Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can A Special Needs Child Make You A Better Parent?

Recently, I went on another tour for a private school that served special needs children. I always feel really hopeful when I see these schools because they have so many features that would help Logan succeed such as small class sizes, picture schedules, movement breaks, and smart boards. This last one I saw even offered yoga! Wow!

After being there for a while, I started thinking about how lucky the children of these schools were. They receive so much attention and they have their curriculum tailored to their specific challenges and strengths. I was sad when I thought about how the public schools couldn't offer as much as they did and then a crazy thought crossed my head. Please don't be mad at me. Here it is: Why can't typical children have this kind of education too? Wouldn't they benefit from picture schedules, more attention, and movement breaks too? It's a little unfair like the way the typical sibling gets less attention from the parents. It has to be done but still, it's a little sad.

When this thought came to my head, I started to remember what kind of parent I was before I realized Logan had special needs. In short, I was a real idiot. I still am sometimes.

I frequently compared my life with others; - a lifelong problem for me. Even before Logan was born, I had to have the best stroller and the best car seat. I even tried to find out what were the best diapers so that I could buy boxes of them before he was born. We couldn't afford to be so luxurious but I didn't care.

After he was born, there was even more comparing but this time it was about Logan. How many ounces of formula does your baby drink? How long did you breastfeed? How long are his naps? What time does he go to sleep at night? How long did it take you to potty-train?

As Logan grew up, I started worrying about his speech and behavior but never picked up a book or looked on the internet to learn more. Rather, I focused more on whether I should buy shoes from the Gap or if I should just cough up the money and buy the Keens that I loved.

After Logan was evaluated, everything changed. I read The Out-of-Sync Child cover to cover. I even read The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun. I wrote out all the sensory exercises on big notecards and taped them to my wall. I read many books on discipline too and even went for ADHD parent training with my husband.

Why did my children have to have special needs for me to wake up and focus on parenting them? Sometimes, I think these kids were born to me so that I would finally stop comparing my life to others. That was what I was thinking when I visited these private special ed schools. They were so beautiful and I would do anything to get him enrolled into them but I feel for all the children - the kids who don't get into private school and even the kids who don't need to go to private school. I wish all kids could have movement breaks, communication notebooks that go home everyday in the backpack, and maybe even some yoga too! I can't imagine any parent of a child, special needs or typical, saying no to that.

(Pictured: My boys in their movement breaks. They needs lots of them. That $40 trampoline was money well spent.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ADHD Meds Help Moms with Parenting

I've been wondering how many of our blog's visitors have ADHD or Sensory Processing Disorder. A majority of those who responded to our poll said that they did have it and few even said that their spouse did too.

Now a study is out in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that says drugs like Ritalin can help mothers who have ADHD parent better. I always joke that I have ADHD and here I am taking anti-anxiety and anti-depressants. Am I taking the wrong meds or should I be adding another little pill to my cocktail? Please God No! Well, I won't rule out anything. I have been wanting to change my meds. This stuff makes me tired. I need to be calm but I need my energy too especially with these boys. I really have to try yoga. What is holding me back? I know, meds are easier and faster. Yoga takes time and I don't even have a yoga mat so of course I can't start until I get one, right?

The study says that the ADHD drugs could help with poor parenting tactics such as inconsistent discipline and the use of corporal punishment. I think it's amazing that an ADHD drug can actually help you with inconsistent parenting. Anyway, this really begs the question, if you are a special needs mom, do you have special needs too or have become someone with special needs because of the stress? Do you use medication? And if so, find it helpful? Maybe it's time to start a new poll.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Greedy Mom Changes Her Ways

Many years ago, my mother paid a "very reputable" fortune teller to tell us about my future. He told me that I would marry "internationally" which in Korean means you won't marry a Korean person. He also told me that I had a lot of yokshim which in English means "greed."

I'm not big on fortune tellers but I think this man might have been right about me. First, I didn't marry a Korean man. I married a Chinese American man although it can be argued that we are both American and therefore it was not an "international" marriage but more importantly.....and I'm sorry to admit this but I think I am really greedy.

Why do I say this today? Because I finally admitted to myself that I had lost my library book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. Believe it or not, I own The Secret on DVD at home but I just like the book version better so I took it out of the library along with other books that I don't even read.

Maybe because I'm broke, I have found a way to be greedy by taking out books for free. I think I've always been this way, buying things that I don't really need but think I need or "should have." For example, I have unopened boxes of quinoa and rice cakes for Chinese sizzling soup that I wanted to make for the boys but never did. At the same time, I will take months or years to buy myself new socks and jeans, telling myself I need to save money. I think I am not only greedy, I am stupid too.

The book costs $14 dollars on Amazon but the library rules say I must pay $32 dollars. I can see my husband cringe as I write this. Hopefully, he'll miss this post. He was so nice today. After he put Logan to bed, he stopped me while I was doing the dishes and offered to finish up. I felt really bad because of the book (I didn't tell him) but I did let him finish up because I hadn't showered in two days.

I decided to take this moment of shame as a lesson. I am not only going to take out less library books, I am going to stop buying GFCF products that I won't use. I am also going to clean up and organize more and stop bitching about the fact that I'm always cooking and picking up stuff off the floor and therefore have no time to organize. One day, I'll just organize instead of cooking dinner or washing dishes or whatever. I had already learned a little bit about this through Oprah but I didn't finish the job. This time, I'm really going to work hard on being less greedy and more organized. Perhaps I may even find that book before it's due!

(Top picture: See how much counter space I have? It's pathetic.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Help Please! Husband in Denial!

Recently I received an email from Liz, a mother of two from New York who has been very concerned about her first grader whom she is currently having evaluated for ADHD. Things could be moving more smoothly but she just can't get on the same page as her husband. Here is an excerpt of her email to me. Many of us have been in her shoes.

“ ... In my heart of hearts, I feel that it is a neurological issue that we will need to address at some point with medication. We aren't there quite there yet, but it's coming. My husband and I disagree on putting him on medication and it has caused many recent late night arguments. While I understand some of his points, what frustrates me the most, is that my husband is complete denial. He tries to make it seem that our son is perfectly fine and that everyone else is the problem! It has put a tremendous strain on our marriage recently.....”

There are few things more frustrating than a spouse's denial. What do you do? Do you wait until he comes around? Do you go behind his back and see a specialist anyway and spend the family money doing it? Do you make him his favorite dinner and then try to soften him up to agree with you? And how do you keep yourself from throwing things at him while he lets your child continue to suffer by doing nothing?

I admit, I had my own period of denial but I got over it fast enough. However, my husband's denial lasted longer than mine and it frustrated me to no end. Nevertheless, I refused to move forward until we were on the same page and it did cost Logan some lost time in special ed school and gave me huge stress because I had to advocate and try to expedite his evaluation and placement process. I can't say I did the right thing by waiting for a consensus between us. I'm just glad he finally came around.

