Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post-Christmas Cabin Fever

We had a great Christmas here! Oddly enough, it was a WHITE Christmas! I think its been about 30 years since our last one! Mike thought it was great.......I thought it was WEIRD. :) The kids had a great time, we had a good time with family and..........AH........its over! My neurotic housekeeping tendency took over on Friday morning and we got the tree out and the house is back to "normal." I know.......some of you think thats spoiling all the fun, but my neat and clean tendencies HAVE to have organization. I can only stand things being "out of place" for so long.

But I have to admit that we've all got more than a touch of cabin fever. While it is nice to be home for a few days, our family is just not used to being together quite this much. We're so often on the go-go-go.

And Jennica has had a rough weekend. She made it through Christmas fine, but the behavioral issues started a bit on Friday, worsened on Saturday, and came out with a vengeance today. It's very frustrating! We're busting our fannies to keep up on the "prescription" of the GFCF diet, the gross motor input with emphasis on rhythmic activities and upper body exercises, visual support, and on and on. It hasn't been working! I don't know. I wonder if maybe she would be even worse without our efforts. I try to remember what "the worst" was, and wonder if this compares and how. And we analyze and analyze and analyze. Is there noise that she's hearing that we don't? Is there visual support that we should be giving? Is there something we're missing?

We have made strides, which further makes us question when she is "off". We figured out that the smell of bacon sets off massive hiding-under-the-table type of behaviors. And we figured out that the sound frequency of the fan over our stove also causes a meltdown if there are multiple other noises ongoing. Okay......we've got that, and we need to understand some of the triggers in order to help her learn coping mechanisms to deal with these things. It is simple reality that she will again encounter the smell of bacon and the sound of an annoying fan running. But what about all the other gazillion million things that set her off? And what about the ones that she does to HERSELF? For example, she stripped her pajamas off before breakfast today. This is pretty normal, as she is a sensory-seeker and likes the feel of the air on her skin. Okay...........but then she was so cold at breakfast that she wouldn't eat, refused to put her pajamas back on or get dressed, but then was mad because she was hungry. Now.......its REALLY hard for me to not step back and say, "You're going to have to figure this one out!" I'm kind of a "logical consequences" sort of person. But then again, tactile processing issues are not necessarily going to allow her to make the "logical" connection that she can be warm AND get breakfast if she just puts her pajamas on. Her brain doesn't necessarily work like that! A lot of these logical connections have to be made for her right now!

And then there are all the things that I don't have a clue why she is reacting like she is. She's beginning to demand to come home in various settings in the outside world. While I know that the orderliness of our home is a great benefit to her, I'm also wondering if it is making her less tolerant of the lack of order in the outside world? I don't know! And what are the hings that her nervous system perceives as a lack of order? The singing in church? The visual stimulation in large groups of people? I don't know! The more I learn about Sensory Processing Disorder, the more confused I feel like I become!

So.........tomorrow, we have a visit with our OT. I can hardly wait! I have SO many questions and she calmly always seems to have the answers! It is wonderfully soothing to spend time with our OT, as her sheer existence is a huge reminder that Jennica is not alone in the world! And for the moment, I need to know that we're not alone! Because this weekend has felt like we're busting our fannies cooking a GFCF diet, our house is beginning to look like an occupational therapy clinic with all the "stuff" we are gathering for exercises, and sure as heck doesn't seem to be helping!!! At least not today. It will get better, but boy oh boy oh boy.........the places we go to get there!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The "fun" is wearing off

Coastal Washington State is not used to much snow. If any. The cities/counties here don't have an abundance of snow plows. People don't own snow-blowers and snow shovels. There is no such thing as a snowmobile here. So......when we get snow, its a novelty that wears off very quickly.

Well....we've got snow. Its been here for about a week and the "fun" is receding quickly. We've got over 12 inches at our house and its a big fat pain. I have to put the suburban in 4-wheel drive just to get out our rather lengthy driveway. Our shetland sheepdogs HATE the snow, and beg to spend all day every day in the garage.

