Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quote of Joseph Smith

I think it is fitting that Joseph Smith's birthday is right around Christmas. This snippet is only part of a longer quote and a beautiful message of important instruction. I think of this part of the quote when I think of autism and it's challenges. It reminds me of the little light that my son has always had in his eyes, even when his condition was at its most challenging states. I am so glad for the chance to help his mind grow and to see his little light shine.

“We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect...."

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Day

It seems like it was just months ago since I wrote a similar post about myself for my special day, but it has really been a whole year! Today I am writing afew little things just about just myself, you know, the part of this blog I usually forget about.

I have become very interested in vegan, whole foods cooking over the last year. I was introduced to the idea by a friend years ago, but didn't think it was practical on a gluten free and other things free diet that I do. I watched the movie, Forks Over Knives, (which I loved and would totally recommend,) and have connected with some resources that will make doing more of it very doable. I will be sharing more on this topic in the near future.

  I graduated with an Assiociates Degree in Graphic Design from BYU Idaho in 2002 and have just started designing professionally this year. Adobe Illustrator is the same, I find. It just now is more user friendly than ever, and it has some cool new features. The same with Photoshop. I think the program I went through is college is serving me well.

My sewing machine has been good at saving me money. I am making a Christmas gift for Little Bear and I am currently resizing a couch cover for our large, overstuffed couch, and covering the large throw pillows, too. All that suede is kind of retro looking to me, so I am thinking of throwing some vintage panel made of some printed fabric I've got. Now just wait while I find those old stretcher bars and the staple gun...

Now that I have become the owner of a beautiful palace home and now live above ground, I am the owner of houseplants. I love my plants, and they have now survived for months. They have not shriveled up and died from lack of light. Yay!

I am now the mom of two boys, my favorite 6 year old, and my little bear. This has changed me in lots of ways, and it has mostly all for the better. Now I need to go get some sleep. :)

(My day is on the 13th, but blogger thought it was the 12th when I posted it. How funny!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

1st Grade, Continued

Here is my post about our experience earlier in the school year--1st Grade.

Eli is now fully mainstreamed. I managed to make it in again after several weeks to volunteer in his class last Friday. It was really illuminating. Illuminating, meaning that some of my positive assumptions about a situation turn out to be false, leaving me feeling... um, disillusioned.

For one, I believed that Eli was at grade level in most areas, because of testing last year and his special ed teacher's excitement about how he has been doing academically this year. This has turned out not to be true, the teacher of the mainstreaming class tells me. If he was at grade level in reading, math, and writing before, he has fallen behind.

Also, although he is part of the typical 1st grade class and is usually a non disruptive addition, he does not participate in independent academic activities. He does not do solitary read. He looks at the pictures. He does not do anything productive during "centers" time, which is a student directed activity in this new class. His teacher cannot sit behind him and make sure he is on task. She has 20 other kids.

It looks like my quest continues. My challenge is to create a situation where Eli can suceed, and then help him to meet the challenge. His mainstreaming teacher and I both agree that he is better off in her class, rather than the special ed class, even if things just continue the way that they are. At the same time, my feelings are that mainstreaming has been too much change for him, too quickly, and I am faced with the fact that he is really not fully ready for it yet. At the same time, I know that going back to the old class is not an option.

I have been discussing with the teacher getting Eli an adult aide to help him during his more challenging parts of the day. I know that legally I can push for this, in fact my own mother got my brother an aide for his class when he needed it. But in this situation, what is reasonable for me to ask and what does he really need? The economy is doing crazy things to the schools, and I want so much for my son to be able to do what he needs to on his own.

We are still weighing all this and still looking into options for his future education as well.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Little Monkey

Eli and I have had a little bit of a hard day today. He has been acting out, in fact he even hit his sunday school teacher. Sigh. I have been feeling down, and just not quite myself. The culprit? I really think it was a tiny milk derivative that was in the instant potatoes that we ate at a family gathering over the holday weekend.

I noticed the problem of the milk content moments before we all sat down to eat and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to tell my son that not only could he not have half of the dinner items, but he also could not have the mashed potatoes. So, while it may not have been the rational thing to do, I thought, "I'm sure it is a very minor content, and it may not even bother him." Well we live and learn I guess.

These experiences are good to have once in a while, because they remind me of why I work so hard to keep them from happening. While this is totally not what I got on the blog to write about, I have a feeling that there are readers out there that had similar Thanksgiving experiences, but hopefully not! Our actual holiday was great, it's just this unfortunate after effect. 

My husband and I heard a song when we were out and about recently. Before I had even pinpointed what it was, by husband was saying, "This song will always remind me of Eli's 'awakening.'" I thought he had a nice way of putting that.

When our son was 3, we started doing biochemical intervention. Change did not happen all at once, of course, but we could see that here alittle and there alittle, he was more aware. He was very much into Curious George at the time. He had just gotten the first Curious George movie, which I popped in during his sleepless intervals in the way early mornings.

