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Archive for March, 2010

WTH Wednesday: Giant Millipede

Yes, this would be “Moo,” our giant millipede, frolicking in the Little People zoo.  His nickname is “Mills,” after a friend Joseph met at space camp.  (Such an honor for that child.)

Moo/Mills dwells in Kim, the velvet ant’s old abode in Joseph’s room.  A few of you might recall that Kim occupied the former home of the the “last living kindergarten fish” who met his great reward during the summer of 2008.

As I look back through the old comments, I see that many of you are still around.

You are a brave, brave lot, and I salute you!

For more WTH Wednesday, go see these girls.  They are terribly funny!

Posted on 31 March '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 11 Comments.

When chipmunks infest your car…

Back in the pre-van, salad days when I piled my two then-tiny boys into an early ’90s Camry, our lives were still just as crazed as they are today.  I wasn’t blogging back then, but I wanted to bring you just a taste of that life was like.

(Actually I was looking through old photos in search of a Wordless Wednesday when I came upon these jewels and just couldn’t resist telling this tale.)

One day, I haplessly left a bag of MiDel ginger snaps in the front seat of my car.  The boys were like 15 months and 3 at the time, so the cookies were good for teething and such.  Except one day the bag was in my car, and the next day, it was in the floorboard and the cookies were gone.

I didn’t think too much about it until I was driving around one day and kept hearing squeaking and scurrying in the car’s dashboard area.  Initially I thought it was just the steering wheel “purling” as it was want to do.  But when I hit the brakes hard and cookies rolled out from behind the dashboard, I knew something was up.

Chipmunk infestation!

Here I am banging on the dashboard to release the chipmunk’s hoard:

Now you see me pointing at the cookies and encouraging Pearl, our now-deceased tawny Chihuahua, to attack the beasts.

(She was absolutely the best and funniest dog!  I need to do a post on her sometime because six years later I still miss her terribly.)

Here Pearl begins to grow more interested in the situation.

You can sense the frenzy as Pearl hears the creatures scuttling about the cars’ entrails…

Alas, she is not successful in trapping the creatures, so our first plan is to set a “Have-A-Heart” trap.

Yet the ‘munks are too sharp, and as the days go by and they burrow holes through the back of the seat cushions into the trunk, we realize that we have to get serious.

Yes–that’s an old chicken nugget in the mouse trap.

And yes, it worked.

The babies were safe!

I’ve got another infestation story to tell next week, so stick around!

Posted on 24 March '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 12 Comments.

The Good Day

I felt like a terribly bad mother last night as I dreaded this day.  Not that it was some horrible blood-vial-drawing medical testing day, or IEP meeting day, or any of the other trying days we’ve all had as mothers.

It’s just that Edward had a 9 am soccer game, Joseph had a 9 am baseball game, Sue had a 12 pm soccer game and everyone had a school carnival extravaganza from 3 until 7.  So much stimulation in one day is generally a setup for major tantrums, family disharmony and general filial chaos.

“Apparent Short-Lived Harmony”

“Mild disdain for sibling’s soccer game forcing you to sit in the cold at 9 am on a Saturday.”

I arrived with an overexcited Edward, armed with a passel of gf/cf treats to combat the cotton candy lust and sprinkle cookie bake sale yearnings.  He bounced to his heart’s content, threw a whipped cream pie in the face of a beloved teacher, and met the school mascot.

(Is it just me or do you find this elementary school mascot a tad creepy?)

Still, the unexpected joy of the day came when Edward declared that he planned to play football with a gangly group of boys aged 7 – 16 that had gathered in the school playground.

Initially, my stomach flip flopped.  I tried to steer him back to the giant bouncy slide.  I cajoled him with dye-free jelly beans.  I even agreed to let him drink a glass of lemonade that I am certain was laced with any sort of menacing yellow dye.

Nothing worked.  He was bent on football and he raced on.

