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Hi! I am Cherie. I am a mommy to irish twins (kiddos about a year apart). I am also a first grade teacher. :) Welcome to my controlled chaos!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Autism In The Driver's Seat

My baby turned FOUR a week ago.  Where has the time gone?  It feels like just yesterday I was cheering him on to drink just one more mL of formula, to keep those O2 stats up, and to keep on fighting so we could come home together. 

Four years later... so much has changed.  There are days where I feel like our lives are run by Autism.  There are days where I feel like I can't let that happen.  And then there are days like today, when he is a CHAMP at Walmart and CVS, then lets it all out all afternoon and I have no idea what to think.  Hey, I'm just glad it was at home and not the store.  I am sad that it has to be like that.  Where I stress about a simple trip to Walmart.  People go half naked to Walmart.  But I feel tremendous anxiety as I buckle him in the car.  "Please try your best today, buddy."  I know he has no idea what I mean, and I know he will do what he is going to do.  I secretly hope everyone stays home and I am the only one in the store, as I pull out of the driveway.  I also know that won't happen. 

I have friends who take their kids out and go shopping, and do fun things and it's no big deal.  I want to do that.  I want to be able to go to the mall.  Eat at the food court, ride the rides, and also hit a couple stores.  Can I?  Sure.  Nobody is going to stop me.  This is what my mind does when I think about going to the mall...  "But how will he react?  What if they have the cars from the dealership on display?  If they do, he will have a meltdown and won't want to leave the car.  I won't get any shopping done, and he will be miserable.  But if they don't, maybe I can get ONE store in?  I can hear him now "ready to go ready to go ready to go".  Ugh.  Maybe I can go after work this week.  No, I have things to do.  Maybe I should just take him and hope for the best.  ehhh... Maybe not." 

Don't get me wrong.  It's not about me, or the mall.  This is the same conversation I have for ANYWHERE.  I want him to have a full and happy childhood, but this disease has taken over our lives, making it very hard for him.  I hate it.  I just want to be able to say "Hey, let's go do xyz" and then just get up and do it.  That doesn't work for us.  I try to do things that he will enjoy, but sometimes I think he's simply happier at home with his cars. 

 He loves the children's museum.  It's free once a month.  Great right?  Nope.  Not for our family.  Free means busy.  Busy means people.  Lots of people.  Lot of noise.  Lots of "busy".  Lots of sensory input.  Lots of no.  So what if we go when it's not a free day?  Ok. sure.  But I still have that whole conversation in my head. "Ok, if he has a meltdown, where in the building are the exits so I can take him to a quiet place quickly?  Should I bring his milk? What if he starts spitting it?  What if he wants to stay by the fire truck and Bryce wants to go somewhere else?  He'll scream if I make him move.  What if he runs?  He always runs.  That's not an if, it's a when." 

Days like today, he surprises me by saying "hi" to some random strangers at the store.  Thank you, random strangers, for saying "hi" back.  He smiled.  Days like today when I think "Autism doesn't run us."  and then all afternoon he screams and throws things for who knows what reason.  Days like today when I'm at my wits end and he stops and says "hug?".  Then my heart melts and it's as if the last 3 hours of destruction didn't happen. 

I wish Autism didn't run our lives.  I wish it didn't factor into every single thing we do.  What we eat, when we leave the house, where we go, etc.  I wish my baby could just enjoy everything without the discomforts of overstimulation and frustration.  Some will say it only runs it if you let it.  Maybe that's true.  Maybe it's not.  I don't know.  I don't have the answers.  I'm just here, trying make it... one day at a time. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Counting Points Day One: Am I skinny Yet?! {Tamale Bake recipe}

I am attempting to start Weight Watchers again.  It worked really well (60lbs well!) for me many years ago, and I hope I can make it work again. 

Yesterday I went to the store ALL.BY.MYSELF.  I'll give all you moms (and some dads, too!) out there a minute to simmer down.  Cold shower over?  Good.  Back to the store.  Yep, I went all by myself. Just me, my headphones, and a Caramel Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks.  I loaded up on all the ingredients I need to cook healthy meals all week, as well as lots of fruits and veggies to snack on.  *side note* I totally just learned today that bananas are no longer 1 point!  They're zero!!  Who's happy about that? This girl, that's who.  I love bananas. 