He loved the Curious George episodes on TV and had some on video. He still had very little speech, but he was in fact starting to communicate with us in "George" language. That was something he could understand. He would even swing his arms when he walked, like George does. He would mimic George's sounds, most especially his little sad, disappointed little moan with the little shake of the head. He was our little monkey. This song is from the first Curious George movie and has clips from the movie. Click here to see the official Jack Johnson YouTube video, "Upside Down."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Supplements are an important part of my son's biochemical therapy. His doctor oversees them, and his regimen is unique to him. I confess I cannot tell you off the top of my head why he takes each one. Then his doctor starts talking about the methylation cycle, he starts getting a glassy-eyed, vacant look from me. I can tell you that some of these supplements are to help his gut. I can tell you that they were added one at a time, and I saw improvements with each one. Some of these he takes because his gut does not absorb enough of certain things. Some he takes for this methylation cycle thing. Some are just to support general good nutrition, (things that would help us all function better.)

The blue pill box is for mornings. The purple one is for nights. In addition, he gets Juice Plus+ twice a day, a probiotic twice a day, and zinc at night. Oh yeah, and B12 by injection every 3 days. This regimen is a job in itself for me to maintain.

I once had the experience of Eli being seen by the school psychologist. She asked what he was taking, and so I told her every single little thing, right down to the B12. She tried to hide it, but her look said, "This mom is crazy! I need to save them from their craziness." Yeah, I supplement my son's brain and body with the things that he actually needs instead of pumping him with mind-altering meds with their side effects. I must be nuts. Here is my previous post about this visit.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monster Box

It is bound to be a spooky night. My Eli is going actual door-to-door trick-or-treating in the neighborhood for the first time. Why is he going for the first time at the age of 6? Well there are many reasons for this. For one, he didn't care for many years, nor would be be able to get him to do it if we tried. Last year we let him trick-or-treat in more controlled conditions where we could control what he got. By that time he could even say, "Trick-or-Treat!" (His medically required diet takes all Halloween candy off the 'OK' list.)

This year when my friends ask me if we are going trick-or-treating with that concerned look, I tell them about the Monster Box. He is new to our family this season, and has been a great success through a recent Halloween Carnival and also an "Angry Birds" birthday party just last weekend. It works like this: Eli goes Trick-or-Treating, (or in the case of the BD party, pinata smashing,) and keeps his candy and brings it home. Right when he gets home, he wants to do the Monster Box.

The Monster Box is a "Cars" shoebox from the shoes we bought for him to start the school year with, and it is full of stuff, like dried papaya and pineapple, dimes, quarters, Phineas and Ferb temporary tattoos, crazy drinking straws, gluten free animal cookies, (and other little sugary treats the the box carries limited quantities of.)

There is an exchange system connected with this box. He looks at the "exchange rate paper" and hands me the one, two, or three pieces of candy he wants to trade for and what he would like for them. He keeps exchanging until his candy is gone and he has a pile of goodies that are "special medical diet friendly." It works like a charm. He is excited to get candy, and I don't have to worry about him eating it. LOVE it! Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

1st Grade

This school year has been an interesting one so far for my first grader, Eli. He had the most wonderful small group autism class for kindergarten last year. It was full day and had all the structure, discipline, and appropriate challenges that he needed. He was mainstreaming for 30 minutes a day, without the help of an aide. By the end of the school year, all those extra hours in the classroom paid off. He was doing great. I placed him at the school he is now attending, fully expecting that he would just pick up where he left off and be able to have the type of structure that he had in the kindergarten class, and continue to increase mainstreaming time.
My little bear is going on 4 months now, and I have been waking up from newborn zombieland only to be disappointed when I realized that things are much different for Eli than I thought they were going to be. I don't blame anyone for this, really, as it is a good deal in part due to circumstances and different teaching styles. The class he is in is NOT bad, it is just not a great match for him. He was coming home with clenched teeth, ready for a fight. Sometimes he would just come home and start yelling at me. Then he would throw a fit in the evening... "I don't want to go to school. My friend is mean to me. He yells in my ear." Come to find out, Eli is the highest functioning child in his current small group autism class. The class can have a rather high noise level, and Eli has always had a strong sensitivity to noise. All the noise was causing him serious tension issues. Also, academically he can do all the typical 1st grade level work.
Eli's teacher has really earned my trust. When I went to her with my concerns, she put him in more mainstreaming time, and she went with him herself the first time to see how it would go, and so she could tell how much time would be appropriate for him. He is now mainstreaming 2 and 1/2 hours a day. While he does NOT behave like an angel the whole time he is in Mrs. H's class, Mrs. H is very experienced and works great with him. He also goes with an aide from his special ed classroom who takes care of him there. The overall result of the new changes? MUCH less tension! We are still having behavior issues that have appeared over the last few months, but the lower tension level is good, good stuff. He now has more appropriate role models, more appropriate challenges, and less inappropriate noise. He also still has his small group autism class in the afternoon, which is good for downwinding a bit and for getting individual help with his lessons. All these changes are very recent. We are watching very closely to see how things will be once he has settled into this routine. All we know right now is that this is great stuff.
I am already concerned for next year! My concerns are these: The small group autism classes in this school district are not going to become more appropriate for him as he ages, they are only going to cause him frustration. It is likely he may not be at a level next year where it will be appropriate to place him in a large, typical public school class setting. All my concerns combined cause me to think that a charter school will be a good option for him for next year. I believe that at a charter school he may be able to be with his typical peers in a smaller class setting, and I think that with the support a smaller classroom would afford, he would do very well. We are looking into options.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to School

We had an extremely eventful summer... let's see... we became homeowners, we had a baby boy, and we became very active staff of a gluten-free business. Add that to the autism therapy things which are just part of our life and we forget that that takes energy, too, and it was all exhausting to say the least. We now live in a white palace, as I have dubbed it, (a tall white townhouse that I just love,) we have an almost three month-old who is totally mild mannered and super social, we just finished our second publication for the business, and we have a six year old with autism who said to me tonight, "Mom, I have too much speed for you!" (We were playing a racing game on the wii and I about died when he said that... too funny!)

