Day 16: Allergy Testing

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This is Day 16 in the series: 31 days on Living with ADHD, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder: What We Have Tried, What Has Worked, What Hasn’t Worked, and Never Giving Up. 

A few months ago Mr Rockstar’s psychiatrist suggested we try an elimination diet to see if it might help with his behavior.  I found there was good research (read my summary here) to support the psychiatrist’s suggestion.  As we started our elimination diet, it all seemed so complicated.  The longer we did the diet the more I wondered if we should’t have first had Mr Rockstar allergy tested.  Our elimination diet excluded  Continue reading Day 16: Allergy Testing

Day 7: Picky Eaters

This is Day 7 in the series: 31 days on Living with ADHD, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder: What We Have Tried, What Has Worked, What Hasn’t Worked, and Never Giving Up.

Picky Eaters

I Have Created a Picky Eating Monster!?!

If our children are picky eaters it is so tempting to feel like we are to blame.  Let me put your fears to rest!  When the twins came along I learned picky eating has a lot more to do with a child’s temperament and a lot less to do with us as parents. In almost every respect the twins got identical food choices and yet they are total opposites when it comes to food.  Miss Tomboy approaches food with the spirit of adventure.  She wants to try EVERYTHING and she is very open minded about liking it.  Occasionally she won’t like something but that does’t keep her from trying it again a week later and changing her mind.  Miss Princess on the other hand thinks all new foods are suspect and should be avoided at all costs.  She is quite content with bread, bananas, and chocolate (don’t tell her but I think I too could live on bread, bananas, and chocolate).  Mr Rockstar is in a category all to his own.  He tends to be ok trying new foods but there are certain foods that trigger an immediate gag reflex due to the texture.

Do You Have a Picky Eater or Problem Feeder?

First you need to identify is your child just a picky eater or are they a problem feeder.  In a blog post by Occupational Therapist Susan L. Roberts on 100 Days of Real Food.com she covers the differences between picky eaters and problem feeders.  I guess you could say I am fortunate (?!?) Continue reading Day 7: Picky Eaters

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Spinach and Apple Salad

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This recipe is free of Casein, Chocolate, Citrus, Corn, Dairy, Egg, Gluten, High, Legumes, Peanuts, Soy, Sugar, Yeast, Artificial Food Color, and Artificial Preservatives.  It does have a few high salicylate foods.  This would be a great recipe on the elimination diet. Continue reading Stuffed Acorn Squash with Spinach and Apple Salad

Perfect Bread Bowl Bouillabaisse

Tomorrow I will start 31 days on “Living with ADHD, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder: What We Have Tried, What Has Worked, What Hasn’t Worked, and Never Giving Up”.  Stay tuned!

Today was a rainy day.  Thankfully I started some Overnight Rustic Bread last night before bed (it seriously takes less than 5 minutes to mix up the dough).  Also, surprisingly I remembered to take out chicken stock, fish and shrimp to thaw from the freezer.  This all added up to the perfect rainy day Bouillabaisse served in Homemade Bread Bowls.  This means a lot coming from me considering I am leery of all fish and typically don’t like soup.  I don’t know what even possessed me to put this on our meal plan for the week.  Having been to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco multiple times I can honestly say this turned out just as good.  Hubby thought it might even be better 😉

Overnight Rustic Bread used as a bread bowl for Bouilliabaise.
Overnight Rustic Bread used as a bread bowl for Bouillabaisse.

Even the kids enjoyed the soup.  Miss Princess LOVED the bread (it was the basic Overnight Rustic Bread plus I added a handful of shredded cheddar cheese and some chopped fresh thyme) and thought the “chicken” (tilapia) was yummy.

Mr Rockstar found every shrimp he could and Miss Tomboy ate all hers no questions asked.

The kids had small ramekins with soup and little rolls on the side.
The kids had small ramekins with soup and little rolls on the side.

