Sunday, March 30, 2008
2 cups GF flour blend (Sorghum and Chickpea or Rice and Chickpea)**
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground caraway seed OR 2 tsp. whole caraway seeds
1/2 cup raisins or dried currants, if desired
1 cup rice mik
Sift together the dry ingredients. Add raisins or currants and toss to coat. Stir in rice milk with a fork. Pour batter into a greased soda bread dish* (greased with palm shortening).
Flour your hands and then pat the dough into the dish evenly. Cut an X 1/4 inch deep into the center of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool.
*If you don't have a soda bread dish, try using a small pie plate or an 8" cake pan.
**I like using Sorghum and Chickpea blend if using currants, and Rice and Chickpea blend if omitting the currants.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
For the record, I hate mystery viruses. I want to blast their DNA into oblivion with something non-subtle, like a howitzer. I'm okay with viruses the pediatrician can identify, but the mystery ones leave me enraged. And speaking of enraged, I was well on my way there this afternoon while waiting to be seen by the pediatrician before getting the mystery virus diagnosis.
Let me be clear that I really like the girls' pediatrician. And the other pediatricians in the office that they've seen are pretty good too. So when I have to see one of them if one of the girls is sick and their pediatrician is not available, that's okay. What is NOT okay is waiting an hour and a half to be seen by a pediatrician. That leaves me really frosted.
The deal is that Megan has had a fever since Monday with coughing and intestinal upset. Normally I try not to freak out over a little fever and coughing, but last night at 5:30pm when I told her it was dinnertime, she stretched out on the floor and told me she was tired and wanted to go to bed. She's almost 3 years old. That's not normal 3 year old behavior. She had been on Pulmicort for a few days, but she was coughing in a way that sounded tight so I put my head to her chest for a listen, and it sounded like her lungs where wheezing. That always freaks me out. So last night she started Accuneb. Late this morning she started to cry about stomach pain and her temperature dropped, and she felt cold and clammy. I called the nurse hot-line. I was told to bring her in since she's had a fever for 3 days. I was already stressed out by the fever and coughing, but to have a nurse call me back and tell me first thing that I needed to bring Megan in to be seen was even more stressful. I even asked, should I be stressed out about this? She said not yet but do bring her in. I started to stress. I can't help it, there's so much going on right now and to add this on top of all the stress I feel already is asking a bit much, as far as keeping a calm demeanor goes.
So, remembering Megan's intestinal upset in the fall (which we found out was ultimately due to a dairy allergy) and the need for a stool sample, I up-ended Megan's most recent diaper into a little plastic container and saved the drippings. I know that's a bit graphic, but it illustrates how bad Megan is feeling. The contents of the diaper got me even more stressed out...had I accidentally given her dairy? No...but maybe she's allergic to something else? We are gluten free because of Anna but I think I gave Megan something glutenous a few days ago...what if she's reacting to the gluten? What if she has a gluten sensitivity too? She was not actually tested for that..should I bring her back to the allergist, for another traumatic blood draw, to test for gluten?
The nurse on the phone said our pediatrician was out today but that another could see her at 2:30, 2:50 or 3:10. I chose 2:50 thinking that if there was nobody before us, we'd get seen more quickly. I hauled the girls over there and signed in...and I was right, nobody else on the list was waiting to see this doctor. We waited. And waited. And waited. I started to get agitated. We were 30 minutes in the waiting room before I went to the desk and asked if I should reschedule. I know I looked a little wild-eyed by the look the receptionist gave me. But my kid is sick and Anna is crying to go to the bathroom (even though she went before we left home). The receptionist assured me we were next in line so I went back to sit and wait.
Fifteen minutes later (now 45 minutes waiting) we were called back into a waiting room. Two other doors were closed so we were third in line to be seen. The nurse gave a mediocre apology about sick kids, and a morning medical emergency walk-in. By this point I'm thinking, why the heck did you book me if you knew the doctor was running so far behind? Like I have nothing better to do than sit and twiddle my thumbs in a doctor's office while listening to screaming infants? The girls are restless. Anna has to pee again. It's only a matter of time before she turns FL on me (Fruit Loop) and makes a scene. Seriously, nobody understands this. It's just a bad idea to throw a wrench into Anna's schedule and then have nothing to do for an hour in a small, cramped space.
