Dad’s Oyster Stuffing and Mom’s Poppin’ Cranberry Sauce

Dad's Oyster Stuffing and Mom's Poppin' Cranberry Sauce oyster stuffing and cranberry sauce to win over the masses!

I can’t believe Thanksgiving time has come around again already! Two of my favorite dishes to serve for Thanksgiving (aside from the turkey, of course), are the oyster stuffing and cranberry sauce. Personally, I’m all about some homemade cranberry sauce, so sliding the jelly out of the can doesn’t do it for me. I love watching the cranberries pop in the pan. It’s like a little science experiment!

As far as the stuffing goes, I know there’s some debate about whether to stuff the bird or not. I don’t think you can call it stuffing unless you stick your hand up in that bird. Plus, you know all the flavor in the stuffing comes from the bird, right? Don’t worry, though, dad’s recipe gives directions for when you want to put the stuffing in the bird and for when you want to “chicken out” and bake it in a dish. I did make some slight alterations to the recipes to suit my own tastes (sorry mom and dad), but I still love going and pigging out at mom and dad’s any day!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the feast!

Dad’s Stuffing


  • 1 can oyster stew
  • 1 can turkey broth (add as needed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Crouton Stuffing
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 1 tbsp Sage
  • 1 tbsp Poultry seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced


  1. Cook the onion and celery in butter until tender.
  2. In a bowl, add together the seasonings, parsley, oyster stew, and egg.
  3. Mix in the stuffing mix and the onion & celery mix. Put just enough broth to make it moist.
  4. If not stuffed into the bird, put in a baking dish and cover. Cook for 1 hour in baking dish. If not in baking dish, cook with turkey and add broth as needed.

Dad's Oyster Stuffing and Mom's Poppin' Cranberry Sauce oyster stuffing and cranberry sauce to win over the masses!

Mom’s Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar or sugar substitute
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin


  1. Put water and sugar into sauce pan and cook until boiling. Boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Rinse cranberries and add into sugar mix with lemon zest. Boil again until skins pop and you smell the cranberries bursting in the air, or about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the orange marmalade and gelatin. Cook until gelatin dissolves.
  4. Put sauce in a dish and put into refrigerator.
  5. Resist the temptation to eat hot cranberry sauce. Serve it cold.


What about you? When it comes to stuffing, are you an in-the-bird or an out-of-the-bird person?

10 Things I Can Do Without

Don’t get me wrong, life ain’t too shabby. Compared to most of the world’s population, I’m all set. Our problems are relative though to our own lives, though, and sometimes it just helps to get them off our chest. There’s one song by Tears for Fears titled “Shout” and the first few lyrics will serve to introduce my topic today perfectly:
10 Things I Can Do Without ‎


