Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Testing, Testing, 1...2...3...

On February 1st, my son Jefferson and I stopped eating foods containing artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, MSG and its derivatives, high fructose corn syrup, and transfats. He actually did better than I did (I had two rebellious binge days) - I know he accidentally ate an Oreo once, but on the whole he has been very diligent in looking at ingredient lists and abstaining from any "contaminated" foods.

We did this as a test, to see if it made a difference in his tics and his general mood. The answer seems to be yes - his tics have been far milder, and he seems calmer in general. But I had said early on we would pick a week to "test" it - a week in which we ate foods with all that stuff in it to see how we felt. This is the week.  I actually fell off the wagon last week (and face down into the chocolate), and have felt cruddy since then (except when I'm high on the chocolate - then life feels GREAT). Jefferson has now had 4 days of eating iffy foods - a Peep, fast food, donuts, chocolates, etc.

Has it made a difference? I think so. The only reason I'm not 100% sure is the complicating factor of pink eye - Jeff came down with pink eye on Saturday, and I know from previous experience that illness can sometimes cause a spike in tics. But even Jeff says he thinks he's noticed a difference. He seems more agitated, his tics are more noticeable. Mom is more grouchy.

So we're going to finish the week out (I'm not cutting us off before Easter baskets), and next week we're going back to our clean eating plan. That will be the true test - will the ickies, the tics, the irritability taper off again? I'm betting yes. And I'm actually looking forward to getting off the junk again. But in the meantime, those M&M's are calling my name...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

5K Race for Autism

This morning I did my very first 5K walk (for a cause - I've walked 5K before!), joining over 900 people in a 3 mile jaunt around EMU's campus. We were walking on behalf of all those whose lives have been touched by autism - the teachers, the extended family, the parents, and especially the children themselves who are on the spectrum.

It was a humbling experience. Three people who have autistic children spoke before the race, telling stories of their home lives, their experiences in finding the Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership, and what it meant to them to see us all there. All three cried as they spoke. As I listened, I surveyed the crowd, wondering how many people there actually knew people with autism, and how many were just there for the race - thinking how lucky they were if in the latter group. And then I realized how lucky I am. Ellie shows no signs of being anywhere on the spectrum. Yes, Jefferson has technically been diagnosed with Asperger's, but if that's accurate, he's very high functioning. Nothing like some of the kids I saw and heard about. And even though of course I wish he were what they call "neurotypical" and didn't have to struggle with AS or TS, he's alive. He's healthy. He doesn't have a terminal illness, he's not physically handicapped, his prognosis seems great. Yes, we're still looking for ways to help him - yes, I'm still experimenting with diet and trying extra hard to work with him on social interactions, but you know what? He's a great kid. He's smart and funny and a whiz at computer games. He's my son.

Thank you to everyone who was there, for whatever reasons brought you. We need everyone to help in this fight - and really, in any fight on behalf of people who are struggling with disabilities. As a mom, I have now met many other moms whose kids are battling a variety of diseases or disabilities I never even thought about when I was younger - autism and Asperger's, cerebral palsy, heart defects, congenital adrenal hyperplasia,  Tourette's. The labels break your heart. The differences break your heart. But the children heal it. Because we're all in this together, and even if we're in different cars, we're all on the same train.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Medieval Woman!

O.K., I wanted to make my own background image for this blog. My web and HTML skills are sadly out of date (if we're talking 1997, I can make you a killer web site), so this felt like a big challenge to me. I'm not versed at all in cascading style sheets or any of that blather. And the first site's directions that I tried to follow didn't work. However, I finally remembered how to do layers in Adobe Photoshop elements, found another page which told me how to load the darned image into Blogger, and I *think* I'm satisfied with the results. But what do you think?

If I've actually figured this out, I may have unleashed a monster. Because you know I'm going to want to do an Elvis-themed one, or a Twilight-themed one, etc., etc. Wish I were smart enough to figure out how to make the template stay fixed on the screen and have the words just move up and down (how's that for a technical explanation), but for now, at least I know how to do my own pictures.

And for those of you wondering at the pictures I chose? Well, in my previous life I was a doctoral student in medieval history, and I still love medieval illuminations. I also love books. So you've got a woman reading, books, a woman writing, and more books. That's how I like to think of my life!

Oops. I think both women are writing. No problem! The more scribbling, the merrier!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

High Fidelity

I know it's par for the course to hear almost daily about celebrity cheating scandals. It seems in Hollywood everyone's always sleeping with everyone else; getting married, getting divorced, traipsing around with someone else's partner. But still, the latest round of celebrity infidelity, with its ratcheted-up number of liaisons, has actually really been getting to me. Because I would like to believe that people can indeed be faithful to each other - and that they not only can, but want to.