So we wait...the girls start fighting...Anna keeps crying that she has to pee...Megan's cough is sounding worse...and I could be giving her more Accuneb at home and doing something useful instead of stressing out that she's coughing. Finally, after one hour and fifteen minutes and no sign of a pediatrician, I walk out of the office to the bathroom outside in the hallway so that Anna can pee. I'm angry and agitated and just before the point of seeing red (which actually does happen, literally). I'm stressed out and I have a headache. I go to the receptionist's desk and ask to reschedule for tomorrow morning. I said I've waited over an hour and the girls are cranky and I can't wait anymore (although clearly, I was the one who was most cranky). The nice receptionist kept her eyes on my face and tried to calm me down before going to find a nurse. She came back and told me we were next to be seen. That did not appease me. She left me again and came back saying the doctor really would like to see us, he really does want to help and look, there he is right now! He was at the door of our little exam room. I grabbed the girls and dragged them, head down and glaring, into the exam room.
The doctor didn't address me directly but was talking to Megan about he's sorry, it's so hard to wait a long time (grrrr). He checks her out, I give him the low-down while rubbing my hands across my forehead again and again. Her lungs sound fine. He does not need the nasty stool sample that's been sitting in my purse for 2 hours. He could have her tested for the flu, because why the heck not? Why not, indeed. She gets checked. He comes back. It's not the flu. It's not strep throat. I said, it's just a random fever? He said, it's probably a mystery virus. If holes could be burned into their miserable mystery DNA by my eyes alone at this point, it would have happened by sheer concentration and strength of ill-will.
The doctor says, keep up with the Accuneb while she's coughing, and that I'm doing a good job. I thank him. He says good luck, and if she still has a fever in two days to call back (the virus should be on it's last legs by tomorrow, but by the way Megan is coughing tonight I have my doubts).
I leave to check out. The nice receptionist looks at me guardedly. I thanked her for helping me deal with my stress. She was gracious and said she knows what it's like, she's a mom too. I leave, a co-pay poorer with only a mystery virus diagnosis for my trouble. We get home and Megan lays on the couch, too tired to play with Anna even after a decent nap. DH tells me I should not be so upset at such a long wait and that I should expect it, with the way insurance companies push for patients to be seen every 15 minutes. Seriously, someone should tell them to jump off a cliff, or go see their own freaking patients every 15 minutes and see how they do with that. Grrrr.
Mystery virus, you suck. You stressed me out, robbed me of an afternoon, gave me a headache, and you are wreaking havoc with my poor baby's insides. I hope some nifty scientist finds a way to blow you into smithereens.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Anna's language skills continue to improve. She is labeling her feelings. The other week DH took her to the neighbor's birthday party. Lots of people were in the yard outside, and Anna kept running into the neighbor's house where it was quiet. DH kept going in to bring her back outside and finally he asked her what was wrong. She said "I don't like people!". I thought that was great, the fact that she was able to express that instead of flipping out and shrieking because there were too many people around for her to feel comfortable (which happened routinely just 9 months ago). DH was able to empathize and tell her that he doesn't like people either but that sometimes we need to be polite and socialize. I'm glad he was able to handle that because that sort of response from Anna is likely to make me either laugh or cry, and neither response would be helpful. Then it would be Anna thinking that I'm a freak.
Anna has also recently been working herself through stressful emotional moments, talking herself through them from start to finish. She'll get upset about something and scream or cry, and then say "Mommy, I can't be happy! I'm just crying!" And then she'll be done and tell me "Mommy, I just freaked". I try not to laugh at her and say "yes Anna, you did freak. Do you feel better now?", and she'll say yes. She must have gotten this from me, sometimes I'll tell her to stop freaking out when she's busy screaming and flipping out over something. Now she's labeling the freaking, and telling me its beginning and end. I guess this is a good thing, but we'll probably have to come up with a better term for it.
Monday, March 24, 2008
1 1/2 cups finely ground white rice flour (such as Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 cup salt
3 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp. canola oil
*optional food coloring or essential oil for fun scents (such as lavender)
Sift together the flour, salt and cream of tartar. Heat water and oil (and food coloring or essential oil if desired) over medium heat in a large saucepan . Add the flour mixture and stir constantly with a spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan (you may need to add a smidge more water if it's too dry). Place dough onto rice floured countertop and let cool slightly. Knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky. When it feels very similar to regular Play Dough, you are done! Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic baggie.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
After Anna made big gains in the first month of being on the GFCF diet, she hit a plateau. A good friend who has lent huge support and encouragement while tackling the diet told me that plateaus happen but just wait for the periodic spurts of improvement we'll see as Anna continues with the diet. I think we are seeing little spurts spurts of improvement again. Anna is starting to talk herself through transitions. At school, she's been telling herself the order in which she needs to do things, which is huge! Instead of screaming, becoming defiant or becoming anxious, her TA mentioned yesterday that she heard Anna in the bathroom talking to herself:
"I flush the potty. It makes a loud noise, but it is okay. Next I wash my hands, and then it's snack time. I will ask Brianna for a snack."
