Another birthday, another celebration... Our Booboo Bear turned 11! It feels like yesterday when Mark rushed me to the clinic. We were both excited and terrified at the same time. In all of the panic, we forgot my “hospital bag” with all of the things we needed for the newborn and I. That was quite an adventure, but the pain was all too real. For us both – Mark’s hand experienced some major squeezes. My young, warm, friendly, smiling face morphed into a hideous upside down grin, exposing my “angry” teeth, bloodshot eyes,  and wrinkled nose. I knew right there and then that the man standing by my side was a keeper.

Yesterday, as I was writing our “ASD history” for an upcoming medical radio show, all of these memories kept coming back to me. Even though it’s been so many years now since Michael regressed into autism, it still hurts and makes me wish I could turn back time. Then again, I remember all of the lessons I learned through the years. But because of his condition, I feel so grateful and blessed. I just wish that my baby boy didn’t feel like he’s different, limited or alienated. That’s why I do what I do! That’s why I fight for him and educate others, raising autism awareness and acceptance.

Now for some more good news, knock on wood not to jinx it. We continuously enjoy having, eating out, going to church as a family, meltdown-free get together with friends, etc. Michael sleeps better too, which is huge! I want to highlight again and again the importance of healthy diet and using the right supplements. Ever since we learned about his allergies and sensitivities, we adjusted our menus accordingly. What a difference it’s made! Even when he eats something he’s not supposed to, his gut heals much quicker and the adverse reaction is not as severe.

Speaking of food, how can you make a birthday cake that is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, banana free, etc? Good question! I got my organic brownie mix, prepared my flax egg (egg substitute), added coconut milk instead of regular milk and hoped it would turn out like the one in the picture. Well, it looked good, but somehow didn’t grow like it should have. It was too ”flexible” in its texture and after cooling down, it collapsed, just like my heart when I saw what happened to it! In my desperation, I shoved it in the freezer hoping it would somehow make it better. And boy was I wrong! It turned into a chocolate chip rock. So what did I do? I fixed some dairy free frosting to cover it up. One flop after another… But my vegan meringues turned out pretty good, so yay, not all of my cooking ended up in the trash!

P.S. Try this recipe: Pour ¾ cup of chickpea liquid (aquafaba) into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, about 15 minutes, add 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice. Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar, then 1 tsp of vanilla. Pipe the mixture into mounds onto the baking sheet(s) and bake for 2 hours at 250F, then switch off the oven and leave meringues in the over for another hour to dry them. Voila! Delicious sweets that are gluten free, dairy free and egg free (but sugar full)!

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