Furniture · Uncategorized

Zack Creates: How To Give Old Furniture New Life

Zack has loved to paint since he was very small. My dad was a contractor so anything that needed to be fixed around our house was done by my dad and his trusty helper. We’ve been able to channel his interest into a wonderful hobby. The pieces below we actually use but he is working on a few pieces now that we hope to sell.

The coffee bar he found at the Goodwill for $5.  Two coats of Rustoleum Autumn Gold and a coat of polycrylic to seal it and he was done. A vintage tackle box with sugars and creamers completes the look. Allow 24 hours drying time between coats for best results. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area if you’re going to use Rustoleum.

The snack tray was a bit trickier. It was painted with the same Rustoleum and then decoupaged with a decorative paper and sealed with polycrylic. A coordinating ribbon covers the raw edge.

The coffee table was also spray painted, covered with a handmade paper which was decoupaged and then sealed with polycrylic.

He’s very proud of his pieces, as well he should be, and I hope he’s inspired you to give it a try!


Autism · Uncategorized

Zack Cooks: How To Make Breakfast Fast, Easy And Healthy

Adopting a healthy lifestyle has not been the easiest of concepts for my son to adopt and learn. Every day he wants to eat out. Not only is a daily dose of Mcdonald’s unhealthy but I really can’t afford to take him out every day. So we are starting small with quick easy breakfasts that are tempting but not too unhealthy.

Fortunately he likes oatmeal so we have been preparing overnight oats on Sunday evenings.


The biggest expense was the mason jars but they will last forever so that’s a pretty good investment. We pick up a lot of add ins to keep it from getting too boring. They’re not sausage biscuits but they still take pretty good.

We start with a base of 1/2 cup of oatmeal and 1 TBSP of chia seeds. Our favorite flavor combinations are:

  • ginger, date and pear
  • strawberries with mini chocolate chips
  • apple, cinnamon and caramel
  • banana and maple syrup
  • blueberry peach
  • raspberries with mini chocolate chips
  • coconut, cocoa and honey
  • apple cranberry or raisins

We can’t include any nuts because of our allergies. We top it off with 3/4 C soy milk.

So far we’re off to a good start so hear is hoping it will become a habit. I’d love to hear how everyone else helps their loved ones adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Have a great week!

C.A., Zack and Izze

© Chantelle Porter 2016





Autism · Uncategorized

I Am A Superstar

I love this one.


Autism · Uncategorized

Caregiver Shortage

I am looking for someone right now so this was very timely.

Autism · Uncategorized

Feeling A Bit Overwhelmed

I’m really feeling my age today. I would so much appreciate the help but I believe in our state it’s a minimum of 10 years. Hope I last.

Unfortunately, Illinois is not the only state with problems.

C.A., Zack and Izze


The Hidden Links Between Autism and Genius

One: that autistic children and child prodigies may be understudied in adulthood

Source: The Hidden Links Between Autism and Genius


6 Reasons Why A Toy Poodle Makes The Best Pet



From time to time you will be hearing about my dog, Izze. We adore her and if you are thinking of getting a pet, you may want to consider this:

They Are Not Designer. They Are A Tried And True Breed.

The Poodle hails from Germany where it was actually first bred and was referred to as a Pudl. Pudl is German for “to splash” and Poodles were widely used to retrieve water fowl. The “fou fou” haircut that is typically associated with Poodles was actually designed to keep their joints warm while in the water while not having too much hair to weigh them down. Though a German dog, Poodles gained fame in France for being “trick dogs” and were a favorite of King Louis XVI and Queen Anne.

They Love Hard

Toy Poodles love their people. You will be the center of their universe. Sure, they will romp with other dogs given the opportunity, but given a choice between you and “the other dog” they will always choose you. They will endlessly bring you toys to throw because they love to play with you. They will spend endless hours on your lap simply to be near you. They will smother you with kisses and you will love every minute of it.

If you want your next dog to be affectionate and playful, this is the breed for you.

Their Coat

Poodles don’t actually have fur, they have hair. What this means for you is they do not shed. Ever. Their hair will keep growing, just like human hair, so you will need to get them groomed every 4 – 6 weeks. It’s a small price to pay for clothing and furniture that isn’t covered with fur.