And, amusingly enough, my sister and her family arrived on Sunday after a long drive from Minnesota. Yes......they DROVE. Across the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, and all of Washington. From the snow. Across the snow. To the snow. We're actually feeling really sorry for them as they enjoy coming for Christmas to thaw out a bit from their frigid winter. Welcome to another frigid winter. But at least its not 10 degrees below 0 here.

But for a few days, it was fun. Mike took the attached photo last Friday in North Cove when he was there for a work-related appointment. Snow on the ocean beach...........WEIRD. And pretty!

Wherever you are.......stay warm!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dane's latest project

Note added by me: The video clip at the bottom has an issue! It works, but the frames have been compressed. In the original version done by Dane, the little man walks smoothly across the screen and sets up the chair. In the version loaded here, it appears choppy. Apparently, I need my computer expert (Dane) to mess with it. I'll have him work on it later!

As I've mentioned before, each incoming freshman at RHS is given a laptop at the beginning of the school year. At the end of the school year, the laptops are returned to the school for maintenance, and returned to the student when school resumes. This occurs each year until they graduate, at which point the students exit out one door, while the computer heads into the "land of the obsolete". This is a pretty darn cool opportunity, as it makes a huge difference in leveling the playing field in an economically-diverse district. There are no issues between the "haves" and the "have-nots" being able to research on the internet, etc. Most of their textbooks are loaded on their computers, the kids submit a large amount of their homework by email, and they all function off of wireless internet access. Printers are available on campus as needed for the kids that don't have them at home. The school has wisely even acknowledged that it is unavoidable that the kids WILL use them as toys, to some extent, so they have wisely loaded a few games for the entire group, and many of them play large involved games via the internet.

I admit to being a tad worried about the social-networking end of things when this school year started. My boys are no strangers to computers, but there is a big difference to using the home computer vs. having your OWN that goes everywhere with you, and all of your school mates having the exact same programs, etc. Dane has gotten involved with the social networking, but so far (fingers crossed), it has been a positive thing. He chats online in the evenings and weekends with friends about upcoming athletic events, assignments, and other normal freshman-type stuff. The potential for problems is certainly there, but that is typical to life in general, isn't it? As long as he continues to behave is actually putting him in touch with kids that he otherwise wouldn't normally probably communicate with, simply due to a difference in activities. So......all the more power to them!

The school also has acknowledged that, since they are putting a lot of money and effort into this computer commitment, they want the kids to learn how to do a bit more than play and email assignments. So, all the kids take a course in computer applications. The instructor is very well-liked and, as a parent, I have great respect for his course content! The kids get to use a lot of individuality in their assignments and scheduling, so the content doesn't seem like work to them! Dane has had a blast so far, and I'm impressed with what he is accomplishing! He finished all of his required assignment submissions early, so he ended up with a work or two of "play time" before Christmas break. The below clip is an example of his work, and my personal favorite! I sincerely hope that our district is able to continue the laptop program despite the coming economic cuts. Computers are in the world to stay! If we can provide these kids with a solid basis in computer skills, they've got a great advantage as they head off to college and the job markets!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ramblings of the snowbound

We have snow. For those of you that don't live in Coastal Washington State, you probably don't grasp the oddity of this situation. It's's have snow. No big deal, right? But in places that don't get much snow (like here), the whole world comes to a screaching halt in total shock. People forget how to drive. Schools start late or close entirely for one lousy inch of accumulation. And we all dig out hats and gloves that we didn't remember owning. Its a great excuse to change the agenda!

