Thursday, March 24, 2011

Confessions of a deconstructed mom

Tonight I am lamenting my former Catholicism.  In a moment of sheer patheticness (a word I've made up), I may or may not have crossed the line in my pretend friendship with author, Kim Stagliano.  Yep.  I im'ed her.  On gmail chat.  Not cool.  I'm pretty sure she quietly deleted me from her contacts, and I wouldn't blame her if she did.  Who wants a girl with relatively less drama than your own to ask for a 10:15pm kibitz about what she thinks she might have in common with you?  Not me.  But that's exactly what I did.  And that's exactly why I'm lamenting my Catholic days right now.  The best part of confession is that you leave whatever screwed up things you have going on in your head with someone who isn't going to say a thing and to whom you don't really have to worry about whether or not you've offended.  And if they happen to think you are pathetic, they will probably just pray for you.  Maybe they gossip about you to the head nun over coffee during the Wednesday morning staff meeting- I don't know, but that's about it. 

What would I tell this priest?  Oh, lots of things.  That sometimes I feel envious, lazy, obsessed, and lost.  There is something about parenting that makes you deconstruct yourself.  You were once musical, and now you just play during play time in the living room.  You were once in shape and now you relish pastries and coffee that is too sweet.  You had hobbies and now you just watch tv shows about those hobbies.  You started writing a book, and now you write a blog about your kid- albeit one with cute pictures and the occasional recipe or craft (gfcf pizza post coming soon!).  Then your kid gets older and you find yourself trying to reconstruct what was there pre-madonna days, and you're a hot mess. that just me at 10:30 on a Thursday night? ; )

I read a book for fun this week.  It was Nora Ephron's Heartburn.  Enjoyable enough that I might just pick up another book-for-fun next week.  I definitely did the cliche bubble bath and a book tonight; something you might not have wanted to know if you plan on borrowing the book (Sorry, Camilla).  I recommend it- the bubble bath and the book, nonetheless.  Another confession:  I still feel guilty that I haven't re-picked up The Autism Book by Dr. Sears.  Neurotic?  Maybe.  But we had Isaac's parent-teacher conference this week, and I know that I do need to put my nose to the grindstone again.  Still, to do the less neurotic thing and pretend that everything is completely 100% fine is always tempting, and perhaps kind of healthy to do now and again.  I'm sure many of you are nodding your heads in agreement right now, which leads me to my last confession.  I am singing in church on Sunday.  All by myself.  That is, if Isaac doesn't get me sick between now and then.  I'm really trying hard to have a life- really I am.  I'm hoping that I'll have some pieces put back together by the time he goes to kindergarten.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Play time and practice


I've learned that we have more than just one dog living with us; we also have a cat, a penguin, a puppy, a bird, and whatever other animal Isaac decides to be that day.  A couple weeks ago, when picking him up from school, his teacher asked me if one of the shows he watches has a cat in it.  She's also noticed his "gift" for quoting movies, books, tv shows, etc.  This is called echolalia.  I said that maybe an episode of Kipper has one in it, and that he'd been pretending to be a kitten for days.  Meooowwwwwww.  Apparently, that day Isaac told her that he needed to wash his paws.  We had a good chuckle over this.  For the first half of this past Saturday Isaac decided to be a bird.  He never broke character- even answering me in affirmative or negative tweets.  Much like Chica from the Sprout channel.  Is it bad that I'm already relishing his imminent acting success in Okemos School plays above that of his well-to-do classmates?  Probably.  But if you were from Okemos, you would do the same thing.

Besides a stream of sickness in the house, things around here have been pretty fun.  Isaac and I have reinstated our afternoon dance parties- just for something to do.  This time we've been dancing to the Ray Charles station on Pandora.  I recommend it.  Andrew and I have also been involving him in cooking and baking his own food, and he LOVES it.  I'm hoping that this might be a window into getting him to try new foods and add new activities into his usually rigid routine.  Today we made our best batch of oatmeal, flax, chocolate chip gfcf cookies to date.  It's always a mixed bag when baking with mommy, because I never use a recipe.  We stood in the kitchen and munched them while warm to try and sweeten up an otherwise gray and dreary day.  Seriously, I would opt to Rip Van Winkle the month of March if I could get away with it.