I was so happy to hear this! They've been working for months with Anna on this at school, trying to encourage her that noises are sometimes loud, transitions are sometimes hard, and sometimes she feels angry or frustrated, but that it is okay...trying to give her the language and tools to cope with the changes in her schedule and the emotions she feels throughout the day. Now it is finally paying off, Anna is telling herself that it's okay instead of having someone else tell her it's okay. She's taking control from the inside instead of it being handed to her from the outside. She's owning it and working it out for herself. I am really, really excited about this. The more she can own and regulate her emotions and reactions to different situations, the more empowered she will become. I hate seeing her hamstrung by her anxiety and unable to deal with change, or certain sensory stimuli, and now it seems like she's starting to figure out how to work through things for herself. She still has a long way to go, but it's a start.
I've also started to see a similar change in how Anna reacts to negative situations at home. Up until recently, she would simply scream or cry when frustrated (she wants something Megan has, she fell and hurt herself, etc.). For two years we've been telling her to "use your words". And for the past few months I've been trying to tell her, "Anna, if you want something Megan has, then ask her for it. If she gives it to you, then say thank you. If she doesn't, then wait your turn. It is okay". Or, "Anna, if you hurt yourself, don't scream. I can't understand screaming. Just ask me for a kiss and it will be okay". In the past couple of weeks, Anna has started using language in stressful moments. Instead of simply screaming, she'll now scream and talk. I'll hear the screaming and then I'll hear "Megan, it's my turn!" or "Megan, I want that!" or "Mommy, I fell down, I need a kiss!". This is a huge improvement! I'm again starting to see things click into place for Anna. She's climbing the scaffolding she's been given. I love the diet. I love Anna's teachers at preschool. Click! Another rung of the ladder has fallen into place! Anna has nowhere to go but up. I'm encouraged by how far she's come, and I can only imagine that she feels encouraged too. She can communicate meaningfully. Her body feels better. Her mind can think more clearly. She can work through some transitions on her own. I'm really happy.
One last observation: last night I gave Anna some pork for dinner. A long time ago I had encouraged her to eat it with applesauce, but gave up after repeated resistance and tantrums. Last night I gave some applesauce to Megan (who will only eat her pork drowned in salsa and eats her applesauce on the side) but not to Anna. Anna asked for applesauce, so I gave it to her. A few minutes later I turned around and saw her placing delicate spoonfuls of applesauce onto her pork, and eating it. I couldn't believe my eyes for two reasons: #1, she was gracefully using the spoon to put small dabs of applesauce right on top of the pieces of pork on her plate without holding the spoon awkwardly and without the applesauce spilling all over the place. #2, she was mixing textures and eating them, something she has not done much before now. She was doing this like it was the most normal thing in the world. Like it was no big deal to put applesauce on her pork. She ate all of it. I'm chalking that up to another diet phenomenon, because she's been on an OT hiatus for a few weeks and we've not had the chance to work with textures since the spagetti incident.
Okay, I lied. Here's one final observation. Before the diet, Anna didn't get dizzy. She didn't fall too much. She was very careful and cautious and didn't get a lot of boo-boos. Well, since being on the diet she's been getting dizzy. She used to love for DH to spin her around and around, fast, but now she asks him to go slow. And she's falling all the time. Her legs are a mess - all bruises, everywhere, black and blue and yellow. I'm afraid to put her in shorts in public because her legs look so bad and I'm afraid people will look at me like it's my fault. She has the kind of bruises toddlers get when they learn to walk and run. I guess falling is new to her. I think it's another sensory modulation the diet is producing. She's making up for lost time. I hope she gets it out of her system before the heat of the summer arrives and I have no choice but to dress her in shorts!
