Friday, April 27, 2012

Favorite Blog Friday #4

This week's favorite blog is Frugally Sustainable. 

Andrea caught my attention for a lot of reasons. First let her explain her world in her own words: 

 Frugally Sustainable is the story of our family’s transition out of a consumer culture into the brave world of sustainability. It’s about focusing on what’s important amidst uncertain times. It’s about returning to forgotten skills, reviving old wisdom, creating something amazing, and finding happiness.

Andrea does an amazing job of covering all aspects of being self sufficient and "frugally sustainable" from homeschooling, taking care of the home, sewing and the like, nutrition and natural life, including various herbs like:

Or Calendula

She covers things like homesteading, complete with information on chickens and even preparedness too. She has a ton of posts on natural remedies too. Things like a calming spray, to help get you through things like the holidays, or an herbal detangler, lip balms and even an itch relief stick! She even covers quite a few beauty related items as well, if that's your cup of tea!

One of my favorite things about her blog is Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways. 

I'll be honest here, I normally shy away from a lot of linky parties because, I mean I have two little ones in tow! I don't have time to look into every single blog and try and run my own on top of the life I have off of here. That being said, there are a few blogs that I will literally sit down and go through most, if not all of the links and this is one of them! Andrea features a few goodies and then leaves the link up open for everyone to  add their links. There is usually some great stuff on there!

If there's not enough stuff to keep you occupied here, she also has a FB page to peruse through as well. Not only does she pass along some really good information and ideas there, she is also just amazing at passing on follower or reader questions! I can't tell you how many new things I've learned by just reading the replies to some of the questions there.

So, if you're interested in becoming more sustainable, more self sufficient, take some time to check Andrea out. She's got a lot of information to share for sure! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not Your Typical Child Tuesday #4

Today I'm going to tackle what to some, is a controversial topic. Today, I'm taking on ADHD head on. Now, I know some of us don't understand why this is controversial and truth be told, it shouldn't be at all but, there are those out there who don't understand it and therefor chalk it up to bad parenting, or kids just being kids, or kids being bad kids even. So, in an attempt to understand this disorder, I'm going to delve into the world of ADHD.

What is ADHD?  ADHD is a neurobiological disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention and often time hyperactivty. While everyone is spacey at one time or another or has a hard time sitting still, those with ADHD or ADD can't seem to focus on a daily and consistent basis. They not only can't seem to focus on a task or two or ten, they can't seem to sit still for very long. This problem is on a daily basis and effects their daily lives. Most often, children with ADHD also have something called Executive Function Disorder. This is why they have problems, analyzing, planning, organizing, scheduling or not only completing tasks but unable to meet deadlines in life. That said, often children with EFD will often get misdiagnosed with ADD. Which is simply the inattentive type of ADHD without hyperactivity. Though, children with ADHD or ADD may well have both! Most noticeably those with EFD when put on stimulant meds, will not have symptom improvement.

How do you know when a child has ADHD?
Well first, thing you need to know is the difference in the types of ADHD. One being true ADHD and the other being ADD.

ADD kiddos, tend to not pay close attention to things, have difficulty sustaining attention to most anything and often make careless mistakes. They don't seem to listen, struggle with following directions, have struggles organizing, most often will not do anything that requires a sustained mental effort, forget or get distracted easily. For example, my boys' half brother has a classic case of ADD. He will do fine in class but, when asked what his homework is, he could not remember. On his way out of the school for the day, when most kiddos are throwing coats on and running out the door, the teacher would report that he would be zoned out, coat half on, stopped and staring at nothing or the wall. His teacher would report that in class he'd seem to get it but, later at home when it was time for homework, he could not manage to figure out how the teacher, just hours earlier could get A+B=C. This behavior was not sporadic but, a consistent DAILY thing that impacted and still does every area of his life. Most teachers were frustrated by him because for all intents and purposes he was a good kid but, seemingly easily distracted. One year, a teacher wanted to put him in a cubicle in the hallway so that he would be less distracted! Because of things like this, he was gradually soloed out as "that bad kid" and began to loose friends. At 13 yrs old when he comes to visit the boys, if he is asked to do something requiring more than two step directions, he still cannot do it. If asked to clean a room, he can't do it. Instead, he'll stand there staring at the mess. You literally have to tell him to pick up one item at a time, ie. just pick up the Legos, just pick up the transformers, etc. He struggles daily with this and it has cost him friends, respect of his peers and teachers and with one more year of middle school, he's on the verge of flunking out!! All because the school system refused to help or acknowledge his issue, nor do some other people in his life but, that is for a different discussion! ; )

ADHD kiddos are the hyperactive and impulsive ones! They're the ones that will either keep you young or kill you! :P Just teasing! Seriously though, ADHD kiddos cannot seem to sit still...EVER! If they're not getting up and down or running, etc. they can't seem to not fidget. They can't seem to commit to quiet activities, sometimes talk EXCESSIVELY! They often run or climb a lot, never able to connect that if you climb on a bookcase and they've been told to get down because it will fall and they'll get hurt, that the bookcase will fall and they will get hurt! Even after they've fallen from the bookcase and broke an arm, you may catch them climbing to the top shelf in their closet! They seem to run on some kind of motor or caffeine line that you know nothing about. Taking turns and waiting to talk are just not in their manners bank, no matter how many ways you've tried to teach them these basic skills. If the thought of anything crossed their mind, their brain is unable to restrain the action and impulsively they respond, react or do without being able to think it through.

What are the causes of ADHD? 
We don't really know what causes ADHD. It's more prevalent in boys than girls, which as most know, means that there is a genetic component. Which is backed up by families like my boys. In my family, two of my cousins on my mom's side have ADHD, several relatives on my father's side also had ADHD, my little sis has ADHD and growing up, I had ADD - hence the occasional remarks about having the attention span of a gnat! :P The boys older, half brother has ADD as well. So, if you were using a family like my sons', it's quite obvious there has to be a genetic component. There are even some studies that show, like a lot of other things, prematurity can also have something to do with whether a child might have ADHD. To this day though, there is no confirmed real thing that they can nail down as to why some have it and some don't. There are a lot of theories about where it comes from and even contributing risk factors but, no concrete evidence. 

