Author Archives: Jamie @ SensationalFamily

A letter from a picky eater to a picky eater

My Dearest Daughter, 

You might not know this about your mother, but I was once a picky eater. I once ate spaghetti without sauce, only ate chicken nuggets at restaurants, and would not let a green vegetable pass by my lips. I gagged at all seafood (still do) and I thought chilli was the worst food ever. There were many foods I thought were awful without even trying. Brussell sprouts and mushrooms were on that list. I hated the smell of green peppers cooking and I didn’t eat mayo until… well, I still don’t eat that. I was lied to about ingredients in dishes and your Noni told me that she put chicken in the tuna noodle casserole. I didn’t fall for it. I still don’t eat beans, but that’s probably for the best. I had a brother that ate everything, I hated being compared to him.

It wasn’t until college that I ventured into the food world. When I did, I couldn’t believe that I had missed out on wheat bread for so long. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had roommates that ate different foods, or the fact that I wanted to fit in, or that I was older or that I was exposed to new foods, but I learned that the worst that could happen is that I wouldn’t like it and then I didn’t have to eat it again. Since then I’ve discovered fresh vegetables, pesto, chorizo, and NUTELLA! I was too scared to eat nutella. That was just insane. It will be another several years before I actually develop a healthy relationship with food and the girl that is still made fun of for asking “how do I boil water?”, is now the woman baking your bread, roasting your chicken, braising beef short ribs, making soup from scratch and growing vegetables. 

My point is, I understand. I empathize. I know your anxiety of new foods and your reluctance to eat. I get it. And after twenty years of stressful meal times I don’t plan on starting that up again. Some people will make fun of you, some will call me a bad mom, and some just won’t understand how you couldn’t possibly love shrimp. That’s ok. You’ll come around in your own time. Until then I’m going to put a green bean or a piece of beef on your plate because I won’t know if today is the day you will change your mind. I will do my best to serve you nutritious food that include foods that you will eat and occasionally I will ask you to try something new. I might even forget sometimes and press the issue. I’m your mom, I’m allowed to make mistakes if I feel it’s for your own good.

Love, 
Mom

P.S. Your father was a picky eater too, I think he turned out alright too.

Good friends, good food, good wine

Sometimes you only need one of the above, and sometimes you need all three. Yesterday was a day I needed all three. I didn’t see my breakdown coming. Usually I do. Usually I’m at the end of my rope, exhausted and it’s been building for days. I was not prepared for today. I’ve really reached a point where I comfortable with who I am and who Molly is. There are definitely days that are harder for others, but I understand her, I’m ok with just her being her.

There is however, the “A” word that hangs over us. Austism. There are times when I don’t need a diagnosis, why would it matter? We have the therapies we need, we have support, but we don’t have closure. It’s hard to gain acceptance for something you don’t have. Earlier this week I spoke with a mother of a child with autism and had a rude awakening. She asked very specific behavior questions all which I answered “yes” to. Never once did she hint that Molly was autistic, but I knew these were the same challenges she faced with her child. That was a hard day. No diagnosis also means I can stick my head in the sand and ignore what is often staring me in the face.

I was up half the night with the kids. First half of the night with Molly, second with Charlie. I’ll admit it, I was tired.

I wasn’t prepared for our playdate. In fact, I was underprepared. We were going to a familiar house, with familiar friends, what could go wrong?? We just went a birthday party and Molly didn’t even notice if I was there, she played happily with her school friends. And that is where I failed and that is why her quirkiness left us sitting in a chair crying. We may have gone to a familiar house but not everyone was familiar and Molly, well, she just couldn’t find her place. It was loud, there was a lot going on, she wasn’t quite old enough for the girls and was too much of a girl for the boys and she felt alone. Her inability to survive in the chaos echoed loud and clear into my heart and I wanted to help her, I wanted her to have fun, I didn’t want to be in the same place we always are and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t bring headphones, I didn’t have a suggestion that was suitable and I couldn’t go bossing around kids to play with her. I hate being in this situation. And while I was trying to hold myself together and figure out what to do next, I had help. I didn’t ask for it, but I got a hug and it was all I needed to break down and start crying. Then I got another pair of arms to hold the crying four year old girl and then I started crying more because it was nice to have help. And it felt great to just be loved.

Then I remembered there was a mom there I had only known for twenty minutes. And then another new mom came through the door. And then I felt slightly silly. They don’t know our struggles, they didn’t realize we had come so far and I was frustrated to be back at the starting point again, but we are all moms and we all struggle so I felt blessed that neither blinked an eye or skipped a beat. We poured ourselves some wine, started munching on some yummy food and I pulled myself together through great conversation.