Do you have any advice for Liz? We really need your thoughtful suggestions to help get Liz's husband out of denial and on the same page. Whether you've been in this situation or not, I'm sure you can send her some words of encouragement and advice.

(Pictured above: Hang on Liz. Things will get better. My husband, the man you see above used to think that psychologists were only out to take your money and now here he is chatting with Spencer's ABA therapist, Natalia Cardenas, after watching an ABA session for the first time. I think he was really blown away by what she was able to make Spencer do.)

Hope you can send some wisdom and encouragement for Liz. Your kindness would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Exclusive Interview: World's Worst GF Baker

Today, Can Mom Be Calm was able to obtain an exclusive interview with the worst GFCF baker in the world, Jennifer Choi. She achieved this status after baking her second GFCF cake (pictured) which was very much like first GFCF cake - a disaster.

Q: Did it taste as bad as it looks?

JC: Oh, yes. In fact, when my brother bit into it, the first thing he asked was, "Why is this so wet?" I guess I didn't fully bake it.

Q: Which recipe did you botch up?

JC: Jim Ritchie's recipes are very easy but I still managed to screw it up.

Q: Why does your icing look like it's melting?

JC: I don't know. I wish someone would tell me. I tried to modify a recipe from but it didn't go so well. The good thing about that icing is that I was able to use corn-free confectioner's sugar from Trader Joe's. Spencer is corn-free.

Q: What happened to the writing? It looks like a child did it.

JC: I don't know that either. At first it was going okay but then the icing kept coming out of everywhere except the tip. I guess I don't know how to work with an icing bag. I changed the tip hoping that would help (note "Spencer") but that didn't help at all.

Q: Did anyone eat it?

JC: Spencer and Logan loved it. They had two slices each. I can't say the same for the adults. My brother's fiance finished her slice but I think she was taking pity on me. My brother ate almost all of his slice except for the part that was basically uncooked dough. My husband made no comments and just took two bites. He didn't even give me a pat on the back for trying. Needless to say, I didn't like him very much today.

Q: Will you ever bake again?

JC: As long as my kids are GFCF, I will continue to bake my disasters. Gluten free bakeries are expensive and inevitably they use an ingredient or two that my kids are not allowed to have. My soon-to-be sister-in-law had a great idea. Why not ask them to bake it without those ingredients? What a great idea! I hope they can do it because I am not sure if I can take much more embarrassment.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sunshine and Rain: Neuropsych Results

Friday was an extremely important day. We were having our final meeting with our evaluator from The Learning Center in Douglaston, NY which is part of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. I chose to do a private evaluation because I knew that someone would have to be thorough with a kid like Logan and didn't trust just anyone to do it. I called a million places and was so happy to find this center. I was also able to pay on a sliding scale and they did everything for Logan. They even visited his school and attended a progress meeting with all his teachers and therapists to discuss what kind of kindergarten placement he should have next year. (Pictured: Gayle Herman, our very patient and intuitive evaluator talks to Kai.)

I don't know where you live but in New York City, the process of putting your special needs child in kindergarten can be extremely stressful. I honestly believe this process was the tipping point that set off my panic attacks. Before this, I had no history of panic attacks.

Anyway, here's the sunshine: Logan's test results showed that he's above average in intelligence. He had great pre-reading and math skills. We kind of thought he was a quick thinker but it was nice to have a professional tell us the same thing.

Now the rain: he's got a substantial amount of hyperactivity and impulsivity that gets in the way of a lot he tries to do and what is expected of him.

So what does this mean? What kind of placement does he belong in next year? While being careful and respectful, we were told a couple of possibilities.

1. Medicate him: He is a classic ADHD case and a great candidate for meds. So if we medicated him now when the school staff knows him so well as a non-medicated Logan, we can see if a medicated Logan can fit into a CTT class where a large (22+) class of typical and special ed children would learn from both a special ed teacher and general ed teacher. This type of class would give Logan a chance to interact with and model typical kids. I saw such a class and loved it but knew the size would overstimulate Logan. For now, meds would be the only ticket into this kind of class.

2. Don't do meds and find him a small size class that could give him more attention. The problem with this option is that in the public schools, the smaller the class, the lower the academic level and he needs extra attention but a challenging academic level. I had already visited a class of 12 children, the highest academic level for special ed kids, in a public school and immediately felt it wasn't right for Logan. Private schools can offer smaller class sizes and challenging academics but that's a whole other process.

Even though I complain about Kai, it's uncanny how we think alike sometimes. Both of us just looked at each other and said "Let's medicate. Let's do it! Let's see if he can get into that CTT class!" ROAR!

After we left the meeting, the roaring stopped, especially after we met our social worker from Theracare. I purposely scheduled her visit on the day that we would get all these news and she would be able to talk to both Kai and I together. Since day one, our social worker, who prefers to be unnamed in this blog, has been our greatest advisor. She helps us make great decisions for our family.

Anyway, it's amazing how fast you can change your mind once you have some time to digest a piece of important news. Here's what we thought:

1. If we medicated him, there would be no way to know if the DAN! treatments were working. We had already spent thousands of dollars along with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. (Many of which were mine!!!!!) I wasn't ready to throw all of that away.

2. He's still so young to medicate.

3. It's not like we can't put in a small class next year and then medicate him after the teachers get to know him and then possibly try to move him into a CTT class if there is a space. This could mean that Logan won't have a smooth first year in "big" school. That makes me a little sad.

Kai and I must have talked about it ten more times since then but in the end we decided to hold off on medication and hope that he gets a great placement next year. We've already applied to a couple of private schools too. We also decided that it was time to talk to a lawyer. Hooray, more bills to pay! I should celebrate this fantastic decision with 3 or 4 glasses of Shiraz! Because only Shiraz can quell the excitement of those bills to come. Or perhaps, maybe I'll just go into Logan's bedroom now (he's sleeping) and whisper in his ear that I'm going to get him the best bulldog lawyer I can afford. Then I'll have me some Shiraz.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Will Not Define Myself By My Fears: A Bread Recipe

A month after we first went GFCF, Logan started demanding bread. I happened to have the Food for Life brand in the house but never gave it to him because I thought it didn't taste good and so it would depress him more. But he kept demanding it so I gave him a slice and he gobbled it up really fast. I was so relieved.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Especially for an ADHDer who gets sick of everything, so of course, he became sick of the Food for Life brand. His diet restricted him from soy, corn, eggs, and milk too so all the other store-bought brands were off-limits.

It was time to make my own bread. I was REALLY scared to do it. Do you ever define yourself by your fears? One of the ways I defined myself was by saying, I can't bake. I also say that I never drive in the city. You may know what I mean if you've ever driven in Manhattan. But seriously, what a bad habit. You really start to believe you are unable to do it.

One day, I found a recipe on for white sandwich bread and just decided to swallow those fears and give my sons some freshly baked bread. After a couple of hours, it was done. I had put in too much milk and let it rise too much and out came this humongous balloon. I also touched it right after it came out of the oven because I thought I needed one more side to be oiled. That was a dumb move because the side I touched caved in. It ended up being really deformed.