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
2 small zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
2 large cloves minced garlic
8 cups water or vegetable broth
2 cups dried red lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander
juice of 1 lemon
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven. Saute onions, carrots, and zucchini about 10 minutes or until onion is soft. Add garlic and stir for one minute. Add water, lentils and rice. Bring to boiling and then simmer partially covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir together the salt, cumin and coriander. Add to the soup, stirring well. Simmer uncovered another 15 minutes. The soup will be very thick, like pea soup. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Adjust salt if necessary and add more lemon juice to taste if desired. Serve hot.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or walnut meal
3 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup peeled, diced apple
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups or coat muffin cups with cooking spray, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat together the wet ingredients until smooth. Stir in applesauce and diced apple. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins to cool on a wire rack.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I remember this recipe being good, but my GFCF version is really, really good. I cannot believe how good this bread is after modification. It's hard to stop from scarfing up warm slices of it straight out of the oven. Yum. I'm honestly surprised that I think this GFCF version is actually better than the original. I'll ask my mom...maybe my tastes are changing!
2 cups All Purpose Sorghum Flour Blend or All Purpose Rice Flour Blend
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup palm shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 medium) mashed bananas*
1 tbsp. vinegar in 1/2 cup rice milk
Sift flour blend, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, cream the shortening with the sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add the bananas, mix well. Add the milk/vinegar mixture and stir well (mixture will look curdled). Add the flour mixture and beat well (until the large clumps disappear). Turn into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake about 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn bread out onto a wire rack to cool.
*When bananas are freckled and need to be used right away before going bad, I throw them into the freezer, whole. When a recipe calls for mashed bananas, I take two from the freezer and thaw them in their skins. Then I slit open the tops and squeeze the banana out and stir it into the batter as is...it breaks up nicely and does not need to be mashed. Very easy!
I took Anna to the dentist yesterday. She really wanted to go. She wanted “happy teeth” that were clean and sparkly. I had warned the office the she has ASD and that she will be anxious about getting her teeth cleaned. They assured me that they deal with special needs children all the time and they could deal with whatever she’d throw at them.
My first warning sign that all was not well was when the hygienist came to get us. She didn’t explain to Anna what was going to happen. She didn’t let Anna feel the toothbrush vibrating on her finger before putting it in her mouth. She didn’t squirt the water from the fun “water gun” to show Anna what it was like. She just had Anna lay down on the chair and went at her teeth with the special whirly toothbrush. It took only 10 seconds before Anna started to scream. She shrieked, kicked, and jumped out of the chair and started crying that she didn’t want to lie down and she didn’t want her teeth brushed. I tried reasoning with her that we were almost done but she was past the point of return. The hygienist tried talking her into laying down again but Anna screamed “no!” and would not stop crying.
Then, it got worse. The hygienist told Anna to stop crying because she’ll upset the other children. Of course this had no effect on Anna other than to make her scream louder. The hygienist told Anna “Don’t yell at me” and walked away. She came back and said “please stop crying, you are scaring the other children and they won’t want to come back to the dentist”. Anna continued screaming. I looked at the hygienist, incredulous, and said “Are you aware that she has autism?” The hygienist looked at me and said “yes of course”, but I think she really didn’t or didn’t know how to deal with this scenario like I had been assured that she would.
Anna was still shrieking and I started crying. Then the hygienist told ME not to cry, that it’d be okay. (Yeah right…my child is acting like a frightened wounded animal and I’m sobbing in front of everyone staring at both me and Anna, and everything is fine. Sure, lady, it’s all good.) Then the hygienist said the thing that everybody ALWAYS says to me, the thing that always surprises everybody…”But she’s so high functioning!”. That statement gets me going every time. Yes, she is high functioning, but she STILL HAS AUTISM! Just go ahead and make me feel worse about the situation. I had to tell you in front of the whole office that she has autism because I had no choice and you come back with “but she’s so high functioning”. Like it’s not enough to bear that my daughter is on the spectrum, I have to also feel bad that people think she should do better because she's smart, and be able to get a grip. But the reality is…autism is a spectrum disorder, and everyone on the spectrum shares CORE DEFICITS no matter if they are high functioning or low functioning. I feel penalized twice by my daughter being on the spectrum…the fact that she’s on it, and the fact that people don’t get that a high functioning individual still has significant difficulties that influence the way they interact with their world.
So the hygienist says “she’s so high functioning, she’s smart as a whip. She’s intelligent and using reason with me, she knows that lying down means getting her teeth brushed. So she understands intellectually about visiting the dentist’s office, but she is not emotionally ready to deal with the new place, the new people, the strange sounds and the strange senses she’s getting from the toothbrush in her mouth and people touching her teeth”. I wanted to say “well then why the hell are you getting after her for crying?”. It’s not like I have a disobedient, unruly child who’s being a pill. I have a child who’s scared spitless into a fight or flight response and she’s being told not to cry. Ugh.