(This is an image that our team created for the September publication. As serious design work, I'm pretty sure it is not so successful, but it seemed to fit its' purpose, and Eli thinks it is really fun!)

We also had a casualty over the summer... my parent's marriage of 32 years ended. My parents also have a son with autism, my teenage brother. I had always thought that having an autistic child upped your chances of divorce significantly. My own observations of other families while I was growing up seemed confirm this. A quick google search brought up several pages that said the same thing: We no longer think it is true that divorce is more likely for these couples. Apparently couples with young children are more at risk for divorce, same with the parents with autism in the family. However, depending on the severity of the autism, their risk may not go down when their child ages as other couple's would. It was so strange, but awesome at the same time to have that myth debunked for me. (I admit that I still do believe what I heard a dad of 3 ASD children say in a panel discussion concerning autism and marriage. "It will make you or break you." He and his wife stressed the need for constant communication.) Of course I would never ever think of my brother as the cause for this separation. His condition was only one of many stresses on the relationship. My brother has been handling change well and is enjoying the new school year.

My own son is in the first grade! I can't believe it. He is in a small group autism class. I am looking forward to doing volunteering and becoming familiar with how they run things and how they discipline and such. It is sweet how they think he is such a great reader and so responsible, but that also makes me concerned for how well he fits the class. Should they be surprised that he can read and that he is independent? I don't think so. I think they should expect that. We will see how the year unfolds. He seems to enjoy school and I have not noticed any regression in behaviors, so it is quite possible that we are in a good place. Here's to a brand new school year!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Website

The Gluten Free Consumer now has a new website!
As for this new site, it is simple, clean, and I think it is quite nice. As for my blog, hopefully I will be back to my regularly scheduled posting after the September issue is out. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Gluten Free Consumer is Here!

The first issue of The Gluten Free Consumer, is now in the print! It is way exciting for me to do my fist professional graphic design project. I am happy with how it turned out, although I also see lots of room for improvement. If any designeries out there have suggestions on the cover/logo, I am all ears. It has been a long time since I have had a professor to offer a critique. :)

This first run has been relatively small, however, it is not too late to lay claim on a "trial version" of the mag, (a.k.a. the August issue.) It can still be ordered at www.allergymenu Much larger numbers projected next month!
Although my main job was to do the designing, I was also the author of the article titled, "We Speak: Adjusting to a Gluten Free Lifestyle," which I am particularly proud of. My brief article shares tips on how not to sabotage your own efforts, and assures readers that you are worth the effort to make hard steps toward their own wellness! (This article was written for those eating gluten free for medical reasons, such as Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance.)

I was particularly proud of this article because providing useful information to help others with the dietary struggles we have been through is what this company is all about. I want people to know that their health is worth sacrificing for... sacrificing the time to relearn how to eat, sacrificing old favorites for new ones... we really just want to support people in their efforts towards better health! You are so worth it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gluten Free Consumer

I have been busy, busy, busy! In the past, I have promoted a company called "Allergy Menu Specialists," here and here. and It is my brother in law's gluten-free based business and he has been trying to find his niche in the market for several months now. Now we think he has found it with his new publication, The Gluten Free Consumer. His wife has celiac disease and their focus is to connect the gluten free individual with resources such as articles from professionals, product reviews, and recipes. This makes me a busy mom because I am the designer for his publication. I got my associates in graphic design in 2002 and have never designed professionally, but I have faith that the program I went through was a good one and that my skills will increase with use. I am very excited about this opportunity. He is sending out his first issue in August, and you can have it sent to your home for $1.50. Here is a teaser for the tasty recipe that is included in this first issue...

(it is unfortunately not casein free, but I will hint that there is another equally tasty recipe included that is both gluten and casein free!)

Here is how to order if any readers are interested:
Go to Click on the shopping cart. From there you will have the option of selecting subscriptions. If you would like to give it a trial run with the August issue, select "trial version." I have a feeling this publication is going to be great!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Diet for Little Bear's Gut

Little Orson is now 16 days old. At his two week appointment he proved that he is living up to his name, (which means "bear cub,") by weighing in at 9 lbs, 9 oz. Also at his two week, the subject of gut issues was discussed.

Our older son, Eli, has had horrible gut issues in the past which were related to his condition.(Now that we have found correct information and good medical help, Eli's gut has been much happier these last couple of years!) Naturally, we have been doing everything we can to help our newborn to not have to go through the pain our older son had to.