Take me, for example. Today was supposed to be my #1 busiest day of December. Jennica had an OT appointment in Olympia this morning. And then I was going to drive home to "swap kids" and take two back to Montesano (halfway to Olympia) for dental appointments. And back home again. Tonight, we have the elementary Christmas concert at the school, right after Grant has a meeting for Junior High basketball that starts after January 1st. And somewhere in there, Jennica had a preschool party, I had an appraisal to deliver, and Mike had his office xmas party. Thanks to the OT appt, no dental appts, no preschool party. As of this writing, the concert tonight is still happening and Grant's basketball meeting is still on. And Mike still has his office party. And I will get my appraisal delivered. But still...........the snow definitely lightened my load! So sad! :)

So, I'm going to ramble about a couple of odd things that have happened in the last couple of days. Grab a cup of coffee. None of them are earth-shattering. But I think they're interesting.

1) First of all, the boys' mid-term grades arrived in the mail yesterday. They have always been good students, and Tiersten is following in their footsteps already. Grant has a 4.0 GPA, and Dane has a 3.981. Not too shabby--especially considering their heavy athletic schedules! As well as participating in football and wrestling, they are both now playing in the pep band through basketball season. Several nights each week, they are at the school until quite late with either wrestling meets or basketball games. I'm very proud that they have learned some good time-management skills, do a GREAT job of getting homework done in class whenever possible, and are diligent about doing it in the evenings as necessary. Which brings me to the "interesting" point--I had TWO separate parents talk to me at the band concert last night, attempting to commiserate about different teachers and how their children are struggling with a lack of teacher organization, assignment schedules, etc. This is happening to me increasingly often. I try to lend a sympathetic ear, but its really awkward! The parents always act like I must be aware that the teachers are so awful, but I don't hear any of those complaints from my boys. In fact, I had JUST spoken with Grant about one of these specific teachers, as I had had them as a teacher when I was in school. We talked about what a tremendously organized teacher she had been when I had her umpteen years ago and I asked if she was still so organized. Grant said, "Yes!" and expressed that assignment due dates were always given a week in advance, etc. So..........????? I'm lost. I know my boys are responsible. But they aren't THAT much more responsible than other kids. Are they? They make mistakes and screw off, too. Sometimes. So I don't know what to say to these other parents. I don't want to come across as nasty and say, "Oh, my kid is doing GREAT in that class!" But on the other hand, if I were the parent of the struggling child, I would want to know if my child needed to "buck up" and start listening better. So......??? Oy. I think I'll just keep saying, "Ummm-hhhmmmm." They can't say that their kids are busier than mine, and thus, must be just too overloaded. I don't know......

2) We had another stray cat show up on our porch. Yes.......another. To the person that dumped it off in the coldest week of the year, you are a dirtbag. This cat was really a kitten. Maximum of ten weeks old. So, of course, we took it in out of the cold. Covered in fleas and ear mites. It immediately got dumped in the kitchen sink for a flea-killing bath, treated for ear mites, received a good dinner, and spent the night in our warm laundry room. My hospitality didn't extend as far as letting it too close to Mooch, as she is a permanent fixture now and we don't really need to spread any "bugs." We have always taken in these goofy strays, doctored them, fattened them up, and then helped them find new homes. Its kind of a fun project and lets me utilize all my vet skills that I no longer have much opportunity to use on the horses. However, when this kitten refused to use a litter box and showed obvious signs of......hmmm......let's say "internal parasites", my willingness to doctor this poor little thing came to an end. We've just got too much on our plates already to deal with cleaning up after a cat every day. Mentally, I just couldn't do it. So, kitty got a ride to the shelter where, thankfully, they were happy to take her in. They will take care of her until she finds a new home. And one more time, let me repeat, whoever dropped her ARE a dirtbag. JERK!

I need to get to work, as there is still plenty to do today, even with the lightened load. We're supposed to be getting more snow over the next few days. I'm sure glad my Christmas shopping is done! :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ballet Schmallet

Tiersten enthusiastically insisted on joining ballet this fall and she greatly anticipates every Tuesday afternoon, where she gets to dress up in her pink leotard, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers, and head off to an hour of flitting about with other pink-clad ballerinas. This is totally "up her alley" and she is loving every minute of it. A friend of mine from my childhood runs our local dance school, and she does a terrific job with all of the kids!