I still gave it to my kids. For Spencer who still liked soft foods, I heated it up in hemp milk and added a little agave nectar and salt to turn it into some kind of bread pudding. He loved it. For Logan, he loved it with just a bit of salt or with jelly. Now I have one less fear by which to define myself. I only have 386 more to go. Anyway, this bread recipe is no longer on that site (I think) and a couple of people have asked me for it so here it is.

White Sandwich Bread

1 ½ cups rice flour
1 ½ cups tapioca starch
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 large egg ( I use a flax egg- Jim Ritchie's recipe)
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 warm milk substitute
vegetable oil or melted margarine for brushing on the top
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine rice flour, tapioca starch, sugar, yeast, xanthan, and salt in a heavy duty mixer.
  3. Mix in egg, oil, vinegar, and milk sub (I've used rice and hemp milk). Beat on high speed for 3 minutes to increase air volume in the dough. (In case you are as ignorant as me, please use the dough hooks. If you don't you will be sorry)
  4. Spoon dough into an oil sprayed 8 X4 in loaf pan. (I don't use sprays because of the soy lecithin, and just oil it with my hands)
  5. Let rise on top of warm oven for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
  6. Brush the top of the loaf with vegetable oil ( I use canola) (Don’t skip this step with this recipe or the crust will be dry and chalky). Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes

    Note: If not eaten within 24 hours, bread may be sliced and frozen. Remove one slice at a time from freezer as needed. Defrost frozen bread (in microwave) before toasting.

My note: I substitute the white rice flour with brown rice flour (loaf pictured above), millet flour, and sorghum flour. I think the latter two have a little bit more protein and it's also nice to give different flavors. (Pictured at top is a slice of sorghum bread. My kids go through 5 loaves a month.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is Blogging Bad for Me?

I think I know why I have been needing more Klonopin lately.

I haven't been sleeping enough. I work on my blog, writing the post, fixing the grammar, checking the spelling, choosing the pictures, trimming them, adjusting the brightness.... it goes on forever. I have so much fun, especially if I receive an email from a reader.

Of course, adding to the fun is a glass of wine sitting not too far away from my computer although recently, I've been afraid that I am drinking too much. My lips are always dry from the anti-depressants so they easily turn purple even after a couple of sips and then I catch a glimpse of myself the mirror and feel like an alcoholic.

So now I have switched to Korean mugwort (ssuk) tea after stopping at one glass of wine. Mugwort is good for digestion and for certain gynecological issues says my acupuncturist and it has been used in Korea for thousands of years. I love it. Email me if you want help getting it.

Anyway, is my "blogaholism" a sign that I don't have a life and that I haven't really made any progress since my diagnosis? I have a bunch of books that I have taken out from the library (below) but I haven't really read any of them except a bit of the third one:
  1. Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell (pictured)
  2. Coping with Anxiety by Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano
  3. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  4. The Secret by Rhonda Bryne (I currently can not find this book anywhere in my house! Another ADHD sign!)
I knew something was wrong yesterday when I passed out after eating lunch (Spencer was napping) and I woke up to my apartment buzzer. My ABA therapist had buzzed three times and I didn't even hear her. Spencer was crying too. I guess he had woken up and I didn't get him. I must have been out cold. I usually wake up after I hear just a whimper. Klonopin can be really powerful especially when you aren't sleeping enough.

I'm supposed to be exercising, relaxing, reading a good book and sleeping early because Spencer wakes up at 5 or 530 am every morning. I barely do any of these things and I had promised myself that I would change my old ways after I was diagnosed with anxiety but it seems I am still on the wrong track. This week, I am really going to try to do one or some of those things on that list except on Thursday night when Grey's Anatomy is on. That is when I forget my no-carb diet and have a GFCF cookie with a glass of milk.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Logan Can Have Casein!

Yes, it's true and I am so incredibly happy, I can hardly contain myself.

At our DAN! doctor's office, they perform an allergy test where an allergen is injected into the skin, a wheal forms, they measure it, and they repeat the injections until the can figure out his "endpoint" to the substance. We already did it for environmental allergens of which he had tons. They developed a spray which is supposed to neutralize his allergies. I spray his nose twice daily.

Today, we did the same test for foods!!!!!! I was so excited. I was praying that he could have casein and soy. Especially soy!!!!! I need to give my kids soy sauce, I'm Korean! Well, I got part of my wish, Logan's results said he was mildly sensitive to dairy and corn and moderately sensitive to soy. This means he can have a little corn or dairy each week. On the way home, I told Logan that the doctor said he could now have a little cheese and yogurt and he kind of looked at me in disbelief but about two minutes later, he started to beg for the cheese. (Pictured: Trader Joe's Cheddar Cheese Sticks, the whole 5 grams of protein was devoured in 60 seconds. I'm also really greedy, I made him eat five baby carrots before giving him the cheese.)

For wheat, he came out to be very allergic. That is why we were only able to test for four foods because testing for wheat took so long. I can't wait to go back and test for more. We have managed to live without gluten for a while now. Logan is very good about his restrictions. I think it makes him feel special.

More good news: my doctor kind of gave in and said that I can cheat a little and give the kids the soy-free MSG dim sum food once a week. He also gave me something to help them detox. Logan is also allowed to have a little something with soy sauce (the kind with gluten the Chinese use) but then he is not allowed to have cheese on the same day. This means I can give Logan a little Chow Ho Fun! I think he'll really like that but I'll have to be careful because Spencer wants everything that Logan eats. I actually made Logan hide while he ate the cheese. Maybe I won't let him have the Chow Fun at all. I don't care! I am so happy today. I had to take a Klonopin because I was so excited. Am I crazy or what?

Logan and Spencer, Dare to Dream!

I know this is off-topic of anxiety and special needs children but I just want to take the opportunity to celebrate the birth of the late great Martin Luther King Jr. As an Asian American and a parent of Asian American children that also happen to have special needs, I am extremely thankful to him and all those who have paved the way for so many of us to be judged not by what we look like but the content of our character.

When Logan was born, I used to send out emails to friends with a picture of Logan and say "Take a look at the first Asian American president of the United States." Now, looking at an ADHD diagnosis, I think about the high divorce rate, the high risk of substance abuse, the high rate of car accidents and frequent job changes. Does this mean President is out of the question? Hmmmmm.

But today and tomorrow, I feel so grateful for all that we have because of Dr. King's sacrifices and so extremely hopeful for my children's individual futures when I think President-elect Obama, his background, his challenges, and his character. That really gets me thinking, my DAN! doctor could fix his hyperactivity, his teachers could teach him how to read and how to behave, his therapists could teach him how to hold a pencil but it'll be up to me and Kai to shape his character. I really have to remember that.