10 Things I Can Do Without

  1. Cold Weather – I told my husband I want to move to Florida, but he denied my request. I literally cannot think when I’m cold and it gets worse for me every year. I really think there’s something about the Fibromyalgia and sensitivity to cold. I need to look into that. My brain shuts off, my body shuts down, and I cannot function when it gets cold outside. Someone invent a heat bubble for me to live in? I question whether I will survive winter every year. Brrrr!
  2. Sleep, apparently – Just kidding! I need more sleep, but I definitely do not get enough of it. Between one or both of the kids coming in too early in the morning to snuggle with me and my staying up too late (like after 1:00 in the morning most nights) working, I just don’t get the required amount of sleep. I’m trying to make myself turn off regardless of what gets done, but I’m finding that when I do that, things aren’t ready at work and my students go by the wayside. I don’t like it. I guess I care too much or something.
  3. Vomit – Why? I mean, really? First of all, I feel completely helpless when my three-year old is throwing up. I can do the sum total of nothing to help him other than clean him up, hug him, and pray he feels better soon. Secondly, GROSS. It’s chunky, putrid, and oozes everywhere. One day, one round of vomit wound up on the couch, which meant I had to make sure it didn’t seep into unknown crevices. *shudder*
  4. Noise, Noise, NOISE! I can handle a little noise, but my brain start to rattle when the noise level gets too high. I feel a bit like the Grinch sometimes, but I just need some quiet to get myself settled. noisenoisenoise
  5. Whining children – I’m pretty patient. I mean, normally I am. I can handle a lot. I prefer the sound of nails on a chalkboard to whining, though. My kids won’t get anything out of me until they speak in a normal voice. Why? Because when mama gets annoyed, she ain’t budging’. That’s the cost. I guess that’s why I don’t hear a lot of whining in my house.
  6. Disrespect – I don’t tolerate it and I’m very sensitive to it. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, I’m going to say too many children “these days” don’t know how to show respect. For example, I had five children show up to class late yesterday and it was not the first time. Rather than apologize for the tardiness and accept responsibility for their actions, they made excuses. They then admitted that they would not do this to another teacher. When I had them write a reflection about this behavior and why the behavior was disrespectful, one chose not to write and another wrote a disrespectful, sarcastic reflection. I’m big on respect. Not just for me, but for ourselves and for others. When people show up late, they not only show disrespect for my rules, but they disrupt the learning of others in the room in addition to missing out on time in class. If they don’t care about their own learning, they should at least be respectful of the rights of their classmates.
  7. Traffic – Give me a nice highway with just two or three cars on it any day, and I’m happy. Make me travel on a road with heavy traffic, and I’m a mess. I hate slow drivers, people who cut in front of me, and crazy drivers. You’ll find me yelling at people who really can’t hear me, gripping the steering well, and yelling things like, “Seriously?!” and “The speed limit’s 60, not 45!”
  8. Worrying - My son, my kids at school, money, and everything in between. All I can do to bring relief to all the worry is pray, but the respite from worry comes only temporarily. I want to  go without the worry, sleep better at night, and learn to relax.
  9. Mean People - I mean, really. It’s sad that some people have a self-esteem so low that they need to bring other people down with them. I wish I could help them see that it can actually give you a boost to make other people feel better. I don’t think there’s been one time where I’ve said something mean to someone and felt great afterward, so I cannot understand people who do it perpetually. It actually makes me feel quite awful.
  10. Migraines – I get these blessed events once a month predictably around my cycle and I can honestly say that I look forward to them less than I look forward to the crimson tide. Usually I get 2-3 migraines within that week span that take 1-2 migraine pills per day and that’s all thanks to me taking a migraine preventative every day already. If not for that, I’d have them more often. These migraines can go straight to Hades.

Yes, these are all things I can do without. Perhaps, since I don’t like noise and I don’t want to trigger a migraine, I will not shout about it, but I suppose I’m good with typing it out.

What things can you do without? 

Medication Indecision: How Do You Decide What’s Best?

Leaves both brown and green

As if they cannot decide

Fitting for these times


How do you decide what’s best when it comes to medication? The medication indecision feels so daunting to me!

Medication Indecision: How Do You Decide What's Best? Haiku about Indecision

As we continue to work out things with Squeaker’s medication, life goes on in almost complete indecision about what’s best for him. We did take off one medication, and determined that we just didn’t need that medication. We have a medication check on Monday and we will go from there. I think that when we started this whole medication game back when he began exhibiting symptoms early on, he got diagnosed too soon. His initial diagnosis? ADHD. That diagnosis never got removed after he got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. For the past two years I have learned towards believing that the label of ADHD does not fit. He also has a diagnosis of Sensory Modulation Disorder, and many of the symptoms that one might attribute to ADHD also match those of Sensory Modulation Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you couldn’t guess already, we took away the stimulant medication. His behavior this weekend did not worsen or change, but he did get less zombie-like and sleep better and on Sunday, his Sunday-school teacher said he behaved better than he ever had.

At school, the first two days didn’t go as well, but we stuck with it and on day three, he had the best day he’s had in a while. His evenings still don’t go well, which I’m not sure how to fix, but even the evenings don’t seem to be quite as violent as before. Maybe the stimulant medication had a role to play in the violent outbursts. I don’t think we’re through getting rid of medications. I want to detoxify his body and narrow it down to one or two medications. I’m still not opposed to the idea of just taking him off all of them at once and starting over if it comes to that, but that would require him going to a hospital and we’d have to leave this area to do that because the hospitals around here would pump him full of medications, defeating the purpose of what we’d want to accomplish. The only reason we haven’t gone that route is that he has done so well at school that we’d hate to disrupt that process for him right now.