Yesterday afternoon was "parent visitation day" at ballet. So, of course, I attended and watched Tiersten and the other girls perform the routines they are learning for the recital scheduled for next June. We even got a preview of the recital costumes. Tiersten will be in a patriotic-type number with a red-white-and-blue costume, she'll be a purple butterfly, and then finally, a diamond (very sparkly.....she's going to LOVE this costume!). I've attended several of this dance school's recitals, but I'm amazed at how far before the recital they begin pulling all this together and how much work is done "behind the scenes". I've never been a participant before--only a specatator of the final fabulous product.

I also found myself eternally grateful that, after two weeks of ballet class in October, Jennica announced that she hated ballet and wasn't going back. One child in this recital with the hair details and costume details is going to be overwhelming enough! But when she first wanted to quit, we tried to talk to her about it and figure out why. She just emphatically stated that she was not going, and we decided to respect her choice on this issue. Even now, when she goes with me to drop off and pick up Tiersten each week, she confirms each week that she's not going to have to stay there, right? At first, this was very odd to us. She had been SO excited to start ballet, right along with Tiersten. She is very physically well-coordinated with great fine and gross motor skills. She loves music. So why did she hate ballet?

Yesterday, after 8 sessions of occupational therapy for SPD, I was able to view ballet class as it must have appeared to Jennica. The entire class is presented auditorilly (spoken) and there are a million noises happening at once. The teacher is working over here with a few girls, there is music going, there are a few other groups of girls that are supposed to be stretching or working on an exercise in other areas of the room. To Jennica, who hears everything at the same volume and has difficulty determining which conversation is the one she is supposed to be hearing, she probably felt like she was in the middle of total chaos. There is no set schedule for her to be able to anticipate what comes next. The teacher changes the plan and moves children in and out of different groups depending on who needs to work on what, or who is going to stand next to whom for the next routine. There is a "method in the madness" from the teacher's standpoint, but once again, from Jennica's viewpoint, more chaos. And finally, the motor planning--Jen is wonderfully coordinated, communicative, and has great intelligence. But the ability to physically "mimic" someone else's motions to learn a routine? No way! Children with SPD typically struggle with learning motion songs like the "Hokey Pokey" or "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" for exactly this reason. It is often misunderstood by teachers and parents as a lack of coordination, or an unwillingness to participate. Thats not it! It is just that the sensory requirements to intake instructions visually and/or auditorilly and put them into action with physical movement requires a coordination of the senses that just doesn't come easily to these kids. But turn these kids loose on the playground, and they are often the ones that want/can spin the merry-go-round the fastest, jump the farthest, climb the highest, and yell the loudest. If you don't understand SPD, it very confusing to watch these kids. Why do they exhibit such great coordination in free play, but won't participate in a song with motions? Its all about how the brain takes information, and spits back out response.

So I greatly enjoyed attending ballet with Tiersten! Ballet is not MY thing, which I think makes me appreciate her love of it that much more. Nobody in my family growing up understood my love of horses and everything to do with horses. It was MY thing. So I appreciate that Tiersten has HER thing. It is special JUST TO HER! It's wonderful to watch the joy on her face!

And I came home and gave Jennica a hug. I understood, finally, why ballet was miserable for her. Perhaps, Occupational Therapy is helping me more than it is helping her. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finding the humor in everyday life

I'm not going to repeat myself and drag on and on about the difficulties of our last few weeks. Anyone that reads this blog knows how much I've been struggling. Today has been a good day and I'm basking in it! I'm also seeing the humor in my current place in life, and laughing a bit at my own expense.

First, now that I finally comprehend the true reason/necessity for a GF/CF diet, I'm 100% on board. We had, of course, been casein-free(dairy) since February, but the gluten is a much harder commitment. Despite hearing occasional smatterings of information on how beneficial a gluten-free diet can be, I think I was sub-consciously sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling "La La La La!!" anytime the issue came up just because I mentally wasn't ready to deal with it. When the information was thrust upon me recently, I obviously changed my tune and here we are. The humorous part? I'm now shopping at health-food grocery stores and buying things like xanthan gum, garbanzo bean flour, agave, soymage, and other bizarre things I never knew existed. Me. The self-proclaimed hater of grocery shopping.

