Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies: Way Yum Recipe

I haven’t posted a recipe in awhile and I just made some of these and they are definitely post worthy.  Thanks for the recipe Mom.  I changed it up just a bit.  These are gluten, casein, soy and rice free (GFCF and SFRF)

Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. soy free shortening (I use Spectrum Palm Oil Shortening)

1 c. Agave Nectar (or 1 c. ea brown and white sugars)

2 eggs

1 tsp. GF vanilla

1 1/2 c. Buckwheat flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

3 c. GF Oats

Optional:  1 c. raisins (or dried cranberries) and 1 c. walnuts

Mix shortening and agave (or sugars) until creamy.  Add eggs.  Add vanilla.  Set aside.  In another bowl mix buckwheat, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to shortening, sugar/nectar, egg and vanilla.  Mix in oats.  If desired, mix in raisins and nuts.

Drop large spoonfuls on to cookie sheet.  Flatten a bit with the spoon.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

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Kissy and Boo

we have two dogs, a beagle named Kissy and a Shar Pei named bailey Boo.  Roman loves the dogs.  Last night he was playing with them and he said their names!  He would run away from them, taunting them to follow him, calling out their names along the way.  Once each, a few months back, he said their names before, but it’s been awhile since he called for either of them.

Roman loves his Beagle, Kissy

The words are once again coming fast and furious.  Roman has been on the buspirone for over two months.  I say that he’s on it because everyday I’m growing more and more sure that he didn’t get the placebo.  Fortunately, the side effects are diminishing.  The chewing and drooling is under control.  Sleep can still be elusive, but I took the light bulbs out of the boys’ room a few days ago and it seems to be helping him get to sleep a little earlier.  I need to thank my mom for that idea.  When Eric and I had to stay overnight at his parents’ house for his grandma’s funeral, my mom took care of the kids.  Roman kept on turning on the light at bedtime, as he always does at home, so she got the brilliant idea to take the light bulbs out of the overhead light.  Totally inspired move, Mom.

In other news, we’re snowed in here in Michigan.  There are snow drifts in our yard up to four feet tall or so.  Eric and the kids are home, of course.  Roman seems to be bored and stares out the window at the snow longingly.  He loves the snow.  Too bad he’d be buried if he ventured off the porch.

A view from the porch

So we’ll all hunker down and wait for more words today.  Sounds like a great plan to me.

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School is cool

It was a rough night.  Roman woke up around 11, quite unsettled.  So, Eric brought him to our room to sleep with me while he retreated to the solitude of the couch.  All night long, Roman decided to kick me right where my shingles are the worst.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep through the pain.  Roman, however, woke well rested and in a great mood.

Mondays are usually a challenge.  The kids are emerging from their weekend highs with the Monday blahs.  Tanis is hard to wake up.  Tycen insists he’s sick and can’t go to school.  Roman is usually dragging, but today he was up and at ’em.  He walked to the breakfast table, rubbing sleep from his eyes, slapping his dad a high five on the way.

After breakfast, Roman watches TV for awhile while all the kids ease into the school routine.  At his diaper changing, I told him, as usual, that it was a school day.  To my surprise, he looked at me, directly in the eyes, and said “school”!

Words are coming along awesome.  Today was not unique.  It was a new word, but he’s been spouting them off with some kind of regularity now.  All weekend, he was saying some of his favorite words.  “Go” is one he uses a lot.  He tells his toys to “go” when he hits whatever button makes them make sounds.  I also heard “Dad” a few times, a few were even requesting his father’s presence instead of mine.  He asked for his “ba,” which is what he calls his sippy cup.  It’s short for bottle, which he hasn’t had since he was just over a year old, but the old word hangs on.  At one point, he was showing everyone his cup, declaring it a “ba” to each person.

The word that chokes me up the most though is “Mom”.  It’s been my wish for over a year now to hear “I love you Mom”.  He’s getting there.  I’ll take the beginnings of it by just hearing “Mom” in his singsong, “I love you” voice.  Roman is an affectionate kid and I’m beyond the moon that’s the case.  I was so afraid that he would forever be resistant to human touch like he was a year ago.  But he’s grown so much since then.  He loves to be held and snuggle up close to me when I lay down on the couch.

When I dropped Roman off at school today, I had a short conversation with his teacher.  She is amazed by all the sounds and word approximations he uses at school and agrees that he’s just going to take off one of these days.  She also mentioned again how smart he is, picking things up very quickly.  My heart swells when I hear these reports.  I’m so proud of my little man!