Because they have hair and are groomed frequently, they are very allergy friendly. There is no truly hypoallergenic dog and if a breeder or pet store owner tells you otherwise, they are misinformed. Some people can handle poodle mixes with ease, but for those who have asthma,or very severe allergies, a poodle is probably your best first choice. If you buy from a reputable breeder, they will allow you to purchase your pet and return it if you are allergic to it. But then, of course, you’ll have a broken heart.


10 Most Popular Dog Breeds In The US

Labrador Retriever
German Shepherd
Golden Retriever
Yorkshire Terrier
French Bulldog


They Are Smart

The Poodle is in the top ten smartest dogs, right behind Border Collie and German Shepherd. Training is a breeze with this breed not only because they are smart but because they are such people pleasers. My Toy Poodle was house trained in two days and was only 8 weeks old. While I’d like to take the credit for training her so well, she is really just that smart.

The Poodle’s intelligence is best on display in obedience classes and agility. Take your new puppy to an obedience class and she will shine. Because Poodles are long legged and bright, they also make great agility dogs. Agility is the sport where you guide your dog through an obstacle course that includes tunnels, weaving, hurdles, etc. Agility courses are also timed tests and because your Poodle loves you, she will run her heart out for you.

Top 10 Smartest Dogs
1. Border Collie
2. Poodle
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Shetland Sheepdog
6. Labrador Retriever
7. Papillon
8. Doberman Pinscher
9. Rottweiler
10. Australian Cattle Dog
Source – Animal Planet

They Are Portable

This may not have occurred to you as a characteristic you would like to see in your next pet, but it’s a biggie. Once you bring that little ball of fur home you are going to want to spend all your time with her. If you have an active lifestyle, the last thing you will want is to be leaving your new pet home all alone while you’re off having fun.

Love to bike? Toy Poodles, at their largest, are 10 inches at the shoulders. Some weigh as much as 9 pounds while others weigh as little as 5. We have a special basket for our Poodle that attaches to the front of one of our bikes. A 20 mile bike ride is fun for your Poodle because she is with you. The amount of weight they add to your bike ride is negligible.

Love to shop? Carrying your Poodle with you window shopping is a breeze as they make many fashionable portable dog “purses”. Many establishments in bigger cities will let you bring your dog inside their store as long as they are in their “purse”. They love being around you and are easy to take just about anywhere because of their size. You can’t carry a Labrador through Macy’s.

Love to travel? Toy poodles can easily fit under your seat on an airplane. You will need to purchase an airline approved carrier for your pet as well as have your vet fill out health forms assuring your dog is healthy for travel. Picture yourself strolling in Miami, or sitting beachside with a cocktail and your best friend. Heaven.

My sister has alway s had large dogs. The last three she had were two Weimaraners, Ruby and Piper, and a Molly, a Black Labrador Retriever. They were wonderful dogs. When the Black Lab got older she developed hip problems. Going up and downstairs was extremely painful for her so my sister would carry her up and down the stairs. Molly weighed 80 pounds. You can imagine how challenging it was for my sister to carry her up and down multiple times per day. (She lived in a split level so there really was no avoiding the stairs on a daily basis.) As my sister aged the carrying became harder and harder for her to do. The moral is, is you’re somewhat “older” the size of the dog you choose can really matter.

Their Lifespan

A Toy Poodles average lifespan is from 12 – 15 years. You will find that many Toy Poodles, with high quality vet care, are living to 18 and some as long as 20 years. Larger dogs have shorter lives, sadly. The Great Dane averages a mere 9 years. The longer you can have your best friend stick around the better.
The Poodle is actually one breed with three different sizes – Standard, Miniature and Toy. The Toy is any purebred Poodle that is 10 inches or less at the shoulders. Poodles come in 10 different colors – apricot, black, blue, brown, cream, gray, red, silver, silver beige and white.

If you are interested in making a Toy Poodle puppy your next best friend, please visit the AKC website to find a list of reputable breeders in your area. AKC (American Kennel Club) has notated what they refer to as “Breeders of Merit”. They have been singled out as breeders with the highest of standards and who strive to maintain breed integrity and the health of their puppies.