Imagine our distress when we brought home our well-adjusted newborn, to have him start randomly screaming at 12 days old. It was a pain cry to us, and so I talked to his doctor about it. (Orson's doctor is also Eli's DAN! doctor.) I felt that it had to do with gut issues, mainly because my doctor required me to be on an anti-biotic when I was in labor. So, even though I was determined to have an unmediated labor, I found myself on an IV and worrying about my baby's gut. Despite taking pro-biotics the following week after his birth, the sudden screaming cry has made it appear as though his gut was struggling.

The plan to help little bear's gut is this: yeast protocol diet for me, the breastfeeding mom, along with an anti-fungal, along with pro-biotics for both of us. Let me just say, this diet is extremely challenging for me, who already has many diet restrictions. Now in addition, no starches, limit vinegars, no sugar, no fruit, no fruit juices for the next two weeks. I am trying very hard to keep on top of all of this, and I am finding it very challenging as an exhausted mom of a newborn. My little bear seems to be happier already, though. His random cries have been smaller in quantity and volume.

A recent happy discovery is that I can now tolerate gluten-free oats! I could not resist a gluten free oatmeal raisin cookie that my sister-in-law offered me last weekend, and that is how I discovered I can now tolerate them. So now on my yeast protocol diet I very happily eat a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal with stevia, vanilla extract powder, and cinnamon. Pretty wild for someone who grew up hating hot cereals. :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our Baby is Here!

Orson was born on June 24th, weighing 8lbs, 6oz and 20.5 inches long. He is absolutely perfect, and is the most alert little newborn I have ever seen. He likes to study faces.

His 6 year old brother just loves him. Although Eli has had some behavioral regressions due to all the change, there is no jealousy at all. He likes to hold Orson and sing him songs.

Happy Fourth, from our family of 4!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

We've Moved!

That is to say, just last week we moved, in a physical sense. (The CJ's Woodland Shed blog will still be here!) Our move came about because we have purchased our first little property. Here is a picture of me at the front door. Our baby boy is due very soon!

Our six year old wonder boy Eli has been handling the move very well. Although they do not give me cause for concern, I have noticed some changes in his play habits. He now plays with a certain teddy bear all the time. The bear goes places with us. It is the same bear that he took to the park with him on "Kindergarten Teddy Bear Picnic Day" not so long ago, so I wonder if that is why the attachment to this particular toy. Another new play routine is "pretend parties." These came about because he really wanted a party for himself one day, but it was not his birthday or any other occasion. So, his dad and I told him we would have a "pretend party" and we went to his room and wrapped up some of his small toys in newspaper. After he had a great time opening his "presents," we played some board games. He keeps asking for parties, and we have played the wrapping toys part of the routine once since then. I am sure we will be doing it again soon. Here is a picture of him with his favorite bear, one of his pretend presents, and a very goofy face.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflective Weekend With Chicken

Memorial Day weekend had its reflective moments for me. I have had the misfortune of losing 3 grandparents within the last few months. Two of them were my two grandfathers, and both were vets. One went on to have a career with the VA, and one went on to be a public school superintendent.

The third that recently left us was my step-grandmother, who was a RN and a Seventh-Day Adventist. Both her career and religion had an effect on her cooking, and she would bring us low sugar cookies stuffed with seeds and dried fruits that were really quite delicious. The first Christmas after I got married she gave me a cookbook called "Healthy Choices," which I really appreciated.

Over the last few years as we have been embarking on our healing allergen-free diets, this cookbook has been sadly neglected. Last Friday I brushed the dust off of it and revamped one of our old favorites to fit our current way of eating. It was a great way to sit back and remember these great people I have had in my life and look forward to meeting again one day. I have my own way of preparing this recipe, and so I thought it would be appropriate to share here.

Spicy Southwest Chicken Skillet

4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless, or bone-in with the skin pulled off
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can drained black beans
1/3 cup thick and chunky salsa

Mix the chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub on both sides of the chicken. Heat oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken in skillet, turning once, until juices run clear. (This will take 8-10 minutes or more if using bone-in.) Stir in beans and salsa. Heat to boiling and then cover and reduce heat to simmer. I like to simmer off much of the salsa liquid, as condensing gives it great flavor. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baby Boy

The arrival or our second child is only weeks away. It seems like it was such a short time ago that we were anticipating the arrival of our first child, who is now six years old. Little did we know of what our journey with him would be! It was like going to an unknown destination, and I have been thinking quite a bit recently about this story I once posted called "Welcome to Holland."

I do not regret that our journey with our son has been different. Holland is a nice place, after all, and he is so much more well than he once was. What I do regret occasionally is that I feel like I lost lots of time with him while he was little and not feeling so well. That is to say, our interactions were not what they could have been for quite a long time. He only appeared to be attached to me when he was little because he had serious separation anxieties. His dad and I were like extensions of him, and he did not call us mom and dad, or anything at all, for many years. We began to see a big turn around with him by the time he was 4. By that time he had been in the DAN! program for about 6 months and he had started ABA therapy.

Our second, yet to be born child is also a boy. I admit I have experienced some anxiety over this, (given that boys are so much more likely to have autism than girls are,) and in fact I really wanted a girl this time for that very reason. The thing about it is though, I have already been to Holland. Figuratively speaking, I already know some of the language, and I already have an itinerary, and I am already packed for the weather. If this second little boy is destined to have autism despite my best efforts to prevent it, he will feel better sooner, and both directly and indirectly he will learn many valuable things from his brother.