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Cohabitation woes

The boys share a bedroom.  We have no choice.  We live in a three bedroom house and Tanis has the third bedroom.  Roman is like many autistic children in that sleep usually eludes him for many hours after bedtime.  Tycen just wants to go to bed and Roman spends his time jumping on his brother, kicking him and laughing.  Of course, it doesn’t help that Tycen has a tendency to laugh at anything “naughty” that Roman does.  So, Tycen can’t stand being bullied by Roman, but he still laughs at it, which eggs Roman on.

Eric and I are at an impasse.  I want to let Tycen sleep on the couch indefinitely.  Eric says that’s just not an option.  I don’t know what else to do.  My mom had the kids overnight this week because Eric and I had to attend his grandma’s funeral and visitation down in Centreville.  She separated the boys and took the light bulbs out of the room Roman was sleeping in.  Then, she Supernannied Roman, putting him back in bed and holding him there several times over before he fell asleep.  I don’t know if it was because Roman responded better to her than he would to me, or if it would really work.  It couldn’t hurt to try, right?

On a completely unrelated note, I am feeling as miserable as I have ever felt.  I have been blessed with a nasty case of Shingles.  I don’t know what I did to cross the gods, but apparently I’ve been a very bad girl if karma is a real thing.  I’m worried that Roman could end up with Chicken Pox since he’s only had one of two vaccinations for it.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to try to soothe an autistic Chicken Pox patient.  Everyone tells me not to worry about it because it’s unlikely that it will happen, but anyone that’s known me for awhile knows there’s one truth:  If something can happen, it will happen to me (or my family).  So, I’m waiting for the two week incubation period and expecting Chicken Pox.  Wouldn’t that just be the cherry on the sundae that is my life right now?

Sorry to be such a downer.  It’s just really hard to sit here in so much pain and put a positive spin on things so I’m not going to even try.

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Serotonin and the autistic brain

We had Roman’s monthly appointment in Detroit this week.  The doctor in charge of the study went over the results of Roman’s PET scan with me.  It was a little strange in a cool way to be staring at pictures of the way my son’s brain works.  It was explained to me that in the young autistic brain, as compared to the neurotypical brain, serotonin is synthesized at a much lower rate.  There were all kinds graphs and charts to support this theory and I was convinced.

I wish I had a scanner so I could share the pictures with you better, but I had to take pictures of the print outs (which aren’t the greatest quality to begin with) to share here.  Bear with me.

This graph shows the average serotonin synthesis by age in both the autistic brain and the non-autistic brain.  The graph is by age and you can see that the autistic line is much lower than the non-autistic line until the children get to be 6 or 7.  I know it’s hard to read the ages at the bottom, so you’ll just have to believe me.  What I found most striking was how close Roman was to the autistic average.  He’s the big red dot in the graph.

We’ve had an educational diagnosis and a psychological diagnosis of autism both delivered in the past year.  It isn’t that I didn’t believe them, but this was the final cold splash of water to the face.  I’m fully awake now.  Roman is really, truly autistic.  As if there was any doubt, right?  I guess that there was a part of me that was still in denial.  No more.  It’s a mixed bag.  We know we’re doing everything we can to help him and he has an awesome support system of people that really care about his education and emergence.  But, I’m still a little disheartened.  I can’t help it.

I wanted to include pictures of the actual scans, but they didn’t come out well enough to make out any more than a big white blob in a big black blob.  Basically, they also showed that Roman is synthesizing serotonin like his autistic peers instead of like neurotypical children his own age.

While I can’t deny that I was a little deflated by the results, they were, and are, encouraging.  Roman has a serotonin level issue.  It’s too low.  The buspirone increases serotonin.  That’s a medical fact.  This study has become even more important to me now.  I really still believe that we may have found a miracle.  We’ll just have to wait and see how it works out.

And on that note, today and for the past week or so, we have been hearing more words from Roman.  It’s really hard to understand him, but today he even said “diaper”.  At school, they have been noticing the same thing.  More words, or at least word approximations.  Even better, Roman is starting to follow direction better.  He’s consistently turning off the television when I tell him to.  He’ll bring me his boots when I ask.  He even gets in his car seat sometimes at my request, which is a lifesaver since I threw my back out yet again a few weeks ago.

After all of this, I can say I am again hopeful and I have no regrets in putting Roman in the study.  I think we’re on the verge of something big.

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Why I’ve been MIA

Life is a choose your own adventure book.  Remember those things?  Every few pages, you would choose to go one way or another.  Then, a few pages of story would follow to lead you to another quandary.  Everyday, we make choices that lead us down a different path.