If your heart is set on a puppy, it may be necessary to purchase one from a breeder. It is hard to find pure bred poodle puppies at rescue shelters. If you are a bit more flexible, there are many rescue agencies that have poodles waiting for their forever home. While many rescues suffer from trauma and neglect, with love and good vet care, they make incredible strides and make loving and grateful forever friends. Go to Petfinder to find a dog in your area that is just right for you.


Having trouble choosing a name? Here are a few suggestions that may tickle your fancy.

Top 20 Dog Names Of 2014

Whether you decide to rescue a poodle or purchase one from a breeder, please remember to spay or neuter your pet.

© 2016 C.A. Porter


10 Things A Person With Autism Wishes You Knew

cropped-img_05221.jpgI’m Still A Person

“Autistic people love to swim”. I have heard this from special ed teachers, aides, speech therapists and family members. My son hates the water. This has been going on for 23 years so I hold no hope that will ever change. He is a person first and foremost. He likes girls, being invited to parties, to bike, to read, to play “Clash of Clans”, to travel, and dine out. This all seems pretty typical to me.

I don’t know why we as a society tend to see people as their disease rather than as an individual. I think it helps us understand things that are intellectually and emotionally difficult to process. My son is as similar to other people who have autism as are two diabetics. Similar symptoms? Yes, but he is still an individual like everyone else.

My Senses Can Be Out Of Whack

So much of my son’s unusual behavior results from a cropped-img_0061.jpgneurological system that processes stimuli incorrectly. Odors, from perfume, to foods, to plants can result in nose holding and nausea. My son is also particulary sound sensitive with static from radios, the noise of high winds and off-key singing actually causing pain. The texture of rough clothing, like jeans, hurts. Textures of certain foods can cause gagging. Lights, like bright sunshine, can cause pain.

Not everyone with autism has these problems just like people with migraines do not have the same altered neurological experience. So if you see someone covering their eyes, holding their nose or covering their ears, they may be having difficulty coping with painful stimuli.

The Difference Between Can’t And Won’t

Difficulty with language is one of the core symptoms of autism, both speaking and listening. Some individuals with autism, will also have cognitive impairment. Often people with autism are labeled as uncooperative because they refuse to “join in”. People who don’t know how to play tennis don’t ordinarily jump into the middle of a match. People who can’t dribble don’t enjoy taking the ball down the court.

I always operate under the assumption that my son doesn’t understand if he refuses to comply. We work on individual skills a lot before we put them together to try an activity. People with limited comprehension can still feel inadequate to the the task just like the rest of us. Once he has learned the skills required for the task, I then feel comfortable knowing he either doesn’t like that activity or he just doesn’t want to (think clean his bedroom). So much of the problems in life are simply misunderstandings.

I Am Literal

Years ago there was a mad cow outbreak and we decided to temporarily stop eating beef. Scan 26I explained to him that beef came from cows so no more spaghetti for awhile. He thought it was hysterical that we had been eating “cow spaghetti”, as if an actual cow was served on a plate.

Euphemisms like “johnny on the spot” or “kicked the can” lead to confusion and endless questions. Where is the spot? Why is he on the spot? Who is Johnny? What kind of can? Did it have food in it? Is it a game? I always try to keep my language as exacting as possible to lessen his confusion.

I Am Visual

80% of the information we take in on a daily basis is visual. People with autism are no different. What they have tremendous difficulty doing is listening. My son has been reading since he was four yet his spoken language lags far behind. When we go to the doctor, I bring a pad and paper to take notes for him to read. I want him to understand what the doctor is saying. All our activities are written down so he knows what’s happening when. Closed captioning is always on our TV. When learning a new song, he can’t get the lyrics by listening. We always print out the lyrics for him.

While it may seem like a lot of work, the benefits that result from reduced confusion and lessened frustration are worth the time and trouble. If you do have a conversation with someone with autism, keep your sentences short and concrete. If you are giving directions, write them down.

Please Focus On My Strengths

All of us have weaknesses that we work on. People with autism usually have many. cropped-img_0887.jpgMost of us don’t spend all day trying to ameliorate our shortcomings. It’s demoralizing. We have always tried to strengthen his interests and abilities. It builds confidence and a feeling of self-worth. Zackary loves geography so we studied all 50 states and then proceeded straight to the countries. He loves maps and is a reliable navigator. He loves carpentry so we bought a small vacation cottage that we are rehabbing. He is in heaven.