I hate the slow weaning process that we are going through right now because it leads to indecision. When the doctor asks which medication I feel helps him or which one doesn’t work, how do I answer that? I cannot isolate a variable because I have no controlled situation here.  All the medications get mixed together, so I cannot determine which medication does what. I will say that I enjoy the break-through of his personality more without the stimulant medication in his system. I’m just looking forward to the day when I can remember what pills he takes and what doses he’s on because he doesn’t take so many. Right now, I cannot keep track anymore without writing them down and I don’t like it one bit.

I will say that he does at least get his homework done and he does accomplish his work at school. We’re making progress, even with some obstacles, and if I look back at last year, we’ve gone a long way!


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Teaching Social Skills with Video Modeling

Teaching Social Skills with Video Modeling Behaviors with Friends app

teaching social skills with video modeling behaviors with friendsTeaching Squeaker how to adapt to the world around him can sometimes challenge us as parents. It’s hard when you don’t have the right words to explain the intricacies of social interactions. Life gets experienced by the second. But, many of life’s rules exist in commonalities and we can attempt to help him navigate around them. Research suggests that one of the best ways to help a child with Autism learn about social situations is to use video modeling. When I got the opportunity to review Behaviors with Friends I jumped on the opportunity right away because I knew from my own training as a special education teacher that teaching social skills with video modeling would benefit him. Behaviors with Friends uses targeted video modeling to help teach your child how to behave appropriately, solve problems, make good decisions, and properly communicate with their friends and other peers in common social scenarios and settings.

Lessons focus on common behavior problems for children, such as:

  • strategies to resolve conflicts with peers without resorting to tantrums, name calling or physical violence;
  • self-management and dealing with anger and frustration in a positive fashion;
  • sharing and taking turns with friends;
  • being a good sport;
  • telling the truth;
  • bullying;
  • not interrupting;
  • being nice to friends and not taunting, and encouraging friends who are less competent instead of teasing; and
  • appropriate body boundaries.

The lessons in bold font are the ones I was particularly excited about my son learning. He has watched those videos again and again, and each time he gets something different from them. I think one of my favorite things about the videos is that it has a part where the child must identify how the child making positive (or potentially negative) choices in the video might be feeling and then how the other person in the video might feel.

My son has the most difficulty identifying the exact emotion a person feels and the repercussions of those emotions. These parts of the videos, I feel, hold the most value for him. What’s the difference between angry and frightened? Between sad and angry? Both emotions are negative. He still has trouble pinpointing which emotion is which, and this will help him with that.



Teaching Social Skills with Video Modeling: Behaviors with Friends app


I found that my son actually enjoyed playing this app. The whimsical little creatures made it fun for him. Peppered throughout the videos, you’ll see talking spiders, ladybugs, caterpillars, and other little insects with what sounds like British voices.



The role-playing scenarios stop at clear points, then ask probing questions on “Normal” mode. You do have the option to put it on Easy mode, though. On Easy mode, these questions do not come up. Your child will simply be asked if they want to watch the good choice.

I chose the Normal mode for Squeaker. He always gave me high fives when he got the questions right and got encouraging words like “Super” or “Excellent.” He also got stickers in his sticker book, which is contained within the app, when he got questions right and again at the end of the lesson for finishing the lesson, which excited him as well. Whenever the iPad comes out, he always enjoys getting a chance to play the game, so it definitely gets his endorsement!

Teaching Social Skills Using Video Modeling

From the Sticker Book


Another feature of the app is that there is a Parent section, titled Info for Adults, where you can find useful tips for handling behaviors. In this section, you’ll find a video with several tips on handling problem behaviors with video models. The video is about 11 minutes long; so the length of about half a 30-minute television show. Founder Sarah Clifford Scheflen, M.S., CCC-SLP states that “Behavior issues are a common complaint from parents. Parents need strategies to help teach their children how to behave. Behavior with Friends not only teaches children how to behave appropriately, but also provides tips to parents on how to implement their own behavior modifications.” Jenny McCarthy is included in the parent tips video, so if you’re a Jenny McCarthy fan, you’ll really enjoy that! From founder Jenny McCarthy: “ All parents want their kids to have friends. Traveling around the world, I met so many parents who said, ‘I don’t know how to deal with my child’s behavior problems!’ So we made these videos to help teach children and their parents how to resolve common behavior problems with friends.” You’ll find another video with information about video modeling and other products by teach2talk after that.

