Day 199: Spotting the Signs of Autism

Autism refers to a whole spectrum of disorders that can be mild to very severe. It mostly affects a child’s cognitive development. Autism is very prevalent these days, especially among males, and also quite mysterious. There is as of yet no scientific consensus about what causes autism and so no definitive treatment that can completely cure the symptoms.

There are many kinds of autistic disorders including classic autism, Asperger’s, and PDD–NOS.

In order to be diagnosed with autism, a child will have to be evaluated for certain markers. If you think that your child has autism, discuss the possibility with your pediatrician. Here are some things to look for.

1. Speech delays. Children with autism often experience delays in speech to make it so that they do not communicate as well as their peers. This can be helped with dedicated speech therapy.

2. An aversion to social situations. Autistic children, especially those with Asperger’s, have a difficult time relating with other people. Many of these children will not look other people in the eye when they’re speaking to them, and feel uncomfortable in social situations, and have a hard time understanding social norms and expectations. The symptoms can also be improved with therapy and prolonged practice.

3. The presence of a savant quality. Many children with autism exhibit what is call a savant quality, which is a area in which they far excel those of a similar age. Some have remarkable memories, computational abilities, or other abilities that make them stand out from their peers.

These are just some of the signs that you can look for. Fortunately there are many autism support organizations such as Autism Speaks. To learn more about autism, it’s science, and the resources available, you can visit the following website’s “”.


Day 198: Cleaning Out the Car

Once in a while, my family and I have declared an official car cleaning. It is so easy to start living out of your car, with trash piling up from fast food or other meals on the go, old papers and receipts things that you thought you had lost. Having a cluttered car can be stressful and even bad for your health if you leave too much trash lying around.

The good thing is that there are simple ways to clean your car that are not too expensive.

Phase 1, I would bring plastic shopping bags out to the car so that everyone gets two bags. One bag is for trash in the other bag is for things that need to be taken inside the house. Once you fill the bags, it is time for the next phase.

Phase 2, involves wiping down surfaces and vacuuming the car. Most of the times you can just buy simple disinfectant wipes from the store and either buy an inexpensive shop vac, or use the shop vac found at most car washes and even some gas stations. You only spend a few quarters to get your car looking a lot better.

Unfortunately, like mowing the lawn, this is one chore that does not last. You’ll find, however, that if you do it as a family, it really doesn’t take all that long. At least for the next drive or two, you’ll fell like you’re riding in style.

Day 195: Announcing the Birth of Your Baby

Whether or not you send out birth announcements is something that you will need to talk over with your spouse. It can be that your wife doesn’t care so much about sending out formal announcements and that a Facebook post will do. Other people will insist on it. There are three different primary ways that you could go about this.

The first option is to create formal physical announcements that you will send in the mail. In order to do this you’ll need to have pictures that are to your liking and some sort of program to formats the pictures and text. Luckily, such programs can be found for free such as

There are many websites that will create and print these cards for you and have a variety of templates from which to choose. Then you will only need to select your pictures. One important thing when selecting pictures is to make sure that you have pictures of sufficient resolution. Better cameras will create pictures of higher quality. The quality of pictures will become less detailed when blown up. And when taking pictures for something such as a formal card, you might want to consider getting a portrait from a portrait studio or hiring someone with a high-end camera to take pictures for you.

This can be a wonderful keepsake and you should definitely keep one for yourself. The downside of this is that this is probably the most expensive route, as you’ll usually have to pay per item and might have to invest some money in the photos themselves if you do not have sufficient equipment or expertise. There’s also the additional expense of mailing them the individual recipients.

Another option is to do something that looks like a formal announcement but only send it out through e-mail and social media. You will still need to find high-quality pictures, but there are many sites that will allow you to send out such announcements or invitations without having to print off physical copies. These include


Another way is to simply announce the birth of your baby in an informal way. You can stick up those pictures you took on your camera phone on Facebook and let people wish you well. There’s often so much going on with the birth of a new child that this can be the best prospect.

It also won’t cost you much, if anything.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are on board with what your spouse wants.

Day 194: St. Nicholas

When and where did he live?  He lived in the 4th century and was a Christian bishop in what is modern day Turkey, but then was called Myra, which at the time was party of Greece.

What is he the father of? Why is he famous? He was known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, and had a reputation for generosity and secret gift giving, such as putting coins in people’s shoes.  He is the basis for the modern day Santa Claus, who also goes around giving gifts and doing good.

How many children did he have?  Did they follow in their father’s footsteps? As a priest, he did not marry and have children, but is sometimes known as “Father Christmas” and his influence inspires people today to generosity.

What can we learn from him? We can learn to give gifts generously, not just at Christmas time, and not to care who gets the credit for giving gifts.

Day 193: Know When to Bring Up Issues

“Never Go To Bed Angry.”

Or should you? Many aspects of having a good marriage come down to timing. During the course for marriage, there will from time to time come issues that you need to discuss with your spouse. It can be tempting to do this right when you think about it, but I caution you to evaluate how you feel before jumping into discussing a major issue.

If you try to breach a major topic when you’re feeling exhausted, frustrated, or sad from the get-go, the conversation is more likely to escalate into a conflict. It is easier for quiet rational voices to turn into your irrational yelling ones. For best results, it is imperative to start from a place of strength emotionally and physically so that is easier to control yourself and exercise patience and restraint.

If you enter into serious conversation and find yourself becoming angry or frustrated, there is no shame in stepping back from the situation, tabling the conversation for another time. It is amazing what a good night’s sleep will do for your mental and physical health. That’s why my wife and I try not to discuss serious matters late at night, but in the morning or sometime during the day so that we are more likely to be our best selves.

Day 192: Circumcision

In Biblical times, circumcision was seen as making a type of religious promise. It was one thing that set the people of God apart from other people. Today, many religions do not attach this significance to it anymore. Conversation about whether to do it or not, comes down to other considerations.

Having a baby boy circumcised does provide the advantage of making his general area easier to clean, and maybe put preferable during his adult life.

If you do decide that circumcision, it can be done very early in the baby’s life, and they can be given in medication so that they will not be to adversely affected. You’ll need to keep them on pain medication for a few days while this wound heals.

It is a quick process that can be taking care of usually before the baby is sent home. Here are some links to people who are both for and against circumcision so that you can make an informed decision.

Day 191: Christmas Cookies

What Christmas would be complete without cookies? There are so many varieties that it is almost hard to choose which to make each year.

My mother made quite a few different varieties of Christmas cookies, but my father had a specialty. These are called Russian teacakes or kifflings, and those very easy to make, and also very tasty. So, for all you dads out there, I’m passing down a version of the  recipe to another generation:

You want some additional suggestions, here is a great site that suggests many different kinds of holiday cookies:

Day 190: Matthew 7:11

A fatherhood scripture for the day that shows how our Father in Heaven is generous and loving with His children:

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

-Matthew 7:11