I was concerned that he would become upset and tantrum in front of all those children, but I was more worried that he would do precisely that in front of his brother who was a key player on one of the teams.  Balancing their relationship has gotten trying of late as Edward’s personality has gotten a little large for the school and his brother is more of a child who likes to shrink into the background.  Joseph loves his brother, but he is also ten, in a brand new school and trying to be a cool student-athlete.

Edward jumped in and was on fire–tackling 14-year-olds with abandon.  He was quickly recruited by the middle school boys who loved his spunk.  He played amazingly well, handling falls and tackles with aplomb and even calling a few plays.

And then at one point, the taller boys all tossed the ball to E, surrounded him with a wall of fourteenhood, and protected him through a rollicking touchdown.  Everyone cheered and gave E high-fives.

And that child beamed.  He shined.  He was filled with such a joy it was contagious.

I sat there on the sidelines wondering how I ever could have feared for Edward’s future.  Was this not God showing me a picture of His protection of my sweet child as he traveled this difficult life?  How could I continue feeling so full of fear with God’s promises so clear?

Yes I will have to say, as they day closes, it was a good day.

Even the part where I had to “man” some bunjee jumpy bouncy thingy!

(I’m still hoarse from all the warnings!)

Posted on 22 March '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Faith is the Evidence, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany, Social Skills. 6 Comments.

It Could Be Worse

You could be this creature:

She loves her new leash, can’t you tell?

See what I mean?

Unfurl the joy!

Posted on 20 March '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 7 Comments.

Bombshells and Ketchup

Last night, I had an occasion to take Edward to the grocery store without the other children.

Of course we were seeking ketchup–his favorite (and only accepted) condiment!  (I would have to say he is it obsessed with ketchup since he dips scrambled eggs and raw carrots in it.  In fact, I was lamenting this to MT this morning who always makes me feel better because her son has a ketchup penchant as well!)

We use the Publix organic ketchup because it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, and because it is the ONLY ketchup without HFCS that he will actually eat.  And we have tried them all and we go through two bottles per week.  Enough about ketchup!

So we are standing in line and of course Edward begins to peruse the magazines.

I brace myself for the inevitable questions. (Remember the child star?)

His first:  “What’s a ‘bombshell’ ?  Looks like it’s some kinda big woman!”

It is Kirstie Allie touting her new Big Life show.

He then directs his gaze to the checkout guy: “Do you know what a bombshell is?”

The fellow grins and laughs a little.

“Ahh, Mom, I see you are buying Advil PM!  Is that because you can’t sleep?  Can you not sleep because of all of Dad’s horrible snoring?

That is indeed why I am buying Advil PM…that and a four-year-old who won’t sleep in her own bed when she is sick and must listen to the Heffalump sound track in order to fall asleep every time she awakens from her feverish strep sleep. I also can’t sleep because every time you wake up, you turn on your history CD and I can hear it drone on and on about the Celts from my room…

The checkout guy glances at me and stifles a laugh.  I swipe my card and pay for the goods.  I’m packing up to go when I notice a Sierra Mist in E’s hand.  I did tell him he could get it since he tried his best at social skills class.  The guy rings it up.

“One dollar and eight cents!”  Edward comments.  “What’s the eight cents for?”

I begin my patented “tax talk” and he interrupts, “Oh yes tax, I know all about that.  So what would tax be on like 200 million dollars?”  He looks at the checkout guy who looks at me, smilingly dumbfounded.

“Never-mind you two.  It’d be about $1.6 million,” Edward asserts.

More money than we’ll ever see…

And with that, we’re out the door!

Posted on 17 March '10 by , under "Did He Just Say ?", Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany, Social Skills. 9 Comments.

Prints Charming Paper! Please consider voting for my friend…

It is rare, these days, to meet a friend at age sixteen, attend college with that friend, remain so close to that friend even though you live six hours apart, and then to find yourself, at 43, moving back to the town you grew up in–a town that still contains that friend–and settling down to be best friends again.  Such is my situation, and I couldn’t be happier!

