Ready to Wind Down

May 8, 2012

Busy.  Busy.  Busy.

It’s been a month since Adrian moved into his new residence and things are going very well for him.  I thought it’d mean I’d have so much extra time… yeah, not so much.

Of course, part of that is that I was free to make eye appointments, dental appointments, orthodontic appointments, doctor appointments and haircut appointments – so I did.  By the end of the month we’ll be caught up on everything. 🙂

Part of the time we’ve also spent trying out our new-found freedom.  We went with Dad to CT for business.  We took a weekend trip to PA to see my grandfather, something I haven’t been able to do in about 10 years.  I even got to go to the Marvel Movie Marathon!  Over twelve hours of movies!  What?! I haven’t been able to get out to see a movie in the evening for about 2 years so I was catching up 😛

Then we’ve also had homeschool co-op just about every week and play practice on top of that….  Then there were trips back and forth to Adrian for meetings, visits and dropping off furniture…  We had a couple of birthdays in there too…

Now it’s time to prepare for and take the end of the year tests that will count as our annual assessments.   I’ll be glad to get that over with and get into wind-down mode in our schooling.

June is our science project month.  With most of our other school work finished for the year, the kids are free to concentrate on a science project of their choice.   They’ll find library and internet resources on their topics, design experiments, write a presentation complete with visual aids and deliver it to the family.

And I hope we’ll find the time to travel and do other fun stuff somewhere in there too!

 

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School of Life

March 25, 2012

A lot of the usual focus on scholarly pursuits have been on hold these past couple of months.  We were fastened tightly in our car, riding the rollercoaster of red tape that accompanies most services for the disabled.  Our destination?  A residential school placement for Adrian.

We’re very close to the end of this ride and so our thoughts turn to where we’ll go next, when we get off this wild ride.

I know for myself, I’m going to need some time.  I’ll need time to decompress, relax and come to grips with what’s happened – the good, the bad, the guilt…

Then, it’s time to reimagine our life here.  So much of what we do day to day, minute to minute, is done because Adrian is here.  All that changes.

While we obviously wouldn’t be sending Adrian to a residential school if we didn’t think it was in his best interest, we also recognize that his moving will mean a lot of positive changes for the other kids as well.  I plan to seek their input in deciding on what life should look like when he’s gone.

This is huge.  Once again, the benefit of homeschooling is that we can balance our academic pursuits with the schooling real life is giving us.

 

Covered In Nut Flour

August 16, 2011

I would love to write about the soft start to our new school year but I simply haven’t the time.  See, I’m spending all my days in the kitchen now cooking and baking to try Adrian on the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD).  Oh, and praying that it will have some impact on his behavior to save someone from being institutionalized.  Cause, yeah, if things continue on they way they have been either Adrian or I will land there.

It’s insane. 

I’m not a baker.  I suck at baking.  I hate baking.

But when you’re doing a diet that removes all sugar, grains, starches and artificial stuff… you have to make 110% of the food by hand.  I’ve baked more in the last 3 days than in the last 3 years put together.  Mixing and measuring while Adrian tries to turn my head and get my attention to ask to go for a drive for the 300,000th time today.  Cause, yeah, of course I’m gonna try this while he’s off of school, going stir crazy at home for 3 weeks straight. 

Did I mention this is insane?

And wouldn’t ya know, my kitchen sink is broken.  As in unusable.  Cause really, starting a difficult, work-intensive diet with a super-picky autistic, cabin-fever, giant man-child isn’t hard enough.  No, if you’re going to do something difficult then you should do it the hard way. Ya know… without running water.

Yeah, let’s do this the hard way. 

Did I mention that my husband is gone this week?  :O

How We Eat: Beverages

August 1, 2011

Ok, so technically this is what we drink, not what we eat.  But in many families it’s a neglected source of calories.  I know it used to be in ours.

Years ago we thought nothing of buying iced tea or soda for the grown-ups and juices or Hi-C for the kids. 

We thought we were doing pretty well at the time. We were proud of keeping our eldest 3 kids off soda till they were 6 or 7 years old.  The juices and fruit drinks we gave the kids were always diluted and they drank reduced fat milk as well. 

Then the sugar thing happened.  You know, where I learned it was bad for us.  😛

We switched to diet soda.  Which is better in terms of calories and sugar but let’s face it, it’s filled with chemicals and artificial sweeteners which are really just as bad.  Still, it was a step in the right direction.

We started making efforts to replace our usual drinks with occasional glasses of water.  I won’t say everyone took to it well.  It was hard for all of us to go in that direction after years of sweetened beverage bliss.

We diluted the kids drinks more and more.  We drank water between meals.  Then we cut back on the soda, making the rule that it would only be served at dinner.  I switched to homemade iced tea with little or no sweetener at all.

And that’s about as good as it got.  We spent several years there until my husband decided he’d had enough.  I was shocked as could be when he announced he was giving up soda and sweetened drinks.   For good.   :O

He would only drink water and, on occasion, a glass of 100% juice.   No more soda or drinks with artificial sweeteners or added sugar.  He stuck to it too, for weeks and weeks on end while the kids and I kept to our old habits.

Then, an amazing thing began to happen.  We all started to drink water with him.  Each night at dinner someone else would make the choice to have the water.  It happened in restaurants and at lunch and even breakfast till I realized NOW was the time to make my move.

I quit buying soda.  The only one who even cared was the 7 year old, Zee.  But even he didn’t put up much of a fight. 

The kids still drink Arizona’s Lite Half & Half  Iced Tea on a daily basis.  Still not great for ’em.  But we are all totally off soda.  And even in the restaurants, everyone but Zee orders a glass of water.  That’s pretty darn good when I consider where we came from.