So tonight was dish #1: Chicken Tamale Bake.  I will say I am no chef.  I can make a mean mac n cheese, and boil ramen like a pro.  But give me a kitchen with no recipe and I have no idea what I'm doing.  I need direction.  I can bake! I love to bake.  But cook?  Eh.  I can live without it.  So my #1 rule is that it has to be easy and quick.  Think: less that 5 ingredients/30 minutes quick and easy.  That doesn't usually happen when you're dealing with actual healthy recipes.  So I made myself get out of my comfort zone and try things with more than a couple ingredients.  This tamale bake was amazing. I got it from here and only edited I think one thing.  In her directions, she says she got a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store already cooked and shredded it.  I took 4 thinly sliced chicken breasts and boiled them.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 8 servings):
1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend, divided into 3/4C and 1/4C (I used the store brand)
1/3C skim milk
1 large egg
1t ground cumin
1/8t ground cayenne pepper
1 (14.75 oz) can of cream-style corn
1 (8.5 oz) box of corn muffin mix
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles, drained*
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast

*optional.  I used them the first time, but didn't drain them (mainly because I just skimmed the directions - yikes! It was pretty spicy.  Next time I'll either use less chilies or use less cayenne.

Making the Magic Happen:
  • Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  • If you're boiling the chicken, I'd start it now.
  • In a large bowl, mix together ¼ cup of the cheese, milk, egg, cumin, cayenne pepper, creamed corn, muffin mix and green chiles.  Pour into baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Mine took the full 20. 
  • After it's done baking, poke holes all over the corn cake mixture with a fork. (see below)
  • Then pour the enchilada sauce all over the corn cake mixture.
  • Top with the shredded chicken, and remaining 3/4C cheese (as below)

  • Put back into oven for another 15 minutes or so.  It will look like this:

Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then cut it into 8 pieces and enjoy!  I am told (I didn't calculate it) that each serving is 7 Weight Watchers Points Plus points. 

I can't wait to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!  YUMMY!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blogging from the potty... Wait. What?

Let me just start by saying NO, I do NOT want to build a snowman. Stop asking. ;) 
Ok, it's a pretty cute movie.  I won't lie.  But if I hear that song one more time... I may need to bury a body. 

Moving on!  So here I am, in the bathroom while my boys play... err... *cough* splash and fight *cough* in the bathtub.  Where else is there to sit in the bathroom besides the potty?  So here I am.  Blogging from the potty.  It's ok to be jealous.  I won't tell. 

What a busy weekend!  As you may have read in my last post, we have started our *official* journey with Autism.  I say official because I pretty much knew a long time ago.  So here is our "Au-some" weekend.  My parents came down to visit and fix my car this weekend.  I love when they come because even though I still have to be "mom", I do get some time to relax and don't have to change ALL the diapers. :)  My dad fixed my car Saturday so that I can go get it tested at the emissions center.  The original plan was to leave the boys at home with them and I go myself to the emissions place and to run to the other errands I had.  We decided to just all go do all the errands together.  If you're a spectrum parent, your alarm bells may be going off, as mine do EVERY time we take Nate-Dogg out and about. 


We went to three places, and one of them we went to twice!  That's FOUR stops on our errands list. 

1: Emissions testing.  The line was a tad long for my taste, but we have that trusty rusty DVD player in the car and the boys were engrossed in Frozen, or so I thought.  3 minutes into our wait, I look back and both are sound asleep!  Sweet.  This will be a piece of cake.  And it was, except my car wasn't ready to test, so we waited there for nothing.  Craptastic. On to stop 2.

2: We needed to get a curtain rod bracket extender to solve my curtain mishap the night before.  Think: stubborn chick versus a curtain, rod, and stud that the drill wouldn't drill far enough into.  It was a mess.  Thank goodness my daddy saved the day (and my arm muscles... have you ever had to hand screw a nail into a stud????? yikes.)  We needed ONE thing.  I figured.  Hey, this is just Lowe's. Not Target.  How much trouble could I get into here?  over $100 later, we left.  What?!  Ok, on to stop 3.  He is doing very well so far. Very patient, sitting in the cart nicely and not screaming "ready to go!" as is his normal reaction when he's just done.