My friend, Sherrie, has an invitation company that she started herself about eight years ago.  Now she sells invitations and photocards all over the country!  She has been nominated for several “Trendys” awards sponsored by Stationery Trends Magazine!  If you have a few spare minutes, I’d love for you to pop over to that site and vote!  If she becomes a finalist, she will get some great press at the Stationery Show in New York in May.  (Remember last year when I got to attend with her?)

I’d love to give everyone who votes some cards as a “thank-you” but that seems like too much of a bribe, so I will draw two names from all those who vote and send those friends 20 pink or blue polka-dotted notecards with envelopes!

To vote, just pop over to the Trendys site, sign up to vote and then vote.  Pop back here and tell me you’ve voted in the comments, and you’ll be eligible for the drawing!

Here are her cards that have been nominated!

Cute, eh? If you like these designs, you can find more at your local stationery shop, Prints Charming Online or  Polka Dot Design.  She also has a brand new blog that you can find here!

Voting ends March 20th, so on the 21st I’ll pull two random names as card winners!

Thanks friends!!

Posted on 16 March '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 4 Comments.

“Tik Tok” Ke$ha in the School Lunchroom…Really!

So the boys plop in the van excitedly yesterday afternoon.

Joseph delivers the news: “Well, it was an exciting day because a ‘Star’ came to the lunchroom!  You know that ‘Kesha’ girl who sings some song like ‘Tik Tok’?  Well, her brother is in fourth grade, too, and she came to eat lunch with him.  You wouldn’t believe it, Mom.  Those girls were all like coming up to her and getting autographs and screaming.”

My mind races.  I am not up on pop music, but something about this Kesha does ring a bell.

“Mrs. Carter doesn’t  know who this Kesha is either so she Googles her on the Smart Board and up pops her web site and it’s got like this box with her face…so it goes her face, and then a bad word, and then switches to her face.  And Mrs. Carter is trying to cover the whiteboard so nobody can see the bad words…it was awesome!  You don’t even want to know what the bad word was!”

I’m sure I don’t.

My sweet capitalist continues:  “Lots of people were getting autographs on paper towels, and I was wondering how in the world can you sell a paper towel on Ebay?  So I got her to sign my lunch card with a Sharpie.  I figure I can black out my own name, put a gold kinda chain on it and sell it on Ebay for at least a hundred dollars!”

At least!

This whole time Edward is sitting by,  just listening, so I ask, “E, were you in the lunchroom when this Kesha was there?  Did you see her?”  E is not impressed, “She looked old to me, and all these girls were running up there to her but why would they care?  She’s just some kid’s sister!”

We sit down to watch the video and I wish I had recorded their reactions.

“Look at how she is going to jail for all that alcohol drinking!”

“Why would she brush her teeth with ‘jack?’  Why doesn’t she have toothpaste?”

Quickly I realized watching the video was not a smart parenting decision…

Still, this whole experience has given us so much to talk about as a family.

One of the perks of living in the Music City?

Posted on 13 March '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 12 Comments.

Jonesin’ for Blue Sugar

jonesin

We first wondered if Edward might have some food sensitivities after he ate a large piece of black forest cake at my inlaws and proceeded to bounce from carefully upholstered couch to silk-swathed chair like a ping-pong ball, his mouth bedecked with a cherry red ‘frostache.’

He was three.

Three-year-old boys being what they are, which is patently crazy, I didn’t think too much about it, but did decide to cut out all extraneous food dyes and flavorings.  (It’s also pretty easy to limit what a three-year-old consumes.)

During Pre-K, Edward spent most of the time busily studying the world map or reading books about black holes in the corner, but he would emerge occasionally into the Pre-K world with a promise of some sugary treat like Nerds or Starburst.  If offered a Tootsie Roll pop, he would slash a few marks on a “Letter A” coloring sheet or lacklusterly trace his name.  His teacher started to notice, however, that a few minutes after he consumed the sweet, he would begin to fret and jump and generally become increasingly hyperactive.

