Saturday, January 31, 2009

Marry & Bury

There are times in my life, when I only think of people at "marry them & bury them" situations. You know... either at weddings or at funerals.

Happy occasions and sad occasions.

Today is going to be one those days... doubled.

I have a wedding (VERY HAPPY) and a funeral (sad...), both at the same time. The funeral is over 225 miles away and the wedding is 30 minutes away. Wedding time!

I would not miss this marriage anyway - it's for a dear, longtime wonderful friend. We've been friends since the 5th grade. Can you believe it? And, this is the first-time marriage for both of them. (And the last marriage for both of them too!)




The happy couple is eloping, so to speak -- and only invited 2 guests; I am one. And, I am very happy for them!

This is also a day of new beginnings here. I have never left the kids with Hubs (since going GF-CF) for more than a couple of hours. I wonder how he will do...

Will he stick them in front of the TV, to give Nick some time away in another realm? (Ha-ha...)

Will he be be able to keep up with Nick?

Will the dogs drive him nuts? (They usually hide when I am gone.)

I think things will be fine. Yesterday was not the best of mornings - in fact, it was pretty loud with a lot of emotions and intensity -- on Nick's part. Not mine. I received comfort and warm from my coffee mug. And, survived the day. It was a survival-type of day.

I'd better go paint my face and find my control-top hosiery...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Peace, Man...

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~ Colossians 3:15

I keep seeing this verse, this week. And, I have to confess, when I think about all the things that have happened or should I say have "contributed" to Nicolas' condition, I have anything but peace - especially if it's been a hard day inside my head. No peace of mind at all. I keep re-living events and situations, that I didn't pay much attention to before. I guess that it can be described as self-torture. I need to re-live and process through this stuff, in order to heal (forgive myself) too. And, I realize that I am on the road to peace. Right now, though - I feel as if I am only on the path of hope. But - I do have have hope that one day I will have peace. (Ha!)


Before...
A day of fishing with Daddy.



It makes me realize that there were many, many, many times that I questioned doctors, surgeons, dentists, etc. - as to the safety and combinations of the medications and vaccines... and that my questions - that MY OWN INSTINCTS and my "gut" should have been listened to. I consoled myself by rationalizing that I would always be a little "over-protective" of Nicolas, my little 3 lb. preemie. I guess that was my peace.


Before...
He sat and posed easily to be photographed.


It occurred to me today, that although we've seen H U G E improvements in behavior since changing to a GF-CF diet... it's going to be a process of recovery. It's not as if one day he will be who he was... I watched him deteriorate to the point where it was pretty bad. Most of November was spent crying and sobbing in my office the laundry room, because I couldn't control him... and he couldn't control himself. We're on the right road and I believe we are going the right direction. So - I need to be thankful.

I am thankful. I am thankful that we caught this now, before more damage was done. I am thankful that I used to be able to take my kids everywhere, even if I can't now. I did get to experience it for a few years...


Before...
I could take my kids with me anywhere, such as our oldest son's soccer games.



I am thankful that God has plans for us - good plans, in fact.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I am thankful that God can give me peace, when I can not produce any of my own...

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Phillipians 4:7

I am thankful that our Heavenly Father knows Nicolas. I used to pray and beg the Holy Spirit to bring him comfort when he was hooked up to many machines, that he needed to stay alive. He just looked so tiny and so uncomfortable... and I believe that The Comforter did comfort my baby.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. ~ Psalm 139:13

When I think about it, I could be really whacked-out, ya know? I mean, I once had a "normal" child, and now our lives have been turned upside down and inside out... and then some. And yet, the Lord gave me this child.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. ~ Psalm 127:3

I don't know why all of this happened. I don't know if Nicolas was predispositioned to react to vaccinations. I do know that after his last MMR in July of last summer - he got much, much worse. The difference in his behavior, actions and ability to concentrate and do schoolwork, between first and second grade, is incredible. Huge. And sad. But - it is what it is and I have had to learn to "unschool" or do "unschooling", at times. Not all the time, but - sometimes and throughout the day and evening and pretty much everything we do - involves my interaction and explanations to Nick. And, I am ok with it. He doesn't always pick up on things and since he is going to be a man someday, I just explain almost everything that I am able to -- to him. Oh - yes, he's smart - especially considering what it must be like to have a cloudy head at times. I am very pleased with what I have finally found that works for us and no, it's not one straight curricula for each subject. I know that this is what works for Nicolas and that he is learning. I think I will talk about the books, tools, etc. that we use to teach with, tomorrow... and just how we learn.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. ~ Ecclesiastes 11:15


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remember being a kid?

Do you remember being a kid? How far back can you go? Can you remember back to when you were 3? I can’t. I can get as far back in my memory as 5, easily. Once in a while, 4… but that’s it.