They can say though, that most likely the culprits of ADHD are neurotransmitters. Most likely the chemical neurotransmitter, Dopamine. Dopamine is mostly the chemical in the body responsible for keeping the attention centers of the brain stimulated. So, without a proper level of Dopamine, a person's attention span is compromised. There are also studies on the actual structure of the brain of boys with ADHD. They tend to have more symmetrical brains in shape. With 3 structures in their brains that are smaller than a neurotypical boy of the same ages. They were the prefrontal cortex (believed to be command central of the brain), the caudate nucleus and the globus pallidus, which both help translate those commands from the prefrontal cortex into an action or actions. There is even evidence that shows not only are the structure slightly different but, that the brain uses those areas differently than a neurotypical child. By doing brain scans, they've noticed that ADHD boys have abnormal increases in the frontal lobe and the striatal areas below it. These parts help with voluntary actions! So, if you follow that evidence through, ADHD boys, despite the appearance, are working harder to control their impulses than a neurotypical child is!

How do you treat ADHD? There are a plethora of answers for this. Like many other treatments for anything, what works for one, may not work for another. Depending upon your insurance issues, belief systems and money, the answers vary.
Diets are a natural thing to try and in all honesty work for a lot of people! Things like the 
Feingold Diet, worked well for my sister and her boys. There is a lot of research out there for this side of symptom/disorder treatment, just Google! If you're going to try this though, may I recommend: The Kid-Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet by Pamela Compart and Dana Laake.
I want to start off saying that don't let the Autism word scare you in any way! Once you start researching, you'll find that Autism and other things like ADHD have a lot in common. Secondly, though I whole heartedly,  recommend this book, I was not asked to review nor have any affiliation with anyone that has anything to do with the writing or printing of the book. So, trust me when I tell you that it is a great, eye opening book for anyone researching food and ANY of your child's neurobiological issues. Once you've given it a healthy once over, you'll never look at food the same way, ever.
If you're not into the diet and food related options for treatments, you can always try some kind of occupational therapy. Yes, I said OT! You'd be surprised to know that occupational therapists can employ a whole host of methods at their fingertips to help ADHD kiddos from "normal" OT practices, to Interactive Metranome, and cranial sacral therapy. Here is where I get to vouch for something that I was not paid to talk about nor asked to. Cranial Sacral sounds all hippy like but, it works and it works well for one of my boys. On the days he sees his OT and she does this for him, he actually takes a nap, holds still, listens, nor is he up and down on the emotional roller coaster. This doesn't seem to effect my other boy though, so remember what works for one kiddo may not work for another. 

Another thing you could consider would be some kind of therapy. The earlier you get in to see someone, the earlier you child can learn behavior that is positive and helpful for themselves. They can do psychotherapy, behavioral therapy - including CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), social skills training, parent retraining, etc. In my experience though not every counselor, psychologist or therapist is a good fit for a family. Some cling to older mentalities, some to a very hands off approach to dealing with various issues. I once had a therapist tell me to physically hold my son in timeout when he'd earned his way there....that is THE biggest no no for my oldest guy. He never did like to be held much and even though I told the guy that holding him, results in the "fight of flight" reaction, he still recommended that I try this. Needless to say, I never went back to him after that! Don't be afraid to try different professionals until you find one that fits! You have to have a great team, that communicates well to make this work. 

Lastly, and as a last resort, there is always medication. I will not say with or without medication is best because, as I've said a hundred times, not every child is the same. Some are further down the rabbit hole than others and some are more defiant than others. It's a hit a miss kind of thing. I will say that medication should be broached as a last resort though. It's too easy to take the smooth road, then to take the bull by the horns because going it without and even sometimes with meds, is NOT easy. If you are going to do meds though, here's my two cents:
  • I recommend asking and researching which ones are the safest first. With the new drugs out there being pushed to docs they'll most likely throw you on the newest one or two that they get but, sadly enough, Riddalin is still the safest starting point in a lot of cases - though not always. 
  • Keep an eye on side effects too. One medication worked well for a lot of kiddos, mine was no exception but, like his cousin, that medication caused stomach pain in both boys. 
  • If you're in it for the quick fix, think again. While some medications seem to produce a noticeable result for some families within a day or two, sometimes it takes up to 2 whole weeks for the medications to build up enough to be noticeable. 
  • Keep an eye on mood swings. One very popular medication right now seems to cause this issue in a lot of kiddos, my nephews and my son again are no exception. One nephew was removed from it, the other can tolerate it in small doses.
  • If a doc recommends medication, you have every right to say, "let me sleep on it" or flat out no! Don't let them run you over. Remember, this is your child, you are the parent and the pediatrician works FOR you!
The advice I give you here comes from experiences and as a mother who does do medications for one child and is able to opt for more natural treatments for the other. Honestly, after all these years and experiences with medications, if I could go for fully natural remedies for my oldest son, I would in a heartbeat. You'll understand in a later Tuesday post why I had to take that route. Just keep in mind during your research or dealings with various docs, that you have to do what is right for your family. If you opt for natural treatments, don't let your family or friends make you feel like you made the wrong choice. If you opted for meds, don't let anyone else make you feel as if you took the easy way out. For most of us, it was not an easy choice by any means. I cried for days when I found no other way out for my son. 

