Sharing recipes, crafts and frugal living, the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. Yoga Instructor said goodbye to her nightly glass of Chardonnay to give up habits that were not serving her purpose in life! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Kale and Pumpkin Frittata - Great for Paleo and Gluten Free Diets!

I love to cook things that use just one pan on the stove and this recipe, if followed, will allow you to do just that. My one pan staple is a deep 6 quart saute pan with a lid, like this one. This recipe is high in protein and has no grains which allows it to be gluten-free and perfectly in line with Paleo diet followers. Serves 6 when using a 9x13 pan.


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 5-ounce package of baby kale, destemmed.
  • 1/2 of a lemon, juice only
  • 1 small onion
  • 8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat convection oven to 350 degrees, I use a convection oven for most of my cooking. It speeds up the cooking time and the heat is distributed evenly. If you are using a traditional conventional oven double the cooking time and watch closely.

Spray a 9x13 glass pan with cooking oil.
  1. Destem baby kale leaves and rinse thoroughly, place in a bowl and squeeze the juice of half of a lemon over the leaves and stir by hand. Set aside.
  2. Cook ground turkey in saute pan uncovered and stir occasionally.
  3. While ground turkey is cooking, chop onion and mushrooms.
  4. When the turkey is half cooked with still some visible red, add the onion and mushrooms and cover the pan with a lid. Stir occasionally.
  5. Once cooked, remove from heat and add the kale, stirring constantly until the leaves are only slightly wilted.
  6. Add coriander and thyme and stir.
  7. Pour turkey mixture into the 9x13 cooking pan.
  8. In the same bowl that the baby kale was in, whisk 1 dozen eggs until fully blended.
  9. Pour eggs over the ground turkey mixture in the cooking pan. Shake the pan from side to side to distribute the eggs, don't stir!
  10. With a spoon place dollops of pumpkin over the egg and turkey mixture, as shown.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, I prefer sea salt.
  12. Sprinkle crumbled feta evenly over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes in a convection oven, uncovered. And then bake for additional 10 minutes with the pan covered with foil. Test the center with a knife to be sure that it is cooked thoroughly. 


My First Pie & Happy Pi Day!

I am in LOVE with this cookbook, First Prize Pies by Allison Kave. It might come as a surprise to you knowing that I am a health coach and here I am blogging about eating sugar-laden pies. I firmly believe in moderation, I don't think it's possible for most people to completely eliminate sugary sweet desserts forever. I believe that we have to find a balance for ourselves to live and be happy. (In a previous post, I explained my Social Pie Experiment.I've decided that 2018 will be the year of making pies and what better day to post a recipe for a pie than on Pi day! 

For my very first pie I made one of the recipes from First Prize Pies cookbook. I chose this one for my wife, both for her love of caramel and Samantha Bee. The pie tasted fantastic, extremely rich in flavor and relatively easy to make except that I will note that making this pie is time consuming. Not labor intensive but waiting for things to set in order to finish the recipe takes patience. I hope you enjoy!

Samantha Bee's Salty Caramel Pie: First Prize Pies by Allison Kave

Pretzel Crust
8 ounces pretzels (pick your favorite kind)
6 to 8 tablespoons (85 to 115 g) unsalted butter, melted (pretzels can be very dry, so you may need more)

1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) brown butter (I used regular butter)
2 tablespoons mascarpone (I couldn't find mascarpone so I used 2 tablespoons of full fat cream cheese and a splash of heavy cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips

Make the crust: Grind the pretzels in a food processor until finely ground or seal them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Pour in the butter and mix (hands are best for this) until the texture is that of wet sand. You may need more or less butter, depending on the texture of the pretzels. Firmly press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan. Chill the crust in the freezer or fridge for several hours. (For a less crumbly crust: Once chilled through, bake the crust in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.)

Make the filling: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together 1/2 cup water, the sugar, and honey until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Cook over medium-high heat, moving the pan around occasionally, until the caramel has turned dark amber and reached 340°F (170°C) on a candy thermometer. (Or just guess, like I did.)
Remove the caramel from the heat and slowly pour the cream down the side of the pan, whisking constantly. Be very careful here: The caramel will start to bubble violently and release a lot of hot steam. Whisk in the butter, then the mascarpone, then the vanilla and salt. Pour the filling into your prepared pie shell, and refrigerate it, uncovered, until fully set—at least 5 hours.

Make the topping: Heat the cream until scalded, and then pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk until glossy. Spread or drizzle the ganache over the filling, allow it to set, and serve. This pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered well in plastic wrap. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving. For easier slicing, run your knife under hot water first to prevent the caramel from sticking to the blade.