It’s fuzzy though... Am I recalling memories or recognizing events from seeing them in my photo albums? I dunno. What I do know is this: I always felt safe and secure. I loved it when my dad came home from work. We always had fresh treats, snacks, home-cooked meals and ate together as a family. At bedtime, my dad would give us “horse-back rides” up to our beds. My memories contain both of my parents and lots of family and friends – for as far back as I can remember. Looking back over the last few decades, we see so much change – don’t we? Not just with cell phones, pc’s and technology, but – also in society and in accepted trends as well.


For example: breastfeeding. Not cool to do in the 60’s. Now – everyone does it. Everywhere too. Stay at home moms (SAHM's) – we’re everywhere... and in the 80’s it wasn’t cool at all. At least around here...



And what about safety? Safety is a huge buzzword these days. Teens (often) talk about safe sex, like it’s as common as flossing your teeth. New parents talk about safety features of their baby swings, bouncy seats and toys. Newlyweds talk about dishes being dishwasher safe and microwave safe. I talk about foods being safe for my kids! Is it safe to eat? Is it full of hormones, pesticides, and a million other “–cides”?


Just the fact that we can have so many choices about our personal safety and preferences is incredible. Here in the US, we often have too many choices, making it hard for some of us indecisive people. It seems like we have to research everything before we even consider if we can afford it, whatever “it” may be. And, it all takes time. Time to read consumer reports, ask our friends their opinions and time to run around, haul the kids in and out of stores and then… finally… maybe make a decision! And ya know what else? This is NORMAL for us. Hugh? It’s not normal; it is nuts! We waste so much time on things that amount to very little. And, in general – we are ungrateful and lazy.


Are you still with me?


If you still are, I will switch to speaking in the first person. "I". I am ungrateful, at times. I am lazy. I am spoiled. I waste too much time researching. I – I – I! I have no idea what it is like to live without my freedom of wasting time or being able to waste all the time I have. I am talking about the fact that I am ungrateful, lazy and spoiled – most of the time and that my freedom doesn’t come cheap. Did you know that? Hmmm? Well – didja?


Freedom isn’t free. So, how do I pay for it? I can’t. It’s really a pretty pathetic situation. Disgustingly pathetic, to me. Someone or something else allows me to have the life that I have and I can’t even pay monetarily for it. I think in terms of money, most of the time. Especially since I seem to need it so often!


So, now that I am feeling completely rotten, I’d better come up with some good news...





Good News: there is something that I can do! And, you can do it too.

Together, we can be there for the families of those who are serving to protect our freedoms and we can pray. We can pray.



Yes, I said P-R-A-Y. As in - we can pray for those who are allowing me to have the life that I have. The life of my choosing.


As we know, right now, all over the world, the US has its military. I don’t know what they are doing, specifically. I mean, I don’t know if they are fighting, patrolling, watching, waiting, etc. I don’t know any military terms. I don’t know what wars are going on. And, I don’t know where. But, what I do know is that everyone is somebody’s’ child. Or – sibling or parent, etc.


And I know that it must be hell to have to leave your family. Both for the person who is serving to maintain our freedom, and also for those left behind. I can’t imagine it.



I am divorced. Did you know that? Divorce is hell. What it does to peoples’ lives and to their kids... It’s awful. I did get some wild behavior from “the other man in my life”, when he was 3 – 4. But – more good news is that we got through it! Together. Still, I will never forget that time, because it affected Andrew, not just me.


Now Nicolas is having wild behavior - due to his "imbalance". All he knows is that he would like to be able concentrate on his schoolwork better and have more friends. Sounds a lot like any other kid, except that it all seems (and is) very extreme to him. He has a tough time handling his emotions and as quickly as his fits pop out of nowhere, they - can, sometimes, also just disappear. I like it when they just dissolve, but - I am usually still smoldering from the event, and it rather surprising, to be honest. Sometimes I just stand there... almost in disbelief...thinking to myself "Hey - wait a minute! We just had an outburst and now it's gone? Just like that?"... Yes - just like that. In Nick's mind, it's over and done. Time to move on. I could take a lesson or two on that... just move on.




I recently met a beautiful young woman and her 3-year-old son. She’s not going through a divorce – thank goodness. She is having some behavior issues with her child. Her husband is serving… His daddy is gone. That’s what he knows. Just like my Andrew knew... it’s hard for children to process their feelings and even identify what they are feeling - let alone be able to verbalize it to us. They're only just children, after all. My heart screams out that it’s not fair! And I am justified (in my mind) because it isn't fair. But - then again, who says that life is fair? No one.


