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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Week of Changes

This week was one of changes. One of the kids' therapists recently recommended that we try doing a casein-free diet for the boys, to see if it changes their behavior at all. We tried a gluten-free diet several years ago, but it was so much work and we had so much going on with the boys' tantrums at the time that I just couldn't do it. It's interesting to hear from our therapist that the boys might benefit from a dairy-free diet, because there have been others who have told me this too. Our chiropractor has done nutritional testing on all of us, and said that all three boys are sensitive to dairy. When they're allergy tested, dairy doesn't come up as an allergy, but apparently they are sensitive to it. The chiropractor told me that you crave what you're allergic or sensitive to, and that makes sense for the kids (and my hubby) because they all crave dairy. 
I've done a lot of research about casein-free gluten-free diets. I really believe that it's all tied together- that everything in our bodies works together in unison. If you have some problems digesting certain nutrients because your body can't handle them, this could cause problems in other areas, like behavior, concentration, sleep, asthma, sinus infections. All of which we struggle with. I am open to trying anything that might help the kids in any way. Health-wise or behavior-wise. I freshened up on my research about a casein-free diet over the past few days. Yesterday Ella and I went to the grocery store and I delved into reading ingredients on every package I picked up. I decided we'll do dairy-free for a month and see how things go. Maybe after that we'll try gluten-free, but it seems too overwhelming to do it all at once. 

We packed our grocery cart with fruits, veggies, and dairy-free milks. We took our loot home and carted everything into the kitchen. I dug through the fridge, taking out everything that has dairy in it. I was amazed because most everything we had in there had dairy! I didn't realize how much food we have that may be harmful for our digestive systems. I restocked the fridge with our new healthy items. At our dairy-free dinner I told the kids about how we're going to be eating a little differently now, and the reasons why. No more cheese sticks for now, instead they can have a piece of turkey for a snack. We found ice cream that doesn't have dairy in it. They can still have certain Pop Tarts. But biggest change of all- our milk will taste a little different. The boys were all on board with our food experiment. Especially since we're all doing the change (except for Ella who doesn't seem dairy-intolerant), and Daddy seems to have the same issues as the boys in terms of food sensitivities. Getting him on board with the change could be harder than the kids! But I have told everyone we'll just try it for a month. Then we'll see how all the boys feel and decide what to do next. It's a tricky change because it affects eating out, fast food (which we didn't do much of anyway, but the kids get McDonald's after all their therapies on Wednesdays, so I'll have to figure out a different easy, fun dinner those days), eating at other people's homes, the ice cream truck that always shows up in our neighborhood 7 minutes before dinner...a dairy-free life changes a lot. But it's not impossible. I think we can handle it.
A wise speech therapist told me once that you can only do what you feel you're ready to handle. So when I was focusing on Ben and Jonah's challenges and didn't have the reserves of energy or heart to figure out what was going on with Aidan and his challenges, she said that was ok. I had to wait until I could tackle Aidan's issues, until I was ready to deal with all that he had going on and add more therapies to our already complicated schedule. The therapist said I shouldn't feel guilty for waiting a little while to deal with Aidan's issues when we had so much going on with Ben and Jonah. When I was ready to take on more, I would do it. And I did get to the point where I felt like I could handle more, handle having Aidan evaluated and treated for his special needs. It wasn't too late, he wasn't too old, and we still had time to make positive changes for him. I feel the same way with this new eating plan. I haven't been ready to tackle something so daunting until now. I'm ready for the challenge and we'll make the necessary changes, and hope that it makes a positive difference in our lives. 