However, at our New Moon party last week, as we were chatting about Tiger Woods and Sandra Bullock's husband Jesse James with disbelief and disgust, one of the women at the party said she'd read that 70% of married men cheat. SEVENTY PERCENT?!? Given that we had about 10 women there, all married - well, we were all doing the math. But is it true? I myself have read astonishingly high numbers about what percentage of spouses cheat on each other - I don't remember if the male number was in the 70% range, but I do know the female range was around 50%, and even that shocked me.

See, I can't even fathom it. To me, infidelity seems like the worst kind of betrayal. At least it's the one of which I'm most afraid - *not* because I think I have anything to fear on that account from my own husband. I don't know why it resonates so powerfully and emotionally with me - I certainly have occasional mild fears I'll be replaced with a younger, thinner model, but I don't think they are realistic concerns. I just can't imagine being with someone else when you're married. Such an absolute betrayal of the soul. And to be unfaithful and then not reveal it, to live a perpetual lie and a double (or triple or quadruple) life - how do they even do it? How can they live with themselves?

Oh Lord, this probably sounds very holier-than-thou. Let me just say that in college I was involved briefly with a man who was dating someone else, and I was also cheated on in a different, also brief, relationship. The pain of both experiences was intense, as were the feelings of shame. So, although none of the people were married, I have kind of been there (and never want to be again!). I know I am blessed with a good marriage and a husband whom I still really like, as well as love. Perhaps if I were in a miserable relationship I might understand it more - but perhaps not. Maybe I'm just a prude. But I'm O.K. with that.

I'm not even sure how to conclude this little tirade. I'm just so saddened for all of the broken marriages, broken relationships, and broken trust that affairs bring about. And really disgusted by the Tigers and Jesses of the world - those we know about, and those we never will.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anatomy 101

Yesterday we were visiting our neighbor Stephanie and her two boys (a quite common event). After a while, I asked Ellie if she needed to go potty. "No!" she replied (why do I bother? That's always her answer). Concerned that we might have an unpleasant accident and have to go home, I was encouraging her to try anyway when Stephanie said to her son Jon, who is also 3, "Jon, go potty! Go show Eleanor how to do it!" Sure enough, Jon raced down the hallway to the bathroom, Ellie zooming after him, and each gave it a go. Stephanie and I wondered mildly if there would be any noticing of differing body parts, but nothing was said by either party, so I assumed that was that.

It was, therefore, especially amusing to me last night when Ellie got out of her bath and proceeded to run up and down the hallway naked (again, a quite common event). Suddenly she stopped, grabbed her private parts in a rather Michael Jackson fashion and said, quite excitedly, "Mom, Jon can pee pee standing up!" And she proceeded to point her girly parts out, still holding on for dear life, mind you, and made lots of urinating noises while pretending to pee. I suppose I should be grateful she didn't *actually* pee, but I was too busy chuckling while explaining to her that, yes, Jon could pee standing up because he was a BOY - and boys have penises. But Ellie is a GIRL, and girls sit down to go potty. "I don' haff to sit down, mama, I a big girwl!" Ellie insisted. I emphasized several more times that girls sit on the potty every time.

But I'm just waiting for the inevitable. You see, when *I* was little, my mom caught me peeing into the bathroom trash can. Apparently I wanted to be "just like Daddy," and the toilet had just been too high. Like mother, like daughter? I'm counting on it. And gathering up the cleaning supplies.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"You Can't Trust Vampires - Trust Me"

Our New Moon party was a blast. Yes, it was. We had about 8 people there, nearly all of whom I believe were over 35. And we feasted on such delicacies as Emily's Muffins, Werewolf Kibble, Vegetarian Vampire Pizza, Rising Moon Beer, and various other red drinks and items that matched the mood. We hung posters and displayed the books. And everyone got their picture taken with Edward.

You know what? Sometimes it's fun to act like a teenager again. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day details of being a mom and wife, or of whatever other job you might hold, and forget that we used to know how to be goofy, used to know the rush of wondering if he liked you or didn't like you, used to think some of the biggest decisions revolved around clothing and hairstyles, and whether or not to call someone... Well, O.K., yeah, we thought about bigger issues than that, but I can remember when romance felt so all-consuming, and it's fun to revisit that, whether through book or film. One of the reasons I love the Twilight series.

Plus, it was just darn fun to have an all-women get together. It really was.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Do You Have A Teenage Daughter?"