The little boy that I speak of is “all boy” – ya know? He’s gorgeous too. It’s one of the many things that make me realize I am “getting older” – seeing other kids and recognizing age appropriate behaviors. But, this little guy... he’s burned in my mind. I can see his little face; clearly God has imprinted him in my heart. He’s hurtin’ for certain. He misses his daddy, for goodness sakes! And, his mom is left to deal with him. I’d like to say I know exactly what they're going through. But – I don’t. I can relate though. And since I can relate, I want to ask you to join me in praying for this little 3- year-old, handsome wondrous child.


His name is Georgie. Isn’t that an adorable name? Fits him perfectly too. He’s a handsome little fella. None of these pictures are of Georgie; but - he's definitely a heart-melter. And he needs our prayers. So does his mother.




Please join me in praying for them… That God would protect their loved one, and bring him back home safe… and that their emotional needs would be met! God works in miraculous ways that we don’t understand and so, let’s believe and ask for divine miracles in little Georgie’s life. And, lots and lots of patience for his mom.





Thanks, on their behalf… and on mine too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The "Other" Man In My Life

Wanna see the other man in my life?

Here's he is!

I guess he's not my "baby" - he is a young man.



Brothers!





He gives an impression of being a fun big brother!
And, he is - once in a while...









But - he's not around us much.
Ah - the life of a poor college kid: snowboarding, working and schoolwork...




And when it's not snowing, he likes to do crazy things on his skateboard. Still...



My firstborn. He's the other man in my life. I don't speak of him often...

But - What would I do without him? I dunno... He's a great kid! As you can see, he loves board sports. He's a little too daring and it's better than he doesn't tell me what he tries while on skis or his snowboard!




The kids adore him. Always have. He's not home much, and the kids always think he's in his room. I don't know why though. I think they just want to sneak in there and look for candy or check out all his "cool stuff", you know - like paint balls! I keep them out of his room. for goodness sakes - it's a mess in there and someone is liable to get lost...


I guess he likes that little critter growing on his chin... and so does his current girl. Just in case you're wondering... Uh - yeah... it took a while to get used to sharing him. ((Sigh)) Let's not talk about it - ok?




Snow sports. I hate them. I hate winter. He loves them. He loves winter.

He was an easy baby. He went to public school, private school and then, we saved the best for last: we homeschooled him! He got the best of all three worlds. And he has a ton of friends, but - his closest buds have been around a while. He's picky and I like that. I would never want him to settle for anything. Life is too precious to just settle for something other than quality. Same with his friends. Thank God he is picky! Believe it or not, I remember being in my 20's. My friends were very important to me and they helped me get through some tough times. I know he has that option available to him too. Oh my... let's not think about that either - ok?.




I miss him. He was a really fun kid! We had some great times together... and now, I have the little ones to have fun with. It's great! Disney movies all over again. The excitement of the holidays - decorating and learning about their meanings. I love my kids and I love home educating them... well, most of the time - if they haven't had sugar. Or red #40!

"Children are a blessing from the Lord."
~Psalm 127:3

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Q's & A's

Q: Is Folic Acid bad for me, if it's related to kids in the spectrum? A: No, not at all. We need B vitamins/folic acid and it's found in many fruits and veggies. The latest studies have shown that between 18-20% of the US population cannot metabolize it though. Here's my understanding - that it's a theory, and that in a certain number of people, there is a suspected link between folic acid and autism spectrum disorders:

This theory is tricky, because folic acid is something that all women should have while they are pregnant, including the period while they are trying to conceive.

It is proven that a lack of folic acid during early pregnancy can cause birth defects -such as spinabifida and Down’s syndrome. There's been a lot of drama about telling women to take this as a supplement so they can lower the chances of giving birth to a child with birth defects. Some that think this excessive intake of folic acid might be the root cause of autism for some children.

At the same time, doctors suggest a folic acid supplement for some women as a way to ensure they get enough. The result might be too much of a good thing, and the theory that this leads to autism is disturbing. There is a belief that too much folic acid can lead to changes in the fetus on a chromosomal level that in turn may lead to autism.

A woman concerned about her pregnancy might eat enough fruits and vegetables, eat folic acid fortified foods, and then take a supplement to boot. That will inevitably lead to too much folic acid within the system. Please consider discussing your folic acid intake with your physician if you are worried that you are over-doing it. Besides the theory about chromosomal changes, another theory states that too much of this promotes excess brain cell production. When there are too many cells, the connections between the cells essential for function do not form as they should. The theory is that this too could be a cause of autism.

Besides those theories --- that an overabundance of folic acid can cause a change in chromosomes, another theory states that it can also cause brain cells to grow too rapidly, enlarging the brain. This then cuts down on the room within the brain for proper connections between cells to grow. It's theory. Theory.

Q: So, why is it bad for kids in the spectrum?