Someone once said after Obama was elected, "There are no more excuses." I guess there is not. We have to believe that anything is possible for us and our children.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why Must I Be So Dramatic?

Last week, I was doing really well, meaning, I didn't have to take Klonopin at all. This week wasn't the same. I'm not sure why.

Some of you may think that I need to see a therapist. I totally agree with you. I even have one picked out. Someone close by with late hours so that I can see him after I put the kids to bed. Unfortunately, the kids and their huge health insurance deductibles and vitamin bills from this month's DAN! visits will set us back a lot so my therapy will have to wait until we recover from those bills. I know it's sad but I still have my acupuncturist/instant-relaxation-goddess treatments every week.

Anyway, I noticed something about myself today. It was kind of awful and probably the reason I'm on medication. On Monday, Logan will have a food allergy test at my DAN! doctor's office that requires multiple deep skin pricks. I am supposed to put a prescription numbing cream on him one hour before he gets the procedure but I never got the script for it. I had a month to call the doctor for it but of course, I just remembered today, Saturday, at 5 PM. I swear, these are the times I feel like I have ADHD too. His appointment is at 8:30 AM on Monday so I wouldn't have time to get the script before the appointment and then my plans to get important things done during a school holiday would be ruined. I was so proud to have made those appointments. Spencer's first DAN! visit was supposed to be that day too.

My DAN! doctor is not the type of doctor that you can page after hours so I thought I was totally screwed. But then, I thought, if I paged my pediatrician who I keep well-informed with what I'm doing with my DAN!, maybe she'd call in the prescription. I became a freak, I called both my pharmacy and my pediatrician's answering service at the same time. Basically, I had two phones on my face, just like the old days when I was a publicist.

When she called, I apologized about about 20 times. I'm Asian American, some of us apologize a lot out of habit. I know that my pediatrician doesn't have to call in the prescription and I bet most of them would not but she said she'd do it with that easygoing manner that she usually has. She actually did it immediately even though her office is open tomorrow morning (on a Sunday, God bless her). I love this doctor. It took a long time to find a doctor who would really understand my special needs children and gave me the respect and freedom to try alternative therapies.

Back to the point: What the hell is wrong with me? Must I freak out at every problem? Is it possible to be calm when faced with a problem and fix it while you are calm?

You see that picture up there? That is what I look like when I have a "situation" when it comes to my kids but I also pace around the house incessantly and clean or do something semi-productive. All I know is that I am still far away from my goal: Can Mom Be Calm?

I'll end on a positive note. After my pediatrician said she'd call in the script, I was so relieved, I had all this excess energy or anxiety that I kept blabbing to my husband how lucky we were and he was like, "I get it, you can let it go now." i.e. "Shut up, already." Later, though, he did say, "That was good thinking Jenn." Ohmigosh, was that a compliment? from Kai? Maybe it was his way of shutting me up or maybe my social worker was right, he is trying.

We Broke 500!

It's been only four weeks since I started Can Mom Be Calm and over 500 visitors have come to visit this site. I think the high (may I say high?) number may largely be due to the write-up from the ADDitude Parenting Blog post about us but I just wanted to say thank you so much for visiting. I really hope you find this site interesting and possibly even helpful. Also, I urge you to write a comment about how it can be improved or what topics can be discussed. Feel free to be anonymous (or not) and yell at me about how crappy you think this blog is. I want to hear that too.

Anyway, thanks again for dropping by and checking out this blog and don't forget to tell us about your favorite Special Needs Mom/Dad, deadline 1/28/09 at 11:59 PM. Can't wait to do that post!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Who's Admiring Who? Seriously!

One of my "clinic friends" (moms I meet at Logan's clinic where he gets OT), Manuela, wrote in my blog the other day. She told me that she admired me in the comment box on my post about strengthening marriages and I just about cried.

Who the hell would admire me? I'm the one who broke down and went to the ER, remember? I'm still on the meds too. I obviously can not handle the hard stuff. Manuela is someone who moves the hard stuff out of her way so she can go where she needs to go.

She had her first child, Gabriel, before she could finish college and then later she found out he was diagnosed with PDD. With the right school and her help, he overcame that diagnosis. Gabriel also has a little sister, Hannah, who is diagnosed with autism. Manuela had to quit her job to make sure the kids got the care they needed and do they ever.

Manuela is the kind of mom who pays attention when her kids get therapy and works hard administering even more therapy to them after they've finished school. On top of her busy schedule, she is going back to school, to become, of all things, an ABA therapist. She's got such a natural gift for it that she has even been invited to apply for a job at the agency that handled her daughter's case. All this and she's only 26 years old. When I was 26, I was still living at home and worked very hard at finding out which were the best bars in the city.

I also think she's wonderful because sometimes I can be a real chicken at my CPSE and Early Intervention meetings - you know, the meetings where they tell you how many services your child will or won't get. Manuela and other friends at the clinic sat me down and coached me on how to ask for what I want. She even offered to come with me. I barely knew her name then and she actually offered to come and advocate for me. What a tremendous heart she has but I see that kind of generosity in a lot of parents with special needs children, don't you? She is one of the moms that really inspired me to start the Special Needs Parent of the Month Post.
(Pictured above: Manuela with her son Gabriel. Below: Manuela with her daughter Hannah)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Paying Your Child to Behave

How wrong is this? I don't know but I had to try it even if my husband disagreed.

My social worker said it wasn't a bad idea and I had been waiting to talk to my husband about it before implementing it. I don't know about you but after the kids go to sleep, my husband and I go into another zone. We finally feel like we have time to ourselves (not as a couple), and we don't talk to each other except to say, "Do you mind if I watch Grey's Anatomy?" Actually, I say that. He barely talks to me except to say how the economy is unbelievably miserable. He knows I'm clueless about that stuff.

Anyway, I finally did ask my husband about it and he was against the idea. I don't remember his reason but I understand why anyone would be against it. My husband grew up very poor in a two room apartment in Chinatown with three other siblings. Giving money for good behavior is like super-spoiling a child in many family philosophies. I used to think the same way.
I have to give Logan his B12 shots three times a week. Giving them while he's asleep is not an option. He wakes up and fights so I figured it would be better and safer if he fights while he's awake. However, he would just have a hysterical fit before the shot so finally I just got the piggy bank that we never use, took out a stack of quarters and said, "Logan, you can have two quarters if you stay still for the shot but only if you stay still. Then we can take your quarters to Target and buy a toy."

Hysteria gone. Shot administered in 5 seconds.

I started to talk to him about how many quarters he should get for each deed. It was apparent that he knew which areas he had trouble with when he suggested that he get quarters for changing into his clothes in the morning. He also floored me when he said, "Mommy, can I get two quarters if I don't come to the door at bedtime?" At night, Logan's bedroom door looks like a malfunctioning cuckoo clock. He doesn't know how to fall asleep sometimes. Uncle John is buying him a weighted blanket for his birthday.