That being said, for those that don't know, medication is not the easy way out. If you do take more than one medication, it is tricky to find the right balance for your child. Not to mention too that as they age so does their body chemistry and so the perfect balance no longer works or they build up a tolerance to the is a merry-go-round for sure. AND the mother that chose to medicate, also still chooses a way to help treat her child, be it OT, therapy and/or food! So, here again, NOT the easy way out! My oldest does take medications, goes to OT, has therapy and has a diet that I found worked wonders for him. With all this in place, he went from 7 medications down to 4! Which is still a lot of medications and again, I'll explain why in another post but, suffice to say, he does not have just ADHD. The point though that all of these ways to treat ADHD have been employed and in conjunction with one another have worked well for him. Again, while my youngest son with just diet, and so far occupational therapy has done well! So, no matter what avenue you choose or if you're a split family like ours, remember to keep your options open, keep an open mind to other families who've chosen to do things differently and don't be afraid to challenge your doc if need be. They are not the be all end all on the subject of YOUR CHILD! 

If you're just reading this to learn, I say again, quit giving that kid and his mom the stink eye in the grocery store! Sometimes a fit is just a fit and other times, it's what you don't see under the layers that is real problem, not bad parenting or bad children. So, stink eyes off and learn to be a bit more open minded! :) 

Thanks for joining me for another Not Your Typical Child Tuesday! Now back to your regularly scheduled program....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Simple Sunday #4

What's simple today? Fruit, well more specifically, apples

Not my best picture I've posted but, my son wanted to snap the shot and I could've let him do it, erase it and take a prettier one but, it was special because he took it. :)

Why are apples simple? Well, I get the boys' produce from Whole Foods. Yes, it is expensive but, I have my reasons for spending the extra cash to do this. My favorite, absolute favorite thing to do, is to walk in and head straight to the apples and take a deep breath in. Nothing but that sweet, woodsy apple smell fills my lungs. It makes me happy and makes me think of the times I climbed trees as a kid or stood on the wheel well of grandpa William's tractor and picked the apples low enough for me to reach as he drove through his orchard. It reminds me of the times we all cramped around in the basement, making applesauce for us kiddies and apple cider (usually the special kind) for the adults.

Aside from my trips down memory lane, apples are just great anyway! What better way to make some little kid's day than to hand them a plate with an smile made from apple slices. There is no baking required to enjoy one, there are tons of different flavors to experience and enjoy and the variety of colors are just pretty in general.

Who says apple cider tea isn't delicious or apple cider for that matter? Who doesn't love an apple pie or a good glass of apple juice? Apples are good with cinnamon, yogurt, certain meats, wines, beers, and even other fruits and veggies. Not to mention the nutritional value of a good apple and no processing required really. Anything that you can bake, you can throw an apple in! You don't have to take out a loan to buy apples, even in bulk and they're a great sweet treat when you need a snack. You can even use them in crafts and homeschool lessons!

This is a much older picture of my oldest son. He was 2 in this picture and I kid you not, spent an hour eating this apple. What makes it even more special, this was his very 1st whole apple! He was so cute eating it! 

There's so many good things to love about apples, most especially the sweet little smiles that they elicit when little boys or girls see them stacked on the plate, all sliced and ready to go!

So, sit back, grab a glass of whatever you enjoy and snack on an apple, and make today a simpler time with the family!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Favorite Blog Friday #3

This week's Favorite Blog Friday is Gail's My Repurposed Life. Why is this a blog you should visit? A lot of different reasons! Gail is so inspiring, she finds all these great "trash items" and remakes them into new, exciting things. Living a blue collar life is all about making do with what you have but, it doesn't mean that you have to live in the uggies! Gail shows us all how to redo, remake and reuse what you've already got or found. One persons trash is another persons treasure! Gail has used doors to make benches, not just headboards but, has built an entire bed with them!! Would you believe that this trunk was a door orginally?! Here's how she did it! 

She has even redone and made various tables like these:

If tables don't interest you, how about:

Shelves? This is too cute! If aesthetics are not your thing, practicality will win you over! She does that too! :)  She can show you how to make drawers,

Or inspire you with neat things, like these cupboards!

When you peruse her blog and FB page, you'll be filled with lots of inspiring ideas but, just in case you need more she even hosts a regular linky party called Catch Can! Here's this week's link to it. If you've got some down time, grab a glass and go through with pen in paper in hand to write down all the neat things she'll inspire you to do! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting Your Vehicle Ready

I have to write about this one today because well, if it's going to happen, it's going to or already has happened to me. Plus a girlfriend of mine just went through heck when her car broke down about 100 miles from home, in the middle of nowhere! 

I grew up in farm country where it was always drilled into my head to be prepared, that being said, as I approached my teens and was in my early 20s or so, I let that fundamental rule slide. In a effort I suppose to distance myself from my old fashioned family members. Then the two years prior to having my boys, everything that could go wrong, did. A.B. (after boys), it happened with less frequency but, when things went wrong, it was a much bigger deal! So, in an effort to save anyone with having to handle a baby (still in a carseat and unable to crawl), a feeding tube bag with a long tube running between the two and having to figure out how you're going to stay cool or warm and trying to fix something in your vehicle, I'm going to share my vehicle preps with you. Those were NOT fun times! I'm still not sure how I didn't rip that NG tube out during those times. :D

Now I realize that not everyone is lucky enough (well, if you don't count the cost of gas in these buggers) to own a full sized van or even some kind of SVU but, I seriously believe in being ready for anything when you have kiddos. The picture above is the back end of my van. I have a built in box at the top of the picture and it holds things like my fluids (oil, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid). It also houses jumper cables, an emergency first aid kit, emergency blankets, flares, and a larger tarp for emergencies.

