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So remember that post I wrote awhile back about grocery store judgment? Well I had one of those days at the store today. Every mom has them, but having a son with SPD, I have more of them than most. My son was pretty out of control and I headed to the checkout line as soon as it was clear that he would not be calmed. There was one item it was vital I purchase otherwise I would have just left all together. Because my son bit my my daughter (which is really my fault- he was really orally fixated all morning and when I am good about giving him a chew toy he does not resort to biting… but that’s besides the point…) He bit my little girl and she was crying, he was screaming, I was desperately trying to get out of there. A kind cashier opened a new lane for me and I handled my purchase all while singing to baby and trying to calm my son. As we finished paying and were turning the cart towards the exit this woman stopped in her tracks, glared at me and shook her head.

I haven’t decided yet if I am proud or ashamed of what happened next.

I looked at her and said “Don’t glare at me, bitch.”

The cashier cracked up. The glaring woman turned around and left. I walked calmly to the exit and continued singing to my baby.

These are the kinds of things my internal filter usually catches. I think my internal filter took the day off.

This was not even by far the worst encounter I’ve had at the store. But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. People need to get off their freaking high horses and let others live their lives. I was obviously trying to calm the kids. I was obviously heading towards the exit. I was doing everything someone should do in my situation. Why take the time to be rude to me?

The woman probably went on her way thinking my kids are little brats because I am a rude. vulgar woman. She’s probably telling this story to her friends with a very different perspective.  My perspective? When you have only seen part of the picture, you don’t know what you’re looking at.

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My three year old is really loving to cook these days. Since our family has lots of food allergies and sensitivities, cooking, especially baking is a bit more complicated for our family than many others. No using Grandma’s recipe here. I found a great blog recently that had a lot of recipes we could eat (or easily alter.) The Baking Beauties has a recipe for Snickerdoodles and since I had everything on hand when I found it, the kids and I went straight to the kitchen to make cookies.

K was way too excited to get started. It’s amazing to watch how much he’s grown, he was really helping quite a bit. I look at his sweet little face and I see a baby, but he’s not. He’s grown into such a unique little boy. He radiates charm and joy.

E is growing too, she’s really a toddler and not a baby now. Something that’s hard to admit on your last baby. (At least I am 90% sure she’s my last…) She had a lot of fun running around the kitchen playing in the cupboards, but had no interest in helping us bake.

K took his baking very seriously. He especially liked rolling the cookie dough in cinnamon.

They came out pretty well. I think next time I will use honey instead of sugar, which will hopefully make them more moist. All in all, everyone was happy with them though.

K even had fun cleaning up. I only wish his enthusiasm for helping around the house could continue when he’s older. It’s really too bad that when kids WANT to help they are too young to effectively help. He had a blast washing dishes even if I had to wash them again.

I used to try to keep the kids out of the kitchen or otherwise occupied when I was cooking. I’ve changed my tune, however. They gain so much from being involved in daily family activities like this. Besides more time with mama, K is also learning a lot about measurements, time, listening, patience and hard work. I love how much can be learned through daily life!

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Summer Fun…

So I have never lived where it was so hot that people hide indoors all summer until now.
We do go out some, but we are inside way more than I would ever have imagined. So we’re coming up with lots to do inside. Playdough, painting, crafting, coloring, puzzles, pretend play,  lots of library trips and subsequent reading. It’s been fun, but I miss the days of playing in the sun. I need to start getting the kids out early, like before 7:00 am and getting to the park or the like then. Until I get that together, we’re stuck with indoor fun. Anyone have any ideas for beating the heat in the comfort of my wonderfully air-conditioned home? Any new spins on old ideas for indoor fun? Remember we are TV free. I have lots of hours to fill.

As it sits now, the natives are getting a teeny tiny bit restless. Okay, very, very restless.