It warms my heart to know we are both being raised in a community of acceptance and love. (and wine)

Everything changes

Most of my mom friends can agree that we don’t like change. And by “we” I really mean “our kids”. I live in a house with one child that could care less about changes. School? Whatever. Daylight savings? Bring it on. Christmas break? No problem. Then there is the other one. I recently wrote about a rough week where I had been bitten, punched, scratched, and more. But that post was only the tip of the iceberg. It was a 2 box month. Boxes of wine, that is.

Naturally, the first thing I ask when things go wrong day after day is “what has changed?”. The problem was everything changed. We stopped going to OT, we were discharged from behavioral therapy, it was Christmas, school was canceled, the list of changes never ended. Naturally we waited for school to start up again and our daily routine to kick in, but that didn’t help. We bought a sensory swing, that only somewhat helped. It left me scratching my head. What changed?

Then it hit me. Nothing changed for Molly, things changed for Charlie. Our little Charlie had a monumentous change that actually affected all of us. He stopped napping. Surprisingly Stampy and I loved that change. I never thought I would love the day we lost nap time but I do. I love not being bound down by the clock. No worrying about scheduling things around naptime anymore. We are free! That freedom though took away something special for Molly, her one on one time with us. Everyday when Charlie napped Molly got distraction free attention from us. We read, we played games, we did crafts, she watched TV while I played on Facebook and Pinterest, but it was quiet and down time. She lost that. She lost that special time, she lost that time to herself. Now her whole day revolves around sharing everything from toys to attention.

She didn’t like it. I can’t blame her. I miss my “alone” time too.

Baking from scratch

It’s a cold snowy day here, so what else would I do but make a cinnamon coffee cake this morning. We need something to warm our bellies in these close to single digit temperatures, wind gusts and snow flakes. Loving to bake is something I probably take for granted. I’ve been doing it my whole life. Now that we have food allergies, I realize I’ve been taking something else for granted, fresh bakery bread.

There are the obvious foods that we can’t eat. Nuts. Peanuts and most tree nuts are off limits. But what most people don’t realize is that it opens up a wide array of foods that are also considered “unsafe” and that includes bakery goods. One of our local bakeries won’t even accomodate food allergies with special orders. They say they cannot guarantee 100% safety from cross contamination. Honestly, I don’t know if I would trust a bakery that would accomadate us. Not unless they would allow me to apron up and join them in the kitchen.

So, with that being said, I thought I would share some of my new at home favorites that I’ve learned to make over the past 21 months since we ventured to the hospital with our first episode anaphylaxis. For each I’m just going to direct my readers to the webpages where I have stumbled upon these great recipes.

First, I’ll start with the cinnamon coffee cake I made this morning and have been eating all day. My friend shared this on Facebook not that long ago and I knew the first snow day we had I would be making it.

photo by flourmewithlove.com

Who wouldn’t drool over that? Or eat it all day long? I have done both. Great delicious cake that was pretty quick and easy to throw together.

Next up. Fresh bread. I tried on multiple occasions to make homemade loaf bread and I failed every time. So, I moved on to good hearty bread that is awesome with soups, stews or Italian dishes. Plus, it’s the easiest thing ever to make. I actually feel foolish for buying bread after making these next two recipes.

This is my tried and true no knead bread. It is a fix it and forget type but always gets rave reviews. This bread is also egg and dairy free! This is always a staple around our house and it doesn’t last long.

Photo courtesy of http://www.yumsugar.com

Then over the weekend I realized I was a Pinterest hoarder and thought I should put some pins to good use, so I made garlic rosemary bread. This bread will be a repeat offender. It was as easy as it was delicious.

 Garlic rosemary dutch oven bread loaf

Photo courtesy of http://www.sheknows.com

Next up in the bread catagory are dinner rolls. I will admit that after failing at loaf bread and biscuits, I wasn’t too keen on wasting time and ingredients to make rolls. But the snow got to me into a baking mode (it isn’t hard) one day last winter and I experimented and fell in love. These are pretty simple and delicious. A big shout out to user “Jean” at Food.com for submitting this recipe!

Photo courtesy of amireidey @ food.com

The last DIY recipe is granola bars. Where these aren’t “bakery staples” they have been a staple of my diet for longer than I can remember and I miss them terribly now. It’s hard to find decent ones that won’t break the bank and are safe to eat. Most companies have nuts in one variety of bar so all are contaminated. The ones that are safe I usually end up giving to the kids and not inhaling them myself, so I’m still missing out. Then my friend turned me on to these chocolate chip granola bars from Weelicious. These got rave reviews from the kiddos and were beyond easy to make. I highly recommend them. Also dairy and egg free!

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Photo courtesy of Weelicious.com

So there it is. Easy, simple baking that is allergy friendly. All of these even the most novice and “time crunched” bakers could tackle successfully. I hope you enjoy making and eating these as much as I do!