Clutter Free Bathroom Ideas to Simplify Your Life

Raising two teenaged boys and making time for my marriage, family, and friends while also running a successful yoga studio and health coaching business is time-consuming. 2018 is the year that I am making a change in how I spend my days from my work time, family time to my volunteer positions. I am choosing to live with intention. You could say that is my "theme" for this year.

Choosing how I spend my time and with whom during those big open chunks of time on our weekend calendar is exciting and soul fulfilling. But what about those small little windows of time where you need to vacuum the house or scrub the tub? Not so much! I believe that if I simplify my house, even more than it already is, that doing these chores won't occupy as much time in my schedule. I don't feel as though I have a time management problem per say but I am seeing how these little household tasks that I do each week are occupying more time than I would like to and hiring a cleaning company is not in the budget right now.

So I started looking at the tasks that I do around the house with a detective type eye, analyzing the movements. What am I touching and how? Am I constantly having to move things in order to complete the task? Could I just get rid of that?

One of the areas under attack is our bathroom. We shop at Costco so we have these huge bottles of shampoo and conditioner, the supersize ones with their pumps, balancing in the corners where the tub and the wall meet. They have to be removed in order to clean the tub. And then on the bathroom sink, we have 4 people's toothbrushes and two different kinds of toothpaste and each week all of that is being moved in order to clean or constantly being knocked over as you try and clean just one side of the sink at a time. It seems like such a small problem but these little moments of time are where I believe I can simplify my life.

So after way too many hours thinking about my bathtub clutter problems, I scrolled through Amazon and I found this handy dispenser made by Better Living. I filled it with our Costco shampoo, conditioner and body wash and said goodbye to the giant bottles in the tub. Now the corners are clutter free and it makes cleaning the tub as enjoyable of a task as it can be. You do have to commit to its location because once it's installed using silicone, it can not be moved easily. For the bathroom sink, I went into our attic and pulled out the Ikea spice rack that at one time served as a small shelf for books when my kids were in bunk beds and I didn't want them to get out of bed to put their nighttime reading away. I installed it on the wall next to sink and have their toothbrushes and toothpaste in one area off of the countertop and now they are in charge of keeping their area clean. I placed me and my wife's items in a glass vase on the sink which can easily be moved to clean in one movement. Little changes like this can make a daunting task of cleaning the bathroom a little bit more enjoyable and most importantly will take less time to do. Have you learned some space-saving tricks to save you time when cleaning the bathroom? I'd love to hear them in the comments!


The Social Life of Pie

It might come as a surprise to you knowing that I am a health coach and I am blogging about eating sugar-laden pies. Here is the thing, as a health coach, I believe in moderation. I believe that we have to find a balance for ourselves to live and be happy. I don't eat pie every day, but every once in a while is totally okay for me. Also as someone who identifies as an Alcoholic, I'm always looking for alternative ways to find social gatherings that don't feel awkward when alcoholic drinks aren't being served. Even for folks who don't drink often they might mistakenly assume that a Friday night dinner invitation warrants bringing a bottle of wine. And for some people, it's an uncomfortable conversation to have with guests that you might not know very well and have invited over with the intention to get to know better.

Recently I had a conversation where I admitted to the other person that I’ve never actually made a pie before. I’ve made all kinds of desserts but never a pie. Their mouth hung open, shocked. She even said, "Come one everyone has made a pumpkin pie, it's so easy!" 
Nope, never. 
Here is a bit of my entire childhood my mother, my sister and I would take turns helping a neighbor Mary who lived a few doors down and was in a wheelchair. Mary was grandmother age, never had any children of her own and we started helping her soon after her husband died. We actually didn’t even know her before that. My mom was and still is such a caring, kind person, she saw a person in need and immediately wanted to help her. We took care of Mary and welcomed her into our lives, without seeking recognition or reward. (My mom, of course, did a lot more than me and my sister.) Our job, as kids, was to go down to Mary’s house in the evening and take her shoes and socks off and put on her slippers. Every third day it was my turn and Mary would have made a pie and her and I would have a slice (or two!) and talk. I really cherished that time with her and Mary’s pies were delicious! I’ve never tried to make a pie of any kind before now, yet they hold this very special place in my heart. 
So all of this is to say, I'm starting a little social pie experiment. 