We then invited Daddy to come and help us determine how many quarters Logan should get for each deed and wrote it down on a chart. I know it was an ambush but those shots were killing me and I had to do something. Sorry Honey, if you are reading this, I promise I will try really hard never to ambush you again but sometimes, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

Six weeks later, we are still doing the quarters and while it has not been magical, it has definitely helped. The more consistent we are about it, the better it works. All I can tell you is that toothbrushing and giving shots are so much easier now and he's better at not coming to the door at night. He also responds to me taking away quarters for bad behavior. He was really mad when I did it and I was so happy that he cared. We had tried the token system after reading this great book, Your Defiant Child, but he never cared to lose tokens.

(Pictured: Our "quarters chart" which is mostly written in pictures. The word "prize" means that he gets a prize in school for good behavior. This is our way of carrying over good school behavior into the home. The others should look self-explanatory. "Room Time" is for time spent in his room alone and not making a mess and letting Mommy do work. The last two are for staying quiet when Mommy is on the phone or when Mommy is talking to Daddy.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ADDitude Blog Writes About Can Mom Be Calm

I must confess to you that I was never really into blogging before I joined the blog world myself. When I worked in public relations, I used to read Gawker and that was about it. It's funny because they would make fun of stories that I pitched about ADHD and now ADHD is a part of my life.

I was curious about other ADHD parenting blogs and came across Kay Marner's very candid and informative blog about raising her child with special needs. We connected over her post about the importance of taking care of oneself despite the high demands of raising a special needs child. She then read Can Mom Be Calm and wrote about this blog in her post today.

Thank you Kay. I wish you best of luck with your family and especially with your health. May we all take better care of ourselves in 2009!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tell Us About An Inspiring Special Needs Mom/Dad

I worked as a hospital publicist for 7 years putting doctors up on pedestals and heralding their genius. Thus, when it came to my children's healthcare, I never questioned them even when my boys' behavior was worsening despite my growing concerns.

One day, my friend Lauren said regarding her son with special needs, "I've been to a lot of doctors but I end up getting the best advice from other parents." That's now true for me too. Spencer used to have terrible feeding issues and none of the doctors or therapists he saw ever suggested seeing an allergist. Of course it was a parent that did and Spencer turned out to be allergic to wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, beans, peanuts, and legumes. Gee, could that be why he wouldn't eat?????

I totally depend on my special needs mom friends for advice, friendship, and courage. If you know of a mom or dad with a special needs child that really inspires you or does something that can teach people how to raise their children better or live their lives better, then can you send me a little something about them? I'd like to highlight them in a Special Needs Mommy (or Daddy) of the Month post for February.

I'm so excited about this project because if it weren't for my special needs mom friends, I would still be depressed, lost, sick, and my kids would probably not be enjoying all the great services and education they have now.

I really hope you'll submit something about someone you know. Please keep it under 300 words. You can go to my profile page and email your submission to me. Since I have no editorial board, judging will be done solely by me but hopefully by a group later on if this project does well. Submissions will not be returned and will be considered for possible future feature posts. Additionally, the featured parent will be interviewed and should be willing to provide a picture. Deadline for February's post is January 28th Wednesday 11:59 PM.

To all my special needs mom friends, thank you so much. You give me and my family hope everyday.

Tips: Things to mention in your submission:
1. What are the children's challenges and any other family challenges?
2. Did the family suffer something traumatic?
3. How did the parent overcome the challenges?
4. Is there anything the parent does or did that could inspire or teach other parents?

P.S. is not commercial. There are no ads, just my words. I'm happy that it's been an interesting place to visit. In just a little over three weeks, we've had over 200 visitors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Power of Positive Thinking

Four days ago, I posted a plea asking you to send positive thoughts and/or prayers so that Spencer can get his occupational therapist. I had been watching his behavior get rapidly get worse with sensory cravings.

Today, I got a phone call from Linda, my service coordinator who had been working non-stop for two months to find him an OT. She said that we finally got one and at a time that was really convenient. For those of you who sent us those good vibes, thank you!! I know some of you are skeptical about my positive thoughts/prayers thing but ever since I read The Secret, I do find that using positive thinking has been very helpful to me. I heard about The Secret through the Oprah Show so I figured it couldn't be too kooky. I learned a lot of good things from the Oprah Show like getting rid of my clutter and breaking up with abusive boyfriends.

Anyway, I also started brushing and massaging Spencer 2-3 times a day since Thursday and his therapists noticed a change in behavior after I did that. I'm still so amazed how that little plastic brush could help calm him down. How did anyone ever think of that?

(Pictured: Katie Cawein, Spencer's afternoon ABA therapist working with him today. He really paid attention and was able to easily be redirected at all his therapies today. Could it really have been my brushing and massaging that made the difference? I have such little faith, don't I? I have to work on that.)

Forgot My Underwear

Yesterday, I went swimming which means that I exercised for the first time in 5 years. Actually, that is not true. I did exercise twice in November at home but I don't think that should count.

You may have guessed this already. I am overweight. I am 5'4" and weigh 153 lbs. My BMI is 26.3 which puts me smack in the middle of the overweight column. I actually lost 7 lbs. in the last three weeks because I'm on a low-carb diet now. It's wierd because usually this diet works fast with me but this time it is very slow. Maybe it's because I occasionally treat myself to one of the GFCF cookies that I bake for the kids

While I was swimming, I thought a lot about how I've changed since I got married. I remember the days that I used to wear make-up and not just any make-up. I wore Estee Lauder, Lancome (my favorite), Guerlain, Kiehls, .. Every morning I put on foundation, concealers, green concealer to hide redness (popular with East Asians), multi-colored ball powder finish with my big fat powder brush, lipstick liner, lipstick, liquid eyeliner, mascara with my favorite Shu Uemura eyelash curler, and eyebrow liner. I even put blush under my chin to make my double chin look less obvious. (Pictured above: me in my twenties. I was never very thin but I did take care of myself then.)

You should have seen me at night too when I had my routine of removing all that make-up. I used the best cleansers and followed that up with my favorite Princess Borghese mud mask. I also exfoliated regularly and used my favorite Lancome or Kiehls moisturizer.

Fast forward ten years and I'm rushing to the pool with only a towel and my bathing suit under my clothes. I've brought no shampoo, no soap, no lotion, no face lotion, and no slippers to protect me from the unfriendly germs lurking in the shower that I must take to get that chlorine off my skin ASAP. What's more, I realized as I was changing back into my clothes that I left my underwear at home! Did I also mention that even though I have tons of disposable contact lenses at home but I didn't even think to bring them so I swam blind the whole time.

My point is that while it was exhilarating to get away from the kids and finally get some exercise, I was not doing what was most important in trying to take care of myself. That is, first I have to think about what I need and make thinking like this an instinctual habit. I was so busy trying to get out of the house and get "my chance" to do something for me, I didn't even think about what I needed to have a good time. I even forgot my underwear. Could I be more lame?