Finally the hygienist said the best way to deal with this situation would be to get Anna onto the chair…I would lay down on her legs and hold her arms, someone else would hold her head still, and the hygienist would clean Anna’s teeth as fast as she could. Getting Anna into the chair was fun with her kicking and screaming. I held her like a straitjacket. She was screaming, and I was crying. We were a sight. But finally it was finished, and Anna sat up to give me a hug (which made me feel a little bit better). The dentist came over (with trepidation, I thought) to take a look into Anna’s mouth for herself. Anna sat on my lap facing me, and I laid her down and onto the dentist’s lap. The dentist was very calm and serene, explaining to Anna that she was going to look into her mouth with a special small mirror and count her teeth. Anna did not kick or flail, but she did scream and wail. Finally that was over too. Anna got to pick a prize. Someone tried to give Anna a special balloon but she was so agitated that she refused. I heard the dentist say something about a significant overbite. Then we went into an office to talk.
I had wanted x-rays done but didn’t want to push Anna any farther. Instead I mentioned to the dentist that I am concerned that Anna’s teeth are wedged so tightly together. She said yes, that’s a big concern since secondary teeth are twice as large as primary teeth. She mentioned jaw extenders and spacers and I looked at her, about to laugh. She looked at me and then said that tooth extraction might be easier, they could put her to sleep for that. And I said yes, that sounds like the best way to deal with that issue when it comes up. She said for Anna's next cleaning, bring her in the morning, and they’d have a special room flagged where Anna could be alone away from the commotion of the office…the doors to that office could be closed so her shrieking would not freak out the other children. And I wondered, why was this option not disclosed to me before this whole fiasco started?
At the end of the day, I like the dentist. I think she was very good with Anna. And I think Anna gave the hygienist an education about high functioning autism. And, we gave everyone in the office a story to go home with at the end of their day. Anna spent the rest of the morning feeling strung out, and I can’t blame her. I felt more or less the same way the rest of the day too.
Monday, March 10, 2008
I prefer this particular pea soup over pea soup made with ham. And I prefer yellow split peas to green ones. If using yellow split peas, make the soup on the stovetop and not a crock pot, as long cooking in the crock pot turns the peas brown.
8 cups water or vegetable broth
2 cups green or yellow split peas
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 of one 10oz package chopped spinach
Bring water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the split peas through the bay leaf. Simmer 1 hour. Add the diced potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the spinach (I add it frozen and stir until the spinach is broken up and thawed). Adjust seasonings to taste and serve hot. This soup tastes even better the next day.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Well, last week I took some rice spaghetti to Anna's OT session. I cooked it and dressed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and included a little container of red sauce on the side. I had tried to encourage Anna to taste some at home but she would not do it. But at her therapy session, Anna dove into the plain spaghetti with both hands and then started eating it hand over fist! She claimed that she loved spaghetti and ate it all the time (not true!)! However, when the red sauce went on top of the spaghetti, Anna played with it but would not eat it.
Anna's OT told me about what happened and suggested that Anna's sensory aversions may not be what we thought they were, as in she does not like certain textures. She thinks Anna may be more turned off by certain colors in combination with certain textures, such as red sauces. I had to agree. Anna won't eat red sauce, salsa, ketchup, or any other brightly colored saucy thing (like soup), but she will eat other smooth textures with innocuous colors like pudding and hummus. Anna's OT suggested that I send in other foods Anna won't eat, such as soup and cooked vegetables, and she'll just get Anna to try tasting it instead of playing with it, since she had more luck than I did at getting Anna to eat the pasta!
Now Anna is a pasta fiend. She can't get enough of the rice spaghetti. She even wants it for breakfast. Although, I'm not sure she wants to eat it so much for the fabulous bland taste as she does in order to make walrus tusks out of the strings of spaghetti that hang out of her mouth. Thanks, DH. You're a great role model!
1/2 cup palm shortening
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 cups Sorghum Flour Blend
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
cinnamon sugar: 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.
Beat shortening, applesauce and sugar until blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well-blended.
Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours or until easy to handle. Shape dough into 1" balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place 2" apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes until bottoms and edges are lightly browned.
Let cookies sit on baking sheet 1 minute after removing from oven before removing cookies from the pan to cool on a wire rack.