I found this cookbook, First Prize Pies by Allison Kave on the shelf of my local library and was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover. After flipping through it for a few days I knew I had to own this book. The photographs are beautiful, I love the font that is used in the recipe writing and the actual recipes are both unique and yet familiar flavors. I have a fondness for eating food that is in season and this cookbook has pie recipes that are divided up by seasons, our meeting was clearly meant to be. When I saw that, ideas began to run wild.... what if I made a pie each month and intentionally invited friends over for pie and tea. Doesn't that sound lovely? It's a beautiful confluence of my love for cooking, of my purpose to live intentionally and devote time to relationships which have meaning in my life and also my goal of learning and developing a new skill. 
I'll keep you posted on this slice of my life!  ;) 


Simplifying My Shoes- Tieks Shoes

I recently posted about my desire to simplify my closet by creating a wardrobe that fits, feels good and that I feel confident in the clothes. It is a work in progress and I am not at all finished. I'm still refining and learning what my "look" is.

I have a strong desire to live with less stuff which is in line with my word for this year, Intention. As a yoga instructor and yoga studio owner, I follow the traditions and beliefs of the Yoga Sutras. Within those sutras are guidelines for living. (Now you might be wondering how yoga goes with Tieks shoes...keep following along, please) So one of the guidelines is Aparigraha; which is often translated to mean non-greed or non-attachment. To basically only take what you need. David Frawley, founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies explains that Aparigraha also means "not having a lot of unnecessary things around yourself and not hankering after what other people have." I have this desire to live with less stuff but that doesn't mean that I'm going to live life in ugly clothes. Nor does it make sense to wear inexpensive, cheaply made clothes and shoes that I will continue to have to replace and purchase over and over again. Which in turn will be polluting the earth with more stuff. So I'm focusing on buying quality items that can go with several of my clothes and that will last me for many, many years. 

I posted a question on Facebook asking my friends for shoe advice. I explained that I am in the market for flat shoes that can be worn with dresses and skirts but also look okay with a pair of jeans. I lean towards the ballet flat style rather than a pointy shoe and absolutely no heel! I had so many great responses. Several friends remarked about their love of Clark's shoes but I recently purchased 2 pairs that weren't a good investment so I knew that brand wouldn't work for me. Several other people expressed their love of Tieks. Of course, I've heard of these shoes and have seen advertisements for them pop up on my Instagram feed. But the $175 investment! Were they worth it?

I spent more time than I would like to admit reading blog reviews of Tieks and watching youtube videos where women advise on cleaning tips to how to correctly pick your size. The shoes only come in full sizes and this seems to be quite an issue for women who have half-sized feet like I do. Do you size up or down? The opinions on this matter are vast. But I thought if this many women like this brand of shoe, clearly this company is doing something right. So I held my breath as I clicked the checkout button. The shoes arrived within three days and I immediately was wowed by the packaging and the handwritten note! Are you kidding me? What a special touch!

I tried on the shoes, they felt comfortable and the color and quality were outstanding. But they felt a bit lose. Since they are made of leather I'm concerned about stretching so I immediately jumped on their website to inquire about exchanging and do you know what they are going to do?
They are shipping me the other size to try on, without charging my credit card, and I have two weeks to decide which size I will keep. I am in awe of this policy and so appreciate that flexibility. A company that makes returns and exchanging easy to do are a big winner in my book. I'll keep you posted on a final review once I decide which size to keep.
Are you a Tiek's gal? Leave a comment and tell me about your love affair with the shoe company.


Living with Less- Clothes

I haven't quite adopted the label "minimalist" quite yet though I definitely lean towards it. We live in a small house by choice and we live with all the items we own, no storage units filled with stuff we aren't using. We purge our house quite frequently and when we buy something we are intentional about where it will go in our house.

But my clothes closet was a whole different matter. In our shared closet I was taking up most of the space. I started reading about the Project 333 and immediately fell in love with the concept. I did as instructed and dumped all my clothes on my bed and went through the pile one by one, trying everything on. As I worked through the clothes I created piles on the floor:
  • Keep / Fits great / I love this item
  • Maybe / Has sentimental value
  • Donate / Doesn't Fit   
After I did the initial round of closet clearing it still looked like my closet was spilling out, in no way did it look like a minimalist closet. That's when I realized that I needed to adjust the concept for my life. I am a yoga instructor and am teaching several yoga classes a day, I literally live in leggings. I have my work uniform of yoga pants and yoga studio logo t-shirts that I wear every day. But then I have the "other" clothes. Clothes I wear occasionally out to dinner or a movie, clothes meant to be lived in like the rest of the world does. And then I have the special occasion clothes; the wedding or fancy dinner or funeral.  