3: re-visit the emissions place.  This time they are both awake and I assume Nate is almost out of his calm/happy/errand running steam.  Thankfully the line was pretty short.  However, when the emissions guy got in, they both started crying.  Uh oh.  We still have one more place to go!  My car passed this time yay!

4. Party city - last stop!  April 2nd is Light it up Blue for Autism Day.  So I am going to make some blue snacks to take to work, and bring some blue glow bracelets to offer if my coworkers would like to wear one.  We went to Party City and he was once again a great little dude.  He sat in the basket and patiently waited for his balloon to get blown up, then he went with my dad and found some little cars that he wanted while I got blue glow sticks.  We left, and he was totally in a great mood. 

There's hope!  He CAN make it through errands.  I fully believe that my dad had everything to do with it, though.  He loves my dad beyond words.  So dad, you have to come on every errand we do.  I know you live 4 hours away, but don't let that stop you.  ;)

Nate-Dogg even went to breakfast this morning and ATE!  He ate most of everything on his plate.  I was amazed.  He also ate longer than anyone else, which never happens.  Usually he's "ready to go" 10 minutes after the food comes.  Today we were waiting for him. 

What a productive and positive weekend!  He even slept through the night Saturday night!  Ahhhh.  SO nice. 

Note: As I sit here and write this, about 90% of the contents of the bathtub have been splashed onto the floor.  Well, I guess the floor is clean now. ;)

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The big A

So I have known for years now that Nathan had special needs.  He never had an official diagnosis other than "developmental delay".  Originally they said Cerebral Palsy, then our Neuro said no, but he was getting therapy for it anyway.  Then we did the Georgia stem cell trial.  Huge success. 

We have been getting therapy from our state department of disabilities for pretty much Nathan's whole life.  He continues to need these therapies, but without a diagnosis, his therapy would stop at age 5.  I have been saying for a while that I wonder if he falls somewhere on the Autism spectrum.  Other people have agreed with me, or even mentioned it to me without knowing I thought that.  However, I kept putting off talking to the doctor.  Why?  Well because I didn't want it to be true.  What parent does?  I want the best for my child, and am in no way in denial.  However, there was a part of me that hoped I was wrong. I want my baby to have an easy life.  I don't want him to struggle. Mother's intuition, though.  I finally talked to the dr.  She did a short questionnaire and said that yep, he's at risk and suggested I talk to a developmental pediatrician.

We have three developmental pediatricians in my town.  THREE.  In the whole town.  I called the one that everyone recommended.  She is no longer taking new patients.  Her partner is, but doesn't have an opening until March of 2015 (this was in November 2013).  The third one did not take Big N's insurance.  Awesome.  I called Phoenix Children's Hospital, which came highly recommended.  No new patients, but they gave me the name of another Dr in North Phoenix, which is about 2.5 hours away from me.  I got an appointment 3 months out.  Not too shabby. 

We went to the doctor, and after about 20 minutes of talking to us and watching N play, he gave us the diagnosis of High Functioning Autism. 

I left with a bit of relief as well as a bit of sadness.  And lots of questions, with no answers.

Welcome to our new journey.  If anyone has a map, I would love to share it.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

31 Reasons Why My Toddler Is Mad

Well well well, we meet again.  I seem to go through spurts where I post regularly, then I don't.  But that's ok.  Keeps you on your toes.

I have seen many memes, posts, and blogs about why toddlers get mad.  They're hilarious.  I can relate.  You probably can, too, if you have toddlers.  But I thought I'd make one of my own that have actually happened to my precious babes.  Ha.  Challenge: Read this list and see if you can figure out which boy each one came from.  So here's a (hopefully amusing) list of why my two toddlers get mad and have tantrums:

1. He woke up.
2. The cat wouldn't pay attention to him.
3. The cat looked at him.
4. I wouldn't let him lick his brother.
5. His milk is empty.
6. I wouldn't put even more milk in his already full sippy cup.
7. His socks are on.
8. His socks are off.
9. I sat in his spot.
10. My school keys and lanyard are too heavy for him.
11. I wouldn't give him a 3rd package of "candy" (fruit snacks).
12. The bath is too wet.
13. His brother is within 5 feet of him.
14. The table is "stuck" and won't move.
15. The movies are on the shelf.
16. The movies are on the floor.
17. He has a shirt on.
18. His diaper won't come off.
19. I won't let him fill the potty chair with toilet paper.
20. I won't let him touch the toilet water. (I now have a toilet lock, folks, don't be alarmed lol)
21. The brush touched him.
22. His shoes are off.
23. He has socks on, but no shoes.
24. His pants are too... on.
25. I won't let him brush the cat with his toothbrush.
26. I looked at him.
27. I won't cut his nails.
28. I cut his nails.
29. I gave him a hug.
30. He wants a banana.
31. I gave him a banana.

There are so many more, but here are just a few!  It's hard to be a toddler, folks!  :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

For The Love of Pumpkins

Hello from the floor, again.  I've decided I do my best thinking on the floor of the boys' room and in the shower.  One of these days I'll invent something while I'm sitting here. But don't worry, I won't forget about you when I'm rich and famous. Well, maybe some of you. Haha I kid, I kid.

So today was so much fun. We took the boys to the pumpkin patch and they loved it! Bryce was a little grumpy pants, but he still enjoyed it.

They loved having mommy in the back seat with them!

Nathan was in Heaven with all the tire swings!!

He also loved the petting zoo. Bryce was afraid of the animals. He wanted to look, but wouldn't touch them. He talked to them, though! He said hi and when we left the goats he said "bye goat." Lol. So cute.

Bryce loved the hay bale maze. He was a bale jumper though. Cheater, cheater lol You can see him trying to squeeze through two bales of hay because his path dead ended!

They both loved picking pumpkins!

Here are some fun pics Uncle Nick captured

As you can see we all had a blast!!!  :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

bedtime schmedtime

Well it looks like my goal to keep up with this blog on a regular basis failed miserably. Ha.  That's ok, everyone who reads this hears all my daily stuff on Facebook anyway. :P 

Here I am, laying on the floor of my sons' room. Again.

So I am going to just admit it.  I hate bedtime.  A few months ago I posted a status saying I hate bathtime.  Well, I also hate bedtime.  And in fact, bathtime has gotten better.  Or perhaps bedtime is just so much worse that bathtime seems peachy.  As you probably know, Nathan and I don't agree on what bedtime should look like.  I think it's like in the movies where mommy and babies go sit in bed, read a book, give hugs and kisses, and the children quietly lay down and dream of sugar plums and rainbows and such.  He thinks it's about frantically running through the house screaming at the top of his lungs at the mere mention of "night night". He also thinks that it's where he throws everything in his reach to show me that he's angry.  Yep, got it, son.  Angry.  I feel ya.  He will get in bed, then scream his lungs out if I leave the room, so I have to sit next to his bed for about an hour every night.  Some nights, if he's tired enough (but not overly tired!), he will just lay there somewhat nicely and eventually fall asleep.  Other nights (many as of late), he will scream because he wants to be in MY bed.  Ummm, no.  Why not you ask?  Because we have tried that approach.  I let him fall asleep in my bed and then I ever so carefully relocate him to his own bed.  However, he flops around on my bed playing for HOURS before he goes to sleep.  Nope, not gonna fly, sir.  I have also let him just sleep in my bed all night.  I get no sleep, and he wakes up at the crack of dawn.  Nope. 

So here I am, laying on the makeshift bed I created on the floor next to his bed.  My other son, Bryce, also has his own version of bedtime.  He thinks it's when you play "jump around and fall down in bed like a crazy person" time.  Nathan thinks it's funny.  I probably would, too, if I wasn't so tired and stuck on the floor for an hour.  (It's actually really cute) He also thinks that night time is for waking up every hour, crying, rocking yourself back and forth, then *hopefully* going back to sleep.  I repeat, I hate bedtime. 

I remind myself that one day I will miss the nights where they wanted me near.  It helps... only after they've fallen asleep and it is silent in the house. haha.

Anyone else hate bedtime?  I wish it could be like my version of bedtime.  But the reality is that it's not.  Every night is a war.  They're SOOO cute when they sleep, though. :)  Annnnd Bryce's crying begins...

I might get a couple hours tonight if Bryce doesn't wake Nathan up.