Ellie and I headed to the Dayton Farmer's Market today on a quest for a dog bone shaped cookie cutter.  Here is the conversation that ensued at Kitchenwares and More:

Me: "Hiya! Do you have any dog bone shaped cookie cutters?"
Cute Young (Female) Clerk: "Why, yes, I happen to know that we do!"
Me, after selecting the cutter: "Oh, I'm so excited to find this. We're having a New Moon party tomorrow night, and I'm making Werewolve Bones."
Cute Young Clerk: "Really? Do you have a teenage daughter?"
Me, with a smirk: "Nope... I'm one of those, you know, Twi-Moms."
Cute Young Clerk, laughing: "Well, that's cool. So if you're making bones you must be on the side of the..."
Me, cutting her off: "Oh no. I'm for the vampire all the way. This is just equal representation."

Bwah ha ha! Yes, I am 38. And yes, I love the Twilight series and all that it entails. And NO, I do NOT have a teenage daughter (although I guess I'm old enough to, so I shouldn't take offense). But boy will Brett get a kick out of hearing he's not the only one who thinks it's only for teenage girls.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Mama, FiweFightews Came To Da Pawk!"

That's how Ellie greeted me just now after coming home from a morning with daddy. "Firefighters?" I asked, to which daddy chuckingly replied, "Yup, the firefighters came to the park. To rescue Ellie. Who was stuck in the swing."

Oh, my poor girl. She is so much like me, in temperament and, well, body size. She has a hearty appetite, just like me. And she is no delicate flower. While I try hard not to obsess about her size and pass on some of the body issues I learned, it's true she is chunky. I know it. She actually eats fairly well, just probably bigger portions than a preschooler needs. And, as her preschool teacher put it, "She's not prone to movement."

So apparently she wanted to ride in the kiddie swings at the park, which she's always loved. Brett got her in, but couldn't get her out. As she was swinging, her legs apparently moved farther down through the seat, and didn't want to come back up. Brett also thinks he probably put her in "backward," through the smaller holes of the seat. Still, he said he tried for 20 minutes to get her out. Other parents at the park tried to help. He finally got a groundskeeper to help haul over a picnic table on which Ellie could stand so that at least gravity wouldn't be such a problem. And a few minutes after that, the firefighters came, whom Brett had called. They worked with her and rescued her, and were very kind.

Ellie was obviously very excited about all of this, as it's the first thing she told me. Brett said he was just glad she wasn't old enough to be embarrassed. So am I. I hope she's never embarrassed, no matter what size she turns out to be. I hope no one ever makes fun of her, I hope she never feels too ashamed to try a chair, for fear it will break, never wonders if she's too big for the porch swing or the trampoline or the roller coaster ride or what have you. Never assumes people won't like her (or love her) because she's bigger than they are. I hope we continue to feed her healthy food and encourage her to be active and that she slims down. But even if she doesn't, I hope she's spared all the painful feelings I had growing up, and knows she's loved no matter what. But what hurts right now is realizing that probably won't happen. And I can't keep it from happening, although I would give anything to be able to do so. My darling girl.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Don't Getfor Me, Mom!

Ellie is my little spunky sunshine. You never quite know what she's going to do or say next - and you also never know if you're going to understand whatever the heck it is she's wanting to communicate. Lately she has taken to saying "getfor" and "gotfor" instead of "forget" and "forgot." Quite often throughout the day I'm now hearing, "Don't getfor me, mom!" "We gotfor Gwover, mom!" "Mama, I gotfor Tinkerbewl at pweschoowl!" It's making it that much harder to catch what she's saying the first time - but I have to admit it's darn cute! But I sure hope she doesn't extend this to other words, or I'll be done for! Or would that be fordone?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