What I learned through the process is that I wanted to really hone in on my personal style. I wanted to create a "look" that I felt comfortable and confident wearing regardless of whether it was a "thin" week or a "that time of the month week". I have spent most of the year thinking about it and creating Pinterest boards and noticing fashion in a different way than I have ever before. I've found pieces that can go from teaching a yoga class to a lunch date. I found the perfect black dress that can be worn several times on various outings whether dressed up for fancy dinner or dressed down by adding a jean jacket. I've decided on a gray-black basic color scheme with pops of color in the accessories. It's still a work in progress but I feel better about how it is evolving.    

My wife introduced me to the concept of buying quality items versus quantity. When we met I was a thrift store seeker, yard sale shopper, coupon cutter, frugal gal to my core. I was raised that way and it has continued into my adult life. I have always been a saver of money but I have issues with shelling out a lot of money for clothes and shoes. And then my wife pointed out to me that my way of sale shopping actually made me spend more money, took more time and if we get down to it was worse for the environment. For example, I was purchasing yoga pants on sale for around $15-$25 at various stores that would last me about a year before they became see-thru or fell apart in the washing machine. But the leggings that I purchased from a higher quality store that would make any frugal gal gasp, $90 on a pair of leggings?!?! They actually lasted 5 years and were still in great shape during the closet purge that I donated them.

Thanks to my wonderful wife I've now adopted her quality over quantity philosophy, though I still have to remind myself of that when I hold my breath while pushing the checkout buttons to purchase shoes that cost over $100. But with quality items in my closet that will last me a long time and in line with Project 333 I am creating a minimalist fashion closet that works for me. Keep checking back for updates! 
Have you tried Project 333? Ever thought of adopting a minimalist wardrobe or capsule wardrobe, as they are often referred to as? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear what your "uniform" looks like.  


Makeover your Bathroom Tile Without Breaking the Bank!

I have tried everything to clean this floor. We inherited the look of this tile when we bought the house, the tile is original to the house actually. I have purchased so many products that claim they will renew grout back to its original glory and they have all failed miserably. I have even been on my hands and knees with a toothbrush and straight bleach trying to clean this floor. Nothing worked.

It left us thinking that we needed to redo the bathroom and had contractors out to give us a price estimate on flooring, tile in the tub area, light fixtures and all the other little things that you need but don't think of costing money like installing a towel bar. Both contractors put us in the 5-7 thousand dollar range to do everything! On a yoga teacher's salary, that is not in the budget!

So I spent several hours watching youtube videos and reading up on how to regrout your floor. And determined that it was too messy and involved purchasing tools I didn't already own which resulted in a bigger expense. Then thanks to the Pinterest-algorithm Gods this product, Grout Renew, came up in my feed. I was immediately interested, painting grout? I can totally do that! I read several other blog reviews that showed amazing before and after pictures and I was willing to give it a go.

When I told people I was doing this they gave me a look that clearly said they thought I had completely lost my mind. For $14, I was willing to try it. I set up my Ipad and would watch/listen to a show while on my hands and knees perched on a pillow with my little paintbrush painting the grout around each square and rectangle. I took my time, I didn't consistently do it for hours on end. I'd do about 45 minutes and then be done for the day. I wouldn't get to it every day but several times a week I'd be perched on my pillow in a meditative state painting the floor. It was rather quite pleasant. 

Our floor was in really bad shape and it took two coats to cover the aging dark grout. It was faster the second time around as I had gained confidence in painting. After the painting was done I cleaned the floor and then put an additional sealant on top. All of the products I purchased at Home Depot because that is what is closest to my house. In the midst of painting the floor, I decided to paint the whole bathroom which really brightened up the room. I am loving how it turned out. And the entire project cost a little less than $100!   


Honoring Your Time, Living with Intention


I am choosing to live my life with Intention on a daily basis, as I mentioned before in a previous post my word for 2018 is Intention.
It's not easy, I'll be honest.
It would be a lot easier to get back into the habits that felt comfortable but weren't serving my purpose or goals. Similiar to when you create a new goal of being healthier, with food and exercise. It's hard to create that new habit but it's only the creating of the habit that is hard. Once the habit of meal prepping and carving out time in your schedule to exercise is a part of your routine, it no longer feels hard.

What does living with intention look like on a weekly basis? I am taking weekly inventory of how we are spending our time and making room in our busy schedules to spend time with the people we love and care about but have lost sight of because they aren't immediately in front of us. Like a lot of people we get swept up into the daily living; work, kids' activities, dog walks etc. If we don't pencil in the time to see these people that we love and care about but don't happen to be one of the faces we run into as we go about our lives, we hardly see them.

