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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cooking For Aliens 101

Since I am back to being unemployed and am still staying with my parents with not much chance of getting out, I offered to start making dinner for the household. The thing about this, my mom (Have I mentioned she's a very "Type A" person?) is always sarcastically asking if I made dinner since I was home all day, or complaining that she has to come home from work and make dinner. So over the weekend I said I'd be glad to start making dinner. At the time we were with my aunt and uncle so my mom acted all bright and cheery and enthusiastic. When I reminded her later, she was kinda luke warm about it. I thin she'd rather just be in charge of things. But I decided to try cooking anyway.
I don't eat meat so I wanted to find recipe ideas that were vegetarian but that my parents would also like. So I turned to the spot where everyone turns to when they want ideas... Pinterest! I also found a sight called SayMmm, where you can collect recipes from other websites, and then pull them up while planning a weekly or monthly menu. I perused Pinterest, found some ideas, and saved them on SayMmm. I found lots of great recipes, but my choices for now are sort of limited, because the oven is not working and nobody seems to be in a big hurry to get it fixed. 
Here's what I decided to make. My mom and I are big pasta enthusiasts, being Italian and all. My dad, being not Italian, has at least grown used to pasta from living with my mom for a million years. So I picked a recipe for "Butterfly Noodles" from the blog Mostly Food And Crafts.
If you look at the blog above, you'll see how lovely and organized and in order the blogger made her Butterfly Noodles. Being an alien, I kinda did it a little differently. 
First, since I don't eat meat, I left out the beef bouillon cube thing. 
Second, I read the part where the blogger warns you to be careful and not scorch the butter. One reason that I have never really tried cooking much is because I am afraid of starting a fire! It is actually pretty easy to start butter on fire! When I was little, a small fire actually started on our stove, because my dad was cooking something and there was some leftover oil on the burner from making popcorn the night before. (I don't know, maybe they were making Jiffy Pop or something?) So, although the blogger with the recipe melts the butter in a frying pan, then stirs in the spices, then stirs in the tomatoes, then stirs in the heavy cream, I decided it might be safer to just throw all of it in at the same time instead. I also thought it would be safer to use a pot instead of a frying pan. When my sauce didn't start looking like the picture in the blog, I figured it was just because I left out the bouillon! 
Next, I hadn't bought any pasta because we had a box of farfalle (bowtie pasta) in the cabinet. But when I opened it, I saw that it was really just about a third of a box of farfalle. I didn't think that would be enough for three people. So I threw in half a bag of ditallini (small little cylinder noodles) also. 
Then I realized, as the pasta cooked and expanded, that I might not have enough sauce for all those noodles. So I added another can of tomatoes, and more cream, to the sauce. 
Finally I combined them all in what turned out to be a giant bowl. 

Then I thought, maybe my parents wouldn't want to just gobble down a bowl of pasta, the way I do. They might want to put a little on a plate, with something on the side. I thought of making muffins, but realized we had no oven. So I walked up to Jewel and got a bag of salad and some baby carrots, chopped up the carrots and put them in the salad, added some chopped up green peppers I randomly found in the fridge, and, wallah! A delicious salad!


I put all this food in the fridge, cleaned up, and took a short nap! 

My mom and I ate the pasta for dinner (although nobody ate the salad for some reason.) My dad ate leftover pizza instead. At least, my mom thought it was pretty good, and so did I!
I asked if I should start making dinner every night. My mom replied, "I'm hoping you find a job instead."
Uh... I didn't mean I was planning to make cooking dinner my only occupation forever and ever, but, okay!
In the end I decided I will try cooking something at least once a week. When I get a place of my own, I'm going to have to cook! I've lived away from my parents many times before, but I've almost always lived with somebody... roommates, friends, house parents, random homeless people who clambered in through the window... and they always cooked, so I never really got into it. But this time I plan to live alone, so I'll need to know how to cook some good stuff!
Any ideas for easy, vegetarian recipes? Let me know! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hi again