And so with that said, here is to the journey, and where ever it may lead us.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Everyday Pancakes

I cook breakfast every morning, and about 5 of the 7 days of the week end up being these pancakes. I have chosen this recipe as a staple in my home because they contain whole grain, are free of all of our allergens, and they are quick and easy to make. This recipe is a sample from Allergy Menu Specialists, where many delicious gluten-free recipes can be found. (Used here with permission.)

Everyday Pancakes

2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch (or corn starch)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Mix together dry ingredients. Add:

1 Tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)
1 egg, medium or large
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water

Whisk together until the right consistency. If cornstarch is used, start with 3/4 cup water and add more as needed.

That is all there is to it. Now they are ready to fry up! I get the best results with my cast iron, which I heat up nice and hot while I am mixing the batter.

This is just one of the many recipes that can be found with this fantastic new business. If gluten is your main allergy concern, signing up for a recipe card membership will get you great gluten-free recipes mailed to your home on nice laminated cards. Many of their recipes are revisited old-fashioned delights. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Painting Together

This is just one of those moments that make a mom happy. My son often needs suggestions of activities to do after the video games and TV are turned off. Lately when I suggest that he paints, he is very enthusiastic about it, and insists that I paint with him. He fills the water jar, and I pull up a big sized chair to his little desk and we use brushes with his bottles of finger paint. Super fun!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Chocolate Effect, 14 years later

Once I wrote a little story about a teenage girl and her brother with autism who got his hands on a piece of chocolate. Although the story was fictional, the events and conditions in the story were based on my own experiences. Those experiences I had as a child really framed my mind for receiving the DAN! program as treatment for my son because I knew firsthand the effects that certain foods/toxins had on my brother. (Read The Chocolate Effect here.)

Now fast forward 14 or so years later, I am now an adult, (well...sort of!) and my brother is 18 years old and is spending some time staying with my family along with our mother. On Easter Sunday they both attended church with us. My brother received such great treatment and acceptance that he attended his Sunday School classes on his own. The teacher for his first Sunday School class approached me, saying that she had cupcakes for the class and she didn't know if my brother is in the same treatment as my son. I told her no, but thank you and PLEASE scrape the icing off of his cupcake. (Too much sugar is a HUGE trigger for bad behavior!) My brother seemed to do pretty well on Sunday, but on Monday, his behavior took a turn for the worse.

On Tuesday morning he was telling mom something like this: "In my class on Sunday I got a rice crispy treat shaped like an egg and it had m&ms in it. And I ate the whole thing! I was hoping that I would get to miss school! Too bad I was wrong!" A sweet teacher, (who did not know about the chocolate effect,) in his second Sunday School had given this to him. Mom was making him go to school, and this was his confession after he realized that all of his plotting, horrible behavior, and sabotaging his own gut came to no avail.

It has been a long week with the uptight, much more easily triggered teenage brother around. The chocolate effect wore off to a good extent by Thursday, and mom was actually able to get him to take a shower. (Thank goodness!) This morning I heard "Good Morning, Eli," when my son woke up and walked into the other room. In my story "The Chocolate Effect," I had the chocolate effect wear off in just one day. I was trying to make the story a good balance of positive as well as negative, but in reality, it takes many days to wear off.

My purpose in writing this is to point out that food can be a psychological trigger for abnormal behavior. Even for myself, I have food sensitivities and I can have altered, depressed moods if I eat gluten or too much of something else on my "no" list. Looking back, I just wonder at my son's old pediatrician, who is a very sweet man, but basically told me I should not take my autistic toddler off of milk. How much better our son's life is nowdays with special diet and biochemical intervention!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cast Iron Goodness

These are my two lovelies:

Anyone who has been to my place has seen them sitting on the range, side by side, (and hopefully when you saw them they were cleaned out and oiled for the next use!) Cast iron is pure awesomeness for it's natural non-stick abilities without the funky nonstick treatments that are so popular, but are bad for our food.

I was introduced to cast iron when I was in college and took a little trip to visit my aunt and uncle. My sophomore year I was no longer eating in the cafeteria, "The Galley," and had a kitchen in my apartment. So, when asked what I could use as a Christmas gift, it was a cast iron skillet. My mother thought I was SO WEIRD! I have always been grateful that she took me serious enough that she got me a beautiful 12 inch skillet. I have had the 12 incher for almost 10 years now, and it literally gets used just about everyday. My smaller 10 inch cast iron skillet came into our family when my son went gluten free three nearly three years ago, and it was our "gluten free skillet." Since I went gluten free, about 2 years ago, gluten does not touch the cast iron as a household rule. Because the surface of cast iron is somewhat porous, the gluten eaters in the house are left to the stainless steel.

Here is one of my recent dinner creations using my 10 incher:

Crepes! I have recently discovered that the natural nonstick surface of cast iron is great for making these. This dinner was admittedly an experiment. (Don't worry, my family is used to that!) I was trying to see if a crepe could be used as a sandwich wrap. My son and I do not eat corn, and it is difficult to make a rice tortilla that is thin, soft and pliable, (I think so, anyways.) I had heard that crepes could be really good with a savory filling, and so that is what I tried out for this dinner. I made a sloppy-joe type filling; ground hamburger, tomato sauce, onion, and we wrapped it in the crepes with some shredded lettuce and tomato. It really was good. My only complaint is that the raw veggies were a bit much for the delicate crepe to handle, so next time I will have to rethink my approach and cook veggies in a different type of filling or have the veggies on the side.