A: It's my understanding that my child may not be able to handle this particular b vitamin, (B-9) or folic acid. I am now supplementing him with folinic acid. It will not hurt him and neurologists have had an amazing amount of success with patients, including those previously labeled with psychological disorders. Certainly this must apply to motherhood too... (Ha - just kidding!) Those of us who are mothers, understand that once we realized that we were responsible for our little blessing - that a new instinct emerged in us - the mother bear protective instinct! There is nothing that most moms wouldn't do for their kids.

I wouldn't go on Fear Factor and eat bugs to win a million dollars. No way! But - I would if my child was terminal and eating Madagascar hissing cockroaches would cure him. I would do anything, if that were the case.

So... do I think that because I took a ton of B vitamins before and during the pregnancy, including folic acid, I could have prevented Nick's illness?

No, I don't think so - at this time, with what I know and believe. I think that vaccinations played a huge role. I believe the MMR that he received last July... how can I say this?... it put him over what his compromised body could handle. Additionally, I do believe that it was a combination of factors. But - for this blog entry, I will focus on folic acid.

I believe that there is enough evidence to support that Autism is a multifaceted Nutrigenomic disorder (interaction between genes and nutrients). We can affect our genetic code; but - how much? It's unlikely to have changed or mutated in the last 100 years,so - genetics cannot account for the rise in all modern diseases, including Autism, in that short period. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the incidence of Autism has increased 870% in ten years. And - since genetics have not changed and our diet and food chain have dramatically changed during this time... I believe this may be responsible for some of the increase in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Some. More are:

  • The introduction of toxic chemicals (antibiotics, heavy metals, pesticides, additives and preservatives) in our food chain.
  • The depletion of nutrients in our food due to high intensity farming of the same soil year after year for decades.
  • Farming methods that substitute chemical fertilisers for the natural decomposition of organic matter by bacteria. Increased herbicides and pesticides, etc.
  • Food processing methods that destroy nutrients.
  • The excessive use of antibiotics in babies and children.
  • The 20-40X increase of Omega 6 oils in our diet, and a reduction in Omega 3 consumption from fish and the heating of these oils producing trans-fatty acids that damage cell membrane integrity
  • Slow prolonged cooking methods that destroy vitamins.
  • Microwave cooking that destroys some vitamins and bioflavanoids.
  • A change in eating habits in the last 50 years: We have replaced natural nutrient-rich foods, such as organically grown fruit and vegetables, with nutrient-poor and processed foods.
  • Chickens that are grown several times faster on a diet laced with antibiotics.
Nutritional deficiencies along with pre-existing genetic flaws result in sensitive cellular structures. These cells are later exposed to toxic chemicals (immunizations/vaccinations, fluoride), heavy metals (mercury, fillings, etc.) and antigens such as bacteria and viruses , which in turn can be easily damaged and consequently fail to perform their normal functions.



These cells are distributed throughout the body's systems, such as: Immune System, Central Nervous System, Gastrointestinal system, Neuroendocrine and Musculoskeletal systems and others. Consequently Autism has been described as a multi-systemic disorder.

Whew - it's a good thing that I taught Andrew his biology, health and science a few years back. It's amazing what I have had to re-learn while home educating! And here I am again, for a 3rd time, diving into biological functions.

Good News: I believe that with specific supplementation, detoxification and allergen treatment, we will see continued increased healing for Nicolas. We have noticed differences in just 3 weeks.



Looking ahead: I recently discovered the AiA - whichs stand for Allergy Induced Autism and is based waaaaayyyy over in the UK, as in the United Kingdom. I got my hands on an amazing cookbook, from the CEO of the AiA, I believe.

The AiA is a "sister" organization to our US organization called ANDI:
American Network for Dietary Intervention.

This website - Autism Medical - explains the relationship between autism and eating dairy and wheat. I've copied, pasted, posted and linked before on this blog about this exact subject; but - here we have it again. This time over in the United Kingdom.

Please, take 2 minutes and read this.

Someday, somewhere and sometime, you will see a child or befriend someone who will need to know this information. Maybe someone has come to your mind already. If so, please send them the link! Oh - and just be their friend.




Saturday, January 24, 2009

Silly Saturday

I need something silly.

I am tired of reading, researching and thinking.

Shopping would be perfect! If I had some money to spend...

This might be the first time EVER that I didn't hit the stores for after-Christmas sales. I seem to still be alive - so, I guess I will live on without shopping.



I like this picture.

I think I like it because it reminds me that I don't always see myself the way I really am. Which - on some days, could go either way! Some days, I feel like the worst mom in the world. Some days I feel like the worst wife in the world. Other days, the worst friend. And, on some days - I feel like all of the above! I know I am not a failure; but - I feel like I am failing.