Maybe you feel the same way, you are raising kids and absorbed in practices and games and your time is spent with the other parents you sit next to on the bleachers. Or maybe you feel absorbed in your career and all of your time is spent at work and then getting drinks with other staff members afterward to shrug off the day and decompress. This is life, this is being in that comfortable place of habits. But the question I propose to you is- Is this serving your purpose? If you were a company would your intention of how you spend your time be in line with your mission statement? It wasn't for me and that's why I am making this change in my life.

We are making the time to see those faces that we lost sight of and care about, even if that means driving to a halfway point to have a meal together for a few hours. Twice we have done exactly that this month. For my mother-in-law's birthday, we drove halfway to meet her for lunch and yes, it would have been ideal to spend a weekend together but with the boys' schedules right now of classes and musical rehearsals, it's just not possible. That lunch with her felt really special. I felt present and happy to be with her and my wife on a Wednesday afternoon, breaking up our normal weekly routine. We also met up with my cousins who live outside of Philadelphia, we met halfway in a little sleepy boat town for lunch. We laughed and ate and talked truth. I don't think I've laughed that much in a long time. It was so good for our souls to connect with like-minded people and share our stories.

Intention lives in the choosing, being mindful of where our energies are going. Who and what are occupying the time slots on our calendars. Choosing how you spend your time and with whom is possible for all of us. We deserve to make living with intention a priority in our lives. How will you do it?


My word for the year- Intention

Every year I choose a word to meditate on and explore both emotionally and spiritually. This year my word is; Intention.
Here are links to previous years words: BE, Awakening, Embrace

The definition of intention:
-Meaning or significance: The intention of his words was clear.
-An act of determining mentally upon some action or result.
-The end or object intended; purpose.

I want to live 2018 with intention rather than just being swept up in the daily to-dos and losing sight of the things that really matter to me.
That is how I will measure the value of my life this year. Did I live with purpose? Did I spend time with people that I made room for in my schedule? Did I create room to explore and experience life? At the end of each month, I no longer want to mutter to myself “Oh my God! Where did the month go?”, like I did on several occasions in 2017.

My family is joining me on this journey as well. At the end of each month, we are writing down three highlights from the month in a journal. Each person writes their own highlights, in their own words captured in their handwriting. I imagine that at the end of 2018 it’s going to be such a gem to look back on these memories and life experiences that we created by living our lives with purpose. What word will you choose for 2018? How do you want to live your life and measure your year?


Carrot Oatmeal Baked Breakfast- I know it sounds CRAZY!

A health coaching client sent me this recipe and I thought that it sounded delish so I wanted to try it. But oftentimes what happens is that I start out with the intention of making a recipe and then I tweak it a bit to my liking. The original recipe can be found here, if you are interested.
Here is my version which includes a higher amount of eggs for additional protein and more carrots. I know that adding carrots seems like a crazy thing to have in a breakfast dish but surprisingly it goes really well with the overall flavor. Be aware that this dish isn't sweet tasting and some might find it bland because of that, try drizzling honey over it after baking if you find it isn't sweet enough for you.

Carrot Oatmeal Baked Breakfast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a 19x13 inch baking dish with oil of your choosing.

Combine the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats/old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups matchstick carrots or largely grated carrots
  • 2 tablespoons flax and chia blend
Stir together and then pour into the bottom of the baking dish.

Using the same bowl, no need to wash! Combine the following ingredients:
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or milk type of your choosing
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix together and then pour on top of the oats mixture. Using the same bowl again, no need to wash! Combine the following ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 2 cups of walnuts
  • 3/4 cup of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
Mix together and then spread evenly on top of the oats and egg mixture.
Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. To know when it's done stick a butter knife into it and check for thorough cooking throughout. 


Autism Testing- The Dread of Reevaluation

My oldest son, L, is on the Autism Spectrum and every three years or so the school psychologist at his public school is supposed to administer a battery of tests that pull him out of the classroom to reevaluate his diagnosis and services for his IEP (Individualized Education Plan). I've heard stories from families whose children are older than L, that their child tested differently as they aged and suddenly the services that their child was receiving in their IEP was taken away as though his/her
Autism changed and no longer rendered additional help. I've been told in hushed voices within vacant hallways, whispered information followed by the "you didn't hear this from me..." from school staff and administration that sometimes this is done because of budget cuts and there are other kids in the school who need the additional services more than my highly functioning autistic child. This is obviously not right but the reality is, that it is happening in a lot of public schools.

