payout.  It takes 1100 pointsfor an Amazon card, and I think 1000 for paypal, but you can get those super quickly.  All kinds of cards are available, and charitable donation sites.  The surveys are about absolutely any and everything.  My favorite one I had to sign a confidentiality agreement on, but when this product I was sent hits the shelves, I will be the first to say how awesome it is.  Until then, just know you might get to try a protocol for a company, and that is pretty cool in itself.  They paid me for that, too.

I really haven’t tried much else besides putting SwagBucks on my computer.  That is a really bad idea.  It is super slow and in the month I have had it I have around 385 points.  I do not want to take their surveys or watch their videos.  None of what they offer interests me.

If you have any sites for reviews or paying surveys, let me know I am always looking.  These do not pay much, but they do pay.  It is just like free money, when you think about it.

Jewelry Sale

I have started making jewelry again.  I have a list of prices, and they may change, but only if stated.  I will start off with 5 items and see how it goes.  I a make all kinds.  The shipping will be 3 in the USA for one listed item, although the item may contain more than one piece.  That may change, as well.  Prices are really based on the amount of time it takes to make more than the cost.  I have these supplies readily available right now.  As of now, this is the listing:

  1. Chain Maille Sets    – 20.00
  2. Other Earrings        –   5.00
  3. Leather Necklaces –  10.00
  4. other Bracelets      –    7.00
  5. 2 piece jewelry      –    10.00
    3 piece jewelry      –    15.00

Chain Maille earrings are 7.00
Chain Maille bracelets     10.00

You can get a hold of me on here, on Facebook, or by email:

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Buddha bracelet and earrings 10.00

Cross with glass and other beads on leather strap with a fancy clasp 10.00

Beautiful chainmaille earrings with glass beads 7.00

Wooden beads on leather 10.00

Glass beads on elastic 7.00

Thank you for looking at my jewelry.  As I sell pieces I will put more up, so keep on coming back.