And they are starting to rub off on me

Literally

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So when my son woke up this morning, I told him he’d grown in his sleep and that he was now too big for diapers. At first, he burst into tears and I thought I’d done the wrong thing. As it turns out, he thought he was now a grown up and wanted to be a boy. After I’d explained he was just a bigger boy, he was okay- and get this- went ALL day without an accident. After over a year of trying to potty train, that’s what it took. I hate telling lies to my kids, but sheeesh. I am glad I told him this one.

I doubted myself at first. I came so very close to giving in and putting a diaper on him… but I knew he was ready and just needed a push. I hate lying to him though. I tried “it’s time, you’re too old,” and it didn’t work. The diapers not fitting (though his skinny bottom would fit for years yet…) seemed to work for him. I mean you can’t argue with it. It’s logical, if he can not wear diapers he is going to have to “go” somewhere. But, as happy as I am, I do feel mildly guilty for fibbing. Mildly.

Parents: Do you think white lies are part of the game or do you think we should always be completely honest?

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My sweet little Keagan was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder a few months ago.

What is SPD? I’m still learning myself, but I’ll give it a go.

We all have quirks with our senses. You can’t stand the way a tag feels on your shirt. You are easily distracted by bright lights. Or maybe you have a hard time sitting still for very long. Or you can’t stand loud music. There’s something about each of us that we’ve learned to handle that isn’t “normal.” But what is normal is that, for most people, it’s just a few things that we can look past.

When it’s SPD, you have a lot of of  those “quirks” and you can’t just look past them. It sounds like people are screaming at you when they aren’t. When someone brushes against you it feels like they hit you. When you get a drop or two of water on your shirt it feels like you’re soaking wet. This is what life is like for my son. His senses seem to misfire. And in addition to that, he tries hard to seek out sensory response to try and figure it out. So he’s always jumping, always running. He climbs to high places and tries to jump. He has no fear in that sense and yet is hysterical when I vacuum.  Before we started giving him melatonin to help him fall asleep, bedtime would  take hours every.single.night. Some nights it still does. His brain won’t slow down on it’s own. He wants to talk about the shadows on the wall or the car he hears driving by or the book we read before bed. It’s as if all of this stuff is swirling around in his brain and he can’t block it out.

For more information, check out this link http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorders.html

What SPD isn’t: It’s not a discipline problem. It’s not that my child is being “bad.” It’s not an excuse. It’s not made up. It’s a very real disorder that a lot of kids deal with.

This brings me to my point:

I’ve too many times heard people brag about telling parents to shut up their kid or complain about some kid who they thought was acting out in public. These people generally think that these kids they are passing in the grocery store or the like are “bad” because their parents are not parenting them correctly. Well that’s bullshit. I am sorry. My son may have a meltdown in a restaurant when he spills his water on his shirt. He may spin around in circles at the library. He may even slap a kid who touches his head. But he’s not bad. He has neurological disability and he and I are both still learning to handle it.  He’s only three. He looks totally “normal.”   And strangers passing us have not a clue how hard his days are nor mine.

So before you judge that mom in the store who’s child is throwing her shoes in the aisle or the dad at the park who’s kid crashed into you- stop. You don’t know what their life is like. You don’t know what their day has looked like up until that point. You don’t know if maybe mom only got an hour of sleep the night before because the wind kept their toddler up or if that boy got kicked out of preschool because he does not understand personal space and his mom is sad for him and desperate. You have NO CLUE WHAT SOMEONE ELSE IS GOING THROUGH.

Judge not, less ye be wrong. Move on, remove the plank from your eye and smile at the poor parent at the store. And please, don’t tell me how to raise my son. I am doing the best I can.

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I want to tell my story. I want to tell everyone who may happen to read this how I got to the place I am today. There’s a lot to tell… but I think it’s worth telling.

My husband and I met and married young. Nick turned 22 one week before our wedding. I turned 23 a few months after. We were (and are!) madly in love and very happy to be together. We knew we wanted to have kids young, but were waiting on health insurance to come through with his work at a small software/ video game company in Seattle.


