January is a month of anniversaries for us. Yesterday DH and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. We've been together in all for 15 years. I can't believe it. The time has flown by so fast, especially since having children. It does not seem like so many years have passed. It seems like such a short time ago that the girls were babies, laughing and drooling and learning to walk. But that was years ago, and before I know it the pictures we've printed and kept in their baby books will look dated and faded with age.
When DH and I got married, we were kids straight out of college and just starting to carve out a life for ourselves. Two Januaries ago, Anna visited a pediatric neurologist who said "autism spectrum disorder". We carved out a place for ourselves within that definition and forged ahead with early intervention therapies. Last January, we found out the girls had food sensitivities and implemented "the diet". I didn't so much carve a place out for the new diet in our lives as much as I tore through the kitchen like a whirlwind, but the end result is the same. I feel comfortable with our realities. They are somehow becoming old friends.
Another anniversary of sorts is that my blog is now almost one year old. At first the blog served two functions - the first was to document the changes the diet was producing in Anna. It was astounding the effect removing the offending foods from Anna's diet had on her behavior, communication, attention span and sensory "quirks". The second was to provide an outlet for my angst over having to switch gears so drastically in the kitchen. Anger might better have described my disposition back then - not anger over having to do the diet, but hearing how horrible it was, how expensive it was, how food options were limited and tasteless. Basically, I ended up giving the diet a big thumb to the nose and made my new mantra "I reject your reality and substitute my own". Nobody was going to tell me I could not share with my children the foods I grew up enjoying, and no diet was going to dictate what I could or could not feed them. So what if they couldn't have butter or wheat flour? I was going to make them chocolate chip cookies anyway, and they would not only be "safe", they would also taste good. The blog became be my new cookbook.
Now a year later the function of the blog is more to share my recipes and shine a light on our experiences living with ASD. At first hearing the diagnosis made me feel that we were isolated and alone. But we are not the only ones out there living this reality and it's been very nice to connect with other people who share our joys and struggles. Thank you to everyone who stops to read what I've written. Thanks for your comments - your tips and advice, and the hope you share from your own experiences. I'll keep the recipes coming - I am nowhere near done adapting the ones I have on hand, and there are many more that others have shared that I want to try!
To celebrate our anniversary last night we took the girls out to dinner. We never go out as a family, just the four of us. We used to, but it got too difficult to bring Anna with us - she could not sit still and it did not take long for her to reach sensory overload, which resulted in one of us exiting the restaurant with Anna so as not to disturb the other diners, and the other quickly paying the bill before we all retreated home. We've been a little gun shy since then, and even though Anna does much better in public recently it had not occurred to us that we can probably try going out to dinner as a family again. So instead of finding someone to babysit while we went out (which brings its own challenges due to Anna's anxiety), we decided to celebrate with the kids. And you know what? They enjoyed it and so did we. I was very proud of the girls, they were very polite and well-behaved. They sat still and ate dinner, they were smiling and engaged, and there was no hint of sensory overload to be seen. Anna got a little loud because of the excitement of going out, but all I had to do was remind her to lower her voice. The girls were happy, I think, to be going someplace special with mommy and daddy. DH and I were happy to go out with our girls, too. It was the perfect way to spend our anniversary - thankful for all our years together, for our wonderful daughters, and for the milestones we've reached and the others that are yet to come.