So what. Big deal. Whether I fail or not doesn't really have a whole lot to do with anything. God will fulfill His purpose in me. He won't turn His back on me and He's promised to never leave me. He is on my side.

Just knowing this helps to get things back in to perspective!



It is kinda silly - isn't it? How our circumstances can dictate how I feel about myself. If my heavenly Father says that I am victorious... well then... I guess I'd better start acting like it. And talking like it. And - living like it too!



After all, there are other people counting on me, even if they don't know it!

All that stress and doubt... it's silly now that I have had a nice talk with myself. So much for a silly Saturday.

I know many poeple look to Psalm 23 as a source of comfort, especially at a time of loss. I like this poetic psalm year-round!

The Lord is my shepherd...


God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

Psalm 23 - The Message

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Trip to Whole Foods - Ouch!

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.
~ Psalm 28:7



Today I volunteered, taking along the two little ones, at our homeschool resource center -- which is similar to a really fun small library. We checked items in and out, chatted with other homeschool families and had a good time. We're going to try some books on tape and cd. I think they'll be good!

My kids came across a handbell set and I honestly got a headache. OMG... both were fighting over who could ring bells the loudest and the fastest... and singing at the tops of their lungs... Oh my aching head.. The noise ended and the headache did not. I was pretty hungry though, having only eaten a banana and a half a gallon of coffee... we needed some food, and soon - before Nicolas "dropped' (hypoglycemic). The kids ate all the food we had brought with us and even my "emergency" food of apples and bananas.

We were near in location - to the only Whole Foods market/store in the Madison area...

Hmmm, I had planned on going to Trader Joe's, which I know pretty well now. But - I had heard good things about W.F., including the fact that they have a nice big fresh organic food bar. I thought - why not? The kids have been good, other than the bell incident... so, I (knowingly and willingly) decided to break the rules and make a run for some rice milk at Whole Foods.

I knew that there was a slim chance we would get out of the store without drama. The question now was "how much drama?" There was some drama when they both wanted to stand/ride on the end of the cart and that would normally catch some moms off-guard. Not me! I expect them to try to do this every time. I won - they did not. But - they did scream at each other at least 4 times. But - it didn't affect me much. The fact that the store was so busy - cray-busy, was stressful. Little kids walking around with lots of people driving their full carts all over... ugh...

I had 3 total strangers overhear (eavesdrop) what I was saying or hear what I was looking for and they gave me their personal recommendations, without hesitation. Wow - good thing those opinions were free, because the prices were more than what I am accustomed to. ((Cha-ching!))



The things that put us over of budget were the food bars. BEWARE of the delicious, succulent, esthetically pleasing and incredible smelling food bars... OMG. And, I am not talking about little individually wrapped candy-bar or granola bar-types of items. I mean a big food bar - as in salad bar buffet.

You would think that having 3 children who are all master manipulators would have made me wise and tough by now. Aw shucks, I think I've gone soft! Poor little kids, they just wanted to eat some fresh, organic healthy fruits and vegetables, after all...


The food bars price out at $7.99 per pound. They each filled their cardboard boxes (wonder what they weighed?) with fresh mushrooms, tomatoes and fruits. Uh...yeah - $17 later... and the food was gone in just 10 minutes after getting them buckled in the van. Nope - never taking them there again.

Did Whole Foods have a nice market? Yes. Was the food organic? Yes. Did it meet my expectations? It went beyond my expectations as far as cleanliness, VARIETY, selection, etc. But, it also cost me $55 for just 2 little paper bags of food and the fresh food. That's a lotta money, on food, for mostly just Nicolas.

I did get 2 bottles of organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free, soy-free, high fructose corn syrup-free, tasty salad dressings! They were 2 for $5, on sale. A good deal. I have been searching all over the county for dressings for the boy, as we eat fresh salads at almost every meal now. The same exact product at a big city grocery store would have been $6. So, a buck more. Not normally something I would notice... but - with all the dietary changes, I notice. In fact, I keep every single receipt now. Not a penny is unaccounted for.



Our treasures from Whole Foods.


See that Gorilla Munch? It's pretty yummy, actually. And - the giggles come out from our 4-year-old, who forgets the name and calls it Monkey Munch. It sure gets the kids going, that's for sure. And - it's good to be able to laugh at our new special diets. Really good... The only breakfast cereal that we have been eating is Rice Chex, which is approved by the Celiac Disease Foundation. Free tip: Buy Rice Chex at a large discount store, rather than a small locally owned grocery store. It will be like bogo. Buy one - get one free. Honest truth.