(photo by Chris Purdum)

We bought a home in the midst of the housing bubble. We were given what was at the time a great deal by some friends (who subsequently used the profit to adopt their daughter, which in the end, makes all of our troubles worth it if you think about it.) I remember thinking what a sound investment we’d made. At 22 and 23, we were home owners and proud of it. We were told that we could expect our home value to double in less than five years. I’m sure you can guess that it did not.

In April of 2006, our insurance finally would cover pregnancy. So we tried. And got pregnant right away. On June 12th, while on vacation to California, I miscarried our first child. It was a painful, heart wrenching experience made worse by an insensitive ER doctor who was flat out rude to us when we went to him for help. He delivered the news that we were, in fact, losing our child like you’d tell someone what the time was or that their shoelace was not tied. Matter of fact, no emotion, no sympathy, bored even. When I burst into tears, he said “What? You wanted it?” Of course I wanted my baby. This was my first bitter experience in the world of western medicine. It would not be my last.

We spent an unreal week in California and then went home to mourn. As soon as the doctors told us it was okay, we tried again and, once again, got pregnant right away. We were told we were due April 19th, 2007. We were so excited, but very, very scared.

I didn’t really like my OBGYN, but the clinic was the only one in the county my insurance dovered. At the time, I never thought twice about seeing a midwife. It sounded like choosing to have worse care to me. I don’t know that anyone could have convinced me otherwise at the time.

I had a hard pregnancy with lots of morning sickness for the first half and lots of preterm contractions dubbed preterm labor that had me on bedrest for most of my third trimester.

On April 10th, I went to bed having contractions. This was not unusual for me by any means and I didn’t think much of it. On the 11th at 3:00am, I woke up to bloody show and called the hospital as instructed by my OB. They said to come in, and I did. They told me I was in early labor and to come back when it was going strong. I went back in that afternoon, with contractions a minute apart- and was not even dilated 2cm, so they sent me home again. I went back in again at 4:00am on the 12th and had only made it to 4cm, but was admitted.

This is where it gets hard for me. I trusted the medical personnel as I thought I should. I thought they would help me to make good choices and that my baby would be safe. I was wrong.

I can’t really know what went on for sure, but I do know that a nurse told me a few hours after my arrival that I was between 5 and 6 cm dilated and that my water had broken. She told me that if I wanted and epidural, I needed to get it then or it would be too late. So I did. Only when they were done with it, I was informed that I was given a spinal “because you’ll probably end up with a C-section.”

I didn’t have it in me to fight with these people. I wasn’t educated enough. I wasn’t strong enough. I was annoyed, but I kept my mouth shut. After a few minutes of having the dang thing in, I wanted to rip it out. But I left it in out of fear and knowing that I would still have to pay. I hated the way it made me feel. I felt concentrated pain but was unable to move. It was miserable.

Then, I was checked again and found to only be at three centimeters dilated with my water still in tact. I was so mad and confused. I wanted to cry. I may have. I was exhausted.

They sent in an Ob, who said he was checking me for dilation. Instead, he broke my water without my consent. Once again, I was mad, but didn’t know how to speak up. It’s not like they could unbreak it. And I probably would have consented, but I wanted to participate in my own labor.

Eventually, I got as far dilated as I would go, 9 1/2 with a cervical lip. They told me to push through it. I pushed for three hours before an Ob showed up. After she’d been there an hour or so I was yelling to have the spinal removed. It was if I wasn’t speaking. (I actually asked Nick later if I was really asking, he said I was screaming.) I was so tired. I hadn’t slept in more than 40 hours. I said I couldn’t do it anymore. What I wanted was encouragement, a break, anything. What I got was intervention. She (the Ob) said that I was not going to make any progress pushing and I needed either the vacuum extraction or a C section. I asked if the vacuum was safe. She said yes.

She turned the damn thing too high. She pulled so hard that the seal broke and she flew back and hit the wall. Then she stopped using it and told me to push. (Remember, she said I couldn’t push him out a few minutes before!) After 30 min, I pushed out my son at 11:56pm on April 12th, 2007.

He seemed perfect in every way. He got nines on his APGAR’s and was doing well, besides the fact that he cried loudly. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. It turns out his screams were so loud because his brain had been damaged by the vacuum and he was in pain.