Fluids are important for obvious reasons, as are ice scrapers in the winter and an emergency first aid kits. Another thing I think it important to keep on hand in any vehicle are tools. Now, not asking you to be like a mechanic and carry all the wrenches, and ratchets under the sun but, a rubber mallet and/or a simple set of screwdrivers (flat and phillips) will come in handy! Not only for car related things but, if you ever get those toys from a store that are screwed in, you've got the means to undo them and give yourself 5 minutes of peace in a car filled with kids! :) Trust me when I say that as a non-mechanical person, they have come in handy a dozen times over for use just with my vehicles!
Second thing I've found useful is a pair of scissors. Not for any emergency really but, they come in handy after the purchase of items at a store or if you've got something hanging somewhere. You don't need a full on big daddy pair but, the folding kind that comes with a sewing kit is perfect because it takes up very little room. There are myriad of uses for a good pair of scissors though.
I recommend an old telephone book as well. When you get this year's phone book, put last years in your vehicle. This way if you need to find or call someone or a company, you have the means to do so. Another good thing about having the phone book is that most of them have maps in there and if you do not have a local map or atlas in your car, another thing I recommend, then phone books can come in handy. As well as a pen/pencil and paper. To use if you need a license plate number, to exchange insurance information in case of accident or to leave a note on the car for anyone that's come looking for you, that you've gone to get gas at that gas station two miles back.

Here's some additional info about the things in my built in box in the back.
First, the first aid kit: I remove all medicinal items like burn ointment, antibiotic ointment and any ibuprofen, asprin or tylenol. I do this because the ups and downs of temperature your vehicle experiences will often ruin those items if left there too long. So, instead I pack them in a ziplock bag and toss into my purse. So, that they're still with me but, in a temperature stable area.
Second, the tarp: If you're  wondering why there's a tarp in there, tarps are great for many things! For example, they offer a protection from rain and sun if you need it. If for any reason your vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and you've no tent in your car, it also provides something to lay on that is waterproof, if the ground is wet. You can also make a dandy tent out of one if need be.
Three, the emergency blankets: They're great things to have on hand! They are waterproof, keep body heat in to some degree, reflective material when you hit it with light, can be folded to utilize a small space and are lightweight! I love multitaskers!

If you're wondering about the sleeping bags. I carry 3 bags for kiddos, one for each of my boys and one in case I have a nephew in tow or their half brother. I carry 3 adult bags as well, again just in case I have family  or friends in tow. The bonus is that when I go camping my van is already packed. Yes, I have my tent in there as well! :) Underneath the wooden box, the storage area goes all the way under the back seat! So, I carry the tent, the sleeping bags, and mats to lay on that you'd normally put under your bags but, you can lay on them outright under the stars on a warm night. I also have blankets in case we need them. Inside on the side, I also have a bag full of one change of clothes for the boys and I. Changed out, depending upon the season.

My purse, while not a designer bag, is mainly used for function. I carry a host of things in there (as all mothers of little ones do) besides the medical ointments and meds in a baggy, I also carry juice and snacks too! "Just in case"! Now, I don't recommend this set up for everyone and I realize that everyone again, does not have the room that I do but, what I do think you should do is start thinking in "what ifs" here. If you've got kids especially, I think being prepared is a good thing! Keep in mind that you can add a hundred things to this list and I have more than mentioned here but, the point is, I would like to make, is to think ahead and be ready for what could happen! Remember to keep your vehicle preps in line with the season too.

Be safe on the roads and have fun with getting your vehicle prepared, involve the kiddos too. This allows them to not only add special toys to keep in the car, which they will love but, this also gives them an added sense of security as well. They will know where everything is and they will not be alarmed if something were to go wrong! It will also give you peace of mind to know that all your ducks are in a row too.

This may seem extreme to some city dwellers but, here in farm country, even in a bigger city, chances are you're traveling at some point, several miles away from your home and these things will come in handy! Trust me, I know! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not Your Typical Child Tuesday #3

Thanks again everyone for understanding this weekend's blackout. Those storms were a bit nasty! Thanks for hanging in with me as we address our 3rd Not Your Typical Child Thursday! Last week we tackled a small bit about Sensory Processing Disorder, this week the one that is almost as personal for me, we discuss OCD.

We all hear people say it, "I'm so OCD," or "I've got OCD". They all say in jest, heck even I do myself and a bit of a personal thing, I actually do have OCD!! So, do my sons, both of them! When you think of OCD, your typical response is to think of organizational people. The ones with their cans all facing forward in their cupboards, their towels all lined up evenly on the rack, the drawers all organized with clothes folded perfectly or their closets color coded. Yes, to some degree this is OCD and to others it's just functional. For me, with my cans in my cupboard, and the items in my fridge all label forward, it is OCD. Though I have managed to understand that nothing bad will happen if they are not facing forward, I can still feel anxiety creep in if I leave them askew!

So, what is OCD? 
OCD is a neurobiological anxiety disorder (often genetic in nature) that significantly affects 1 in 40 adults and at least 1 in 100 school aged children.

Obsessions are defined as uncontrollable, persistent worries, doubts or fears that significantly impact normal life. They create unbearable anxiety and often times the person feels compelled to perform rituals or activities  (aka compulsions) to relieve the anxiety.

Compulsions may be either physical or mental rituals that are done over and over and over again in an attempt to control or relieve the anxiety the obsession causes. This is always temporary and just ends up reinforcing the original obsession.

For children with OCD though, like ASD (autism), SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) or even TS (Tourette Syndrome), it is a spectrum disorder. Most of us have some OCD-ish issues but, you can rationalize that your 'urge' is irrational and move on. Those with OCD honestly feel like something bad is going to happen.

Personal experiences: 
OCD is often recognized in adults and some older kiddos but, for a small few, the signs are evident at an early age. For example, my oldest son, took to hand washing at a whopping 2yrs old. His little brother has just started it at 3 (in case you wonder, he didn't learn it from big bro because, big brother hasn't done it since before little one was born). DW became obsessed with having to put things back EXACTLY in the same spot that they were taken from. Which sounds great but, heaven help you if you were on the way out the door to go somewhere and there is more than one thing out of place. Don't get me started on taking him grocery shopping!! If someone (a stranger) put something back wrong, the whole store knew it! Then he had to "unwind". Which meant that if he crossed in front of you entering the room, he had to cross back on his way out. Or if he walked around the right side of the van to get in, he had to go back the exact same way to go back inside. He started to need things in his bed just so, to get to sleep. I could go on but, I will spare you the whole long history of how his OCD progressed. Keep in mind this is all happening at 2yrs old.