So it comes as no surprise that I go into this reevaluation with dread, I have a sinking pit in my stomach waiting for the results. I dread L being so successful that they take services away and I have to put my mama lion costume on and insist that he still keep the services that he has in order to continue to be successful. Also within these test results right in black and white is the prediction of your child's age based on how he answers the questions. One of the tests they administer is called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children also known as WISC. We are now on the 5th edition of this test. And the purpose of this test is to provide insight into the child's performance, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, problem-solving and approach to learning.

When L first took this test the results said that he was functioning at an age that was two years younger than he actually was. I remember crying, sobbing actually when I read that. I looked over at my two boys playing and realized in that instant how this diagnosis was going to change everything for them because my other son is exactly two years younger than L. This meant they would be functioning on the same level even though they were two years apart in age. How could this not impact their relationship both good and bad?

This test, when it was first administered, fueled my desire to have Logan repeat kindergarten. It has also impacted how I perceive what he's mature enough to deal with or do regardless of whether or not he is at the age when other kids are doing it. For example, being allowed to stay at home by yourself. In our state, you have to be ten years old but L didn't do it until he was twelve. I know that these results will influence future decisions, we are on the cusp of being old enough for him to learn to drive, but also it will (hopefully) give us room to celebrate. L has made such strides recently, inducted into the National Jr Honor Society and cast in a local community musical, things that I didn't think ten years ago when he was first diagnosed would be possible for him.

I've learned to see my son.... all of him, including the Autism characteristics that don't make him unique in any way but actually make him Autistic. I know that the results don't define who my child is but they still feel like a blow to you as a parent, emotionally. This is the part of having a kid with special needs that a lot of parents don't understand. Our kids are constantly being evaluated and we are constantly being told about their deficiencies and weaknesses. It's a slippery slope that leads to depression and we parents of special need kids have to teach ourselves how to hold on to hope, how to see past the diagnosis and how to fight for what we believe our children need.


Almond Butter Banana Muffins from Clean Eating Magazine

My newest favorite magazine is Clean Eating. I love that they embrace easy, budget-friendly, vegetarian and gluten-free recipes. Also featured in the magazine are the eating fads of right now including Paleo and Whole30. As a health coach, it is important for me to stay current on the latest diet trends and to be able to report back to my clients actual recipes that I have tried.

When I saw this recipe for Almond Butter Banana Muffins by Pamela SalzmanI immediately pulled out the ingredients and got to work. I have dedicated the first 45 days of 2018 to be SUGAR-FREE! My addiction to sugar got really out of hand over the holidays and I felt within my soul the need to do a detox. 

I can clearly see that my sugar addiction is all in the mind. My mind makes excuses for needing something sweet, I put parameters and rules around having a dessert much like I did with alcohol when I was drinking. With 5 years of sobriety under my belt, I can see the mental thoughts for what they are, addiction. It's quite the tug of war going on in my head. Why do I need that sweet treat? What void is it filling? Am I avoiding something, numbing my emotions or am I just bored? I am just over the one week mark into the 45-day challenge and feeling a bit scattered mentally, the sure signs of an actual addiction. My mind continues to try and justify the need for dessert.

For some people when they are cutting refined sugar from their diets it's helpful to find recipes of things that they would normally like to eat so that they don't feel like they are being deprived. When our mind moves into deprivation mode our chances of success drop drastically. These Almond Butter Banana Muffins are going to do the trick! 

I didn't have hemp seeds in my cabinet so I substituted with sunflower seeds and sprinkled the top of each muffin with additional cinnamon. They are delicious! Easy to make, gluten-free and only sweetened with maple syrup. Go ahead and try them, you'll be amazed how delicious this grain-free muffin tastes.     

Here is a link to the recipe, which is also featured below:

  • 1 cup creamy unsalted almond butter (raw or roasted)
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3 bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp each baking soda and ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
Optional toppings:
  • hemp seeds
    banana chunks
    sliced almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners.2. To a food processor, add all ingredients except hempseeds and blend until smooth and well combined. Remove blade and stir in ¼ cup hempseeds with a spoon.3. Pour batter evenly into prepared muffin liners, filling each cup to just below the top, and sprinkle with optional toppings of your choice. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until just set and a toothpick, comes out clean with dry crumbs. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Keep refrigerated up to 5 days.