Continue reading Perfect Bread Bowl Bouillabaisse

Fisherman’s Wharf Bouillabaisse in Bread Bowl

I hate “fishy” taste with a passion.  That being said a good bouillabaisse on a rainy day is a magical thing.  When prepared just right there is no “fishy” taste.  The kids didn’t even realize they were eating fish.  Hubby and I agreed that this soup turned out AMAZING.  It is our new family favorite for cold fall days.  It will transport you to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

Bouillabaisse
Bouillabaisse
Overnight Rustic Bread used as a bread bowl.
Overnight Rustic Bread used as a bread bowl for bouillabaisse.

Continue reading Fisherman’s Wharf Bouillabaisse in Bread Bowl

Attack of the Flu

Part of the reason we stopped the diet a little over a week ago was because I felt like I was coming down with something.  It turns out I was coming down with one of the worst stomach bugs I have had in a while.  I….could….barely….move for 4 days.  The kids were sick for about 20 minutes.  Just long enough to leave multiple vomit stains on the carpet and force me to keep them home from school all week.  Hubby escaped it entirely as he so often does.

I learned a few things this week: Continue reading Attack of the Flu

Elimination Diet Day 25: Done

What We Ate:

Breakfast:

  • leftover Krispy Kreme (the girls and me)
  • Cashew Butter and Honey Sandwich
  • Musk Melon
  • Grapes

Lunch:

  • Hot Dogs

Dinner:

  • Taco Bell

I am super excited to get back yeast today.  I have never really considered making my own bread but I think I am going to try and learn over the next few weeks.  For today I picked up 5 loaves of ORGANIC Multigrain Bread with Omega-3 – 5 loaves with our Bountiful Basket (a local food co-op).  This was also my first time getting the 100% organic basket.  I had heard mixed things about the organic basket but at least today I thought it all looked great!  I want to to a price comparison to Trader Joe’s (or some other store).

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Do you want to know something scary?  The loaf of bread that we didn’t quite finish before starting our diet over 3 weeks ago and has been living in the back of the fridge all this time….is just fine.  No mold on it.  Not even very stale.  Kinda freaks me out.  It does make you wonder what they are adding to it to make it last so long.

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Kids:

Again Mr Rockstar did not fall asleep until 1:00 AM last night.  Thankfully since it was Friday Hubby was able to help.  About midnight though Hubby was clearly tired and Mr Rockstar was still going.  I got up with him and found he had managed to lock himself out of his bedroom.  A screwdriver and five minutes later and I had the door open.  Mr Rockstar was starting to yawn so I suggested we try Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents).  Thankfully 15 minutes of that and he was ready to fall asleep.  Today has been better for the most part.  Hubby was gone to a conference all day and besides being tired I am also starting with a cold so I really, really, REALLY, wanted a nap.  It was not to be.  Mr Rockstar not only woke me up multiple times but I found he snuck a couple Krispy Kreme’s out of the freezer while I was resting.  It is comical confronting a kid completely covered in glaze and them trying to innocently say they didn’t steal any donuts.  Between getting sick, Mr Rockstar stealing some donuts, and just how crazy life has been I decided to just be done with the diet for now.  Mr Rockstar is so unstable I don’t even know what a “reaction” would look like at this point…. so we went to Taco Bell for dinner.

I am committed to the family eating better moving forward and I would like to redo the diet again in a few weeks after allergy testing Mr Rockstar.  (UPDATE 10/17/14: allergy testing showed Mr R is allergic to spinach and maybe peaches plus a few other possibilities.  We will be having starting an elimination diet 10-17-14 for those foods for Mr R and then repeating the full elimination diet at some point.  Read all about allergy testing and Mr R results plus our plans moving forward here) For the time being though, we are going to start Savings September (better late than never) to use up all the food I wasn’t ready to just throw/give away.  I did dispose of all food with artificial ingredients and preservatives but there is a lot more in the pantry with just more ingredients than I would like (i.e. highly processed), added sugar, refined oils, and refined flours.  Especially while we transition to using organic it might be nice to have a month or two of frugal living.