This crepe recipe came from my local girls, Kristi and Betsy at
*I changed the recipe for the purposes of and gluten free AND casein free diet, using earth balance instead of butter, and and combo of rice milk and water instead of cow milk.*

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dish Regimen

This post is a follow-up to the post I did recently on the laundry regimen. Like before with my homemade laundry soap, my dishwasher soap is an effort towards greater sustainability and affordability. I do not feel as though I have my dish regimen as perfected as my laundry soap is. If any of my readers have suggestions as to how to make it more effective, I am all ears. :)

Here is the ingredient line-up:

Dishwasher Detergent

one cup commercial powder dishwasher detergent

one cup borax

one cup washing soda (not baking soda)

white distilled vinegar

Mix all three powders together, storing in a container with a lid. For each dishwasher load, use one heaping tablespoon in the soap compartment, being sure to close it up, then fill the prewash soap compartment with the white vinegar.

I bought all of my supplies at Winco. For the commercial dishwasher detergent, I looked for the one that I thought was not only worth the money, but also appeared to be the more earth friendly of the choices available. Also, I buy my white distilled vinegar in the largest size so that I can to save even more.

Once again, I am indebted to a friend for this starter recipe. I have made some changes with better results than before, and I will continue to change it to get it just right.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Allergy Menu Specialists

I'd like to introduce you all to a brand-new business that I feel will become a valuable asset in the gluten free community. They are committed to training and certifying restaurant management and staff to cook for those with food allergies/sensitivities. I am very excited to see where this takes them. I for one could benefit from one website/phone app that tells me all the local places that are safe for me to eat with my gluten/dairy/soy/corn intolerance. As it is, finding a new place to eat is a chore, and my dinner dates with my husband have to be well planned in advance.

Allergy Menu Specialists can be found at

One of the many services that this business offers is recipe conversion. I think this could be an extremely valuable asset to a parent of a child who is a biochemical intervention candidate. Children with autism often insist on "sameness," and going GF/CF is such a huge change. Being able to convert some of their favorite recipes to ones that have very similar taste and texture and fits their new diet could be a sanity saver. Plus, both the owner and the main culinary consultant of this business are very familiar with the dietary requirements of some of our children with autism. They are aware of our challenges, and are striving to fill our needs.
Click here to view the company's video about this new service.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Doing Laundry

I am always looking for a more sustainable way to run my home that is affordable for us. Here is one idea that I got from a friend- making your own laundry soap. While many commercial soaps have amazing cleaning powers in any type and temperature of water- think of all the chemicals that must be crammed in those bottles. My friend gave me a recipe to start with, and I tweaked until I came up with something that I felt meets our needs for our type of water. I believe it to be at least more environmentally friendly than your typical commercial laundry soap.

Here is the ingredient line-up:

I found all of those ingredients at Winco for very reasonable prices.

Powder Laundry Soap

1 Fels Naptha Laundry Bar

2/3 Cup Borax

1/2 Cup Washing Soda

Using a food processor, shred the laundry bar. Add borax and washing soda (NOT baking soda,)process to mix. Store in repurposed food jar. Use 2-3 tablespoons per load.

One reason I like to make this soap is that I love having all that cleaning power in such a small, easy to manage jar. It can be changed and adapted to meet your laundry needs. This recipe works well for our hard water. Also, there is less waste.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Birthday Boy

My sweet little boy turned six this week! He was proud to put his own decoration and candle on his little cake.

He lost one of his front teeth the day before his birthday, which was also picture day at school as well. It was perfect! We have truly spoiled him this week with a dinner out, party with cake, and a trip to the nickle arcade, on top of all his gifts. :)

Although I always make him a gluten free cake, this one I took extra care to not only eliminate allergens, but to make it with real icing and piped borders. I still have kinks to work out. The icing was a delicious flavorful lemon. It was a different consistency than I was used to working with, so I felt that the icing job suffered. The cake tasted good, and was a mild lemon flavor. However, it was dense and had a different texture. This was my first gluten free cake that I actually tried to decorate though, so I am proud of my cake, but much more proud of my big birthday boy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

BBQ Dinner, The Slow Food Way

This recipe I developed by combining a homemade ketchup recipe and a BBQ recipe to make this not-too-sweet, natural, yummy sauce. Here is a picture of part of our dinner we had one night using this recipe:

Baked BBQ Pork

BBQ Sauce

2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons yellow mustard (we use French's)
Add honey to taste
pinch crushed bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

To make the delectable treat in the picture, combine all these ingredients and simmer on low and reduce, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Place in a baking dish with 2" pieces of top sirloin pork steak, and bake at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. We had mashed potatoes and green beans with it. Great meal. The leftover sauce in the dish is great to top the potatoes with.

Other ways we have used this recipe:

Combine all ingredients and place in bottom of a crockpot with 4 bone-in chicken thighs, cooking on high for about 2 hours. Again, we had the mashed potatoes and beans.