I'm aware that there are naysayers who will say that this is "learned" behavior. I'm here to tell you that they are dead wrong. Ask any geneticist, they will tell you hands down, it is genetic and the child cannot pick what their OCD focuses on anymore than you can change the color of your eyes. I've heard, "well, you have OCD, so they must've learned it from you"....DW's issues, AND JD's obsessions are NOT mine at all! For example, DW became a hoarder! No joke when I say this, he would panic if you threw out old food, old containers, papers, etc. I even have a friend whose son kept and hid toilet paper....toilet paper used for #1!!! JD, he's obsessed with different things than either DW or I have even considered. JD can't have anyone's things away from them. For example, if you come over and set your purse and coat on my table, he will bring them to you. If you sit them next to you and then follow me into the kitchen for snack, he will bring your coat and purse to you again and again and again. He will not stop! It has worn out many a guest here. He is also obsessed with having flat surfaces, completely bare. Which sounds dandy but, imagine walking into a room everyday and finding the bookcase shelves completely bare. Or every child's bed unmade daily. He also tends to panic if you take a different way to go to and/or from a store or relative's house. Keep in mind that he is only 3yrs old and though DW and I both have OCD, our "issues" are not like his. The ones that JD expresses that are or were similar to DW's are things that DW has long since worked through. So, he'd never seen DW do them.

Common Obsessions/Compulsions: 
Contamination fears
Fear of acting on bad impulses, i.e. harming another, insulting another, being the cause of harm to another, etc.
Mental compulsions (or as we call them in our house, mental hiccups)
Skin Picking
Trichotillomanina (hair pulling)

Other Conditions related to or in conjuction with OCD:
OCD can come alone or in cohorts with another condition such as Tourette Syndrome, Asperger's, ADHD/ADD, Anxiety Disorders, depression, etc.

What to do as parent of a child with or suspected of having OCD? My first bit of advice as an adult with OCD, do not wait to get help! Tell your child's pediatrician that you suspect OCD. Take them into a mental health staff member and have them evaluated. If they poo poo you, remember: You're the parent, they work for you! Doctors are great resources but, they are not the be all end all to all medical and psychological information! Remember that the earlier they get help, the easier it will be to overcome it. So, if they stonewall you, get a second opinion. I say this to everything from Asperger's, to SPD! Do what is right and fight, kick and scream for your child. I didn't have to do this to get them help with their OCD, it was that obvious but, I have met parents at their wits ends because their child's doctor kept telling them to wait it out or having a kid who wants things put away is a good thing. Just listen to your gut, you know your child first and foremost! If you're in need of more information or support, a great site that offers you a lot of resources, information and a super supportive FB page is, International OCD Foundation.

The point of this rather long post today? Again, instead of glaring at that woman whose hair is sticking out in odd places, whose eyes look a little panicked, who may look on the verge of tears and is managing the best she can, with the screaming child in tow, try offering her a kind word instead! That may be the thing that helps her get on with her day with a renewed spirit.
Instead of glaring at the child for something that they can't quite grasp isn't "normal", try to look at them through a new lens and not with contempt.

Thanks again for hanging with me for another Tuesday, just a few more weeks and I'll return to normal blogs having gone through the 2/3 awareness months that are near and dear to my heart! Now, back to your regularly scheduled program...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not Your Typical Child Tuesday #2

Today we're going to address something called Sensory Processing Disorder. This is usually the main "symptom" of autism or Asperger's that most people see right off the bat. This does not encompass the whole definition of autism, nor does it mean that you have to have autism to have it.

Sensory Processing Disorder, from the purpose of this post, will be referred to as SPD. SPD like autism, is a spectrum disorder, and no two kiddos that have it are alike. I happen to have two kiddos with it and neither of them have this disorder in any similar function! SPD is a disorder where the  nervous system doesn't function or communicate properly with the senses of the body. I could go into depth on this but, this is the gist of it. You basically cannot process what your senses are telling you properly. Now, if you think about this, that can manifest in many ways! As I write this article, please know that there are so many different ways and combinations that it can show up in a person that I could not possibly include them all here. I will most likely include the ones that are personal to me and my boys.

When one thinks of senses, they generally think sight, sound, hearing, touch and taste. In actuality there are EIGHT senses! Yes, I know how to count! :D I know we all get the idea of the first five senses, so here's some brief info on the 3 you probably don't know about.

Vestibular is your sense of balance basically. It tells you if you're lying down, spinning, jumping, etc.
Interoception, this is how your body knows it's hungry, if it has to go to the bathroom or even if you're sick.
Proprioception, is the feeling in your joints and muscles that tells you when you're getting squeezed, catching a ball, etc.

Everyone has some sensory issue(s) but, some of us out there, have it to such a degree it impacts daily life! For example, my son had a HUGE aversion to the color white. If you were wearing it, he would start shrieking and carrying on. Socks may be an issue for a child with SPD. I know when I was a child, my mother and I seriously, physically fought over putting socks on my feet. To this day, I avoid wearing them at all costs. Why would one carry on like that over socks? I can't speak for other people and my boys don't seem to have this issue but, for me, the seam feels like a bunch of razor blades on my toes. To this day, the fastest way to get me really upset, really fast, is when my socks are not on right! :P For other kiddos and adults, it could be sounds. Some are set off by repetition of sounds, for some it's the pitch of the sound, for others, it's just sound in general. My HARD OF HEARING child would often times (And still does), cover his ears, yelling that we were all too loud! Let me tell you, nothing is harder to wrap your brain around than this! For others it's not being able to wear short leaves or only wearing short sleaves. Same goes for shorts and jeans as well. Don't get me started on oral think a neuro-typical child is a picky eater? Wait until you meet a child with SPD! Most with oral issues that I've met cannot eat mashed potatoes! No matter how watered down you make them! The choke and gag and you cannot figure out why! Some oral issues include licking or mouthing strange objects or continued mouthing, chewing or licking of objects, that is past the baby/toddler stage. For example, that piece of metal that normally separates hard wood floors from carpeting, chair legs, another person's clothes, Legos (not fun when they accidentally swallow them and they were to some cool set that you can't buy anymore!) and even their fingers or clothes are not safe! My nephew is the clothes chewer, he chews holes in his sleeves and collars. Drove my little sis nuts until I told her that he probably couldn't help it. Maybe it's none of these and simple things, like smells. Specifically normal smells, like the smell of fresh peeled oranges that sets a child off! Yes, one of my kiddos had this problem too! My oldest nephew though, swears his food smells and tastes different when the windows are open and it's chilly out. We don't notice this but, my son says he can smell the difference between hold and cold things too! So, who am I to argue! :) This covered sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell. On to the next three senses....

