Monday, September 30, 2013

The Start of a New Diet

I'm feeling a little battered over here at the moment.  Between my back deciding to flare up for the first time in years and some sort of nasty flu bug that has been moving around our house and has finally hit me I have been stumbling through the last few days allowing the kids to watch way too much Netflix in the afternoons and trying to stay off my feet as much as possible.

We've also just jumped into the GAPS diet (full GAPS, I can't figure out how we would even try to do intro since Mae is not a fan of chicken broth... or soups textures at all).  It's not so bad and isn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  It's less of a challenge than the elimination diet was back in January, because I've done an incredibly restrictive diet once and I'm pretty good at GF baking now (with almond meal and coconut flour).

And the results of cutting out any and all gluten are already pretty amazing.  You see before this Mae wasn't having a ton of wheat.  She'd have a meal with wheat... maybe once a week.  And that would be something like a flour tortilla or something like that.  We're not allowing that at all anymore and the change?

Well this week the child who has about ten words and can go a month without using any of them said: "Red boots!" "Animal!"  "Bunny rabit!" "Bunny, bunny, bunny!"  "Mama!" "Baby!" and "Moon!"  So I'm beginning this new diet with cautious optimism.

This weekend I was hard at work making fermented foods...  my family is not rejoicing at the amount of cabbage that seems to be a new part of their diet, but lunch today was pretty funny (to me).

I'd been making chicken broth this morning and I moved some of the broth into a second pan and started making soup for lunch.  Lunch is the hardest in this brave new world without rice or most of the beans I'd usually use.  I added some of the extra carrots that I'd grated for sour kraut.  I threw in a diced onion and celery.  There was garlic.  I looked around.  The soup needed something more.  And then I saw it... half of a purple cabbage.  I diced it and threw it into the soup and watched as the broth turned bright purple. Then I hoped it would be good.  Just around that time Paul arrived home and we had this conversation:

Me:  "Lunch is almost ready!  We're having cabbage soup!"
Paul:  Stops.  Looks visibly disturbed by the prospect.  Purses his lips and tries to look normal.
Me:  "What?  You're making a face."
Paul:  "I'm just offering it up."
Me:  "It's going to be good!  You'll see."
Paul:  "Mmmm hmmmm..."

A few minutes later from the other room:
Sadie (in a little voice):  "Daddy, this doesn't look very good."
Me: (coming into the room):  "It's Princess Sofia soup!  Did you see that it was purple? Of course it's going to be good."
Sadie: "Oh!" (looking unsure and then making a bravely polite face) "Yes, it looks good."

At this point I was really, really hoping that it would be good, because so far it had been too hot to taste.  Then everyone started to eat.  And guess what?  It actually was really good in all it's bright purple-ness.  They actually liked it!  Shockingly (to my family at least) it's something they would willingly eat again.

That's one step in the right direction.  And despite the flu we finished school for the day, so that's something else.  I figured canceling school usually causes discontent in the ranks anyways, so we might as well muscle on through.

Now to come up with a creative dinner... I know one thing: it's going to involve spaghetti squash!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Children's Garden and The Phone Call

I was standing in the kitchen this morning when the phone finally rang.  I saw the number and panicked a little, because I knew that this was it.  I picked it up and the speech pathologist told me that she hadn't been able to find my number, but that they had completed the test scoring and that Mae qualifies for the program and that that means that we'll likely be part of the residential program (if that means therapy at home I am super, super excited about it).  

She paused and I asked if qualifying meant that there was actually a diagnosis then, was there actually a name for what she was telling me and she paused again and said yes that the results tell us that she is autistic.  

I had expected it and yet when I hung up the phone my hands were shaking.  And then I really, really wanted to talk with someone over the age of five.  Which was probably when I started complaining that Paul's matrimony law class feels like it goes over it's alloted time every. single. week.  

But he finally got home and Sadie got to have her special oh-my-goodness-please-stop-crying-over-the-tooth-you-just-knocked-out-lunch and we headed to the university's children's garden for our final field trip of the week.