My morning routines used to be about making me look and feel good and now, I can barely get my teeth brushed as I'm hurrying to get Logan changed, fed, take his vitamins and nose spray before his school bus comes and then change and feed Spencer before his ABA therapist comes. On some days, I notice that it's 3 PM and that my teeth feel yukky and then I realize that I hadn't brushed my teeth that morning - again. How did I get here? I can't always blame my children even if they do have severe ADHD. All I know is that change is hard and it's a process. I'll let you know how it goes because I'm really going to try to at least wash my face in the morning.

I do have one good thing to say about today. My husband saw me in my bathing suit and asked, "Hey, that still fits you?" (It's one of those slimming suits- HA!) I know that what he said sounds a little insensitive but he said it while looking at me with a smile. I am hoping that what he really meant to say is that I still look good in that bathing suit. Sometimes, men speak a different language, right? (Pictured: me today at BMI 26.3 in my SAHM uniform with my lazy SAHM hairstyle. I like the hair but I think I should spice up my uniform and bring down that BMI to 22.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why are Haircuts a Sensory Nightmare?

I really dreaded this day for a long time. When Logan turned 1, we got him his first haircut at one of those fancy kid salons. He cried and fought the whole time and we couldn't even finish. It cost us a small fortune too. There were cars to sit in, videos to watch, toys to play with but Logan didn't see any of that. He was just terrified. (Pictured: Logan at 12 months)

Now Spencer is almost 2 and has never gotten a professional haircut. I have always cut his hair while he was in the bathtub because I knew he would likely have a fit of terror at a salon. However, his hair was growing too long and he now had more hair which meant that I could no longer cover up all the mistakes I made whenever I cut his hair.

It was time to bite the bullet. This time we didn't take Spencer to a fancy kid salon which we knew would be a total waste of money. Instead, we took him to a neighborhood salon run by Chinese immigrants with bubble gum pink walls and fake flowers hanging everywhere. We knew the hairdresser was nice. That was all that mattered. I had hoped that since Spencer was older now, he would do well but boy was I wrong! Spencer used all his might to try to run away and he cried so hard that his nose was non-stop running and he was even drooling too!

To this day, it amazes me that this is actually a sensory issue. What is it about a haircut or washing hair that terrifies them so much? And what can help them with this issue?

Logan finally started cooperating by the time he was 4. It took that long. Hopefully Spencer will get the hang of it sooner. Maybe the new OT can help. We're still praying that the best OT of his life will finally come and take over his case any minute now.
(Pictured: Spencer's traumatic haircut today)

Toddler Time-Outs

I remember when Logan was two and I was having a really hard time handling him. My pediatrician kept saying he was just being a boy and that it was my fault for not disciplining him. She told me to buy this really lame book called Toddler Taming and it did nothing for us except to make me feel more like a failure.

Now, we have Spencer who will be two in a couple of weeks and already, he is turning into Logan #2. So today, I decided that the only way he'll sit in Time Out is if I strap him into a portable high chair that is placed on the floor. Does this sound like a bad idea? I know the point is to make him stay there on his own but many times, he'll just roll around and lie on the floor!

So I'm trying this for this week to see what happens. I've read 1-2-3 Magic but I wonder if any ADHD toddler was ever able to stay in Time Out. It took us years to get Logan to do Time Out correctly. Hopefully Spencer will learn faster. The one great thing is that Spencer sees Logan do Time Out all the time and knows what is appropriate. Sometimes, he does a "sympathy time out" and just hangs out in his own time out spot until Logan gets out.

Friday, January 9, 2009

When Mom Has ADHD

Today was kind of shitty. Can I say this word? I promise to keep my blog clean but really today really was.

I was going to make my son's GFCF cupcakes this morning for his school birthday party during Spencer's ABA session but I couldn't find my unbleached recycled cupcake liners. My sister-in-law and babysitter in their extreme kindness like to rearrange my totally disorganized kitchen when they babysit. After looking for 30 minutes, I gave up and decided to just go buy more. Unfortunately, in my neighborhood, I have to get the liners that aren't as toxin-free. Not the end of the world, I thought. It's my fault for being so disorganized.

I didn't mind going out. Spencer needed a nap and sleeps longer in the stroller anyway. I need him to sleep longer today because I think he gave me his cold so I needed the extra rest. However, as soon as I got home, he started coughing and woke himself up so I had about 10 minutes time to myself.

I started on the cupcakes and worried the whole time I was making them. It's only my second time making cupcakes. Anyway, I made the dough and filled up 9 cupcake liners and was so happy because I had made just the right amount of dough, I thought. I put the cupcakes in the oven and took a deep breath. Everything would be alright.

NOT! Why didn't I use my timer!?! This is such an Adult ADHD move. I do this all the time. My husband is always turning off things that I leave cooking on the stove. I overbaked my cupcakes by 15 minutes! Fortunately, they didn't seem burnt and still bounced back when I pushed it so I decided not to make another batch. Besides, I used this great recipe that calls for sorghum flour and had used the last of my stash to make the cupcakes.

Then I realized I didn't make enough cupcakes which just means that the teachers will have to share one cupcake but still, I felt like a fool. There are seven kids and three teachers. Why did I make nine? I think I had enough batter to make ten slightly smaller cupcakes.

Then I felt sick today. I haven't seen my acupuncturist in two weeks because she's on vacation and I think I had that chi-blocking issue again. I felt so yukky I actually had to vomit.

I know I try to make my posts positive but sometimes, we just have our crappy days and sometimes I really do feel like I have ADHD too. I used to work with an Adult ADHD expert as his publicist and once I got up enough courage to ask him if he thought I had it. It was over the phone but I could feel him rolling his eyes like there was no chance of me having it. So, maybe I don't. Anyway, if you are ever curious that you might have it, try the screeners he developed. It's easy to use.

(Pictured above, the final product, carob cupcake with casein-free vanilla frosting sprinkled with naturally colored sugar crystals by India Tree. Let's hope the kids will like it. It'll be the first time Logan shares his GFCF treats with his friends at school.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

No More Doubts-Sensory Therapy Works!

Whenever I get the chance, I always fight for more Occupational Therapy (OT) for my kids. I believe that in this case, more is better and both my kids have serious sensory issues. But in all honesty, I secretly questioned how much it helped my children. It's so hard to tell, isn't it? Progress can happen so slowly.

Six weeks ago, Spencer qualified for increased OT, speech, and ABA. Everything went into motion except the OT. My agency just couldn't find one because of the timing. So basically, we haven't had OT for 6 weeks it has made a huge difference in his behavior.

He is grabbing me, grinding his teeth, hitting me and his brother. He climbing habit is worse than before and his favorite climbing post is me. I also have a ton of scratch marks all over my stomach because he craves squeezing my fleshy skin. It's even affected his other therapies. He's running around, scattering things, and crying for me. He recently had a bad cold and I think that just made everything worse.