Isaac's parent/teacher conference was yesterday.  His team of teachers were overall very pleased with the progress he's made so far, but we all agreed that there is still work to do.  He will continue in the same class in the fall, and I'm grateful for that.  I can't believe I ever entertained the thought of keeping him home until he was four.  I honestly don't think he'd be where he is right now if it weren't for this special classroom.  His verbal skills since the fall are like night and day.  He's in a good place as far as pre-school smarts, and we received some good tips on some of the quirks we're still hearing and seeing in him.  Miss Minda asked about his sensory room- she's seen my articles.  Lesson learned; don't show off if you don't want to be held accountable!  Her compliment of the room was also an inquiry as to how intentional we are about using the room.  The short answer?  Not as intentional as we could be.  So we've been getting down there more in the past couple days to work on things.

I've been forcing (yes, forcing) myself to take part in some intentional imaginary play with Isaac everyday in order to practice his conversational skills, too.  He's just not going to naturally pick up on them the way other kids do.  I say forcing because imaginary play can be a little boring when you have a kid that gets stuck on one channel for an  hour or two.  Yesterday we pretend-played with his toy kitchen for over an hour.  For a girl who's imaginary play when young involved adult themes and barbies, making donuts for toy dragons just does not come naturally. Ha!  Life with a three year old as cute as Isaac has been mostly fun and games these days, but even playtime has been aimed at practicing the skills he needs.  I love this age, and wish time would slow down a little even if it meant 100 more hours of making food for toy dragons. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Guessing Game

If there was any justice in the world, spectrum kids would come with instruction booklets with a fat chapter on malfunctioning...or reset buttons for when things get out of whack.  But that's just not the case.  Every day and every decision is a guessing game.  You constantly have to be thinking three steps ahead.  Will this work for my child?  Will he react badly to that?  Is my poor parenting decision of letting my son eat a ton of McDonald's fries and meat this weekend going to lead to night terrors, communication struggles, colossal meltdowns, and Isaac scratching up a kid for taking his napkin during snack time at school?  Oops, I didn't think of that one. 

Thankfully, our road has been sprinkled with a trail of little gluten free breadcrumbs to lead the way.  As soon as a mystery pops up it seems I always find myself in a conversation, book, situation, or article that leads to some answers.  And I'm grateful for that.  This week's mystery was what could be causing the above listed behaviors in Isaac.  We were suspicious of the McDonald's food since it was something he ate in excess, and also since he had the tell-tale red face this weekend after eating it.  Still, my McDonald's research a year ago had said that McD's fries and meat were gluten free so I chalked up the out-of-whackness to high yeast, a possible virus, and a long weekend with company.  Then I happened upon a conversation with a gfcf friend today about McDonald's fries.  She said she had heard that they are not gluten free and dairy free, because they use a beef flavoring on them that contains both of these ingredients.  The sky was falling.  This. Cannot. Be. True.  My easy out!  My bribing technique!  My traveling made easy option!  Ahhhhh!

Of course, my denial would not let me take her word for it; so I came straight home and did my own research.  My conclusion was this:  Damn it.  You have failed more than my waste-line, McDonald's.  The fries are not 100% gfcf.  You were right, Michelle!  However, I do think that because it is such a trace amount we only saw a reaction in Isaac via the extra amount he ate this weekend.  Will I still let him have small amounts of McD's  fries?  Probably not.  I'm a stickler.  I hate to think that he could be feeling icky due to food and just can't tell me.  So the search for gfcf fast food continues as it is a necessary evil when traveling or just busy.  Less guessing and more research, Libby.  Mystery solved thanks to Michelle and this handy gluten-free blog:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We're still here

As much as I'd like to say that I've prematurely given up reading and writing for Lent to cover up my recent bout of laziness; we all know better than that.  I'm just not good at multitasking.  The past week or so has been filled with house cleaning, illness resulting in more house cleaning, and trying to find my way out from the bottom of the peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar box.  Why are they so addictive?  I'll tell you why; it's winter.  It. Just. Won't. End.  I think my body is trying (and succeeding) at making fat stores in case it really never ends.  Little does it know that I've been fighting back with my hot new bike, ipod, a strategically placed picture of the 18 year old version of me, and a looming midlife crisis.  I'm hoping it gets the message soon.