We found some alternatives, armed the school with those, and went on our way.  Of course that didn’t stop Edward from approaching perfect strangers at the grocery to warn them about food additives: “Did you know that product has Blue Lake #5 and Yellow Lake  #3?  They can make you hyper.”

Yes, they can.

A year later, we would embark upon the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free diet, but that is a whole other story for a different post.

What got me thinking about food sensitivities lately is how many people I meet don’t seem to realize that they exist, and that they can absolutely wreck a child’s behavior.  Since we are trying another run at public school, I decided to volunteer to help teach the after-school clubs.

Initially Edward planned to sign up for archery, and I found that a troubling and frightening combination.  Arrows, targets, Edward–it just seemed like a recipe for disaster and/or the wounding of others.

I was elated when a mother/physical therapist with a child on the spectrum decided to teach a Gross Motor Skills class. I figured after three years of sitting in on occupational therapy sessions, I qualified to be some sort of assistant, so I told her I would help.

She showed up the first day with a plethora of fabulous activities–scooter boards, bubbles, giant bouncy balls–you  name it and she had a van filled with it.

Yet she also spilled out a bag stuffed with the most gloriously colorful candies and treats that I have seen outside of Wonka.

(Edward, poor, jaded soul that he is when it comes to food, looked at me wryly and, without too much grumbling, shuffled over to the table to partake dutifully in his gluten-free pretzels and apple juice.)

One little girl, however, immediately seized a fistful of blue Sour Patch Kids and began stuffing them in her mouth with gleeful abandon.

I was sort of shocked.  I knew this child fairly well because she takes sensory breaks with Edward, and I knew her to be an exceedingly smart and relatively calm child.  I mean she is a MODEL for Edward during the school day.  But this child saw blue sugar and she could not stop.

She crammed “kid after kid” in her mouth until we feared she might choke.   Three minutes later, her face turned bright red and she began running up and down the hall, screaming and shrilling.  I had to run as fast as I could (which is not all that fast) to even hope to catch her, and when I did, she flailed and dodged me.  She was inconsolable–screaming for more candy at one moment and writhing in the floor the next.

The aide who was helping us with the group was baffled because she worked with this charming little girl on a daily basis and had never seen her react this way.  I went on to ask if it might be the food coloring in the candy, and after some interesting discussions on food sensitivities, we all agreed it must be.

So the next week, I bought a bag of vegetable dye gummy bears from Whole Foods and some pretzels for the snack.  This sweet girl entered the class, locked eyes with me, and demanded, “Where’s the blue stuff?  I need that blue candy!  Please!”  She whined and fussed for a minute, but contented herself with the gummy bears even though she sourly assured me they were not as tasty as the blue variety.

So later that week the mother/physical therapist teaching the club told me that she asked this little girl’s mother if she was sensitive or allergic to any foods.  The mother said she ate everything and they had never noticed any problems with foods.  The club teacher continued to tell the mother about the child’s reaction to the candy, and the mother was dumbfounded.

Another mother I met during a Sensory Connections parent support group was telling the group about her undiagnosed five-year-old whose Pre-K teacher was requesting she leave artificially colored and flavored foods out of his lunch to see if that helped with his behavior.  This mother had never heard of food additives affecting behavior but after we went around the group and told our various stories, she decided to try eliminating them.  We’ll hear at next month’s group how it went.

And then of course there is my dear friend whose son’s ADD was effectively cured by a regime of fish oil and eliminating red dye.

Would that it could always be that simple…

Anyway, if anyone else has a food sensitivity story they’d like to share, discuss it here, or write a blog post and I’ll be happy to link to it.

I’ll try to write something funny for tomorrow!

Posted on 10 March '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 6 Comments.

We all scream for snow cream…right?

On the same day we built our own luge, we also enjoyed another favorite childhood past time: Snow Cream!