And it was wonderful:

Then we wandered over to horticultural gardens where we got eaten by a willow dragon:

Which I slooooooowly made my way through with the girls (Maggie LOVED it):

And we came upon a statue that Paul thought looked a lot like the eleventh doctor... missing only a red fez:

And then it was finally time to head home for Paul to mow the lawn so that our yard stops embarrassing our neighbors (it's been hard to figure out a time for him to mow the yard now that he's doing full time school and working!  There just aren't enough hours in the day!).

Now to figure out dinner...  

7 Quick Takes Friday: Lost Tooth Edition

In other news I did call the case worker yesterday (morning) and I haven't heard anything back yet.  And waiting hasn't killed me yet so... that's something.

It's become apparent since I started writing this, that Sadie believes that she can't talk without her tooth... making this the quietest morning I've had in at least a couple years.

Boomer ate his first food two days ago and it was (drum roll please)... Turnips!

I'd made mashed garlic onion turnips for dinner and it was the first food that he was presented with that he didn't think was completely disgusting.  He ate all of a teaspoon I'd guess, but it was actual food going into his mouth that he was interested in and that he seemed to be enjoying!

In other surprising news I realized that I actually like turnips!  I'm not sure I'd ever had them before I made them the other day, but they were actually very tasty!

Since Quick Take 3 she's realized that she can talk.  Quiet time is over.

After the tooth came out I promised Sadie a) cash for her tooth b) a lunch outing and c) that she can wear a princess dress out of the house today.

Because she looked that sad sitting on the couch without that tooth...  the story of me losing my first tooth while my sister was holding me upside down by my ankles almost made her smile.  Almost.

I have hopefully solved my camera problem.  I found a refurbished "tough" camera on ebay that claims to be water proof, ice proof, shock proof, drop proof and smash proof.

We shall see.  We shall see...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Theme Thursday: Out

I just love this photo from earlier this week, with the family walking through the Botanical Gardens and Sadie intently staring at her beloved Madagascar Periwinkle... from one of our field trips when we were out and about.

For more Theme Thursday head over to Clan Donaldson!  

On Virtue, Suffering, Growth and Waiting for the Phone to Ring...

Okay, let's just get it out of the way.  I'm still waiting for that lump of plastic to ring.  And it's still not. So I've been thinking things like:  "Apparently 'tomorrow at the latest' (yesterday) means different things to different people" even though I know it's really that the super nice people who did the test are super busy and likely overworked and underpaid since they work in a giant sprawling county building and that's likely why they haven't had a chance to call yet.

As a side note I believe I have learned, over the years, never to ask for a virtue like patience.  Because do you know how God gives you the opportunity to work on a virtue like patience?  Yeah.  By helping you find ways to practice it.  Oh sure, I guess it involves some pouring out of grace but right now I'm kind of in a let's-sulk-around-the-house-about-how-much-being-patient-and-waiting-for-the-psych-people-to-call-stinks type of mood and I've been doing a fair job of ignoring that fact.

It's like when I prayed for help with that whole little gluttony-pizza-ice-cream problem that I inevitably have when I'm pregnant or nursing (so pretty much always) and suddenly I had a nursing baby who was allergic to dairy and another kid who has major food intolerances so that our eating options are pretty much some meats, some veggies and some fruits, eggs and nuts and none of the wonderful cheesy grain-i-ness that sound oh-so-appetizing All. The. Time... which all feels like it happened about five minutes after I made that fateful help-with-gluttony prayer and has me laughing these days in a sort of resigned way while shaking my head and saying: "Not what I meant.  Not at all what I meant.  Didn't you see that I was asking for a magic power to resist ice cream, not an actual chance to work on self control or sacrifice?"

Except that in my head, when there's no suffering at all going on, I make these crazy requests to God to grow in love and understanding, even though I'm beginning to have an inkling of what the answers to those types of prayers generally require.

You see, even in the perfect little world in my head I know that growing towards sainthood, even with the outpouring of grace required, doesn't happen in a vacuum.