With parent tips, video-modeling of social skills, and the fun-factor for kids, this app has a lot to offer. You got a sneak preview of this awesome educational app. If you’d like to be the first to know when it’s been released, CLICK HERE

Here is some information about the Co-Founders of Teach2Talk:

Sarah Clifford Scheflen:

Sarah Clifford Scheflen, M.S., CCC-SLP is a pediatric clinical speech–language pathologist who specializes in working with children with autism and other developmental disorders. Sarah is the founder of Scheflen Speech–Language Pathology, Inc., her private practice in Santa Monica, California, and she is also the senior speech–language pathologist on staff at an intensive partial–hospitalization program located at a major public research university in Los Angeles, California. She is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer, and her research focus is on teaching play and social skills through video modeling.

Jenny McCarthy:

Jenny McCarthy is a The New York Times® best–selling author, actress, producer and comedian. More importantly, she is “mom” to her son Evan, who received a diagnosis of autism with associated language, social, and play delays in 2005. As a mom, Jenny understands every mother’s desire to help their children achieve their full potential, and was frustrated by how difficult it was as a parent to find quality educational products which she could use by herself to help her child in her own home. She resolved to use her experience and connections in the motion picture and publishing industries to produce quality educational products for moms everywhere, and in collaboration with Sarah, teach2talk™ is the result.

For more information about Teach2Talk or the Behavior with Friends app, you visit any one of these links:

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for teach2talk but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


What’s in a Name? Words that Have Meaning to Me

“Did you know that my name means ‘harvester’?” I asked my husband.

“Harbinger?” he replied. “Did you say harbinger? Sounds right.”

He thinks he’s so funny…

What’s in a name, anyway? I’ve always closely associated my name with  Mother Teresa, a person I deeply admire. A giving, loving soul, she spent her entire life in service to others. She founded several charities, worked among the poor, and served God faithfully until the day she died. She is quoted as saying “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” – words that have meaning to me.

What's In a Name? Words that have meaning to me.

I find myself living by these words on a day-to-day basis. When I see a person in need, I reach out. That’s part of the reason I teach–to make the largest impact I can on the world. I want to reach young people and help them.

The other day, I got a Facebook message from a student I taught my 2nd year teaching. She sent me her graduation picture and told me that she always wanted me to see her in her graduation robe. I had since moved away, so we’re fortunate that social media opens up that link for us. She told me I was one of her favorite math teachers. As the person who taught her when she was just in the 7th grade, I feel honored that it meant that much to her. I poured my heart and soul into those children, talked to them when they needed a shoulder, and did all of it in hopes that one day they’d make it. She did. She went from my resource class in middle school to going for her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management in college. Another of my early students joined the Navy and another joined the Air Force. All of them wanted me to know what they had done since leaving me and I am so proud.

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” ~Mother Teresa

In my room, my students know I care for them. They feel loved, even if they don’t feel love anywhere else. Sometimes it’s tough love, but they know that means I will never give up on them. I will stop at nothing to see them succeed. So maybe my name does also mean “harvester.” But I’m not gathering a crop of plants. The seed I’ve planted does not belong to any tangible fruit or vegetable. I plant several seeds and sometimes those seeds don’t get harvested for years. I plant seeds of hope, love, knowledge, trust, and support. The harvest comes when I see those seeds develop engaged learners who reach for more than just a passing grade and aspire to do more than graduate.

My hope? That I never lose that driving force inside of me that pushes me to do just a little bit more. I just care that much.

“The person who gives with a smile is the best giver because God loves a cheerful giver.” ~Mother Teresa

If you want to help out a classroom in need, please visit this link. If you use the code SPARK to donate, they will match your donation dollar-for-dollar up until November 18th.

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