H had never heard of snow ice cream and thought it was something I made up.  I found both of these facts concerning.  Who hasn’t heard of snow cream?  I thought it was a fundamental part of childhood!  I mean we used to save up snow in the freezer just so we could make it during the summer.   Didn’t everyone?

Anyway, we carefully scooped fresh snow into a bowl, added milk, sugar and a touch of vanilla and voi la!

snowcream1

Sue absolutely loved the stuff!

snowcream2

Obviously Edward cannot have real milk or cream so I decided to make his with this relatively new product from the So Delicious people.  I had high hopes for this milk substitute because he has enjoyed their ice cream and yogurt for quite a while now.

For gluten and casein-free snow cream you simply add sugar, gluten-free vanilla and the So Delicious coconut milk.

snowcream4

He found it lackluster and bland.

snowcream3

On a more positive note, however, H used the milk to make pancakes yesterday and Edward declared them the best pancakes ever!  He even substituted xylitol for the sugar.

So now at any hint of flurry, Sue runs outside with a bowl to catch the “clean” flakes before our puppy has a chance to touch them!

You can be thinking of me today while I help my fourth grader write a report on the Continental Army.  He only cares about the weapons.

Below is the trash can of the ten-year-old who only cares about the weapons:

trashcan

And here is the sink area of the ten-year-old who only cares about the weapons:

sink

It seems that when you turn ten, your need for mouthwash, deodorant and shaving cream arises.

OK, I’m all over the place with this post.  Maybe it’s the cold medicine, or the Continental Army report procrastination, or the fact that Sue is supposed to make a mouse out of a potato for her school?

Posted on 8 March '10 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 5 Comments.

Not So Much A Diagnosis As An Explanation…

If you are new to this blog, or if you are confused because I have never spelled this out in black and white, my son, Edward, who is eight, does fall on the autism spectrum, specifically with a diagnosis of Asperger’s.

(Like many of you dealing with a new diagnosis, I write this with mixed feelings of both relief and trepidation.  This is a label that I am just now beginning to absorb.  After so many “possibles” and “closely resembles” from a host of doctors, the need for services at his new school necessitated this label, and I am OK with that.)

<<Breath>>

As with any child, Edward’s behavior vacillates wildly, so there are situations where he is completely like his peers and there are other situations where his differences stand out more.  Soccer is an area where he gels fairly well, so I struggled with telling his coaches about his diagnosis.

I am new to this town and I don’t know what to expect.  Will they still let him play on a “typical” team?  Would they treat him differently?  Do I want him to be treated differently because he has made it perfectly clear that he does not want to be treated differently.

After much agonizing and reading various professional and parental opinions about how to handle just this type of situation,  I decided to simply share that he has issues with focus, attention and self control, and might need more patience than some of the other players.

So I’m standing there yesterday at the first practice, my heart sort of racing, waiting to see how he will or will not fit in with this new group, and I see a mother rush over to her sobbing player.  Initially, I think nothing of it–they are seven and eight-year-olds–they still sob from time to time, neurotypical or not.

(Deep inside, I am somewhat glad another child is getting upset because that will make it less of a spectacle if Edward gets upset.  I know that might be a strange way to think, but I’m just being honest.)

The little boy keeps crying, although it’s clear that he’s not hurt, and some of the other mothers (whom I have just met) begin to murmur among themselves about the reasons he might be so distressed.  Then the coach’s wife steps forward and gently explains that this little boy is autistic.  He is actually a twin, and his brother is on the team, but is not autistic.  Everyone nods in understanding and returns to their conversations about crock pot recipes.

My initial feeling is one of odd relief, and I say a silent prayer of thanksgiving.  God knew what he was doing putting my child on this particular team.

This was a hard post to write in many ways, but as I sit here at 3 am, I am slowly, but surely, beginning to feel a bit more free.

I am tired of skirting the issue like it is something to be feared or ignored or talked around.

So many of you have given me the courage to press on with this by writing about your own children.

Thank you.

I am ready to talk.

Posted on 5 March '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Social Skills. 16 Comments.