Last night we made BBQ chicken deep dish pizza. After fully preparing sauce recipe, chop up one large boneless, skinless chicken breast and simmer it on the stove top to cook, using 2/3 of the sauce. Add chopped onions when chicken is almost done, allowing them to simmer. After preparing GF deep dish crust in my 12" cast iron skillet and putting it through it's first bake, we filled it with regular pizza sauce, along with remaining BBQ sauce, chicken mixture, chopped tomatoes, and alittle grated soy cheese. Put the pizza through it's second bake with the toppings. Delicious!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Average Student

When my son was 18 months old, he was not talking or communicating at age level, as a family member pointed out as a possible problem. She suggested I get it checked out with the school district. The school district had an early intervention program which was free if he qualified for services, and so I figured we had nothing to lose. He did end up qualifying for services, and he has had an IEP ever since.

With the IEP comes a yearly meeting, along with testing to see if he still qualifies for services. The test measures where the child is developmentally compared to peers. It is admittedly disheartening to walk out of those meetings sometimes, after you hear; "Your child is in the 5th percentile for such and such, and in the 8th percentile for such and such." And so on down the test, and of course being in the 5th percentile for something means that 95 percent of children the same age are at a higher level. The testers have always been very kind to us and have always explained that communication was a huge setback, but that didn't always make the meetings easier.

After years of this, how exciting it was to go to a recent parent-teacher conference and to be presented with Eli's current academic scores for reading and math! He scored right at grade level for reading, and in math he was not as high, but still within the average range. I have an average student! Now I know that this test he took and the developmental tests of the IEP are not the same, we are not comparing apples to apples here, but this is still amazing. I could not be any prouder of my little guy. I just feel that if his communication has improved to such a level to understand all this abstract academic material, we are also approaching a much better developmental level, too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sustainable Work In Progress

First, here is a close-up of my new toy:

A vintage thread spool holder that I scored at a thrift store. It is my new favorite, after my sewing machine and scissors. :)

And here is what I have been working on:

Making afew of my own all-in-one cloth diapers for when little one comes!

This one is almost done. It just needs a visit to my wonderful friend's house who has kindly offered to help me surge outside edges.

The best part is, the inside absorbent fabric, (under the flannel,) is from my 6 year-old's old pre-folds that he used for awhile. We used the old Gerber style cloth diapers and pins with him for a time because it was the best we could buy back then. I am so excited to have the time and know-how this time to make and buy some things that will make cloth diapering more comfortable for all of us this time around.

I will have more to show as progress moves along and as I get more creative with recycled fabrics. (Terrycloth inserts, anyone?) :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

There is something very novel about a decorated, themed cake. I worked in bakeries for several years and took hundreds of custom cake orders. There were those who would order for the wedding shower or graduation, and then there were those families that were "theme cake families." They were in ordering for every birthday.

This is a very not allergen friendly, gluten filled cake that I made for a neighbor whom I traded services with. (She gave me a very nice, professional haircut last week.) I thought it turned out pretty cute, even though I did not have all the professional tools I would have liked to have had. My dishwasher is now in functioning order, so that will help me to not worry too much about contamination in my kitchen. :)

I really got to thinking while icing this cake about those "theme cake family" members who perhaps have discovered an allergy/sensitivity that suddenly shuts them out from their family tradition. How fun it would be, to be a "neighborhood allergy-friendly baker" who makes allergy friendly cakes and delivers them to happy people who are celebrating in style, despite allergy restrictions? What a fun thought.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. I hope you all get to spend time with those you love.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Cost of Biochemical Intervention

I remember the day that I first picked up "Changing the World of Autism" By Dr. Bryan Jepson, and the way that it made me feel. I ate that book up, and I felt it was a gift from my kind Heavenly Father to help us help Eli. And those feelings of gratitude and conviction were what we needed, because we found that biochemical intervention is taxing on parents on many levels, and just let me say that we were not well off. We were still getting Daddy through college at the time we started the program.

Just afew short years later, our lives are so different. Meltdowns are an extremely rare thing, and our boy talks in a communicative way. And man, can he read. I am positive I could not read that well until late first grade, and he is still in kindergarten. We have been blessed with a teaching job for Eli's Daddy, and we are looking into buying our first little home. This purchase is a huge step for us, and so I have been reviewing our expenses, and where does our money go to. Our grocery budget is $150-$200 dollars a month more than we would otherwise spend if not doing special medical diets. I have a credit card that I put Eli's supplements on, and I hate seeing the balance occasionally go up some months rather than go down. However, when I review this part of our spending, I realize that we have always been blessed to be able to make it through, and there is no going back. He is so much more well and so much happier now.

All these thoughts really take me back to when I read "Mother Warriors" by Jenny McCarthy. It was on sale for $4 and we were curious, so we bought it. My husband said all it did for him was make him sad. It had some value for me as I saw the practical side of other parent's struggle to implement biochemical intervention, and their successes. The part of the book that really blew us away was the part that explained the average cost of raising a child with autism. Let's just say that the sum she offered as "average" was afew times our annual income.

So just let me say, you can do this on a modest income. We do.