It’s been like that with Roman.  When we were first hinted to that autism was a possibility, we had a choice.  We could ignore it or we could face it head on.  Some people choose to ignore it for awhile, and that’s okay.  They just need some time to process things.  We decided to do everything we could to improve Roman’s chances of advancement.  We dove in to his education first.  Then, we attacked his diet.  Finally, we found the Buspirone trial.  We’ve chosen this adventure for ourselves, Roman and the rest of our family.  We can only hope that we are making the right decisions, just like any other family faced with an autism diagnosis.

My newest adventure started as a way to take my mind off of the daily insanity that can be my life.  Tanis got not one, but two dolls for Christmas.  She was elated to receive both a madame Alexander and American Girl doll for Christmas.  She also got a lot of accessories, including a bed and a horse.  She was, and is, in little girl heaven.  One day, a few weeks back, I decided to knit her up a dress for her dolls to share from some yarn I had lying around.  I thought I did a pretty good job.  And so it started.

I made her a few more outfits and found an obsession.  I decided to try to make a little extra money making doll clothes.  So, in every spare moment I have been knitting and sewing, hoping to open an etsy shop (psst….it’s right here ) by Monday.  That’s what I’ve been up to lately.  It’s really helping me to focus on something other than Roman and his recovery, and that’s a good thing.  I need something just for me and for now, I’ve found it.

If you’re interested in the doll clothes that will fit any 18″ doll and you’re on Facebook, like us and find out about new listings to the etsy site and promotions.  I am planning a coupon code for our grand opening.

Don’t forget to wish me good luck, I could use it.

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Just tell me what you want!

I know it’s a long term kind of dream, but all I want is for Roman to be able to tell me what he wants.  I just spent a half hour rocking him after he woke up from a late nap, crying.  He at least whined through the whole thing, if not all out wailing.  I held him close, which seems to calm him sometimes.  I rubbed his feet, which usually soothes him.  Nothing in my bag of tricks was working.

It’s nights like tonight that I start feeling like a bad parent.  I can’t give my child what he needs.  It would help if he could tell me what that was, but all I get is cries.  A lot of what Roman does is on par with his age, but his speech is more akin to a 9 to 12 month old.  Parenting him for the past two years has been like having a perpetual one year old that keeps on developing physically but not verbally.

Of course, Roman knows more than the typical one year old, and possibly more than the typical three year old.  He knows his letters and numbers.  He just can’t say them.  If you ask him to point to, say, the letter Q, he’ll do it (if it strikes his fancy).  He’ll do that to most of the alphabet and numbers to five.  No, Roman is not delayed mentally at all.  Which, actually, has to be frustrating for him.  He feels and knows things that are typical for a three year old.  He just can’t express his thoughts into words yet.  They’re all trapped up there in his burgeoning brain with no outlet.

From my perspective, though, it’s hard to remember that.  All I can do is read his non-verbal cues and guess what he wants.  Sure, we have PECS, which helps, but there’s only so much that can be communicated through his PECS book.  I’m sure that we’ll move on to things like “I want a hug” or “I need my blanket and pillow,” but for now, we’re mostly relegated to food and toy requests.  It’s better than nothing, but far from a perfect solution.  The only thing that’s going to fix this frustration, for both of us, is words and the ability to use them to express needs.

After the crying tonight, I’m burnt out. With Roman and his brother and sister to care for, I don’t have the luxury of being burnt out, though.  I just have to keep on trudging through.

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Two posts in one day…I know you were all wondering what’s happened to me

The craziness of the Christmas season is still in full swing here.  Tycen and Tanis are reveling in the post Christmas afterglow and we still have two parties left to go.  As far as Roman goes, he could take the holidays or leave them, much like his dad.  Yes, I married Scrooge.

I have to give some major props to my mother in law, who planned a menu of foods completely within Roman’s diet.  I did feel bad for the other seven kids, though.  It was a Christmas party without a single sugar cookie iced in gooey goodness.  But, it took a lot of worry off my mind to not have to follow Roman’s every step to make sure he wasn’t putting one in his mouth.

As for presents, Roman is finally learning to unwrap things.  He’s found the simple joy of ripping paper to be therapeutic.  Caring less about what’s actually inside than the act of tearing apart red and green paper, he had a grand time with the unwrapping process.

None of his gifts went over particularly well.  I thought that the weighted blanket I made him would go over with a bang, but it was more of a pop and fizzle.  It’s made of Thomas material and I thought he would love it for that alone.  He also seems to enjoy weight on top of his chest and legs, but he has yet to pick up on the fact that the blanket was made specifically for that reason.  I was hoping it would help him sleep more soundly, but he has to actually fall asleep with it on top of him for it to work.  That hasn’t happened yet and he spent the last two nights in my room after waking up past midnight.

Roman's new weighted blanket. It weighs a little over 5 pounds.