Which brings me to the next humorous point. I'm cooking and baking like you wouldn't believe. And, for the moment, I'm actually enjoying it and its going very well! (We'll see if the novelty wears off!) My GF bread has improved greatly and I will actually eat it! No starving goats in sight! And I've learned that almond milk is much better for baking (flavor and texture both) than soy milk. Go figure, and who would've thought that I would ever care! My big pot of home-made chili tonight was quite good and leftovers will be great GF lunches for Jennica for a couple of days! Even Tiersten (the pickiest of all) was demanding more of my GF cornbread at dinner! Cool!

Perhaps best of all, I'm viewing Jennica's world much differently these days. While the fact that she has SPD is not going to get her a "free ticket" to monsterhood (we're well aware that a 4-year-old with SPD can still be a total brat for non-SPD reasons), I'm more empathetic to some of her responses to stimuli, and I'm noticing that I'm more patient as a result. We're using proprioceptive input (heavy work) before times when we know that she's going to have to be quiet or still for awhile. Is it working really well? No.......not yet. But at least we feel like we finally have some tools.

Lastly, I'm finding humor in the way complete and total strangers respond to rambunctious, outgoing children. Jennica is extremely friendly to strangers and loves to ride in a shopping cart and tell passersby whatever should pop into her mind at the moment. Some people ignore her, and others respond and will chat kindly with her ( SWEET she is!). And she is sweet! And then 30 seconds later she may do something totally "off the wall." She might decide to lick all the items we have in our shopping cart. Or might decide to make a leap for a box on a shelf 4 feet away. You just NEVER KNOW!

I'm even laughing a bit that 4 weeks ago, I honestly thought we may be headed for a diagnosis with her somewhere on the autism spectrum. While this is NOT funny, there is humor in the pace that we are gathering knowledge and learning. We now have it in official terms.........she is NOT going to test anywhere on the autism spectrum. NO way.......NO how. For the moment, she is just considered to have Sensory Processing Disorder. That may lead somewhere else eventually, but for now, thats where we are. A tad confusing, as ALL autistic people have SPD, but not all people with SPD are autistic. But now, I finally see clearly why autism is not a possibility. A miracle in itself as both of her biological siblings are autistic. is good! And if we can't laugh at ourselves.......I don't want to live in that world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm learning......

I started my day with a tantrum. Thankfully, Tiersten was in a decisive mood today and stuck with the first outfit she put on, because I would not have had the patience to deal with a 5-year-old's drama of multiple clothing choices AND maintain my sanity with Jennica's shrieking. You see, in Jennica's mind, I committed a horrible offense this morning. When she finished her GF/CF waffle, she politely asked for some of her new coconut milk yogurt. All was good.....right up until I dumped only 1/3 of the yogurt "bucket" into a bowl and gave it to her in the bowl. At that point, she skipped the complaining and whining stage, and went straight to rage. Welcome to the world of SPD.

I used to feel guilty that I have become numb to my daughter's fits of temper. However, with the guidance of our terrific OT, I'm letting go of some of my guilt. While Jennica lacks the coping strategies to exist in an over-stimulating world, those of us that live with her have developed coping strategies to live......well.........with her. Sometimes, that means we just have to go about our business until she is ready to communicate in a form that makes sense. With that said, the rest of us also have to HELP her learn to communicate in forms that make sense. So.....there is a middle ground.

This morning, it was rather interesting to watch, in a rather detached sort of way. Tiersten is zipping around loudly complimenting herself on her excellent choice of ensemble for her day at kindergarten (In Tiersten's world, clothes DO make the woman.), Grant disappears to brush his teeth when the screaming starts (he's the one that deals the least well with Jennica's fits), Dane steps back and tries to analyze aloud why she would care that her yogurt is in a bowl rather than the "bucket", and I'm calmly loading the dishwasher, wiping down the countertops, and trying to explain to Jennica over her screaming that its the same yogurt whether its in a bowl or the "bucket". And then I stopped.