I can look at Jesus on the cross and remind myself that he told us to take up our crosses and that there was something in there about the path being narrow that made this whole thing sound like something other than a cake walk... or I can read the lives of the saints and the trials that they oh-so-often endured, and know that Jesus was obviously very, very serious about the aforementioned taking up of one's cross... and I can't ignore the fact that this growing often seems to involve suffering.

In fact, I can even see the tininess of the things that seem like "suffering" to me in my day to day life, at least from a distance, when I'm in a mood to examine these sorts of things.  Those moments of perspective, incidentally, also usually happens to be when I'm in the mood to request whatever sufferings God would like to send my way so that I might grow and become more like my savior.

From a distance it always sounds like an awesome idea... and it makes me feels so brave, like I'm trucking along down the road to sainthood (I think that usually happens right before a face plant of some sort, which you can probably see coming from a mile away).

Because in reality, it's never that pretty.  Sure I can pray for sufferings to offer up like a champ, I can imagine all the rosaries I'll say when I'm in labor and all the fantastic intentions I'll have while I'm praying them, but when the wheels hit the pavement it's more like "oh-my-goodness-the-red-superhero-boots-just-accidentally-smashed-my-big-toe-one-too-many-times-and-the-nail-broke-in-two-and-God-please-please-please-please-it-hurts-make-it-stop."  Which is about as not-heroic as one can get.

Still, we push on and I try to pray for the grace to be a little bit less of a weeny the next time it inevitably happens (those boot wearing toddler feet are dangerous!).  And some days (okay, more like moments) I actually feel like I'm toddling along in the right direction with teeny tiny steps... by succeeding at something small like not whining about a headache for an entire hour (inevitably the headache lamentations still usually tumble out of my mouth after a point, however...).

This isn't the post I set out to write...  but I have to say, having written it and having thought about actual suffering, like the sufferings of the saints in the book Sadie is always pushing into my lap, the fact that my phone still hasn't rung suddenly seem like a much, much smaller problem than it did when I began.  And that's something.

Baby steps.  Baby steps...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week of Field Trips: The Science Museum

Pretty much all my energy at the moment is focused on that small blob of plastic otherwise known as my phone and the fact that it just isn't ringing.  I'm supposed to receive a phone call, either yesterday or today "at the latest" with Mae's diagnosis, and I shouldn't be sitting here staring at it, waiting for it to ring, because what does it change (answer: nothing).  Except that it does.  Because the conclusion the pyschologist and speech therapist reach based on yesterday's test really does affect access to therapy and amounts of therapy and types of therapy and whether or not the therapy starts in three months or one month or however many months "months and months" means while sitting on a waiting list.... waiting.  Which I'm not really doing a stellar job at, at the moment.  

This morning we went to the science museum and played in the bubbles and I said things like: "Please don't put your head in the bubble water" and "If you put that fish in your mouth one more time we're going home!  That's it!  We're going!" although, despite the fish-y ending, we spent a good two hours there and the kids got out a lot of their wiggles.  

Except there may never be pictures of the day because of a mishap involving me holding Patrick and my camera at the same time and a small platform with a teeny tiny gutter of bubble water... and my camera dying a slow bubbly death in the aforementioned bubble water that it fell in despite the teeny tiny statistical probability of it hitting one of the few spots on the platform that wasn't completely dry.  

I am a camera murderer.  There's just no way around it.  I cannot lament my kids lack of coordination without looking in the mirror and knowing where they get it from.  I mean really.  Two cameras in the past three months.  Cameras come to my house to die.  And I think it's highly unlikely that Paul will let me near his camera (by the way, this was his hand me down old camera... he got a new one as a birthday gift and I have a feeling he's going to keep it far, far away from me).  

So... the test yesterday.  There were tantrums.  Mae repeatedly took the baby doll and put it behind her and continued pretending to eat the pretend birthday cake on her own.  She responded to her name 0 times.  She loved the bubbles though.  And she alternated between giggling and sobbing throughout the appointment.  
Recycling a picture from our last visit...

And in an attempt to distract myself from the not-ringing-phone, I'll move on to something completely different in this Week O' Field Trips.  Sadie's school binder. 

