Friday, November 22, 2013

A Birthday Gift from My First-Born

She told me my birthday present would be a little late. I knew she was excited for it get here; that is typical from A--she loves giving awesome presents to see the reaction of the recipient. For example, youngest got a surprise, top secret arrival of his Navy we-thought-he-was-already-deployed-brother-in-law (A's husband) for Z's birthday present! I didn't know what to expect but couldn't wait, expecting new boots (to replace the beat-up old brown boots I love to wear each winter to torture her with their ugliness) or a pretty picture or something like that.

The box arrived the day after my birthday and I opened it the minute I got inside the house. The beautiful card was honestly enough but I pulled out the gift bag to see what was in there anyway, just out of curiosity of course. It was a beautiful mug, with "Momma" hand written on the front with a heart.

On the other side I saw a handwritten note. I read and thought how incredibly sweet this was that my grown daughter made me this mug, and developed quite the lump in my throat! As I made my way through the words, they began to sound I got to "he is good, so good...." I realized it was the words to Carrie Underwood's "Mama's Song" and started bawling like a baby. If you don't know, my daughter got married about 18 months ago and lives across the country and I miss her TERRIBLY, but I take solace in knowing she is married to a good man that not only takes care of her but lets her take care of him. I was determined for her to be independent and confident and she is independent and confident--and funny, silly, incredibly intelligent with street smarts yet dippy and hilarious sometimes at the same time. This amazing child said these things to me; words can't express the depth of emotions I felt and continue to feel each time I look at this mug.

I will always worry, but I know you are happy, and knowing that makes me happy.

I am blessed.

Here are the words that are written on the mug:

Mama (except she wrote 'Momma'), you taught me to do the right things.
So, now you have to let your baby fly.
You've given me everything that I will need.
To make it through this crazy thing called life.
And I know you watched me grow up,
and only want what's best for me.
And I think I found the answer to your prayers.
 And he Is good, so good.
He treats your little girl,
like a real man should.
He is good, SO good.
He makes promises he keeps.
No, he's never gonna leave.
So, don't you worry about me.
Don't you worry about me.

Gluten Free and...whatever.

First I'm going to thank my friend Jacqui for mentioning Vitamin D supplement as the possible "feeling blah" culprit. (see my Nov 19th entry ) As soon as she mentioned that possibility, I remembered exactly why I stopped taking it last year--I FELT HORRIBLE! 24 hours after not taking it, I at least started feeling myself coming back. I was still tired into the afternoon that day and took a nap but I actually slept during the nap, and slept much less fitfully that night.

While I am still waiting for the great "wow" moment about being gluten free, I made the decision to remain a gf'er. Hmmm, maybe that should be a glufer. Herewith and henceforth I shall be known as a glufer. Until I change my mind again.

I must be honest and say I had one peanut butter cracker earlier today; it was that or faint, and while fainting would have made for better drama I chose the cracker. I felt like an addict breaking a sobriety that while I don't feel that I've reaped the benefits of said sobriety, I still felt guilty. I've forgiven myself and moved forward.

I purchased and cooked and even ATE the mysterious golden quinoa (prounounced keenwah, for those of you that are not as sophisticated as moi, because you probably pronounce it as kwinoah). It is delicious. In the funky world that is my mind I equated the description of the taste (nutty) with the texture, and that didn't sound right. I am proud to say I tried it anyway :D I could seriously eat it all day, and will be experimenting with all different flavorings.

The main part of my lunch today was zucchini mini-pizza! I sliced zucchini, tossed the slices with olive oil and garlic powder, seared them in a frying pan, placed them on a foil lined baking sheet, topped them with sliced tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, then baked at 350 for about 10 minutes. Yum! Thanks to my oldest for eating zucchini pizza first and suggesting I try it. She's brilliant.

Here are a few of my recent cooking adventures:

Pizza! Recipe from The Gluten-Free Goddess 
Bread dough after first rise

Finished Bread!

Pepper-Jack grilled cheese using the bread

Zucchini mini "pizzas"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rookie J the Doggie Llama!

It was an ordinary day at an ordinary library; yet the event about to unfold was anything BUT ordinary. We were about to meet a superhero!

M was signed up to volunteer to check kids in for a "Read to Me" event: kids read out loud to very special dogs. Usually at least 2 dogs are there but that day there was just one special little dog named Rookie J. Youngest went off searching for books and I sat down to knit while I waited, when I saw one of the funniest and most unexpected things in the library--a little tiny dog doing an army crawl, going backwards! I watched as he got up, walked a little, hopped a little, then did yoga stretches with his back legs. Kids followed him back towards the art room and so did I! He was so much fun to watch but soon it was time for Rookie and his Mommy to go into the room for a reading session with a little girl. I saw how Rookie J was with the very small children that had surrounded him, and read what the program was and immediately thought that it could be a good idea for Z, but the program was listed as grades k-4. I had quickly mentioned to Rookie's mommy a few things about Z and she thought it would be fine for next time.