I have to say, that I'm rather proud of the end result that we reached this morning. Rather than continue to try to talk to her or ignore her, I grabbed the little white board that now occupies a constant spot in our kitchen for exactly this reason. I quickly drew her a picture of a bowl with something in it, followed by an empty bowl, followed by another quick sketch of the bowl with something in it. And simply told her, "Eat whats in your bowl. When its gone, I'll give you some more." She looked at the pictures, thought for about three seconds, climbed up on the barstool, and that was the end of the fit. She ate three bowls of yogurt without another gripe. Dane (always the analyst) scratched his head and told me to explain to him later why that worked. I'm just so ecstatic that it DID work and that we're beginning to understand her world that I was ready to turn cartwheels. A huge "thank you" to Renae (our OT) for her guidance.

I still don't know what caused Jen to "freak out" over me putting her yogurt in a bowl. That part I don't understand yet, but for some reason, her brain "saw" her yogurt in the "bucket". When I put her yogurt in the bowl and gave her the bowl, her visual perception of what was going to happen had to change and she wasn't able to make that adjustment. When I briefly tried to explain aloud to her that she could eat the yogurt in a bowl just the same as eating it from the "bucket", she couldn't make the necessary perceptual change based on hearing me explain it. She needed the VISUAL picture showing her what would happen if she ate the yogurt from the bowl.........she would get more when the bowl was empty. The VISUAL input makes sense to her, the AUDITORY input does not. I'm beginning to get it!!! And best of all, I could see her process the visual information in the sketch and the logic was there for her!!! WAHOO!!! If you've ever worked (and fought) with a child with SPD, you know the thrill of breaking through! We've been using visual schedules for months, but until Renae, we didn't really realize just how much of the world is auditory and if you have a child that resists auditory input, you have to put the information in a different form. In Jennica's case, the visual form WORKS!

Of course, the nay-sayers will say that if the world is auditory, this child is going to have to learn to take auditory input. I agree..........but in time. For the moment, I'm just excited to see her learning some tools, and to see US learning some tools to help her process all types of sensory input. Its a big step in the right direction with a marathon still to run.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hours and hours and hours...

Its a "given" in life that TIME is of great value. But interestingly, regardless of where I have been in my life, I have always felt busy. Before children, I was training and showing horses 24/7 (or so it felt). With each step and change in my life, time has taken on new meaning. Looking back, the busiest time in my life was right after taking custody of Tiersten, which added a 16-month-old with serious lung issues into a family with a 4-month old infant, plus the boys at ages 9 & 11, and Mike & I both working full-time jobs outside the home. I still look back at that first 3-4 months she was with us and remember it as a blur. Thankfully, her lungs cleared for the first time in her life after just a few months in her new environment, and things got easier once the 3x daily breathing treatments stopped..........until now.

Now......suddenly, I feel like I've been thrust back into the blender. Our schedule is an absolute nightmare. While I believe that we're making the best choices with the options we have available, its taking a toll on our sanity. Yesterday, I even forgot a crucial component to Tiersten's day. When my cell phone rang from the school, we were in Olympia at the OT and couldn't do a darn thing about it and I just wanted to CRY! (Thankfully.....our school staff bailed me out and Tiersten was fine. Bless their hearts!) Bottom line.........Jennica's special needs DO require some additional time, which has to come from somewhere. The time that we previously spent in the early mornings/late afternoons/evenings doing the random chores that allowed us to collapse and have some "down-time" after the girls went to bed are now spent doing therapy exercises with her, cooking GF/CF foods, and reading a ton of literature on sensory processing disorders. Once the girls are in bed, we still have to catch up with all the other laundry, dishes, making lunches, emptying backpacks, grocery shopping, and the bazillion other things that every busy family requires. And then we fall into bed exhausted just to get up and do it all over again. I won't even touch on the subject of Christmas and how everything associated with that is going to play out, or the boys' wrestling meets.