Speaking of those with Celiac disease. I am sorry, if you do have this condition. I don't know what you are going through, but - I know how it is for my son, who is GF and CF... But - please, please look at what you can have!! Ok? You can have dairy. Milk, butter, cheese, cream cheese, and just about any form of cheese. Hey - we do live in Wisconsin! Please be thankful for what you can have. : We also have to avoid soy and sugar.

It took us almost 2 full hours to go through about half of the store. Label reading takes a long, long time.

IMPRESSIVE - ok, I have to say that I am extremely impressed with something I found on the Whole Foods website. I'm even almost excited. Ready? It's this:

Unacceptable Ingredients for Food, at Whole Foods - Click here to see

What? No benzoates? I am allergic to them and didn't even consider that I could find others, let alone a market, that knew about them. No aspartame? Cool, I banned that from our house in 1999.

They buy locally too. That's important to me. I like to support the little guy. If I had more money, in addition to the housekeeper and laundry lady, I would shop a lot more at Whole Foods. Maybe Hubs and I can go there on a date sometime. Remove the words "Hubs" and "date" and it will be a strong possibility! (Ha!)




The bigger brother and the little sister.



They're 17 years apart. She adores him. Can't you tell?

They've been great about not eating forbidden foods in front of Nick. And, Nicolas has been great too, because he wants to be able to concentrate better. It's amazing, actually - for a Friday. Maybe I should start calling our Fridays fantastic? Freaky would apply and be more fitting, but - fantastic has a nice ring to it - don't you think?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

A friend recently asked if we had made any changes, other than just Nick's diet.

And, she was just b
eing sweet and honest. I was not offended in any way. I paused, looked at my friend, and asked her, "What do you mean?". She replied, "Tell me what else has changed in your lives, since starting this diet".

I don't know why this struck me the way it did, but it boggled me. It just did. I didn't know what to say.

Being a woman, she intuitively knew that I was "dumbstruck". Dumbstruck is the word I use to describe an action I usually and often apply to or describe as something that happens to Hubs. Ha! In this particular incident, it applied to me. She said, "How has it affected your lives?"


Uh, we buy our groceries differently now...


Duh... Silence on my part. I couldn't answer. That's rare for me, I know.

Everything has changed. Everything. I am not generalizing; I am saying what I mean and meaning what I say: E V E R Y T H I N G .
She pressed me to know more and I told her I'd put in on this blog - so here goes a small fraction:


Diet - the most significant change, well - affects how and what we all eat, where we shop, what we buy and how we cook. Try explaining to a four-year-old that she can't eat cheese in front of her brother... There are no more fast meals or quick/convenience foods. Tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, but - a 7 year old boy can't eat only fruits and vegetables...especially when he knows, wants and can't have other types of foods. A trip to the grocery store must be done solo. We can not take him with. Ever. Did it once and never again! Plan for extra time to read labels.
A lot of extra time.


Planning ahead when leaving the house! We have to take food with us as we can't just swing through a drive-though, ever. Good bye golden arches... no more running to the border either.
Holidays and birthday parties... no cake. No ice cream.No sugar and no red #40!


Cooking and dishes have changed too. No Teflon or non-stick surfaces, limited plastic ware. "Cross-contamination" is a commonly used phrase now. Wait! Better not sit down until the cast-iron skillet is cleaned!
Preventing isolation and loneliness. If I were a kid, I would have a hard time understanding someone like Nicolas -- UNLESS someone took the time to explain it to me; why he acts the way he does and has outbursts. He has few friends. We understand, really - we do. But, this means that we, his family, have to provide companionship, fun and entertainment for the boy. It sounds easy, but - it also requires planning and my time. Time is never on my side.



Money! Finances. Moo-la. A trip to Trader Joe's sure isn't a trip to Aldi's. Food produced in mass production with tons of ingredients will cost more than food with just one or two ingredients. Doesn't seem fair, does it? We pay more money to have (organic) quality food without chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fillers, preservatives, artificial coloring and flavors than with? I'd better not get started on that one! This is another blog subject for another day.

Attitude - even the most cheerful, happy, secure, satisfied, positive people get thrown for a loop when dealing with someone in the autism spectrum. Wanna see what you're made of? I mean, do you really wanna know what's inside? Take a step into the life, or the day, of someone with a "special" child. You'll have a different perspective at the end of the day... I promise you.


Babysitters? Don't exist. Thank God for Grandma and Grandpa!


Date night? Discontinued until further notice.


Sounds kinda tough - doesn't it? Yeah - it is kinda tough. But, underneath the frustration of trying to figure it all out, there's hope. There is hope and I believe that this is a treatable condition. Maybe even curable. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't be doing all of this. And, I would have checked-out a long time ago.

Guess what? I ain't checkin' out! I am not going anywhere...well - sometimes a little insane, but - it's only temporary.

I am not going to give up on Nicolas. This is just the beginning of his healing, after all.