Me:

I am excited to see how much the kids palates and willingness to try new things changed on the diet.  The kids were all in love with the bread I picked up this morning.  In the past they would have turned up their noses to whole wheat bread full of nuts,etc.  Miss Princess even ate an entire sandwich with the new bread, some cashew butter and honey.  Besides being excited about the family eating better I am ready to simplify our lives.  Simplify the pantry, declutter the house, just find ways to make life easier, etc.  Where do you think you could simplify your life?

Elimination Diet Day 24: Corn

What We Ate:

Breakfast:

  • Gluten Free Puffin Cereal (corn and rice)
  • Whole milk

Snack:

  • Raisins
  • Hazelnuts
  • Raspberries

Lunch:

  • Ham
  • Pear sauce
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Dinner:

Dessert:

  • Krispy Kreme Original Donuts

Because Mr Rockstar has not shown any improvement behaviorally on the diet and I am at the breaking point with lack of sleep and behavioral issues, I decided to accelerate our elimination diet.  Dr Doris Rapp suggests adding a new food back in each day.  Other doctors say this is way to quick and it should be every 2-3 days.  The diet itself isn’t that hard to maintain especially at this point, and I do plan for us to eat much healthier moving forward now that the kids have acclimated to it, but at the same time the diet is restrictive and adds one more complicating factor to an already overwhelming situation.  Because Mr Rockstar has been so unstable I don’t even know what a food reaction might look like in him so at this point I am mostly looking for rashes and the like.  Today we added back in corn, tomorrow we will do yeast, Sunday sugar, Monday soy, etc.

I found some Applegate Half Time lunches on clearance at the grocery store today and I had some good coupons so I picked some up for the kids.  It made for an easy dinner for which I was thankful.  There was a little sugar in the fruit snacks but since we were going to go get Krispy Kreme a little laster I didn’t really care.

Today was “Talk like a Pirate Day” and if you wore pirate garb to Krispy Kreme they would give you free donuts!  Hubby and I went back and forth all week.  If we had seen ANY benefit behaviorally to the diet I could have easily passed up free donuts but as it was it seemed like a nice break.  So we went and got our free donuts and I think I am going to be sick from the sugar overdose.  Krispy Kreme donuts have almost everything not allowed on the elimination diet.  It is kinda crazy.

Kids:

Mr Rockstar had a better day.  I don’t know if it was the Ritalin taking effect or it was just time for us to have a good day or two.  The cycle the past 2 weeks has roughly been two bad days, two awful days, one bad day, one great day, one ok day, etc.  So we are due for a couple ok days at least.  Praying tomorrow just keeps getting better.

 

Elimination Diet Day 23: Behavior

What We Ate:

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins

Lunch:

  • Cheddar
  • Trader Joe’s Uncured Ham
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Raisins

Dinner:

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Today was my first time making tortillas.  I was surprised how easy they where to make.  It almost has me buying a tortilla press.  I think if I had a tortilla press and could make up a big batch to freeze it would be worth it.  I am going to see how our leftover tortillas reheat.

Kids:

Mr Rockstar woke up at 11:45PM, crawled into bed with me for a bit, then got himself something to drink and did who knows what else before going back to bed and sleeping until 6:20.  Miss Princess was up at 2am wanting to be tucked back in.  Miss Tomboy was up at 5:00 AM to use the potty.  At 6:20 when Mr Rockstar woke up he was agitated.  I was sitting holding him trying to talk to him about how today was a new day and he could earn Mystery Motivator.  At which point he tried to convince me he needed a morning grab bag prize.  9 months or more ago we used to give him a grab bag (something really small like a hershey kiss) in the morning if he slept through the night and didn’t wake us up until 7AM.  We haven’t done this for months.  I told him if he slept through the night he could have it but since he woke mommy up last night he didn’t earn it today.  Right after I said this….he head butted me and smashed my nose.  It hurt, but more than it physically hurt it just crushed me emotionally .  I already have been spiraling into depression after weeks of poor behavior from Mr Rockstar (and some recent fights with Hubby).   I just lost it with him.  I gave him a cardboard box and said to pack it with any clothes or toys he wanted to keep and he could go find a new place to live because I wasn’t going to tolerate any more abuse or destruction from him.  This seemed to get his attention and he said he was sorry.  I said he could stay for now but I wasn’t putting up with this crap anymore from him.  I also told him sooner or later he was going to be on his own (someday aren’t we all?) so he needed to start doing his own work around the house starting with cooking his own breakfast.