Z had developed some big fears of little dogs so I wanted him to see Rookie before I signed him up, so we hung out with M outside of the room but peeked in the window. After the session was done, Tammi (Rookie J's Mommy) invited Z to come in and meet Rookie. Z was so nervous...but Rookie was amazing. He sensed Z was nervous and took his time getting closer; I have never seen a dog react like this. Rookie wasn't nervous at all, he was completely in tune to Z's emotions and did little things help Z feel at ease, until eventually gently walking up to and climbing onto his lap. At that moment the most remarkable thing happened--youngest's body relaxed. He didn't just calm down, his ENTIRE BEING was soothed and seemed to fuse into Rookie's soothing, calm demeanor. They were communicating with each other on a level that most of us will never know. There had been some extremely stressful events in the days prior to meeting Rookie that had left all of us stressed and upset. That moment with Rookie J took the rest of the pain away and left only a sense of calm joy in its place.

I admit that I became quietly emotional, and I left the room to let Z bond more with Rookie. I didn't want youngest to see the enormity of the moment that I was sensing, I only wanted him to continue being only in the moments he and the wonderful little dog were sharing. Tammi was as in tune to what was happening as Rookie was in tune with Zach; I know that even after I came back in the room, she had some wonderful things to say but, to be honest, much of that time is almost dreamlike in my memory because it was so powerfully moving to see this child, at times so full of worry or stress about this crazy world, so completely at peace with the universe. Later I found out from Tammi that the last 2 children that were signed up were no-shows, which opened up all that time for Rookie and Z to really get to know each other.

Tammi and Rookie J were placed in our path for a reason. In the time after that initial meeting, I believed it was just for that moment of peace for Z--for which I was and would have been completely grateful! There is much more to it than that. I've had the opportunity--BLESSING--of getting to know Tammi a bit. She shared with me that the interaction of Rookie J and Z had stayed with her after we left and she, too, felt things had aligned to have us meet. We got to see them both again a couple weeks ago; dog and boy were instantly one again. I know that might sound corny or contrived but for anyone seeing it, it was real and true. Tammi has amazing ideas for Rookie J and I believe that they are going to do incredible things. Please visit his new Facebook Page by clicking Rookie J, Doggie Llama on Facebook to see pictures of our new little hero and watch the amazing and wonderful changes he is going to make in the world.

Here are some pictures of Rookie J and Z :)

Gluten Free and...BLAH

Once I post this, I'll brace myself for the backlash of naysayers and know-it-alls. I am two weeks gluten free and I feel..................NOT SO GREAT. I got my positive antibodies celiac panel results on October 29.

What is wrong with me? Article after testimonial after face-to-face after interview says, "you will feel amazing within a few day of being gluten free." I waited. I stuck with it. I ate fresh vegetables each day, made my own bread, and pizza dough, and even delicious chocolate chip cookies. I switched from my regular Cheerios to Chex. Not only do I not feel better, I feel worse, with a steady weight gain and feeling an overall sense of dragginess. I'm swollen more and my aches have increased, and I am not sleeping well, I'm foggy and emotional. I have not had one AHA moment. I just feel worse.

I'm frustrated and angry. People assume I'm just still eating junk food because I joke about it so much and because, well, I tend to be a snacker. (I can hear some people laughing right now at the minimization of that statement--oh, shut up!) I am screaming from the rooftops here, I HAVE BEEN EATING HEALTHY FOODS and NO gluten, save for 1 lone flour tortilla and a bowl of Cheerios about a week ago. This was supposed to be the Hallelujah choir awakening of my hidden, feeling better, self. I never expected to feel worse.

From all the reading I have been doing, and knowing my own body, I think it is safe to assume there are other foods I am reacting to. I know I have always had problems with corn and am just realizing there is some sort of corn (flour, meal, starch) in many things I've been eating recently. Sure, I could try to eliminate that as well; unfortunately I think there are others.  With 2 kids still in the house that are not gluten free, I don't see how I could practically track it all down. I'm not meaning to sound like a martyr (although isn't that my role as a mom??), I just don't feel that I can do this on my own, and continue to feel worse and wait up to 6 months to start feeling better.

I will continue to research and hope to find answers. I see a rheumatologist next month and hopefully that will narrow the possibilities into what is going on inside my body. Hey, I know what I need: OSMOSIS JONES! MAGIC SCHOOLBUS!! Hey Miss Frizzle, figure this out for me!

I am taking this seriously, trust me I want to feel better. I just don't see how this particular path is going to "work" right now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beautiful Veterans Day Ceremony

We had the honor of attending a Veteran's Day ceremony at a local nursing home, where several Veterans were residents. This event was magnificently topped off by the presence of the NAM Knights and The Saluting Marine (if nothing else, watch the video on at the end of this entry) , Marine Sergeant Tim Chambers who, in 2002, took it upon himself to salute, in full uniform, each and every Veteran on motorcycle riding into Rolling Thunder held around Memorial Day each year in Washington, DC. Ssgt. Chambers holds his salute the entire time, with this past year's entry lasting 4 hours!

