Monthly Archives: December 2012

Four Letter Words on New Year’s Eve


It’s been a strange Holiday season this year- My oldest has been in San Fransisco all December working with his Grandpa.  It has been awesome- for me and for him- but hard on the little brothers and sisters.  They have never been without their big brother for more than the length of scout camp before- let alone for Christmas.  So amid fun and joy, we’ve also had moments of weeping and sighs.  The world turns, and growing up happens to the best of us.

Hubby and I have spent a lot of this vacation time moving electronics and such to grow with the kids- but as I sat down to take a break I got to thinking about all the talks and lessons that go with the changing of the year- and I decided to look up my journal page for New Year’ Eve last year, and check on myself to see how I did.  So here’s last years’ thoughts….

Dec.31- 2011:  Thinking about words and resolutions this week…my Dad and I joke about something being a “four letter word”, I said, like the word “goal.”  We laughed, then he reminded me that so is “Love”, “Good”, and “Help”.
It made me think.  I don’t like “new year resolutions,”   my world turns upside down too often.  But I can work on attitude. This year, I won’t say “weak,” or “depressed.”  I can’t always avoid “pain,” “tired,” or “lonely,” but I can replace them quickly.  So, my list of words for this new year is– “family,” “Home,” “Charity,” “Hope,” “Faith,” “Courage,” “Smile,” “forgive,” “retry,’ “patience,” “endure-well,” “determination,” “valor,” and “Love”.

Back to 2012–So, how did you do on last year’s resolves?   I did pretty good most of the time.  My world still turns upside down regularly as I learn to navigate the needs of my Spectrum kids, working the school systems, not leaving anyone out, and still survive.  All of my kids besides the oldest moved up a school this year, and I really struggled with the high stress and my health.  I did not always succeed in keeping the word “depressed” out of my thoughts, but I find that I have come out the other side with a fair amount of growth in my own faith, stamina, and strength to see things to the end of the tunnel.   This has also been a year of learning other things as well.     Mark learned to fix Air Conditioners, Transmissions, as well as the Kitchen sink.  I learned to read medical journals, start up a blog, and found friends thru the internet all over the country, from  Idaho to Texas. We have indeed grown closer as a family, re-learned the healing magic of service projects, and everyone has increased in their ability to have the courage to keeping trying.

So, as I get ready to pull out my once a year puzzle marathon 🙂  I think we did pretty well, much of the time, all things considered; in fact, I think I’ll keep this list of words posted on my fridge- ready for the start of another year!

IMG_3052 1

Categories: LDS Mom of Autism, Midnight musings | Leave a comment

I Will Be There at the End

Reprinting my favorite courage quote today- I needed it.


“Life is Not like a race, or an archery tournament; where the prize goes to the fastest, or one shot wins the glory—
Life is like a boxing match, or a marathon; where the reigning victor is the guy who can out-last all the opposition.
I am not always strong, I make lots of mistakes; but I will be there at the end, still hanging on…”   (-Shareen Halliday, Aug.2011)


Categories: Courage quotes, Parables, Poetry | Leave a comment

The Parable of the Egg

I wrote this story a while back- when my oldest ones were really starting to hurt emotionally from the pain of trying to grow up with a disability;  But in many ways, it applies to each of us.  We have all spent our moments just beginning.