Energy Balls Recipe- Healthy Dessert

I am currently doing a 45 day NO SUGAR Challenge. Follow me on Instagram to get daily tips on sticking with your intention to living a healthier lifestyle without a sugar addiction.

Try reaching for these energy balls when you have a craving for a sugary dessert. 

Grind up 1 cup of walnuts or pecans in a food processor.
Add 1 cup of whole dried dates, about 6, to the food processor and grind. 
Put in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/3 cup of coconut oil. 
Mix together and then roll into small balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 


Holiday Moments under the Autism Spectrum Umbrella

The photos that are posted on Facebook aren't capturing the whole truth of how or why the picture was taken. We have all done a really great job at learning how to wear masks on social media. Posting photos on Facebook that are somewhat planned. Oftentimes you can't see the tears and the pain behind the smiling faces and coordinated outfits. It's a snippet or slice of the story. And I am guilty of this as well! But I know that behind every picture we post on Facebook there is a story, the moment right before and the moment after the picture was taken which if we could truly see them would encapsulate the whole story.

That's the case of the photo above, this is my son Z when he was about three years old. And we can all look at that photo and immediately identify with what is going on, small child in tears on Santa's lap. I'll bet there is a website somewhere with a collection of photos like this one. But when I look at this picture I don't see the small child scared of Santa I see the intention that I had to create this image and moment for Z.

My oldest son, L, is on the Autism Spectrum and at the time this picture was taken we were deep into many various therapies and early interventions. L was attending kindergarten full time in a mainstream classroom. Twice a week speech therapy appointments, behavior therapy, physical therapy and then on Saturdays he attended a developmental clinic for a few hours where he worked one-on-one with a college student who was specializing in Special Education to work on therapies that coincided with his appointments that week. During all of those appointments that I took L to, Z was with me. A little three-year-old sitting in waiting rooms with his little bag of toys and books. Always being told to whisper and not to run around and "just five more minutes sweetie".

The guilt of it all at times overwhelmed me. My heart hurt for L to have to do the hard work of learning how to function in our world and at the same time, my heart was continually breaking for Z for having to live under the umbrella of Autism and the limitations that it created in our lives. At some point, I looked through the scrapbooks that I made for the boys that documented every moment of their childhood and I realized that I didn't have a picture of Z with Santa Clause! It wasn't the joke of the second child who doesn't get as many pictures as the first child. I was always snapping pictures and scrapbooking moments of the boys.

Truth be told it was because L wasn't able to go to large places where there would be a lot of people, places like malls. Standing in line to see Santa was impossible for L, he would have a total breakdown and I knew this about him so I would avoid going to places where there would be large amounts of people and noise. Which meant that these major milestones in most children's lives, like sitting on Santa's lap, Z has missed them because of his brother. I was determined to change all of that! I researched the mall that had the best looking Santa in our area and I made a date with my little three-year-old guy to see him. We went out to eat beforehand in a crowded, busy, noisy restaurant and then to the mall. As we stood in the long line, Z was so excited, he was dancing and singing a made up song about "me and mommy see and mommy....". I can still hear his sweet little sing-song voice in my head.

The line continued to move at a slugs pace but that didn't hinder Z's enthusiasm, he's talked to the kids in front of him and behind him. As he looked ahead to see how much closer we were to Santa each time we took a few more steps forward, he would smile up at me. My heart was bursting! I was so happy that we were doing this together, just me and him. That I was able to give him, even if it's just for an afternoon, what feels like a "normal childhood moment" that wasn't shaded by having a brother on the Autism Spectrum.

Eventually, we are at the head of the line and watching the family in front of us take their picture, these kids are seasoned experts who know exactly what to do and the entire family has matching sweaters on. Z is literally bouncing in place, he is so excited! Now it's our turn and he shyly shakes the hand that Santa holds out to greet him with and whispers his name after Santa asks him. And like all Santa's he asks the essential question, "What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?" I am surprised that rather than telling Santa everything he wants, instead, he tells Santa the items that L would like. I didn't realize in the actual moment how telling that was of who Z is as a person, in his core. Z suddenly looks over his shoulder and then around us, as if he just realized "where's L?, Mommy...where's L?" 
"Z, sweetie it's your special picture with Santa.", I tell him as I pick him up and place him on Santa's lap. I stepped to the side as instructed by the Santa's helper and CLICK.
That's the moment.
The scream and immediate tears, the arms outstretched as he cries out his brother's name realizing that he isn't with us nor is he going to do this with him.