We both calmed down and I talked him through cooking his own oatmeal.  It was great.  Then he asked if he could put some honey on his oatmeal.  I said honey was expensive so he would have to wash the morning dishes after breakfast in order to pay for his honey.  He said ok.  He actually THANKED me for allowing him to use my honey and he did the dishes with NO complaints.  I know yelling at him wouldn’t work if I did it all the time but I do need to be more stern with him than I typically am.  I need to find a more effective way than what I have been doing and more effective than screaming for communicating my deep disappointment when he acts out.

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Mr Rockstar did his schoolwork quickly and without much trouble.  At 11:00AM we went to see the behavioral counselor.  Even though we had a better morning, she could tell I was at the end of my rope.  When an awesome behavioral counselor with 25 years of experience tells you they just don’t know what to do you know things are bad.  We have been seeing her for over a year.  She and I both remember it being this bad a year ago but at that time she thought maybe how we were handling him was making the problem worse.  She has seen improvement with Mr Rockstar over the year only to see that all disappear for no apparent reason other than the changes of the season.  It is starting to be clear that Mr Rockstar is most likely ADHD, high functioning autism AND mood disorder.  It is so complicated all the professionals we see seem to be hard pressed to help much.  The counselor advised me to go ahead and start Mr Rockstar’s new medication before I had a nervous breakdown rather than trying to wait a couple weeks to get baseline data.  Today was the first day Mr Rockstar was completely off the Tenex.  While we were at the behavioral specialists office, Mr Rockstar started telling me about all these bad feelings he has and saying he wants them to go away but he does’t know how.  We were able to pinpoint the start of the bad feelings to when we started weaning him off the Tenex.

At 3:00 PM I decided to give Mr Rockstar his first Ritalin.  I just couldn’t take the craziness anymore.  Boy was that a mistake.  His behavior was better all evening but he was bouncing off the walls.  At bedtime he was just so wound up he couldn’t sleep.  I kept messing with him and finally at 1:00 AM he gave in and went to sleep.  It was not a fun evening.

Elimination Diet Day 22: Wheat

What We Ate:

Breakfast:

  • Pumpkin Mini Donuts
  • Egg and Cheddar Quesadilla
  • Raisins

Lunch:

  • Annie’s Mac n Cheese
  • Pears

Snack:

Dinner:

  • Cheese

This morning I made breakfast quesadillas with some tortillas I thought would be great for the “wheat” challenge.  Turns out after I let the kids start eating them I re-read the package and noticed they had corn starch and soy lecithin in then.  Oh well.  It didn’t seem to affect their behavior in any way so I guess it didn’t matter.

I found Annie’s Mac n Cheese only has wheat and milk in to so we could have some for lunch!

Our day went from bad to worse and when dinner came around all the kids wanted was cheese.  Earlier in the week, I had asked my pediatrician if there was a limit to how much cheese they could eat in one sitting and he said as long as it doesn’t cause other issues he didn’t think it was a problem.  So they just ate an 8oz block of cheese for dinner…and maybe some raisins?  I picked up sushi for myself.

Kids:

Mr Rockstar didn’t take a nap yesterday.  We knew as he came off his mediation the nap would disappear.  Finally not only did the nap disappear but we were able to get him to bed by 7:30PM.  I need either the early bedtime or the nap to keep my sanity so when the nap is spotty and the bedtime late I start losing my mind.  Thankfully all the kids slept until 6:20AM with no night time wakings!  Sadly, Mr Rockstar was still in a foul mood this morning even with all the sleep.  I had decided yesterday I needed to reinstitute our reward system.  So today I pulled out Mystery Motivator.