I finally decided to start my own OT program for Spencer while we wait for our miracle. It's been hard to brush him. He squirms away and the only way I can get him to stay and be brushed is if I let him squeeze my nipple! OUCH! I don't know why but he is always trying to squeeze my breasts even though I weaned him months ago! He never got into the blankie thing and one of his therapists said that I'm his blankie. Great.

If you pray, meditate, or just think positive thoughts, please do us a giant favor and send a shout out to the universe to bring Spencer his OT. My service coordinator/angel from Theracare, Linda Renaud is calling everyone in the world to get him his OT but she could use some more luck. I'm trying to stay positive and believe that we are waiting so long because the very best OT will finally come and change Spencer's life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How to Strengthen a Marriage with ADHD Children

Yesterday my social worker came to visit us. We usually talk about the kids but this time we talked a lot about my husband and my marriage.

To my surprise she was really impressed by him! I told her how he started working out and taking Logan to the pool every week. She was happy to hear that he was reading a marriage-help book (that I picked out for him, pictured here. After he finishes reading, I'll write another post). She was also happy to hear that he seemed really tuned into Logan's anxiety because he admitted having similar feelings in the past and recognized it in Logan.

"He's trying, Jenn." She told me loudly and clearly. I guess he really is. I just want more sometimes. Is that selfish of me?

I was doing some research today and found an article that talked about the higher risk of divorce for parents with children with ADHD and how the risk seems to diminish after the child turns 8. Logan is now 5 and Spencer is almost 2. Does this mean, I am out of the risk-zone in three years or six years if Spencer ends up being diagnosed with ADHD? I get tired just thinking about it.

All I know is that I should really think positively about my husband. He is a good guy and while sometimes he makes things a hard sell, he usually does go along with my ideas at the end of the day. Luckily, I'm a publicist so I can do the hard sell if need be.

Of course, I would still like more from him so if any of you have tips as to how to bring more closeness between partners when you have special needs kids or how to stay on the same page when it comes to discipline, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Spencer is Talking! Hooray for Therapists!

For months I had been very distressed at the lack of language Spencer had. At his Early Intervention 6-month review when he was 21 months old, he had just 5 words.

A few weeks ago, he started ABA therapy and increased his speech therapy sessions and wow do we see changes! Now he is trying to repeat almost everything you ask him to say!!!!!! Since Logan never had Early Intervention, I never had the chance to really watch a therapy session up close but now I can with Spencer. I watch them working with him and see how he responds. He loves therapy. (Pictured: Spencer works with his ABA therapist, Natalia Cardenas who also worked as a speech therapist in her native country of Colombia. Aren't we lucky?)

I know very little about occupational, speech, or ABA therapy and so it's hard to know if what they are doing is making a real impact but so far I found a few clues that tell me they have good people helping them. Isn't that all you can ask for anyway? Every child will progress at his own pace.

1. Spencer waits at the door when he hears the bell ring. He is excited and once even cried when he thought his ABA therapist wasn't coming. Logan also can't wait for his "turn" when we get to the clinic.

2. Spencer's speech/feeding therapist tells me about other options that could help us. I remember when I first met her and how weepy I was because Spencer ate so little. She looked at me and said, "You need a social worker. I have to help your son but you need help yourself." We received social work services right away and that has become a tremendous support to our family.

3. Spencer's speech therapist occasionally has to reschedule a session to go for additional training. I really respect that.

4. Logan's therapist at his clinic will make a point to talk to me about inconsistencies she sees in other reports or IEPs. She really tries to separate the sensory issues from the more ADHD-like behavioral issues. That shows me that she's paying attention. Now that I've been a special needs mommy for two years, I really don't think that all of them are paying attention.

Recently, I was so sad to hear that Logan's therapist at his clinic had resigned. She had worked well with him for 4 months and wrote one of the best progress reports I had ever seen. Candace Mezetin, wherever you are, we miss you!!!!! The good news is that he will get the same person he had before he started with her so maybe she'll be able to tell me if she sees any improvements in him which would be really great since she met him when he was just starting the GFCF diet.

I found a good webpage about evaluating therapists if you want more info:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hemp Milk on Sale at Whole Foods

If you are using hemp milk as your dairy or soy milk substitute then you will be happy to know that Hemp milk is on sale for 2 quart boxes for $6 dollars. Sometimes it sells for as high as $4.50 a quart at health food stores! At Whole Foods (on Houston Street), they told me it'll be on sale for the next two weeks. I took everything off the shelf and then asked them to order 5 cases for me and the customer service people gave me some sort of voucher that will allow me to buy the cases at the sale price when I go back next weekend.

If you haven't tried hemp milk, all I can say is that my kids like the vanilla flavor. It doesn't have as much protein as soy or dairy but it does have some and it is a good milk substitute for cereal and baking.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

6 Things I Learned During "Vacation"

I can sum it up in one sentence: Life is hard.

What I learned:
1. You can have a talk with your husband about your relationship. He can give reasons, apologize, and say he'll try harder but these changes don't happen overnight and the process of improving can still be painful and full of loneliness. Marriage is hard enough and having children with special needs just means you really have to be more careful to not lose yourselves in it all.

2. Logan's ADHD has improved since the last vacation but it still needs a lot of work. He's still oppositional. He's still hyperactive. I'm still wondering how much the DAN! protocol has helped. I'm asking for a sign to tell me that things are working.

3. I have enormous respect for his teachers. They must try so hard with him. I have such a hoarse voice now which is funny because I used to work with the NYU Voice Center as their publicist on this very problem of mothers ending up with hoarse voices because of their kids. Parenting and teaching requires endless talking. I have a sexy smoker voice right now. If you have the same problem, check out this page to get your voice sounding like you again:

4. My drugs help me tremendously to deal with the stress of handling the two of them without a structured schedule. I have also started drinking wine at night, not too much though as that can be counterproductive and painful in the morning. Wine, anti-depressants, and Klonopin can help take the edge off when you're stressed but if you are sad, nothing helps.

5. I can get a lot done if I plan ahead. This vacation, I managed to get Logan's private evals for neuropsych, speech, and OT. We also squeezed in a OB visit for me and a dental appointment for Logan.

6. I have friends who care about me and some learned about my challenges for the first time after I started this blog. Today, my friend Angela from California sent me flowers. I was so surprised. I gave the deliveryman the third degree before I opened the door for him. I really couldn't believe someone would send me flowers.

Special Needs Siblings

I love Tara Parker-Pope. I loved her column when she was at the Wall Street Journal but her blog at the Times is just terrific. Recently she wrote a post in her blog in response to an NPR story about how a typical girl deals with her Aspergerian brother.

That got me thinking. What will happen with my two boys? Will their disabilities be the same? Will the DAN! cure them all????? If not, what will our life be like? Will their ADHD bring them closer or keep them apart? Right now even though Spencer is only 2, his challenges seem similar to Logan's which means he'll likely be diagnosed with ADHD. Although I don't want Spencer to have it, I think it might be a good thing for the family. Isn't that crazy to say?

