Lifestyle

Until Every Piece Fits

April 2nd is World Autism Day. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve worked with children with autism for the past 3 years. All through college, I could never decide on a career path. I spent the better part of my sophomore and junior years in the registrar office changing my major. I had a hard time committing to one program because I was passionate about so many fields. The one consistency among all my passions was my innate desire to help. To help animals, to help my classmates, to help my family, I felt compelled to help people in any situation in which they were struggling. After some careful consideration, and one painful semester as a biology student, I decided a degree in psychology was what I wanted. After attending several job fairs, I was drawn to the company for which I work now. I started my career as a community instructor in their children’s residential program two weeks after graduation. I spent the next four weeks in various trainings given to prepare me to work with this population. Once my four week training period was over it was time to work as a full-time staff in the house. The program I was hired for was brand new and, at the time I was hired, was still not open. The day my house opened changed my life forever.

We were all anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first resident. She arrived at the house in the early afternoon wearing all pink; pink shirt, pink shorts, pink shoes, and her favorite pink helmet. We were able to walk her into the house and upstairs to her room with no issues. The thick summer air seemed to follow us inside as we made our way to her bedroom at the end of the upstairs hall. There was a nervous energy circulating the room; everyone was a little on edge, not sure what to do or expect. We’d all heard the stories; the aggressions, the compulsions, the intense self-injurious behavior. But no one had really seen it in person so we walked on eggshells around the room and prepared for anything she might (literally) throw our way. She sat slouched on her bed, pieces of her dirty blonde hair sticking out of the holes in her helmet. After some time of talking and unpacking her things, we explained to mom that the helmet had to come off. When the helmet finally came off she stood up and we got our first real look at her. She was a little thing her blonde hair covering a swollen, battered face. Her eyes were so bruised and puffy you could barely see the icy blue of her stare. Her jaw was so inflamed her words got lost trying to find their way out of her mouth. I worked hands on with this student every day for what would be the next two and a half years.

I thought I knew patience, but I was wrong; I thought I knew compassion, but I was wrong; I thought I knew strength and perseverance and communication, but I was wrong. Working with these student’s has opened my eyes to a whole new world. A world where speaking without words happens seamlessly every day, where love without conditions is the basis of every classroom lesson, where hope knows no barrier. Children with autism are different, not less. They are, as Winnie the Pooh so eloquently put it, braver than you believe, stronger than they seem, and smarter than you think. So today, and ever day, I ask you all to Light it up blue for Autism Awareness and support your local schools and families and their efforts to provide the resources our students so desperately need.

Wine and Dine

My Crockpot is my BFF

If you’re anything like me you love starting new things on “special” days, the first of the month, a Monday etc. so what better day than today to start my blog. I decided today to start off with a few of my favorite things *insert Sound of Music solo here* when it comes to quick and easy meals. If there were Lazy People Anonymous meetings I’d go to them but- I’m too lazy. So when it comes to prepping meals I want them to be quick and easy; easy to find in the store, easy to make, easy to store and easy to pack. I’m a full-time student pursuing my Master’s and I work full time so time is something I need more of but don’t have. Some of my favorite recipes are crockpot meals. I love making meals in bulk to have throughout the week. One of my favorite recipes is for Turkey Chili. I found this recipe a few years ago when I was planning for mine and my husband’s first annual Friendsgiving. I wanted to do a fun spin on traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner. I did some research on the almighty Pinterest and found a few recipes I liked and then put my own twist on them. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 1-lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium purple onion
  • 1 15-ounce can low sodium whole corn
  • 1 15-ounce can organic black beans (I always opt for the brand with the lowest sodium)
  • 1 15-ounce can organic dark red kidney beans
  • 1 30-ounce can low sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes seasoned for chili
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and saute 1lb ground turkey until cooked through
  • Add 1 medium finely diced purple onion along with 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper (I like to combine all the seasons in a separate bowl and mix thoroughly before adding to the skillet). Saute until onions are softened and meat is lightly browned and then transfer to a standard size crockpot.
  • Add drained black beans, dark red kidney beans with juice, drained corn, and diced tomatoes (I usually add half of each can, then halfway through cooking, taste and add more if needed)
  • Add tomato sauce and stir to combine. Set for 3-4 hours until piping hot. Taste and adjust seasoning just before finished cooking.

That’s it! Set it and forget it in the crockpot. Sometimes, I will make some jasmine rice with it as well and measure out 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of chili per serving. One pot of chili typically lasts me one week (if I can keep the hubby out of it).

Make a pot for yourself and leave your reviews in the comments!

WeightWatchers Points- 4