Mystery Motivator

The behavioral counselor we see suggested we try Mystery Motivator 9 months ago. We did it for a few months but then it died over the summer.  Essentially at the end of the day you review their behavior.  If they get 1 or more sad faces then they don’t get a chance for a prize.  If they get no sad faces (only so-so, happy face, and stars) then they can look in a cup and see if they have three matching color m&ms (I will probably switch this to raisins and nuts?!?).  If the m&ms match then they get to have whatever is in the grab bag.  If they don’t match then “Oh pickles! Maybe they will match tomorrow”.  When you first start out the m&m’s always match but you make a big deal about the fact that they might not match, and if they don’t match and teach them an appropriate response such as “Oh pickles.  Maybe they will match tomorrow”.  This way you are setting this system up to wean them off it once you consistently have good days.  You track each day whether they earned mystery motivator or not and when you see a pattern (for instance Fridays are always good) you might have that be a day when the m&m’s don’t match.  Slowly you work it so more and more days have unmatched m&m’s.  In the grab bag we usually have a small piece of candy (I need to think of something else to be a treat?), a small toy, or money.  I figure $1 a day to save my sanity is totally worth it.  As the day progresses you can remind them of the mystery motivator.  You can cue them with “This behavior is so-so.  You need to improve or you might get sad face.” or “That was star work!  Good listening!”  Today it did seem to get Mr Rockstar’s attention.  I decided I could actually mark the chart every couple hours so he could see where he stood for the day so far.  We had one major time-out with some aggression (he tried to pull over a bookshelf full of toys because he was mad) first thing in the morning.  I said he was having sad-face behavior and he needed to adjust his attitude.  He said he didn’t know how so we talked about some things he could do.  He finally decided to pray to ask God to help him control himself and have a better day.

The other incentive system I re-instituted today was “Train time”.  As Mr Rockstar does his school work he gets a train stamp.  Depending on how many stamps he gets that is how much cartoon time he can have for the day.  If he only does some of his work he will end up with 10-20 minutes and he hates only being able to watch half of his cartoon before I turn it off.  I equate each stamp to 10min of iPad time.  Once we are done with the school day  I set the timer for how many minutes he earned and he has learned there is no behavior that will get him more time so he is usually ok when I turn it off.  I try to limit electronic/tv time to only what he earns from doing his school work since this is such a huge “currency” with Mr Rockstar.  The hard thing about this system is of course he gets the most cartoon time on his good days and on his bad days I can’t use cartoons to save my sanity.  The weekends are the only time he gets some unearned iPad time just so we can have a more relaxed weekend.

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Today both incentive systems seemed to help, at least he did his school work with a much better attitude.  Sadly as the day went on he got worse and worse.  At soccer practice he kept leaving his team and wandering off and then laster he was spitting in the other kids faces.  After dinner we reviewed mystery motivator and I told him unfortunately he got a couple sad faces.  He got so mad at this he picked up one of the kitchen chairs and rammed it as hard as he could int one of the newly painted kitchen cabinets before I could stop him.  I picked him up and took him to the laundry room for a time out.  He punched me so I said “So sad you chose door closed” and closed the laundry room door at which point he started to throw anything he could find at the laundry room door.  Sigh.  At this point I lost it.  I am not a screamer.  I raise my voice at the kids maybe twice a year.  Usually Mr Rockstar just laughs when I do anyway so whats the point?  I told him I wasn’t putting up with his crap or abuse any longer I was just going to run away because I was not going to stick around for it.  At which point I went out the front door, had a little pity party, pulled myself back together and came back inside.  Mr Rockstar was a little worried and calmed down some.  Life is just so hard.

Me:

Somedays I just can’t breathe.  The last couple days it has been building up and today my chest was just so tight.   Life just gets so overwhelming it becomes impossible to take a deep breath.  When Mr Rockstar is this crazy I don’t feel comfortable leaving him with anyone but that also means I never get a break.  I always have to be “on” never knowing what crazy thing he will do next.  I’m really hoping we are at a tipping point where things will start getting better even if only for a little while.