We had a beautiful 20 hours as a family. Then he quit breathing when I was trying to nurse him and turned blue. He was taken away from me and put in the nursery.

Very long story short, after a lot more abuse from the hospital, staff ignoring and insulting us and not keeping is informed about our son, Keagan was eventually transferred to the highest level NICU in our region because he had bleeding in his thalamus. He stayed there until he was eleven days old. I had to wash my hands for three minutes to even touch my child. I was not allowed to nurse him for five days. I was only allowed to hold him when given permission. It was hell. I’ll never be able to put into words how it feels not be separated from your child, to need to ask to pick up your baby crying for you… to not be able to nurse your child as he nuzzles into you, rooting hungrily. There are no words and I still ache today for the time that was stolen from us.

We couldn’t tell if his brain was okay or not because the bleeding was too heavy. Once it was controlled and he stopped having seizures (what the episode at the hospital turned out to be, he had eleven before the transfer and a few after) they did an MRI that was inconclusive. They sent us home telling us that we’d be back in four months when the blood was all gone to see what we could find out. We were left with the possibility of brain surgery when our son was 4 months old.

After that MRI, we were told that his brain was injured by the course of his birth and that the improper use of the vacuum suction was most likely to blame. They could not tell us for certain – because they can’t speak against doctors in that way… but the paperwork all said because of the course of birth and the only thing unusual about the birth was that darned vacuum.

A few months later, Keagan had a seizure, something that’s happened a few times since and will probably happen again. Because of the scarring on his brain he’ll always be at risk for them, though at this time he is not considered epileptic. His seizures tend to be fever induced, which are normally harmless, but because of that scarring he has, risk of complication is higher for him.

So not long after we got home, the medical bills started to roll in. Oh my goodness does it ever cost a lot of money to stay in a NICU. Even with insurance and stable jobs, we were in over our heads.

Keagan had too many appointments for me to keep my job. It just wasn’t realistic and I thought I could get it back later. I was wrong, the economy tanked and I didn’t have a position any longer. I applied everywhere I could and did not get hired.

The company Nick worked for was falling apart. He sought employment to avoid being laid off. He found it, but had to accept a paycut.

We looked into refinancing to a lower interest rate so we had more money each month to pay bills. We were fooled by a crooked mortgage man. We kept thinking the loan we had sounded bad, but every time we’d ask, he’d mention the Truth in Lending Act and how he couldn’t lie. Well he did, and things got worse for us. The interest rate soared up each month, along with the amount we owed on the house. We should have had a lawyer look at it, but we couldn’t afford to do it. Looking back, we should have found a way.

We tried to sell our house. We found a buyer for a short sale, as the value had fallen greatly. The offer came in our third wedding anniversary. We felt so much hope that day. That night, we renewed our vows on a small local beach with a few friends in family- and a tiny new life, in my womb. It was a beautiful, happy night.

The bank accepted the offer and we moved out.
Then, somehow the deal fell apart. We got another offer from the same buyer. The bank accepted. We waited. It never finalized. The buyer walked. We got yet a third offer from a new buyer.The bank rejected it, then foreclosed.

We’re now financially ruined, living in a small duplex and making ends meet. We have learned so much through this all… learned to educate ourselves about medical issues. Learned to live simply. We are who we are because we’ve been through this heartache.

I’m now the first person to advocate for natural healthcare, especially in childbirth. I think that the way pregnancy and birth are treated in this nation is a joke. I think that a lot (not all) of OBGY’s just want to make it easy on themselves and care more about their schedules than laboring women. Though I still have anxiety problems when near hospitals due to Keagan’s birth and first weeks, I have healed a lot through the homebirth of my 2nd child. I now know how much better birth can be.

I also have learned so much about living simply. We really were not over the top in our level of consumerism by most standards, however we bought more than we needed. We didn’t need a 1700 sf home. We didn’t need a new car. We didn’t need new clothes. We could have done things differently. We didn’t and we’re paying the price. But I now know that I love our simple. clutter free life. It’s better for us, it’s better for the environment and it’s better for those with whom we share the planet.