I am not going to give up on my kids, my marriage or my life. My perspective is limited as a human. I can only see the past and the present. I can't see the future, but - I know the One who does. It's this hope that makes these changes possible.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

~ Jeremiah 29:11


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Protection

pro·tect: verb
  • to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction : guard
  • defend or to maintain the status or integrity of
  • to foster or shield from infringement or restriction
  • to provide a guard or shield

It's not been easy, but - I have learned to protect myself. Yep - I've learned to protect myself from (are you ready?) humiliation, emotional injury, from letting my guard down and I am the only one who can do this. I have to be on constant guard or these things will happen when I am out with the kids.

During this time of healing, I need to be sure that we are in "good company", because even if my child acts "different", it doesn't mean that he is unaware of what is going on around him. He knows if people are treating him differently. And it hurts me - sometimes I think MORE than it hurts him.

For example, our two youngest children went to the dentist today to get their teeth cleaned. For some unexplainable odd reason - they love to go to the dentist. Any dentist will do - they love the dentist! Think about it: everyone is nice to you and all you have to do is lay there, and if you are good, you get a new toothbrush, a pencil and a sticker too! How cool is that?

Well, it should be fun and it should be cool to go to the dentist. But - today, it was not. Not at all. Poor Nicolas had a "temp" for a hygienist and she was something else. Older than me and younger than my mother. But - with an attitude. I don't think she liked kids. Period. I dunno. She quizzed him about his piano lessons... and about how many teeth he had in his mouth. Odd. Is it because we home educate? Or because she didn't know what to talk about? It was odd.


I waited two whole hours, after we were home - and finally went to my laundry room and made the call. I had to call and let the office manager at our dental office know that I would take tooth decay over that hygienist and I honestly told her that it was not only disappointing, but - unfair. No one should be treated in a "short" manner... let alone a child. And, my child was being sooooo good. Exceptionally good!

Nicolas is very literal. What you say, is what he processes. For example, if I said that you were "pulling my leg", he would get upset because he wouldn't understand what it meant, as he could clearly see that no one was physically pulling my leg. Get it? Yeah - I knew you would... anyway...

The hygienist told him to "scootch-up", meaning that she wanted his head up a little bit higher in the reclining chair. He just sat there and didn't move. He didn't know what to do. I was standing right there and watched the whole thing. She just kept saying it, meaner and meaner. DUH!

((sigh))

I reached out and touched his knee, he turned his head toward me and I (super) sweetly asked him if he would sit up a bit more, and of course, he did. Just like that - situation resolved.

In the first 90 seconds, I could tell this was going to be a long, long 20 minutes... and it was.

I was proud of Nicolas for not acting up, even after she hurt him a little with her "picker" instrument. ((Grrr...))

He didn't complain once. Oh - and no cavities! :)

Our regular hygienist had our 4 year old in her chair and they were chatting it up about doggies and counting teeth and I just kept peeking my head in on her... she was fine. No cavities!

I had many errands to run and did not. It wasn't worth the stress and I wondered if Nick would have a delayed emotional episode... and he did. About 15 minutes later he was getting louder and louder and... we went home and had some egg salad sandwiches for lunch, preventing a blood sugar drop. I turned "Martha Speaks" on PBS, gave the kids some fresh grapes and all was well again. Well, for a little while.




The point is I didn't push it. I protected m
yself (and the kids) from some un-needed stress, by going home. I didn't run errands or go to the library all afternoon. I will pay the $1 late fee on our video. It's worth it --- to prevent a meltdown in the library. I've been humiliated there so many times, it's a wonder I even go back. But, I do. Nick needs new drawing books each week and Liv needs a new Barney video each week as well. I don't need stress. And, today - this time, I dodged stress. I'd better not get too proud, tomorrow is lurking...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obsessive or Quirky


At least weekly, Nicolas has something come into his life that he obsesses about. It used to happen a few times a year, then monthly, and then - weekly. Sometimes now, it is daily. It's usually drawing - the boy loves to draw and I read to him while he is drawing or I have books on cd or kids' praise music on for him to listen to. I used to call it "persistence" or diligence or devoted, hard-working, studious, but - most often, I called it "focused". My sins be told - I have been calling it "obsessive" again. Hmmm... Obsessive?

I've been obsessive before... like, uh - a lot!
Whenever I am on a diet, I "save myself" all week, so that I can have a dessert on Sunday. And, during the week, I think about my reward. That's kind of obsessive - right? Haven't you ever been out shopping and almost bought something - but, didn't? Then you get home and wish you would have gotten it and you can't stop thinking about it? That's kind of obsessive. There really are people out there that don't torture themselves like this. Not me. I am good at self-torture in the mind, too good, actually. And, it's part of my personality, which happens to be a melancholy. I have taken 3 different profile tests over the last 15 years, and - they have all shown me to be a strong melancholy. I am married to Mr. Choleric. Hubs... what a guy. It took me years to understand why he is so LOUD. Once I understood his personality, I learned how to communicate to him and that I need to blow off most of what he says, because he is not actually "yelling", he is just loud. but - we have some major conflict because of how we process and interpret each other. Oh yeah...