So......WHEW! I'm tired.......and I admit it. I'm having to schedule work around Jennica's appointments and other things that can't be ignored, which means that I'm working less. I'm grateful to be self-employed and HAVE that option (although my "boss" isn't real happy at the business financials at the moment.....oh wait.........that's ME). Its a little scary to take the hit in my income on top of the hit that it has already taken from the floundering real estate market. is what it is and my daughter MUST come first. We'll just have to figure the rest out later. I can't control the future, so I'm just having to live in the "here and now"--a very hard thing to do for a self-professed control freak.

But, in the meantime, if anybody sees my Fairy Godmother, could you send her over to my house? My floors could really use a vacuum!!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A stinky, smelly loaf of bread

Last night, I baked my first loaf of gluten-free bread. The final product looks like bread and feels like bread, which my expert sources say is an accomplishment in itself. But it stinks! It smelled okay during the mixing and baking processes, but the bread smells........and not in a good way! I doubt I'm going to get it close enough to Jennica for her to even try a bite! I tasted it and the flavor is not nearly as bad as the smell would indicate, but I doubt I'm going to be able to convince Jen of that!

We've got Jennica eating a certain type of store-bought GF bread, but as the only store that sells it is 90 minutes away, we need another option. We've tried several other types of store-bought GF breads and they aren't something I would expect a starving goat to eat. So.......the adventure continues.

In the meantime, Jennica is eating us out of house and home with her new diet, which is awesome! Once we get the bread issue ironed out, which is rather important in the life of a 4-year-old that likes PB & J, we'll be set. Let's just hope that we see some concrete results that make all this worth the effort! :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A little Ho-Ho-Ho Humor

Christmas dinner is always at our house. The sheer logistics of moving four kids and their newly-unwrapped "stuff" that they don't want to leave behind to go to someone else's house is a nightmare of epic proportions, so this is just a simple solution. My parents and whatever other family happens to be in town descends on our place. Our home is 2400 square feet on a single story with vaulted ceilings, so there is lots of room. I cook a very traditional Christmas dinner, we eat and party the holiday away, and enjoy ourselves to the fullest. (For you doubters out there, I never said I can't cook......I'm actually quite good at it. I just CHOOSE not to cook most of the time!)

This year, my oldest (very old, Hi Marj!) sister probably won't be able to come over, but my middle-old sister (Hi Susan!) and her family will be driving from Minnesota. Its always great to have them all here for the holidays and we're looking forward to Christmas with them! (I just realized that I may have insulted the sister that picked my name in the Christmas're really not THAT old Marj!)

So.........yeah, I'm getting there...........the humor part. Mike and I were debating last night how to incorporate Jennica's gluten-free/casein free diet into Christmas dinner. We want her to feel included to the utmost, but its going to take a little extra planning to keep her away from all things containing any form of gluten. She's been doing the dairy part for so long that she's got that down pat on her own and politely refuses anything that someone accidentally offers with cheese, butter, and all that jazz. She misses some of the more subtle forms of casein, but she's pretty darn reliable! However, she's probably going to lack that "fluency" with gluten in three weeks. Honestly.........I'm still going to lack that fluency in gluten in three months and I'm not four years old. So......things to think about.........And then Mike had a BRILLIANT suggestion! We'll prepare a VEGAN Christmas dinner! Experience a "traditional" Christmas of the sort that I can't imagine anyone in my family history has eaten since..........oh.....maybe since the Garden of Eden? Or......the potato famine? Or.........never?? Would you like me to pass the carrots?

After having a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing experience at the thought of my Dad pulling up to a Christmas dinner with no gravy, no turkey, or any other form of meat or animal product in any form, I think it dawned on me that GF/CF could be a whole lot worse than it is! Suddenly, when compared to a vegan diet, GF/CF looks downright revolutionary. We can do this!