Like most moms, I struggle to find a balance between doing for my family and doing for myself.  I think this is especially true if you have a child with special needs.  You can kind of get wrapped up in being the ring leader to their circus.  Or maybe it's just easier, in some cases, to throw yourself into them rather than deal with whatever else might be going on.  i.e. I know how to be a good mom.  I don't always know how to be a healthy, thriving 25 year old.  Or a wife.  Or a Christian.  Or a person with interests.  Therefore, I'll just be mom for now.  Not a good idea.  You turn into Frumpasaurus Rex.  She's in the previous post.  So I am putting away Dr. Sears for a little while, cracking open a just-for-fun book, and picking out a new tattoo for when I lose all these peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, Isaac has been holding his own.  Sure he woke me up this morning by repeatedly poking me in the face and then puking on me, but we were due for a good virus.  He has been remarkably healthy lately.  My current goal for Isaac?  Getting him to eat more of a variety of foods.  He will only eat raw broccoli with butter on it, cooked winter squash, and unhealthy versions of potatoes when it comes to veggies.  On top of having a super limited diet, he's a picky eater.  He wasn't always this way.  He used to eat pretty much anything you put in front of him.  I'm not exactly sure when this changed, but I feel like it was right around the time when everything else changed.  And definitely after we stopped sprinkling cheese on everything.  If anyone has some insight into the world of picky eaters on the spectrum- please, PLEASE pass it along.

He has been doing ok in school.  We're still working through some pragmatic language issues and some pretty typical three year old frustrations (on the parenting end), but I have to say the typical three year old stuff only makes me happy.  It's progress.  He has started wanting to pick out his own clothes.  The other day he went to school with black pants with red plaid pockets and a blue and orange striped sweater.  He looked like a hipster.  My heart was warm.  He's also playing elaborate stalling games when it's time to get ready to go somewhere he doesn't want to go.  "No school.  I'm tired now, mommy.  I go to bed."  Annoying, typical, three year old behavior.  I love it.

So lest you think we've fallen off the face of the earth, we're still here.  We're just trudging through the end of winter, the flu, and all the other things that make up our little slice of dysfunction.  Happy FAT Tuesday.  I hope you ate too many granola bars too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A few of our favorite things

Is there anything more embarrassing than running into your hairdresser at the grocery store at 9:30pm when you look like this?
Except, my hair didn't even look this good.  It was Monday night- in every sense of the word "Monday".  I was sporting the Half-Frumpasaur (I managed to be wearing jeans instead of sweatpants), un-waxed eyebrows and upper lip.  I think there was kid snot on my coat.  We chatted for a few minutes about healthy food- which always makes me feel like a big fat (emphasis on fat) hypocrite as I'm not the gluten-free, casein-free, mostly natural eater- Isaac is.  I had cake for lunch today.  Still, I am the one that researches and buys the food.  Turns out my hairdresser ended up loving the Earth Balance Spread that I suggested to her.  This got me thinking that it might be helpful for gfcf eaters or even vegans to see a list of some of our favorite food items.  Special food is expensive so trying new things is always a gamble.  Knowing that someone else has tried it and likes it is always helpful.  So without further ado, here is a list of some of our favorite things:

1) Glutino pretzels
2) Crunchmaster crackers
3) Mary's Gone Crackers
4) Kinnikinnick Animal Crackers
5) Cherrybrook Kitchen baking/pan cake mixes
6) Chebe bread
7) Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
8) Xgave Nectar
9) Earth Balance Spread
10) Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour
11) Bob's Red Mill Xanthum Gum
12) Bob's Red Mill GF steal cut oats
13) Eco-planet original gf hot cereal
14) S.O. Delicious Original Coconut Milk
15) S.O. Delicious Coconut Ice Cream
16) Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
17) Daiya Vegan Cheese Shreds
18) Amy's frozen Gluten Free Dairy Free Soy Free Mac N Cheese
19) Earth Balance Almond Butter sweetened with Agave
20) Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips
21) Fearn Brown Rice Baking Mix
22) Gluten-Free Full Flavor gravy mix
23) Erewhon GF Organic Crispy Brown Rice Cereal

"Normal" GFCF Options:
1) Hebrew National hot dogs
2) Meijer Brand Kettle Corn
3) Instant Brown Rice
4) Orieda Brand potato products
5) McDonald's fries
6) Although not completely Feingold friendly, we use a lot of turkey bacon and sausage for quick, semi-healthy protein boosters for Isaac.  Protein and fat help balance yeast.

I've picked our favorite foods based on not just being gfcf, but also limited corn ingredients and low sugar.  This is a working list.  Hope this helps!  There are a ton of options out there, but not all gfcf options are quality choices.  Sometimes they are packed with sugar which is not good for any kid, especially one on the spectrum.  Read labels and watch for reactions.  That's my best (un-professional) advice.  If you think your kid is acting crazy after eating corn based cereal, then he probably is.  Be observant and you'll soon have your own list of favorite things.