So Christmas for Roman was a bust so far, not that he’s really noticed.  He’s all about stealing his sister’s new Leapster and running away from her, laughing the entire way.

If you’re interested in making a weighted blanket of your own, I found some great directions on how to do it here.  It’s really quite easy and a great idea.  I found the best deals for the poly pellets on eBay.  It will take time, but I’m sure after awhile Roman will really come to love it.

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The Roman in the cupboard

Today, I was on a tear.  Eric forced me to clean off the top of our dresser.  For those of you who don’t know me well, I don’t clean.  I mean, like, never.  Okay, close to never.  I only do it when I’m made to feel guilty about living in a sty.  It’s not like I don’t do anything during the day, I’m just not a housekeeper.  That’s more Eric’s arena.

But, every so often, I have to do it.  I take deep breaths and dive in.  The problem is, once I get started, I can’t stop until I’ve rearranged the entire house.  My husband’s main complaint was having nowhere to put the Wii games and accessories we got the kids for Christmas.  Since the console is in our room, we had to come up with somewhere in there to do it.  I cleaned off the dresser top and then moved on to purging the contents of the dresser itself.  Once I had that done, I decided I did not want all the video game paraphernalia on top of my dresser after all.

I went to the basement, which serves as both a playroom and a catch all for odds and ends of furniture.  A few years ago, I traded painting a bathroom at my friend’s house for her nice wicker set of an armoire, a media tower, and a bookshelf.  I moved the bookshelf and media tower to our room to hold the Wii equipment and games and our DVDs, respectively.  I was left with an armoire that looked out of place.

I couldn’t have that.  I got what my dear husband refers to as “a bug up my ass”.  Something just had to be done with the armoire.  It is a really nice piece of furniture, with a wood interior and distressed wicker exterior.  The boys’ room called out for it.  They have been living with bins of toys in their room for long enough.  The armoire was the perfect answer.

So, I started dragging the heavy piece of furniture up the stairs.  I got about halfway up when I had to call for Eric, interrupting his precious Colts game.  I got nasty looks and a few choice words, but he understands the power of “the bug up my ass” and grudgingly helped haul it up the rest of the way to the boys’ room.

Everything went perfect until bedtime.  I secured the armoire with four long screws to the studs in the wall, making it perfectly safe for use in their room.  The kids and I even organized the toys with little fight from them.  Then, it was off to bed.

Seconds later, Eric called out:  “You have to look at this!”

Check out the eye peeking out.

Yup, Roman has a new favorite spot in his room.  It comes as no surprise.  He has a penchant for small spaces.  It’s another common characteristic of autism.  He likes to squeeze in to corners and cubby holes, like the ones where the kids hang their coats up at school, so the amoire really is perfect for him.  I just hope he doesn’t decide to fall asleep in there.  Oh well, if he does, it’s a great photo op for my new camera.

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The first month

Well, we’re wrapping up the first month of the buspirone trial and everyone wants to know how it’s going.  I must admit that a month ago, I was a kid with a brand new shiny bike.  I was so happy.  Then, I remembered I didn’t know how to ride a bike and that it could take weeks, maybe months, to learn.  That’s where I’m at right now.  I have to remember that this is a long term commitment, not a magic bullet.  Just because I got the bike doesn’t mean I can ride it yet.

Roman is a happy guy, though.  We still wake up every morning and snuggle for a good half hour.  In those times, I can forget about autism.  He’s just my super sweet snuggly buggly.  The gnawing continues though.  I bought a food dehydrator to make him some chewier snacks, hoping that would help to fill his need to chew, but Tycen’s bed bears new scars every morning.  I think I’ll be investing in some of those wooden teethers soon.

He is babbling more and using his precious few words more often now than he did before he started the buspirone.  I am now thinking that this is probably just more of a coincidence than it is a result of the medicine.  Still, I am troubled by the biting and licking.  He seems upset by something, and I wish that he could tell me what it was.  I wonder if his poor body and mind are adjusting to the medication and that his uneasiness will subside.  It may just be the upheaval of the holiday season.  Things are different.  He has more days off school.  There is a big tree inside the house for some reason and he’s not allowed to touch it.

Still, I have been looking for ways to calm Roman.  So, I made a weighted blanket for him for Christmas.  He loves to pile blankets and pillows on top of himself.  The blanket is supposed to feel like a hug to an autistic child, and I can see that.  I really think he’ll enjoy it.  Besides, it’s Thomas the Tank Engine and Roman loooooves Thomas.  I almost feel guilty that it’s sitting under the tree wrapped up and not with him in his bedroom at night.

The first month is almost over and that shiny bicycle sits in front of us still.  But we’re still learning how to ride that bike.  It just takes time.

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