I know there are plenty of people who hate worksheets.  My daughter isn't one of them.  She begs for worksheets.  She asks where her worksheets are and if they aren't immediately presented she says things like "Oh Mommy, you forgot again, didn't you?"  (When have I forgotten?  Maybe once in four months?)

Last night I decided to take a few pictures of her one of her favorite things in the entire world.  So here we go:

The notebook, in all it's glorious pink-ness.

This is her work for August and September.  Because
she's just crazy about writing.  And drawing.  And making me print out
more worksheets for her to work on.

I included this one because of the conversation that went along with it.
After coloring this she pointed to the pink figure on the right and said:
"He's the bad one."  Shaking her head sadly.
I was about to say it wasn't because Judas in on the other side in the version we have on the wall,
but she continued and said: "Look, you can tell because he doesn't have a halo..."

3 Swans.  She's a big fan of swans at the moment.

And of course volcanos.
This was before this week when she announced that she was going to
"start writing darker" so that I could read what she'd written.

She's a fan of princess anything.

And ballet.

We do a name worksheet every day.

And her handwriting is coming along steadily.

I just had to laugh as I printed this one.
An actual Bactrian Camel worksheet.  Who'd have thought these existed.
And now back to waiting.  I really hope "tomorrow at the latest" means we really will get a call today.  Otherwise I'm going to be beside myself practicing the virtue of patience tonight at 5 pm when the office closes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week of Field Trips: Day 2- The Botanical Garden

Tuesday we got off to a late start.  Sadie had already insisted on doing her reading, math and writing (she's still not getting the whole "let's just do field trips for a week!" thing) and we'd waited for Paul to get out of class before heading over to the botanical garden together.  And while I wasn't sure how neat the botanical garden would be since the growing season is definitely coming to an end, it was still quite beautiful.  And this history was pretty impressive:

"... This outdoor laboratory has expanded to 6 acres
and over 5,000 species and on its centennial is
acknowledged the oldest of North American botanical gardens."
We brought along the stroller for those little kids who would think they can swim but can't, since they're the same people who would also really like to test their non-swimming skills with the ducks in the nearby river:

I said smile.  Yup.  Everybody listens to Mom...
I think I could lay back and stare at these trees for hours:

I can hardly wait to visit in spring...

I'm always shocked by how excited this kid is about the idea of visiting the botanical gardens:

While standing here we had this conversation:

Me:  "Look, there are rice plants!"
Sadie:  "Why can't I see the rice plants?"  (pause)  "Can you say 'because most of the rice grows under the water!'"

There was running.  She was very excited about seeing her reflection in the water:

Then the search began for Sadie's favorite flower... the Madagascar Periwinkle.  She has drawn picture after picture of it since our last visit to the garden.  We knew we couldn't leave without seeing it (and I was hoping that it still had it's flowers):

And so we strolled and searched:

I don't think the saguaro cactus is a huge fan of Michigan:

Then Paul found it.  The Madagascar Periwinkle:

And it still had flowers:

We've read about it online, but we read about it again (and how it's useful in treating leukemia):

Then she drew it for the umpteenth time:

...while I said things like "look a Hardy Orange!"

"And look at these berries!"

Of course this was the one that she loved, since it had Princess in the name:

Finally our visit to the garden came to an end. We still haven't actually finished walking through the entire thing... but that just means we'll have to come back for another visit!

Week of Field Trips: Day 1: A Planet Walk

Yesterday I woke up and wanted to do something a little different.  We're already in Week 15 of school over here and I thought "wouldn't it be fun to do something totally different this week... we could get out of the house... let's do an entire week of field trips."

Now I'll admit, it may be because autumn has arrived and there's a chill in the air and it feels wonderful to get bundled up and go outside.  And I can also see the long days of winter in he near future keeping us inside more and more with it's frosty chill.

So I announced the plan and bundled everyone up and asked Sadie where she wanted to go for her first field trip.  "The botanical gardens!" she said quickly.  "Okay," I replied, "but I want you to know that we can go back to the science center if you want to.  It's up to you.  We can do one today and one on one of the other days."  "Science center!" she said, jumping up and down.