Proprioception manifests in ways like, your child can't stop jumping. Jumping on the floor, the couch, the bed, etc. He/She is a crasher. Meaning they're continually crashing HARD into you, walls, furniture, anyone else in close proximity! It's been joyously painful having two crashers! lol If your child had a vestibular dysfunction, they'd have a hard time staying upright a lot of time either because their balance would seem compromised or they don't seem to know where their body is in relation to anyone or anything else. If your child had interoception issues, they'd seem to forget to be hungry or eat period. Or maybe potting training was excruciating long because they didn't seem to know when they needed to go! (This is a fun one, especially with all the well meaning potty training advice friends, family and strangers seem to love to dole out!)

There really is no one size fits all diagnosis for SPD. In fact, a lot of kids may get diagnosed with ADHD because of their SPD! Especially if they have SPD and APD (auditory processing disorder). SPD can get overlooked a lot when the child has other neurological issues as well. For example, I know a lot of people who have TS (Tourette Syndrome) also have SPD but, because of either severity of tics or other neurological issues, the sensory issues will get overlooked.

If any of this sounds like a child that you know, here's a great checklist on line to investigate and see if they are just normal or if maybe you should contact an Occupational Therapist. If it's you or a teen you're curious about where they stand, here is the checklist for you. Again, for a firm diagnosis, you'll need to visit an OT to be evaluated for sure but, those lists will give you an idea of where you stand. With an OT and the benefit of proper therapy, they are doing the best they can to help, teach and rewire how our children's brains function - without drugs. Over time they can go from having to eat pizza with a fork to being able to eat with their fingers! Or from screaming at bath times or when they get to wet, to calmly being able to tell you that they need to change their clothes or being able to take baths without incident! It may take some time, it's not an instant fix but, the results can reduce you to tears! :)

If you're newly diagnosed person or family, a great place for info though is SPD Foundation, they are awesome every October for SPD Awareness month at helping you start a campaign to do locally! If you're looking for others out there like yourself, the SPD Blogger Network is filled with all sorts of great bloggers who share their experiences parenting kiddos with SPD. There is a great community on FB called SPD Connect, and another page on there run by my dearest friend Ida, called Sensory Street. She will share every resource, and avenue she finds that you can try to help your child. There is Sensory Planet with an accompanying FB page. There are also many, many groups on FB just for SPD in general. Including Autistic Like. I've never seen the full movie yet but, he's one of the few fathers whose been at the forefront of the fight for their children. I'm behind Eric 110%!

For books, I have to recommend my friend Lindsey Biel's book, Raising A Sensory Smart Child first. Lindsey is an OT, so she knows her stuff and did I mention that like Ida, she's a really sweet woman; truly an awesome resource to have! She also has a site and FB page too! Another great set of books comes from Carol Kranowitz. One is called, The Out Of Sync Child and the other one is The Out of Sync Child Has Fun. The first book is on recognizing and understanding a bit about your child and SPD and the second is all about some fun things you can do at home to help your child adapt, learn and evolve through play. Another couple of good books is This is Gabriel: Making Sense of School by a wonderful lady, Hartley Steiner. Our fearless leader behind the SPD Blogger Network. She also put together a book by many of us SPD mothers, called Sensational Journeys. Filled with stories from lots of us mothers about having two kiddos with SPD, having premies, etc. All heart warming and told by real moms about their experiences, myself included! I would be remiss if I did not include Ms. Lucy Jane Miller's book, Sensational Kids: Hope for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder.

There are a lot of resources out there now. A ton more than a decade ago. There is no reason to feel alone, no matter who doesn't understand in your neighborhood, your child's school, your friends, families, etc. You are not alone and your child is as unique and beautiful as a snowflake, never forget it! And if you're that lady or guy in the grocery store giving the evil eye to the mom whose child is screaming his head off, think twice about what you're doing. They may not be able to help it! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review and Giveaway of Don't Compost It, Cook It!

The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Kym L. for winning a copy of April's Don't Compost It, Cook It!

Gather round folks, I'm having a giveaway of  April Lewis Patel's
Don't Compost It, Cook It

Here's why I wanted to share it with you:

1) It seriously is in line with the Blue Collar lifestyle. The "waste not, want not" philosophy.
2) She's a single mom, so you know that the book was going to be pretty budget friendly. 
3) She still uses compost but, she utilizes every bit of her food product before it's compost!
4) Even if you want to buy the book outright, it still wasn't going to cost any of you an arm and a leg to buy!
5) Her recipes reminded me of how my grandmother used to do a few things. Which again, was utilizing every bit of your food when and where you could. Which in this world today, is a forgotten art. My grandmother would've approved of this book hands down!

Here's where you can buy it for yourself if you can't wait for the giveaway or don't win. Though I do know that The Morristribe and Homesteadin' In the Burbs are also featuring her book this week as well! 

Here's how you enter:
Follow the instructions via Rafflecopter below: Pop over to her page, An Apple A Day Wisdom and check out her site, come back here and tell me something that caught your interest. A winner will be announced on Thursday (April 13th)!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Simple Sunday #3

No words this Simple Sunday. Just a picture....