They'll have the same rules. The same token reward system. The same consequences. In a way, I'm hoping that this will be the case. It will almost be easier for me like just the way I'm going GFCF for both of them instead of just one. Both of them don't know what "typical" life is like. They have so many therapists. They must think it's normal for them.

All I can say, is that I feel for the girl in the NPR story. I see Logan having to make concessions for his little brother all the time but she's got it so much worse. I pray she finds the courage and strength to overcome her challenges.

GF Korean-ish Zucchini Pancakes

Since I've been talking about food so much these days, I decided to share a favorite GFCF recipe. It's super easy and a good way to get them some vitamin A and fat.

If you are a fan of Korean pancakes, you would know that they are not for breakfast and they are filled with scallions, veggies, and seafood but this one is my adaptation for little kids. You might also know that Koreans do something special with green squash, they slice it and dip it in an egg and flour batter and fry it. Of course, my guys can't have this. But I made something in-between. We can call it fusion GF Asian cuisine.

Korean-ish Zucchini Pancakes

1 cup GF Flour Blend (I use Bette Hagman's rice, tapioca, and potato starch ratio)
1 egg or egg substitute (I use flax egg)
1 medium to large zucchini
salt to taste or GF soy sauce as a dipping sauce
a little water if needed
1 tsp of sugar or agave nectar if you wish
at least 1/4-1/3 cup of oil, you'll need to add more possibly later (I used canola)

1. Prepare your flax egg or egg substitute and set aside.
2. Grind your zucchini (don't have to peel it if you don't want to) to a pulp and add to mixing bowl. But if your kids don't like green foods, peel off the green, my nutritionist says that the vitamin A is inside the slimy part of the squash.
3. Add your GF Flour and your egg and mix with a spoon - no need to mix a lot or use a mixer.
4. The consistency should be a little runny but still somewhat thick so add a little water if needed
5. If you will use GF soy sauce as a dipping sauce then don't put in salt.
6. Pour oil in a large frying pan and when hot, put in one spoonful of batter. For kids, I like to make dollar-size cakes.
7. Fry the cake. Flip it over. Taste it. If you like the texture, then make more cakes.
8. If your cakes are gummy, you might need just a little more water.
9. Your kids might not like it so crunchy, if so, lower the heat.
10. You can do this with butternut squash too but I cook that squash before mixing it with the flour and you will need a lot more water for that recipe. You can also add pureed fruit too. I do sometimes since Spencer won't eat fruit.
11. If you freeze the leftovers, I suggest undercooking the last batch. Refrying is the best way to heat it.

Cheated on the Diet

This week, I let my kids have MSG. I know that when you are doing bio-med, you are not allowed to have MSG but if you are Asian and eat at restaurants where Asians eat then you know that MSG is in almost everything. I'm not talking about your neighborhood Chinese take-out. That's different. We go to Chinatown every Saturday to visit my father-in-law and picking up dim sum is a ritual of ours. Even though I pack food for the kids, they are always staring at the dim sum and our toddler really tries to grab it. He likes the beef rice rolls (Lao-churn) and taro cake (lo-bah-goh).

My kids are currently not eating gluten, casein, citrus, eggs, peas, beans, peanuts, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, artificial food coloring, processed sugar, nitrates/nitrites, and soy. This diet is very restrictive but on the weekdays, we do okay. I have a routine and cook at home but the weekends are tough because we are out and busy.

I'm Korean American and my husband is Chinese American and I really miss feeding my kids Asian food. With my parents being in the Korean restaurant business since I was born, Asian food is a big part of my life, my culture, and my identity. To take soy sauce out of their diet just breaks my heart. Anyway, I don't know what came over me but this week but I let them eat some Asian food sans soy sauce but I'm sure it had some MSG. I gave them Vietnamese pho noodles which they loved, dim sum sticky rice, and shrimp dumplings (Har-gow) that are made with tapioca and rice flour skins. I know that I can make some of these foods at home but who has the time and patience to learn how to make all these foods? I already bake all their GFCF cookies and bake loaves of GF sandwich bread sometimes twice a week.

Next month, my DAN! doctor is doing a special skin prick test on Logan (not the average kind the allergist uses) to determine some food allergies. I don't know why we didn't do it earlier. My DAN! doesn't believe in the IGG tests. I really hope that Logan shows negative to soy, corn, and casein. Even if he does, there will always be that MSG question. Maybe if I'm allowed to give them gluten-free soy sauce, I can pass on the MSG. Maybe.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Gratitude

There are many people I know who are blessed to have a faith in their lives. I have never really had that. I was exposed to Christianity and Buddhism and yet neither ever stuck with me. The latest philosophy of interest is something I learned in a book called The Secret written by Rhonda Byrne.

The book is all about how thinking positive thoughts will bring good things in your life. I do believe that. Last Spring, I started to really get into it but was sidetracked when Spencer went on his food strike and I was losing my mind.

Anyway, long story short, after the panic diagnosis, I have been trying to get back to The Secret. One of my favorite exercises from The Secret is just writing a list of things for which I'm grateful. According to The Secret, the Universe rewards those who are grateful for the things in their life.

So for this New Year's Day post, I'd like to share with you my list:

  • I'm married to a good man and a good father. He even lets me write complaints about him in this blog.
  • My children are in good health and have beautiful hearts and minds.
  • My parents and father-in-law are still healthy and living on their own.
  • My husband is good at his job and so far, even in this economy, he's kept his job which means I can continue to stay home and carry out my plans for the children.
  • I am satisfied with how much therapy my children are receiving. They also have wonderful therapists.
  • Logan is in a great special ed pre-school that provides us with a lot of support.
  • I have a brother and sisters-in-law who help me with my children.
  • My brother is getting married to a wonderful woman!
  • I have a caring and easygoing babysitter who likes to keep Spencer busy.
  • I got 2 new bra and panty sets!
  • My husband bought me a wireless-something so that I can work on my notebook wherever in the house.
  • I still have my old friends who occasionally call me to make sure I haven't fallen apart.
  • I made some new friends who care about me and give me good tips to make sure I get all the services that my children deserve.
  • I found great and affordable places to do private evaluations for Logan's transition to Kindergarten.
  • I have finally been diagnosed correctly with anxiety and depression and am getting good treatment for it.
  • I am grateful for my acupuncturist who heals me and told me to start this blog although my husband tries to take credit for this idea.
  • My husband and I have "Date Night" twice a month now.
  • Even though it's really expensive, we have enough money to try the DAN! protocol on both our sons for at least a year.
  • I am grateful for Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and all health food stores for selling the foods that I need to buy for my kids' ridiculously restrictive diets.
  • I am grateful for the Queens Library so that I don't have to buy every book that I need to read.
  • I am grateful that I started this blog and am thankful for every single comment and email that has been sent to me.

May your new year be filled with luck, happiness, good fortune, and lots and lots of love. Thanks for reading my blog.