Just as a side note, another cost of biochemical intervention is being weird. Yeah, basically to the medical community in general, I am a weird, misguided parent. I have already been lectured by a dentist about how 'it is better to err on the side of caution' when it comes to the decision of giving my son his artificial fluoride. And just recently I was given a "news flash" at a pregnancy check up about how 'in those recent news stories the research was fraud and vaccines really don't cause ADD and other things.' Well, I don't know about all of that, but seriously all I said was that I didn't want to give my child hep B at birth. Sheesh.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jason's Deli and Winger's

My child with autism and I both have some food sensitivities. We discovered how food can cause autoimmune reactions through our son's biochemical intervention. About a year of our son going gluten and dairy free, I found it necessary to do the same for myself. We have also discovered a need to largely avoid soy and corn as well.

Hubby and I had the rare opportunity of going out on two dates last week. Often we don't have a lot of time when we have a chance to go out alone, so we usually choose to grab a bite to eat. We have grown to really love eating out. Now that we can no longer order pizza on Friday nights or Chinese take out on the weekends, it is almost a necessity to get out and get a meal together once in awhile. I thought I would share about the meals I had while eating out last week.

Last Tuesday my teacher husband had the day off of school, kind of. He still went in to do a small amount of work, leaving time for us to do something while our son was still in school. We decided to go to Jason's Deli. (It is located outside the University Mall in the parking lot, for you locals.) They carry gluten-free bread! Although not completely corn free, corn is not the main ingredient, and I seemed to handle it fine. I ordered a turkey breast build-your-own sandwich with mustard, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Instead of the chips, I subbed in some fresh fruit. What a great lunch. Hubby ordered one of the specials that looked really yummy. My meal was awesome, but I think next time I go I will try to order a special, too, but with my own brand of 'specialness.' Specialness= subbing bread for gluten free, no cheese, subbing or leaving off sides, etc. It is so nice to have a place close where I can get a sandwich and I don't have to say "no bun please." I happen to like the bun!

On Saturday night we had another opportunity to do something, so we went out to Winger's in Orem. We had a little coupon, and I heard that they had gluten free options, so we decided to give it a try. The tricky part ended up being dairy and corn, plus the "gluten free menu" was simply a list of everything, no descriptions, and it labeled everything "GF" or "Not GF." I took my time ordering so I could sort everything out between the two menus and ask questions so I could get it right. I had a delicious meal there, and this is what I had: Blackened Chicken Tacos, no tortillas, no cheese, no dressing, subbing seasoning-less steak fries for tortilla chips and salsa. I suppose that the rice option would have made more sense as a side, but I had to have the fries for some reason. My tacos ended up being lettuce, black beans, pico de gallo, and seasoned chicken strips on top. The chicken was seasoned so nicely, it really made the meal. The steak fries were good... I had ketchup with it that was loaded with high fructose corn syrup... (a 'no, no' that tastes really weird to me, but I went sparingly on it. I wonder if it is possible to get packets of 'real sugar' ketchup. I would shamelessly keep some of those in my car for such occasions.)

So that is my rambling story of eating out last week. Two good experiences at two different places, all in one week. Who would have thought it possible? :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Current Obsession: CSA

My current obsession is Community Supported Agriculture, which is a farming business model. Members of the community, individuals and restaurants put money up front in order to be supplied with luscious, sustainable, (and organic, although not always certified,) local fruits and vegetables. More specifically, I am in love with the CSA farm that is local to my area. I just discovered it on the internet. It is called Jacob's Cove.

Let's face it, conventional growing methods are not sustainable. (Irresponsible, at best, although I feel that it is criminal the way that soil is depleted of nutrients, making our food ever less healthy.) The use of tons of chemicals is involved. This all makes us sick. Doctors out there that actually recognize the medical needs of children with autism admonish parents to feed them organic food. There is a reason for that.

I look forward to one day buying shares of this real food from Jacob's Cove.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Positively a Resolution

The thought of having at least one New Years resolution for 2011 did cross my mind at one time, and was promptly dismissed. Later I realized the reason: I have too many current goals/projects/learning to do at present to add to what I am trying to accomplish, so my New Years resolution was to keep previously-made goals. Here are just four of them.

1. Continue quest in healing autism
2. Prevent autism
3. Prepare for baby
4. Continue preparing allergen-free meals for my son and I that help out with our autoimmune hiccups.

This list has built into it a whole lot of learning to do, a whole lot of cooking, and a whole lot of love.

My mind has been weighing heavily on the aspect of preventing autism, and I have gone through a brief period of deep discouragement recently when I realized some of the big things stacked against me. Metal fillings, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, pollution, and any heavy metal deposits left in my own body, (after the few months of chelation I was able to do for myself,) are just the beginning of a list that felt like a big weight.

This is when a resolution idea come about that I felt I could and needed to make. That is to be POSITIVE! Our world is full of contaminants, it is true. Our children with autism are proof. What I have chosen to focus on with prevention is to do those things for my baby that are in my power and that I feel will make a difference. I can now feel much greater peace on this important topic that felt like a daunting weight before. I know that the neurotoxins are still there, hiding. This is the challenge of our time, and this is the world we have inherited. I can choose to do what is in my power to make a difference for my loved ones, to improve their lives, and I feel positive that this will make a difference for the future. :)

Sending POSITIVE thoughts your way! :)