And it just goes to show you, the example you set for your kids really does count!

In drawing up the plan for the girls I thought back on my own school career and just what I was learning when I was in 8th grade. 

My favorite subject was, of course, math.  8th grade was awesome because I got to do algebra… officially.   I remember smiling to myself as I first looked over that algebra book.  See, algebra and I were old friends already.  I’d picked up my mother’s college algebra book years ago and learned much of what we were about to cover.  I already knew how much fun it was and the teacher, Mr. Berry, made it even more so.  I not only had a lot of fun in math that year but I learned I was pretty darn good at it too. 

Science was a close second favorite.  The crazy old man who taught life science was actually quite funny once you got past the serious teacher persona he usually put on in class.  I had a chance to get to know him a bit better as my science notebook, worth a major portion of our grade, came up missing part way through the year.  Since I sat front and center and was always clearly interested in his lectures, he knew I’d kept good notes.  But since I didn’t have a notebook to grade, he opted to allow me to do a report for that part of my grade instead.

It was then I learned we had a love of oceanography in common.  I did a report on whales.  Favorite. report. ever.  He apparently enjoyed it too because I earned a grade of 100%.  I’ll always regret not being able to go on his Oceanography Club outings though.    My parents were anti-field trip so I missed the trips to the NJ shore to investigate tidal pools and other such fun.  But it was a great year in science nevertheless.

Still, the thing I remember most about 8th grade in general is that it was a year of discovering passions.  Algebra, oceanography, drama class, computer programming (on our Commodore 64 at home and on the Apple computers at school) and seeing Star Wars for the first time! I so taken by it that I wrote out the whole script – by hand – from a homemade audio tape (well, duh, cause my mother wouldn’t let me sit in front of the video tape for the many hours it took to write the whole thing out 😛 )

So many of the things I learned I loved that year have stuck with me right into adulthood. 

That’s really what I most for my girls this year too.  I want them to discover their passions and pursue them with everything they’ve got.  That’s what 8th grade should be about.

I don’t know why I first picked up these stainless steel condiment cups at Walmart but I know I didn’t have any idea they’d be used this often.   They are absolutely indispensable for portion control in our house!

We use them for serving up all kinds of snacks and treats:

*Nuts and seeds  (this cup holds the recommended one ounce serving of nuts)

*Trail Mix

*Mini marshmallows for hot chocolate

*Chocolate chips for a treat

*Maple syrup (it’s way easier to control serving sizes when everyone gets their own cup with an appropriate amount)

*Dried fruits

*Goldfish crackers

*Peanut butter for dipping

*Salad dressings and dips

*Ketchup or BBQ sauce (specially for my son who would fill half his plate with ketchup if it weren’t for this handy cup)

*Granola for yogurt

*Anything you want to the kids to only take a ‘little bit’ of… but they can’t figure out how much is a ‘little bit is’!

These things get tons of use in our house.  I highly recommend them for controlling portion sizes of things that should be measured by the tablespoon or ounce.

 

 

With the news I’d developed an insulin resistance problem came the realization that carbohydrates really were the enemy.  It was time to change my relationship with carbs.  There’s strong risk of diabetes on both sides of the family so it made perfect sense that I should also change the way my kids related to carbs.  

Enter hurdle number one:  my husband.   My husband loves his pasta.  I mean really, really loves his pasta.  He also loves his white rice.  Yes, that wonderful white rice he’d eaten at practically every meal in his house growing up…every meal that didn’t include pasta, that is.  And to boot, he didn’t mind white bread all that much either.  Ok, he really enjoyed his white bread as well.

I had a diagnosis.  He didn’t have any such motivation.  But being the great husband he is, he agreed to give up his beloved white carbs for me.   Now that’s love, folks.

The easy switch was to whole wheat bread.  100% whole wheat bread.  No one really minded that switch.  Specially since we still indulged in white specialty breads and rolls at that time.  Whole wheat toast was a-ok.

Pasta and rice were another story.  So I learned one of the most important lessons of changing my family’s eating habits.  Go slow.

We started with a pasta that was made with part whole grains.  I won’t say anyone loved it but they didn’t hate it either.  We ate that for about 2 years before I made the full switch to 100% whole grain pasta.  When I did, no one even noticed. 

Rice took much longer.  My husband couldn’t stand brown rice and I have to admit, I didn’t care for the fact it took twice as long to cook.  I gave it a whirl a few times but ended up shelving it (literally) for a couple years.  Just within the past couple of months I’ve made the commitment to going through the hassle of making the brown rice again. It’s been a challenge. 

But surprise, surprise.  The kids love the brown rice.  I would make both white and brown (to keep the hubby happy) and the kids were only eating the brown.  Meal after meal this happened until my husband finally had to give in.  He knew it was silly to have both kinds of rice and he was the only one eating the white rice! 

He’s not going to say he wouldn’t still prefer the white rice, but he’s also willing to admit the brown rice isn’t bad.  It took a good long while and some extra effort on my part but it seems we’ve finally switched over.  🙂

The rest of the breads have also slowly become whole grain.  Bee in particular loves her white rolls and I do indulge her on occasion.  Overwhelmingly though, the kids choose, eat and enjoy the whole grains.   Even Adrian has made the switch from white bagels to whole wheat. 

Carbs don’t have to be the enemy. Over the course of a 5 year period we went from a family who ate tons of white bread, rice and pasta to a family that eats far less of all those things.  And when we do have them, they’re full of whole grain goodness.  It all starts with a loaf of bread.  You can do it too!