But, in the distant future, when I no longer look forward to a large family Christmas in our home, I'm going to "go out with a bang" and prepare a final Christmas Dinner......VEGAN. That should cure the entire family of ever wanting to come back for Christmas! Would you like some celery to go with that fruit salad? Makes me laugh just thinking about it!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Today.........its all about one single word. Determination!

As of December 1st, Jennica is gluten-free and dairy-free. For those that follow this blog regularly, you know that she's been on a casein(dairy)-free diet since February. We've had the threat hanging over our heads that we probably needed to be gluten-free also, but the sheer thought of attempting to feed a four-year-old a gluten-free/casein-free diet, while holding down demanding careers and raising our other three children as well, was enough to give Mike and I both a serious case of the "screamin' meemies". However, the thought has remained in the backs of minds, and with further scientific research as to WHY some children need a GF/CF diet, we have finally reached a level of acceptance. It took a couple of weeks to get organized and ready, and yesterday was our first day. Bottom do you tell your special needs child that you have a proven method to help them improve their functioning in life, but you aren't willing to make the sacrifices of time and organization necessary to help them succeed?

Now.........for those of you that know my hatred of meal planning, I know you all are laughing yourselves silly at the thought of me preparing GF/CF meals. To those of you that don't know me all that well, I'm an obsessive-compulsive organizer and housekeeper in every single area of life to such an extreme that my sons know they can annoy me simply by turning the pillows on the couch the "wrong" direction. Dane also likes to write things like "Dane was here!" on our microfiber chair with his finger against the grain of the fabric, just because he knows I see it and it bugs me! So with that said.........the one area of life that I have REFUSED to organize is meal-planning, which I approach with complete and total haphazard abandon. Until now.

So...........determination. I am determined to help my daughter overcome her sensory processing disorders. If a GF/CF diet can help her do that...........I'm all in. Heaven help us all!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The First of December

Wow! Already the first of December! Where did 2008 go? Anybody else feel like it whizzed by?

In any case, we had a great and low-key Thanksgiving weekend here! Ahhhh.......very nice. Thanks to some time cyber-shopping, over half of our Christmas shopping is done. Just gotta sit back and wait for the boxes to be delivered. Mike and I have always taken a day off together and enjoyed spending a day shopping for the majority of our gifts, but this year's schedule is just not going to be conducive to that whole we went to Plan B. Its nice to live in a world where there IS a Plan B! :)

As for this December's schedule, the best way to describe it is "wild." All families with young children can relate to school parties, school programs, church programs, etc. And then we add in two boys competing in in Junior High and the other in High two different sets of meets. We're actually laughing because their teams practice in the same place, but not at the same time, so we even have to make multiple trips for drop-offs and pick-ups in the evening on practice days. (Laughing just because its really not a big deal and you just DO it.) Then on top of kid activities, Mike's work schedule is rather crazy this month with public hearings and meetings and stuff, which raises his stress level. And my work schedule is.....well.....what it is. And, last but not least, today we start driving Jennica twice weekly to therapy appointments to begin working on her sensory processing issues. This is a great opportunity, very much needed, and we're excited to be working with this particular occupational therapist, but its a three-hour round-trip 2 times per week, and that only counts the drive time. The therapy appointment is an additional 60 minutes or so. Whew!

But, once again, its great to have a life full of purpose and activity. Some days I wonder if I'm turning into an adrenaline junky, as its hard to sit down and relax anymore, even when I can sit down and relax.

And finally, just an important note--In the next week or so, I will be removing the link between my business website and this blog page. No.......I'm not closing either one. Its just that I'm feeling the need to protect the privacy of my family (particularly as we move through therapy with Jen and toward a diagnosis) from the random lender/broker looking for a real property appraiser, so I'm going to remove the link. However, I know there are several regular visitors here that access this blog through my Precision Appraisals home-page, so please be aware that you need to save this blog address somewhere so you can still access it. I want you all still to be able to find me here!

Love you all!