“The Lord, who watches over all the creations of his hands, went out in the world one fine morning, and saw an egg lying in a patch of wild grass by the side of a great tree.  It had been rocking so hard in it’s effort to hatch, that it had fallen right out of it’s nest.  Bending down, he picked it up in his strong and gentle hand.
“Come along my little one”  He said, looking up at the tree.  “Let’s get you back to the nest.”
The baby bird inside the egg called out  “NO!  I don’t want to go back to the nest!  It’s tiny and plain and the twigs scratch and hurt.  I want to stay here in the grass where it’s soft and smells good.”
The Lord hears all voices, great or small.  So he heard the bird inside the egg, and answered;  “Ah, but the wide world is a dangerous place for such a tiny thing as you.  There are snakes and lizards, cats, and even bigger birds that want to find you and swallow you whole.  You do not yet have your wings to fly away from such dangers.  And there is no food here in the grass, you would not even be able to care for yourself.”
The baby bird answered, “Then break open this shell and set me free!”
The loving Father saw the cracks that were starting to zig-zag around the shell.  “That is something you need to do yourself”  He answered in his most encouraging voice.  “Come on, your nearly there.”
But the baby bird got angry. That was not the answer he wanted to hear.  “No!” he shouted up at God.   “ The shell is too hard!  You said you would listen to my prayers!  You said you would help me!  I hurt!  All I prayed for was to open the shell- and now all you can say is No!”
The Lord’s eyes were sad, as he looked at the tiny thing in his hand; but his voice became stronger, like steel that knows the world, and will not bend.  “You have not noticed, because of your youth, but I have been helping all along,”  He said.  “I gave you a hard shell as a wall of protection for your body as it developed and grew large enough to think and move on it’s own.  I gave you food to last through the whole process that was just there with no effort on your part.  I provided an air pocket for when you out-grew your food supply- so you could taste the real world and feel a desire to get out there, and I made it large enough to sustain you till you are finished.  I even provided a special sharp tooth on the end of your bill that will break open the shell.”
“But I’m tired and sore and hungry!  I can’t go on any more!”  the bird in the shell kept on, not even listening.  “You promised me I would be strong, and smart.  All my friends have made it out of their shells already.  Some are even starting to fly.  And still here I am.  You gave me a defective shell.  If you don’t get this shell off me,  I’m giving up.  I don’t believe in you anymore.”
Heavenly Father sat down on the grass with the egg in his hand and thought about all the things he knew, and how to best answer the little bird he loved so much.  What could he say that it would understand.  “Little one,” he began  “Your great heart needs to be strengthened.  The effort of breaking the shell may seem a great thing to you right now- but your heart is vital to your survival.  It must beat strong enough to match the power of your wings.  If I short-cut this small but necessary piece of your development, you will die.  The first time danger approaches, you will try to use your strength, but your heart will not be able to match it; and the unbalanced effort will give you a heart attack.
“In all of this earth’s thousands of years, and billions of baby birds, this has always been true– should I not allow the heart to strengthen, I get 100% death rate.  If I make the baby do this great work of his, there is a few- perhaps one in 10,000- that give up and suffocate inside their shell.  So when faced with a choice; 100% or a thousandth of a percent, I will chose the option that gives me the most hope.
“Your friends’ shells are not as strong as yours, because they are sparrows and chickens, you even have a few friends who are falcons, hawks, and owls.  Their shells were strong enough for the size of their hearts.  But you have a much greater heart.  You are an Eagle, and need great effort to bring about the full power of your Eagle’s heart. If I took away your shell, I would rob the world of one of my mightiest creations.  Your belief or not in me does not change the fact that I am here.  And because I am here, I must choose the course that will bring my best to the world.  Whether you keep on trying or not is your part of the choice.”
Then Heavenly Father put the egg back in it’s great nest where the mother Eagle was waiting.  “Choose wisely my little friend, so we can fly together someday.”  –copyright, Shareen Halliday, May 2010

Categories: Courage quotes, LDS Mom of Autism, Midnight musings, Parables | 1 Comment

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Thanks to my wonderful friend, who found the ideas and recipes for homemade Vanilla around Thanksgiving time.  I decided that it would be a great way to feed my science/learning cravings and have Christmas gifts out of the deal too.  🙂


This version is alcohol-free,  and I’ll include my sources at the end.

Recipe by


  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 1 1/2 cups pure vegetable glycerin
  • 1/2 cup warm water
Prep Time 15 min
Total Time 30+ days
Servings 16


See full directions on

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 70 Calories from Fat 25
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g 5%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Trans Fat
Cholesterol less than 5 mg 1%
Sodium 55mg 2%
Potassium 190mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 1g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 8%
Iron 8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
I bought my Vanilla Beans on-line..
at Beanilla
they have bottles too, and several other sites, but by the time I got the beans, I was too excited to wait for the mail, so I just hunted the local craft stores.  🙂
As for the Glycerin- I didn’t know where to go, so I asked the people who worked at our local Natural Foods grocery store (Sprouts is the one near us) and they carried it, so I didn’t even have to hunt very far.
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Lessons from the Vanilla Bean and a Candle in the Wind


Family Home Evening started out as many do for me-  flying by the seat of my pants and a prayer.  You see, I know the family needs this moment in time, but sometimes, especially lately,  I’m just plain unable to plan ahead through the stress of day.   But the Lord never lets me down when I let him help; and this one was so awesome I had to share!