Here's what this means for the melancholy - me, as taken from F
lorence Littauer's Personality Plus. In fact, I have two copies of this book, should you want to borrow one:



"Strengths

Deep and thoughtful
Analytical
Serious and purposeful
Genius prone
Talented and creative
Artistic or musical
Appreciative of beauty
Sensitive to others
Self-sacrificing
Conscientious
Idealistic
As a parent, sets high standards and wants everything done right.
As a homemaker, keeps everything in order.
As an employee, schedule oriented and hard working.
A list maker and keeper.


Personality Weaknesses of the Melancholy

Easily offended
Can get too caught up in details
Doesn't do well with change.
Struggles with insecurity
Tends towards depression

(I'll keep the "weakness" list short because the Melancholy may tend to dwell on the negatives.)

Of all the personality types, the Melancholy probably struggles the most with a low self image because they have set such high standards for themselves and others.

Words count with a Melancholy. Every word that comes their way will be replayed in their mind and analyzed for meaning. Their feelings are easily hurt. They have to work hard to keep from falling into a spirit of offense. It helps the Melancholy to stop and ask "did they mean to hurt my feelings?" or "could I be reading too much into what they said?" It also helps to simply echo back comments that are potentially hurtful and make sure that you haven't interpreted them wrong.

Those who have Melancholy people close to them should drop generalizations from their vocabulary. Words like "always" and "never" will not be appreciated. If at all possible, drop the volume of your voice and keep your tone friendly. If you are in a bad mood, take care that you do not drip your negativity on them, they will take it personal and be wondering all day what they did wrong.

A Melancholy can become easily isolated. It's a good thing to keep in touch and give them a lot of positive feedback and personal affirmation.

Melancholy's think all the time. When they get quiet, watch out... Don't be afraid to ask them if everything is alright. Depending on where they are on the road to spiritual maturity, they may not tell you what is really wrong, but be persistent.

Phlegmatic and Sanguine people do not usually have too many problems getting along with the Melancholy. But the Choleric can be a bit rough on them, so they will have to try to tone it down and develop their sensitivity.

The Melancholy is usually an amazing exorter. When they do give you complements, they mean it. They are also often prayer warriors when they turn their thoughts into prayers for the people around them. They are merciful and sensitive to others, making great confidants and counselors.

Who is the most famous Melancholy in the cartoon world? That's easy! It's Eeyore! (Winnie the Pooh's slow taking, self deprecating friend!)"


It's all true. It's me! I could call myself "quirky" and I think we all have some quirks - don't we? I think there's a little bit of OCD in everyone and that's the way it is. And, as adults, we can comprehend our strengths and our weaknesses. We know exactly where we need to improve, where we need to mellow-out and where need divine intervention too. There are parts of our lives where only God can intervene and change our hearts, our attitudes and then, the result is that our lives are changed.


So, how about in a child? How about my child? Nicolas is smart - there's no doubt about it, and I should know, I am his teacher, after all. If he wants to learn, he will. But - part of his "condition" is that the imbalance in his body and the foods that he eats have everything to do with his attitude and therefore, his learning/his education. What does that mean to his melancholy teacher? It means that I can't really follow a scope and sequence. We get stuck on one particular subject for quite a while, sometimes. Other times, I can't shove it down his throat. It is nearly impossible to force someone to learn something if they don't want to. So - we get lost on many, what I call, "bunny trails". You can call them tangents or related topics, but - the fact is that we are often all over the place in our homeschooling. Is he learning? Oh yes. Is he remembering what he is learning? Absoutely. Is this acceptable? It has to be. Other than math, we jump around throughout the week. My goals have to be monthly, not daily or weekly, because I never know how receptive Nicolas is going to be. Or how obsessive/quirky he will be either. Some call it working to mastery. That's a really good way of thinking about it. Instead of calling it obessing - I want to start calling is "mastery".

It tortures me to have to let go of what works for me and admit that it doesn't work that way for Nick. It tortures me to watch him love to learn and then the next minute have a screaming fit about hating school. It is a roller coaster most definitely. Without a doubt. Ups and downs, all the time. Good thing I have a seatbelt! It's not just silly talk, but God really is my seatbelt or safety harness. I would have gone off the deep end long ago if not for Him. He created me and He knows me. He can get me through this healing time too. I am counting on it.