TS and Gratitude

I'll be honest. Gratitude is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Tourette's Syndrome. I'm still angry my son has to deal with this, still baffled as to the best way to help him through life, still wondering what the future holds. However, this week I realized there is one big thing to which I owe TS a lot: diet. It is/was because of Jeff's struggles that I first started really looking at diet, first started learning about additives and questioning ingredients and just really thinking about what we were putting in our mouths. Sure, I'm not perfect now - I don't eat nearly as cleanly as I would like; I still crave fast food and chocolate and all that jazz. But without my son's struggles, I never would have heard of the Feingold diet, wouldn't have known gluten and casein might be big deals, wouldn't have guessed to trace aggressive behavior to red dye 40. Wouldn't have gone to the Breadbeckers seminar and learned about milling my own wheat and the vast health benefits one derives from that versus the dead flour used in commercial products. Wouldn't have searched out raw milk. And mostly certainly wouldn't have tried to eliminate artificial stuff from the diet. *I* am benefiting from these changes. My family is benefiting from these changes. And they wouldn't have happened if my son hadn't had struggles early on. So do I want him to have to live with Tourette's and Asperger's? Of course not. But am I grateful for the nudge to a much healthier food direction? Most definitely.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We have resorted to the M&M system to "help" Ellie get potty-trained. It's working better than having no reward, although the amount of underwear I'm still cleaning out testifies that so far it's far from fool-proof. The hardest thing for me, however, is that as I reward Ellie with M&M's, I've started rewarding myself. A few M&M's for mommy won't hurt, right? Only a) now I want them all the time, and b) they break our "no artificial anything" eating plan I'm supposed to be following. And they've made me rebellious on both fronts: I'm now trying to convince myself I can handle a little milk chocolate (previous binge experience shows me I can't), and that eating a little bit of artificial stuff isn't a problem (but the cravings it has set up and my subsequent trip through the Hardee's drive-thru yesterday reveals the truth).

I so wish I didn't have these food issues, this sugar and chocolate addiction, this inability to control my eating of certain things. But I do. Perhaps a small sign that I'm growing up a little bit is my willingness to admit it, AND to abstain from those things. So I've gotta give up the M&M's. At least until Easter.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Most people who know me know Facebook is one of my current biggest addictions. And yes, I use the word addiction, because I always seem to be on Facebook or talking about Facebook or imagining cute things to say on Facebook, etc. It's a time sucker, and I let it suck my time. I try to justify it by claiming at least it's better than being a heroin addict, and I suppose that's true, but lame. Hee hee.

Recently I told my mom she should make a fan page for her business on Facebook; I'd been trying to get her on FB for a while, but she has had no interest. But for the business, she was willing to give it a go, and I found out to make a business page, one must link it to a personal page, so voila, I got to create one for her. This evening I actually chatted with her through FB chat, AND watched her friend a zillion people, become a fan of numerous pages, and generally act silly. I don't know why this pleased me so much, but it did.

Would my life be better without Facebook? Possibly. I would almost certainly get more done around my home. I might even concede I'd probably pay more attention to my kids and husband. Maybe I'd get outside more. On the other hand, how fun it is to be able to take five or ten minutes here and there to check in with people all across the country - people I knew as a kid, or in college, or know now. I certainly know more about more people in my life than I *ever* would have pre-FB. For an at-home mom, FB affords a cheap escape from the day-to-day drudgery of laundry, dishes, playing Uno, dealing with sibling squabbles, negotiating chores and homework, driving the Taxi Van, and all those other mundane things that fill up my day.

So thank you, Facebook, for letting me connect to so many people. And for letting me chat with my mommy. That was a hoot.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today is my last day of being 37. 37 has been my favorite number for about as long as I can remember, so yes, I'm a bit sad that I will never again be 37. Not that being 38 or 39 or 40 will be terrible - it just won't be 37.

So I determined that today I will be in a fantastic mood and celebrate being 37. I always thought something amazing would happen this year. I mean, when I was 17 (my second favorite number), I graduated from high school and then spent four months living in Germany, only to return home because my mom was getting remarried. All big deals. When I was 27, I got married. Huge deal. So of course I assumed when I was 37, something earth-shattering and life-changing (in a good way) would occur.

It hasn't. It's been a pretty normal year - some ups, some downs. But nothing I can point at and say, "Yes! That is the fantastic event that marked my being 37!" I did get to travel to Iowa for my best college friend Jen's 40th birthday. That was awesome. I have dropped 20 pounds this year. That is awesome. I've been on a quest to read 100 books in 2010 and have already whizzed through about 30. That's pretty cool. But not legendary.

Maybe that's O.K. Maybe the wonder, the thrill, the point of being 37 is celebrating all that I have right now, not just events that happened this year. I have a wonderful husband who makes me feel safe and secure, is my best friend, is a fantastic dad, who I think is pretty foxy, and whom I love with all my heart. I have two children who, admittedly, often drive me crazy, but whom I also love fiercely and who surprise me every day. I have two loving cats, a nice house, cars that work, books a plenty to read, the time and freedom to read them and play on the internet and do fun things along side every day chores and obligations. I've got friends I enjoy being around, and who I think enjoy me. I'm in pretty good health, all things considered.

Yes, being 37 has been marvelous. But it's the little things that have made it great. And it's gratitude I feel today, for being able to see that those little things are actually Big Things, and for being happy and thankful for them.