I wish I could say that I learned my lesson from this experience, that I could accept that Z was totally fine with the existence that he had even if it was under the Autism umbrella. No, I didn't learn that lesson with Santa, it took a few more times for me to realize that I was projecting my own interpretation of what life should look like based on my own experiences of childhood. And rather than trying to conform my children to what my normal was...I had to embrace and accept that how we were living was pretty fine for everyone involved. That Z was not slighted in any way by missing out on Santa pictures or trips to Disney world. The Autism umbrella was his safe place, this is what his soul knows and for him it's magnificent. This is our "normal".


God Lives in Three Year Olds- Yoga Summer Camp

These are not the three year olds mentioned in the article, but the picture is simply priceless.
During the summer months I teach my usual adult vinyasa yoga classes at my yoga studio, Bee Yoga Fusion, and then during the day I teach at various children's summer camps. At one camp this past summer, I taught yoga classes to three year olds.

Three is pretty young to understand the concepts of yoga so I teach the class in a way that they can understand. We play games and sing a song during the Sun Salutation. For Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of our class, the part where you lay down with your eyes closed. I tell them to pretend they are a statue. "You can't move, you can't talk, all you can do is listen and breathe.", I say quietly as they get their final squirms out before becoming a statue.

As they all lay there so still with their little hands folded on their bellies, even the child who seemed to be jumping up and down or squirming in every pose that we did that day. "What can you hear that you normally don't hear?", I whisper.

I tell them to notice their belly going up and down every time they breathe. "It's called belly breathing and you can do this at night time when you don't feel sleepy or when you feel sad or mad." The room is so quiet and still that anyone walking by would be shocked to know that there are 12- three year olds mediating in the room. I instruct them to come to a seated position, quietly, and then we go around the room and share all the things that we heard. "The air conditioning.", "The kids outside playing.", "The lights.", "The breath coming in and out of my nose. I think I have a booger!" They get it and they love that suddenly a whole new world has been opened up to them that they never realized existed, the world that exists in quiet.

To keep the kids interested I call it being a "Secret Spy", just saying those two words together and you can see their eyes light up. I asked them, "Raise your hand if you have a hard time going to sleep." Almost the entire group raises their hand and shakes their head yes.
"So tonight I want you to try being a Secret Spy after your parents put you to bed."
The kids are hanging on my every word, to them they now have this super important mission and these three year olds are taking it pretty seriously.
"Listen to the sounds that the house makes just like we did today. And if you keep listening the sounds will magically put you to sleep."
They nod and we place our hands at prayer position in the center of our chest and bow to each other saying "Namaste" as we do at the end of every class.

There are some days when teaching this particular class of three year olds feels like the best birthday party you've ever attended. All the kids are excited, happy and having a great time. And then there are days when it feels like I am trying to herd a group of kittens, one is refusing to participate and another would rather sit and pick her nose than do a downward dog. There are good days and not-so-good days.

The next day one child comes running towards me as the camp director opens the door, "I did it! I was a Super Spy!" with a huge smile and a complete look of excitement on his face.
"That's awesome. Did the sounds put you to sleep?", I ask.
"Actually..... I listened to the dryer drying clothes and I listened to my mom washing dishes. And then I heard God."
I sit. So that I can be face to face with him. I want him to know that I take this conversation seriously, I can tell by the look on his face that he's not joking and he believes this to be real. I nod my head as if to continue.
"And God said that he's inside me and hears my sadness." The little boy stops twisting his shirt around his pointer finger and looks up at me.
"Do you believe that?", he asks. I can see tears beginning to form in his eyes.
"I do. And... I believe that you are an incredible person." I smile and reach for his hand to hold.
"I'm just a three year old."
"You are so much more than that. You have a purpose. To spread kindness to everyone you meet..... and now you know that God lives in you."
There is a pause, I can tell that he's thinking this over.
"Yeah He does..... He does!", he says with a smile.
The other kids are starting to join us on the mats and saying hello to me, I look up to say hello to another child and then he wraps his little arms around my neck. He pulls away only a wee bit so that we can see each other eye to eye, I'm staring straight into his beautiful blue eyes and I assume he's going to say something profound. I wait for it.
"It's my turn to be the leader this time!", he whispers.

And just like that, in pure three year old fashion we have moved on to something new. The class begins and it's a glorious day of yoga games and songs. It's like the best birthday party you've ever attended, everyone is having fun and smiling. And I look at their smiling, happy faces and I breathe them in. God is living in each of them, in each of us. We should treat each other with the kindness that we would show to God. We should lead with empathy and compassion and our actions rooted from a place of pure love.


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