Photo courtesy of peanutallergy.com

Ryan Gosling approves 🙂

10 Ways 30-Something Parties are not 20-Something Parties

Over the weekend I got the chance to live it up in honor of two of my oldest friends. It had been a long time since we had a big joint birthday get together for the two them. In fact, it’s probably been since high school. As I sit here 24 hours after nursing a massive hangover, I’m realizing that a lot of things have changed since high school. Or even going to parties in my twenties. So, I’ve compiled my list of how hanging out with my friends now has changed in the past 15 years. 

  1. Hangovers. At what point did I switch from being able to down some Gatorade and ibuprofen to not being able to stomach even water? I was pretty sure I was going to die for about the first 8 hours I was awake yesterday and I drank probably a fourth of what I would have at 24 years old.
  2. I googled a bar to make sure it had food. My 20-something year old self would not have been so concerned about eating to keep myself from turning into a hot mess. Yet, some how I still did.
  3. Birds and Babies. Now, with so many of us married and procreating there is always someone that brings their child. We’ve been that couple. Sometimes it’s worth it to see your friends. But who brings a bird?? Apparently 30-something parties people bring birds. Then get mad if you touch it.
  4. Dancing. I can remember dancing a lot in my 20’s. That doesn’t happen anymore. There was music, but no moves.
  5. Ending times. It is now acceptable to leave a party before 11 PM and sober. Not that I did that, but other people did.
  6. Sleeping arrangements. Now it’s hotels or going home. No longer sleeping on a floor with a towel for a blanket is deemed appropriate.
  7. Drinks. At some point 30 packs of Bud Light and a bottle of Arbor Mist have switched to 6 packs of “nice” beer and bottles of fancy wine. 
  8. Bathroom Trips. We have moved far from the group ventures to the bathroom. Apparently since we are moms now we relish the moment we get to pee alone.
  9. Party games. No beer pong or flip cup or cards. 
  10. Walk of shame. Instead of going home in the same clothes, it is leaving the hotel in your pjs pants (hangover) and boots because you can’t pack while kids are distracting you.

Image

When the going gets tough

We’ve had a tough week. That might even be an understatement. In the past week I have been bitten multiple times, scratched, punched, kicked and had my hair pulled out. 

I wasn’t kidding. It was tough.

Oddly, I don’t feel that these are the times that test me as a parent. 

It’s easy to be patient and empathetic when your child is suffering. When she is so far gone that rational thinking is in another universe there isn’t much you can do but be patient. Also, two irrationally angry people rarely make good decisions. So I show her empathy hoping that she learns how to react when you are upset. I show that I love her at her worse. I show her forgiveness. 

Then I get the little girl that sat next to me at church this morning. Out of her element, unsure of her surroundings, scared, but holding my hand and snuggling into my leg. She didn’t let go the entire time. Although she rarely verbalizes her love, she embraces me when she’s scared and lets me know that she feels secure with me.

That’s when I know that I’ve made good decisions. It’s these moments that will give me the patience the next time things get tough.

 

Living for the now

Image

Shortly after Charlie was born I started attending a yoga class. It was one hour on Sunday and I loved that hour. I could even say that I lived for it. I had a newborn and a 2 year old, so needless to say I had no time to myself other than that class. That hour was all about that hour. I didn’t think about what I had to do after, I didn’t think about what was going on at home and I didn’t think about anything that had happened preceding the class. It was all about the present time. After 2 1/2 years I realized something about yoga, not only do I live for that moment but I don’t criticize myself, I work hard, and I’m proud of what I accomplished. Sometimes it’s just finishing the class without falling on my face. 

This doesn’t carry over to real life.

I want that to change. 

In real life we are a family that is constantly on the go. I spend my days constantly thinking about what is next. What time someone has to get picked up, what appointment is coming up, when bedtime is, and in doing that I don’t get to enjoy the present moment. I don’t worry about an upcoming Reverse Triangle while breathing in Child’s Pose, why should I worry about the future in real life?

I find myself overwhelmed by cleaning things out. Therefore, nothing gets cleaned out. I worry that the crew from Hoarders will show up at my house but still I can’t let go of things. I find sentiment in everything that I’ve ever done. I made connections with any outfit my kids donned. In doing this, I can’t truly enjoy what is in front of me because I yearn for what has passed. Yet while I’m trying to balance in Crow there are no thoughts of the previous Downward Dog. That would be silly because I need to focus on not falling over right then and there. So, why can’t I focus on the present and what I need to achieve happiness today?

I need to appreciate myself in the present the same way in real life I do on the mat. I need to give myself a break in real life. It’s ok that my kids don’t eat picture perfect meals the same way it’s ok that my hamstrings are as tight as a board. It’s ok that I’m not crafty the same way it’s ok that I can’t bind. Yoga is much easier if I breathe, I’m sure life would be easier if I breathed once in awhile and just appreciated the way it feels to be completely centered. 