People with autism aren’t diseases that need to be cured. They are people with some extreme challenges and unique interests and strengths just like the rest of us. They deserve to be treated as such.

Help with Social Situations

When my son was quite young, we participated in a study at the University of Chicago. They were training practitioners to detect the signs and symptoms of autism in the very young. They hoped to ensure children got help as young as possible. They did a good job. Dr. Catherine Lord, who was heading the project, could diagnose a child as young as 12 months as having autism.

One of the activities we volunteered for was a “play session”. At the time my son was six and were were asked to play with toys together while clinicians observed. My son had no facility for play at that time so he repetitively stacked blocks into a tall tower and knocked them over again and again. Despite my best intentions to get him to join me in play, I was not successful.

While toys might seem like “child’s play” for my son they were not. Imagine how much more challenging the social stiuations must be for adults with autism trying to navigate life after school. We teach and rehearse all anticipated settings. From going to the dentist, to playing board games, to ordering in a restaurant, everything, for my son at least needed to be directly taught. We have been laughed at, cursed at, and have had mean epithets hurled at us for our lack of understanding. Instead of condemning, your help would be greatly appreciated.


No parent is unfamiliar with a temper tantrum. The difference for us is that they can go on for far longer and for what seems incomprehensible reasons. My son once had a very loud, and as I’m sure many of you can relate to, temper tantrum at the checkout of a grocery store. While he was throwing his fit a couple of elderly women were loudly complaining about what a terrible mom I was to have such an awfully behaved child.

Sometimes the challenges my son faces in life build up and overwhelm him. Should he have a meltdown? No. Can I understand why this is happening? Yes. While we are actively helping him to handle frustration and disappointment better, please be kind. If you really want to insert yourself into our experience, please simply offer your help and not your condemnation. He is having a hard time coping and so are we. We would greatly appreciate your help.

Behavior Is Communication

As our speech therapist always said, “You can’t not communicate.” All behavior is communication. The challenge is trying to figure out what the person is saying and help them say it.

When my son was little he loved Cheerios or so I thought. He ate them for breakfast every day. Every day he would have a fit when he got them. Obviously he couldn’t say what he really wanted and I couldn’t figure it out on my own. So I put pictures of his favorite foods on the refrigerator and when he asked for Cheerios, I would bring him to the fridge and have him repeat what he wanted. Naturally he didn’t want Cheerios. He actually picked a wide variety of foods for breakfast instead of the same thing each day.

Just because a person’s behavior seems “aberrant” doesn’t mean it is or that you are seeing the situation correctly. Always assume that “what we have here is a failure to communicate” what they want or mea in a way that is easy for the rest of us to understand.

Just Love Me

Sometimes we parents get so caught up in curing our child,

Zack’s 21st birthday celebration in Vegas
worried as we are about their future, that our homes become somewhat like basic training. Militaristic structure and rules that suck the joy out of life.

Despite their challenges, people who have autism deserve the same love and respect as everyone else. I have seen so many friends not celebrate their child’s birthday with a party, or skip vacations entirely, or refuse to go to the movies until their child was “better”. Autism is a lifelong condition, love your child and celebrate their milestones and successes just like everyone else does. They deserve it. It may look different from the picture you had in mind, but don’t skip it. Love them as they are.

© 2015 Chantelle Porter


Going To Be Slammed This Week

Usually Mondays are tough days at our house. Transitioning from the weekend to Monday can be tough for Zack. The result? He wants to spend all of Monday at home relaxing. I think his Sunday is our Monday.

So this weekend we went to the the cottage we are rehabbing. We have a long way to go but we do have a great time there. We finished our sliding door. Zack and I built it, but we had to have Dad help us install the hanging hardware. (We are both too short.) Here’s a pic:


You can see we have quite a ways to go in our rehabbing efforts but we love it. Zack is so proud of his handiwork.

This week I am going to be crazy busy. I’ll try and get another article posted.

Have a great week!

C.A., Zack and Izzy


Happy Friday


We are off to the cottage. Have a wonderful weekend.

C.A., Zack and Izze