He was more interested in the garden tools than any of his eggs! :)

Hope you and yours have a Happy Easter! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Favorite Blog Friday #2

It is a lot harder to pick just one blog to feature for a week! However, a lot of people have discovered Common Sense Homsteading and if you haven't yet, stay with me because I'm going to show you why Laurie should be on your top ten blogs list! 

One of the things that makes Laurie's blog appealing to everyone across the board is:
One, she's a mom. Two, she was raised on a Dairy Farm, so she's learned practicality. Three, she doesn't back a product, a practice or idea unless she's been there and done that! Four, she honest to goodness knows her stuff!! I'm not the world's smartest person but, I'm no dummy and I can tell you that at least once a day, I'm sitting at my computer taking notes from my "homesteading professor", as I affectionately call her around here! :)

Why should you visit her blog? How much time do you have to read this over?! Seriously picking some things here and there to share from her blog has actually been gut wrenching for me. She has soo many great things to share!  So, here goes what I can tell you is not even close to a cross section of what she offers over there!

Lets start with gardening. If you're New to Gardening, Laurie has the post for you. Filled with some seriously practical advise for the newbie gardener! In her gardening posts, Laurie covers everything from Seed Germination to the basics of Root Cellars. She even does some of my favorite posts lately entitled Weekly Weeder! Here's her newest one on Dandelions! These are great educational posts on why you should think before you get rid of your weeds and what they can be used for.

If gardening isn't your thing, how about posts about more of a natural health thing? Though keep in mind some of those weeds you shunned can also be used for medicinal purposes! Still not loving your weeds? Well, you will if you check her posts out. In the meantime I'll show you a few of her other natural health articles! Like or why you should stick with butter (if the color alone in that picture doesn't make you think!)
She even tackles a natural way to tackle E. Coli and Salmonella. There are a ton more of great articles like this over there. 

If preparedness is your thing, she's still got you covered! With topics covering things like how to be prepared for summer storms, Top 10 Real foods to store without electricityhomegrown medicinals (again, check back on those Weekly Weeder posts too!) to the basics of winter vehicle preps. Which should get you pondering summer vehicle preps as well. ;)

Still need more reasons to check her out? How about homesteading topics. Why should you care about homesteading for starters? Well, for starters, go to your car and check your gas gauge, then hop in and drive to the nearest gas station, look at the big sign with the big numbers on it. If that alone isn't scaring you into being more self sufficient, I'm not sure why you're reading this blog! :D
Learning to do a bit of homesteading, even little by little, can end up helping your family out more than you know. Now back to Laurie's blog! :) Want to tackle a bit of homesteading, she's got you covered! She covers beginning homesteading/self relianceherb gardens, tips for first time chicken owners, one of my favorite things to do dehydrating and even canning!

Alright, if you're just in this for recipes.....she's still got you covered! My favorite Potato Pancakes, growing up, we had these for breakfast (or anytime if I asked just right)!
She has a ton more recipes too, like broccoli soup, a great bunch of recipes for Easter brunch, Polish Doughnuts, Sourdough bread, Easy Chocolate Truffles, I really could go on and on here!

Trust me when I tell you she is a WEALTH of knowledge. On her Facebook page, she shares older posts and anything she finds that she feels has some value to you, so you definitely don't miss a thing.

So, grab a cup of tea, prop your feet up and read (and take notes if you feel so inclined) and give Laurie's blog, Common Sense Homesteading some good quality time!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy Easter!

This time of year is just seriously fantastic! It's spring, it's warmer outside, everything is all brightly colored and happy feeling! I know, that's a bit too much chipper for me first thing in the morning too (thank goodness I'm writing this at night!). It's just too happy not to share some Easter goodies with you. Again, some from my FB page and some via my emails or through other blogs! 

So, first things first, FOOD! :) Thank goodness a few bloggers went through and found some fun, bright and happy treats for sharing! Like Cheryl over at Tidymom! She shared some goodies and some crafts though. Never a bad thing! Or Curbly and the cute chicks in the pic!

You can't have Easter fun without, dying Easter eggs and there were a lot of good dying ideas from around the internet this years. Like Rural Spin's Natural Dyed Eggs. Or even the naturally dyed ones from Better Homes and Gardens! If you don't have natural ingredients on hand, you can try Jene Renee's Kool Eggs!

Alright, food and eggs covered, how about some kind of decoration or craft to keep the kiddies busy why your eggs dry! Have you heard of Kaboose yet?! Head over there and check these great crafts to do with the kiddos! This one here, from No Time For Flashcards is too cute for the wee ones!

Need more coloring pages? Seriously just type in 'Easter coloring pages' in Google and be amazed at how many things pop up! This one here from Hear My Hands is a neat one for your sign learner. Again, Kaboose also had a lot of fun coloring pages for the little ones too! If you'd like more tin can ideas, check My Very Educated Mother! Here is her tin can crafts. They are just too cute! 

Tin cans not your thing? Then you can always rely on the age old toilet paper rolls! Crafts By Amanda, has 11 Cardboard Crafts for Easter that might help! If you're looking for just a few more fun crafts for the kiddies, check out Teacher's Mouse Pad

If you're looking for something a bit more educational, check out My Sister's Suitcase's: ABC Easter Egg Match up. If you're just looking for more games, activities and crafts, THE best link I have found so far is from Tinkerlab and their 60 Egg Activities for Kids

Which leads me to filling the eggs. I'm lucky in that my boys generally don't like candy! I know, it's "weird" but, they are my boys and I'm a little nuts myself! :D Anyway, here is a GREAT idea from Mom on Time Out. Most of these things I already do and you can pick them up from dollar spots at various stores or even the dollar stores! Here is another good idea from Quirky Momma for various Easter egg hunts. Or how about this one from Brandy over at Gluesticks and her Easter Egg Hunt Lunch!