So we’re the face of foreclosure. We are the victims of our medical system. We are your average family, just with a lot of life thrown into short years.

I don’t regret most of it. Do I wish I’d been better informed of my birthing options and made better choices? Of course. But I can’t change it. I am always going to wish that I had done better for my son, for his brain…but I can’t change it. He’s doing so much better than we’d ever hoped. We are blessed beyond belief. And even though it’s been hard, God provides. We’ve always managed to stay fed and sheltered, even when it came down to living with my parents a few times for a little while. I wish we’d waited a few years to buy a house? Do I wish I didn’t let society’s pressures tell me I needed to buy one? Yes, but then again, I know we helped our friends in their path to adoption, so, as I said, that all makes it worth it in the end.

We’re better for our heartache. We’re better for our pain and we’re ready to tell people about it now. I don’t want people to make our mistakes. Please, if you’re pregnant and reading this, look into your options. Hire a doula… she can help you so much through your birth. Look into midwifery and natural childbirth. Do not let anyone near you with a vacuum extractor. And if you’re thinking of buying a home, be sure you’re ready and make sure you know why. Renting isn’t all bad.

So there it is. This is how I came to be a crunchy granola mama on a mission for simplicity. As long as it is, it’s the short version. 🙂 I hope I’ve helped someone with my tale, but if nothing else, it’s healing to write it all out.

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In the two minutes it took me to use the restroom earlier today, my son found and ingested a few ounces of bubbles. Yummy. The guy at poison control said if he didn’t vomit large amounts in the next hour he’d be fine, just probably have the runs. No vomit, thankfully, but I am not looking forward to his next few dirty diapers. I think if I have to call Poison Control again, I will need to use a fake name. At the rate Keagan eats things he shouldn’t, they’ll probably report me to CPS. Haha.

We went to a playgroup yesterday and Keagan had a blast. He really loves playing with other kids. I’d take him back to the park today to get more interaction with other kids, but as it turns out there is rain of Biblical proportions pouring down so we are playing inside today. He’s getting tired of books and puzzles. I’m hopeful that after naptime it will be nicer outside. I don’t need sun… just a break in the rain. (spoken like a true Pacific Northwester)

It seems that Eden is following in her brother’s footsteps with food intolerances. Something in my diet makes her vomit big time. Poor little thing. I’ve cut out all dairy and soy. It seems to be getting a bit better so we’ll see if this works. I am praying it does because the poor little thing is just miserable. Plus, it’s really frustrating for a post partum Mama who is still losing weight and only has two pairs of pants to get large amounts of vomit on her clothes every day. Not that I don’t care about the kiddo first and foremost, but I would really love to not have to choose between sweatpants with a hole in the crotch and vomit soaked khakis.

Both kids are growing and changing so much by the day. Keagan talks more and more every day. In spite of the fact that I’ve done very little in the way of teaching him, he knows all his letters and their sounds and occasionally uses these skills to sound out words on his own. I am shocked by all of this. I didn’t expect him to be in the early stages of learning to read weeks after his second birthday, but he is.

He’s adjusting fairly well to his little sister, who’s been here five weeks already! He is very sweet with her about 90% of the time. Every once in awhile, however, his jealous streak shows. Usually when she’s nursing. Poor little guy misses it. My milk dried up when I was pregnant with her, but he’s always kept a strong attachment to my breasts. I’ve tried to offer nursing to him, but he only latches on for a few seconds. He does not want to nurse, but he sure does not want HER to get to nurse either.

Eden is smiling all the time now. I love that smiley new baby stage. She’s adorable. She’s growing so very fast. She looks like a new baby almost daily. We keep wondering who she looks like and I don’t think we’ll know for some time. It is so nice to cuddle such a sweet little one. I forgot how special this newborn time was the first time around.

As I look at her I wonder if she’s my last baby. I don’t know what our future holds, but I am snuggling close just in case.

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