And so I loaded Patrick and Maggie into the stroller (because the science center is a bit further than Petco and I wasn't feeling up to carrying Patrick quite that far) and walked the 1.6 miles there with Sadie trotting along beside me talking about everything we saw along the way.  And then we got there. And the parking lot was empty.  Great, I thought, we'll have the whole place to ourselves.

And then we saw this:

That would be "Monday: Closed" since the picture is a little bit blurry.

The kids looked at me like: "Why aren't you opening the door?" and I explained that it was closed and that we'd have to do something else, but I could tell that the idea of walking that far and then turning back towards home (or the botanical gardens which were now four miles in the opposite direction) would not go over well. I also sensed that the state capital or supreme court buildings would not be seen as comparable to the science center where they could run and build and smash down smushy brick walls.  

Then I saw it:

"Look!"  I said, grasping at straws.  "There's a planet walk!  And look!  It's to scale!  So there's the sun!" I glanced at the map, "and the other planets are on the river trail... between here and the zoo!"  Two miles away, I added, in my head.  They're all the same size and distance to scale that they'd be from the sun (we spent a huge amount of time talking about "to scale" in the time that followed).  

The field trip was saved.  We set off.  The first four planets were all quite close:

Between Earth and Mars we rescued a crawdad that had somehow gotten out of the river and up onto the river trail and were heckled by a squirrel who thought we passed to close to his tree.  And then we were off on our two mile trek to find the other planets:

The leaves on the trail are not yet cooperating with my dreams of autumn.  

Saturn wasn't too far...

But there was shock over how long we had to walk before we got to Uranus:

The walk was a study in contrasts... we walked by a fisherman on the scenic river trail and also went past empty industrial plants that were eerily silent.

She was thrilled when we finally came to Neptune:

But then the fretting began.  What if they'd taken down Pluto when they decided it wasn't a planet anymore.  Poor Pluto... without a sign... Still we trudged along:

After walking 3.6 miles she was pretty worn out.  But we pushed on the last few steps and then:

Pluto!  The little kids rejoiced!

We'd done it!  The field trip had been saved from Mommy's lack of planning!  And there was more.  We were at the zoo just in time to visit the fish:

Sadie was interviewed on camera by a student for a class about the zoo (Maggie tried to steal her microphone) and then got into a conversation with one of the zoo keepers and the park security that had me laughing:

Park Security Guard (as we watched the tamarins):  "So what's your favorite animal?"
Sadie:  "The peacocks."
PSG:  "You know, most kids do say the peacocks!"
Sadie:  "And my sister's is that animal that always follows us around."
Me:  "The peacocks?"
Sadie:  "No. The one that follows us around."
Me:  "The baby bongo that came over to see her that time?"
PSG:  "Bella?"
Sadie:  "No, no, no.  The one that tries to hit her and attack her."
Me (realizing what she's talking about and feeling the need to elaborate...):  "Oh, in the monkey house.  Through the glass.  There was a monkey that was following her behind the glass and it kept trying to attack her through the glass."
Zoo Keeper:  "Was it the mandrill?"
Me:  "Yup."
ZK:  "Which one was it?"
Me:  "Not the biggest one or the littlest one."
ZK:  (they were both nodding in a not surprised way):  That would be the female.  Her name's Susannah."  

So Sadie thinks Susannah the attacking mandrill is Maggie's favorite animal at the zoo... I think I would have to say it's the over sized feeder fish in the turtle tank...    

Then we walked around the zoo until Paul got out of class and rescued us from the two mile walk home.

And that was the first day of our Week o' Field Trips!  I'd call it a success.

When we got home Sadie requested her math, reading and writing assignments, informing me that "these things are important" especially since she wants to be "a nun" and something about getting to go to the convent early if she studies really hard... So we actually almost did a full school day after we got home...

Now to get going on the big day ahead of us... Mae and I are about to leave for another round of testing.  Prayers are appreciated!