As I come away from a difficult couple of days, I realize that I need to incorporate my yoga beliefs into real life. I need to see every moment for what it is, good or bad, difficulty or easy, busy or relaxing. Not everything has to be perfect but it is real and real is good.

Sensational Christmas morning

I remember being a kid and waiting not so patiently for Christmas morning. I remember my brother and I trying so hard to stay awake to hear Santa and waking up at 4 am and waiting until our parents would allow us to go downstairs. I couldn’t wait for the presents, to see what exciting things Santa left. Christmas morning was awesome.

Naturally when I had kids I couldn’t wait to relive that moment. I was excited to see the reaction of all their new gifts and toys under the tree. This video is a pretty good representation of every Christmas morning, except the fact that no one is crying this year and it didn’t take 20 minutes of coaxing to get the kids even near their gifts. In fact the kids actually opened their gifts this year, so it is a step in the right direction. I have high hopes for Charlie next year that he will actually be excited on Christmas morning. I only assume Molly will be questioning the existence of Santa by then. This year she already wants to know why Santa built her a chalkboard last year on the wall and this year brought her one on an easel. Santa needs to get his stuff together.

On the bright side, we don’t have kids waking us up at 4:30 AM to collect their bounty.

Embracing Christmas

It’s no secret around here that I’m not a fan of a certain December holiday. I make no attempts to hide the fact that I really dislike Christmas. Somehow long ago I thought it was my duty to make sure everyone had a fantastic holiday and the aftermath just meant that I did not. Then, I had my normal pre-Christmas breakdown but I did something that I don’t usually do, I went over to my schedule at work and I took time off. Not because we had therapy, not for a doctor’s appointment or a school function, but just because I needed some time. Granted it was for the week after Christmas, but I took days off work for me. And it felt good.

Then it snowballed.

I found myself saying I couldn’t go to parties. Not because I had something else to do, but because I didn’t want to.

I found myself accepting the Christmas gifts we could afford and not stressing that it wasn’t enough. The kids have plenty.

I found myself not stressing when certain people didn’t provide ideas for gifts. These people will get what they get. And maybe without a gift receipt to return it.

I found myself making the kids chicken nuggets or sandwiches for dinner because Christmas baking or activities made us late for dinner.

I found myself baking less and accepting the fact that a batch of cookies turned out less than perfect.

I found myself not caring that the kids didn’t sit on Santa’s lap. Neither of them, they were both terrified.

I found myself actually living up to my so-called belief that things don’t have to be perfect.

And it felt good.

I didn’t scream “I HATE CHRISTMAS” this year. Not once. Although I did freak out a little and send my husband a text that read “I JUST WANT TO BAKE F%$&^% COOKIES”, but no one is perfect.

I’m completely prepared for the fact that once again my kids may be afraid of Christmas morning. Or maybe just Molly will. She’ll come around and when she does we will be opening our presents under the tree. Then I hope my family is prepared that I will be drinking wine out of a new wine sippy cup Santa will be leaving in my stocking. After all it’s Christmas and what kind of holiday would it be if there weren’t some day drinking involved.

Image

Tales from an un-crafty mom

My artistic abilities are comical. Seriously, Stampy came home from work and was crying from laughter looking at my latest “craft” I attempted with the kids. And like all of my artistic endeavors, he had to ask multiple times for verification that my project was in fact what I said it was.

Tonight it was a Rudolph head made from felt.

It all started because I ordered 17 pounds of felt, so I thought I should do something with it.
20131216_195030
Seriously, why did I order so much??

So after I cut out a triangle to make a Christmas tree and about a dozen ornaments, I came up with the brilliant idea to make a Rudolph head and red noses so the kids could play “Pin The Nose On The Reindeer”. Now, I don’t get creative ideas too often so I tend to run with them even when I realize that I have absolutely zero artistic ability to actually carry out the idea. Ignoring that fact I proceeded to make the most satanic goat-deer for my kids to play with. After screaming “monster” and running and hiding, the kids actually played the game for 5 minutes. I consider that a success.

In case you would like to make one yourself (I actually feel like this could be a fun game for kids) I will give you instructions. To start the process, you need brown, red and white felt. I cut out 6 red noses, but that is completely optional. Draw and cut your own animal head. The less it actually looks like a reindeer the better. Then 2 white eyes, I suggest using a marker to give some color to the eyes to tame down the nightmares, but that’s a personal call.
PicsArt_1387240350355

Once that is done, you can hang on a wall and let the kids have at it. I managed to get each child to close their eyes for about 5 seconds while placing the noses on. I couldn’t tell if they just didn’t get the premise of the game or didn’t want to take their eyes off the demon hanging on our all, lest it attack them.

20131216_162252

Everyone survived. We will be having a cleansing after the Christmas season to rid our house of evil spirits.