This past week, Aidan and Ella started a summer camp two mornings a week at our therapy clinic, The Therapy Tree. They are so lucky to be able to take advantage of this opportunity. The camp focuses on every aspect of a kid, basically. Social skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory issues, independence...they've got it all. I was worried how Ella would react, since she has never been in a class without me before. We talked about what it would be like and I tried to prepare her. When I dropped the kids off at camp, Ella was amazing! She followed directions and plopped right down on the blue mat to read books with new friends while they waited for camp to start. Aidan, on the other hand, had quite a difficult first day. He had to be pried, screaming, off me. He was so upset. That's just how "first" things go for him. I knew he'd be fine once I was gone and he had time to adjust. And sure enough, when I picked the kids up at lunchtime, Aidan reported he had had a great time! The second day of camp, Aidan leaned into me, conspiratorially, and said quietly "Mom. The first day of camp, I was sad because I had never been to camp before! And because Ella wasn't in my little group and I thought she would be. But now I know what camp is like, and so I won't cry today!" Well. Isn't that something? Sometimes I don't know what's going on in my kids' heads. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in their little brains and just figure them all out. But Aidan was able to tell me exactly why he was upset the first day, and his reasons made total sense! And he was able to figure out, and communicate, why he wasn't going to be upset the second day. Sometimes my kids just awe me. They're growing up.

Aidan currently has approximately 73 bandaids covering his body. Every time he gets any sort of wound- real or imagined- it requires a bandaid. It's pretty comical. I used to investigate the area that Aidan said was hurt, and argue that he didn't need a bandaid for that teeny little scratch. Sometimes we put a wet, folded, paper towel on owwies, and that helps too. But the past few months, I've realized that to Aidan his hurts are enormous, whether I see blood or not. And if a bandaid makes him able to continue with life, who am I to argue with that? Who's to say that I'm right and he's wrong? Maybe he's got the secret to soothing every hang nail and paper cut- a bandaid. The other day, you would have thought one of Aidan's limbs had been severed, the way he was screaming with pain. I rushed to look at the finger he was holding up, the obvious wound. I honestly could not see anything wrong with his finger at all. This is what he said to me through his tears: It feels like I'm being split open. I was stopped in my tracks. Sometimes I catch glimpses into what it's like to live in my children's bodies, and at that moment I realized the real pain that Aidan feels when he gets even a bump or scratch. His little nervous system is so sensitive that he just cannot brush these things off, these things that seem so minuscule to me. Because he feels like he's being split open. Poor little guy. I just want to hug him into a big bubble to protect him forever from any blemish or boo-boo. So if he needs 73 bandaids in order to feel like he's holding it all together, I'm fine with that.

On a crazy, funny (looking back it's funny) note, here are a couple things that happened when I looked away from my children for a split second. I found Ella playing with the water inside the toilet, filling it with toilet paper squares and splashing it all over the bathroom. She's never done this before, and I was hoping that now that she's almost 3, we wouldn't have any Exploring The Toilet Phases left. Apparently I was wrong. Luckily the toilet had been flushed prior to Ella's experiment. So we just had to mop up the floor and unclog the toilet. 

The other day we melted crayons in muffin tins to make pretty, colorful shapes that you can color with. I kept telling the kids when the tins were hot, don't touch them. I put the tins in the fridge to cool off more quickly. I kept saying do not touch! When I looked away, Jonah climbed into the fridge, reached up to the top shelf and took down his floppy, rubber muffin tin. Melted blue crayon spilled and splattered EVERYWHERE and EVERYONE in the kitchen. Jonah stood there, dumbfounded and helpless, and said "Mommy??" Hm. See now why Mommy said do not touch? I'm still scraping blue crayon off the fridge and floor. I can't get it to all come off, despite Jonah's best efforts to help clean it up. 

We had pasta with casein-free hot dogs cut up in it for lunch yesterday. (I know, yum) Ella was happily eating it from her little blue bowl and drinking her beverage of choice for the day- raspberry Kefir (yogurt drink). I looked away, and looked back to see Ella dumping the last drops of her Kefir into her bowl of pasta. As if that wasn't gross enough, then she proceeded to EAT most of it! Yuck!! That kid makes the weirdest combinations of food. She loves cantelope dipped in ketchup. Ew. She's got some crazy taste buds.

That about sums up our life this week. Changes and messes. And four tired kids who all fell asleep before 7pm tonight. That's what happens when you insist on getting up at 5am! Silly kids. 

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