If you're looking for printables, DLTK has a ton of Easter printables here. Or Family Education has some here and a few here at the bottom of the page. This page also has a bunch of links for crafts, recipes, gifts, etc. to look over too. 

These links should jumpstart your weekend fun! So, pick a few and the let the kids have fun! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Your "Typical" Child Tuesday #1

So, it's another new addition to the blog. There is no way around sharing bits and pieces of my life and leaving out why I homeschool or why I have OTs (occupational therapist) blogs, or SLP (speech language pathologist) links to share. So, in honor of some upcoming awareness months, my children and the many special needs families out there, I'm going to be doing Not Your "Typical" Child Tuesdays. Each week I will feature a "special needs" issue that some families are dealing with, which may include a guest poster or two....I hope! (Volunteers are needed!) I also will be featuring various links to places that have helped us to work with or around one or more of my boys' own issues. It's not normally a frugal, preparedness, food, craft, recycling subject but, as the numbers rise of children with one or more neurological disorders. I feel it's something that we need to address and include in our lives. Maybe learn enough about to be able to help each other out. I hope you'll come along for the ride! I promise to still share and post as I always have but, Tuesdays, they're for eye opening experiences that can bring all of us together! :)

This first Tuesday, I am going to share some things on communication. In a house with a Hard of Hearing/deaf child and one who exhibits signs of Auditory Processing Disorder, I've had to learn my way around pretty fast and not always in the prettiest manner! I am by no means an expert on anything, I just want to share some posts from some very great places that have helped us along in our journey. These sights were good for DW who has a little trouble with hearing certain letters or sounds and they work well with JD who, well he's just all around hard to communicate with period, though he's made some amazingly HUGE strides just in the last year alone. Please note, that both of my boys are in OT, PT and JD is in ST (speech therapy) so, these sites didn't just do all the work!

First up is Speech Time Fun. I loved her two tap lights idea! Her suggestions and printables just add to feel of this exercise! It's a really neat thing to try, even if you can't get them to do the part where you record their own voice. It's still a fun thing or the kiddos to do with the tap lights!

*If your kiddo has a SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder with or w/o autism and has an aversion to white, you can always paint these. Just be careful to keep the paint out of the crevices. To change the light color, I used tissue paper and colored tape to cover the dome. *

Another great resource is Testy Yet Trying. There are a bunch of great printable cards to help your kiddo articulate the particular sounds. Though if you check out the blog itself, there are a myriad of other printables, games and ways to help your kiddo maybe learn to begin to communicate!

As a homeschooler with a preschooler who is obsessed with being homeschooled (I love these years!),  this site is a BLESSING a lot of the time. LiveSpeakLove is a great site that has so many printables and activities for you and your child to try! This one here, I cannot wait to try with the little guy!

This next site works well for my boys. My oldest, computer obsessed kiddo it works for practicing his blends, something he seems to have some trouble with on occasion. That being said, Reading Fun was awesome for teaching the preschooler his colors, patterns and a few other things too. It's a completely online group of activities for them to do by themselves or with you. 

If you have a special needs kiddo who...for lack of a better word has, "anger issues".....whether that is loosing it over the smell of fresh peeled oranges, or has tics so bad he/she rages out or because specifically their communication skills are behind, you know managing and trying to head off a meltdown is not easy. By a LONG shot! With my oldest son, he would get so upset so fast over something no one would see coming, he'd loose the ability to actually communicate that he was mad! Now, he's a VERY articulate young man, so it took everyone a while to figure out what was happening. We used a similar system from Speech Lady Liz! With JD, he just couldn't communicate period what his issue was so, for him, we did the faces chart. You'll find this great idea over on her I feel today post. 

If your curious about what sounds or letter sounds your child should be making correctly at what age, here is a great printable from Mommy Speech Therapy.

If you're concerned that your child is a later talker, here's a great post from Child Talk to give you some pointers. The best advice I can give is like a recent post I read, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat - everything as much as you can! If you've done all of these things, and you're concerned about your child's hearing, by all means take them in!!

If you find out that your child is Hard of Hearing or Deaf. It's really not the end of the world. I promise you that! A lot of people I knew growing up and have come to meet over the years are Deaf and PROUD of it. Truth be told, in some ways I envy the Deaf world! As a hearing mother I will never fully be a part of the deaf community but, I kind of get a hall pass on occasion! :)  Which is nice and the support you'll find within the community is.....overwhelming! It's truly an amazing experience and though as a hearing person, it makes me sad that my son will never really hear how beautiful the birds are, his life experiences will be richer and more complex at an earlier age than I could have ever known. So, don't be afraid to jump in with both feet, it's the one time I fully advocate jumping in without looking!

Here's a great starting point for you though, Hear My Hands has a great post to get you started. With information on ASL, the Deaf community, etc.

One of their resources listed there is ASL Pro. Let me tell you how awesome this site has been for me! You not only get to SEE how the hands/fingers move but, when I tell you that facial expressions can be paramount sometimes, I'm not joking! So, it's nice to see how the face moves with the sign. 

Another great site for trying to find support for you and your family is Hands and Voices. At least for me anyway, finding local support to help with my learning curve was invaluable! 

Sign language doesn't have to be just for the Hard of Hearing or Deaf kiddos. With my youngest, it enabled him to communicate where he couldn't do it verbally before. So, if your child has a communication issue and is capable of at least understanding sign, I'd give it a try. Another thing I can tell you, if your child is verbal or making noises and clearly wants to communicate, I'd try picture cards. I did this with JD and suddenly he could tell me what he wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meltdowns lessened and so I moved onto picture cards for his toys, clothes, etc. It was an incredible relief I think for him. 

There are probably hundreds more links, sites and advice out there and truth be told, I've been given so much over the last several years that I cannot remember it all. If you've got any sites, advice or ideas, feel free to share! I know I'd appreciate it! 

Thanks for hanging out for my 1st - Not Your "Typical" Child Tuesday!
We now return to your regularly scheduled program....