As I gathered my family around for the song and a prayer, I was casting my thoughts and my eyes around the stuff in the room, wondering what would be a good object lesson for the day.  I had caught onto a question in church, about how we can “make our influence felt?”  but I didn’t know where to go with it.   Then, just as all the kids were all settled and ready for me to talk, my eyes landed on one of the small jars of homemade vanilla extract that I had made for local Christmas gift exchanges this year.  Suddenly the whole lesson was there in my head.  So I began.

“Do you know what this is?” I asked.  After the round of no’s and good guesses, I told them. “This is the gift that I made for us to give away this year-   Inside this little jar is a real, actual vanilla bean.  What do yo notice about it? “and this is where it got Good.   So here it goes…

“You see, the vanilla bean looks a bit like a piece of hard, dark leather or shoestring. It has a tough skin, like maybe it’s had a hard life.    But after you bruise and scratch it to get through it’s shell,  maybe even brake it in half,  you put it into a jar of liquid and leave it there for a while.  Slowly, bit by bit, the clear liquid starts to take on the warm brown color of the vanilla and starts to smell  sweeter and sweeter.

We are all like the Vanilla Bean, and the world is like the clear liquid.  We color and influence those around us- bit by bit, by sharing with those we meet the sweet goodness inside of us.  Sometimes we get bruised and battered around a bit- and we feel a little torn around the edges.  But it turns out, in the big picture of things, that those superficial things serve to let our goodness be seen and noticed by others.  Then as they are touched by our example and influence, they feel more like touching those others around them that we might not even know about.   Soon our vanilla warmth and goodness has flavored a whole jar full of liquid, and it’s ready to flavor things we cook.

“Christ taught about the power of influence and example, but the object that he used was a candle.  ‘You are a light to the world.’  He said.  And there is no amount of darkness that can put out our flame by itself, not without help.   What puts out a candle?  Wind, moisture, direct touch, suffocation;  there are things that can influence the light if we let it, just like there is things in the world that can make it hard for us to keep shining.  To protect a candle, we put it into a hurricane glass.  the high walls keep out the wind and influences, allowing the flame to burn.  Our hurricane glass is ours to create, by what we allow around us in our own home.  Staying in control of our  TV and media input, praying, all these things that we already know, as well as helping each other- our family was created as a place to go to recharge and refresh 0ur own candle’s hurricane glass, so that we can keep on going in this world of wind.”

Well- that was the main lesson- and it took a full 20 minutes to move through this much.  I don’t ever try to shut down all the details and repeats.  It’s more like directing a singalong, and just par for the course in a family full of lots of Aspie and HFAutistic good kids who want to make sure they got it all down and have had their say heard.  It’s all good; repeating is how we learn.  Anyway, wrap-up how you want to… Most weeks I am way too tired for games and treats and everything all in a single production- and my kids can’t sit still, all together in one space that long anyway.  I think I’ll work on slipping the rest of the pieces in during the week.  🙂

(recipe to follow)

Categories: LDS Mom of Autism, Parables | 1 Comment

The Beauty of the Canary

I found this in my journal today while I was browsing, looking for courage quotes.  It’s a rather lengthy quote, as it touched my heart so deeply that I copied the whole story right into my journal pages…..


Jun 1, 2010- From President Monson in this month’s (June 2010) Ensign:
“Nearly 60 years ago, while I was serving as a young bishop, Kathleen McKee, a widow in my ward, passed away. Among her things were three pet canaries. Two, with perfect yellow coloring, were to be given to her friends. The third, Billie, had yellow coloring marred by gray on his wings. Sister McKee had written in a note to me: “Will you and your family make a home for him? He isn’t the prettiest, but his song is the best.”

Sister McKee was much like her yellow canary with gray on its wings. She was not blessed with beauty, gifted with poise, or honored by posterity. Yet her song helped others to more willingly bear their burdens and more ably shoulder their tasks.