Here are some pictures from the event.

Sergeant Chambers giving a speech

Army member (can't remember his name!), who sang the National
Anthem, standing during the Army Hymn.

Air Force Vets standing during their Hymn, so moving
seeing them stand up out of their chairs

The one Marine Vet (aside from Ssgt Chambers)
standing during the Marine Hymn.

My kids went around after to shake hands
and say Thank You. Proud Mama moments

This picture definitely paints a thousand words.

One of the Nam Knights greets a Vet

Mr. Chambers spoke with every one of our kids and gave them
a personalized motivational message

Our group with Ssgt. Chambers
Just had to capture these balloons at the end of the
event, drifting away.

Here is the video I watched over and over again before the event about Ssgt Chambers

Read more about the ceremony on the Burlington County Times Website

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Talking as a "stim"?

I am very used to chatty children, after all 2 of my 4 are girls! Even my older son, the quietest of all of the kids, would have times of verbal diarrhea. (like that? I just came up with it!) Youngest (Z) has his excessive verbage moments just like the other kids. But sometimes, it is different....

...especially in the car. Last night we were riding home from his cousin's birthday party; he had had a really great time, but any social occasion is just that, SOCIAL.

and stress=ASD flareups. Of course there is a back story here, there had been several triggers leading into this weekend: a few things had Z pretty worried or nervous or sad, but most were good things, however triggers are triggers and ASD doesn't really allow for differentiating. Z gets on these talking jags in the car and I am certain it is stimming. Stimming is "Stereotypy, or self-stimulatory behavior, refers to repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects. This behavior is common in many individuals with developmental disabilities; however, it appears to be more common in autism." (Stephen M. Edelson, PhD, ) He talked the entire ride home.

Twenty. Minutes. Straight.

Well, not fully 20 minutes. There were some breaks, some as long as 4 seconds, but mostly 1-2 seconds maximum between. He was talking about anything and everything, much of it was repetitive and scripted speech, which he doesn't usually use around us unless stress levels are running high. M (my daughter, his big sis--the younger of the 2 olders) is so amazingly patient and calm with him, she amazes me--but even she got a little impatient after the third or fourth recitation of  "isn't it so awesome how Captain Jack always has guns."

I believe he uses talking as a calmer in the car because I've worked so hard with him to not drum/flap/snap/hum/growl in the car that he had to find something else. It's just another way for him to quiet all the noise he is hearing and feeling, another way for him to place himself back into control of his atmosphere.

One of the wonderful occasions this past week was getting to meet back up with "Rookie J, The Doggie Llama", and I will update with a separate entry for the magical effects this little dog has on Zachary. Here's one picture to preview :)

He can't help but smile when he sees Rookie J, even just a pic!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fever Days

For several years I have what I have termed "fever days". I wake up in general pain all over and usually a headache is present and without fail my temperature will be around 99 degrees. It will go as high as 100, but never higher, and never below 99, and usually is gone by the end of the day though occasionally it will last 2 days. Once the fever did stay with me for about 2 weeks and, when I also woke up to almost every part of my body swollen (including my NOSE, yes seriously!), I went to the doctor. I was tested for Lyme, the testing came back positive several weeks later, but my symptoms were gone and we did not treat. I will forever wonder about that decision and if it further contributed to my ongoing issues since then.

I have had so many health mysteries over the past years like the aforementioned fevers, 2 weeks in the hospital for asthma, body swelling now and then, deep aches and pains (fibromyalgia was diagnosed in 2005), unexplained rashes, hair shedding, massive dental problems, inexplicable swollen lymph nodes, at times crazy low Vitamin D levels (have been as low as 7, now "up" to 17)...could it all be due to Celiac (antibodies present blood results just found a couple days ago)? Is it Lupus? Is it neither, or both plus fibro? I'm just tired of it all! I'm glad it seems that together with my doctor, we are finally putting the pieces together but I am just tired of all of it. I'm not a big complainer, and I hold back on expressing my pain levels because, well, I'm a mom and I'm a single mom and down days aren't an option, or at least that's what I've convinced myself lol. Every now and then though I just want to YELL and whine and complain and today is one of those days. I also find it can not only benefit me but also maybe others that are also searching for answers, so you are very welcome ;) Seriously, if any of these things are familiar to you, share with me! 

Back to your regularly scheduled positive, insightful, and occasionally funny but always sarcastic blog entries. And with Mama cooking primarily whole foods and gluten-free, there will be plenty of sarcastic stories to share about my kids and their LOVE of our new eating lifestyle. :-D