Hi everyone! I haven't written here for a while. Sometimes it is hard for me to focus on writing, especially when I am feeling really bad. I am feeling okay now, so here I am!
What's been going on with me... I got a job teaching at a 5-week summer school program for kids with special needs. My class was 2nd and 3rd graders (and one random 1st grader who somehow got stuck in there) with intellectual disabilities. I had five kids with Down syndrome, two on the autism spectrum, and three that were just diagnosed as having general cognitive disabilities.I had two aides, one who was very competent but kind of bossy (she'd been working as an aide for years and was just used to doing things a certain way) and one who was not too competent and kind of annoying (he was an 18-year-old who thought he knew everything but really knew not much at all.) It was one of the most challenging, and fun, times of my life! For the summer school program they don't really give you anything at all.. just an empty classroom, and a box of standard school supplies like pencils and crayons. You have to plan your entire curriculum on your own. Which, actually, is how I prefer to do things! I was happy to create my own curriculum and we did a lot of fun things, including making fresh squeezed lemonade as a group. (The kids had to practice reading the recipe, following directions, measuring, and using speech to describe the taste of the lemonade.)
So that ended... I was so sad to say goodbye to my first class that was just mine!
The day after my five week program ended, I left for summer vacation with my family. We go to this resort which my family has been going to for generations. My great grandparents used to live there for six months of the year, and my dad grew up spending summers there. I grew up spending weeks there every summer, but after I was 12 we suddenly stopped going. Last year we went back for the first time in 20 years! Last year it was me and my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin, who is a year older than me and also grew up spending weeks there. They live way across the country, and I actually hadn't seen any of them in over 10 years. Except on Facebook, of course. This year, my cousin couldn't come, so it was me and my parents, my aunt and uncle, and their awesome dog! Oh yeah and also my other uncle, but he is kind of old and cranky and I didn't see him much.
I love it up there. It is like Heaven to me. Walking into the cabin this time, when we got there, felt like coming home! Everything is so familiar. It has barely changed at all... the last time they remodeled the cabins was in the 1970's. This time it was actually pretty cold while we were there, but I still managed to go swimming in the lake a few times (I am brave) and we went boating and fishing just about every day. I don't really like fishing because I don't want to kill fish or worms, so I just went along for the ride and read books while others fished.
Ever since I was a little kid, when it was time to leave this awesome place, I would bawl my eyes out. This never got better even after I grew up. My parents get very irritated at me... in our family, displays of emotion are only appropriate for very young children. If I shed tears on the way home, I get the silent treatment. My cousin's girlfriend recently told me that it is not strange at all to cry on the last day of vacation, and that she cries too, because it is hard to go back to reality and leave a place that seems magical... and also my aunt told me she cries as well whenever she leaves our vacation spot... so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad about it.... but this year I really didn't want to cry. Getting the silent treatment on the ride home just makes it so much worse and makes me want to cry harder.
I was especially sad this time because my parents and aunt and uncle were sort of hinting that we aren't going to go back next year. It would break my heart not to go back, after finally getting to be there again after 20 years of missing it! Plus, if we don't go back next year, that means I am very unlikely to see my aunt and uncle and their dog again for a very long time.
So I took two extra doses of my antidepressant meds. Which I know you are not supposed to do. But it worked. I did cry a little when I had to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle and their awesome dog. I cried for a few minutes in the car. But then I suddenly felt calm and cheerful, even a little hyper, and I was able to act like a normal person (well, as "normal" as I am able to be) for the rest of the ride home.
The weirdest thing was, I kept on seeing rainbows! I saw three different rainbows in the three hours before it got dark out. I was taking a ton of pictures out the window to prove it. I kind of felt like it was some sort of sign... maybe from my Grandpa... he died when I was 11 and in these past two summers I have heard more stories about him than I ever heard about him in my whole life... letting me know that things would be okay.
So now, I am home. I am more or less cheerful. I am keeping myself busy by trying to get involved in some groups on Meetup.com, making tentative plans to go visit my brother in California (if I don't get a teaching job for fall, anyway), applying for jobs, writing my autobiography,  trying to win a laptop computer on a police auction site, playing Wetopia, and contemplating teaching myself how to play the drums. I am planning on writing in this blog more often. This all depends on whether I stay in my current happy mood, or whether I fall back into depression. Wish me luck!
Me with the first and largest rainbow we saw on the way home. I made my mom take a picture of me with it while we stopped at Culver's for dinner!