The world is filled with yellow canaries with gray on their wings. The pity is that so precious few have learned to sing. Some are young people who don’t know who they are, what they can be or even want to be; all they want is to be somebody. Others are stooped with age, burdened with care, or filled with doubt—living lives far below the level of their capabilities.

To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, “How might we achieve these goals?” I answer, “By gaining a true perspective of who we really are!” We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that: created in the image of God. We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power…

When the Savior sought a man of faith, He did not select him from the throng of the self-righteous who were found regularly in the synagogue. Rather, He called him from among the fishermen of Capernaum. Doubting, unschooled, impetuous Simon became Peter, Apostle of faith. A yellow canary with gray on his wings qualified for the Master’s full confidence and abiding love…

The Redeemer chose imperfect people to teach the way to perfection. He did so then. He does so now—even yellow canaries with gray on their wings. He calls you and me to serve Him here below. Our commitment must be total. And in our struggle, should we stumble, let us plead: ‘Lead us, oh lead us, great Molder of men, out of the darkness to strive once again.'”

Categories: Courage quotes, Midnight musings | 1 Comment

Needing An Overabundance of Good!

It seems like bad press just needs one person to swamp everyone’s memory of good.  Take the recent tragedy in the news.  No one wants to say there are good people and bad people in every sect, language, group, or category you can think of– they want someone to blame, and take the rap.

So I thought it was time for a little good to be remembered too.  Here’s a list I found of notably good people who also have Aspergers and High functioning Autism.

Asperger’s syndrome

High-functioning autism

High-functioning autism is an informal term, not an official diagnostic category. Compared to diagnostic criteria for the official ASDs, descriptions of HFA tend to align most closely with Asperger syndrome.

Autism spectrum

Further information: Autismautistic savant, and autism spectrum

(Found here, including the references -

And that’s not even counting the famous ones from history- so I looked them up too, although I’ll let others write about them, or post it later.

Categories: resourses | 3 Comments

Heart in Hands

Oh my Stars!, Zowie and Zoinkers!   There are a few moments in time that make you really stand and define your feelings as a Mother Bear.  One of them happens to be 2 days before sending your oldest off on his first airplane trip alone.

I was o.k. all week, getting laundry washed and dealing with the other kids’ school and normal Christmas prep; but I had a serious panic attack on Monday- of the kind I recognize as from the Holy Ghost- when I considered sending him off without a phone.  Hubby and I had always felt that the child should get a phone when they earn it themselves, but then he started getting such bad migraines that jobs were impossible, but our money has been horridly tight this year so we left it there for a while.  But then I felt so good when I thought of a no-contract thing from Walmart, that I decided that it was something the Lord wanted.

So, Dad is in Ryan’s room helping him go thru all the start-ups, and he has the first smile I’ve seen all day- I think he was panicking too.   And all my worry is gone, right?   Well- sort of.  I’m excited for him– really!  And I am ok with where he is going, he’s off to help his Grandpa (my Dad) in construction.  It will be awesome for him.  I guess it’s just the huge airports alone that’s getting to me.  I know he’s almost 20, but I also know how secretly Autistic he is (he’s smart enough to mask pretty well when he’s not down with a migraine.)  The phone I think will pull him thru–He knows phone numbers, and he knows he can ask for help.

So- here I sit shaking my hands, listening to the kids old and young,  trying to convince myself that I can do this.  I sure don’t feel grown-up enough for it all, even if the Lord says otherwise.  But He says go for it; so heart-in-hands, deep breath, I’m moving forward!

Categories: LDS Mom of Autism | Leave a comment

Faith is…

This week has been a humdinger- I have been so tired and stressed lately, that I can’t even think my way thru my list of to-do’s, let alone long posts, and I don’t like to write negative anyway.  So I have spent a lot of time looking thru my favorite courage quotes and scriptures to help me keep going… This is one of the best, from one of my favorite speakers (my Dad)

“Faith is that stuff out of which our very souls are made, molded by the loving hands of an Eternal Father, and fired in the crucible of mortality that we might have the luster to shine forth throughout Eternity.”– Eric Dalton1434-800

Categories: Courage quotes, LDS Mom of Autism, Midnight musings | Leave a comment

“What is so great about Autism?”

Marvelous little clip about the positive side of Autism Spectrum–

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